By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK
I was reading a description of the miracles that were investigated as part of the canonization process for Mother Teresa. The findings were persuasive. One miracle involved the disappearance of an incurable cancer in an Indian woman, the other the recovery of a Brazilian man with a brain infection. In both instances, prayers to Mother Teresa had been offered when the medical authorities had concluded no cure was possible.
Reading these accounts led me to turn over in my mind why these unexplainable cures do not lead nonbelievers to open themselves to the reality of the miraculous, the supernatural, and the power of God in our lives. It is not, from what I can tell, that nonbelievers accuse Church authorities of lying about the miracles. (There may be some of that going on in the fever swamps of anti-Catholic circles, but it is not central to this discussion.) Most of the critics accept that the canonization cures cannot be explained by natural causes. But they argue that there is no reason to conclude that we are looking at a supernatural intercession by a saint.
They point out that there are many instances when people recover from diseases and infirmities in ways that cannot be explained by doctors, when no prayers to saints are part of the scenario. They argue that there are things science does not yet understand about the body’s ability to heal itself, including psychosomatic cures, and that it makes more sense to await the day when scientific explanations are found than to attribute the cures to a saint.
I don’t harbor much hope that we can change the minds of those who think this way. I am convinced that the best we can hope for is an admission from them that the Church is honest and thorough in its investigation of miracles attributed to the intercession of a candidate for sainthood; that no hucksterism is going on; that we are not dealing in the canonization process with anything comparable to the images of the Blessed Mother that people find in streaky windowpanes or shattered tree trunks. … Continue Reading