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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Vatican Congregation Declares Novus Ordo Miracle for Canonization of Paul VI

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I'm a saint, you're a saint, everyone's a saint saint! I'm a saint, you're a saint, everyone's a saint saint!

With everything else in the Church having been “reformed” or given a new meaning—not officially, of course!—over the past fifty years, it was only a matter of time before the concept of “miracle” would undergo an adaptation to post-conciliar requirements.

The problem was how to canonize Paul VI without a single clear-cut miracle to his credit, like one of the many indubitable miracles seen in the case of Saint Pius X, the last Pope to be canonized. For example, the instantaneous curing of a nun of bone cancer after a relic of Pius X was pinned to her clothing.

But the Vatican was up to the challenge: on February 24 we read the news that the “consulting theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Pope Paul VI, moving him closer to sainthood.”


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.


Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.