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Vatican warns of consequences in Schiavo case

As a Florida judge considers the fate of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, a top Vatican official is appealing to save her life, warning of broader consequences if estranged husband Michael Schiavo is allowed to have her feeding tube removed.

“If Mr. Schiavo succeeds legally in causing the death of his wife, this not only would be tragic in itself, but would be a grave step toward the legal approval of euthanasia in the United States,” Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told Vatican Radio.

On Wednesday, Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer extended an emergency stay to 5 p.m. Eastern time today, saying said he needed time to consider legal challenges raised by Terri Schiavo’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler.

The stay held off a court order to remove the feeding tube.

The Schindlers believe Michael Schiavo, who lives with another woman with whom he has two children, is unfit to be their daughter’s guardian. The parents also want medical tests to determine if Terri Schiavo could benefit from physical therapy and possibly be be taught to swallow.

Separately, Florida’s Department of Children and Families filed a motion with Judge Greer to be granted a 60-day stay in order to investigate allegations of abuse, presumably by Michael Schiavo.

In the Vatican Radio interview, Martino referred to a statement by Pope John Paul II.

“I would like to remind everyone in this connection, about all that the Holy Father has said in past days to the Pontifical Academy for Life, confirming that the quality of life is not interpreted as economic success, beauty and physical pleasure, but consists in the supreme dignity of the creature made in the image and likeness of God,” Martino said.

“No one can be the arbiter of life except God himself.”

Court documents and other information are posted on the Schindler family website.

Links to all “Terri briefs” regarding the governor’s defense of Terri’s Law are on the Florida Supreme Court website, public information.

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