I don’t believe in miracles. I’ve always thought that they only take place in religious people’s imaginations. But my views aren’t important here: What matters is that Floribeth Mora believes in miracles.
Mora, 50, of Costa Rica, was diagnosed in 2011 with a brain aneurysm that could have led to paralysis or death. Mora said that after receiving the grim diagnosis, she went home and prayed that Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, would heal her. Then she went to sleep. When she awoke, she said she heard John Paul’s voice telling her:
“Stand up. Don’t be afraid.”
Two years later, at a press conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, a teary Mora explained that the late pope had indeed healed her. The aneurysm was gone and she felt fine. Afterward, the Holy See declared that this was a miracle attributable to John Paul II and evidence that he should be canonized as a saint.
But the problem with making the late pontiff a saint is that he protected priests who sexually abused children. It’s impossible to believe, for example, that John Paul II wasn’t aware of the widespread allegations of sexual abuse leveled at Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ.
The Vatican’s policy during John Paul II’s papacy was that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the organization charged with investigating cases of abuse — would not turn over priests accused of sex crimes to the police. For this reason alone, John Paul II should not be made a saint.
These days there is a lot of talk in the media about renewal within the Vatican. The era of Pope Francis has begun, and I have to admit that although I remain nonreligious, the first pope from Latin America has made a favorable first impression on me. I was in Rome earlier this year to report on his election, and I saw firsthand how his humility contrasted with his red-shoed predecessors’ haughtiness.
Francis does things differently. During a flight on his way back to Rome, he answered uncensored questions from the reporters.
Francis was blunt about his feelings toward gay Catholics. “If someone is gay,” he told the reporters, “and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Of course, the church has always condemned homosexuality and is resisting the growing tide of support around the world for legalizing gay marriage, but the pope’s words indicate that the Vatican may finally be on a path toward rethinking its policies.
Yes, the new pope has done a lot in a very short time. But we’ve seen his style now, so it’s time for some substance. It is vital that he take a strong stand on the main issue affecting the church: the sexual abuse of children by thousands of priests. If Francis is truly putting the church on a path toward a modern revolution, he will adopt a zero-tolerance policy that ensures that the Vatican does not cover up for accused priests and that church officials cooperate with police so that justice is served.
And if the new pope is going to truly stand up for the innocent, his first step should be to suspend the canonization of John Paul II. Now that would be revolutionary. But, as I mentioned before, I don’t believe in miracles.))