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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 14, 2011 11:35pm-12:05am PST

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tonight on "nightline," do you believe in miracles? as the pope declares a new miracle beyond the power of science to explain, we bring you the "nightline" guide to the mysterious world of miracles. marching back. doctors for congresswoman giffords describe her continuing improvement, as the wounded aide who was standing right beside her shares her extraordinary tale. and, family scars. he's a political son who has learned too well the dangers of public service. tonight, patrick kennedy talks about tucson and why he left congress, in an exclusive "nightline" interview. >> announcer: from the global
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resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," january 14th, 2011. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. and we begin tonight with miracles. it's a term we've come to use with some frequency. we describe life's most unexpect and extraordinary twists with it. but there is actually a sanctioning body for miracles. a department of miracles, you might say, that's assigned to investigate them on a case by case basis and then deliver a judgment. it's either a miracle or it's not. well, hon a day when a new miracle has been declared, elizabeth vargas goes inside the process for our series, "faith matters." >> reporter: as soon as he died, the faithful were crying out, even demanding it.
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sainto, the crowd chanted. and this french nun, who claims she was cured by the late pope, as now brought him his bee yat if i case. "you look at my hand," she says, "it's no longer shaking." pope benedict announced today that her recovery from parkinson's disease was indeed a miracle. the beatification will take place on may 1st. >> it's one of the first stories that i received. >> reporter: this man is in charge of reviewing all the potential miracles that involve pope john paul ii. when you read the story, what did you think? >> well, i really thought that i was in the presence of mystery or something very, very great. >> reporter: sister marie worked at a children's hospital. her symptoms, the trembles became so severe, she could no longer write or hold the babies
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she cared for. >> the sister was absolutely unable to continue her work. and her work was very beautiful. >> reporter: he says the distraught sister spent the entire night praying to pope john paul ii, who was also afflicted with parkinson's disease. >> in the morning at 6:00, when the other sisters went to the church for the mass, she felt completely free of the disease. >> reporter: just like that? >> yes. >> reporter: but in order for a miracle to be confirmed, it has to go before a special vatican court. >> it has to be lasting, instantaneous, perfect and scientisticly inexplicable. >> reporter: in all miracle investigations, the vatican provides an official skeptic, someone that tries to punch holes in the case. a position historically known by a phrase that you may know.
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>> it's the devil's advocate. his job, basically, is to promote the faith. in other words, truth. >> reporter: the nun's recovery has been confirmed by the vatican as a miracle, clearing the way for pope john paul ii's beatification, the fastest in history. faster than even mother teresas. and so he now just needs one more more can to achieve saint hood. >> i hear new stories every day. >> reporter: stories from around the world. they come from the most unexpected places, like new bedford, massachusetts. so, what can you do today that you couldn't do before? >> walk. walk. >> reporter: joe says he's always been a believer in saints and miracles. a faith reinforced by the simple fact that he is now walking on his own. he depended on canes and crutches for 30 years due to a narrowing on the spine.
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further complicated by a stroke of the spine that put him in a wheelchair. >> the connection from the brain, how it tells you to walk and move, it was just gone. >> reporter: doctors were saying, there's nothing we can do? >> exactly. it was very difficult, you know, because i couldn't do anything to help him. >> reporter: and yet you would come to church every week and struggle to get up those stairs. >> it was difficult because there's no -- at this particular church, there's no elevator. >> reporter: that deep belief was at the center of what joe calls his miracle. it began during a saturday confession. >> something -- something happened and i felt different. not physically great, but felt like a calmness and peace. >> reporter: joe says he then prayed, hard end to his spiritual hero, pope john paul ii. what did you pray for? >> i prayed to understand god's will. i never prayed to walk. >> reporter: just to understand
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why this is happening to you? >> his will. >> after he said his prayer, turned on the tv and there he is. >> reporter: it was a documentary about john paul ii called "witness to hope." >> he calls out to the world, be not afraid. >> reporter: joe says he took the late upon pitch's words to heart. >> i looked at the picture of pope john paul ii and i just got up. >> reporter: you just got up? after years of not being able to walk? >> just got up and started walking. the more i kept walking, the more -- thank you, thank you lord. >> reporter: he walked around the house for two days, making sure it wasn't a fluke, before surprising his wife. >> i came home and he's standing there and he's like, do you notice anything different? it took me 30 seconds to realize -- you're standing there, no crutches, no -- he's not leaning on anything, he's not holding onto anything. and i was stunned.
