CHRISTOPHER HOWSE ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II’S VISIT TO BRITAIN PAGE 9
JESUS OF NAZARETH POPE BENEDICT XVI ON THE PRODIGAL SON
May 25, 2007 £1 (Republic of Ireland €1.50)
Surgeon breaks silence over saint’s ‘miracle’ at south London hospital
ASURGEON has spoken for the first time about the “miraculous” healing of a baby at a south London hospital that has cleared the way for the canonisation of Malta’s first saint. Anil Dhawan, Professor of Paediatric Hepatology at King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, said there was “no scientific explanation” for the full recovery of a Maltese boy who had undergone “devastating” liver failure. The Catholic Church has concluded that the baby was cured through the intercession of Blessed George Preca, a 20th-century Maltese priest who will be canonised by Pope Benedict XVI next weekend. Professor Dhawan, 45, had given evidence to a Church tribunal set up in Malta to decide if the healing was a supernatural sign from God that Blessed George is a saint. Speaking to The Catholic Herald this week he confirmed that he was mystified by the child’s recovery. “The child was diagnosed with liver failure,” he said. “There was a 90 per cent plus chance that he wasn’t going to survive without a liver transplant. But he survived ... he improved on his own.” He continued: “Acute liver failure in children is quite a devastating illness. The majority of them die. Scientifically I do not have an explanation for this child’s recovery.” The child, who has not been named publicly at the request of his parents, developed severe liver complications just days after his birth in July 2001. He was examined at St
Blessed George Preca will become Malta’s first saint when he is canonised by Pope Benedict XVI on June 3
Luke’s Hospital in Malta but his condition was so grave that he was swiftly transferred to King’s College Hospital, home to the world’s largest and most expert paediatric liver centre. On July 14 doctors in London concluded that the baby would die if he did not
receive a new liver. A date for the transplant was set but days later it was discovered that the donor was not a compatible match. At that point the child’s devout Catholic family prayed to Blessed George that he would ask God to spare the life
of the child. A glove used during the exhumation of the priest –who was renowned for his “simplicity, humbleness and meekness” –was also placed upon the infant’s body. On July 20 the child’s liver started to function normally and within another four days
the baby no longer required a transplant. Today the child is a perfectly healthy five-year-old who attends school. In July 2002 a tribunal was set up by the Catholic Church in Malta to study the case and Professor Dhawan was among 38 witnesses to give evidence.
The process came to an end in June 2004 and the documents were sent to Rome, where six months later the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints agreed that the case was valid. Doctors and theologians of the congregation also discussed
the case in 2006, both submitting positive verdicts. In February Pope Benedict announced that he would be canonising Blessed George on June 3. Professor Dhawan, a Hindu, said he would be attending the ceremony in St Peter’s Square. “I was involved in the process [leading to canonisation] and I want to see it through completely for my own learning and curiosity,” he said. “You can always learn from different faiths.” He said he accepted that occasionally events happened in medicine that could not be explained scientifically. “We say ‘Yes, we could not do much more ourselves to help somebody and yes it could be “somebody” else who helped them.’ And ultimately we are grateful to that ‘person’. “I respect all the faiths myself and I have a lot to learn from every single faith and I am sure my religion also believes in things like this. Some of them are not of human explanation. When you are a scientist you are supposed to believe in things that are black and white but unfortunately life is not always like that.” Professor Dhawan said that before the boy’s healing he knew very little about the process by which the Catholic Church recognised saints. But he said he had since spent much time reading about the saints and how they came to be canonised, taking a particular interest in the cause of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003. He said he was “pleased” to be part of the process of the canonisation of Blessed George
and felt “privileged to have been involved”. Blessed George was born in Valletta, the capital of Malta, in 1880 and died in 1962 at the age of 82. Known to the Maltese as “Dun Gorg” he founded the Society for Christian Doctrine, an organisation of lay catechists committed to evangelisation, in 1907. The society today has more than 1,000 members around the world, including some in the Archdiocese of Southwark –where the healing of the baby took place –after the then archbishop, Michael Bowen, gave his official recognition in 1989. Blessed George set up his organisation when he realised that even in Malta, a Catholic country, many people knew little about their faith. The society was originally suppressed by Church authorities in Malta and it was not until 1932 that it was formally approved. Before Blessed George could be recognised a saint, however, two miracles had to be attributed to his intercession. The first occurred in 1964 with the healing of Charles Zammit Endrich, who suffered from a detached retina and was about to go blind. Dr Vincent Tabone, who later became the President of Malta, was preparing to carry out the operation when the man recovered after a shoelace that had belonged to Blessed George was placed beneath his pillow by friends praying for a divine favour. Blessed George was declared Venerable in 1999 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in May 2001 –just two months before the second miracle attributed to his intercession occurred in London.
