Apr 29

How to Become a Saint?

How to Become a Saint?

Hemant Mehta (http://www.friendlyatheist.com, http://www.patreon.com/Hemant)

Two Popes — John the 23rd and John Paul the 2nd — became saints on Sunday and it’s incredible how little it takes to get that title.

Normally, you have to have performed two “verified” miracles. Do you know how many miracles have actually been verified? Zero. Ever. There are things we may not have good medical answers for, but that doesn’t mean a Pope intervened.

Miracle is just a fancy word for “shit we can’t explain.” And FWIW, doctors have even challenged some of the supposed miracles, saying there were natural explanations and we know what they are.

But let’s look at the miracles attributed to these popes.

In the case of John the 23rd, they’re making him a saint based off of only 1 miracle — because 2 would be silly: In 1966, a nun was cured of gastrointestinal hemorrhaging. When Sister Catarina Capitano got sick, she was praying to the Holy Virgin of Pompei. Her sisters put an image of the Pope on her nightstand. But she didn’t get better. But then she prayed to the Pope and she got better! But only for two weeks. That’s when she started vomiting like crazy. So she had to go back to the hospital. One of her fellow nuns brought her a piece of the sheet on which the pope had died… and she placed it on the hole on her chest. And then days later, she felt someone pushing the wound on her stomach and saying her name. Guess who it was? The Pope. And it looked like like the image on her nightstand — who’d have thunk? — and when she woke up, the wound was gone! Clearly a hallucination. There are no before/after pics, by the way. Can we consider the possibility that the doctors just didn’t have all the right information?

For John Paul II, his miracles include curing a Costa Rican woman of an aneurysm. She saw him on TV and prayed for healing and she got healed. Because miracles can be sent through television now. As if John Paul II had anything to do with that…

He also supposedly cured a French woman of Parkinson’s disease. I repeat: Parkinson’s. The thing Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox have. There’s no cure for Parkinson’s. It’s far more likely that she had symptoms resembling early stages of Parkinson’s but it wasn’t actually Parkinson’s. And that other disease does go into remission.

If you want to pin a miracle on him, maybe it’s that the Church didn’t collapse under the weight of all the sex scandals that occurred under his rule. That’s a miracle.

The whole ritual is completely unscientific and that they have to grasp at straws to find miracles cheapens the whole idea of them in the first place.

So why bother? It’s a PR coup. When your country produces a saint, it gives Catholicism a boost there. A hometown hero. It puts the faith back into the news.

But the whole process underscores the problem with faith. Sainthood is nothing but a large God-of-the-Gaps argument. When we don’t have a natural explanation for something, we’re gonna claim it as a miracle!



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