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Press Conference with Brother Paul O'Donnell, Bobby Schindler

Aired March 26, 2005 - 17:12   ET


GERRI WILLIS, CNN ANCHOR: The latest action, an emergency petion filed in the Florida Supreme Court. Let's listen in.

BROTHER PAUL O'DONNELL, SCHINDLER FAMILY ADVISER: ...on behalf of the family. And I would ask for you to understand that this is very difficult for them right now. Terri Schiavo is dying of starvation and dehydration, and they're very, very concerned.

Bob and Mary Schindler and the Schindler family are strong, Catholic people of faith. At sundown, in our tradition, we begin the holiest feast of the year, and we recall our salvation history from God creating Adam, to the death of Jesus Christ.

Terri is in day nine of being dehydrated and starved to death. The doctors have told us that the starvation process is 7 to 14 days. No medical doctor could deny the fact that she is dying as we speak. On behalf of the Schindler family, 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.

We ask that miniscule a piece of the consecrated host and a small drop of the precious blood be allowed to be put into her mouth as a comfort to her mother and father, and brother and sister. Please, Michael, have compassion. Thank you.

And we have put forward a request to hospice and George Felos that the family is requesting that, at sundown, when the feast begins, that this take place. We have been informed that there is a Catholic priest chaplain on staff here, and we have put forth the request that that Catholic priest, whoever he may be, would visit Terri tonight and give her holy communion.

BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: I just want to address -- I heard earlier that Mr. Felos was saying that terri is dying a peaceful and painless death. That's absolutely not true. This is the most absurd thing I've ever heard.

If that was the case, I would ask Mr. Felos to allow a video or a camera in Terri's room, to allow you to see how peaceful and painlessly she's dying. It's the same reason there hasn't been a video allowed -- a video taken of my sister for the last five years. They're mischaracterizing the condition today, just as they've been mischaracterizing the condition for the last five years. It's sick. It's heinous, what is happening to my sister. And I assure you, she is not dying peacefully and painlessly. And I'm going to actually suggest to my parents not to go in and visit their daughter anymore. Thank you.

WILLIS: You've just been listening to Father (sic) Paul O'Donnell, the Schindler family adviser, and Bobby Schindler, her brother.

John Zarrella is in Pinellas Park, he's been listening in on all of this. John, are you there?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Gerri. Very emotional moments there. Of course, the highest of the Holy Days in the Catholic Church upon us now. And the family clearly would want to see that Terri Schiavo is given the opportunity to receive a small piece of the blessed sacrement, the host, as well as a bit of the blessed wine.

And of course -- apparently, there's the court order that led to the removal of the feeding tube on the 18th. Somehow or other -- and I'm not sure of the legalities of how that works, it would forbid any sort of giving her anything, so that may be the problem that has to be worked out. But the family is appealing to Michael to go ahead and allow that to happen.

And again, we get back to that underlying current that we saw, as we heard in Mr. Felos's press conference of a couple of hours ago. He was saying that Terri looked at peace, a peace and beauty that he had not seen before in all of her years.

And then of course, Bobby Schindler coming right out today and saying that's the most absurd thing that he has ever heard. And asking that a camera or picture be taken.

Mr. Felos when asked earlier today said that's an invasion of her privacy and that was not going to be allowed to happen.

So, even here at the very 11th hour, there is no thawing of the bitterness between the two sides in this debate over whether Terri should live or die -- Gerri.

WILLIS: Well, John Zarrella, just an incredibly emotional moment here. Brother, Paul O'Donnell talking about she absolutely should have communion now. My understanding, though, is that she can receive communion one more time from some reporting we did earlier in the day. Have you heard that?

ZARRELLA: And that it may be that the plan was that, at the point of -- and we need to be clear on that, and we'll have to go back and take a look at what Mr. Felos' exact remarks were -- it would come at the time she was given last rites, it may be that. So, we need to clear that up.

But the family wants her to get it now, as well as at that point.

WILLIS: And John, I noticed there's still people there, people still milling around. How many people are watching or looking on and are they emotional as well? ZARRELLA: You know, I think there's a large degree of that happening. You probably hit the nail on the head. I mean, there are not as many people as we expected there would be here today. They're certainly not as boisterous as they have over the last seven to eight days. The mood is far more somber better than it has been. Again, as all of these legal challenges continue to fall by the wayside and hope gets dashed, the mood draws even grimmer here.

Now, there is that appeal that is before the Florida Supreme Court now. And again that goes back to all of the arguments that had been made before involving that Terri Schiavo needs to be put back on, so they have time to -- on the feeding tube -- so they have time to reevaluate her, give them another opportunity to look at her based on what the neurologist said a few days ago who went back and said he believes she is not in a PVS state, that she is in something less than that, a somewhat conscious state, a minimally conscious state.

And also, the attorney that works for the Schindler's, Barbara Weller having gone in and saying she may have uttered a couple of words indicating -- or not even words, but utterances that would indicate to them that she wanted to live. So a lot of that is what they're arguing now before the Florida Supreme Court.

But again, very emotional press conference just now wrapped up here -- Gerri.

WILLIS: John Zarrella, thank you so much for that report.

I'll be back in 20 minutes with headlines. Stay with us.


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