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CNN PRESENTS

Soldier Guinea Pigs; Deadly Beat; Saint Makers

Aired March 4, 2012 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CNN PRESENTS. "Soldier guinea pigs."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Private Zadrosni received a high dose of the incapacitating agent.

ANNOUNCER: You're looking at a military test that's never been broadcast before, until now.

BILL BLAZINSKI, ARMY VETERAN: They were never supposed to talk about this. It was top secret.

ANNOUNCER: "Deadly Beat." What can be more dangerous than trafficking drugs in Mexico? Reporting on it.

KAJ LARSEN, CNN PRESENTS CORRESPONDENT: Do the cartels have the ability to silence the press?

ANNOUNCER: "Saint Makers." What does it take to become a saint? Ask this Baptist who used to be blind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why it's a miracle.

ANNOUNCER: His unlikely role in an Indiana nun's path to sainthood.

Revealing investigations, fascinating characters, stories with impact. This is CNN PRESENTS with tonight's hosts, Randi Kaye and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN PRESENTS HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with this unbelievable story of how U.S. soldiers were used as human guinea pigs. During the Cold War, the military embarked on this top- secret program to test chemical and biological weapons.

RANDI KAYE, CNN PRESENTS HOST: The researchers used animals, but, believe it or not, they also used humans. Volunteers from the army who had no idea what they were signing up for.

GUPTA: Nearly half a century later, some of these human guinea pigs, well, they're emerging from the shadows, with disturbing stories about what the military did to them and how they're being treated now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TIM JOSEPHS, ARMY VETERAN: I enlisted. Joined at 18 years of age. It was the height of the Vietnam war era and I really felt a sense of duty to my country to go and serve. FRANK ROCHELLE, ARMY VETERAN: I went straight to Ft. Bragg. It was just the thing to do. That was my obligation, that was my duty, as an American.

BLAZINSKI: I was drafted and I was sent to Ft. Sill and placed in the 85th missile detachment. We were supposed to be security guards for the nuclear warheads that were to go on the Pershing missiles.

GUPTA (voice-over): Three American soldiers, Tim Josephs, Frank Rochelle, Bill Blazinski. Called to arms nearly a half a century ago, from different backgrounds, but about to share an experience that would change each of their lives at Edgewood Arsenal Military Base in Maryland.

BLAZINSKI: A couple of doctors from arsenal came and gave a presentation.

JOSEPHS: They presented it as not everyone would be chosen.

BLAZINSKI: There would be a guaranteed three-day pass every weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three-day passes are the rule.

BLAZINSKI: No duties, no guard duty, no kitchen police.

ROCHELLE: This is what we filled out. They ask you about your criminal background, they asked you if you drank, they asked you about your parents, they asked you about your brothers and your sisters. Silly questions like, did you like your mother better than you did your father?

JOSEPHS: Well, I took the test and got chosen and you got a couple days off at home and then reported to Edgewood for two months.

GUPTA (on camera): When you got chosen, were you excited?

JOSEPHS: Yes, I was glad to go. It was like a plum assignment. You would get all the weekends off and the idea was that they would the test new army field jackets, clothing, weapons. Things of that nature, but no mention of any drugs or chemicals.

ROCHELLE: In the beginning, that's what we were -- we were told, that we'd be doing, testing equipment, not testing drugs.

GUPTA (voice-over): But Edgewood Arsenal was testing drugs. Beginning in 1955.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Edgewood Arsenal, the United States Army's Chemical Commodities Center.

GUPTA: This was the Cold War. And the United States wanted defenses against a possible Soviet chemical attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Psychochemical attack may come in the form of an explosion, an invisible vapor, a cloud of smoke.

GUPTA: The U.S. was also developing psychochemical weapons of its own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's a group of normal soldiers responding correctly to a series of routine drill commands. After receiving a small dose of LSD, they're confused and undisciplined.

GUPTA: Edgewood Arsenal was where much of the research took place. Using men like Tim Josephs.

JOSEPHS: When I go out there, just did not look like a military base. More like a hospital.

GUPTA (on camera): Describe it. What -- what was it that you saw?

