Saturday, April 02, 2005

No Pain, No gain 

Marc Theissen has a stirring editorial about the valuable lessons offered by the actions of the Pope in his final hours.
...far from burdening on the Church, this time when John Paul is physically weakest may well be the greatest of his papacy. Here is why: The principal task of the pope is not the effective management of the Church bureaucracy — it is to serve as an effective witness for Christ in the world. John Paul does this more eloquently today, through his silent suffering, than he ever did with words.

Indeed, John Paul has championed many of the causes that he is now a hallmark of;universal respect for life, human dignity, and the value of human suffering. His accomplishments are so many, that it will be tempting to over look his conduct in his final hours. But, in his own words,
"When the body is gravely ill, totally incapacitated, and the person is almost incapable of living and acting, all the more do interior maturity and spiritual greatness become evident, constituting a touching lesson to those who are healthy and normal."

Perhaps his most stirring homily yet will be the one that he delivers not with his mouth but with his body. It is a rebuff to a cultural devaluation of life that seems to be growing in western society. It is in direct opposition to the utilitarian, dispensible respect with which the elderly and infirmed are regarded. And it is a reminder, and a slap in the face of so-called "bio-ethicists," that personhood and humanity are not to be determined by the condition of the material body. Valuable lessons, in a time when women can be starved to death, because someone doesn't seem to want them anymore. In fact, the suffering of the Pope may be the strongest argument against such treatment, as in a christlike manner he undergoes the same suffering that Terry Schiavo, deprived of all dignity and with no voice to speak on her behalf, underwent without reason or consent. John Paul goes freely to meet his maker, in a manner like Michael Schiavo wanted to portray Terry's passing. As all eyes turn to Rome, one can only hope (and know that the Pope is hoping), that a few will turn inward, on the conduct of weeks prior, and examine perhaps the Pope's most lasting lessons.

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