Can a Suffering Pope Still Lead the Catholic Church?

Pope John Paul II, 84, is living the culture of life by powerful example

In a world that seems teeming on the brink of euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and other issues surrounding the value of human life, there are interesting questions surrounding the life of Pope John Paul II, especially now as his life is drawing to an end in the public light:

Still, the question is in the air. Can a suffering, 84-year-old man continue to lead an institution representing a billion people? Pope John Paul II and the people around him say yes, and have, in fact, built an explicit case that his very sickness transmits a series of powerful messages – ones that would seem, for now, to close off the possibility of his retirement.

Those messages range from one of inspiration for the millions around the world now living longer, to a physical expression of his often contentious views on the sanctity of human life, from the womb to the frailties of old age. Abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia are all abominations to him – repudiated by his own public struggle with death.

‘What he is saying is that life is worth living until its natural end,’ one Vatican official said this week during the latest scare over his health. ‘It is an important witness, and I am sure he is conscious of it – that there is no kind of life which humanly speaking can be terminated because it seems not to be worth living.’

Now that’s a powerful way of living through example. Please keep the Pope in your prayers this weekend.

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