THE LADY OF ALL NATIONS
Revised edition March 2002
Copies in English, Dutch and German can be ordered from:
NL-1216 HR Hilversum
In his recently (May 2000) published book 'Faussaires de Dieu' (Falsifiers of God, ISBN 2856166970, Edition des Presses de la Renaissance 12 avenue d'Italie 75013 Paris) the renown french author Joachim Bouflet made a study of hundreds of false apparitions during 2000 years of church history. About the visionary of Amsterdam, Ida Peerdeman, he wrote a.o. the following:
"In an enthusiastic letter addressed to Msgr Van Lierde, Ida Peerdeman wrote about the false seer Marie Paule Giguere from Canada, foundress of the 'Army of Mary' the following:
"Who is this woman? Is she a second Catharina of Sienna? A second Jeanne d'Arc? Does our Church-History know anyone similar? We believe that she is exceptional. I even would go so far as to proclaim her to be, in an exceptional way, the Incarnation of the Holy Virgin Mary, the Co-Redemptrix, the Mediatrix and the Advocate: The Lady of all Nations."
On May 18, 1971 Marie Paule founded the 'Army of Mary', a religious community, which was on March 10, 1975 officially recognized by canonical Decree by the Archbishop of Quebec. This was made possible through the interference of Msgr Van Lierde, a Dutch Prelate in the Vatican. This thriving community was twelve years later dissolved again by cardinal Vachon, the successor of Msgr Roy. This person Marie Paule identified herself with the Virgin Mary. She prophesied, her son Pierre would become the great Pope of Peace. Jesus would have promised her, that she herself would be the first person, who already in her lifetime would be sanctified, and everyone, who would kiss her picture, would be healed instantly! On September 11, 1975 she even united herself in a 'mystical marriage' with Msgr Van Lierde. She called herself a new mystical priest. This 'mystical marriage' ended, of course, in a 'divorce', since Msgr Van Lierde, unfortunately rather late, realised, that he had led himself been drawn into a totally crazy situation. Finally, after three warnings, the Church condemned her aberrations.
How can any one, in the light of these pronouncements, still believe in the genuineness of this visionary of Amsterdam?
Joachim Bouflet lists in the above-mentioned book the numerous condemnations of the so-called apparitions of Amsterdam by Haarlem and Rome between 1956 and 1974.
This book, 'Faussaires de Dieu' has the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur of the Archbishop of Paris, dated May 1, 2000.
The author Joachim Bouflet is Historian and Advisor of the Postulates of the Congregation for Beatifications in Rome. He is author of several works about great spiritual personages and mystical phenomena.
In Amsterdam a humble ordinary unmarried woman, named Ida Peerdeman, experienced on March 25, 1945 according to her own saying, an apparition of Mary, who presented herself as the Lady of all Nations, who gave her messages about an approaching devastation of the world, especially of the religious life. The world could only be saved, when all would be gathered around the Lady, "who once was Mary", the Mediatrix between Heaven and Earth. The messages were repeated from time to time. They ended with the last apparition of May 31, 1955.1
The seer had contacts with the Brenninkmeijer-family in Amsterdam. There she talked about her apparitions and gave exact details about how Mary had looked like. According to these descriptions a member of the family had a German artist, H. Repke, make a painting of the 'Lady', showing her standing on the globe before a cross with illuminated background.
Worldwide prayer-cards were distributed with the image of the Lady of all Nations2 on one side and the prayer of 'Amsterdam', said to be officially approved by two priests3, on the other side. The odd thing with this prayer was the definition of the Lady "who once was Mary". The approval of the prayer did not imply the acknowledgement of the authenticity of these apparitions!
The bishop of Haarlem, Msgr Huibers, consulted Professor of Theology K. Steur about the theological substance and about the juridical aspects he asked the judgement of the official C. van Tricht, who reminded the bishop, "that the Church Law warns against the introduction of new devotions, which at times are ridiculous and often useless imitations or even deformations of other acknowledged devotions, which to the non-catholics give rise to fierce and sometimes even justified opposition".4
After quite a lot of effort one finally achieved to have the painting placed in the Thomas-Church.5 However, considering the incident on the day of the last apparition, May 31 1955, when the seer during the Eucharistic Adoration and still before the Eucharistic Blessing had walked to the chapel where she engaged in a loud conversation with Mary, the bishop requested the pastor to remove the painting. It was put up in the hall of the parish, in order to calm down the commotion around the apparitions.
