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Day after Mariam Thresia was canonised in Vatican, Indian Medical Association raises questions on saint’s ‘miracle’

Interestingly, the baby - Christopher Jolly, who is believed to be born due to divine intervention was also present in the Vatican to witness Mariam Thresia's canonisation.

Days after Kerala-born nun Mariam Thresia was declared a saint by Pope Francis in the Vatican, questions are being raised on her ‘sainthood’ as Indian Medical Association (IMA) has now questioned the miracle cure of a boy by her, which entitled the sister to sainthood.

According to the reports, there are apprehensions being raised now whether canonisation is spreading pseudoscience. This has lead protests from a community of doctors in Kerala after the Catholic church elevated a nun from Kerala to a saint based on her divine interventions to heal a sick child.

Mariam Thresiam, who was the founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family, part of the controversial Syro-Malabar Catholic Church now, was canonised in a ceremony held at Vatican City in Rome on Sunday, October 13.

Reportedly, a person is canonised as a saint if he or she is proved to have performed a miracle. The act so attributed has to be ratified by a high-level committee of the Vatican. In Mariam Thresia’s case, one of the miracles was approved by a doctor in 2009, which has now led to a controversy.

Read: The other side of Mother Teresa: The not so pious history of the Catholic Church’s saint

A prematurely born baby in Thrissur’s Amala hospital in 2009 had developed a critical condition, from which he recovered after he was taken to Thresia’s tomb for praying. Dr Sreenivasan, one of the doctors who treated the baby approved it as a miracle and had said that the “divine intervention of the Holy Mother saved the baby”.

Several doctors have now questioned the action of their colleague and asserted that illnesses are cured with proper medical treatment. The state unit of IMA discussed the issue at a special meeting and has asked its ethics committee to “conduct an inquiry into the incident and find out whether there is an ethical violation or not” in the certification of the miracle. The committee has been asked to seek an explanation from Dr Srinivasan, a neonatologist at the Amala Hospital, who had certified the incident as a miracle.

Secretary of the Kerala unit of the Indian Medical Association Dr N Sulphi on Monday questioned the miracle attributed to her saying superstition should not be attached to the process.

“We are not against any belief and we respect all. I do pray before I enter the operation theatre. But what we oppose is the stamp of approval for a miracle. If somebody says prayers fully cured one it is difficult to comprehend for the medical community,” he said.

Read: Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity : Decades of the Baby Bazaar?

Meanwhile, in response to the controversy, the church officials have come out defending the miracle. Father Varghese Vallikattu, deputy secretary-general of the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council said, “Miracles are there, miracles exist. How can we rule that out? Every day you see miracles if you have the eye for it.” The IMA has also launched a probe against the doctor who certified that as a ‘miracle’.

The canonisation, the highest recognition of the sanctity of an icon in the Catholic church, was performed at a grand ceremony in the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square. The event was attended by a delegation including Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan, Congress leader TN Prathapan and former Supreme Court Judge Kurian Joseph. About 300 sisters from the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family had also attended the event.

Interestingly, the baby – Christopher Jolly, who is believed to be born due to divine intervention was also present in the Vatican to witness Mariam Thresia’s canonisation.

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