Have you ever seen one of those plastic drinking bottles -- sometimes carried by hand, sometimes strapped to a bike frame -- that have a hinged “spout” on them that can be pivoted up into position to allow the walker (or biker) to then “squirt” some water into his mouth? Well, at a local park one morning, a couple was walking their dog; and they had a “doggie” drinking bottle: instead of a pivoting spout, it had a pivoting, bowl-shaped tray, into which water from the plastic bottle could be dispensed by “squeezing” water out of the bottle and into the tray. The dog could then happily lap up his water from that tray “bowl.”
Watching them do this, the thought struck me: that dog has it better than Terri Schiavo did! This dog, a mere curbstone mutt, could drink freely, as much as he wanted, as often as he wanted. So could Vivaldi, Puccini, and “Caravaggio” (Daniel Dolan’s and Anthony Cekada’s pet cats). But Terri Schiavo? She had two armed guards watching “24-7” to make sure that she didn’t get ONE DROP of water (not to mention food). A little boy who tried to wet her lips was forcibly stopped by the guards, as were others who tried to do the same. Any attempt to give her water was punishable as a criminal felony.
After Terri’s final, forced incarceration, it took thirteen days for her to die. According to Fr. Frank Pavone (national director of Priests for Life, and who spent much of the last two weeks of Terri’s life at her bedside), Terri had a look of disbelief on her face.. Her skin and her lips were shriveled -- cracked and bleeding from lack of moisture. As her eyes receded into their sockets from dehydration, blood poured out of them. The agony that she felt toward last was unspeakable. To quote Fr. Pavone again, “Terri’s death was not at all peaceful and beautiful. It was quite horrifying. She was dehydrating to death, and looked it. Her face had an expression of dread and sorrow. In my sixteen years as a priest, I never saw anything like this before.” The official coroner’s report on her cause of death, by the way, was starvation and dehydration.
Condemned prisoners who are executed fare better: they die painlessly and quickly -- usually by lethal injection. Terri’s death, in contrast, was slow and agonizing. And what was her crime? Did she commit a murder? a felony? a misdemeanor? No. Then was she in danger of dying from some terminal illness? No. She had no terminal illness. She was not on – nor did she need – a life-support system. Then why was she put to death? What kind of “crime” merited that? Her “crime” was that it was costing her husband too much money to take care of her: her husband, who had a new girlfriend, and who wanted her “out of the way.” He had won some “insurance settlement” money from Terri’s “injuries,” and he wanted to “conserve” as much of that money as possible – so he canceled any further rehabilitation on her part (and rehabilitation to which she was not only entitled, but to which she was actually positively responding).
According to Terri’s husband, she was in a “vegetative state,” and not able to “respond.” But the following bit of excerpted fact says otherwise: “In 1990, at the age of 26, Terri Schindler Schiavo suffered a neurological injury. For several years, Terri received rehabilitative therapy and care, was able to move her arms and legs, and even responded to others with simple words like “no,” “yes,” and “stop that.” But in 1993, less than a year after her husband, Michael Schiavo, received funds from a medical malpractice settlement that were to be applied to her medical treatment, he removed his wife from therapy and initiated a long series of steps towards euthanizing her. Terri was not terminally ill, nor was she ‘brain dead,’ nor in a ‘vegetative state.’ She was disabled. After a number of years, Michael Schiavo was successful in obtaining a court order granting him the ‘right’ to withdraw all nutrition and hydration from Terri. After 13 days, on March 31, 2005, at the age of 41, Terri died of dehydration.”
Let me give you another excerpted bit of fact: When the paramedics first came in to answer the initial 9-1-1 call, they found her face down on the carpet. Her husband made no attempt to turn her over so that she could “breathe easier.” Additionally, at the hospital where they ran tests on her that day, they discovered several broken bones in her body – including several fractured ribs. So it seems that her condition was not the result of a “bad reaction to something ingested” but was the result of physical violence. This is all documented medical fact. Another documented medical fact is that Terri Schiavo was able to swallow – and did swallow (including the Sacred Species of the Holy Eucharist).
