by Marco Corvaglia
§ 1. Introduction
The doctors who worked on the Medjugorje visionaries seem to have resorted to some questionable scientific protocols and, when interpretating the data, to truly forced conclusions, as we tried to highlight in the article Science Demonstrates Nothing.
Did some kind of bias in favor of the visionaries or in favor of the "extraordinary", in the broadest sense, act in them?
There are some facts to consider.
In fact, some of these doctors were already devotees of Our Lady of Medjugorje, while others even adhered to certain New Age practices, rejected by mainstream science.
It must be added also that, with very few exceptions, they were completely inexperienced in the type of investigation at issue.
The parish priest of Medjugorje himself, Ivan Landeka, who took the initiative to form a new study group in 1988, noted:
During our difficult search for a team of scientists capable of an up-to-date technical assessment of the Seers' claims, we eventually asked theologician and psychologist Father Andreas Resch, Redemptorist, professor of clinical psychology and paranormology [...], to coordinate the desired research group. Even Father Resch was unwilling to accept, since there is a paucity of researchers in this field of religious phenomena.
[I. Landeka, in A. Resch, G. Gagliardi, I veggenti di Medjugorje. Ricerca psicofisiologica, Resch Verlag, Innsbruck, 2000, p. V]
§ 2. Prof. Henri Joyeux
In 1984, Father René Laurentin decided to assign the task of conducting a scientific study of the six seers to a physician who was close to the Charismatic Renewal movement. This person was the oncologist Prof. Henri Joyeux.
Prof. Joyeux was particularly close to Dr. René Lejeune, one of the most notable Charismatic Renewal leaders in France, author of "The angels, secret army of the Heavens" [René Lejeune, Les anges armée secrète du Ciel, Parvis, Hauteville, 1998] and of "Fasting, healing and feast for the body and the soul" [René Lejeune, Jeûner, guérison et fête du corps et de l'esprit, Parvis, Hauteville, 1988)]. Joyeux actually wrote the preface to the latter.
Joyeux (co-author of the book Scientific and Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje [Veritas, 1987] with theologian Laurentin) elaborated and internationally promoted the thesis of the "scientific inexplicability" of the Medjugorje apparitions.
As we will see, in 2016 Prof. Joyeux was expelled from the Order of Doctors.
On April 22, 2002, the world-famous French newspaper Le Figaro published an article by Laurence de Charette, entitled “Families of France: A president called into question” [“Familles de France : un président contesté”].
The president is Prof. Joyeux himself, who was the head of Familles de France, a French association devoted to supporting and protecting families.
About Joyeux, the article reads as follows:
His opponents see in his writings connections with the thesis espoused by certain sects, such as instinct therapy and crudivorism (eating raw food). Henry Joyeux, they stress, has written the preface to many books on these topics by Bruno Comby, who personally showed up at the Castle of Montrâmes, which has been labeled as a “sect” by the committee for the defense against sects.
[Ses détracteurs voient dans ses écrits des liens avec les thèses proches de certaines sectes, comme l'instinctothérapie et le crudivorisme (manger cru). Henri Joyeux, soulignent-ils, a en effet préfacé plusieurs écrits sur le sujet de Bruno Comby, qui a lui-même fait un passage dans le château de Montrâmes – qualifié de secte par la mission de lutte contre les sects].
The article also notes that Joyeux also authored a preface for a book by Jean Seignalet, another figure with connections to the world of instinct therapy [autre préface controversée : celle d'un ouvrage de Jean Seignalet, personnage également lié à l'instinctothérapie]. The book's title is "Nutrition, or the Third Medicine" [Jean Seignalet, L’alimentation ou la troisième médecin, O.E.I.L., Paris, 2001], and in his preface Joyeux defines it as "well documented, and truly scientific" [très documenté, réellement scientifique: link].
