Page 5, 28th July 1995

28th July 1995
Page 5
Page 5, 28th July 1995 — Don't you believe in miracles?

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Locations: Hereford


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Don't you believe in miracles?

Fr Christopher Jenkins' recovery from a coma last week was attributed to the miraculous powers of a relic of St John Kemble. James Penn asked Catholic priests: do you believe in miracles? FR DAVID O'DRISCOLL, Chaplain of St Clotilde's Convent, Lechlade, Gloucestershire:

NOT AROUND HERE lately. I've only been here for six months and if there have been any miracles I've missed them. Yes, I believe in them. I haven't encountered one personally but one doesn't rule out the possibility with God. But He's not going to stop the world if someone makes a mess of it.

With New Testament miracles you'll get people saying a person's having a fit. As for the OT ones, why be picky? Scripture is not always actual history surely everyone knows that. I'm sure there are many miracles we don't appreciate, ones which aren't thunderclap ones. Soldiers from all over the world used to turn up at Lourdes but you didn't get them scragging. I can't say if that was a miracle or not.

Fr Simon O'Connor, curate, Sr Patrick, Willington, Shropshire: YES I DO. Probably because I still believe in the supernatural, the grace of the God and the power of the Holy Spirit. We talk about the Lord and Giver of life every Sunday but we don't take that seriously. But why He works in this way with some people and not others I don't know.

I believe in the New Testament miracles. They're there for a reason, not because the authors didn't have anything else to write about. They were witnessed and passed on as stories. Otherwise it seems pathetic: you're saying Jesus is the Son of God but He can't do certain things.

Without the possibility of transcendence religion loses something: the poetry and joy and power of God. It and the world become mechanistic. Perhaps modern particle physics shows us that it's not like that. What else is the Mass but a minor miracle? I suppose I've been lucky in my experience of God and have seen a couple in my priesthood. There was a woman given three months to live but she's still alive. The doctors were surprised, to say the least.

Fr Michael-Moore, parish priest, St Margaret's, Gamesley, Cheshire:

I haven't had any experience of one. The miracles in the Bible I see as symbolic ways of saying something. Did they really happen? I don't know really. I'll keep an open mind on that. The Lourdes miracles are documented scientifically they're quite thorough in their investigations. As for the bleeding statues in Italy, the whole thing only encour ages superstition. It could be a chemical thing, but I don't think people would fabricate it. We should treat it with scepticism.

Fr Matthew Hogan, priest, St Peter, Lytham, Lams: 100 per cent. Sortie of the miracles would not be called miracles today. A miracle is something happening outside the normal course of nature. Christ would have known some natural healing powers and some of the things he did, which for that day and age were miraculous, would not be regarded as such today.

I am giving you the Church's position and don't want to stir up a hornet's nest. The Church has a mechanism for establishing whether an occurrence is miraculous. If it's a fake it's scientifically discoverable. There was the case of the bleeding statue of Tipperary some years ago which was exposed as a fake. A man had been sticking red paint in which was supposedly evidence of bleeding.

Fr Martin Donnelly, Belmont Abbey, Hereford: They can take different forms: one is a complete and instant cure. But it can also be some thing slightly more vague: the fact that people at times can put up with terrible things in their life. One has to be terribly careful about a lot of Christian bodies that talk about faith healings.

People can get hysterical in a large group and imagine themselves cured of something that wasn't there in the first place. I'm inclined to take them with a pinch of salt. I would have to witness one and have the testimony of a doctor before I believed it.

They can also build up false hopes. When you look at the Scriptures a miracle usually has a message about faith or salvation. It's Christ revealing himself as the Son of God to stubborn audiences, and it's meant to be out of a sense that the inner self has been healed.

I've only ever known two people who claimed to be healed by God both at Lourdes one from asthma and one cancer. What was more important was the peace of mind and coming away convinced about a really caring God, which in today's world is a great miracle.

Canon James Cunnane, parish priest, Our Lady of the Taper, Cardigan, Dyfed: Crumbs. What job do they have being priests if they don't. The term is very loosely used by many people. I would define it as a suspension, rather than contravention, of the laws of nature by God in a particular action.

Any phenomenon needs the utmost caution in assessing, and I'm not sure that's been manifested in the case of the statue said to have cried blood in Italy. There's always a tendency to emotional hysteria. If the Church sanctions it, and later on an alternative explanation arises, the Church will suffer.

As for faith healings, Our Lord many times asks people if they have faith. But God's ordinary way of working is much, much quieter.

People who have experienced 'miracles' are sometimes not altogether stable. I get plenty of people coming along who say they've received visions. They're all perfectly sincere but some I would say are schizophrenic.

I heard from a cousin in Ireland about one woman diagnosed as having cancer of the womb. She wasn't allowed to adopt a child as a result. She was so enraged by the bishop's decision she decided to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. A while later she gave birth to her own baby and the cancer was gone. If the facts are true that's a miracle.

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