So, what did Anthony Cekada have to say about all of this? What did he have to say about Terri Schiavo’s death? Firstly, Cekada maintained that Terri Schiavo was being kept alive by “extraordinary means” (a feeding tube) and that Michael Schiavo, as her husband, had the legal and moral right to stop sustaining her life – this husband, who had a new girlfriend “on retainer” at the time. In a medical opinion, a noted neurologist pointed out, among other things, that feeding tunes are by no means “extraordinary.” But in his response to that neurologist, Cekada interpreted what the doctor said on feeding tubes as “delving into moral issues”; and he even questioned the doctor’s medical judgment as well.
Cekada started off by saying that [the doctor’s] “reviewing CT images, watching a video and reviewing “summary/excerpts regarding testimony given in deposition transcripts” -- is no substitute for examining a live patient.” Actually, it’s the other way around: examining a live patient – “personal observation” – is grossly inadequate as regards getting real, definitive information on a patient. Only by conducting various tests, and then thoroughly examining the tests’ results later on – with the help of videos, microscopes, etc., can one really ascertain valid, definitive medical information on a patient’s condition.
To back up his claim that being fed through a feeding was an “extraordinary” means of sustenance, Cekada stated: “Having a hole poked in you, a tube shoved in and then having to eat and drink that way would be burdensome for any normal man.” So, even though as a doctor you may well consider poking holes into people and inserting permanent feeding tubes “by no logical measure extraordinary or unduly burdensome by any reasonable standard, moral, medical or economic" (as you say in your article), Catholics must nevertheless draw their understanding of extraordinary means from the Church’s moral teachings -- rather than from the practices and pronouncements of the medical-industrial complex.”
First off, it is common knowledge that feeding tubes have not only been an ordinary means of feeding people for decades, but thousands upon thousands of people have been sustained by them. And “painful”? – anyone with any experience using feeding tubes can tell you that that is sheer nonsense. Not only is a feeding tube absolutely painless, but it is a much cheaper alternative than being fed with conventional food by mouth. This is so universally acknowledged, by both medical and moral experts, that the discussion of it does not even come up in any circles – except in Anthony Cekada’s square mind and circular logic.
Cekada went on to accuse the neurologist of unjustifiably delving into moral theology, ending with his arrogant, condescending, “Don’t try to invent a mortal sin where there is none.” In a subsequent correspondence (entitled School Dazed), Cekada further embarrassed himself by referring to the neurologist as “a pompous doctor who presumed to pronounce on matters of moral theology.” Actually, the doctor confined himself strictly to the medical aspects of Schiavo, while it was Cekada who “presumed to pronounce” (and oh so wrongfully!) on matters of moral theology (as well as its medical aspects – which he botched badly).
One only needs to read the doctor’s account and Cekada’s reply concerning Schiavo to see the courtesy and professionalism of the former and the bombastic arrogance and ignorance (especially on medical matters) of the latter. As events turned out, Cekada’s consummate (and widely recognized) ignorance showed up too in his correspondence with a woman -- an SGG parishioner at the time -- who wrote to him about Schiavo at the time. If one will take the time to read their correspondence, it will showcase not only his trademark arrogance, but his contempt for women as well.
Cekada’s “credentials,” by the way, are NO advanced degree in theology, and (of course) NO TRAINING AT ALL in medicine. The doctor, on the other hand, graduated summa cum laude both from college and medical school (in fact, he was first in his class). He is an internationally known neurologist, and is currently head of neuro-sciences (neuro-surgery and neurology) at Akron General Hospital in Akron, Ohio -- making him uniquely and eminently qualified to comment on Schiavo’s medical aspects (to which – I repeat -- he confined himself). And, by the way, his under-graduate minor was in theology, so he’s not exactly “unqualified” in that area, either (though, I repeat again, he never touched on it in his article). It is hard to imagine a more profoundly disproportionate mismatch than the buffoon Cekada vs. this doctor – “a bean-shooter going up against. a Howitzer.”