JOSEPHS: Everyone's in lab coats. Some military doctors, I guess, and some were civilian doctors. But you were well aware that you were a private and they were a captain and up. And I expressed my concern right from the beginning. And they took me aside and said, you know, you volunteered for this. And if you don't do it, there's most likely prison and a dishonorable discharge.

GUPTA: You were intimidated?

JOSEPHS: Yes.

GUPTA: Coerced?

JOSEPHS: Yes.

GUPTA: Forced?

JOSEPHS: Forced.

GUPTA: You didn't sign up for this?

JOSEPHS: No, not at all.

ROCHELLE: I reported up there on September the 3rd, and that started my ordeal. I trusted my government, I trusted the army. We were assured that we would not be harmed in any way.

GUPTA: They said, don't worry? Was that the right message for them to be giving you?

JOSEPHS: Not at all.

GUPTA: You trusted them?

JOSEPHS: Sure.

GUPTA: And how about now?

JOSEPHS: I don't trust them very much at this point.

GUPTA (voice-over): And there's good reason for that. The army was testing substances ranging from LSD to nerve gas. On human subjects.

Coming up --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Private Zadrosni received a high dose of the incapacitating agent. In 15 minutes, he won't be able to focus his eyes properly.

GUPTA: Never-before broadcast films of what went on behind closed doors in the Army's top secret testing program. Edgewood Arsenal. And the health problems these veterans say followed them from Edgewood and haunt them to this day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: During the Cold War, the U.S. Military launched a top-secret program to see what sometimes dangerous chemicals could do to the body and the mind. Veterans of these tests say they faced health problems long after the drugs wore off. And they say the government has not lived up to its promise to take care of them. Some of the Army films you're about to see have never been broadcast before.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the men of Baker Company. A special volunteer troop detachment at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland.

GUPTA (voice-over): For 18-year-old Army Private Tim Josephs, the tests started almost as soon as he arrived at Edgewood. Home to a top-secret military testing program using human subjects.

JOSEPHS: Sometimes it was an injection, other times it was a pill.

GUPTA (on camera): They tell you what it is?

JOSEPHS: The drugs or chemicals were referred to as agent 1 or agent 2. One test I was involved with, I was pretty much out of it all day, and that afternoon, I woke up with Parkinson's symptoms, immediately.

GUPTA: So you had tremor.

JOSEPHS: And aching in the limbs and arms, and it's a numbness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this flask is a compound called CS.

GUPTA (voice-over): Bill Blazinski was exposed to CS, tear gas, three times at Edgewood.

BLAZINSKI: This chamber looks familiar from the first test that I was in.

GUPTA: This Army film shows volunteers in the gas chamber at Edgewood, exposed to CS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The effects were apparent almost at once.

BLAZINSKI: Your eyes water, your nose runs, your skin burns. You start throwing up. It's a real mess.

GUPTA: In another test, Blazinski received an injection before being taken to a room with padded walls, like this one.

BLAZINSKI: I'm sitting on the bed, and I'm looking at the wall, all of a sudden I'm looking at it and it starts fluttering like a flag does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Careful control of these chamber tests resulted in a dose of only two parts per million.

GUPTA: Frank Rochelle tested a similar drug in aerosol form.

ROCHELLE: And I (INAUDIBLE) everyone to a facemask. Inhaled and exhaled and inhaled and exhaled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A low dose of agent was fed into the mixing bowl.

GUPTA: This army film shows a soldier at Edgewood named Carpenter undergoing the same kind of test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within an hour, Carpenter's hands will feel cold, his face hot. Borderline hallucinations will come late in the experiment.

GUPTA: Like the soldier in the film, Frank Rochelle experienced hallucinations.

ROCHELLE: People were calling my name and there was nobody around. There were animals coming out of the walls. It appeared that all my freckles were bugs on my skin. And I took a razor and I tried to cut some of them out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is this business over here in the corner, and you're lying down and the looking at the wall?

