Friday, January 09, 2009

Breaking News! Pope to Crack Down on Alleged "Apparitions"

This was sent to me today from reader of this blog: it is an English translation (done by Fr. Philip Pavich, OFM) from the Italian of an article that just came out today on the Italian website Petrus (view the original Italian article on the link). It is rumored in this article that Benedict XVI will soon make public a "Directory" for the examination of alleged apparitions to be used by Bishops' and Diocese's around the world. The Directory will contain stricter guidelines for discerning such apparitions and will assist the hierarchy in weeding out some of the less credible ones more quickly - foremost on this list is Medjugorje, cited in this article. The article also points out that the Pope has had Medjugorje removed from the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (one of the most important agencies of religious tourism which belongs to the Vicariate of Rome), though it does not say when this happened and it may be old news.

If this Directory is made public soon, it would mean that Medjugorje would be subject to a new rigorous, standardized scrutiny approved by the Vatican, the failure of which would mean as definitive rejection of its authenticity, if I am understanding this article correctly (it is somewhat awkwardly rendered from the Italian). Anyhow, here is the article:

In a “Vademecum” the crackdown by Benedict XVI on Marian apparitions, with a ‘pool’ of theologians, psychiatrists and exorcists at the service of the bishops for exposing false visionaries

VATICAN CITY [January 8, 2009] - Civitavecchia and Medjugorje represent the most recent and sensational cases: places where the alleged visionaries say they have had and continue to have apparitions of the Virgin, even if Our Lady would simply give them absolutely inconsistent messages from a theological and spiritual point of view . The result: the faithful are bewildered because of the display that the Church not only has not yet recognized them as truthful, but will hardly approve them in the future.

As we know, however, the caution of the Church is very great in the matter: there are hundreds of cases of apparitions rejected and branded as false in the past fifty years. Nevertheless, there are those who continue to swear to see Madonna, drawing to their places crowds of desperate faithful, many times in search of a miracle or a grace that, however, does not come. How then, to deal with this phenomenon? How to prevent the spreading of untruthful messages of the Mother of Christ to mankind?

The answers to these and other questions are contained in a ‘directory’ Benedict XVI has made to instruct the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and that will soon be made public and sent to the diocesan bishops of the whole world. With this document, which integrates the Instructions already issued in 1978 by the Vatican, the Pope calls for the greatest severity in the verifications related to the establishment of the truthfulness Marian apparitions.

The bishops, having set up a commission of psychiatrists, psychologists, theologians and educators, should impose silence on the pseudo-visionaries. This will be a first test: history teaches, from Lourdes to Fatima, from Guadalupe in La Salette, that those who really have the gift of being in direct contact with the Madonna, follow the directives of the local Church, even in the face of enormous sufferings. Therefore, one who will not remain silent but causes the news of these alleged apparitions to circulate freely, attracting around themselves the presence of the curious, journalists and the faithful in search of a particular grace will have already given a sign that shows the falseness of their mysticism. Mary herself, in fact, would never validate an act of disobedience against a bishop, even if they were in error.

The second point: the pseudo-visionaries will be visited by psychiatrists and psychologists, possibly either atheists or Catholics, to certify their mental health and to verify whether or not they are suffering from diseases of a hysterical or hallucinatory character or from delusions of leadership.

The third step to do: determine the level of education of the one being proclaimed a ‘mystic’ so as to avoid one who might mislead the church authorities and the faithful after having carefully studied writings on theology and Mariology. In that sense, one who is under investigation by church authorities will be called upon to deliver to the Commission established by the Diocese the informational equipment in his possession, including personal computer, to make it possible to verify whether he has ever done research in the field of apparitions on the Internet, a wealth of information for those wishing to copy or learn the theological meaning of heavenly messages from true visionaries.

In the directory, also, the bishops are asked to determine whether pseudo-visionaries have direct or indirect economic interests in connection with the pilgrimages and in the inevitable sale of religious souvenirs in the places where they say they see the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Then there is the question of respect for orthodoxy: all that is revealed by the apparitions should not result in being contrary either to the Gospel or doctrine of the Church but be in harmony with them. Needless to say, therefore, that if a visionary attributes to the Madonna phrases or concepts contrary to the Magisterium, he or she is to be considered false.

If directly from the analysis nothing abnormal should result, and then the visionary be considered credible, ultimately that visionary will have to be questioned by one or more demonologists and exorcists to exclude the possibility that Satan (as has happened already so many other times in the history of Christianity) is hiding behind the apparitions in order to deceive the faithful.

Under the new instructions ready to be issued by the Holy See on behalf of Benedict XVI, who already had to deal with the phenomenon of Marian apparitions during his more than twenty-year mandate as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one can therefore expect a real crackdown with longer, more meticulous and strict processes on the part of the Dioceses, also in order to provide correct information to the faithful, so that no more events will take place like those in Civitavecchia and Medjugorje, where thousands of people continue to come even though the Vatican has never recognized as true and supernatural the phenomena reported there.

Of course, according to the ‘Vademecum’ which the Pope had written for the competent Congregation, the same investigative practice will be used if someone should claim to see and talk to Jesus, the angels or the saints, or even (a recent case is in the province of Salerno) manifest the stigmata or say they have statues and sacred images that shed tears in the house.