In all of Anthony Cekada’s writings, his hallmark arrogance certainly comes through; but the way he embarrassed himself in the Schiavo affair stands alone as a monument to his profound ignorance – and his utter lack of compassion. To think that he and Dolan could just sit there and enjoy a sumptuous dinner at one of their favorite restaurants, while matter-of-factly ignoring Terri Schiavo being deprived not only of food but of water, makes one shudder with fear (and rage). While they were feasting on gourmet food and wine, she was denied even a moistened cotton swab to wet her parched, cracking, bleeding lips – just like our Lord on Calvary.
So why did Cekada take such a foolhardy (and cowardly) stance regarding Schiavo? Why did he take the side of a man who, while still married, abandoned his wife for a new bed partner – and who then took every legal step imaginable to end the former’s life? How could Cekada condone this husband taking insurance settlement money earmarked for his wife’s recuperation and using it instead to procure her death (and to fund a “new life” with his new girlfriend)? Terri Schiavo was NOT in a “vegetative state.” She was coherent. She was recuperating (and she had a loving family who were ready and willing to bear the cost and effort of caring for her, so that she would not be what Cekada termed “a burden on society”). She had plenty of “cognitive function” – more than many people who are dutifully kept alive in care facilities today. With the right therapy, she could have recuperated. Yet she was put to death, in a slow and most agonizing way. And Anthony Cekada justified this. Anthony Cekada said that this philandering husband had the RIGHT to do what he did.
How could Anthony Cekada condone this? It’s easy: if he and Daniel Dolan can interpret watching porn on the school computer as “boys will be boys,” or explain away all the sordid things that went on at SGG’s school, he can certainly regard Terri Schiavo’s murder as “justifiable.” If he can excuse the principal’s son for impregnating a fellow student (and then lay the blame squarely on the girl), he can certainly condone Michael Schiavo’s acquiring a whore while plotting his wife’s demise. And if he can use the donations of cash-strapped parishioners for enjoying $400/night stays at the Bishop’s Lodge and enjoy gourmet meals at fine restaurants, he has no problem rationalizing Michael Schiavo’s “financial priorities.” (And, speaking of “priorities,” while his cats -- Vivaldi, Puccini, and Caravaggio -- were enjoying their stays at the Kitty Spa, Terri Schiavo was “enjoying” her final death agony.) “One hand” Dolan and Tony “the Blunderer” could coddle their cats at a “kitty spa,” but having any compassion for Terri Schiavo was (in Cekada’s words) “cheap emotionalism.”
How could Cekada’s mind manifest (or tolerate) such a warped dichotomy of “priorities”? How could he conceive – how could he contemplate -- such a monstrous “double standard”? Because he’s a misogynist – a woman hater -- that’s why. And so is his perverted criminal partner, Daniel Dolan. Their behavior also belies their psychopathic, detached disdain for human suffering – again, especially regarding women. Most of Dolan’s and Cekada’s parishioners know this, yet they still (irrationally) “swear allegiance” to these moral lepers, and depend on them for “the sacraments” – even though “the sacraments” are available to them aplenty from other traditional priests in the area. So why do they stick with these two? Because the other priests do not put on the “show” for them as Dolan and Cekada do – that’s why.
At SGG, for instance, one can get a “triple-play” funeral Mass, i.e., three priests “simul-celebrating” three Masses at once – for a Novus Ordo Catholic (who never frequented SGG, nor even believed in traditional Catholicism – but whose spouse was a big “contributor” at SGG) -- complete with polyphonic theatrics (and perhaps a syrupy sermon by Dolan, laced with references to the weather -- or to flora and fauna) – just the thing to impress slack-jawed, Pavlovian drudges who salivate at that sort of thing. By contrast, a mother of twelve who just died recently (and, like Terri, at the age of 41) had a simpler but more appropriate “one-priest” Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Norwood, Ohio, without the polyphonic pontifical ostentation -- and with one of the most edifying eulogies ever given (but totally devoid of effeminate, sentimental slop). The children of this mother of twelve, by the way, were once referred to as “retards” by SGG’s school principal (whose comment, of course, is not accurate but “auto-biographical”).