When the question around the apparitions began to stir up agitation under priests and faithful one could no longer adopt an attitude of waiting, but had to begin a meticulous examination. The bishop received the seer several times.6 On his request the seer was subjected to intense examinations several times by Professor Carp in Leiden. In his provisional judgement he referred everything back to the intuition of the seer and he saw no cause to search for a supernatural explanation.7
Because the bishop did not want to solely rely on this judgement, he asked G. van de Burg, dean of Amsterdam, H. van Deursen, president of Warmond, and J. van der Gaag and L. Willebrands, professors of Warmond, to take part in a commission. Also psychologist Mrs. Dr. Perquin, was asked to take part as adviser.8 The examination was carried out on the basis of what was described in the 'Blue Booklet', which for the first time was published in February 1955.9 At the conference of June 20, 1955 the members of the commission formulated their conclusion as follows:
"the 'Blue Booklet' has deeply shocked us. The messages do not come from heaven. In this manner the Blessed Virgin has never revealed herself. We believe that nobody has bad intentions. Therefore we declare all these revelations, whatsoever, to be of a purely natural origin."10
The commission advised the bishop to have the seer psychologically tested once again and so by doctor J. de Smet in Heiloo. The negative judgement of the doctor supported the opinion of the members of the commission:
"the revelations are not of supernatural origin".11
Afterwards it was argued here and there, that the commission did not act correctly. Among others, the seer herself would not have been invited. But this was not done because the seer explicitly did not want it. All contacts with her had to go through the bishop, who, as far as he was concerned, unreservedly could transmit, what he had heard from her. 12 The reproach against the commission is thus totally unfounded.
When all these documents were produced, the bishop in his conscience felt obligated to officially disapprove the case 'Amsterdam'. For the sake of the integrity of the Church he had to declare:
"the commission of the bishops charged with the examination of the authenticity of the apparitions and messages of the Holy Virgin under the title 'Lady of all Nations' has after serious consideration and repeated consultations expressed as her one-voiced judgement, that, concerning the content of the messages themselves and the circumstances, under which the events took place, nothing can be found that can not be explained in a fully natural way."13
In 1956 bishop Huibers felt obliged to point out that the 'public devotion' of Mary as the 'Lady of all Nations'
could not yet be permitted and that one had to wait, until there was clarity about supernaturalness of the apparitions.
The definitive judgement concerning this matter has to be left to the Church. What people wanted to do privately, the bishop did not elaborate.
Yet, instead of submitting to the judgement of the authority of the Church the diehards of the Lady of all Nations continued with their propaganda. The propaganda spread abroad and, against the will of the local bishops, H. Fiechter propagated the devotion in Switzerland and W. Spanner in Bavaria. The latter also sent all sorts of reports to the mission-countries, with the result that everywhere rumours were swarming about the 'Amsterdam' event.14
Because of all these upheavals the case 'Amsterdam' had become an issue of the Worldchurch and the bishop of Haarlem found that now everything had to be handed over to the Holy Office.15 Everything was carefully studied there and the Congregation of the Holy Office concluded, that the bishop of Haarlem had acted
very wisely and prudently. The Congregation of the Holy Office concluded, against the background of the worldwide propaganda, that writings and brochures concerning this case could not get the approval of the Church.16 (signed by Joseph cardinal Pizzardo).
This was a new blow to those, who steadfastly believed in the apparitions. One had to come with something more prominent. And that happened one year later. By the end of February the seer got a message, saying that Pope Pius XII would die in October. The text of the message was put in a sealed envelope.17 When the Pope in October actually had died, all documents of the 'Lady' which referred to this matter, were sent to the diocese.18 The bishop then sent all documents to Rome, indicating in an enclosed letter, that he felt to have found something significant.19
However, the Congregation of the Holy Office did not become very much impressed. Didn't the whole world expect his imminent death? And hadn't the Holy Office received from Berlin a virtual similar prediction?
