How the Church "documents" "miracles"

Advocates for canonizing Marguerite d’Youville hired a hematologist to decide why a woman had recovered from incurable leukemia after praying to the aforementioned d’Youville. The hematologist, Jacalyn Duffin, warned the investigators that she was an atheist. The investigators reasoned that if an atheist could not figure out why the woman had recovered, then obviously the recovery must have been a miracle.

The hematologist went further and investigated hundreds of “miracles” in the archives of the Vatican. She concluded, to put it bluntly, that those things that she could not explain must have been “miracles” (she did not, incidentally, admit to supernaturalism, so her definition of “miracle” seems a little fuzzy at best).

This is the kind of logic, according to Tom Gjelten of NPR, that will lead to the lightning-fast canonization of Agnes Bojaxhiu, commonly known as Mother Teresa. Pope Francis will canonize Bojaxhiu on the basis of two “miracles,” that is, two unexplained cures that, in true post hoc fashion, followed someone’s praying to Bojaxhiu.

By this logic – if something cannot be explained by science, then it is a miracle – lightning must have been a miracle from the beginning of time until we could actually explain it.

For a more jaundiced view of Bojaxhiu, who as far as I know never founded a single hospital, you might want to have a look at Mommie Dearest, which Gjelten cites, and Pope John Paul II Beatifies Mother Teresa. The first was written by the late Christopher Hitchens; the second, by Richard Kreitner, harks back to a 1997 article by Hitchens.