Mary MacKillop has been officially canonized as an Australian saint on the basis of two purported miracle cures — two women reportedly dying of cancer had spontaneous remissions after praying to her. Adele Horin puts them in context.
At the time Mary MacKillop answered the prayers of a woman dying of leukaemia, there was a lot of static in the air. In China 43 million people were dying of starvation in one of the world’s worst famines.
Thirty years later in the 1990s, when MacKillop answered the prayers of a woman dying of lung cancer, 3.8 million were dying in the Congo wars, 800,000 in the Rwanda genocide, a quarter of a million in the Yugoslav wars.
The connection between these two women praying for healing and the dead MacKillop was so tenuous to be nonexistent, while millions beg in vain for a reprieve from day-to-day misery. Praise the gods.