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August 13th, 2013
08:36 AM ET

Priest from Missouri accident revealed

By Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN) – Katie Lentz finally knows the identity of the Catholic priest who came to her side during a life-threatening accident on a two-lane Missouri highway this month.

Turns out, it was a Father Dowling mystery. The Rev. Patrick Dowling, that is.

Dowling, a priest since 1982, revealed in a comment on a story posted on the National Catholic Register that he was the man who prayed over Lentz, 19, while emergency workers treated her for injuries after an August 4 accident.

Dowling wrote in the comment, which has since been deleted: "I absolved and anointed Katie, and, at her request, prayed that her leg would not hurt. Then I stepped aside to where some rescue personnel and the pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently."

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity

soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. hharri

    Let's discuss why Hitler was a horse's rear end, shall we? Even though he was a devout believer in and follower of jeeeeeeeebus, he wasn't perfect, was he? We have spent many months and much energy condemning pat Robertson, jerry falwell, Joel O., you name 'em. But, we've inexplicably ignored Herr Adolf. Which atheist would care to go first, you atthy? You observer? Talmud13, how bout you? Sammy stone? No religion? Divine insight? Step right up tom tom!

    August 20, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • hharri

      Uh oh. Where'd they all go, Joe? My my

      August 20, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • hharri

      Tommy boy! Alqeada! Observant! No religion! Skyfog! Samuel baby! Surf's up! Come on, where ya b? Doobs, junior, Adolf, me2, alias, FSM, hotairhead, notruthinyou! Come on, man

      August 20, 2013 at 6:46 am |
  2. ERTWERTTR456345645

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    August 19, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  3. tyetryetryuioyuioyuio

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    August 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  4. tyetryetry

    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

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    August 17, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    August 16, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  6. scallywag

    Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  7. Julia

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    August 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  8. HappyCatholic

    Thank you, Father, for both your honesty and for administering the sacraments to the girl. God bless you and your ministry.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  9. skytag

    The Belief Blog people are really grasping for subject matter these days. A Catholic priest prayed over someone. That warrants a Belief Blog piece on CNN?

    August 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Sara

      A few days ago when they hadn't identified the priest I saw this story (magically appearing priest) used here as evidence for god's existence.

      August 14, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
      • skytag

        Obviously the folks at CNN aren't the only ones grasping. 😉

        August 14, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  10. Paul & Barnabas

    The priest is a prime example of Matthew 5:13-16 witnessing in the world.

    One is hardly seen. Yet too little of it you can taste the difference and too much of it can ruin your food.
    The other is visible it is need during the night or when it is dark. Yet too much of it in the morning well make you say, “Turn it off” yet too little of it can make you feel unsafe.

    August 14, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Reality

      . JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic (as is Matt 5: 13-16) by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      August 14, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      While emergency workers treated her for injuries. The real, practical, and tangible effort in saving her.

      August 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  11. Junior

    Christianity gains momentum, say what you will.

    August 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • OTOH

      Ok, I will say what I will.

      "Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%)."
      http://www.pewforum.org/Christian/Global-Christianity-exec.aspx

      In Africa, for example, Christian missionary-oriented sects are increasing the church membership there. The humanitarian assistance is great, but the fantasy side of it feeds right into those desperate, gullible, superst.itious and ritual-loving people.
      " According to a 2006 Pew Forum on Religion and Public life study, 147 million African Christians were "renewalists" (Pentecostals and Charismatics)."
      – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Africa#Current_status

      August 13, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      No, that is not accurate. In fact it is only in certain area's of the world where it appears to be growing.

      "A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 2010 global population of 6.9 billion. Christians are also geographically widespread – so far-flung, in fact, that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the center of global Christianity.

      A century ago, this was not the case. In 1910, about two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe, where the bulk of Christians had been for a millennium, according to historical estimates by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.2 Today, only about a quarter of all Christians live in Europe (26%). A plurality – more than a third – now are in the Americas (37%). About one in every four Christians lives in sub-Saharan Africa (24%), and about one-in-eight is found in Asia and the Pacific (13%)."
      (http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/)

      August 13, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
      • Dippy

        Areas, not area's.

        August 13, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
        • skytag

          Thank God we have you to alert us to all the homonym typos.

