Orthodox Church in America responds to the case of Terri Schaivo

— In a statement dated March 24, 2005, Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, addressed the case of Mrs. Terri Schaivo.

“As affirmed on numerous occasions in recent years, the Orthodox Church in America fully recognizes and proclaims the sanctity of all human life, created in the image and likeness of God,” Father Kondratick said. “Life is a gift from God, one which we are expected as Orthodox Christians to revere and steward in a wise manner, fully recognizing the image of the Creator in every human being.

“In light of this fundamental principle, it has also been affirmed on numerous occasions in the past that extraordinary means of prolonging life, as well as extraordinary means of ending life, are inconsistent with the wise stewardship of God’s gift of life,” Father Kondratick continued. “This is especially crucial in cases in which no clear consensus has been determined with regard to a person’s state, as in the case of Mrs. Terri Schaivo. As such, the removal of Mrs. Schaivo from feeding tubes as a means of hastening her death can in no way be condoned or supported. Doing so constitutes a gross lack of wise stewardship of God’s sacred gift of life and an extraordinary means of hastening her death by starvation. This is especially so in light of the fact that there has been no clear consensus on her level of awareness and responsiveness, that she has been and continues to breath on her own, and on numerous other factors and questions with regard to her long term prognosis. Simply stated, the removal of Mrs. Schaivo’s feeding tubes is not and cannot be condoned.”