Lourdes calls a healing “remarkable,” avoiding the term “miracle”

March 29, 2011
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(Pilgrims pray at the Lourdes grotto, where the Roman Catholic tradition says St. Bernadette saw visions of the Virgin Mary in 1858, photographed on November 5, 2006/Regis Duvignau)

The Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes has announced the “remarkable healing” of a French invalid, avoiding the traditional term “miracle” because its doctors increasingly shy away from calling an illness or condition incurable. The case of Serge François, 56, whose left leg was mostly paralysed for years, was the first healing announced since the Church eased some rules in 2006 for declaring that a person was healed thanks to visiting the site.

The Catholic Church teaches that God sometimes performs miracles, including cures that doctors can’t explain. Sceptics reject this as unscientific and explain sudden recoveries as psychological phenomena or the delayed result of treatment.

Here’s the announcement on the official site in French, with information about Serge François.  Click on “English” at the upper right for the translation (not available at the time of this posting).

“In the name of the Church, I publicly recognise the ‘remarkable’ character of the healing from which Serge François benefited at Lourdes on April 12, 2002,” said Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers in western France, where François lives.

Delmas, who earned a medical degree before entering the priesthood, said the bureau of medical experts at Lourdes had concluded the recovery was “sudden, complete, unrelated to any particular therapy and durable.”

“Doctors today hesitate to use the adjective ‘inexplicable,’ or at least qualify it by adding ‘according to the current state of scientific knowledge’,” Lourdes Bishop Jacques Perrier said in a statement to explain the new wording. “They consider this reserve indispensible so they are not disqualified by their colleagues who refuse to consider things may be inexplicable.”

Read the full story here.

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