Christ suffered, so should you

Martha Sepúlveda suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), “a disease of the nervous system that is incurable, degenerative and eventually fatal” and has opted for euthanasia:[1]

I may be a coward but I don’t want to suffer anymore, I’m tired. I have been very peaceful in my mind since I received the authorization for euthanasia. I laugh, I sleep better. God doesn’t want me to suffer like this.[2]

What does the Roman Catholic Church have to say about this? Bishop Francisco Ceballos:

Her affliction can find a transcendent meaning if it becomes a call to the love that heals, to the love that renews, to the love that forgives.[3]

My initial reaction was to think the Bishop’s response callous and empty. It attempts to assign a moral value to Sepúlveda’s suffering where in fact there is none and in fact none can be conceived.

But then, as I went to get some oatmeal, I remembered an exhibit I had seen in San Francisco’s de Young Museum, decades ago. Painting after painting depicted Christ’s crucifixion. Christians, I realized, fetishize Christ’s suffering. And yes, there’s something very sick about this.

It may have inspired a worldwide religion but, much too often, instead of calling suffering evil and empathizing with sufferers, Christians, in the name of Christ, attempt to assign it “a transcendent meaning.” Indeed, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”[4]

It might be transcendent for anyone except the sufferers told to endure on an utterly unverifiable promise. This is not in any way empathetic. It supports and sustains the status quo.

If, in the Bishop’s imagining, Sepúlveda indeed renounces her choice of euthanasia,[5] it is much too easy for others to turn away from pain. Look at Sepúlveda, they can say. She has it worse than you. But she lives on in faith. And so should you.

This is utterly barbaric and relentlessly cruel. It is to refuse any challenge to readily identifiable causes of suffering, be it a terminal illness, be it the rich and powerful.

The thread weaves to abortion. Never mind that both the burdened mother and unwanted child will suffer needlessly. Christ suffered, so should you.

I have another framing: “Suffer, suckers!”

  1. [1]Daily Chatter, “The World Today,” October 20, 2021,
  2. [2]Martha Sepúlveda, quoted in Daily Chatter, “The World Today,” October 20, 2021,
  3. [3]Francisco Ceballos, quoted in Daily Chatter, “The World Today,” October 20, 2021,
  4. [4]Matt. 5:3, New International Version.
  5. [5]Daily Chatter, “The World Today,” October 20, 2021,

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