Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vatican investigating deceased chaplain miracle

Due to a pole-vaulting accident last year, 20-year-old Chase Kear received a severe skull fracture, causing swelling of his brain and infection.  The Wichita, Kansas young man required brain surgery, but neurosurgeon Raymond Grundmeyer reportedly told family members that Kear would likely not survive the procedure.

Within hours, the family members began requesting friends and loved ones to pray for Kear's recovery.  Prayers were offered specifically to Father Emil Kapaun, a U.S. Army chaplain from the Wichita area who died in the Korean War.  Kapaun distinguished himself in a Chinese prison camp back in 1951 by rescuing wounded soldiers, ministering to the sick, and other acts of kindness toward fellow prisoners, until he succumbed to illness himself.

Despite the long odds, Kear survived the procedure to remove a portion of his skull and has now achieved a semblance of normalcy.  While Kear and family are grateful to Dr. Gunderson and his team for their medical expertise, they are also giving Kapaun equal credit for performing a miracle.  Even Dr. Gunderson considered Kear's recovery to be miraculous.

That claim of miraculous healing has prompted the Vatican to further investigate whether Kapaun is eligible for sainthood.  Andrea Ambrosi, the Vatican lawyer assigned to the case, promised to thoroughly "and skeptically" examine the evidence that it was Kapaun that performed the miracle.

This is a case of "I had a headache, so I took an aspirin and said a prayer. The headache went away, so prayer cures headaches."   I'm curious how exactly a lawyer can investigate the details "skeptically?"  How will he know that it was Kapaun and not some other saint that performed the miracle?  Despite the doctor's claims, could Kear have survived without the prayers?  Has any person ever survived a procedure of this type that didn't have thousands of prayers offered to a chaplain that's been dead for over fifty years?  Would Dr. Gunderson agree to refund the money he was paid to perform the procedure, since apparently even he believes that he didn't have an effect on Kear's recovery?

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