Friday, February 08, 2008

The Suarez marketing machinery

Healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez belongs to the community of priests known as Companions of the Cross. On February 6, 2008, prompted by "questions and concerns," it issued a "Statement of Clarification Regarding the Healing Ministry of Fr. Fernando Suarez." Among other things, we find the following very interesting caveat.
We delight that the Lord continues to bring consolation to the sick and suffering through prayers for healing. However, we leave it entirely to the competent authorities to confirm or deny claims of miraculous healing. It is the local Bishop, in consultation with medical experts, who makes such a determination.[emphases added]
The Companions of the Cross are now neither confirming nor denying that there have been miraculous healings, notwithstanding its unabashed publication of testimonials (that webpage even has a form allowing people to conveniently send in their stories), and notwithstanding its promotion of Suarez as a healer (in that page Fr. Shannon even avers, "I can personally attest to the authenticity of the many healings which have taken place through Fr. Fernando's ministry"). In its Statement of Clarification Suarez's group is admitting that, in reality, they don't know if any of the healing claims have substance. They don't know whether miracles have in fact taken place (it stands to reason that if one or more miracles have in fact been officially certified by the Church the website would be advertizing it/them like crazy, given how they currently have no qualms in posting all the testimonials and anecdotal material).

The question is, Are they making this most important fact clear to the public or not? I don't think so. On the contrary. Judging from the contents of the Suarez healing ministry site (apart from the Clarification) they've been making it appear that he does have powers of healing and that there have been miracle healings.

It is a general principle that if the only evidence for any touted cure (be that Chinese herbs, triceratops horns, beetle juice, psychic surgery, ... or faith healing) are anecdotes and testimonials, then there is simply no good reason to believe that it works. Only scientific and medical studies can determine the efficacy of a substance or treatment. The Companions of the Cross know this. They say so in their Clarification. And yet they continue to promote Suarez as having healing powers.

Caveat emptor.

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