Liberal columnist Michael Kinsley made light of the Catholic Church's process of recognizing a saint in a Wednesday column for the Los Angeles Times, while simultaneously blasting the Church's opposition to embryonic stem cell research, claiming that the religion was a "main impediment" in developing a cure for Parkinson's disease.
Kinsley immediately set the tone in his column, "John Paul II's fast track to sainthood," by stating that the "Roman Catholic Church has either a very good or a very bad sense of humor." After noting the Vatican's planned beatification of the Polish-born pope later this year on May 1 and some of the history behind it, the columnist raised the subject of miracles in the canonization process and snarked about what the Church considers to be a miracle:
...JP2's successor, Pope Benedict XVI, waived the traditional requirement of a five-year waiting period before the process can even begin. But he could not waive the main requirement — those pesky miracles.
Some might consider bringing down the Soviet Union something of a miracle. Or maybe running the best school systems in America. But that's not what the church means. It demands an old-fashioned, abracadabra type of miracle, such as appearing as a vision before a Catholic businessman as he is about to perform an act of illegal insider trading, or ridding an entire major sports team of athlete's foot.
In this case, JP2 wasted no time. Once he got to heaven, he immediately got to work. He hadn't been dead long when he answered the prayers of a French nun, curing her of Parkinson's disease. You thought Parkinson's was incurable? So did I. And I have it, as did JP2 in his last years....Sister Marie Simon-Pierre of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards requested JP2's intercession, and lo and behold she woke up one morning, two months after the pope had died, to discover that all of her symptoms were gone.
This personal connection of sorts to the miracle came through when Kinsley issued his criticism of the Church's opposition to embryonic stem cell research later in the column:
Congratulations to Sister Marie Simon-Pierre. It's miraculous what a miracle can do. But I could use a miracle cure for Parkinson's too, as could millions of others around the world who have Parkinson's or will develop it. And one of the main impediments to such a miracle is the Roman Catholic Church. The most likely source of miracle cures for all sorts of diseases, with Parkinson's foremost among them, is stem cell research. The church opposes stem cell research on the grounds that it uses, and in the process destroys, human embryos. These are surplus embryos from fertilization clinics that will be destroyed, or permanently frozen, anyway. They are not fetuses; they are clumps of a few dozen cells.
But of course none of this matters if you believe they are full human beings like you and me. The famous test of that belief goes something like this: Suppose there was a fire destroying your house and you had the choice of rescuing either one real 1-year-old baby or two test tubes containing an embryo each. Would you really go for the test tubes and let the baby die?
It seems more than a little unfair (not characteristic of John Paul II at all) that he should cure this nun but leave the rest of us hanging out to dry. I hope that, in his next miracle, he will do something to rectify this situation. After all, it might be his last one.
Instead of blaming the Church for the lack of a cure for Parkinson's, perhaps the columnist should reconsider his support of embryonic stem cell research, which goes on despite the Church's opposition. After all, not only did he acknowledge that such research "destroys human embryos," but it also has been a dead-end, when compared to adult stem cell research, which has resulted in many breakthrough therapies and cures. The same Church he took to task is financing a stem cell center at the University of Maryland's study of adult stem cells. Maybe Kinsley will get around to complimenting them if they come up with a cure, but we shouldn't hold our breath.