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>> reporter: physicians and therapists working with joe could find no precedent for a condition as serious as his reversing itself. joe's doctor wrote, quote, i do not have a reason for the remarkable recovery. >> michael shurmur heads the american skeptic society. he does not believe in miracles. >> reporter: what about joe? he couldn't walk for years and all of a sudden, after prafing, gets up and walks. >> what about all the people that pray to god or had prayers made for them and they just died of their chancers? they never walked again. their brain injuries never healed. what about them? did god not care about them? >> reporter: and while no one knows how many prayers are or are not answered, the stories of miracles continue to pour in. >> the miracles required for beatification and cannonization are divine confirmation that the person is really truly in heaven. >> reporter: joe's story cannot be considered for the last step
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of john paul's road to sainthood. the second miracle must occur after beatification is confirmed. that is to say, any time starting now. and, when that story comes to light, it will face the same question that can be asked of any of these miraculous claims. how did he know this cure, this healing happened as a result of god and not something we don't know yet? >> faith. when it comes right down to it, if you can prove it, it's science. it's not faith. faith has to be reasonable. it has to be reasonable to believe. but i can't prove it to you. >> reporter: it doesn't take a leap of faith to see sainthood on the horizon for john paul ii. i'm elizabeth vargas for "nightline." >> the question of modern miracles. pope benedict himself is to preside at the may 1st ceremony. it will be the first time the pope has bee yat fiked his
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immediate predecessor. when we come back, it certainly invites the term miracle. doctors for congresswoman giffords update her recovery, and we've got the details. one morning i shot an elephant in my pajamas. how he got in my pajamas i don't know. real language is filled with nuance, slang, and metaphor. it's more than half the world's data. but computers couldn't understand it. watson is a computer that uncovers meaning in our language and pinpoints the right answer. instantly. it uses deep analytics to answer questions computers never could before, even the ones on jeopardy! that's what i'm working on--i'm an ibmer. let's build a smarter planet.
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since congresswoman gabby giffords was wounded, americans have received a crash course on the physiology of the brain, which regions control which functions, which are the most vulnerable. and, yet, the signs of her recovery defy explanation and inspire awe. tonight, an update on her condition, and an interview with
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an aide who has made an amazing recovery of her own. here's david muir. >> reporter: first, it was that extraordinary image from her husband this week. mark kelly holding his wife's hand as gabrielle giffords recovers in that hospital bed. and just today, a tweet from him. "thanks for all the messages of support. i have some great followers. gg has been improving each day." that message echoed by her doctors today, who said with every day, she's opening her eyes even more and no longer zwlaus she's following commands, it's the way she's following them that's so encouraging. >> we can even think that she is beginning to carry out more complex sequences of events, more complex sequences of activity in response to our commands. >> reporter: doctors say they are now hopeful they'll be able to remove her breathing tube, that she'll breathe on her own, within the next 24 hours. while today at the congresswoman's office, another survivor made a triumphant return.
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a member of giffords' staff, pam simon, shot in the chest and arm, was wheeled up to the office door by her farmly and she was determined to stand up to greet the colleagues who had crowd into that office, waiting for her. >> so glad to see you. >> it's like a family reunion. >> reporter: she told the staff that before leaving the hospital, she spent time with the congresswoman. >> she is beautiful. she's absolutely beautiful. and she squeezed my hand and i yelled, pam's here, and it may have been reflex but i'll take it. it was a good squeeze. >> reporter: pam simon was standing right beside the congresswoman that day, almost a week ago. and she remembers the moment. an older couple nearing the front of the line just to meet the congresswoman. they were about to get their photo with her. >> we were just on the brink of leaning forward to ask them to turn and face us when the gunman appeared between gabby and myself. >> reporter: do you remember seeing him? >> yes. >> reporter: at first she
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thought, it must be a toy gun. when in your mind did you go from thinking it was a toy gun, that this wasn't happening, to, i can't believe what i'm apart of right now? >> probably in a split second. i mean, really. i think your mind is always, in any kind of disaster, you think, this isn't happening, and then you realize it is. >> reporter: the next thing she knew, she'd fallen to the round. she had been shot twice. you stayed still so that the shooter would think you were -- >> i played dead. i think that was -- kind of an instin instinc instinctual thing. i could see -- i saw ron go down, i saw gabby go down. i saw them laying on the ground. i was wriggling my fingers and toes and convincing myself i wasn't paralyzed. i have a bullet that went through my wrist.
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not sure where to where, but it -- and miraculously did not hit anything, so i have full use of my right hand. i also took a bullet to the chest. and the -- when i woke up from the surgery, the surgeon said, you are one lucky lady. >> reporter: it missed every vital organ. >> everything. and i feel incredibly blessed. >> reporter: and this week, she also felt blessed when the president walk into her room. >> they both sat down on my bed and -- side by side, so, we were very close together and we had a wonderful conversation that focused on where we need to go from here. >> reporter: she told me she shared with the president and the first lady something else. her time as a teacher in the gunman's school. >> i shared with mrs. obama that one of the things that is very difficult for educators, we see these students all the time,
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that are loners, that are angry, that are dealing with mental health issues and we often feel very, very limited in what we can do. >> reporter: and later, after meeting the president, when she saw him at that community memorial, she had a simple request. >> i said, could you give me a ride back to the hospital? he said, i wish i could, i can't. >> reporter: and though he said he couldn't, he turned to an aide. the president said -- >> this lady and her family, get them back. they got me to a squad car and we were back at the hospital in ten minutes flat. >> reporter: then, just before we left today, one more thing. another look at the bullet wound on her wrist. she says it almost stole the use of her hand. the hand that she used during that visit to congresswoman gabby giffords' room. held her hand with this hand. and i have lots of stories to tell her. >> reporter: i'm david muir for "nightline" in tucson. >> and we invite you to tune in this sunday when "this week with
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christiane amanpour" will hold a special town hall meeting in tucson, bringing together the survivors of the shooting for the first time. up next, he's got a unique insight on pitical violence. patrick kennedy talks about tucson and about his life after leaving congress. [ female announcer ] this is a strawberry pop tart...
