The website video shows Brazilian Joao Teixeira de Faria, a self-described “simple farmer” with no medical training, as he exposes the breast of a woman, possibly a cancer sufferer.
She’s standing up, dressed in white, as de Faria takes a scalpel from an assistant, cuts into her breast, then puts his naked finger in the wound, as the woman, eyes closed, remains quiet but winces.
As the blood flows, the woman is laid down to rest by assistants, and de Faria moves on.
Other videos show him slice open the abdomen of another woman, and shove, to the hilt, a pair of forceps up the nose of a third and twist them, in all cases drawing blood.
In another of his “visible” healing techniques, de Faria takes a knife and uses it to scrape the eyeball of a man.
These “patients” are four of thousands of people from around the world annually who pay de Faria sizeable amounts of money for what he markets as faith healing at his Casa de Dom Inácio establishment in rural Brazil.
Dealing with hundreds at a time, they may have a one-on-one audience with him lasting only a minute or so.
They desperately hope this man who markets himself as “John of God” can use the powers he claims to channel from the spirits of great healers to cure their often deeply painful or terminal illnesses, or those of their children.
If de Faria’s claims are correct, there’s a good chance he can: among his other feats, he is said to have revived a man who had been dead for five hours.
Medical doctors and mythbusters such as retired magician-turned-investigator James Randi claim de Faria is a complete charlatan who uses well-known tricks from carnivals and sideshows to con gullible people for profit.
Brazilian authorities have reportedly prosecuted and briefly jailed de Faria in the past for performing medical procedures without a licence. A spokeswoman for de Faria, Adrienne Grierson, did not reply to questions on this topic.
Australians have had to go to Brazil to enjoy John of God’s abilities at a cost of about $2000 for a 14-day guided tour, or engage in “distant healing” by sending their photograph to him for assessment and ordering a pack of herbal capsules for $US76.
Now, given there seems to be no regulatory structure able to prevent such routines — only ways to monitor them — Australians will have the chance to decide for themselves about de Faria’s claimed healing abilities.
He is appearing for three days next month at Sydney Olympic Park, with tickets selling for $295 per performance, or $795 for three sessions, which he advises for best results.
The prospect of de Faria coming to Australia has alarmed the Australian Medical Association.
“I am extremely sceptical about this person; I can find it hard to see any motivation apart from personal profit for him and his organisation,” AMA vice president Stephen Parnis said.
“If he undertakes any of these surgical procedures they should be reported to the health complaints commission in any jurisdiction.
“Cutting skin with a scalpel and inserting unsterilised, un-gloved hands, that appals me as a doctor; it would be subjecting people to risk.”
Ms Grierson said that on his Australian visit, “John of God” “will be doing invisible interventions — every single person going is having a healing, there are no exceptions’’.
De Faria’s website says “invisible healing” can involve surgical repairs on faulty joints without touching the skin, and that mainstream doctors have been amazed to later find evidence of those successful operations on X-rays. Dr Parnis said very expensive “invisible” healing was still a problem.
A spokesman for Health Minister Peter Dutton said: “People with serious illness, who are often vulnerable, should consult qualified medical practitioners and not people whose claims cannot be verified.”
A spokeswoman for NSW Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox said his department was aware of “John of God”.
She said departmental officers “will be closely monitoring this event for any potential breaches” and advised “any consumer who has concerns about their dealings with ‘John of God’ to contact NSW Fair Trading’’.
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