WHAT IS THE "CULTURE OF LIFE"? Sister Helen Prejean has a touching op-ed in today's New York Times on how Pope John Paul II decisively moved the Catholic Church against the death penalty. She writes: "The effects of the pope's leadership will be felt for years to come, both in the highest echelons of the Catholic hierarchy and among the Catholic faithful in the pews."
But then there's the story of Kathleen Moltz and Dahlia Schwartz, a lesbian couple with kids from Detroit, who are fighting to retain their health benefits after Michigan voters approved an anti-gay-marriage ballot question last fall. Last month the state attorney general, Mike Cox, ruled that the initiative bans health-care benefits for same-sex partners as well.
Would John Paul have approved of such wanton, dehumanizing cruelty? Oh, yes. Because what has happened to Moltz and Schwartz, and thousands of other couples, is supported by the plain meaning of the Church's 2003 JP-approved statement on same-sex marriage, which ordered elected officials who happen to be Catholic to fight against marriage rights by any means necessary.
That's the statement that carries such lovely phrases as "serious depravity" and "intrinsically disordered." And no, those are not references to people who would deny health benefits to families.
Cox, according to his official bio, is Catholic. We have John Paul to thank for having to point out such things again, 45 years after we had thought that John F. Kennedy had rendered it unnecessary.
The pope can do whatever he likes within his Church, and people can decide whether to stay or leave. But civil society has got to speak out against the Church's increasing insistence on messing around with the lives of the non-Catholic majority.
GO, LARRY! The question of the weekend goes to Larry King: "Jim, you think he's with Jesus now? We only have 30 seconds."
The answer didn't really matter. But "Jim" - James Caviezel, star of The Passion of the Christ - averred that, yes, the pope was with Jesus.
If Caviezel was right, perhaps J.C. is setting J.P. straight on gay marriage right now.
TERRI SCHIAVO AND THE DISABLED. Last week I was talking with a friend, a staunch disability-rights activist who believed Terri Schiavo's feeding tube should not have been removed. My answer - something to the effect that Schiavo wasn't so much disabled as virtually brain-dead - didn't satisfy either me or her.
Then I read this fine essay in yesterday's Boston Globe by Michael Bérubé and Janet Lyon, academics who are also the parents of a child with Down syndrome. Bérubé is the author of Life As We Know It, which I recommend as a way of thinking about disability and humanity, despite Bérubé's digressions into post-modern literary criticism.
Anyway, I'm sending my friend the link.