Taking On Dr. Death

"Put up or shut up." That's what an attorney for Jack Kevorkian said to the local archbishop, Cardinal Maida, when Maida criticized Kevorkian's deadly hobby. And Maida decided he would "put up." He put up the assets of his archdiocese to help people in crisis who might otherwise seek the services of Dr. Death. On the very day Kevorkian was helping his thirty-third victim commit suicide, Cardinal Maida, the Archbishop of Detroit, made a startling announcement: He would do "whatever it takes," he said, to provide alternatives for people considering suicide or abortion--and he pledged the funds of the archdiocese to make good on his promise. "Before you pick up that telephone to schedule [an abortion] or . . . a consultation with Jack Kevorkian, call Project Life," Maida told the people of Detroit. "There are options and people who care." Cardinal Maida offered to pay the medical bills for the terminally ill and for pregnant women willing to consider abortion alternatives. He then mobilized some 30 local agencies, including hospices and counseling centers, to help him keep his promise. When people call Project Life's hotline, they're directed to one of these agencies for medical, emotional, or financial assistance. Kevorkian and his goulish flunkies are sneering at Project Life, calling it a "publicity gimmick." But the sick and suffering of Detroit are taking Cardinal Maida at his word. Hundreds of people have called Project Life since the hotline was set up a few months ago. Sick people who had planned to kill themselves received counseling and medical care. Women who were considering abortion made adoption plans instead. People with terminal illnesses were referred to hospices for long-term care. Detroit residents who didn't call the hotline were given something, too: a lesson in true Christian compassion. Cardinal Maida wasn't just putting his dollars where his doctrine was, as the Detroit News put it. He was reminding a confused world what real compassion looks like. You see, euthanasia groups claim that when people are suffering, helping them kill themselves is the only "compassionate" thing to do. And when babies are unwanted, the abortion lobby says that abortion is the "compassionate" choice for them, as well. But these definitions are cheap substitutes for the real thing. It's easy to hook up a terminally ill man to an IV full of lethal drugs. Real compassion is caring for him for months or even years--and, as Mother Teresa put it so well, "letting him see Jesus in the midst of his suffering." It's easy to spend 10 minutes aborting the baby of a desperate teenager. Real compassion is assisting that teen through nine months of pregnancy and helping her care for her child after the baby's birth. What an impact the church could have if every evangelical congregation and diocese dared to do what Cardinal Maida is doing. We'd have a bigger impact on the rates of abortion and suicide than with any pro-life laws we might ever enact. Churches, pastors, lay people, my advice to you is: Go and do likewise. Follow the example of this determined and faithful cardinal. He's proven that he's willing to put his money where his mouth is--and at the same time powerfully demonstrate the love of Christ to people in need.


Chuck Colson


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