GUPTA: In all, some 7,000 military volunteers or more were part of chemical tests at Edgewood from 1955 to 1975. The military tests did at least 250 chemical and biological agents during the Cold War, including potentially lethal nerve agents like VX and Sarin. Incapacitating drugs like BZ, tear gas, barbiturates, tranquilizers, narcotics and hallucinogens.

This Army film shows soldiers performing drills under the influence of LSD. And volunteers were ordered not to ever tell anyone what had happened at Edgewood.

ROCHELLE: The thing about this whole program, you were told up-front, you don't talk about this. You don't tell nobody about it. We couldn't even talk to our doctors. We couldn't even talk to our physicians.

BLAZINSKI: It was hammered into us that we were never supposed to talk about this. It was top secret.

GUPTA: These days, Blazinski says he's suffering from inflammatory bowel disease and a cancer of the blood. Frank Rochelle also has health issues.

ROCHELLE: I have breathing problems, I have nightmares, you know, that I still remember and think about the tests.

GUPTA: Tim Josephs has Parkinson's Disease, a condition that forced him to retire early.

GORDON ERSPAMER, ATTORNEY FOR EDGEWOOD VETERANS: The whole thing stinks. I'll tell you, Americans, if they knew about it, would not tolerate it, this kind of behavior toward our veterans. They would not allow it to happen.

GUPTA: Attorney Gordon Erspamer is suing the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs on behalf of Edgewood veterans.

(On camera): What do you hope to get for them in an ideal situation?

ERSPAMER: They're going to get nothing for themselves on this case other than perhaps medical care. They're not going to get any money. They want to get proper notice of the substances they received, the doses, and the health effects. Many of them have never been notified of anything. They were mistreated and they don't want to let this be swept under the rug and have everyone die and never see the light of day. That's why they're doing it.

GUPTA (voice-over): We wanted to talk about the lawsuit with the VA and Defense Department. They declined to be interviewed on cameras, citing the pending litigation. They gave us a statement instead.

The Department of Defense said it has made it a priority to identify all service members exposed to chemical and biological substances. And the VA has offered free medical evaluations to thousands of veterans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the fighting front, ground action has been quiet today.

GUPTA: Erspamer says most Edgewood veterans have never been contacted by the VA.

BLAZINSKI: The VA just doesn't want -- they don't want to know.

GUPTA: And the VA has denied almost all Edgewood-related health claims.

ROCHELLE: Our government has not fulfilled their duty. They have a duty to find and recognize every person and they got a duty to give them medical treatment.

JOSEPHS: They're hoping that we die off. You apply, you get turned down, and it just goes on for years and years. And they want to wear us down. They want to use young men as guinea pigs and throw them away.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: That was so disturbing.

GUPTA: Yes.

KAYE: What is happening with the lawsuit?

GUPTA: Well, it's moving, but pretty slowly. And it's worth reemphasizing that the Edgewood veterans are not asking for money, specifically, but there's a lot of delays in a case like this. One of the hardest things is just trying to find documents from so many years ago. It's likely to go to trial next year, but you know, it could take five more years after that.

KAYE: Thanks, Sanjay.

Up next, it's been called one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. And after you see our next report, you will understand why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAYE: In Mexico, powerful drug cartels have reached into nearly every sector of society, including the press. For journalists covering the raging drug war, it has become a deadly beat. Many have been silenced through murder, threats, and intimidation. Reporters feel they can't do their jobs because reporting on the drug trafficking can get them killed. And most of those murders go uninvestigated and unpunished. In the past 10 years, the criminal justice system has failed to successfully prosecute more than 90 percent of the crimes against the press.

Kaj Larsen travels to Sinaloa, one of Mexico's most dangerous states.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARSEN (voice-over): In some cities in Mexico, there are no crime reporters left. Since 2000, more than 60 journalists have been killed here. Much of what is really happening on the streets is never reported.

Sinaloa is one of Mexico's most violent states. Bloody street battles between rival cartels and Mexican security forces have left a trail of bullet casings and bodies.

(On camera): This is Culiacan, birthplace and base of the powerful Sinaloa cartel and home to some of Mexico's top drug lords.

