The Passing of a Real Hero

[This week] the pro-life movement mourns the loss of Mr. Robert Schindler, Sr., the father of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, whose fight for life captured the heart of the pro-life community in 2005. Mr. Schindler [was buried] in Philadelphia [yesterday] without the fanfare or accolades that are due a real champion who fought one of the most insidious evils of modern society — the legalized murder of the innocent. His funeral [was] not be televised on all the cable news networks, no cardinals [attended] it, and the President of the United States [[did] not deliver the eulogy — thank God. Mr. Schindler, however, is promised a better send-off than that. God Himself will speak to him words spoken to all the suffering righteous: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.”

It is hard not to notice the contrast between the funerals of Senator Edward Kennedy and Bob Schindler. The secular, brash and privileged “Lion of the Senate” had everything that the world had to offer, including comprehensive political protection from his Waterloo; the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969. He walked away from that one scot-free, and the country ever after that conveniently pretended it didn’t happen because no one would want to tarnish the image of a famous political family. Americans find it just too messy to honestly address casual killing. Ted Kennedy went on to continue his murderous rampage in his political career through his contemptible advocacy of legalized killing through abortion and the farcical defense of Roe by vetoing potential Supreme Court judges who might have rectified that terrible injustice in our country. Among the many sins he will have to account for before the Throne of Grace, his criminally buffoonish and cowardly causing of Mary Jo Kopechne’s death and its subsequent cover-up were perhaps the least. Ted Kennedy had a lot of innocent blood on his hands as he went to his judgment, as do all people who advocate or stand aside in silence at the destruction of the innocents.

Bob Schindler, in contrast, was not endowed with the privileges of wealth and social status, nor the political machine that could protect his back side in times of trouble. His family was ravaged by aggressive euthanasia activist lawyers who decided that his daughter was just not worthy of life because she was brain-damaged. He had to fight the son-in-law from hell who, despite a father’s unconditional offer to care for his own daughter, rammed the euthanasia agenda home viciously, even triumphantly. Bob had to endure the agony of three separate court-ordered starvations of his daughter, the third of which took her life in a brutal act of gloating evil that many compared to the Passion of Christ. Bob was the faithful father standing at the foot of the Cross and his vigils took place without the companionship of any cardinal or bishop there to rally the saints in defense of his daughter. His greatest sorrow was indeed that the very leadership of his Church, like the apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane, should have abandoned his family in their hour of need. Indeed, his local bishop somehow found more pressing needs in Asia and was AWOL in defense of Terri the week she was murdered. But despite the failings of the men who are given earthly powers to guide the Church, God never abandons his children. Bob was always in the company of the very best, sent from Heaven, and it is our firm belief that the angels are welcoming him home today as he meets the glory of God and at long last, is reunited with the daughter he loves so much.

No one deserves the kind of treatment meted out to him and his family, but Bob did not take it sitting down. He stood up and fought long and hard for what was right and showed us how to persevere in all our bitter battles. His heroism was humble and virtuous; despite opposition from all sides, despite being abandoned by churchmen, despite the slander his family endured, he held himself up and never faltered. He never “ran from the scene” as Kennedy did at Chappaquiddick; he stood his ground and faced the battle and then he did not let the story end there. If there was anyone whose suffering gave him a right to bitterly blame others and withdraw from the rest of the world’s problems, it was Bob Schindler. But he did not go that route. He was too much of a man of faith for that. Rather, he and his family set up the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation to assist all others who have are increasingly thrust into that same fight and need someone who has “been there” to stand against the powerful perpetrators of crimes against humanity who sit in our political culture arrogating to themselves the power of life and death, a power that has not been given to them.

Since Terri’s Fight in 2005 I have had the supreme privilege of standing next to Bob and the Schindler family on the front lines in the battle against the culture of death and its champions; but I know a real champion when I see one. Bob Schindler certainly paid a martyr’s price for his fidelity to the enduring values of faith and family and was a hero in every sense of the word. I will miss him! Indeed, we all will miss him, but we know that his spirit lives on in all those who patiently suffer injustice and in those who fight for life against the lions who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

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  • Toni Collins

    Oh! Such a heartbreak. Robert Schindler truly was a hero who stood against all odds to try and save his daughter. Would that all helpless girls had such a strong defender as a father.

    As our current health care debate ensues, I am often reminded how seemingly innocuous language is used both in the House Bill 3200 and by proponents of that bill. In 2003, I wrote about how Terri Schiavo’s plight was being used to pressure us to “choose death” at some future time of infirmity. Terri was still alive at the time, which makes the article tough to read; everything is written in present tense.

    But if you find yourself befuddled about why people are scared by HR3200, please read what was being pushed as Bob Schindler fought for his daughter’s life.
    http://www.envoymagazine.com/planetenvoy/Update-TCollins-TerriS-Jan04-Full.htm

  • goral

    A lot of contrasts can be drawn in the passing of the two champions, one of life and the other of death.
    There is also the striking similarity between the “son-in-law from hell” and the prowling lion of the senate.
    It was a matter of convenience that the two women in their lives be removed as obstacles to pastures more enticing and lush.
    Perhaps, to every one of us God gives an episode where we are presented with someone helpless and vulnerable, someone entirely at our mercy. As we apportion mercy in that episode, so it will be with us.

  • fatherjo

    Maybe we should seriously consider promoting Robert Schindler’s cause for canonization.

  • Cooky642

    Amen to Fr. Jo!!! Bob and Mary Schindler have been heros to me since I first heard of Terri and what was being done to her. Certainly, their heroic struggle against Michael Schiavo, and their heroic submission in defeat, are examples to us all of how God expects us to be like Jesus. I have prayed for the repose of Terri’s soul every year on the anniversary of her death, and consider her a martyr of the faith. Now, I’ll add Bob to my list, too. Thanks, Fr. Jo, for the specific request to attach to my prayers.

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