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Does Curing a Disease Thwart God's Will?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Aug 13, 2009

Peter Ungar from New York got my point about euthanasia (Respecting the Right to Choose Death) even though he hasn’t read The Lord of the Rings and doesn’t care much for Tolkien. But he wondered whether we were thwarting God’s will not only in killing people prematurely but in trying to cure those whom He has afflicted with disease. It’s a good question, and I have two quick thoughts on it.

First, according to Catholic teaching, natural evils such as diseases result from God’s permissive will, not his active will. In other words, it is not quite right to think of God as afflicting people with disease. Rather, he permits them to be so afflicted as a result of secondary causes, because He knows He can bring great moral and spiritual good out of the affliction if those afflicted will permit Him to do so.

Second, in this understanding, one does not need to fear that an attempt to cure a disease goes against God’s will. The disease has natural causes and so it is perfectly appropriate to invoke natural remedies. Grace always builds upon and perfects nature; it does not supplant or destroy it. God Himself frequently shows His love through the ministrations of those who seek to overcome natural evils and do natural good, as we ourselves are bound to do, also out of love. Hence both suffering and the alleviation of suffering should lead us to God.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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