(Voice-over): It's a dangerous place, especially for journalists. Forty-four-year-old Javier Valdez Cardenas covers drug trafficking in a city where bodies turn up almost every day. The Culiacan native is an author and co-founder of "Rio Doce," a small, tenacious newspaper he launched in 2003. Javier has somehow managed to report on the drug trade and stay alive.

JAVIER VALDEZ CARDENAS, AUTHOR/CO-FOUNDER, "RIO DOCE" (Through Translator): You experience a lot of fear. You have to be looking in your mirror to see if somebody is following you. There isn't any safe place. Not even your home. LARSEN (on camera): When you write an article about narco trafficking, are you afraid that somebody will retaliate against you?

CARDENAS (Through Translator): I'm always scared. You know how dangerous it is to denounce the commander who works for the traffickers. It's better to censor myself because I want to continue to the write. Silence is a form of death, of complicity. I'm not dead, I'm alive.

LARSEN (voice-over): But in life, he walks a very fine line. Javier and his colleagues have received threats, and one morning in September of 2009, two grenades were hurled into "Rio Doce's" office, causing damage but no injuries. Just days before the attack, the paper had published a series on narco trafficking. I asked him who was responsible.

CARDENAS (Through Translator): We don't know. It could be the government, the military, the police, the narcs. Since in this country no one investigates, the only thing we know is the kind of weapon they use.

LARSEN: But the message was clear.

CARDENAS (Through Translator): They wanted us to be scared. We are scared. We are more scared than before, but we know this job has to be done.

LARSEN: Javier took me along on a story he's investigating into the disappearance of an 18-year-old boy named Jorge. In the past five years, more than 5300 people have disappeared in Mexico.

The boy's mother tells Javier just days after Jorge vanished in 2010, she was asked to identify the body of a boy his age.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The body was in bad condition. I couldn't recognize the body.

LARSEN: She asked for a DNA test, but has never gotten the results.

CARDENAS (Through Translator): People know they can continue to kill and there won't be any punishment. That's the case of Jorge. There are no results on the investigation because they haven't even come here to investigate.

LARSEN: In Culiacan, life is cheap. The cemetery is full of the graves of young men and elaborate mausoleums built by the narco traffickers.

The growing strength of the cartels has tipped the balance of power here. Many areas are now completely lawless.

(On camera): This is an area called Navolato outside of Culiacan. It's a very dangerous area and we're going to go out on patrol with the state police who have taken over this area because it's too dangerous for the local police to operate. (Voice-over): Last year, 50 police officers were killed here. With more advanced military training, the Sinaloa State Police hope to deploy more units like this one. But in many areas across the state, they remain outgunned by the cartels.

As the patrol wraps up, we head back into Culiacan before dark.

(On camera): That's the reality of downtown Culiacan. Military police on one side of the street, funeral procession on the other.

(Voice-over): Javier tells me in this war, no one is safe. In the past eight years, three journalists have been killed in the Culiacan area.

(On camera): What happens here in Culiacan when a journalist is killed?

CARDENAS (Through Translator): Nothing. That's the saddest part. Nothing happens. Nothing happens with abuses, the injustice, the corruption, the impunity. No organization says, hey, this is enough.

MIKE O'CONNOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: What kills journalists in Mexico is impunity.

LARSEN (voice-over): Veteran journalist Mike O'Connor has covered conflicts around the world. As the Mexico representative for the committee to protect journalists, he's investigated some of the worst cases.

O'CONNOR: You could kill a journalist and almost be guaranteed of getting away with it.

LARSEN: He's the first call for many reporters under threat.

O'CONNOR: For the most part, in Mexico, journalists feel they can't do the job and don't do their job because to practice journalism in Mexico, among the journalists I talk to, will get you killed.

LARSEN: For Javier, it's a daily struggle.

CARDENAS (Through Translator): It's sad to live in a city where the principal feeling is terror. Terror to go out, terror of dying in a shooting. This is what you feel. And it's palpable, every day.

LARSEN: Next, we meet one journalist whose three editors were attacked and two murdered. But she refuses to give up.