The Holy Office upheld her former position and reaffirmed once more the guidelines of not giving church approval to any writings about this case.20
When in 1960 a new bishop (Msgr J. Van Dodewaard) came to Haarlem, he was requested, a.o. by Louis Knuvelder, author of the book 'Maria en de verschijningen te Amsterdam' ('Mary and the apparitions of Amsterdam', which book was published in 1959 without Imprimatur and after consultation with the Holy Office was put on the Index of prohibited books), to reopen the investigation. The bishop replied that he would orientate himself. As long as no new facts would emerge he believed that it was imprudent to open up a new investigation.21
In the circles of the proponents one presumed that the bishop would change his mind when the Holy Office would give green light for a new investigation.22 To achieve this, a petition of four professors of Theology was sent to the Holy See, asking for a new investigation. The case reached the Holy Office and after consulting with the bishop of Haarlem it was concluded, that there was no reason to reopen the case of the 'Lady'.23 The Holy Office explained literally: (Prot. N.511/53)
After careful consultation the Holy Office has decided, that the case is definitely clear and that one should retract from the subject: the messages are false and remain forbidden for publication.
Shortly after the renewed dismissal the Congregation of the Holy Office communicated:
'They24 had good intentions and they want to defend the honour of Mary. We do however mean, that the case now is closed for good and that further investigations are no longer necessary.25
This second attempt, to get the World church interested in 'Amsterdam' fell in the midst of the Council and many bishops asked for an explanation. The bishop of Haarlem had a unbiased note drawn up, translated into Latin, which he distributed among the council fathers,26 hoping that the case of the 'Lady' would be shelved altogether.
However, the bishop was wrong. Enthusiasts gathered monthly in Amsterdam and recruited supporters in Germany and France. They tried through a backdoor to get Church-approval. The renowned book of Knuvelder, reprinted in 1966, was offered for an Imprimatur to a mission-bishop of Doume (Cameroun), who had shown much interest. When he declared, that he was not authorized to give the Imprimatur, the book was presented to the bishop of Den Bosch, who, very correctly, referred to the decisions, made about the case at the bishops conference.27
When in 1966 a new bishop came to Haarlem (Msgr Zwartkruis) the supporters got new hope. The bishop refuted their argument, that the preceding investigations had been incomplete because one had neglected to interrogate the most important persons. He again pointed out, that it was the seer's own wish, to be kept out of the interrogations. But this was not accepted just like that.28
Because bishop Zwartkruis wished to get the confusion around this case once and for all out of the world, he decided in 1972 to reassess the case, whereby he let the supporters know, that they should not have too high expectations.29 From the supporters side it was now claimed, that the diocese was prejudiced. The words used by the bishop, when installing the commission of nine members under the chairmanship of vicar H. Kuipers, had been received negatively.
However, the commission started work in all sincerity. In 1973 this third and last investigation was closed and the findings were presented to the Holy Office. On May 25, 1974 the Congregation endorsed one of the conclusions, namely that also now no reason had been found to acknowledge a supernatural origin of the messages, while the other conclusion, offered as an advice, was turned down, that is to lift the prohibition orders regarding the adoration of the 'Lady', because of pastoral considerations30
To elude any false interpretations, the members of the committee together with bishop Zwartkruis, held a press conference during which they very clearly declared,
that the events of Amsterdam were not of supernatural origin.31
Whenever the case came into discussion again, the diocese confined itself to the above mentioned press communiqué, which was translated into several languages, notwithstanding the fact that some people wanted to indulge deeper into the subject.32
The interest of the World-church for the question of the 'Lady of all Nations' faded away and until the 90th had somewhat fallen into oblivion. Nevertheless some proponents thought, that they did not have to obey the bishop of Haarlem, and thus they carried on with their propaganda and their pressure on the bishop for his personal opinion grew stronger. Especially in Rome supporters were sought and the pressure on Rome, to speak out, was increased.
(The above is a summary of the book 'Bewaar het toevertrouwde pand', chapter 30, 'Het moeilijkste vraagstuk', by reverend B. Voets, with permission of the author. ('Maintain the entrusted covenant' 'The most important question').
In the meantime Msgr H. Bomers succeeded the deceased bishop. On April 26, 1987 (thirteen years later) Joseph cardinal Ratzinger confirmed explicitly the validity of the declaration of May 1974 and declared
that the 'declaration' of the Congregation dated May 25 1974 (in accordance to L'Osservatore Romano of 14-15 June 1974), concerning the so-called apparitions of Amsterdam has not been revoked or modified and therefore remains completely in force.
