Pope Miracle Under Scrutiny

Erin Ennis

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, and some fear the miracle needed to make him a saint will fall to the wayside of extensive scrutiny.

The miracle, which many considered to be a shoe-in option for his sainthood, involves the curing of Simon-Pierre of Parkinson’s disease. The young nun, who knew of John Paul’s own ailment, prayed to him and was miraculously healed exactly two years after his death. However, many controversies have arisen over the Vatican’s ability to accept the cure as a miracle, which cannot be fully proven without extensive medical examinations and Simon-Pierre’s eventual death.

A prominent Polish newspaper has suggested, in addition, that Simon-Pierre may have never had Parkinson’s, and instead may have been diagnosed incorrectly. The disease she probably had, although not named, would have a similar morphology but be curable. This curable disease would not qualify for a miracle and would officially nullify the sainthood qualifications.

The Vatican hopes to address this issue with additional doctors and consultations. The emeritus head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Cause of Saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, suggests that mere doubts may have been cast by doctors who did not want to be attached to such heavy material. He also explained that the doctors have not renounced the miracle in any way and consideration is still being pushed forward for John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II has also been called into scrutiny for his long-heralded battle over sexual scandals within the Vatican. John Paul worked vigorously when the scandal erupted in 2002 in the United States. Under Pope Benedict’s power, one of John Paul’s championed leaders, Rev. Marcial Maciel of Mexico and of the Legionaries of Christ, was removed from his position to live a life of “reserved prayer” in order to make up for his sins. These cases, which all fell during John Paul II 26 year reign as pope, have caused some scrutiny amongst the public in the beatification process, but the Vatican seems to think otherwise. Saraiva Martins suggests that the abuse scandals will not have any effect on his ascendance into sainthood.

John Paul II’s rise to sainthood will continue as his miracle is evaluated by Vatican doctors and professionals. With her death being considered an “extreme” means of verification, the Vatican will have to expand on its current progress in order to determine the validity of the Pope’s posthumous miracle.