- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

Easter Sunday did not bring a miracle for the family of Terri Schiavo, though the 41-year-old woman was allowed her first nourishment in nine days, when a priest gave her a drop of Communion wine.

Nine days of starvation and dehydration have put Mrs. Schiavo beyond “the point of no return,” and yesterday, she was put on a morphine drip to ease the pain of death. David Gibbs, attorney for Mrs. Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said Mrs. Schiavo’s health is “declining rapidly.”

“We believe she has at this point passed where physically she would be able to recover. They’ve begun to give her morphine drip for the pain. And at this point, we would say Terri has passed the point of no return,” Mr. Gibbs said yesterday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Her family signaled increasing resignation by advising protesters to spend Easter with their families. Their estranged son-in-law, Michael Schiavo, relented to their request that Mrs. Schiavo receive Communion on the day that Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.

“I beg Michael Schiavo, for the love of God, to allow Terri Schiavo, a practicing Roman Catholic, to have Holy Communion on the highest feast of our church,” Brother Paul O’Donnell, a Franciscan monk, had said earlier in the day.

Later, Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, the Schindlers’ lead religious adviser, told reporters that he gave Mrs. Schiavo a drop of consecrated wine on her tongue. He said he could not give her a fleck of the consecrated bread because her tongue was too dry. He also administered the last rites, anointing her with holy oil and giving a blessing.

Doctors have said Mrs. Schiavo is unable to swallow, and her husband has won court orders against any attempt to feed her orally.

The priest’s announcement drew applause and cheers from the crowd gathered outside Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla.

The Rev. Rob Johansen, a Michigan priest and friend and adviser to the Schindlers, said the Communion matters because “Jesus Christ said, ‘This is my body and soul’ at the Last Supper. It is the most intimate connection we can make with Our Lord this side of eternity.”

Mrs. Schiavo’s parents said they are not giving up hope, but urged supporters to spend Easter with their families.

“She is fighting like hell to stay alive. I want the powers that be to know that it is not too late to save her. She does not want to die,” Mr. Schindler said.

Before Monsignor Malanowski administered Communion, ministers tried to get past police to do the same, and protesters in wheelchairs climbed out to block a driveway and shouted, “We’re not dead yet.”

Nearly 40 protesters, including six children, have been arrested at the hospice in the past week, including some who were trying to bring Mrs. Schiavo water. Mrs. Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, asked the supporters to tone down the behavior yesterday and “keep it prayerful and peaceful.”

“We are not going to solve the problem today by getting arrested. We can change laws, but we are not going to change them today,” Mr. Schindler said.

Mr. Schiavo had no public comment yesterday, but his brother, Scott Schiavo, said Saturday that he looked forward to ending the ordeal.

“He knows in his heart he is doing the right thing. He is doing what Terri wanted,” Scott Schiavo said. “He’s having a hard time understanding why people are fighting him on this, why they are calling him a murderer. It’s very tough on him.”

The Schindlers appear to have exhausted all legal remedies through state and federal courts, Congress, the Supreme Court and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said yesterday that he is “sad that she’s in the situation that she’s in.”

But Mr. Bush also told CNN: “I cannot violate a court order. I don’t have powers from the United States Constitution, or for that matter from the Florida Constitution, that would allow me to intervene after a decision has been made.”

Catholic Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” called the court orders enabling Mr. Schiavo to starve his wife to death “euthanasia.”

The church “would say, ‘You cannot do that. You cannot take a life,’ “he said.

Mr. Gibbs credited Mr. Bush for attempting to intervene at the last minute through the Department of Children and Families.

“Governor Bush has been a real friend to the Schindler family. And we believe he’s done everything he can to be a help,” he said.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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