e-mail us
Pain healed, EWTN approved, Angelica says

NCR Staff

Facing Vatican scrutiny for her criticism of church officials, Mother Angelica claims to have picked up an endorsement for her activities from two sources it would be difficult for any Catholic to top: Jesus and Mary.

Her claim came in a live broadcast on her EWTN network Jan. 29, during which Angelica announced she had been miraculously healed of the leg and back pain that had hobbled her for 40 years. She walked without her usual crutches and braces, raised her arms in triumph and even danced with the host of the program on which she appeared.

In relating what had happened, Angelica said that “Our Lord and Our Lady” told her through a visitor that “they were pleased with what we were doing for them and the church.” She also said that the same visitor, to whom Mary had appeared in Mother Angelica’s presence, saw Mary crying “over many things, especially priests and religious who are losing their faith.”

Though Angelica made no mention of her current contretemps with Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles archdiocese, she did say that she believed the healing is a sign of a coming “springtime” for the church, in which more profound eucharistic observance will overcome “the very bad and poor teaching” about the real presence of Jesus currently being presented.

Angelica’s earlier criticism of Mahony centered on what she felt was a lack of clarity in the cardinal’s treatment of church doctrine on the Eucharist in his recent pastoral letter on the Sunday liturgy. Mahony subsequently asked two Vatican offices to review Angelica’s comments and the overall tone of EWTN programming (NCR, Dec. 5, 1997, Jan. 30).

“I’ve been hearing about it over the Internet, from people suggesting that Mother Angelica was healed because she took on Cardinal Mahony,” said Capuchin Fr. Gregory Coiro, director of media relations for the Los Angeles archdiocese. Coiro has been acting as Mahony’s spokesperson in his controversy with Angelica.

“I’ve been telling people in jest that the healing was for my benefit,” Coiro said, “so I can’t be accused anymore of attacking a crippled nun.”

Coiro said that Mahony is still waiting for a Vatican response to his request for intervention.

On the Jan. 29 broadcast, Angelica pressed her case that church teaching on the Eucharist is under attack. “Never in the history of the world has there been so much blasphemy, disbelief, error, schism and cruelty towards the body and blood of Jesus,” she said. “The Father is going to make up for that, and our Lady is going to make up for that in a brand new way.”

In another context Angelica said, “I think there are millions and millions of souls to be saved today, especially among priests and religious, cardinals, bishops, lay people and teenagers.”

“I think the body of Christ is broken on every level,” Angelica said. “I think our Lord is saying [through the healing] to everybody in this country, I can heal the broken body of Christ like that,” snapping her fingers.

During her “Mother Angelica Live” program Feb. 3, the TV nun again recounted the story of her healing. Upon reflection, she said, she had come to realize that the “miracle” had occurred in order to increase the faith of others. “He [Jesus] did it for you,” she said.

Angelica also suggested that the healing was in some sense intended to benefit EWTN, saying, “Somehow the network needed it, and you needed it.” She also said the event illustrates that the rosary is “very powerful.”

In response to suggestions that Angelica be examined by a physician in order to authenticate the healing, she said, “I’m not trying to make anybody a saint. I can walk -- that’s my witness.”

As for doubters, Angelica said, “They didn’t believe Jesus, they won’t believe me. ... It doesn’t matter who believes, it doesn’t matter what anybody says. It only matters that your faith increases.”

During her original Jan. 29 appearance, Angelica predicted an intervention by God in history around the time of the new millennium, in line with prophecies by “Don Bosco and Faustina.” St. John (Don) Bosco, the 17th-century founder of the Salesians, was noted for his visions; Blessed Faustina Kowalska is reputed to have received revelations from Mary and Jesus during the early 20th century.

“I believe that something wonderful for all of us is around the corner,” Angelica said. “I also believe that this [the healing] is a sign for preparation for an awakening of God’s love and existence.”

Mother Angelica first broke the news of her healing on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock,” a regular feature directed at young Catholics. The guest scheduled for Jan. 29 gave way to the Poor Clare nun, who explained that a “very blessed woman,” whom she did not identify, had come to visit Our Lady of the Angels Monastery near Birmingham, Ala., where EWTN is headquartered. This woman had asked to pray the rosary with Angelica the evening of Jan. 28. Angelica said she prayed the first three decades in Latin, because the visitor did not speak English, and then the woman began to pray the fourth decade in Italian.

When she was on the “third or fourth bead,” Angelica said the woman gazed up at the painting of Jesus reaching out to St. Francis that hangs on the wall of Angelica’s office and started talking to Mary. “I just sat there with my head down and I prayed,” Angelica said.

When the woman came out of this vision, Angelica said, she delivered the message that Jesus and Mary were pleased with EWTN. Moreover, she instructed Angelica to take off her braces and walk about, which she did, progressively gaining strength.

Just before the broadcast, Mother Angelica said the woman prayed with her again, and this time her back pain went away.

“I can’t say I desired it [healing],” Angelica told the host of the program, Jeff Cavins. “I just wanted the Lord to maybe have a new witness.”

Angelica cautioned that others in physical pain should not necessarily expect miraculous healing. Instead, she said that when medical means cannot produce healing, people should “offer up” their pain “as a way of saving souls.”

Exactly how many people were watching Angelica’s announcement is impossible to determine. While the EWTN Web site claims that the network reaches 54 million homes, that represents the total number of cable subscribers in systems that carry EWTN. How many actually watch is not known, since the Nielsen company does not calculate ratings for the network, nor does EWTN release any internal estimates of audience size.

An EWTN spokesperson told NCR “ratings aren’t important to us,” in part because the network does not accept commercial advertising.

Audio and video versions of Mother Angelica’s announcement are available on the EWTN Web site (http://www.ewtn.com/).