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Devil's advocate

Created date

October 29th, 2009

When the Catholic Church considers a person for sainthood, the first order of business is determining whether there is sufficient evidence to support the bestowal of this high honor (i.e. establishing whether the candidate is responsible for a miraculous event, such as a terminally ill cancer patient suddenly free of the disease). To do this, the Church holds a trial of sorts, during which a panel of Church officials hears testimony from the cured patient, his/her doctors, and others as they make their case for the candidate s canonization. Of the panel members presiding, one always plays the role of the Devil's advocate. This person's job is to argue against the candidate's case, positing alternative explanations for the inexplicable cure in an effort to more effectively test the validity of the claims under review. "When the chairman of the board proposed a new project for the company, his close friend leaned across the table and said, 'Let me play the Devil's advocate for this idea.'"