ADELA NAVARRO BELLO, GENERAL DIRECTOR, ZETA NEWSPAPER: We're not going to let the bad guys win.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: We now return to CNN PRESENTS, with your hosts tonight, Randi Kaye and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. KAYE: Tijuana, Mexico, near the U.S. border, has been at the frontlines of Mexico's drug war with gun battles across the city.

GUPTA: The tourists who once went there to party, well, they're gone, leaving rival cartels to battle over the lucrative drug trade route into the United States.

KAYE: Kaj Larsen heads across the border to meet one brave journalist who dares to report on the drug cartels.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARSEN (on camera): The northern border of Mexico has become a deadly beat for the press. But here in Tijuana, next to the U.S./Mexico border, one newspaper has continued to report on the drug trade and on government corruption despite threats, attacks, and the murders of two of its editors.

BELLO: Unfortunately, we learn how to live and how to work in this difficult situation. This is the secretary of security.

LARSEN (voice-over): Adela Navarro Bello knows the dangers firsthand.

(On camera): It's all narco trafficking.

(Voice-over): The 43-year-old investigative journalist is the director of "Zeta" newspaper here in this violence-racked border town.

(On camera): Do the cartels have the ability to silence the press?

BELLO: Of course. Because they have impunity. They can nab journalists, they assassin journalists.

LARSEN (voice-over): A passion to write landed her a job here as a young reporter 22 years ago. Every week, Adela and her team publish stories on organized crime and government corruption. But their work has come at a high price. The two founders of "Zeta" were attacked. Felix Miranda was murdered in 1988 and Jesus Blancornelas barely survived a 1997 assassination attempt.

In 2004, another painful loss. Editor Ortiz Franco was gunned down after publishing the names and photos of members of Tijuana's Arellano Felix drug cartel.

BELLO: That's our job. We have to write and we have to investigate about what is happening in our community, in our state, in our nation. And unfortunately, what is happening in this moment is that the drug traffickers have grown and they have a lot of power.

LARSEN: But identifying drug traffickers and bad cops has put Adela's life at risk.

(On camera): Do you worry about your family?

BELLO: I never talk about my family, for security reasons. I always look in the mirror to see if someone is following me. But that's it. LARSEN: But you've had threats made against you?

BELLO: Yes.

LARSEN (voice-over): In 2010, U.S. and Mexican intelligence pick up on a threat against Adela and the other editors of "Zeta." The Arellano Felix cartel had given an order to kill them.

BELLO: And I think, hmm, what am I going to do? And I call the army, the general, he said, you know, it's true.

LARSEN: The Mexican army assigned a team of seven bodyguards to protect Adela and each editor 24 hours a day for months.

BELLO: They took care of us and we're alive and we have this paper.

LARSEN: And one of the very few that reports on drug traffickers. Many newspapers here have stopped reporting on the violence that has taken hold.

I head out with "Zeta" crime reporter Luis Perez to a recently discovered drug tunnel under a warehouse near the U.S. border. When we arrive, the door lock is broken. Inside, nothing but an open elevator shaft. Luis and I head down to climb inside the tunnel.

LUIS PEREZ, CRIME REPORTER, "ZETA": Little platforms. That's what they used to roll the drugs to the U.S. side. They cut off all the power supply for the elevator and for the electrical and ventilation system down there. So we're going to have no light and no fresh air. This tunnel is about 500 meters.

LARSEN (on camera): Five hundred meters.

PEREZ: The authorities have said that it has been sealed on the U.S. side, but not on the Mexican side.

LARSEN: We think that we've come to the halfway point of the tunnel, which is the U.S./Mexico border. And it looks like it's delineated by the railway tiles that change from red to blue. So right now I'm in Mexico and my Mexican counterpart, Luis, is in the United States.

(Voice-over): Left unsealed on this end, the tunnel could be brought back online. Luis tells me that he will continue to find out who owns the building, but his boss Adela knows well that investigating the who in this town can get you killed.

(On camera): When you send him out into the field, are you worried about him? Do you think about your -- the safety of your staff?

BELLO: Yes, of course. Of course. It's so easy to kill somebody in Mexico, that anyone can do it.

LARSEN (voice-over): And get away with it. In the murders of Adela's predecessors, only two assassins were jailed for killing Felix Miranda. The other cases remain unsolved.