Dolan and Cekada have been getting by with their pontificating pap for years, but it is catching up with them. Cekada’s monstrous pronouncements on Schiavo are his Achilles’ heel: if there is any one thing that disqualifies Cekada from being given any serious consideration whatsoever, it is Schiavo. For that alone, he is to be shunned and written off as a witless, know-nothing blowhard. (But, of course, he has since embarrassed himself again by his anal attempt at authorship -- WHH). And Dolan? His insolent charade of passing himself off as traddieland’s “successor” to pre-Vatican II Catholicism is as laughable as it is embarrassing (and for arrogance, it certainly matches anything that Cekada has done to date!).
During “Schiavo,” when Cekada “presumed to pronounce” by referring to the before-mentioned neurologist as a “pompous doctor,” little did he realize that he was being “auto-biographical” too. And what Cekada referred to as “cheap emotionalism” (over Terri Schiavo’s death) is actually basic human compassion – which neither he nor Dolan has. These two are that classic example of St. Paul’s “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” – except that they’re evil and depraved “tinkling cymbals.” They have no conscience, no compassion -- no charity. All they have is an insatiable thirst for la dolce vita. – and they’ll do anything to get it.
And in their pursuit of this world’s kingdom, the damage they have done is immeasurable: by their deception, their lies, and their duplicity, they have split up whole families, turning sibling against sibling, parent against offspring, and spouse against spouse. They have (and probably not unwittingly) destroyed the faith of countless people -- especially children. These cult-masters are usually able to manipulate their adult parishioners, who were brought up in the “blind obedience” school of thought. But their children – they’re another story. Today’s kids don’t fall for the same baloney that their parents did; they see through it – and they are leaving “traddie Catholicism” in droves (some have even become agnostic, or even functionally atheistic). But the dynamic duo don’t care -- as long as the bucks keep rolling in.
Eventually, the disillusionment that these children are experiencing will finally “percolate up” to their parents. It’s only a matter of time. But, of course, there will remain that brain-dead “hard core” who will follow Dolan and Cekada no matter what: those whose love of ostentation overshadows their love of God. And for them, I say that they and the dynamic duo deserve each other. But for the rest of us, we have “dusted off our sandals” and have “escaped,” no longer duped by the siren call of these pleasure-seeking hucksters. We’ll go our way, and they can go theirs – perhaps to the Bishop Lodge’s, where the “merry misogynist” can conduct “celebrity readings” of The Work of Human Hands, while his compadres at the ShaNa Spa look on in rapturous admiration (in typical “Santa Fe” fashion).
One may, perhaps, wonder why Lay Pulpit is talking about Terri Schiavo now – some seven-plus years after her untimely death. Simple: one must never forget what happened to her – and Cekada’s part in it. Secondly, it is quite appropriate to talk about it now, because it really ties in with what is happening now: a very perceptible woman (whom Cekada, not surprisingly, also disdains) mentioned that Schiavo was really a “dress-rehearsal” for Obama’s “Affordable Health Care Act” (or -- as it should be called -- the “Affordable Health Scare Act”). One of the “Act’s” provisions calls for – believe it or not – cutting off healthcare benefits for people past a certain age: in effect, “pulling the plug” on them. Schiavo was probably a “trial balloon” to see how the public would react to such a thing -- “death by omission” – and they got away with it. And now, because our country’s “dumbed-down” populace voted in a sociopathic socialist, we look forward to the nightmare of Obamacare – and Cekada can take solace in the fact that he did his part to “help make it happen.”