RATIONALIST INTERNATIONAL

Bulletin # 103 (9 October 2002)

http://www.rationalistinternational.net

IN THIS ISSUE

Indian Rationalists question mother Teresa’s ovarian miracle
By Sanal Edamaruku

 

Indian Rationalists question mother Teresa’s ovarian miracle

By Sanal Edamaruku

Was Monica Besra’s ovarian tumor really cured by the supernatural powers of Mother Teresa’s picture placed on her abdomen? The Missionaries of Charity insist it was. The Vatican has approved the story officially as a first-class miracle. The Indian Rationalist Association says: Such absurd and dangerous claims call for legal action! The rationalists, who have kicked off the controversy about Mother Teresa’s after-death-miracle, demand that the government of West Bengal take the Missionaries of Charity to court for their false claims.

The case of the miracle makers won’t stand in front of any court of law. Their witnesses have vowed to keep mum, not to contradict each other. Their certifiers are anonymous and untraceable. Their proof is obviously faked. And to top it all: their crown witness has vanished!

According to the Vatican, Monica Besra’s ovarian tumor was cured by the powers of Teresa’s picture, placed on her abdomen. But the medical records prove that it was sheer conventional medical treatment that rescued her life. “In the 21st century how can you talk about miracle healing?” says West Bengal health minister Suyrya Kanta Nishra. The miracle documentation claims that several doctors have certified that the healing was “scientifically inexplicable”, but not a single of these anonymous witnesses could so far be traced. The former health minister of West Bengal, Partho De, revealed that he had been approached by the Vatican agents and asked to name a doctor, who would certify that Monica Besra’s healing was a miracle. He declined support. After ordering the medical records of the case in February 2000 for scrutiny to the Kolkata (Calcutta) health department, he was convinced that there was nothing unusual about the disappearance of the tumor after prolonged medical treatment.

Knitting her saintly cowl with relentless efforts, the miracle agents of the Vatican under the leadership of chief investigator Brian Kolodiejchuk have identified several hundred examples for Mother Teresa’s supernatural capacities. Neatly filed, classified and elaborately documented in a dossier of more than 34,000 pages, they are getting ready to be sent by air fright to Vatican now. On this base, they hope, her canonization has become a mere formality. In December, the Pope is expected to check in the heavy luggage, and may be in spring the Albanian born nun could already enter the annals of saints as the speediest one in the history of the Catholic Church.

The most important of those bundled paranormal claims is the miracle, which Teresa has allegedly done on her first death anniversary. At least one proven after-death-miracle is a must for any saint. Teresa’s managers have offered the “Healing of Monica Besra” for this purpose and the Vatican has officially accepted it as a suitable ticket to sainthood. But unexpectedly the miracle has met with a tough challenge. Stripped off the veil of holiness, it looks like a rough-cut fake.

Dr. Manju Murshed, superintendent of the government hospital in Balurghat, informed that Monica Besra was admitted in the hospital with severe pain. She suffered from tubercular meningitis and from an ovarian tumor, which was discovered during an ultra-sound investigation. She was subsequently treated by Dr.Tarun Kumar Biwas and the gynecologist Dr. Ranjan Mustafi. After she left the hospital, the treatment was continued in the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital and ended successfully in March 1999. A final ultra-sound investigation showed that the tumor had disappeared.

Heart piece of the Vatican’s “proof” is a statement of crown witness Monica Besra. It leaked, despite utmost secrecy, to the press. In this statement, Besra describes that she was suffering from terrible pain from a giant tumor in her stomach and nearly lost all hope. She left her family to seek help with the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata. On 5 October, 1998, Mother Teresa’s first death anniversary, she prayed to her ardently. Two nuns, sister Bartholomea and sister Ann Sevika, took a silver medallion with Mother’s picture from the wall and tied it on Monica’s body with a black thread, right on the tumor. The pain vanished the same night and never came back. Her stomach became smaller and smaller and in the morning she felt that the tumor had vanished. She was miraculously healed!

Monica Besra is a 30-year-old tribal woman from Dulidnapur village. She is illiterate and speaks her tribal mother tongue only, laced with a few words of broken Bengali. Until recently she has not been a Christian. The statement is written in fluent English and shows familiarity with details of Catholic belief. It is obvious that the text has not been written or dictated by her. But Monica Besra is not available to bring light into the murky story: she has vanished. She must be “under the protection of the church”, suspect those close to her. She was not seen, since her name, despite all efforts of secrecy, became public.

And the nuns involved in the miracle keep their lips sealed. “An objective miracle has happened”, explains archbishop D’Souza of Kolkata. “The sisters don’t want to give different versions as that would spoil things.”

If this obvious fraud is not brought to book and if the idea of miraculous healings gets credence, it will have dangerous consequences for the uneducated and the poor, insists Indian Rationalist Association. Confidence in modern medicine and science has to be developed and strengthened and people have to be encouraged to use available medical facilities for treatment instead of taking to superstition and miracle belief. The efforts should be to expand the outreach of the modern medicine to all strata of the society.

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Honorary Associates: Dr. Pieter Admiraal (The Netherlands), Prof. Mike Archer (Australia), Katsuaki Asai (Japan), Prof. Colin Blakemore (UK), Sir Hermann Bondi (UK), Prof. Vern Bullough (UK), Dr. Bill Cooke (New Zealand), Dr. Helena Cronin (UK), Prof. Richard Dawkins (UK), Joseph Edamaruku (India), Prof. Antony Flew (UK), Prof. Jim Herrick (UK), Christopher Hitchens (USA), Ellen Johnson (USA), Prof. Paul Kurtz (USA), Lavanam (India), Dr. Richard Leakey (Kenya), Iain Middleton (New Zealand), Henry Morgentaler (Canada), Taslima Nasreen (Bangladesh), Steinar Nilsen (Norway), Prof. Jean-Claude Pecker (France), James Randi (USA), Prof. Ajoy Roy (Bangladesh), Dr. G N Jyoti Shankar (deceased, USA), Barbara Smoker (UK), Prof. Harry Stopes-Roe (UK), Prof. Rob Tielman (The Netherlands), David Tribe (Australia), Barry Williams (Australia), Richard Wiseman (UK) and Prof. Lewis Wolpert (UK)

Sanal Edamaruku, President of Rationalist International, can be contacted at Edamaruku@rationalistinternational.net