BELLO: That is the message. You can kill a journalist in Mexico and no one is going to seek for you and no one is going to detain you.

O'CONNOR: There are very few cases of journalists -- of the murders of journalists being caught and prosecuted. And almost none have been solved.

LARSEN: CNN asked to speak with a Mexican government representative on camera to learn what is being done to protect journalists. But our requests were denied.

BELLO: This is the story of --

LARSEN: For journalists like Adela and Javier Valdez Cardenas silence is not an option.

BELLO: We decide that we're not going to let the bad guys win.

CARDENAS (Through Translator): I don't want the day to come where my children will say, you were a journalist and this was happening in Culiacan and you stayed quiet. No one will be able to tell me, you stayed quiet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And Kaj Larsen joins us now.

Again, good to see you safe and sound. You keep doing stories like this. I mean, what compels you to report from one of the most violent states in Mexico?

LARSEN: Well, I think on a personal level with this story, I feel a lot of solidarity with these journalists. And I've covered the drug war in Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, and frankly, I just couldn't do it if it wasn't for the help of some of these local journalists. So they've become my friends.

But in a bigger sense, I think there's also this extraordinary danger of silencing the press. And you're seeing over and over again that the Mexican media has basically abdicated covering the drug war. And we don't even know what the consequences are because we can't get ground truth on what's happening.

KAYE: Did you -- did you feel like you were in danger, shooting this story?

LARSEN: I mean, Mexico is a violent place right now. Almost 50,000 people have been killed since the beginning of Calderon's war on drugs. But whatever concerns I had are nothing compared to what these guys face every single day, as they're just going out and trying to do the same job that we do from a studio.

KAYE: Yes. Yes. What was your impression of them?

LARSEN: They're heroes. They are absolute heroes. They're in so much danger every day, their families are in so much danger, yet they keep going out and trying to cover the drug war. Both of them, in fact, have been recognized for their courage and bravery. They even won the Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Award. So people are aware of what they're doing, but it doesn't make it any less dangerous.

KAYE: Yes.

GUPTA: Thanks for bringing us this report. You just hear so little sometimes just about body counts and it's important to hear these stories.

Kaj Larsen, thanks so much.

It's the highest honor in the Catholic Church, but achieving it takes power, influence, and lots of money. Coming up, we examine what it takes to become a saint.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Pope Benedict recently announced plans to canonize seven new saints in October. Which got us to thinking, what exactly does it take to become a saint? Today it's evolved into a legal, scientific, and, believe it or not, expensive investigation that could last hundreds of years.

Drew Griffin examines the business of making saints.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN PRESENTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Sisters of Providence in Terre Haute, Indiana, don't need anyone to tell them their founding mother is a saint. Mother Theodore Guerin arrived here from France in 1840 with nothing. Today her followers pray, sing, and honor her legacy in a magnificent church she built.

Out of the Indiana wilderness came schools, eight of them, three orphanages, and an army of religious women who to this day care for the sick and the souls of all they can find.

Sister Marie Kevin is one of those loving followers. And like many followers before her, she has been trying to officially make Mother Theodore Guerin a real Catholic saint.

(On camera): She was a great builder of communities and of buildings.

SISTER MARIE KEVIN TIGHE, SISTERS OF PROVIDENCE: That's right.

GRIFFIN: Of schools. You can tell by her letters she was a devout woman of god.

TIGHE: She was.

GRIFFIN: But sister, a saint?

TIGHE: Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But as you're about to find out, living like a saint, having followers who think you're a saint, and even performing miracles, well, like a saint, is not always enough to become one.

There is the bureaucracy, there is money, hundreds of thousands of dollars needed, and official church-approved representatives in Rome to push your cause, called postulators. The Sisters of Province have been trying to do this since the turn of the last century.

TIGHE: A lot of church and world events slowed the process down. We appointed nine different postulators between 1909 and 1994.

GRIFFIN (on camera): In the making of saints, Number 10 Piazza di San Pietro is where the real business takes place. No saint becomes one until his or her cause passes out of those doors.