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Venezuelan president accuses Pope of denying indigenous ‘holocaust’
VENEZUELAN President Hugo Chavez has demanded that Benedict XVI apologise for saying that the arrival of Christianity in Latin America was not “the imposition of a foreign culture” upon indigenous people. Mr Chavez accused the Pontiff of ignoring the “holocaust” that followed Christopher Columbus’s 1492 landing. “With all due respect your Holiness, apologise because there was a real genocide here and, if we were to deny it, we would be denying our very selves,” the President said. Pope Benedict’s comments, delivered to an assembly of bishops at the end of his fiveday trip to Brazil, sparked controversy throughout Latin America.
President Hugo Chavez
He said that Christ was the answer to “the unknown God whom their ancestors were seeking, without realising it, in their rich religious traditions... the Saviour for whom they were silently longing”.
He added: “The proclamation of Jesus and his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.” Indian leaders responded angrily, claiming that the Pope had ignored the reality of Europe’s conquest and evangelisation of Latin America. Paulo Suess, an adviser to Brazil’s Indian Missionary Council, said the Pope was “a good theologian, but it seems he missed some history classes”. Marcio Meira, the head of Brazil’s Indian Bureau, said: “As an anthropologist and a historian I feel obliged to say that, yes, in the past 500 years there was an imposition of the Catholic religion on the indigenous people.” But Catholic commentators
have argued that Benedict XVI never denied the terrible actions of many New World colonisers. According to influential columnist John Allen, reporters had failed to notice the Pontiff’s distinction between abstractions and “flesh-and-blood” reality. He wrote in The National Catholic Reporter : “His point was about Christianity, not Christians. Because Christ came for all, Benedict reasoned, Christianity was not alien to pre-Columbian cultures; it was the fulfilment to which their religious experience pointed.” Mr Allen said the controversy was yet another example of how easily Benedict XVI could be misunderstood by the world’s media.
Vatican Notebook: Page 4 Editorial Comment: Page 11
Cyber-jihadists target Catholic websites
CATHOLICWEBSITES are under attack from Islamic hackers, it emerged this week. The editors of the Italian website www.totustuus.it claim their site is repeatedly being brought down by
Muslim computer experts, most commonly from Turkey. David Botti, president of the Totus Tuus network, said the hacker could be identified by his “signature” –the message which had replaced the original text. “The most frequent is the Islamic crescent symbol with words offending the Holy Father,” Mr Botti explained. In the past two months the website has been subjected to about 70 attacks. Mr Botti
said that 80 per cent were from Muslim hackers and 25 per cent were instigated by Muslims from Turkey. In April last year The Catholic Herald ’s website was itself the victim of an assault from “cyberjihadists”. Replacing the words “Britain’s leading Catholic newspaper” was a message that said: “I swear by of ALLAH and Qur’an and Flag and Homeland. This Home
land, at no time not Ownerless.” The message gave out a rather misleading impression of the Herald ’s editorial content and was removed soon after it appeared. During the uproar last September over Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial remarks about Islam, an internet piracy campaign targeted the Vatican’s website, but it reportedly had little success due to the website’s high level of protection.
INDEXNEWS 1-4 FEATURES 7-9 COMMENT 10-11 ARTS 12 BOOKS 13 LAST WORD 16
Don’t forget this smile!
Eritrea’s suffering is unknown to the world. And yet Tesfamichael* still dares to smile. Like him, thousands of young men and women across Africa want to serve as priests, religious and catechists. Amidst persecution and
poverty, ACN is helping young people
prepare for service in the Church. This Pentecost, please don’t forget them.
(*Name changed for his protection).
Aid to the Church in Need 1 Times Square, Sutton SM1 1LF. Tel: 020 8642 8668 firstname.lastname@example.org www.acnuk.org Registered with the Charity Commission No. 1097984 Rev/Sr/Mr/Mrs/Miss...................................................... Address:.......................................................................... ....................................................Postcode...................... I enclose £.............. £100 £50 £25 Other for the Church in Africa to help train sisters, seminarians, and other young people. I enclose a cheque to Aid to the Church in Need OR please debit my Visa/MasterCard/Amex/Maestro: __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Signature strip code (last block of digits) : __ __ __ (__) Valid From Date: ...... /...... Expiry Date: ...... /...... Issue No ...... (Switch) Signature: ............................... I do not wish to receive information about Aid to the Church in Need.