Despite this affirmation of cardinal Ratzinger, Father Peter Klos sss, who is extremely interested in mystical things, starts to publish a bulletin in the Dutch language, 'Queen of the Prophets', in which he deals, besides 'Amsterdam', with countless so-called mystical phenomena, taking their authenticity for granted, also in cases where the Church reserved judgement or where the Church issued a warning. Even Ida Peerdeman disapproved this, especially when he tried to propagate 'Medjugorje' in the chapel in Amsterdam.
The influence of this fanatic was so great, that the bishop, despite the fact that he did not believe in the supernaturalness of 'Amsterdam' (revealed in a letter of April 16, 1994 to the Belgian examiner Mark Waterinckx), did not want (or was unable) to interfere with his actions for 'Amsterdam'.
Father Klos also propagated the so-called fifth "Marian Dogma" (Amsterdam: Mary Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate) and through the movements 'Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrix' and 'Vox Populi Dei' he appealed to the faithful to put their signature under a petition to the Church authorities, to force the Pope to officially proclaim the 'Fifth' Dogma.
In 1998 father Klos unexpectedly ceased his actions and prayer groups (a.o. Vassula) and moved to the USA to join a community, which started a new religious movement. He would have been asked to be the first superior of the order's community. However, already a year later he was back again in the Netherlands. (Because of other obstinate behaviour, cardinal Simonis, archbishop of Utrecht, suspended father Klos in August 2001 a divinis, because of incorrigible and longstanding disobedience. This heavy punishment only the Cardinal can lift. Father Klos, ignoring the warning, threatened to carry on his work as usual, risking excommunication).
Also the former abt of the abby Sint-Benedictusberg in Vaals (NL), abt Nicolaas de Wolff osb, who, like father Klos, is preoccupied with all sorts of extraordinary phenomena, made great contributions to the development of 'Amsterdam'. On August 22, 1996 he even crowned the painting of the 'Lady of all Nations' in the chapel in Amsterdam. In the meantime he has moved from the Abbey of Vaals to the Priory Gräfinthal in Mandelbachthal, Germany.
On Mei 22, 1996 bishop Bomers informed the Belgian investigator Mark Waterinckx in writing, that he does not endorse the supernaturalness of 'Amsterdam'. On September 9, 1998 he repeated his statement to the investigator verbally.
The bishop does not put the announcement of the Holy Office in discussion; nevertheless, in an official declaration he and his assisting bishop Punt approve on May 31, 1996 the public devotion of Mary under the title 'Lady of all Nations'.
This is a very strange development. Didn't in 1956 the former bishop Huibers point out, that the "public devotion" of the Holy Virgin Mary under the title 'Lady of all Nations' could not be admitted yet and that one would have to wait, until clarity over the supernatural character of the apparitions is obtained. Clarity was right enough achieved some years later with the Declaration of the Holy Office of 25/08/61 (page 9).
The bishop and his assistant bishop declared further: "At the moment the Church cannot make a pronouncement about the supernatural character of the apparitions and the content of the messages. One is free, to make a personal judgement according to his or her own conscience".
This pronouncement is rather confusing, because the judgement of the Holy Office, as well as the last official statement of Cardinal Ratzinger of April 26, 1987 is clear, still valid and has never been revoked. Furthermore the pronouncement of May 1996 is incompatible with the declaration of the Holy Office about so-called Private Revelations, as published in L'Osservatore Romano of 23/24 October 1995.
On June 20, 1997 bishop Bomers declared: "for the diocese of Haarlem I have declared that there is no objection against the public veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title 'LADY OF ALL NATIONS. I will only be happy, if this devotion finds acceptance elsewhere too, provided the local ordinary does agree."
Furthermore the assistant bishop Punt declares on October 4, 1997, that he is
"pleased to support the veneration of Mary under the title 'LADY OF ALL NATIONS' and furthermore and that he "is pleased to encourage the 'ACTION OF THE LADY OF ALL NATIONS', the goal of which is the spreading of her image and prayer throughout the world."
