Sainthood for atheists

By Tom Quiner


Will sainthood shake your faith in atheism?

Quiner’s Diner has many faithful atheist readers. I appreciate your comments. You keep me on my toes. I hope I make you pause and think once and awhile.

I’d like to call attention to the notion of sainthood for the benefit of my atheist readers. In fact, my Protestant and other non-Catholic readers will find this post interesting.

Sainthood is in the news. Right here in Des Moines, I just staged the Bishop Sheen Event at the Fleur Cinema this past Saturday. I wrote about it a few days ago (“The 20th century’s John the Baptist comes to Des Moines”).

As I recounted, Bonnie Engstrom gave birth to a dead baby two years ago. He had no signs of life for 61 minutes. The parents prayed to the late Bishop Fulton Sheen to intercede. Little James “Fulton” Sheen was resuscitated.

He lived.

He lives today, and despite the medical impossibility, he is perfectly normal and healthy.

Did a miracle occur?

For atheists not familiar with the lingo, a miracle has be attributed to a person after they have died as one step toward canonization. Catholics believe in the idea of the intercession of the saints, attributed to the biblical passage, Hebrews 12: 1:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses … “

For example, the late, great Pope John Paul II has been “beatified,” the first step toward sainthood. He has been credited with interceding in the healing of a French nun with debilitating Parkinsons Disease. She went to bed with the disease. She prayed specifically to him for intercession. And she woke up healed.

Is this all hokum pokem?

I think it is a fair question.

You should know that the Church conducts an extensive investigation at great expense to determine if an event was a miracle, that is, an interference with nature by a supernatural power, as C.S. Lewis would characterize it.

We produced a 14 minute documentary which you can view above to give you a closer look at the circumstances surrounding the alleged miracle of James Fulton Engstrom’s implausible resuscitation.

The Church is weighing the evidence.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican scrutinizes the exhaustive data collected by scholars on purported miracles. This can take a long time, because it is critical to the Church to eliminate all doubt on the authenticity of the miracle.

Miracles abound through intercession of the saints.

An Indian woman with an abdominal tumor, Monica Bersa, held a medallion of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and prayed for her intercession.

The tumor disappeared overnight.

Jack Sullivan is a Massachusetts Deacon in the Catholic Church. While undergoing deaconate training, he battled severe back problems.

They required surgery.

The pain was unbearable.

He struggled to breathe.

The surgery revealed horrendous spinal damage with ruptures so severe, fluids had leaked out.

Mr. Sullivan prayed to the late Cardinal John Henry Newman for intercession.

The healing was immediate.

Mr. Sullivan gingerly inched his toe to the floor. Then he rested his foot on the ground. And then he walked.

He walked for the first time in months.

His doctor, Dr Robert Banco, chief of spinal surgery at the New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, was baffled:

“Because of this persisting and severe stenosis, I have no medical explanation for why he was pain-free and for so long a time. The objective data, CT, myelogram, and MRI demonstrated that his pathology did not at all change, but his symptoms [pain] improved drastically. With the tear in your dura mater, your condition should have been much worse. I have no medical or scientific answer for you. If you want an answer, ask God.”

I present these inexplicable healings for your intellectual curiosity.

Man wants to understand his world. We are rational creatures. When events occur that defy natural explanation, we can react two ways:

1. There has to be a rational explanation.

or …

2. If there is no rational explanation, there may be a non-natural explanation, divine intervention.

The Church embraces #1 until all rational explanations are exhausted. They embrace #2 when a prayer for intercession is linked to credible evidence that this intercession has occurred.

In the meantime, chew on the video above. Listen to Bonnie Engstrom’s blow-by-blow account on the life, death, and life of little James Fulton Engstrom.

Did Bishop Sheen intercede in this healing?

The Church weighs the evidence.