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Reverend Pavone on Hannity and Colmes, Regarding Terri Schiavo

Following is the transcript of Reverend Frank Pavone's appearance on the Hannity and Colmes show on March 30, 2005.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST:  Welcome to “Hannity & Colmes.”  I’m Alan Colmes.
Time is running out for Terri Schiavo.  Every hour without food or water brings us a step closer to the conclusion of this story.  Sean reporting again tonight from outside Terri’s hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, where the situation could be described as one of desperation for members of Terri’s family. Father Pavone, you just came in from—or out from the hospice.  Tell us what you observed, please.

FATHER FRANK PAVONE, VISITED TERRI AT HOSPICE:  Well, this was my third time visiting with Terri.  The last time I saw her was in early February.  And obviously, as one could expect, she was much weaker this time, looked very much in distress.  She certainly did not look peaceful, as some have claimed.

And I prayed with her.  I gave her the blessing of the church.  Ironically, I noticed the flower vases both next to her and at the foot of her bed and those flowers were well watered.  They were being cared for better than she is.

COLMES:  Well, it’s interesting.  We will have a Catholic theologian on later in the show who’s going to say this is the right thing to do.  Is there dissension among those of the church like yourself, because we hear different stories about whether she is indeed peaceful or not in her current condition?

PAVONE:  You know, Alan, once—if you want to enter into the niceties of Catholic theology and ethics, you can get people that will disagree on almost anything.

This transcends all that.  You don’t need Catholic theology to tell you that it’s wrong to starve a person.  We wouldn’t do this to a cat or a dog.  Here’s a woman who was not dying.  And it’s very important for viewers to understand.   She has no terminal illness.  She was not dying until we stopped feeding her, same as any other...

COLMES:  Well, the issue is her wishes.  And also, it’s been stated that it’s actually dehydration that would cause a death, not the lack of sustenance.  That is what is being said by medical authorities.

PAVONE:  Well, right, dehydration, which is exactly what’s happening to her.  But you know, it’s not even the patient’s wishes.  If someone wanted to let themselves be killed by freezing, we wouldn’t let—we wouldn’t let a patient lie by a window open in a blizzard and let them freeze.  It’s just inhumane.

HANNITY: Father, I want to ask you this, because you had—this is now the third time that you saw Terri?

PAVONE:  Yes.

HANNITY:  And you saw her just tonight?

PAVONE:  Just about a half an hour ago.

HANNITY:  Just about a half hour ago.  I mean, a lot of people—it’s 13 days into this.  What are the physical differences in her appearance?  You’ve got to imagine they’re drastic.

PAVONE:  She’s much more gaunt.  She’s much more dry.  One thing I noticed—you know, the first two times I visited with her, she was very responsive to me.  And this is what people, again, don’t realize.  When they hear terms like coma and persistent vegetative state, they imagine she’s lying there with her eyes closed.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I saw her smile.  I saw her return her parents’ kiss.  She laughed.  I heard her vocalize.  She couldn’t form words, but she vocalized.  This time her eyes were not as focused.  They were—they were moving back and forth.  I saw definitely...

HANNITY:  What was her breathing like?

PAVONE:  Breathing now is much more rapid.

HANNITY:  For example like panting?

PAVONE:  Yes.

HANNITY:  That rapid.

PAVONE:  Yes.

HANNITY:  So you see—you know, people will tell you that’s getting very close.  Doctors that I have spoken to will tell you—and Father, you’ve been around people dying a lot more than I have.  It’s part of your business.

PAVONE:  Yes.

HANNITY:  I mean, is that what you see just prior to people dying, passing on?

PAVONE:  Right.

HANNITY:  So she’s really in her final moments here?

PAVONE:  Well, of course, I don’t know how to evaluate it medically but—but I can tell you that the breathing was more rapid.

HANNITY:  Father, we’re going to have this Catholic theologian on later.  How harmful is this?  Because I agree with you.  On the very day that we read that the pope himself is receiving a feeding tube...

PAVONE:  Yes.  Yes.

HANNITY:  ... that there are Catholics out there trying to make the case that this would be the humane thing to do.  Is that church doctrine?  I don’t know, and I went to a theology.  I studied theology when I went to a seminary...

PAVONE:  Right.

HANNITY:  ... at one point in my life.  Is that—that’s not the theology I learned.

PAVONE:  There is no church doctrine that can ever justify starving an innocent person to death like this, you know.  In fact, you know, religion has been misused over the centuries.  People have used religion and misused it to justify violence.

If a theologian is going to come across now and say it’s OK to do what’s being done to Terri, he’s misusing religion in the same way that— that people over the centuries have been blamed for using it to justify violence.

HANNITY:  Both of you have spent time with the family, and they pretty much have pulled back from doing some interviews.  How are they holding up?  Mother, father, sister, brother?

PAVONE:  They’re amazing.  They’re amazing.  They’re very strong. They’re very filled with faith.  They’re just amazing.