by Jerry Coyne
The Big News this morning is that Pope Francis has, miraculously, come across another miracle performed by Mother Teresa—or rather by her spirit. This gives her the second miracle she needs to go beyond beatification to full canonization, becoming Saint Teresa. The Vatican clearly put the old fraud on the fast-track to sainthood ever since she died, and now they get their chance. In the old days, it took decades or centuries from candidacy to canonization, but now, trying to court popular sentiment, the Vatican has accelerated the process.
But remember that even Mother Teresa’s first miracle was totally bogus. As I wrote in Faith Versus Fact:
The Vatican itself, which requires a miracle to beatify someone, and two miracles to make them a saint, is none too scrupulous about the medical evidence needed to elevate someone to the pantheon. The beatification of Mother Teresa, for instance, was the supposed disappearance of ovarian cancer in Monica Besra, an Indian woman who reported she was cured after looking at a picture of the nun. It turns out, though, that her tumor wasn’t cancerous but tubercular, and, more important, she’d received conventional medical treatment in a hospital, with her doctor (who wasn’t interviewed by the Vatican) taking credit for the cure.
(See also the objections of Indian rationalists to this “evidence.”)
Now, just in time for Christmas, the Pope has recognized a second miracle. The BBC reports:
Pope Francis has recognised a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, clearing the way for the Roman Catholic nun to be made a saint next year.
The miracle involved the healing of a Brazilian man with several brain tumours in 2008, the Vatican said.
Mother Teresa died in 1997 and was beatified – the first step towards sainthood – in 2003.
. . . “The Holy Father has authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to proclaim the decree concerning the miracle attributed to the intercession of blessed Mother Teresa,” the Vatican said on Friday.
She is expected to be canonised in Rome in September.
. . . There are few details about the recovery of the Brazilian man, whose life the Vatican says was saved in the second miracle.
His identity has not been disclosed to maintain the discretion needed for the investigation, the Catholic New Agency has said.
It says he was unexpectedly cured from brain tumours in 2008 after his priest prayed for Mother Teresa’s intervention with God.
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