VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before 1.5 million faithful in St. Peter’s Square and surrounding streets Sunday, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood in one of the largest turnouts ever for a Vatican Mass.
The crowd in Rome and in capitals around the world erupted in cheers, tears and applause as an enormous photo of a young, smiling John Paul was unveiled over the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica and a choir launched into hymn long associated with the Polish-born pope.
“He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope,” Benedict said in his homily, referring to John Paul’s decisive role in helping bring down communism. Benedict dotted his remarks with personal recollections of a man he came to “revere” during their near-quarter century working together.
Beatification is the first major milestone on the path to possible sainthood, one of the Catholic Church’s highest honors. A second miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession is needed for him to be canonized.
The Catholic Church, however, has a wrong interpretation of miracles. This is examined in some of my writings.
When is a cure a miracle? This question introduces a guaranteed conflict between Christianity and science. The standard understanding of Christianity is that miracle breaks the law of nature. The Islamic concept as understood by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is that miracles are within the realm of laws of nature, even if we do not understand, at a given time. It is in the improbability of the situation to achieve a certain end that underscores the awe and mystery of miracle and not its basic conflict with the laws of nature. For example, some suitable laws and timing delivered the Israelites at the time of exodus and drowned Pharaoh’s army and people did not know about those laws 3 millennia ago and may only imperfectly understand them even today.
When we examine the records of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, sixty four cures have been declared as miracle by the Lourdes Medical Bureau over the decades. The original apparitions at Lourdes took place between 11 February and 16 July 1858. After this time, reports of apparently miraculous cures began to accumulate, prompting calls for the Roman Catholic Church to recognize these events as miracles. The earliest investigations of these cases were carried out by an Episcopal Commission of Inquiry led by Canon Germain Baradère and reporting directly to Mgr Laurence, bishop of Tarbes. The commission’s earliest work was conducted without medical consultation, with only clerical opinion being sought as to the nature of the cures.
In 1859, Professor Henri Vergez from the Faculty of Medicine at Montpellier was appointed medical consultant to the Episcopal Commission of Inquiry. Vergez’s views were often at odds with those of his clerical colleagues. Vergez decided that only eight of the early cases were genuinely inexplicable.
In 1883 a body called the Bureau des Constatations Médicales was established by doctors affiliated with the sanctuary. This was the forerunner of the current Medical Bureau. Its first titular head was the nobleman Baron Dunot de Saint-Maclou, and the Bureau was housed at the residence of the Garaison Fathers in Lourdes. Following the establishment of the Bureau des Constatations Médicales, the number of recognized cures dropped dramatically, from 143 in 1883 to only 83 in 1884.
In 1905, Pope Pius X decreed that claims of miraculous cures at Lourdes should ‘submit to a proper process,’ in other words, to be rigorously investigated. At his instigation, the current Lourdes Medical Bureau was formed and has investigated these cases with the tools of medical science. In our opinion, some of these cases may have been fraud and others genuine and reflecting the power of suggestion and heartfelt prayers.
The problem lies in how the Catholic Church, in their zeal to support the dogma and history of the Church, wants to define miracles as violation of the laws of nature. They create an unnecessary conflict with science and the Muslims should not be bracketed with them on this issue. The Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has written in his book the Blessings of Prayers, “If God has created the universe, then one can be certain that in keeping with His infinite entity, He would have left innumerable ways to influence the universe; so that His divinity is not suspended in any way, at any time!” This concept clearly sets the Muslim understanding apart from the Christian confusion about miracles.
As far as the Lourdes Medical Bureau is concerned only if no conventional treatment is being administered in a given case that a miracle is claimed; as if a miracle is violation of the general laws of nature and this introduces a fallacious concept of the supernatural in human affairs contrary to the Quranic belief. The Transcendent God of the Holy Quran has an attribute Al-Baatin the Hidden, He operates in a subtle manner, through the laws of nature and quantum physics at the very basic level of the universe could be one such possible explanation.
The issues pertaining to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and medical science have been examined in one of the articles available on Alislam.
To read this article click here
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The picture in this post is of sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.