Life as an Extreme Sport

Urbi et Orbi

In this year’s Urbi et Orbi, Il Papa has said something rather startling:

In his address, the Pope also made a reference to the controversial case of Piergiorgio Welby, a paralyzed Italian man who was denied a Catholic service because he had asked to die.

“What are we to think of those who choose death in the belief that they are celebrating life?” he said.

The Catholic Church falling in line behind some form of physican-assisted suicide would be a startling (and welcomed, at least by me) thing. It would be well out of line for a Pope in the Ratz’s position to make a sweeping doctrinal change like that – typically, after the reign of a Pope like John Paul II, the next Pope is a short-timer who’s just there to tide over until the next long-term candidate can be groomed. Few changes are ever really made, especially at such a core level – this is definitely something to keep your eye on.


  1. I thought Benedict was just a short-term Pope until the Antichrist takes over.

    It wouldn’t be surprising if there are big doctrinal changes before a new pope shows up, considering Ratzinger’s position within the JP2.0 papacy.

  2. I spoke with a prominent U.S. Catholic theologian and bioethicist a few weeks ago, and he had an entirely different perspective on Benedict, given that he knew and had spoken on several different occasions with Cardinal Ratzinger. He said that for all his charisma, John Paul II was no theologian, given to a casuistic, intricate, layered, generally nuanced way of thinking about difficult problems. In contrast, he said Ratzinger was a brilliant theologian, and that his background in that vein would show through eventually during his papacy. It was a perspective I had not heard before, so take it FWIW.

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