Once robust, the now-frail pontiff apparently intends to offer his physical decline as an example of a ‘bed of pain’ becoming a ‘cathedral of life’
2004: Pope John Paul II composes himself before praying in Lourdes, France, last summer.
VATICAN CITY – Young and vigorous when he assumed the papacy, Pope John Paul II has been a picture of pain and suffering in recent years, a bent figure with trembling hands and quavering voice.
Yet the 84-year-old pontiff appears intent on playing out his agony for all the world to see, sending out a message of dignity, courage and acceptance of the trials of life.
As John Paul was rushed to the hospital for the second time in three weeks with breathing problems Thursday, the Vatican newspaper suggested he was sharing in Christ’s suffering and said "the bed of pain" has become "the cathedral of life."
Vatican Cardinal Renato Martino called it "a real example of how to accept human suffering." [Source]
I don’t recall ever seeing so many articles related to the meaning of human suffering especially ones such as this one titled "The power of SUFFERING." Most suffering especially of the elderly is ignored by our society except for occasional treatments of nursing home abuses or in making the case for euthanasia.
The pope’s views on illness and suffering have another side to them, as he pointed out in his recent message written for Lent that included a forceful condemnation of euthanasia.
"What would happen if the people of God yielded to a certain current mentality that considers these people, our brothers and sisters, as almost useless when they are reduced in their capacities due to the difficulties of age or sickness?" the pope said.
The commandment "Thou shalt not kill," he said, "applies even in the presence of illness and when physical weakness reduces the person’s ability to be self-reliant."
For papal biographer George Wiegel, the pope’s suffering is a reminder that "especially in the West, we live in a world in which we think the old and the suffering are disposable."
"The pope is saying there are no disposable people. That is a very important message for the whole world, not just for Christians," he told The Associated Press.