A disabled woman went on a healing pilgrimage to Lourdes – and returned with broken legs.
The family of cerebral palsy sufferer Patricia Mitchell have launched legal action against the organisers of the trip after she fell 4ft from a hoist.
Mrs Mitchell, who was wheelchair-bound, broke her left leg in three places and her right leg once.
Her family say she never fully recovered from the fall and she died earlier this year aged 63.
Her sisters Pauline Scarr and Terry Featherstone are now suing for tens of thousands of pounds.
Mrs Featherstone, 60, said: ‘You go to Lourdes to get cured and she came back with two broken legs. It’s unbelievable.’
Mrs Scarr, 62, said: ‘We want justice now for Patricia. I want answers.’
Mrs Mitchell, from Bowburn, County Durham, was born with cerebral palsy and had never been able to work. As well as her lifelong condition, she had also survived breast cancer and the death of her husband Ian in 1995.
A devout Roman Catholic, she had travelled to Lourdes several times hoping for a miracle healing, and on one occasion had met Pope John Paul II.
She returned to Lourdes in August 2005 for a the £450 week-long stay with HCPT: The Pilgrimage Trust and Disabled Together.
Two volunteer carers had just helped bathe Mr Mitchell when she fell about 4ft to the ground from a hoist.
She was assessed by a nurse but was told she had not sustained serious injuries, her sisters say.
It was only when Mrs Mitchell returned to the North East that it emerged she had broken her left leg in three places and her right leg once.
For a time, doctors feared they may have to amputate.
After a few weeks Mrs Mitchell left hospital, but, her sisters claim, was never the same and she died on February 4 this year.
Mrs Scarr said: ‘It’s so sad. She was disabled, but she led a good life and I think if it wasn’t for the fall, she would still be here today.’
A spokesman for HCPT said she was unable to comment as the matter was with the organisation insurers.
Disabled Together did not respond to a request for interview.
CREATIONISM and intelligent design will be taught in Queensland state schools for the first time as part of the new national curriculum.
Creationists dismiss the science of evolution, instead believing that living things are best explained by an intelligent being or God, rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.
The issue of creationism being taught in schools has caused huge controversy in the US, where some fundamentalist religious schools teach it as a science subject instead of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
In Queensland schools, creationism will be offered for discussion in the subject of ancient history, under the topic of “controversies”.
Teachers are still formulating a response to the draft national curriculum, scheduled to be introduced next year.
Queensland History Teachers’ Association head Kay Bishop said the curriculum asked students to develop their historical skills in an “investigation of a controversial issue” such as “human origins (eg, Darwin’s theory of evolution and its critics”).
“It’s opening up opportunities for debate and discussion, not to push a particular view,” Ms Bishop said. Classroom debate about issues encouraged critical thinking – an important tool, she said.
Associated Christian Schools executive officer Lynne Doneley welcomed the draft curriculum, saying it cemented the position of a faith-based approach to teaching.
“We talk to students from a faith science basis, but we’re not biased in the delivery of curriculum,” Mrs Doneley said. “We say, ‘This is where we’re coming from’ but allow students to make up their own minds.”
But Griffith University humanities lecturer Paul Williams said it was important to be cautious about such content.
“It’s important that education authorities are vigilant that this is not a blank cheque to push theological barrows,” Mr Williams said.
“I would be loath to see it taught as theory.
“It’s up there with the world being occupied by aliens since Roswell.”
Ms Bishop said there were bigger problems with the national curriculum.
History teachers are planning to object to repetitive subject matter, such as World War I being a major part of the Year 10 course and repeated in Year 11.
Who doesn’t love making fun of a religion as crazy as Islam?