And what is the miracle? According to news reports “in mid-1990s in California, [a] then-unborn child was found to have a serious problem with a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI. The child was born without problems, and now that he is an adolescent and remains healthy, he is regarded as having been completely healed (my emphasis).”
So, apparently, the “miracle” consists of a child in utero with an unspecified “serious problem” that carried a “high risk” of brain damage—but who exhibited no actual brain damage—being “cured” after he was entrusted to Paul VI. But cured of what, seeing that there was no brain damage in the first place?
Seriously? How can one be cured of a risk, the mere potential for the occurrence of an event that may never happen at all? Moreover, there have been many cases in which a physician warned a mother that her child would be born with one or more crippling defects only to be proven wrong when the child was born perfectly healthy. Like this case, in which there was no putative intercession by Paul VI or anyone else in particular, but simply prayers and trust in divine providence.
And what is this business about waiting until the child was an adolescent before declaring that he was “cured”? Whoever heard of a “miracle cure” that could not be verified for some fifteen years after the putative “intercession” of the candidate for sainthood? Of course, the problem here is that there was no cure of an existing condition, but merely the alleged “high risk” of it. Evidently, the “serious problem” that conferred the “high risk” was not itself cured, for if it had been there would have been no need to monitor the child until adolescence to see whether the “serious problem” would damage his brain. For that matter, why have we been provided with no details whatsoever about the “serious problem”? What if the “serious problem” in question often does not cause brain damage? Where, then, is the “miracle”?
So there we have it: Paul VI is to be canonized on the strength of the claim that a child with a high risk of brain damage did not develop brain damage. That is the best the Vatican could come up with thirty-six years after the death of Pope Paul.
As the editor of this newspaper has queried: “Dare we hope that all men will be canonized?” With a standard for determining miracles this low, the question is barely ironic.