Lourdes calls cure "remarkable," shuns "miracle"

Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:48pm EDT
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By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - 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 incurable.

The case of Serge Francois, 56, whose left leg was mostly paralyzed 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. Skeptics reject this as unscientific and explain sudden recoveries as psychological phenomena or the delayed result of treatment.

"In the name of the Church, I publicly recognize the 'remarkable' character of the healing from which Serge Francois benefited at Lourdes on April 12, 2002," said Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers in western France, where Francois 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."

The healing could be considered "as a personal gift of God for this man, as an event of grace, as a sign of Christ the Savior," he said, avoiding the word "miracle."


A local bishop has the authority to interpret the bureau's findings as a miracle. Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to a peasant girl in 1858, is Catholicism's most popular miracle shrine with six million pilgrims annually.   Continued...