For the Slovakian bishop Paul Maria Hnilica s.j., titular bishop of Rusado, and his helper, Austrian Father Paul Maria Sigl (Paul Gebhart), both eager propagandists of all sorts of false prophets and apparitions, 'Amsterdam' is the very thing. Since the bishop now allows the public veneration they both together organize grandiose international prayer days in honour of the 'Lady of all Nations' in the RAI-Halls in Amsterdam, and well for the first time in May 1997.
Bishop Bomers personally celebrated the H. Mass in 1997 and 1998. In 1999 the apostolic administrator Punt took over this task from the meanwhile deceased bishop Bomers. (He suddenly died on September 12, 1998, name-day of the Virgin Mary!!)
During the second prayer day in 1998 bishop Bomers declared:
'Based on the fruits that more and more become noticeable, I have together with my assistant bishop decided, to set up a commission, in order to gather and study all testimonies concerning the events of the 'Lady and Mother of all nations'.
It is inconceivable that over and again an investigation should be initiated....!
After the third Prayer day in 1999 the apostolic administrator Punt declares, that
'the commission of investigation around the events of the 'Lady of all Nations' in Amsterdam has not yet been established, though they approached some people in the meantime. But it would not involve an investigation of supernaturalness of the apparitions, but drawing up an inventory of the fruits only.' (from K.N. 28-5-99)
Fruits? For what reason does one draw up an inventory other than for the preparation for a possible declaration of super naturalness later on? Besides, there is more required than good fruits to declare an apparition or message supernatural.
It is perfectly clear what did happen in Amsterdam and what should not have happened! Each time when a new bishop is appointed, the propagandists rake up ‘Amsterdam’ and one is yielding again to their pressure. And how often after investigations was it made clear, that the revelations are not of supernatural origin, that the super naturalness of the messages can not be acknowledged, that writings and brochures about this cannot get the approval of the Church, that the case is closed, so that further investigations are needless.
But incomprehensibly, the commotion begins each time anew. And since bishop Hnilica, who attracts attention for his propaganda for the un-acknowledged, jumped in with great spectacle, the whole world witnessed the International Prayer Day with ± 12.000 visitors (costs approximately € 400.000 or £ 300.000). In the year 2000 the number of visitors decreased to ± 8.000.
And each time they manipulate:
During the first prayer day (1997) bishop Hnilica laid wrong connections between Fatima and the (never approved) messages of 'Amsterdam'. Bishop Hnilica claimed besides others that the messages of 'Amsterdam' contained the so-called 'Third Secret of Fatima'. And during this day father Sigl presented the (never approved) messages as being genuine, while at the same time he declared that he does not want want to run ahead of the judgement of the Church.
During the second International Prayer Day (1998) a greeting of the prioress of the convent of the only still living Fatima-seer, sister Lucia, was read to the audience, which made great impression. But: to an investigator the prioress revealed that she had written it "because someone in Amsterdam had asked her to do so". It should not be mistaken as support for or acknowledgement of the events in Amsterdam, but only as support and solidarity for the good intentions of the prayers, which has nothing to do with believing or not believing in the supernaturality of the events.'
During the third International Prayer Day (1999) a so-called 'bridge was built' between Fatima and 'Amsterdam', so at least it was presented by some gentlemen, who pretended to be members of the Blue Army of Austria and who brought with them two big wooden statues of the 'Lady' of Amsterdam (with the features of the Fatima Madonna), which apostolic administrator Punt was invited to crown with a crown which was blessed by the Pope, so they said. Afterwards the men admitted that the two crowns were blessed during a general audience, but not particularly for 'the Lady of all Nations'.
Careful investigation resulted in a written statement from the secretariat of the Blue Army (World Apostolate of Fatima) in Fatima, informing that in Austria there certainly is no branch of the Blue Army existing!
Therefore one cannot get rid of the impression that the propagandists use Fatima and obviously need Fatima to make 'Amsterdam' appear credible. The division of the World Apostolate of Fatima in the Netherlands, which is officially established by the bishop of Fatima, distances itself in every aspect from the events in Amsterdam and the 'Lady of all Nations'.
The conclusion may be drawn, that 'Amsterdam' has unnecessarily long, much too long, been dragged on. The Jubilee Year 2000 was the final year of the extravagant yearly International Prayer Days.