          August 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • Lycidas

        One must also keep in mind that the population of Europe is in decline. So that also needs to be taken into consideration. Obviously if the overall population is declining in Europe, so would the christian population.
        "By 2025, however, it is estimated that Europe’s share of the world population will be reduced to 6% and will be only one-third of the population of Africa."
        (http://www.pop.org/content/fertility-decline-in-western-europe-1727)

        August 13, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
        • Sara

          While the population of Europe may well be in decline soon, it is not yet. Only the relative proportion is, which is true for most relatively developed areas. It takes a population quite a while to actually decline after fertility drops below replacement, and Europe also has substantial immigration.

          August 15, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • Junior

      Yes but they are starting to live their faith rather than wear the label. Interesting times ahead my friend.

      August 13, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
      • Lovely Carrot

        Just keep it out of our laws here, and I won't have a problem with that.

        August 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
      • skytag

        Religion always enjoys a surge in popularity in hard times, and the more help people want from God the more they live their religions. There was a huge surge in the practice of religion in Russia in WWII, but they still lost 20 million people.

        August 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Reality

      http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

      Religion………………………… Adherents

      Christianity ……………………..2.1 billion

      Islam…………………………… 1.5 billion (with 80% despising and killing the other 20% and vice-versa)

      Irreligious/agnostic/atheism…… 1.1 billion (here we come)

      Hinduism 900 million
      Chinese traditional religion 394 million
      Buddhism 376 million
      Animist religions 300 million
      African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
      Sikhism 23 million
      Juche 19 million
      Spiritism 15 million

      Judaism…………………………………….. 14 million

      Baha'i 7 million
      Jainism 4.2 million
      Shinto 4 million
      Cao Dai 4 million
      Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
      Tenrikyo 2 million
      Neo-Paganism 1 million
      Unitarian Universalism 800,000
      Rastafari Movement 600,000

      August 13, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • skytag

      Did you have a point?

      August 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  12. HotAirAce

    What exactly did this shaman do? It appears he may have said some mumbo-jumbo that gave the woman some comfort, but other than that, there is no evidence that his presence and words were needed at all. For example, nowhere does it say the woman or situation were out of control and his presence and words altered the situation. What would the outcome have been if he had not been at the scene? Probably no different. But some will use this as evidence to continue the dead jew zombie vampire cannibal death cult aka christianity.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Oggie

      Too bad you weren't there to yell at her for praying out loud.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Why do you think I would do that? I fully support everyone's right to their own delusions and the practice thereof in/on their own property. Rather than cast aspersions, how about articulating why I might be wrong?

        August 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
        • Oggie

          So, since she was on a public street she had no right to pray?

          August 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          She was in her own vehicle. I don't care if anyone mumbles anything to themselves in public, even if it's loud enough for someone else to overhear. But! If their purpose is to evangelize by clearly trying to engage others, such as myself or strangers, then I feel perfectly within my rights to tell them to fuck off. Notice, I did not say shutup.

          August 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
        • A Conversation

          Ace...you answered your own question: " It appears he may have said some mumbo-jumbo that gave the woman some comfort." Who are you to decide what a stranger wants anymore than this priest was?

          August 13, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
        • Oggie

          We all just want the Hot Air Arrogance to go away.

          August 13, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          A Conversation: While I did state my opinion, I also asked questions. Who are you to decide what I or anyone else may express an opinion on?

          Oggie: I'm not sure who you are speaking on behalf of, but fuck off anyway.

          August 13, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • skytag

      Comfort is a main function of religious beliefs. It's call the placebo effect.

      August 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  13. Honey Badger Don't Care

    Rev. Patrick Dowling was probably trying to cop a feel on an unconsious person then realized that it wasnt a little boy.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Oggie

      Is he a pedophile?

      August 13, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
      • Lycidas

        No..he's not.
        Badger is just an idiot that can't see beyond his unjustified hatred.

        August 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Dead horse

      please stop beating me

      August 13, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        The beatings will stop when a reigning Pope-A-Dope releases all information about priestly pedophilia and the criminals covering it up to the relevant civilian authorities. Of course, this probably means that the current Pope-A-Dope will have to turn himself into said authorities. The RCC badly needs their own Snowden. . .

        August 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
        • Lycidas

          Perhaps those files are right next to Project Blue Book.

          August 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Are you suggesting the USA, or multiple governments, are involved in covering up for the RCC specifically, and religions in general? Even if yes, there's nothing to stop the RCC or one of its employees from coming clean. Regardless of how much praying and absolving takes place, there has to be more than a few within the RCC that can't sleep at night due to what they know about priestly pedophilia and its coverup.