In his book, Jean Seignalet claims that a crudivorist diet (and, in particular, a method known as Burger) can treat a huge number of ailments. Such a food regimen has been qualified as a “pseudo-scientific theory” by Dr. Jacques Frexinos, professor at the School of Medicine of the University of Toulouse, France, and head of the Gastroenterology department at the local hospital. In his article, Dr. Frexinos points to the crudivorists’ claims that their diet can be successfully applied “to dozens of disorders, from rheumatoid polyarthritis to cancer and leukemia, and also to ankylosing spondylarthritis, autoimmune rheumatologic diseases, autoimmune thyroid diseases, multiple sclerosis, active chronic hepatitis, myasthenia, tendinitis, osteoporosis, cephalgia, manic-depression disorder, schizophrenia, endogenous nervous depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, functional colon diseases, colitis (RHC and Chron’s disease), acne, eczema, psoriasis, asthma, bronchitis, and so on. There is not even enough room to quote them all! In fact, it would be easier to make a list of those pathologies that are not treated by this diet."
Although retired since 2014, Prof. Henri Joyeux was expelled from the Order of Doctors (without prejudice of an appeal). The decision was taken by the First Instance Disciplinary Chamber of Languedoc-Roussillon on 8 July 2016. The measure arose from Joyeux spreading "claims with no scientific basis discrediting the practice of preventive vaccination and potentially dangerous for the people."
§ 3. Dr. Philippe Loron
A collaborator of Prof. Joyeux during his Medjugorje investigation (although he joined the group only at the end of the 80s), and, as Joyeux, fellow adherent to Charismatic Renewal, is the neurologist Dr. Philippe Loron.
He himself stated, in a November 11, 1990 letter addressed to the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Damascus, Ignatius IV Hazim:
I am working together with Prof. Joyeux and Father Laurentin on the ecstasies experienced by the young seers of Medjugorje.
[Philippe Loron, Constat médical et analyses scientifiques des evénements de Soufanieh, ("Medical Report and Scientific Analyses of the Events in Soufanieh"), F.X. de Guibert, Paris, 1992, p. 73]
In his book Le Mystère de la Royauté Sacrée (“The Mistery of the Holy Royalty”) [Resiac, 2000], Dr. Loron states that the French monarchy will be restored, and "this French Great Monarch [...] will make it possible to relaunch France’s true mission” [P. Loron, Le Mystère de la Royauté Sacrée, p. 126]. The “true mission” consists of no less than “restoring the true Catholic faith” [ibid., p. 99]. Dr. Loron adds what follows:
In my view, it is not a matter of being a royalist, and even less to support one or the other candidate to the throne. These events will simply take place by means of divine will, according to the many prophecies that have been already published on these matters [Il ne s'agit pas pour moi d'être monarchiste , et ancore moins de prendre parti pour tel ou tel prétendant actuel. Ces événements surviendront uniquement par volonté divine selon les nombreuses prophéties publiées sur ce sujet].
[Philippe Loron, Le Mystère de la Royauté Sacrée, Resiac, Montsûrs, 2000, p. 100]
In the same book Loron gives credit to a story (which originates in the Early Middle Ages) according to which the Gospel figure of Mary Magdalene introduced the Christian religion in Provence, and had her body completely covered of body hairs, a characteristic that she shared with many Old Testament prophets.
Dr. Loron, taking this story literally, notices that body hairs share "the same embryological origin (ectodermal) of the nervous system" [ibid., p. 93]. Thus the doctor asks himself:
May hairiness be a sign of sensitivity, of sharp intuition? [Une abondante pilosité sarait-elle le reflet d'una sensibilité, d'une intuition exacerbée?]
