Sunday, April 03, 2005

Terri and the Pope...a sign?

The death of John Paul II and Terri Schiavo has a lot of people buzzing.

Bill O'Reilly said "Schiavo then the Pope, back to back, there is a message here. It's no accident!"

And my favorite local radio show put the question to the listeners: Is this a sign? A message? And the answer was overwhelmingly yes.

So of course, I got to thinking. Yes, dangerous and all that. But seriously, is there a connection? A divine message?

So I looked at the similarities and the overall situation and I admit it is kind of interesting.

The Pope was a champion of the right to life movement. He (the Vatican) openly condemned the Terri Schiavo decision, calling it a "death sentence executed through a cruel method". They further noted "The circumstances of the death of Ms. Terri Schiavo have rightly disturbed consciences," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in the first statement from the Holy See on the case. "An existence was interrupted. A death was arbitrarily hastened because nourishing a person can never be considered employing exceptional means." Concerning the Pope, the Vatican said " Pope John Paul II was informed of Schiavo's death, Martino said. The cardinal likened the pope's frail health, including resorting to a feeding tube, to Schiavo's case. The "comparison is easy," Martino said. "Everybody will do all the best to keep him alive, to feed him the way it can be done.""

So even the Vatican has noted the comparison. Terri's feeding tube was removed, and near the same time, the Pope had one installed. Michael Schiavo (Claiming Terri's wish) fought to allow death, the Pope's caretakes fought to save his life. Yes, he was lucid while she was presumed vegetative, but he was also suffering Parkinsons and other ailments, and others in similar situations might have chosen not to take on tubes and resuscitation, so even his fighting for life was as apparent as the people fighting for him.

But really the details aside, the biggest pause for me is the focal point of both of their lives.

The Pope fought for the right to life. Terri was the focal point and is considered a victory of the right to die.

That for me is the important similarity, or at least the sign that I see in this. In the passing of these two people, the culture of death has both gained a victory and a precedent; and it has lost a very serious opponent.

So, does this then signal an impending defeat to the right to life? Does it signal a broadening foothold in the culture of death?

I don't think so, at least I don't think its a conclusive prophecy.

I think the message or sign is that the battle is here, it is real and it depends on everyone to be involved.

John Paul II left us lessons in the value of all life, in fighting for life, in living itself, and in dying with dignity and serenity. He lived his life as a constant example of the unwavering fight of these principles. That humbles me.

The Terry Schiavo case taught us lessons about doubt, hatred and love depending on the side you took, but mostly it taught me about secondary motivations that cause the principle to become more important the focal point. The principle of allowing her to die was more important then the possibility she could continue living and even show some chance of recovery. Her actual existence was less important then insuring her rights....And that scares me.

Take what you will from their deaths, or take nothing, as you wish.

The message for me is clear though. There is a war being fought around us daily. And as Paul says...."...Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world....."

Maybe its time to get serious and get involved.