          August 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
        • Junior

          Hot Air you must not have read that the Diocese of LA recently released info concerning the abuse scandals. Are you keeping abreast of reality?

          August 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
        • Seth

          Is that the diocese that declare bankruptcy to avoid paying the judgments against them, Junior?

          August 13, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
        • Junior

          not quite Seth

          August 13, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • Junior

          Seth in fact the diocese had to pay more than 600 million.

          August 13, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Excellent. A good start. But I must have missed Pope-A-Dope's order from RCC Cult HQ instructing all departments to release all information and for all local cults to follow suit.

          August 13, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
        • Lycidas

          @HotAirAce- "Are you suggesting the USA, or multiple governments, are involved in covering up for the RCC specifically, and religions in general?"

          I'm sorry, I was being sarcastic and was implying that this vast RCC conspiracy could right there with all the alien stuff.

          August 13, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Thanks. I apologize for being too literal today.

          August 13, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
        • Seth

          Oh, yeah, it wasn't the LA diocese...it was the San Diego diocese.

          Read about other dioceses that did the same thing:

          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settlements_and_bankruptcies_in_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases

          August 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
        • Seth

          Lycidas, do please look at the post I linked. It's not a "vast conspiracy". And this is in just this country, not worldwide.

          August 13, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  14. hharri

    And in a flash, Einstein realized that gravity and acceleration were the same thing.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • hharri

      And that space was curved, which was confirmed years layer during an eclipse which revealed light from a star bent as it passed by our sun.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
      • hharri

        And his motivation all along, which consumed him his entire life, was to come to know the mind, the thoughts, of god.

        August 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • hharri

          And it dawned on him, instantaneously, that time and space are relative; that depending on how fast one is moving, he ages faster or slower. The closer to the speed of light one went, the slower he aged and the smaller he got. And if one could achieve 186,000 miles per second, time itself would stop.

          August 13, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
        • hharri

          And it dawned on him, instantaneously, that time and space are relative; that depending on how fast one is moving, he ages faster or slower. Incredible. The closer to the speed of light one went, the slower he aged and the smaller he got. And if one could achieve 186,000 miles per second, time itself would stop.

          August 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • hharri

          Like the woman who spent her life waiting with glorious expectation to see christ

          August 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
        • ME II

          Not aware of the size changing due to relativity, mass, yes, but it gets larger as one approaches c. What's your point?

          August 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
        • hharri

          Keep looking

          August 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
        • Athy

          Actually, the faster you travel the more massive you become, you shorten in the direction of travel, and time slows down; but only to an outside observer. Everything appears normal to the one doing the traveling.

          August 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
        • hharri

          All wrong

          August 20, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • hharri

      How many pounds of sunlight fall on the earth each day?

      August 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
      • hharri

        Which weighs more, a fully charged car battery, not charged at all, or are they the same?

        August 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
      • hharri

        Wouldn't try. Shame on you

        August 20, 2013 at 3:04 am |
    • truthprevails1

      hhari: You know only schizophrenics have conversations with themselves...you might wish to seek some help.

      August 13, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  15. hharri

    A moonless world will not yield to the supremacy of the cephalopod

    August 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • ME II

      Eh? what's that you say?

      August 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
      • hharri

        When the moon drifts far enough, and it has no impact on earth, some predict cephalopods will become the dominant species

        August 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
        • ME II

          What's your point?
          The moon's distance changes so minutely that it will be billions of years before it would have no effect, if ever. The sun will engulf the planet first, I think.

          August 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  16. Reality check indeed

    How about the hypocrisy.."I was praying for her and forgiving her sins..." Like he (or any other person) has the power or right to. Numerous verses in the Bible explain this. Nice guy, but another twisted soul from the guilt trip and repression of the Catholic church. The ten commandments alone expose the slap-in-the-face that the Catholic church is to the teachings of Christ.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Ben

      "I was praying for her and forgiving her sins..."

      Did he actually say that? I don't see that quote.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • Ben

        "I absolved and anointed Katie, and, at her request, prayed that her leg would not hurt. Then I stepped aside to where some rescue personnel and the pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently."

        August 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
        • Reality check indeed

          "absolved"....look it up

          August 13, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
        • Ben

          Ok, you are right. But I think it is through Jesus, and not the priest, that she is forgiven.