To know the mind of Benedict XVI on the subject, it suffices to remember what he said, while still a Cardinal, to the journalist and author Vittorio Messori:

“In this field, more than ever before, patience is a fundamental element. No apparition is indispensable to the faith, Revelation ended with Jesus Christ.”

The well-known theologian Rene Laurentin, after years of research, has recorded over 2,450 Marian documented events in the history of the Church. But out of almost 300 requests for investigation initiated in the last century, church authorities have officially certified as true only a dozen appearances. The most recent recognition is that of Our Lady of Laus, in France, which took place May 8, 2008, but the faithful had to wait three centuries before obtaining it. The other approved apparitions are mainly concentrated in Europe (Fatima, La Salette, Tuy, Beauraing, Banneux, Syracuse), but also in Egypt (Zeitun), Syria (Damascus) and Rwanda (Kibeho.

At the beginning of this article we mentioned Civitavecchia and Medjugorje; in the first case it is a little girl that claims to have had apparitions of the Virgin. In that context, a statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje placed in the garden of her home would have wept blood; the same phenomenon was supposed to have been repeated in the presence of then Bishop Girolamo Grillo, who was initially skeptical. John Paul II himself, when made aware of what happened, wanted that statue in his private chapel for several hours, but the Vatican has never come out in favor of the apparitions and the tears as being supernatural.

More complex is the case of Medjugorje: for more than a quarter of a century, the Madonna would appear every day to the visionaries, and once a month would speak a message for mankind. But Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's right-hand man, has never hidden his skepticism: "Since 1981, Mary would have appeared tens of thousands of times in Medjugorje. This is a phenomenon that cannot even be compared to other Marian apparitions”. For this reason, the Vatican has asked Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (one of the most important agencies of religious tourism which belongs to the Vicariate of Rome) to delete from their catalogue visits to the most famous place in Bosnia-Hercegovina, where, nevertheless, more than two million faithful are visiting every year.

Where is the problem? Two factions have been created: one in favor of the apparitions, and therefore on the side of visionaries; the other one openly sided with the diocesan bishop, Msgr. Ratko Peric, who like his late predecessor, does not believe in the truthfulness of these phenomena, and after never having been listened to, already some time ago requested the alleged visionaries to live a hidden life and not disclose any message attributed to the Madonna.

This failure to obey the Bishop would already be enough, according to the ‘Vademecum’ devised by Benedict XVI, to declare the apparitions of Medjugorje to be false.

[Amateur translation from the Italian by Fr. Philip Pavich OFM]


LoverOfLife said...

Mathew 7:16 "You will know them by their fruits"

Despite opinions to the contrary, Medjugorje is bringing souls to Catholicism and Christ, including me. I was not interested in Catholicism until my wife dragged me there and I had an unexpected and uncoerced conversion. I'm now in RCIA, attend the Mass regularly and listen to the Catholic Channel on XM and EWTN whenever I can. No one can truly understand Medjugorje unless they visit there.

Medugorje statistics for 2008:

Holy Communions distributed 1.357.100
Concelebrating priests - total: 31.724
evening Holy Mass: 12.375
Largest number of languages in which the Gospel was read during the Evening Mass: 16

Meeting for leaders 125 participants
Meeting for priests 233 participants
Meeting for married couples 90 couples
Youth Festival more then 50.000 participants
Peace March 3.000 participants
Anniversary of the Apparitions Mass 50.000 participants
Mass on Cross Mountain 20.000 participants
New Year’s Vigil 10.000 participants

Statistics - “Domus Pacis” Retreat house
Fasting, prayer and silence seminars 21 seminars - 790 participants
Franciscan Youth Fraternity 10 seminars - 335 participants
Altar Boys 1 seminar - 32 boys
Seminars for young girls 7 seminars - 213 girls
Other seminars 13 seminars - 462 participants

Anonymous said...

Certainly a thrilling news. There are for sure many apparitions frauds, delusions and pseudo-visionaries (some very dangerous and scaring). More strict and much faster intervention of Rome could help to protect people.

On the other hand, it may cause in some cases to stop some visions which might be genuine, after too strict application of these or similar rules. In some more complex cases, it is very difficult to judge authenticity.

And furthermore, what if these crackdown rumors are false alarms, as proposed here?

Anonymous said...

Is that "the" Fr. Pavich? I hope he's doing okay. While I disagree with you and him on Medj (for the most part) I appreciate the intellectual independence and candor.

Rescued by Mary said...

I was baptised as a Catholic and then became an obstinate heretic against teh Church.

I rercently had a visitation of some sort from Mary. At the time, I knew nothing about apparations of appearances of Mary or amy thing of the sort.

Over the last year I have rerad many books about Mary and the Church. Just recently I have found this Web Site. I don't own a computer and son't spend a lot of time on line.

Everything I am reading is blowing me away! You know - Garabandal - Medjegorji - and on and on... Man there is a lot going on in this Church, huh?

Vatican II -- I missed the whole thing, man!

I just fininshed Dom Forker's bood Roses in December Mary's garden of miracles - Have you read it?

He's convinced Emmitsburg is where it's at, know what I mean?

Anyway - this site is great!!


Matthieu Fecteau said...

I was a Medjugorje follower when I converted. I'm no longer one because of the reasons Boniface hold.