Friday, March 25, 2005

Ashes Tell No Tales:
Michael Plans Cremation for Terri
—Against Her Catholic Faith

Michael Schiavo plans to have Terri's body cremated, thereby preventing investigation into the true state of her brain (which would show how alert she was at the time of her starvation) and—more troublingly—preventing investigation into the cause of her collapse, which the Schindlers believe was spousal abuse.

Terri's parents argue that cremation would go against their daughter's Catholic faith. Indeed, it would—in more ways than one. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia,the Church does not look kindly upon cover-ups (emphasis mine):

The Church has opposed from the beginning a practice which has been used chiefly by the enemies of the Christian Faith. Reasons based on the spirit of Christian charity and the plain interests of humanity have but strengthened her in her opposition. She holds it unseemly that the human body, once the living temple of God, the instrument of heavenly virtue, sanctified so often by the sacraments, should finally be subjected to a treatment that filial piety, conjugal and fraternal love, or even mere friendship seems to revolt against as inhuman. Another argument against cremation, and drawn from medico-legal sources, lies in this: That cremation destroys all signs of violence or traces of poison, and makes examination impossible, whereas a judicial autopsy is always possible after inhumation, even of some months.
MORE: From Canon 1176 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law (emphasis mine): "The Church earnestly recommends the pious custom of burying the bodies of the dead be observed, it does not however, forbid cremation unless it has been chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching."

There is no reason to assume that a devout Catholic such as Terri would prefer cremation. Moreover, cremation as a means of avoiding an autopsy that might uncover "signs of violence" (see the Catholic Encyclopedia entry above) would be "contrary to Christian teaching." Also, the Church "strongly prefers" that if cremation is done, it should be done after a full funeral liturgy with the body present. Michael Schiavo has no intention of allowing such a funeral to happen.