(Voice-over): On the third floor here, a group of theologians work in secret, scrutinizing every document in a person's life to determine if they were truly holy. Then another mysterious council of historians, scientists and doctors ask for something extraordinary.

FR. PETER GUMPEL, POSTULATOR: We ask for a sign of god.

GRIFFIN: Father Peter Gumpel scrutinized hundreds of cases of saints in his nearly 50 years at the Vatican.

GUMPEL: A miracle. Some extraordinary fact, especially in the medical field, a cure that nobody expected, and suddenly, against all the expectations, this person is cured.

GRIFFIN: And to become a saint, you need not one, but two.

Mother Theodore's meticulous notes and letters would become the basis for determining if she truly led a holy life, but what about the miracles?

The first came in 1908. A nun suffering from a huge tumor prayed at the grave of Mother Theodore, not for herself, but for a friend, and awoke the next morning cured.

TIGHE: That sister who was healed was 48 years old when she was healed. She died when she was 86.

GRIFFIN: The story of the miraculous healing was kept almost a secret, but behind the scenes, supporters of Mother Guerin began to think they truly did have a saint in heaven. Donations began to flow in for the cause. Then the wars came and went, the money came and went, the sisters began to lose hope.

TIGHE: There were some people who did not want to proceed with the cause. They thought it was a little too dramatic, or a little too demanding of our time and efforts. But most of the sisters were very interested in and desirous of it happening.

GRIFFIN (on camera): But with their case stalled, the sisters of providence needed their own miracle. Somebody who could guide their cause for the bureaucracy of the Vatican. They found that person here, the Via di Tor Millina. Not a priest, but a lawyer. So specialized in making saints, the Italian press has dubbed him the "saint maker."

TIGHE: He just seemed to be so suited to this particular cause.

GRIFFIN: He is Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, a man connected to the causes of nearly 400 saints. When we met him outside St. Peter's Square, he told us through his assistant, Madeleine, he was juggling the causes of 30 to 40 more.

(On camera): Are they all saints?

MADELEINE, ASSISTANT: Well, they're not saints yet.

(LAUGHTER)

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Though his small walkup office on Via di Tor Millina doesn't show it, insiders say Andrea Ambrosi has become wealthy in the expensive pursuit of making saints.

(On camera): So saint maker is accurate?

DR. ANDREA AMBROSI, POSTULATOR (Through Translator): Yes. Broadly speaking, it is.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Ambrosi says the cost is flexible, depending on the wealth of the clients. American cases can be the most expensive. Starting at $40,000, cases can last for years and costs can add up to as much as $1 million. But despite the cost, he told the sisters they had a very good case. The saint maker, well, knows a saint when he sees one.

AMBROSI (Through Translator): I must say, she was an extremely brave woman. She's a great example of a truly moderate woman.

GRIFFIN: Dr. Ambrosi determined the only thing holding back sainthood for Mother Theodore Guerin was just another sign, another miracle.

TIGHE: We needed a second one, yes.

GRIFFIN: When we come back --

PHIL MCCORD, RECEIVED MIRACLE: Turn the camera off for this. This is going to give guys nightmares, I'll tell you. That's about as good as it gets.

GRIFFIN: Could this Baptist be the answer?

MCCORD: Yes, well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAYE: For nearly 100 years, a small group of humble nuns in Indiana campaigned for their founding mother to be named a saint, but to no avail. It wasn't until a nun came up with the clever idea of bringing together an unlikely alliance, a Baptist engineer and a Catholic lawyer with a highly unusual specialty, that the heavens finally started to part.

Drew Griffin continues his investigation on the business of making saints.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCCORD: You're going to turn the camera off for this. This is going to give guys nightmares. Oh, come on.

GRIFFIN (on camera): You got it.

MCCORD: That's about as good as it gets.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Phil McCord didn't pray for a miracle to help his golf game.

(On camera): There you go. Same result, but it looked nice.

MCCORD: Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But the fact that he can play golf is itself a miracle.

MCCORD: That's what the prayer was with about. Just give me some strength. Help me get through this.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Oh, daddy-o, look at you.