          August 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Actually the Church and her priests have the power to absolve sin through the grace of Christ granted in John 20:22-23 and by Apostolic succession and ordination.

          August 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Each cult is authorized to grant whatever powers they like to their shamans, just as JK Rowling can grant whatever powers she likes to her characters, 'cause they're merely playing the world's oldest and largest fantasy role playing game, with heavy emphasis on fantasy.

          August 13, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Yes, hot air just like the cult of atheism is free to con-volute whatever they desire to den-igrate other people. I was merely clarifying a point of Catholic doctrine for those interested.

          August 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Who convoluted what? Who is denigrated by the truth?

          August 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
        • Shaari

          Bill Deacon, can he absolve her even if she's not Catholic?

          I would think so, but I will defer to your knowledge of Catholicism.

          August 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
        • Junior

          Funny..... JK Rowling did not dispatch Harry Potter to the scene of the accident.

          August 13, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          I suspect, if she knew about the/an accident, JKR would know that there would be no tangible purpose.

          August 13, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
        • Doobs

          @ Junior

          Funny..... JK Rowling did not dispatch Harry Potter to the scene of the accident.

          Neither did "god" dispatch a priest to this accident. He was driving down the highway, saw it, and stopped to help. He was doing his job.

          August 14, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  17. Lycidas

    Rev. Patrick Dowling sounds like a nice guy who tried to offer comfort and got out of the way when needed.

    August 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • flying spaghetti monster

      Yeah, this is such a non-story. Who cares? If the priest was like holding the emts at bay with a bible while insisting that only prayer could save the injured, we might have something to talk about here.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • Alias

        in some of the orignial reports he came from nowhere and dissapeared.
        That was why this story was news.

        August 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • ME II

      @Lycidas,
      That sounds about right. Seems that's the way most "miracles" start out.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • Junior

        But how does this miracle end, ME II?

        August 13, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
        • Doobs

          Like all other medical "miracles". The witch doctor got out of the way and let the real medical personnel take care of this girl's injuries.

          August 14, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  18. Reality

    Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

    So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rulesof living as gracious and good human beings.

    August 13, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Akira

      This priest brought comfort to this injured woman. Do you think your platitudes would have brought her comfort?
      Far more likely that you would have been the one bitching because your commute was longer.

      August 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Alias

      Please cite reputable references to support your claims.

      August 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
      • Athy

        Lack of any to the contrary is enough for me.

        August 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers.

      Great, provide evidence for your as.sertion.

      August 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers.

      Great, provide evidence for your as/sertion.

      August 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
      • Colin

        See Do Vestibule's post below: The John Templeton Foundation funded a 10 year, $2.4 million dollar study involving 1,800 cardiac patients to measure the effectiveness of intecessory prayer.
        The patients were broken into three groups. Two were prayed for; the third was not. Half the patients who received the prayers were told that they were being prayed for; half were told that they might or might not receive prayers.
        Analyzing complications in the 30 days after the operations, the researchers found no differences between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.
        Over the longer term, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.
        A 1997 study at the University of New Mexico, involving 40 alcoholics in rehabilitation, found that the men and women who knew they were being prayed for actually fared worse.

        August 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • AE

          Th study proved God is not a cosmic vending machine (insert prayer) or light switch.

          Prayer is not about getting our goodies from God, but it is about trusting God to do what is best.

          August 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          No ae.
          The study showed that prayer can actually be harmful.

          August 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
        • AE

          One doctor who was critical of the study asks: ”It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?”

          Could the knowledge that they were being told that stranger's were praying for them cause performance anxiety?

          Lots of variable to consider in this test.

          August 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Akira

          Wonder how the study would have gone if none of the patients had been told that they are being prayed for?
          And half were, and half weren't?

          August 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          That would have complicated things...a Baptist patient would have a stroke if he found out it was a Mormon doing the praying.

