.- Cardinal Raymond L. Burke thinks that Blessed John Paul II's life and teachings are a model for how Christians should view suffering.
âBlessed John Paul II is extraordinary,â Cardinal Burke said Feb. 25. âHis own life is a testimony to suffering embraced in order to love more.â
âBut in addition to that he was also the great teacher, especially in this document âSalvifici Doloris,â which he wrote after the attempt on his life.â
Cardinal Burke spoke to CNA after giving the keynote address at âThe Boundaries of the Humanâ conference in Rome. The Feb. 25-26 gathering was organized by the groups The Life Guardian Foundation, Family of the Americas, and the Italian pro-family group Associazione Famiglia Domani.
In his speech, Cardinal Burke challenged âa mechanical approachâ that views the sick person merely âas an object burdened with great suffering,â leading to âthe conclusion ... that their life no longer has meaning.â
Instead, he said, âthe mystery of sufferingâ should be seen as âsomething to be lived and to be accepted as an invitation to love God and our neighbor more completely.â It is also an opportunity for others to âdemonstrate the same kind of loveâ in how they care for those who are suffering.
This way of seeing suffering was lived out by Bl. John Paul II, he said.
âHere is a person who from his very early years of life experience one great suffering after another,â recalled Cardinal Burke.
Born in 1920 in the Polish town of Wadowice, Bl. John Paul II lost his mother, brother and father in the early years of his life. He then suffered the hardship of Nazi occupation, which was followed by Communist persecution.
âAnd what do we see but a man who grows ever greater in love, embracing the priestly vocation and becoming a heroic priest and bishop and eventually Pope.â
Cardinal Burke described the final days of Bl. John Paul IIâs life in 2005 as âperhaps one of the most powerful lessons he gave to usâ on how to suffer. The way the Pope died, he added, was âextraordinarily beautiful and inspiring.â
Cardinal Burke recalled how Bl. John Paul II rejected the medical description âvegetativeâ because the person suffering âdoes not become a vegetable or an animal â he remains a human being.â
âEven if he is not able to respond in any way perceptible to us, our relationship with that person grows and develops and can even become heroic in its virtue,â the cardinal said.