Come May 1, Pope John Paul II will be one step closer to sainthood, as Pope Benedict XVI confirmed a miracle on the part of his predecessor. Now John Paul II can be officially beatified by the church, which brings him just one miracle away from being declared a saint by the Catholic Church.
But what's with the first miracle? And how was it deemed a miracle on the part of Pope John Paul II? Was it really his doing? And does this so-called miracle really count?
Let's take a look ...
The miracle's name is Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a nun from France, and she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2001. She could barely move her left side, write, or get around. She couldn't sleep because she was in such pain. The Sister found it intolerable to watch Pope John Paul II speak, because he also had Parkinson's, and it left her in profound dread for her future.
A few months after John Paul's death, Marie-Simon-Pierre's health took a turn for the worse, and she and her nun sisters prayed to the deceased Pope, and then she wrote his name on paper, her hand shaking the whole time. The next morning she woke up -- completely cured! A miracle for sure! Or is it?
The Catholic church, fully aware of the skepticism around any miraculous declaration, investigated the miracle for several years, pulling in many experts, medical professionals, a psychiatrist, and others. Then today, Pope Benedict deemed Marie-Simon-Pierre's overnight recovery a true miracle! So it's official.
But obviously, there are still skeptics with questions. Here are mine:
- Doesn't most every human being stricken with a horrible illness pray that their pain and suffering be lifted? How many of those prayers are never answered?
- Why just Marie-Simon-Pierre? Surely, there are others who have had similar prayers answered? Or do we have to keep extraneous miracles on the down low so people really believe in miracles when the Pope needs one?
- Did they use only church-appointed experts and doctors in their investigation? Does that really count?
- Don't medical anomalies happen all the time? Perhaps Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre was mis-diagnosed with Parkinson's in the first place? One doctor believes she might have had a similar nervous disease, not Parkinson's, which could go into sudden remission.
- My grandmother had Parkinson's and she prayed every day of her life? Why wasn't her illness lifted? (This is a rhetorical question that I know the answer to, btw.)
- Can't we find miracles anywhere we look -- if we want to -- I mean, not that there's anything wrong with that?
- Are all these questions just going to put me in the Catholic doghouse? Is questioning the Church just a surefire way to have people tell you that you're not a believer and that you should just trust in God? Because I totally believe and trust! All I have to do is look out my window and I believe and trust -- I just don't necessarily believe things when I'm told I'm supposed to ...
Do you believe in miracles? If so, do you think this miracle is a real one?
Image via the Vatican