The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today: “Raymond Martin Joson, 81, of Haverford, a pioneering neurosurgeon who consulted with the Roman Catholic Church about medical miracles, died of heart failure Thursday at his Haverford home.” The full obit is here.
What, you may ask, was an esteemed Philly doctor doing getting involved in determining miracles for the Vatican? Well, it’s all part of the process, which I go into detail about in my book. Miracles, I learned, are almost always medically oriented — a healing of some sort. Before the priests in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints determine whether a venerable has been an intercessor for a healing miracle from heaven, doctors take a hard look at the medical records. In this regard, the Vatican has a consulting group of several dozen doctors who make up what’s called, in Italian, the Consulta Medica. The job of the doctors is not to declare a miracle. Rather, they study the medical history and records of a “healed” person to see if there is any medical explanation for the purported cure. If there is, the alleged miracle is tossed. But if a panel of five reviewing doctors agree by at least a 3-2 vote that the cure is “medically inexplicable,” then the case history goes to the priests to determine who was prayed to and if those prayers were answered with a miracle.