About the real reason why the International Prayers Days will no longer be held contradicting explanations have been heard from two trustworthy sides. One side claims the high costs and the other side claims that Rome interfered.
But Msgr Hnilica does not quit. He now goes 'national'. In 2001 he and Father Sigl organized 'national' prayer days in Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, England, Germany and Slovakia. There would be preparations for prayer days also in America, the Philippines and India. Also in the Netherlands a national prayer day was organised, with bishop Hnilica and Father Sigl as speakers, but with less than 2000 participants. Operating 'nationally', they have a chance to influence even more people than before. The question arises, whether that was Rome's intention. Another question is, are the authorities in other countries, where bishop Hnilica now operates, well enough informed about the case of the 'Lady of all Nations'?
What does the Nuncio say?
When asked for guidelines the apostolic nuncio Angelo Acerbi of the Netherlands on April 28, 1999 replied in writing:
"... whatever recognition of the Marian title 'Our Lady of All Peoples or Nations' should be kept strictly distinct from any reference to the so-called apparitions of Amsterdam."
But these guidelines were never observed. During all manifestations and prayer days all speakers and preachers, especially bishop Hnilica and father Sigl, were freely referring to the (so-called) apparitions and messages of Amsterdam!
List of Documents Archive Diocese Haarlem (ABH)
1. ABH 332.141.02. Notes made by P.M. Verhoofstad pg. 1
2. ABH 332 141.02.pg. 2. In 1961 2.238.850 devotion cards were spread in 22 languages. In 1972 already 4.187.900 in 41 languages were circulating
3. The Imprimatur concerning the devotion given by the provincial of the Dominican father Schweigman, concerning the image by reverend C. Meysing. Schweigman was rather criticized. His concession did not imply an agreement with the apparitions, which others wanted to derive out of it, but only a declaration that the prayer, concerning the content, was not heretical.
4. ABH papers Vrouwe (Lady). Correspondence C. Van Trigt to bishop, May 6, 1954
5. ABH 332.141.02
6. ABH 332.141.03 Notes of Huibers
7. ABH 332.141.06 Report Carp
8. ABH Notes Verhoofdstad, pg. 4
9. ABH 332.141.112. The blue booklet with notes from Frehe. All sorts of notes were made and included in the document in the diocesan archive.
10. ABH Notes Verhoofdstad, pg. 4
11. ABH 332.141. 311.08 Report De Smet, April 7, 1956. As an addition to this report also the conclusions of the research by dr. Perquin as advisor of the commission should be taken in consideration.
12. This meaning was mainly expressed by Knuvelder. According to him the examination was insufficient.
13. ABH Notes Verhoofdstad, pg. 5. Declaration May 7, 1957
14. ABH 332.141.013. Report of the activities of the devotees of the 'Lady of all Nations' in foreign countries by E.V.Hoogstraten, August 8, 1959.
15. Analecta Diocese Haarlem.
16. Notes Verhoofdstad, pg. 7 and 8
17. This prophesy is still put forward as evidence of the authenticity of the apparitions. But one is short of an accurate answer, when asked, why after predicting the evidence, the files were not deposited at the diocese.
18. ABH 332.141.03. The bishop put nine questions to the seer, which were answered satisfactorily.
19. ABH 332.141.013. Bishop to the Holy Office, Nov. 10, 1958
20 ABH 332.141.411. Evidence concerning the Imprimatur of book Knuvelder
21. ABH 332.141.421. Bishop to Knuvelder
22. ABH 332.141.421. Petition of professors to the Pope, 1961
23. ABH Notes Verhoofdstad, pg. 15, Declaration Holy Office, Aug. 25, 1961
24. With 'they' officially the four theologists are meant, who had investigated the case anew, but indirectly are meant all who defend the teachings of the 'lady'
25. ABH 332.141.013. Holy Office to bishop, Aug. 25, 1961
26. ABH 332.141.013. Bishop to Verhoofdstad, Nov. 3, 1963
27. ABH 332.141.411.016. This new edition was printed in Brabant, reason to go to the bishop of Den Bosch.
28. ABH 332.141.013. Bishop to H.Janson, Aug. 17, 1966
29. ABH 332.141.013 and 332.141.323.22. Installation of the commission for the investigation of the case of the 'lady of all nations'
30. ABH 323.141.323.22. Transferral of the results of the investigation to the Congregation of Holy Office
31. ABH 332.141.325. Press communiqué of the diocese Haarlem
32. ABH 323.141. 013. Cardinal Willebrands to bishop Zwartkruis, Jan. 16, 1974. The same body, that in Rome provided a negative picture of the Church of Haarlem, backed up this propaganda. The advice of Willebrands was in this circumstance right. The diocese was not sufficiently informed about the effect of negative critique. At the Synod in Jan. 1980 it was emphasized, that everything had to be done to avoid negative reactions.
