Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…


How sure are you again?

Matthew Parris, in The Times, picks up the story of the nun who wrote the previous pope’s name on a piece of paper and was cured of Parkinson’s disease – thereby providing proof of one of the two miracles that John Paul II needs to ascend to sainthood.

Parris wonders, as I do, where is the comment from normal Christians?

Where are you, intelligent Christians? Where is your voice, your righteous anger? Where is your honest contempt for this nonsense? Take that claimed recent miracle, for instance. I know lots of nice, clever Catholics — friends, thoughtful men and women, people of depth and subtlety, people of some delicacy, people who would surely cringe at the excesses of Lourdes. Do they believe that John Paul II may have cured this nun from beyond the grave?

Parris himself is, like me, quite sure that the act of writing his name on a piece paper did not cause a dead pope to reach down from the heavens and intercede in this poor woman’s illness:

“But how can you be sure?” Oh boy, am I sure. Oh great quivering mountains of pious mumbo-jumbo, am I sure. Oh fathomless oceans of sanctified babble, am I sure.

The trouble is, if you are that sure about something, without evidence – even something so preposterous that it defies every natural law known to man – you leave yourself open to accusations of

intolerance, dogmatism, righteousness, moral contempt for one’s opponents

by people like Charles Moore in The Telegraph who goes on to wonder

what sort of a belief system is it that asserts the superiority of Richard Dawkins, Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, over the woman who toils in paddy fields, or the child who begs in the dirt, or the prisoner in his chains?

What, indeed?