New Amsterdam (Season 1, Episode 15 “Croaklahoma”)
We are slowly getting through season one, and this episode shows the negative impact religion can have on life-and-death decisions: the young parents of a recent heart transplant cannot afford their child’s medication, so his health is in jeopardy. The operation was covered by their insurance, but not their son’s very expensive drugs. Max suggested that they get a divorce, so that Medicare would kick in for the child of a single parent. “The system is broken…”
Now, ordinarily, most parents would accept this solution to an immense obstacle, but this couple are Roman Catholics, who believe that divorce is a sin, punishable by hell-fire.
The son, having overheard this discussion, decides to run away and hide, somewhere in the hospital. He doesn’t want them to get divorced, because then he would, after death, be in Heaven and his parents would be in Hell, separated from him for all eternity.
Such is the teaching of the Church of Rome.
Admittedly, the resolution of this dilemma in the show was a bit too easy, since the Pope was in New York on that exact day, but having a Papal Legate say that he discussed the situation with Pope Francis and that the Pope is cool with it, satisfied the child enough to allow his parents to go ahead with the divorce.
Once upon a time, I, too, was faced with this dilemma, but for a different reason: in 1977, I contemplated marrying my girlfriend at the time, Mona; she was Roman Catholic, I was not (except that I had been baptized Catholic in my early childhood). I was told that I could marry Mona, but that any previous Protestant marriage would be considered annulled by the Church, making my then 5-year-old son illegitimate in the eyes of the Church leaders. I chose to walk away from the whole situation instead.
Seems archaic, doesn’t it?