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♪ we're the kids in america ♪ oh, oh, oh >> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with terry moran. >> two years ago, as he watched his father, the late ted kennedy, struggle with cancer, patrick kennedy found himself returning to a familiar question. what does it mean to be a public
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servant? this week's attempted assassination of a politician raised up a new and dredged up other ghosts. here's christiane amanpour with the "nightline" interview. >> reporter: patrick kennedy never knew his uncle, john f. kennedy, and he never got to know another uncle, bobby, either. but he does know only too well what it's like to be part of a political family marked by assassin's bullets. when you heard that a congresswoman had been shot, an attempt had been made on her life, the first political assassination attempt in more than a generation, what went through your mind? as a kennedy? >> my colleagues, our hearts went out to her and we also realize this is the ultimate culmination we knew was brewing in terms of an atmosphere. granted, it was the act of a
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lone gunman who was delusional, but still, we've lived in an environment that sanctioned pretty heated rhetoric that's really bordering on irresponsible in how much it condones violence. and the dehumanization of our political leaders. >> reporter: in the debate over whether heated political rhetoric led to the tragedy in tucson, kennedy doesn't mince his words. he says the tone in the country right now is dangerous and destructive. >> it steals from democracy. when you have my colleagues decide not to run for re-election because they're worried about their personal safety or they now their family is, so, they say, why do you want to get into that racket? >> reporter: patrick kennedy also knows something about coping very publicly with loss. he is still grieving for his father, senator ted kennedy, who died two summers ago. >> when his light shined on me alone, there was no better
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feeling in all of the world. i got into politics to be closer to my family in a sense, because i never would have had the relationship that i had with my dad. so, the joy of having him around left when he died. >> reporter: so, he's leaving washington. he says he'll now dedicate his life to a cause that's dear to him. and very much in the news in the wake of the tucson shooting. understanding and coping with mental illness. his uncle, president kennedy, called outer space the new frontier. now, patrick kennedy says he thinks it's time society turns its attention to inner space. the complexity of how the brain works and sometimes doesn't. >> call it the moon shot to the mind. we got to do it. we know it's going to be complex and complicated, but john t. kennedy said, we don't do these things they're easy, we do them because they're hard. >> reporter: kennedy himself has faced his share of the
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loneliness and pain of mental illness. soon after he arrived in washington, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began a year's long public struggle with alcohol and drugs. perhaps the culmination of the problems that you faced was a crash on capitol hill -- >> that's right. >> reporter: may of 2006. what happened? >> i don't recall much about the night. i do know that i was under the spell of addiction. and when you're under the spell of addiction, you're just an accident waiting to happen. >> reporter: the congressman ran his mustang into a barrier outside the capitol. he appeared dazed and told police that he was on his way to a vote, but there was no vote. it was 2:30 in the morning. >> it was a moment of truth, because i had to face all the cameras and say, this is a problem. and, but i felt liberated, because now i didn't are to live a double life. i struggle every day with this disease. >> reporter: it was then, in his
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darkest hour, that patrick kennedy found his cause. he sponsored the mental health parity act, which forces group health insurance plans to cover mental illnesses in the same way as physical ones. the bill was patrick kennedy's signature legislative accomplishment, and when it became law, he began to wonder whether he still had work left to do on capitol hill. he started thinking about building a new life for himself, away from the chaos. an urge that grew even stronger as he watched his father ted struggle with brain cancer. >> all the bills that he passed in a million years, all the legislation, was not going to keep him company at the end of his life. and i realized the message that he gave me was, this isn't everything. >> reporter: towards the end of his life, your father called his children, his family, to him in hyannis port. what did he ask of you? >> yeah, my dad was very old
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school, irish, loves people, loves having people around, but the notion that he would ever ask for help, i mean, foreign language to him. and the best thing he's ever done for me is ask me to be there for him. and i had that chance at the end of his life, to stick around. there's nothing that gives you more, you know, fulfillment than being there for people you love. >> our thanks to christiane amanpour for that report. when we come back, gun laws. that's the subject of tonight's closing argument. first, here's jimmy kimmel with what's coming up next on "jimmy kimmel live." >> jimmy: tonight, simon baker, snooki from "jersey shore", music from lloyd banks. and two people picked the winning numbers for the mega-millions jackpot. tonight,igigigigigigigigigigigi@ dinner's ready!
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