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Lynn Cassidy‘s daughter was born last year with Down syndrome, problems with her eyes and ears, and two holes in her heart. Not knowing what else to do, Cassidy and her husband took a trip to Rome last Easter hoping to see Pope Francis and get his blessing. It worked. By standing in the right place in St. Peter’s Square, they managed to get an audience with the Pope:

“It was like the Lion King,” Lynn said. “The secret service person, Johnny, stopped and took her from [husband] Scott and held her up to the Pope. The Pope asked my husband, ‘How old is she? What’s her name?’ He told (the Pope) she has two holes in her heart. When we got home in May, we went back to the cardiologist for a check-up. One of the holes was completely closed and one was half the size.

Of course, this is seen as a sign of “divine intervention.” Even the clickbait-y headline on the news site says “Pope held sick baby, what happened next is amazing.”

It’s not until later in the article that you get some honesty:

“I mean it’s possible that it closes just over time,” [Cassidy] said. “But when you see the picture that the professional photographer took, his hand is here and he’s a servant of God.”

It’s not just possible. That’s what happens most of the time. I’m no doctor, but it sounds like what her daughter had was a ventricular septal defect (which often occurs in babies with Down syndrome) and the Mayo Clinic points out:

Many babies born with a small ventricular septal defect won’t need surgery to close the hole. After birth, your doctor may want to observe your baby and treat symptoms while waiting to see if the defect closes on its own.

I’m not saying this is exactly what happened, but there’s plenty of reason to believe this wasn’t a miracle. If Pope Francis hadn’t made an appearance in Rome that day, the holes in her heart would likely have closed on their own. (Funny, isn’t it, that the Pope supposedly closed the holes, but did nothing to solve the sight and hearing issues?)

I’m glad the problem wasn’t more serious. But this is hardly evidence of the Hand of God at work. It’s just another example of a reporter desperate for a story, willing to make a big deal out of nothing.

(Image via 11alive. Thanks to Alana for the link)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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