          August 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • AE

          @ R.M. Goodswell

          haha

          August 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • Reality

          God at his best:

          Number of god's creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

          1. 300,000,000 approx.
          Smallpox

          2. 200,000,000 ?
          Measles

          3. 100,000,000 approx.
          Black Death

          4. 80,000,000–250,000,000
          Malaria

          5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
          Spanish Flu

          6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
          Plague of Justinian

          7. 40,000,000–100,000,000
          Tuberculosis

          8. 30,000,000[13]
          AIDS pandemic

          9. 12,000,000 ?
          Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

          10. 5,000,000
          Antonine Plague

          11. 4,000,000
          Asian Flu

          12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

          August 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
        • Dr.K

          First of all, let me tell you from the start that God does not give anyone a disease. If the Catholic Church believed that God caused disease we would have to close all those Catholic hospitals and stop trying to cure the sick. Lourdes, as well as other healing shrines would have to be shuttered as being the work of the devil. We Catholics believe in healing, both supernatural and natural. If God caused disease, curing the sick in any way would be resisting His perfect will. We believe that death and sickness entered the world because of the sin of Adam and Eve.

          This simple answer doesn’t help at all, does it! It just brings up two more questions. First of all, why do I suffer for the sin of two ancient people, if they existed at all? Second, if God is all powerful and all loving, couldn’t He just wave His almighty hand and make life better? These are two really good points. It’s easy to say that God doesn’t will sickness and suffering, but if He is all powerful, then He at least allows bad things to happen. If we are correct about God, then it is fair to say that nothing in all the universe happens, except with His permission. So, isn’t it fair to say that He is to blame for everything from the Holocaust down to the common cold? Why not blame Adam and Eve or some other poor cave men for the current mess, or for my personal suffering?

          Lots of great religious thinkers have come up with lots of creative answers to the question of “if God is so good, why is it that my life, and that of so many others whom I love, is, at times, so lousy?” Let’s call it the “Good God/Lousy Life” problem. (Or GGLL, for short.)

          Jean Calvin 1509-1564, of France and Switzerland, the lawyer who founded Reformed Protestantism and inadvertently the United States, said that your life was lousy because you deserve it. God created two groups of people, the elect, chosen to show His mercy and the damned, chosen to show His justice.

          And you, poor, blighted sucker, are probably among the damned, as are most human beings, so it’s only going to get worse and don’t think it’s unfair, because after all, God is God and He can do whatever He darn well pleases and He decided to make you a miserable sinner, just like Adam and Eve and if you think it’s bad now you’re going to Hell so what you’re current suffering is a picnic by comparison and who are you to criticize God anyway, you sniveling little worm. Amen.

          Then there’s Rabbi Harold Kushner (1935 — ), his son died at the age of 14 of progeria, a rare hereditary disease. His answer is that God...is not perfect. (See page 148 of his best selling book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”) In other words, God is not all powerful and He can’t make everything all right, no matter how hard He tries, and believe me He’s really trying. Rabbi Kushner seems to answer the question by making us feel sorry for God who’s doing His level best at a job He’s not really cut out for.

          Then there’s Carl Sagan 1934-1996 American agnostic and astronomer. Let us pretend that he stands for the great number of those who believe, practically speaking, that there is no God as most people understand God to be. In a 1996 interview with NPR's Fresh Air, Sagan said, "I find that you learn absolutely nothing about someone's belief if you ask them 'Do you believe in God?' and they say yes or no. You have to specify which of the countless kinds of God you have in mind." This is very much to the point. God is defined as that reality, greater than which nothing exists. As far as Carl knew, and he may be of a different opinion now that he is dead, the universe with its “billions and billions of galaxies spinning endlessly....” was in fact that greatest reality which existed. It is, therefore God, and the Universe does not give a good gosh darn whether you and yours are living happily ever after.

          The Catholic Church has a different answer from Carl, Calvin and Kushner. First of all, we Catholics agree that God can do whatever He pleases and the beauty and order of the Universe are what He pleased. Creation itself is an out flowing and mirror of God’s perfection, imperfect, though it is. God is not arbitrary, as Calvin would have us believe. Physical, natural and moral law flow from God’s very nature. In the words of Einstein, a rather smart fellow, “God does not play dice with the Universe!” (Actually Einstein said that “He (God) does not throw dice.”) God does not contradict His own nature.

