One medically certifiable miracle is required for beatification (when the person is declared “blessed”), and one more for canonization. Only then will the pope declare a person a saint and worthy of “public veneration.”This may be nothing more than sloppy writing, but as it stands this description makes "medical" a necessary condition on the required sense of the miraculous here. So if I ask God to grant, through the intercession of John Paul II, that the Jews and Palestinians sign a peace treaty tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. and immediately begin living in one accord, with members of Hamas happily working to build schools and hospitals alongside Israelis, and then hugging each other in brotherhood, and then that happens--well, an interesting coincidence, maybe, but not a miracle.
It's too bad that "medically certifiable" is now a category being put to this sort of use, since this particular usage betrays a rather unfortunate ignorance about the nature of scientific "verification", and any medical doctor who cooperates in the process is simply demonstrating that s/he, too, doesn't really understand science all that well from a theoretical point of view--an even more unfortunate aspect of the whole thing.
What is all of this "rigor" in the declaration sanctity supposed to accomplish? According to Fr. Martin,
The redoubled commitment to an impartial judging of a saint’s life demonstrates that the church does not “create” saints as much as it simply recognizes them. Likewise, its renewed reminders that, for the church, miracles are serious scientific business, may make it more difficult for agnostics and atheists to disbelieve.The man's faith is impressive: if any self-respecting agnostic or atheist were to be deterred even a little bit from disbelief by the process the Church has in place, that really would be a miracle. It's perhaps less miraculous, but just as unfortunate, that believing Christians are as impressed as they are by such things. Whenever I hear people going on about Padre Pio's "stigmata" or appearances of Our Lady at Medjugorje or this or that "miraculous cure" or what have you, I'm always reminded of Our Lord's words to the scribes and Pharisees when they asked him for a sign (Matthew 12.38-39):
And easier for believers to believe.
 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you."This is not to say that I don't believe that miracles ever happen, only that I think that a good deal of the public's interest in miracles is less than salutary. I haven't conducted any studies, of course, but I suspect that a fairly significant amount of the interest in miracles is motivated less by a firm belief in God's power to forgive sin than by magical thinking about the way the world works (or ought to work).
 But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
This suspicion is only strengthened by this insistence (if it is indeed correct) that the "miracles" be medical in nature. Our Lord performed plenty of curative miracles, it is true, but he also performed other miracles. He fed the hungry, for example, when there was scarcely enough food for his own disciples; he raised a little girl from the dead; he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple; he calmed a storm with a word of command. To these I would add other events that some might say are not truly "miraculous" in the proper sense of the word: he reconciled sinners to God and to each other; he comforted the poor and oppressed; he gave hope to those who had none; he saved mankind from eternal death. I would add these things because, in my view, all of the miraculous cures he effected were nothing more than outward signs of that last one--saving mankind from eternal death. Sickness, disease, indeed, death itself, are all signs of our fallen nature, and to remove sickness simply by saying "Be healed" is nothing other than to say to a sinner, "Your sins are forgiven." Only God has the power to forgive sins because God is the ultimate end of man, the one to whom we owe all debts and, hence, the only one who can forgive all of our debts.
If a "medical miracle" were to occur these days it would still stand as a sign in the same relation to God's power to forgive sins, of course, and so naturally it would be premature to declare outright that such things came to an end with the passing of the Apostolic generation, as some Christians insist. It seems to go without saying that, just as it is difficult to know for certain that a miracle has occurred, it is equally difficult, if not downright impossible, to know for sure that a miracle has not occurred. Sadly, that is actually a mark against the miraculous, rather than a mark in its favor, but few of the faithful see things that way. I myself believe that plenty of miracles occur every day: on every Roman Catholic altar, when the words of Institution are prayed, a miracle occurs; in every confessional, when the words of Absolution are prayed, a miracle occurs; at every Baptism, when the Baptismal formula is prayed, a miracle occurs. But those who look for signs are not impressed by these--I suppose because you can't really "see" anything happening when one's sins miraculously disappear, or when a piece of bread becomes the Sacramental Sign of Christ's own Body. This ought to be troublesome, though, because to think only of the "medical miracle" as the paradigm case of the miraculous is to betray a kind of closet empiricism: I can only know what I can empirically verify. St. Thomas, famously, was lectured on this very point (John 20.24-29):
 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.Now, the Evangelist goes on to say:
 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."
 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you."
 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing."
 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"
 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;so it's fair for folks to object to me by saying that our faith makes hearty use of "signs". I don't deny it, indeed, I think everything I have said is fully consistent with this fact. It's only a matter of how one "reads" the "signs", as it were, and where one expects to find "signs". If a cancer disappears and no doctor can come up with a scientific explanation of that fact, my tendency is to put that down to the rather obvious fact that there are plenty of things that science has, as yet, failed to explain, and of course it doesn't follow at all that because our contemporary science is unable to explain some observable phenomenon, a miracle has occurred. If that were true, then events that we now regard as ordinary (such as an image emerging in a Polaroid photograph) would have been justifiably regarded as miraculous at some time during scientific history. It seems infinitely preferable to me to look for the miraculous in entirely different contexts.
 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.
For these reasons I hope that Fr. Martin is mistaken in his characterization of what is required for beatification. Whether it would count as a miracle for a Jesuit to make such a sloppy mistake is not something on which I am prepared to pronounce, but it would definitely be a miracle for the Times to get something about Catholicism right, so you do the math.