Michael Schiavo Denies Terri Her Final Communion

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 19, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Michael Schiavo Denies Terri Her Final Communion

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 19, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL (LifeNews.com) — In a development that has angered supporters of Terri Schiavo, a Catholic priest was denied the ability to give the dying woman a final communion.

Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski joined Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler at a press conference on Saturday to explain that police officers prevented him from giving her the Catholic rite of Viaticum, the last communion for a Catholic before death.

Deborah Bushnell, another of Michael Schiavo’s attorneys, told Malanowski, who has provided spiritual care for Terri and her parents for the last three years, that ”because of court order and doctor’s orders, you can’t put anything in her mouth."

She said the religious celebration would violate doctors orders that nothing be placed in Terri’s mouth to prevent her from choking while she is being starved and dehydrated to death.

Malanowski, a retired priest, said Terri is being denied "a very important part of her faith." He said he intended to use "a small piece of the wafer and dilute it with water before giving it to her."

”I felt that time was of the essence at this point and made a decision that because she is not going to live much longer, I might not have another opportunity to give her Holy Communion," Malanowski told WorldNet Daily.

Michael Schiavo originally told Bushnell to approve the last rites, but when it was explained to Bushnell that it would involve giving Terri a small part of a communion wafer, Bushnell told him that he should eat the wafer.

Malanowski told Bushnell he was visiting to bring communion to Terri and that he had had communion earlier in the day.

"The attorney had some suggestion about me touching Terri’s lips with the wafer, and then I was supposed to consume it," Malanowski said during the news conference. "What does she know about Catholic ritual or rites?”

Bushnell then phoned a local priest and was told of the alternative of "spiritual communion," often given to patients who are unable to take food by mouth.

Malanowski has accompanied the Schindlers to visit Terri on every Saturday for the last three years. He has always given her spiritual communion but wanted her last rites to involve at least part of a communion wafer saying Terri hadn’t had an actual communion in over 13 years.

Malanowski argued the matter with the parish priest and had police confirm they would stop him from performing an actual communion. Eventually a spiritual communion was perfomed and Terri’s family left.

In a statement to the press, George Felos, Michael’s lead attorney and an assisted suicide advocate, said Michael didn’t want "anyone to do something that would cause Terri distress."

Related web sites:
Bob and Mary Schindler – https://www.terrisfight.org