In 1517 Father (Doctor) Martin Luther launched his Protest against, and Reformation of, the Catholic Church, by attacking the sale of indulgences. Five centuries later, another priest, an almost-Doctor of Theology (A.B.T.), who like Luther left his religious Order and the Catholic priesthood, launched another Protest with the intention not of reforming but of ridiculing the same Church, which approves not only indulgences but the sale of miracles. Luther posted his condemnation on the door of Wittenberg’s cathedral. Mine is posted here on this blog.
I recently received, among my junk-mail, a four-page letter accompanied by a colored brochure to which was glued a medal – and a suggestion that if I wanted to benefit from a miracle, I had only to send a check, of as little as ten euros or whatever I thought my miracle was worth. (There must be people who actually do send money. What have they got to lose ? Blaise Pascal would agree that it’s worth the wager …).
The following excerpts may reveal, to the embarrassment of many sincere Catholics, just how pathetic is the exploitation of religious credulity and superstition in promoting the “Miraculous Medal”. I hope they will draw the obvious conclusions.
The outfit – or the fanatic – behind the scam begins its/his long letter with a quotation from a lady in 1830 who, though she had died some 1800 years earlier, told a French nun that the medal she (Mary, the Mother of Jesus, a.k.a. the “Immaculate Conception”) had herself designed (!) would bring “great graces to everyone who wore it around his/her neck” and that “graces will be abundant for everyone who wears it with confidence”. She went on to warn that “the whole world will be thrown into turmoil by misfortunes of every kind”, but added consolingly that “I will be there with you”. The Church in 1836 declared these “apparitions” – better described as mystico-psychotic ravings – to be “genuine” (see my book “From Illusions to Illumination”, p.167).
The promoter of the campaign says that he needs exactly 109,763 euros to be able to distribute some 120,000 medals like the one I was lucky enough to receive without even asking for it. He insists that this is “an enterprise of lay-Catholics engaged in the apostolate in conformity with the prescriptions of Canon Law and ecclesiastical discipline”. Naturally I sent him a hefty donation.
P.S. I am ashamed to admit that as an adolescent at Marist Brothers School in Kogarah, N.S.W., I actually wore the medal day and night around my neck. The miracle is I became an atheist.