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Priest: Schiavo, pope struggled alike

Two memorials are held on the same day, one in Jacksonville and the other in Pinellas Park.

Associated Press
Published April 13, 2005

JACKSONVILLE - The medical struggles of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II mirrored each other, said the Rev. Conrad Cowart at a packed memorial service Tuesday for the brain-damaged woman whose final days turned into a national debate over when a feeding tube can be removed and by whom.

"When we saw Terri, we saw the pope, and when we saw the pope we were also reminded of Terri. Both reflecting each other in so many ways," Cowart, in his homily, told more than 800 people attending. Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, sat on the front row of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

Schiavo, the center of a bitter dispute between her husband, Michael Schiavo, and her parents, died March 31, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed by court order. The pope died two days later.

Doctors said Schiavo had been in a vegetative state since collapsing in 1990 when her heart stopped for several minutes. Her husband said she had told him she would not want to be kept alive in such circumstances. Her parents disputed both points.

Cowart said the pope valued life, while those who had Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed do not.

"Terri was cruelly taken away from us by those who have no respect for the culture of life," Cowart said. "We cannot sit back and let the culture of death take over our country."

At Hospice House Woodside in Pinellas Park, where Schiavo died after a five-year stay, more than 70 people, predominantly staff and volunteers, gathered at another memorial service Tuesday morning, hospice spokesman Mike Bell said.

Bell said Michael Schiavo helped organize the service and attended.

Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, said his client thanked the volunteers, staff and law enforcement officials for their work in the last years and days of Terri Schiavo's life.

The service was held in an outside chapel.

The Schindlers said Tuesday they have not heard from Michael Schiavo on his plans to bury his wife's ashes in his family's plot in Pennsylvania, the state where Terri Schiavo grew up and where the couple met.

Felos said no final decision has been made on the burial.

As for the statements made in Jacksonville, Felos said: "I think it's so sad that many are just using Terri's death for their political and ideological causes.

"They seem to just cast aside her wishes," he added.

--Times staff writer Chris Tisch contributed to this report.

[Last modified April 13, 2005, 01:29:17]

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