          God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean that He will cast you down to the deepest hell because, well, He just felt like it. Calvin might do you such a thing, but God doesn’t. And different from Dr. Sagan’s opinion, God is not impassive and uncaring. Carl Sagan may have been. I don’t know, but the first Pope, St. Peter advised us “to cast all our anxieties on Him, for He cares for you.” (1Peter 5:7)

          How can He be all-caring, all-powerful, all-knowing and I’m still a mess? My answer, which I hope is the Catholic answer, would be a question: Have you looked at a crucifix lately? If you go into a Catholic Church, at least one where the pastor is paying attention, there is a crucifix. There is a modern, though beautiful church in Skokie, Illinois. It shines with beautiful stained glass windows, stained glass, mind you, not painted. The light filters through the western, stained glass wall at sunset like a vision. In front of that western wall is a huge crucifix, perhaps thirty feet tall. If you sat for an afternoon looking at that wonderful cross, you would gradually see the cross almost disappear in an explosion of light. It would take an afternoon, but you would have your answer.

          I have heard nouveau, pseudo, deep as a puddle, progressives criticize the old custom of the crucifix on the altar. I remember an old German who was made pastor of a progressive parish. He put a large Crucifix up in the rectory dining room. Two of the ministresses of care were horrified by the change. “How dare he put that symbol of violence and repression up in our dining room!?! It’s repulsive!” It had a very salutary effect. The old pastor lost a little weight and the two ministresses stopped bothering him at mealtimes.

          You’ve probably been asked, “Why does the Catholic Church have crucifixes and not just a simple cross? After all, Jesus rose from the dead!” You forget that when He rose He still had the nail marks in His hands and the wound in His side. He carried the Cross with Him even in the Resurrection. If you look closely at the Gospel of John, when Jesus talks about the hour of His glory, He is talking about the crucifixion, not the Resurrection, though you can’t have one without the other.

          We want life to be easy. God wants life to be beautiful. We want God to do things for us. God wants to make us His children, sharing His nature. And what is His nature? Love. Real Love. Sacrificial Love, not just sentiment. Jesus said, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) We think of perfection as flawlessness. A perfect person is beautiful, brilliant, rich and so on. Remember the command is not be perfect. It is be perfect “AS” your heavenly Father is perfect. “AS” is one of the most important words in the Bible. “Peace I give you, not “AS” the world gives peace.” “Love one another “AS” I have loved you,” not “AS” seen on TV.” Love is easy if you define it the way a TV producer does, raging hormones and no problem that can’t be solved in half an hour. Love one another “AS” I have loved you involves nails, a cross and a crown of thorns. God is love, and love is the goal, but remember that love is defined by the cross.

          I had a friend years ago, a real mensch. He was smart, handsome, from a good family, well educated and well to do, a promising career a gorgeous, loving wife two children and they actually went to church. A charmed life. He called me one day in a state of confusion. All I could do was listen. He and his wife had been informed that their soon to be born child had Down’s Syndrome. She would be as some say “mentally retarded.” The perfect life was over. He didn’t know what to do. The doctors urged him and his wife to end the pregnancy. After all, it would be more merciful to the “fetus.” Because they were Catholics, they decided to allow the baby to live. Shortly before the birth he called and said he did not know how they would be able to go on. About three years later he called me and said that he hadn’t known that there could be so much love as his littlest daughter had given him and taught him. What had been his greatest fear had become his greatest blessing. The perfection of God is more than His omnipotence or perfect knowledge. It is His unlimited love.

          That little girl was tiny and weak. She wasn’t the greatest thinker ever born, but when she loves she is the very reflection of the nature of God, and when we love, really love, love sacrificially, so are we. She is perfect, not AS the world would have her be. The world would have killed her, but God gave her to my friend as an opportunity for true love. All of us get sick and all of us die. It is the inheritance that we receive from our first parents. In the first garden, they were offered a gift of love, sacrificial love, and all they had to do was sacrifice the fruit of a tree. They could not trust God even that far. Our inheritance is not just their failure, it is the question they were asked by God and that God still asks of every human being, “Will you trust Me?” Jesus was asked the same question in a different garden. Gethsemane by name. “Will you trust Me,” asked His heavenly Father. He answered, “Father, not as I will, but as You will.” He took what had been stolen from that other tree and placed it back on the Cross, the tree of life and so by His complete trust he gave love back to the world.

          So, disease exists for the same reason that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil existed in the garden of Eden, for the same reason that the cross stood on Calvary’s hill. It is the reason for imperfection in the midst of our yearning for perfection. In the end, love will win. The tears that glisten on a mother’s cheek will not disappear “they shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” (1Cor.15:52) They will shine like gold and diamonds in an infinity of love.

          August 13, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
        • Junior

          Beautifully said Dr. K.

