Kathleen Parker

To believe in God's autonomy over human life, however, is a hard sell. How does one justify creating more mouths when so many can't be fed? My own Catholic grandmother, the youngest of 11 children, was handed over to the nuns at age 4 when her family could no longer feed her.

And yet, the nuns did feed my grandmother. And she did manage to grow up and marry and create my father, who then created me. So.

Pro-choice arguments are, nonetheless, compelling. Privacy from government intrusion, yes. Women's autonomy over their own bodies, yes. All children wanted, well, of course. But none of those testaments to logic alters the essential truth that life begins when egg and sperm commingle and that every one of us was at that far end of the life continuum before we were able to dabble in ethics and trifle with electronic keyboards.

The question is how we reconcile what is true with what is merely convenient? That we might choose a path other than the pope's is the prerogative of a free people -- and no one recognizes that freedom with greater consistency than this pope. No one has to be Catholic.

But to ask Benedict to change the church's rules to suit modern appetites and lifestyles is to ask that he forsake the sanctity of human life for the benefit of earthly delights. Those are not his concerns.

Even for non-Catholics like me, there's something comforting about a stubborn pope in a world of moral relativity. Like a strong father, he ignores his children's pleas for leniency knowing that his rules, though tough, serve a higher purpose.

If Benedict were to relent and compromise the value of human life, what would be left to debate? Perhaps only one's own time to die. And then ...

Who decides?

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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