Father Damien was a Roman Catholic priest who worked with lepers in Hawaii during the 1800s. He eventually contracted the disease and died in 1889. The Vatican recently “confirmed” a 2nd miracle opening the way to proclaim Father Damien a Saint. This miracle was the full cure of cancer from Audrey Toguchi, who decided against chemotherapy and flew to Molokai to pray to Father Damien:
“Dear Lord, you’re the one who created my body, so I know you can fix it,” Toguchi prayed. “I put my whole faith in you. … Father Damien, please pray for me, too, because I need your help.”
The full story can be found here http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,400984,00.html.
To the faithful, there is nothing that can be said to sway them from believing in the miracle working Father Damien, but to the skeptic there are a host of questions the call into doubt the miracles recorded.
- If you are trying to use the God of the Bible to support such a miracle, you will be hard pressed to do so. 1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. There is no room for saints as a mediator between God and man, so many Protestants reject the notion of saints. Of course the Catholic Church doesn’t agree, but their support comes from their tradition not the Bible.
- While Father Damien might have been a good Humanitarian in his love and treatment of lepers, and this is disputed by some (http://web.archive.org/web/20050207115024/http://praiseofglory.com/rlsdamien.htm), he obviously was not able to cure anyone in his time. He even succumbed to leprosy. But then, maybe he is able to perform miracles now that he is dead.
- Why did he only cure 2 people? How many thousands of have prayed to Father Damien without a cure? Why these 2 people? Why Toguchi? If this dead priest can intercede on the behalf of those who pray to him, you can only say that he is capricious in that he heals a few and ignores most of his petitioners. What kind of saint is that?
- While there is no doubt that Toguchi had cancer, there is some doubt as to the extent of it in her lungs as only 1 “spot” was biopsied. She was also subjected to chemotherapy for the tumor she had removed. Dr. Schilsky, who reviewed her case, said “The point here is that the primary tumor was treated, and that could have helped her immune system control any remaining cancer in her body”.
- While it isn’t common, spontaneous remission of cancer does occur. Estimates vary, but between 1 and 60,000 and 1 in 140,000 cases of cancer do undergo spontaneous remission. Some mechanisms have even been proposed, although it is hard to study such a rare event. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez)
Until all rational avenues are eliminated a supernatural one should not be evoked. What would it take for me to believe that Father Damien or any saint or God can do a healing miracle? Any one of the following would be sufficient:
- All people who prayed to such an individual or deity are cured.
- A limb is actually grown back after prayer.
- A leper offers up a prayer and is instantaneously cured.
After all, the Bible records such miracles.