          August 13, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Perhaps beautifully said, but definitely not proven.

          August 13, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
        • Reality

          Your god is supposedly the creator of all things so why did he create these horrible diseases?

          August 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
        • Reality

          The sin of Adam and Eve caused all of these diseases? Give us a break!!! Even Catholic high schools teach that A & E were myths.

          Just to bring you up to date:

          o
          As per National Geographic's Genographic project:

          https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/

          " DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.
          "Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. He lived in Africa some 60,000 years ago, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least at that time.

          Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendants are the only ones to survive.

          It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."

          More details from National Geographic's Genographic project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

          "Our spe-cies is an African one: Africa is where we first ev-olved, and where we have spent the majority of our time on Earth. The earliest fos-sils of recognizably modern Ho-mo sapiens appear in the fossil record at Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, around 200,000 years ago. (not 6000 years ago as noted in the OT). Although earlier fossils may be found over the coming years, this is our best understanding of when and approximately where we originated.

          According to the genetic and paleontological record, we only started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. What set this in motion is uncertain, but we think it has something to do with major climatic shifts that were happening around that time—a sudden cooling in the Earth’s climate driven by the onset of one of the worst parts of the last Ice Age. This cold snap would have made life difficult for our African ancestors, and the genetic evidence points to a sharp reduction in population size around this time. In fact, the human population likely dropped to fewer than 10,000. We were holding on by a thread.

          Once the climate started to improve, after 70,000 years ago, we came back from this near-extinction event. The population expanded, and some intrepid explorers ventured beyond Africa. The earliest people to colonize the Eurasian landma-ss likely did so across the Bab-al-Mandab Strait separating present-day Yemen from Djibouti. These early beachcombers expanded rapidly along the coast to India, and reached Southeast Asia and Australia by 50,000 years ago. The first great foray of our species beyond Africa had led us all the way across the globe."

          August 13, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Dr.K,

          you wrote an awful lot to say nothing, when you started name dropping and misrepresenting some of their positions I stopped reading.

          Reality's post was to point out the absentee landlord nature of God btw- NOT that God creates disease.

          There was no original sin...that is just part of the guilt trip part of the con to enslave people to your bloody church from birth to the grave.

          August 14, 2013 at 12:22 am |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          @ Dr.K,

          and its seems this argument has been say word for word before, if you are going to do that at least list the source material
          and give the orginal his props.....

          http://www.rev-know-it-all.com/2009/2009-08-02.html

          August 14, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Byrd disagrees, however if you move the goal post like Harris did you can get a study to say anything.

      August 13, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • ME II

      While not evidence that prayer 'can not' affect life, the STEP study is evidence that intercessory prayer does not work.

      "Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications."
      ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569567 )

      August 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Maybe they were praying to the wrong god and ended up just making him mad.

        August 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • Heritage

        They were praying from the NIV Bible, which is why this study failed. They might as well had been reading a Penn Jillette book.

        August 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • Pthth

          Yeth, thou muhth lithp a lot to have this "God" character underthand thee... or thpeak anthient Hebrew.

          August 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • lamelionheart

      Sired Reality wrote, "Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature.."

      Then by your admission the natural progressiveness of meaningful orders are not necessarily the results of variable randomness..? What say you regarding the differences between a simple and a complex eye and no eyes at all..?

      Where are one's emotional treasuries found emanating from and towards..? Whose maniacal motives are for bettering and whose are for worsening the great divides of morbid diversities accompanying humanity's consecrated platitudes of foresighted understandings that the many are never aptly able to see let alone catch a fragrant sniff of..?

      God needs not anyone whose rigid emancipations giving to godly folks their voided onslaughts of vile and venous trepidations meant to waylay others whose lingering ways are not firmly yet made as a religious articulation of promissory anticipation...

      For the shamelessness of the voided shall never rightly know God's willfulness... They are of shames counterfeit waylaying dumbfounded virtues and they all lay waiting to disembowel anyone who is not found standing upon the righteous rocks of godly certainties... Know you well your own certainties of willfulness unbecoming of God's wantonness...

      We are all God's buildings and as some are as temples many are mere storehouses while most are God's condominiums for His treed families to take up safe harborage residencies upon the within of every life manifestations of living atomized cosmological abundances... How therefore does any of God's buildings gain favor with God and His treed family generations when deconstruction of any human temple or storehouse or condominium does begin..?

      August 13, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.