According to Father Keahi, who reported the visit in his Sacred Heart Congregation newsletter, Msgr. Sarno’s visit was official but low key, and his findings confidential. The visit follows the unanimous Oct. 18 ruling by the medical commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints that the cure of the woman more than a decade ago was a “miracle,” that is, unexplainable according to available medical knowledge. A commission of theologians still has to determine whether or not the miracle was due to Blessed Damien’s intercession. Following that, the congregation’s bishops and cardinals give the final approval and recommendation of canonization to the pope.
Father Keahi said that Msgr. Sarno hopes to present his “findings” to the theologians “in January or February.” According to Father Keahi, although Damien spent his entire priestly ministry in the Kingdom of Hawaii, the diocese that is the primary promoter, or “actor causae,” of Blessed Damien’s canonization is the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels in his homeland of Belgium where he is buried. Likewise, he noted, the “actor causae” of Blessed Marianne Cope is the Diocese of Syracuse, N.Y., her original home and final resting place.
Because the unexplained cure that may lead to Father Damien’s canonization occurred in Hawaii, it was the responsibility of the Diocese of Honolulu to first examine it. That cure was the disappearance of cancer, without treatment, from the lungs of a Honolulu woman. The case was first documented by Dr. Walter Y.M. Chang, the woman’s physician, in an article he wrote for the October 2000 Hawaii Medical Journal. The doctor, not a Catholic, stated that the “lung metastases disappeared with no therapy at all,” over several months following prayers to Blessed Damien and pilgrimages to Kalaupapa by the patient. A diocesan tribunal, convened by Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo, declared on April 16, 2003, that the healing was dramatic and defied medical explanation. A previous miracle needed for Father Damien’s beatification took place in France. Father Damien was beatified in Brussels in 1995.
By Patrick Downes
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