[Ibid., p. 94]
Body hairs, one reads in Loron’s book, should be studied thoroughly and very soon, that is:
... before culture, fashion, social conditioning, and rational and skeptical education choke this vital tendencies. In fact, we do witness the rejection, culturally acceptable in so-called ‘evolved’ societies, of body hairiness on women, who, with the excuse of elegance and hygiene, shave their legs and their armpits. One poll has shown that in 1995 67% of French women admitted to shaving, while they were only 48% in 1981 [... avant que la culture, la mode, le conditionnement sociétal, le type éducationnel rationaliste par le doute et la critique n'étouffent de telles propensiones vitales. Nous constatons en effet bien souvent le refus, admis culturellement dans les sociétés dites évoluées, de la pilosité chez les femmes qui, sous prétexte d'élégance ou de propreté, se rasent jambes et aiselles. Une enquête montre qu'en 1995, 67% des Françaies s'épilaient, alors qu'elles n'étaient que 48% en 1981].
[Ibid., p. 83]
We should also mention Loron’s defense of Vassula Ryden [P. Loron, J’ai vu écrire Vassula. Analyse scientifique de la Vraie Vie en Dieu, F.-X. de Guibert, Paris, 1994)], who espouses an eccentric mixture of Christianity and New Age, who claims to receive, through a procedure akin to automatic writing, messages from Jesus Christ.
Dr. Loron also investigated Myrna, a supposed mystic of Soufanieh (a neighborhood of Damascus, Siria). He actually authored a book on the subject, Constat médical et analyses scientifiques des événements de Soufanieh (Medical report and scientific analyses of the events in Soufanieh) where, for example, two pages are devoted to a “study” on the “Morphopsychological profile of Myrna, based on a dozen pictures taken during the Easter Week by a morphopsychologist not involved in the case”.
The “study” contains astonishing passages, like the following excerpt:
Myrna possesses an instinctual dominant trait […] betrayed by her well developed jawbone, which reveals «grounding» into material reality, joy of living. […] Her second dominant trait is affective: her downward nose reveals a tendency to devote herself to others with a very spontaneous trust. However, she also shows a latero-nasal retreat (compression of the cheeckbones), which causes her to interiorize her generosity and avoid social interaction.
Therefore, she possesses a basic extroversion (large face) and a need to interact with others, together with a morphology that pushes her towards interiorizing her feelings. This condition might result in a conflict, whose roots can be found in her childhood relationships (a impediment in relationships, or one of affective nature, which she probably encountered during her childhood) […]. It is possible that she did not feel sufficiently appreciated in her childhood or teenage years; the latero-nasal retreat on her face denotes a serious emotional frustration. […] Her big eyes, open over the world, testify to her imagination, her intuition.
[P.Loron, Constat médical et analyses scientifiques des événements de Soufanieh, F.-X. de Guibert, Paris, 1992, pp. 80-81]
Dr. Loron is also a follower of Hildegard medicine, a holistic therapeutic approach based on the theories of the XII century nun Hildegard of Bingen. This medical system is claimed to derive from Hildegard’s own divine revelations. It depends on the usage of medicinal herbs and stones, which are applied on different parts of the body.
On the website of the association Les Jardins d’Hildegarde ("The Gardens of Hildegard") one can find a catalog of Hildegard medicine products. Among those, on page 25, is a list of “therapeutic stones”. A description of the supposed healing properties accompanies each stone.
It should also be noted that Dr. Loron, in an article published on Chrétiens Magazine (“Christian Magazine”, a periodical close to Father Laurentin) has made the following statement about Hildegard medicine treatments: "They can certainly offer important contributions (certain gems in particular, which Hildegard indicates as bearing a tri-dimension divine impression). This has nothing to do with magic, since everything is related to Faith and Hope in God and His Word [Peuvent certes être des appoints d’importance (en particulier certaines pierres précieuses, dont Hildegarde spécifie qu’elles ont une signature divine à triple dimension). Il ne s’agit pas ici de magie, puisque tout est relatif à la foi et à l’espérance en Dieu et en Sa Parole]."
The “Les Jardins d’Hildegarde” website contains references to many speeches given by Dr. Loron. For example, on April 26, 2008, Dr. Loron gave a speech about Hildegard medicine, and also about “France’s divine mission”: link.
This article continues on the page One-Sided Doctors [Part 2]