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Recognizing ‘God’s work’ in medicine

Local leaders acknowledge value, purpose of science in healing

Posted: May 29, 2009 9:40 p.m.
Updated: May 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old boy with Hodgkin's lymphoma, ceased chemotherapy after a single treatment, citing religious beliefs as the reason for his decision.

Daniel underwent one round of chemotherapy in February. After that, the family opted instead for natural healing practices inspired by American Indians.

He and his mother dropped from the public eye as they apparently sought alternative therapies. But they recently returned to their Minnesota home, having decided to abide by a court order for Daniel to receive treatment.

Another medicine-versus-faith case in Wisconsin ended differently.

A jury Friday found a mother guilty of killing her 11-year-old daughter by praying for her to heal instead of rushing her to the doctor.

Leilani Neumann's daughter, Madeline, died of untreated diabetes March 23, 2008, surrounded by people praying for her. When she suddenly stopped breathing, her parents' business and Bible study partners finally called 911. But the call was too late.

Faith healing is an attempt to use religious or spiritual means such as prayer, mental practices, spiritual insights or other techniques to prevent illness, cure disease or improve health.

Hans Bjorn Kroneberg, a priest at Apostolic Old Catholic Mission in Castaic, believes in faith healing but doesn't ignore the value or purpose of medicine.

"We believe in the divine healing," Kroneberg said. "But we also believe in medicine because it is a gift from God."

Kroneberg said he personally experienced the power of divine healing in 1967 when a doctor told him he had kidney stones.

"I had two large kidney stones," he said. "They were too big to pass."

In order to remove them, Kroneberg would have received two separate incisions: a small one to remove one stone, and a larger one to remove the other.

Kroneberg underwent surgery for the kidney stone requiring the smaller incision, but hesitated removing the one requiring the larger one.

"I was scared to death," he said.

Despite his fears, Kroneberg said he had great faith in God.

Failing to reach his priest at the time, he called upon some friends to pray for him.

The prayers were answered, Kroneberg said, and his large kidney stone eventually passed on its own.

"I became a different type of Catholic after that," he said of his experience. "Jesus Christ ... is a divine healer and he does heal us. At times we don't understand it."

Bill Haley, a pastor at First Christian Church of Canyon Country, believes in combining both medicine and prayer to conquer health problems.

"If someone has a physical ailment, we will pray for them," Haley said. "And God has healed (the sick before). But in my perspective, use every weapon for the battle."

Prayer is important, Haley said. But no matter how healing is accomplished, the pastor says it all comes down to God in the end.

"Some churches believe in healers where they lay their hands on the sick and heal them," he said. "It's still a form of prayer. It's still God's work."

But if someone is really sick, "for heaven's sake, go to the doctor," Haley said.

Haley said he suffered from a heart attack and underwent open-heart surgery. He appreciates the doctors who operated on him but credits God with helping him through the experience.

"God got me through all that," he said. "All healing is eventually in God's hands."

Father Dominic Radecki of Queen of Angels Church believes there needs to be a balance between faith healing and medicine.

"If you're suffering from something serious," he said, "We need medical attention. There's always a place for prayer, but if we ignore our medical needs and don't take reasonable care when we need to see a doctor - then that's wrong."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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