22 September 2008

Benedict or Baroness Warnock? Human Dignity or Utilitarianism? Life or Death? Hope or Despair?

Benedict or Baroness Warnock? Human Dignity or Utilitarianism? Life or Death? Hope or Despair?

On 15 September, during his pilgrimage to Lourdes on the occasion of the 150yh anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother to St Bernadette Soubirous, Pope Benedict celebrated mass with the sick anointed ten persons, young and old. His homily was a message of hope.

He spoke of the smile of Mary: Today Mary dwells in the joy and the glory of the Resurrection. The tears shed at the foot of the Cross have been transformed into a smile which nothing can wipe away, even as her maternal compassion towards us remains unchanged. The intervention of the Virgin Mary in offering succour throughout history testifies to this, and does not cease to call forth, in the people of God, an unshakable confidence in her: the Memorare prayer expresses this sentiment very well. Mary loves each of her children, giving particular attention to those who, like her Son at the hour of his Passion, are prey to suffering; she loves them quite simply because they are her children, according to the will of Christ on the Cross.

He spoke of the sacrament of the sick, of the suffering in the life of St Bernadette and of the fact that she had received the sacrament four times: Here and now, though, it is possible to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, as manifested through the grace of the sacrament of the sick. Bernadette herself, in the course of a life that was often marked by sickness, received this sacrament four times. The grace of this sacrament consists in welcoming Christ the healer into ourselves. However, Christ is not a healer in the manner of the world. In order to heal us, he does not remain outside the suffering that is experienced; he eases it by coming to dwell within the one stricken by illness, to bear it and live it with him. Christ’s presence comes to break the isolation which pain induces. Man no longer bears his burden alone: as a suffering member of Christ, he is conformed to Christ in his self-offering to the Father, and he participates, in him, in the coming to birth of the new creation.

Benedict spoke of the dignity of the sick: In the smile of the most eminent of all creatures, looking down on us, is reflected our dignity as children of God, that dignity which never abandons the sick person. This smile, a true reflection of God’s tenderness, is the source of an invincible hope.
On 19 September The Daily Telegraph had a report about Baroness Warnock, an ethicist and former teacher, now aged 84, just a little older than Pope Benedict.

Her message was rather different: The veteran Government adviser said pensioners in mental decline are "wasting people's lives" because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.
She insisted there was "nothing wrong" with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.

The 84-year-old added that she hoped people will soon be "licensed to put others down" if they are unable to look after themselves.

'Putting down' is what you do with an old or severely injured dog or cat.

John Smeaton, Director of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn, has some interesting comments on this in his blog : Even more interestingly, the Wikipedia entry on Lady Warnock says:"She never knew her eldest sibling, Malcolm, who was severely mentally handicapped with autism and cared for in a nursing home, spending his last days in a Dorset Hospital."Perhaps if she had known Malcolm, she would have been exposed at a formative age to the humanity of caring for the disabled, and the disabled of today would not be burdened by her inhuman ideas.

Maybe if Lady Warnock were to meet my friend Bololoy she would have a change of heart.

Which of these two persons in their eighties brings a message of hope?

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