Friday, October 15, 2010

Saints, Scientists, and Miracles

Rosie Dimanno is a well known journalist who writes for The Toronto Star. Sometimes she's an investigative journalist and sometimes she's just expressing her opinion. Often it's hard to tell the difference.

Ms. Dimanno is in Rome to witness an important (to her) event this Sunday (Oct. 17, 2010). Pope Benedict XVI will create six new saints on that day, adding to the list of over 10,000 Roman Catholic Saints.1. One of these new saints will be Brother André of Montreal. This explains one of the reasons why Rosie is in Rome—she's Canadian. She also appears to be in sympathy with gullible, devout, Roman Catholics. That's three other reasons.

Ms. Dimanno has written several columns on Brother André and his elevation to sainthood. Her goal is to show that the process is rigorous and scientific. According to the church, it's not just anyone who becomes a saint—you have to provide solid evidence that the candidate performed miracles while living and especially after dying. As you can imagine, this kind of rigorous proof is quite a challenge. This explains why there are only 10,000 saints.2

Here's a list of Rosie Dimanno's recent columns on this event.
Dimanno is entitled to her delusions. That's not a problem for me. What I object to is her claim that the existence of miracles has been scientifically documented. This claim was put forth most forcibly in her column of Wednesday, October 13, 2010: "Brother André's case for sainthood led by man of science."

She's referring to Mario Lachapelle who has a Ph.D. in "medical and biological research." At the age of 41, Lachapelle became a Roman Catholic priest and he is now assistant general of the Holy Cross Congregation in Rome. Brother André—soon to be Saint André—was a member of the Holy Cross Congregation in Montreal. The scientist-priest, Mario Lachapelle, grew up in Montreal and wrote a master's thesis on Brother André and his spirituality.

For the past few years Mario Lachapelle has been the vice-postulator in the Brother André case. He is responsible for showing that a miracle occurred and that it can only be attributed to Brother André (after his death). The case they choose was that of a nine year old boy who was injured in an automobile accident near Montreal.

Here's how Lachapelle describes the case, "Here was someone who was considered dead and one week later he was playing with his Nintendo." According to Rosie Dimanno, the miracle has to meet four conditions: (1) the cure has to be permanent, (2) it has to occur shortly after praying to the saintly candidate, (3) no other gods, angels or saints could have made the miracle happen, and (4) "... the acid test is convincing the tribunal that the healing is scientifically unexplainable given existing medical knowledge, which means depositions from attending physicians and experts in the field completely uninvolved with the case."

After a thorough investigation it was determined that the boy was in an irreversible coma and he recovered fully after his family prayed to Brother André. There is no other possible explanation. It had to be a miracle. Welcome to sainthood, Brother André.

The implications of this proof are profound. It's nothing less than proof of the existence of God. It's also proof that God is Roman Catholic. Five other proofs just like it will be revealed this Sunday. I can't imagine why five billion people won't immediately convert to Roman Catholicism. I know I'm going to talk to my friend the priest on Monday morning.

Science will have to be re-defined.

1. Several of them are my direct ancestors: e.g. Saint Begga of Heristal (613-693), Saint Itta (592-692). These are ancestors of Charlemagne so chances are you are also descended from several saints if you have European ancestors. Celibacy is not one of the requirements for sainthood.

2. There are a slew of potential saints in the pipeline, including several Canadians, but the rate seems to have slowed down in the past thousand years. There are more than 10,000 dead saints who can perform miracles. There are dozens of seraphim and angels, including more than a dozen archangels. There's Satan and his buddies and, of course, The Big Three. That's a lot of supernatural beings for a monotheistic religion.


  1. "(3) no other gods, angels or saints could have made the miracle happen"

    Oh, come on. How could they possibly do such a thing? This couldn't be any more obviously a farce.

  2. H.H. says,

    This couldn't be any more obviously a farce.

    It certainly isn't being treated like a farce in the Canadian press. I haven't seen a single article suggesting that the evidence of miracles is less than conclusive.

  3. Larry Moran says...

    "It certainly isn't being treated like a farce in the Canadian press."

    Headline, Globe and Mail, October 15:

    "Brother André: The Rocket Richard of miracles."

    These headlines come at an opportune moment for the Catholic Church; they will deflect Canadians' attention from the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandals.

  4. I know I'm going to talk to my friend the priest on Monday morning.

    That should clear everything up.

  5. The 'miracle' Cardinal Newman performed that gave Ratzinger something to do on his UK visit was even less impressive. A man on painkilling medicine's pain went away. A miracle!

    Mary MacKillop, the conveniently Australian saint, was excommunicated for the crime of going public with allegations that local priests were raping young boys, you know.

    The Catholic church are right - just one miracle would mean game over for the atheists. But so many obviously bogus ones just makes them the boy who cried wolf.

  6. Hey Larry, I posted my first piece up on Canadian Atheist about brother Andre. You were a big inspiration, so thanks for all your hard work you do! Loved the post.

  7. Celibacy is not one of the requirements for sainthood.

    It's not one of the requirements for Catholic priesthood either.

  8. Any clarification from your friend the priest ?

    If it's who I think it is, how will he reconcile the Vatican freak show surrounding the beatification of the most recent crop of dead people with his background in science ?