MCCORD: I want a copy of that.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): McCoy worked as an engineer for the Sisters of Providence. Ten years ago, he was legally blind in his right eye and needed a cornea transplant. He was not even a Roman Catholic, he was raised a Baptist. But one day he was so distraught, he paused in the church, sat down, and asked Mother Theodore Guerin, not for a cure, just for strength to live with whatever lay ahead. Which included the possibility his eye would be lost.

MCCORD: The next morning, I got up and I thought, gee, my eye feels better.

GRIFFIN: Not just better, the swelling was down. Way down. And though cloudy, he could see. McCord rushed to his optometrist.

MCCORD: He said, you know -- he said, it is better. I thought, well, hallelujah. I said, are we going to wait and postpone the surgery and so forth? He said, no, it's better. You don't need any surgery.

GRIFFIN (on camera): This isn't something that just gets better, is it?

MCCORD: No. It never gets better. That's the point.

GRIFFIN: A miracle?

MCCORD: I will have to say, my understanding is less than complete. I believe it, I feel it, but I'm an engineer. I don't know the causation. I don't know the mechanics of how that happened or how it could happen. All the doctors say, well, don't worry about it, because it can happen. That's why it's a miracle.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): When Sister Marie Kevin learned about McCord's eye, she took the case directly to Dr. Ambrosi in Rome.

AMBROSI (Through Translator): I must say that what struck me about his story was the speed of his healing. He recovered his sight in just one night.

MCCORD: It just sort of snowballed from there. The next thing I knew we were in Indianapolis at a -- at a canonical trial collecting evidence for submission to Rome which is really kind of cool. It was all translated into Italian and in this red leather book, that's somewhere deep in the bowels of the Vatican, there's a book with my name on it. It's my only claim to fame.

GRIFFIN: In fact, the church did determine the healing of Phil McCord's eye was a miracle. It was the second miracle attributed to Mother Theodore Guerin. The Sisters of Providence were hopeful, but the bills were adding up. The pressure was on. It was 2005. The sisters knew they were in an era of saint making.

John Paul II himself was a saint maker. He made the process easier, cutting down the number of miracles needed to become a saint from three to just two, and allowing lay people, not just priests, to petition causes.

Back in Terre Haute, Indiana, it was all coming together, 100 years of work, and a Pope who could pave the way to sainthood for Mother Guerin. Then on April 2nd, 2005, Pope John Paul II died.

(On camera): Did you think, oh, no, oh no. We might have to start over?

TIGHE: No.

GRIFFIN: No? You didn't have that?

TIGHE: No. God will provide. That's what providence is. God will provide.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Two months after John Paul died on June 5th, 2005, Doctor Andrea Ambrosi returned to the Congregation of Saints for what would be a pivotal meeting. Nearly 100 years of work, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, and it would all come down to one vote.

Ambrosi was in the hallway, waiting. Even the saint maker admits he was nervous.

(On camera): You had talked these nuns into spending the money, pushing the cause of Theodore, and quote, "if it went badly, I would throw myself into the river." Do you remember that moment?

AMBROSI (Through Translator): Yes, I remember. The sister was so worried about expenses. There was a lot. And they didn't want to waste money on a case that might not succeed. I didn't want to give them a negative result.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The phone call would not be negative. It was, in fact, Dr. Ambrosi inviting the Sisters of Providence to Rome, to St. Peter's Square, to witness the canonization of Saint Mother Theodore.

(On camera): When you walk into St. Peter's Square and you looked up and you saw Mother Theodore up there, it must have been something else.

TIGHE: A wonderful feeling to know that she was our forerunner, our model, our mother. She was a gift of god to us and to the world.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And now a saint.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: To this day, Phil McCord says he doesn't need glasses except to read. So the miracle stuck.

GUPTA: And as for Dr. Ambrosi, he says he will soon be back in the United States, seeking out more people to promote as saints. One high-profile case he's looking at, Father Edward Flanagan. He's the founder of the boys town orphanage made famous by the Spencer Tracy movie.

That's it for tonight's show. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

KAYE: And I'm Randi Kaye. Thanks for joining us.