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A Roman Catholic RE teacher reacts to our story on Audrey Santo, reputed

to work miracles

JOSEPH GALLIVAN'S touching article about "Little Audrey" (29 August) was interesting and well balanced. It nevertheless managed to trot out some cliches about Roman Catholics, not least by implying that we regularly indulge in an obsessive search for miracles. Neither Roman Catholics nor members of other religious groups have any monopoly of the puzzlingly astonishing.

The cult of the unexplained is presently enjoying an active media existence. Just ask Michael Aspel, Paul McKenna or Carol Vorderman.

Miracles point to God at work. There is always the danger of fraudulent misrepresentation of divine activity. No religion has any business promoting specious methods of increasing the faith of its adherents, including doing so through the promotion of suspect miracles. Religion, which is ultimately about enabling people to experience the divine, is much too important for such dubious practices.

However, if we assume that it is God who acts directly to create miraculous situations, how could we ever prove satisfactorily that it was, in fact, God who was at work? What objective test or evidence could we appeal to?

A major difficulty is, of course, that there is no agreed definition as to what constitutes a miracle. We generally assume that a miracle must be spectacular or dramatic in form. The fact is that miracles are neither provable nor refutable from the outside. Like beauty, they are in the eye of the beholder. They are something that may be recognised only with the eye of faith.

Coming from the Latin miraculum, meaning something wonderful, the word denotes an extraordinary happening, but not everything that is remarkable serves to augment or develop faith. Few of life's many strange events may compete for recognition as miracles. I do not feel the need for the dramatic or the spectacular to support my faith. Existence itself is sufficiently wonderful to allow me to stand in awe of the Creator.

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