Can a dead man still perform a miracle? Pope Francis and the Catholic Church believe so and it’s creating a firestorm of controversy.
Pope Francis has officially recognized a miracle attributed to an Archbishop after family prays for his Fulton Sheen’s intervention saving the life of their stillborn baby. Moving the cleric one step closer to sainthood.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen was a New York City-based Catholic televangelist. He preached to millions during the 1950s and 60s and won an Emmy award for doing so. Sheen died in 1979.
At an Illinois hospital in 2010, a mother gave birth to a stillborn baby. for 61 minutes the baby showed no signs of life. The family prayed for Archbishop Sheen to intercede. Suddenly – a miracle – the baby started breathing.
The Pope and the Catholic Church say Sheen, even though dead, performed the miracle from beyond the grave.
Praying to the Virgin Mary and the saints for intercession is a staple of Catholic religious beliefs and practices. However, such practices are widely condemned by other faiths as going against what biblical scripture teaches. Many biblical experts say that the only person the Bible tells us to pray to is Jesus Christ.
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” – 1 Timothy 2:5
They affirm that this line tells us that the only intercessor approved by God, and the only one we need to pray to is Jesus. Even Christ himself prayed to no one but God the Father.
Further, when John of Patmos, who wrote the book of Revelation, “fell down to worship at the feet of an angel who had shown me these things” (Revelation 22:8), the angel rebuked him for doing so.
“But he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’” – Revelation 22:9
This is another clear example of the Bible telling us that we are to pray and worship to no one but Jesus and God the father. This would also seem to imply that since the angel is referring to the disciples (of whom Jesus’ mother Mary would be considered one) and prophets as servants; Accordingly, Catholic saints, who are appointed so by man (the church), are also merely servants of God and should not be prayed to.
The Bible tells us to avoid communicating with the dead. Religious scholars insist that the Bible shows us the dead cannot interact with the living.
In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man. It speaks of a divide that prevents the dead from interacting with the living. The rich man wants Lazarus to dip his finger in cool water and place it on his tongue to relieve him from the agony of the heat in hell. Jesus, referring to the separation between the realms of heaven, hell, and earth, says:
“And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” – Luke 16:26
In many passages, the Bible warns against the practice of trying to make contact with the dead.
“There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.” – Deuteronomy 18:10-12
The Diocese of Peoria is insistent that Sheen answered the prayers of the family and intervened to save the baby’s life and believes he should be canonized as a saint.
Pope Francis announced on Saturday that the late US television preacher, even though he had been dead 21 years, was responsible for performing the miracle in 2010. The Vatican has given Sheen’s so-called miracle its formal approval.
In the Catholic faith, the performance of a single miracle makes a person eligible to be beatified as a candidate for sainthood. However, for sainthood to be conferred, a second miracle must be approved. There is no word whether Sheen has performed another miracle, whether living or dead at the time.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1
One reason we are warned against trying to communicate with the dead is that we, as mere mortals, have no way to precisely determine who or what we are actually communicating with. If the Bible tells us that there is a divide between the dead in the living, then it only stands to reason that what we may be communicating with are demons.
After all, we know that angels are messengers of God that communicate with humans and demons are also angels, although fallen ones who now seek to disrupt the work of God. Therefore, the Bible instructs us that when something communicates with us, we are to test spirits.
Any spirit sent from God will not deny the deity of Jesus Christ. It will not deny that there is one God. It will not deny God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. It will not deny that Jesus rose from the dead and the resurrection of Christ is the atoning act of sacrifice for the redemption of mankind.