A hematologist is the unlikely ponderer.
This was a great read as I drank my coffee this morning.
Ironically, my friend and I were just discussing the Church’s process of canonization last week on our daily lunch walk. She’s a fallen-away Catholic who is now a self-proclaimed atheist. And when I mentioned that the Vatican does still require miracles, and that the Church brings in specialists from all different religions, she laughed in disbelief.
So I sent her this link this morning.
I really enjoyed this particular part of her piece:
If a sick person recovers through prayer and without medicine, that’s nice, but not a miracle. She had to be sick or dying despite receiving the best of care. The church finds no incompatibility between scientific medicine and religious faith; for believers, medicine is just one more manifestation of God’s work on earth.
Perversely then, this ancient religious process, intended to celebrate exemplary lives, is hostage to the relativistic wisdom and temporal opinions of modern science. Physicians, as nonpartisan witnesses and unaligned third parties, are necessary to corroborate the claims of hopeful postulants. For that reason alone, illness stories top miracle claims. I never expected such reverse skepticism and emphasis on science within the church.
The hematologist suspected that she was likely being asked to do a blind study for use in someone’s lawsuit. She was surprised to learn at the end that it was the Vatican who wanted the study:
“Median survival of that lethal disease with treatment was about 18 months; however, given that she had already relapsed once, I knew that she had to be dead. Probably someone was being sued, and that was why my hematology colleagues had asked for a blind reading.” Later, she notes: “Now almost 40 years later, that mystery woman is still alive and I still cannot explain why.”