Controversy
Dr VK Srinivasan, a neonatologist at Thrissur’s Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, reportedly certified that canonised nun Mariam Thresia had healed a critically ill child.
Sister Mariam Thresia

The Ethics Committee of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has looked into numerous issues, such as a member claiming that diabetics can be treated by eating laddus, but this is the first time that a doctor approving a ‘miracle healing’ has come to its scrutiny.

IMA member Dr VK Srinivasan, a neonatologist at Thrissur’s Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, is reported to have certified a ‘miracle’ performed by Sister Mariam Thresia, a nun from the state who was canonised recently. It was reportedly based on his certificate that Sister Mariam Thresia’s eligibility for sainthood was upheld by the Vatican.

Born in 1876 in Thrissur, Mariam Thresia was the founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family, which is part of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church now. The nun was canonised in a ceremony held at Vatican City in Rome on Sunday, October 13.

Read: Kerala nun Mariam Thresia elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis

Dr Srinivasan also took part in the canonisation function.

The doctor reportedly certified a ‘miracle’ performed by Sister Mariam Thresia which had cured a newborn of illness. The Ethics Committee of the IMA has sought an explanation from the doctor and will submit its report on the matter in a week.

Reports about the doctor’s move attracted criticism with many people slamming it on social media.

Sainthood has to be cleared by the Pope by authorising a decree recognising the ‘miracles’ that happened due to the intervention of the nuns or priests. This authorising is done when the nun or priest is being considered for sainthood, which usually happens after their death.

Dr Srinivasan certified one of the ‘miracles’ by Sister Mariam Thresia, saying that a child named Christopher who had been in a critical condition owing to breathing difficulties survived because of her intervention. He claimed this happened at Amala Hospital in Thrissur in 2009.

“Christopher, an infant with severe respiratory problems, had recovered miraculously after prayer. It was claimed that Christopher recovered after his grandmother placed a relic of Mariam Thresia on his bed,” the doctor claimed in an article in a regional daily.

Dr Sulfi M Noohu, the state secretary of the IMA, came out with a scathing Facebook post on Sunday flaying the miraculous healing, saying sarcastically that he regretted that the nun was not his professor. From Dr Sulfi’s post, the illness of the child can be understood as Acute Respiratory Failure.

“For this disease, normal improvement can be seen through treatment. By certifying that a touch had healed him will push people back to the dark era of superstitions. These kind of superstitions don’t have any caste or religious differences,” he said in the post.

“Our Ethics Committee has already sought an explanation from Dr Srinivasan. I won’t be able to divulge his response now. The committee will be submitting its report at the earliest. We need time to examine. The committee meetings are normally held with a prior notice of two weeks. We will not jump to any conclusions without properly examining the issue, but neither will we take it lightly if the doctor had indeed done such a certification. This is the first time that the committee is dealing with such an issue,” Sulfi told TNM.

When TNM tried to contact Dr Srinivasan for comment, Amala Institute of Medical Sciences informed us that Dr Srinivasan was not back from Rome yet. 

Also Read: From isolating menstruating women to sorcery, Kerala draft bill to fight superstition