Why Right-Wing Christian Leaders Are Often Indifferent to Needless Suffering
This is not a fringe position in the Catholic Church, which has long extolled the spiritual virtues of suffering. Mother Teresa’s attraction to pain shaped her ministry to the dying, and one of the most serious criticisms of her Calcutta homes was that patients were denied modern medical care to relieve pain even when the Missionaries of Charity had the funding to do so. By her own report, Mother Teresa once told a woman to imagine that her suffering was kisses from Jesus. “Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you.”
“Tell Jesus to stop,” the woman responded…
One place this clash of values is playing out is in hospitals and outpatient clinics across the U.S. that have been absorbed by Catholic healthcare corporations. The mergers leave no non-Catholic care option in many communities—as, for example, in seven Washington counties where all hospitals are now Catholic owned or managed. By design, merger contracts between secular and Catholic health care systems often require that once secular institutions become subject to the “Ethical and Religious Directives” of the Catholic bishops. Like ALL’s meme and Mother Teresa’s homes, these religious directives promote suffering over patient choice in dying:
Catholic health care institutions may never condone or participate in [death with dignity] in any way. . . . Patients experiencing suffering that cannot be alleviated should be helped to appreciate the Christian understanding of redemptive suffering…
Given the words of the Bible writers, and given the words of Christianity’s patriarchs, one can understand the muddled mentality that allows right-wing Christians to feel virtuous while promoting policies that force people to suffer against their will. If only pain has the power to cleanse sin, and only God gets to decide when enough is enough, then offering people choices about the beginnings or end of life denies the devil his due.
Just one reason (among many) why I’m an atheist.