PS: The Holy Office is now called Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
'AMSTERDAM' THE DECLARATIONS OF MSGR J.M. PUNT - AN ANALYSIS
During the second Dutch prayer-day of the Lady of all Nations, which took place on June 8, 2002 in the Jaap Edenhal in Amsterdam, Msgr Punt announced to the approx. 1500 faithful present, that in a letter to about thirty bishops all over the world, he has pronounced that he, according to his judgment, came to the conclusion that the apparitions of the Lady of all Nations consist of a supernatural origin. The bishop said:
"In light and virtue of all these recommendations, testimonies and developments, and in pondering all this in prayer and theological reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the apparitions of the Lady of all Nations in Amsterdam consist of a supernatural origin..."
This all can be read in the bishop's letter dated May 31, 2002 in which he answers questions about the Amsterdam apparitions. For the full text of the letter see the end of this article.
In our AVE Newsletter number 2 of June 2001 we already formulated our point of view on the apparitions and the recent statements from the bishop did not alter our point of view. As a matter of fact this new development induced us to make further inquiries into the case of the Lady of all Nations.
THE LETTER OF MAY 31, 2002: RECOGNITION OF THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE APPARITIONS OF THE 'LADY' IN AMSTERDAM
The bishop asserts:
"As bishop of Haarlem/Amsterdam, I have been requested to make a statement regarding the authenticity of the apparitions of Mary as the Lady of all Nations in Amsterdam during the years of 1945-1959. Many members of the faithful and bishops have emphasized the urgency for clarification. I also have been personally aware that this development of devotion, which has spanned over 50 years, call for this."
This is a very peculiar pronouncement. The declarations made by the various Commissions who examined the case several times before, by previous bishops (Huibers/1956 - Zwartkruis/1972) and the repeated declarations from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were clear and explicit enough: the events of Amsterdam do not consist of a supernatural origin.
Msgr Bomers (1983-1998) was put under high pressure by the fanatic proponents. They managed to induce the bishop to approve the public devotion of Mary under the title of 'Lady of all Nations' (letter dated May 31, 1996, also signed by his then auxiliary bishop Msgr Punt). And on June 20,1997 Msgr Bomers declared that there are no objections against the veneration of Mary under the same title.
To separate the devotion from its source is very strange indeed and not logical at all. Msgr. Bomers action caused quite a lot of confusion and defied the authority of former bishops and of Rome.
Nota bene: On May 22, 1998 Msgr Bomers informed Mr. Waterinckx of Brugge, Belgium, by letter that he does not recognize the supernaturality of Amsterdam...!!! In a letter, black on white, with the bishops' signature... This statement was made considerable time after his declarations of May 31, 1996 and June 20, 1997 and this indicates that if Msgr Bomers had still been here, the situation would probably have remained unchanged.
"Many members of the faithful and bishops have emphasized the urgency..." But the reaction of the Dutch bishops was rather halfhearted. When Msgr Punt, during question time before a bishops conference was closed, made reference to his 'recognition' of the 'Lady', his colleagues simply took a note of it. No congratulations. Apparently his colleagues are better informed about 'The Lady' than the bishop of the Haarlem Diocese. People are now already drawing lines between Amsterdam and Fatima, even by some newspapers. But how different was the approval of Fatima in 1930!? That was a real celebration. And soon afterwards there was an enormous national pilgrimage in gratitude of all Portugese bishops to Fatima. But Msgr Punt seems to be solitary amongst the bishops in the Netherlands.
About what and to whom the bishop wants to speak out?
Msgr Punt says that he has observed that the devotion has taken its place in the spiritual life of millions all over the world, and that it possesses the support of many bishops. According to us this is a rather exaggerated statement. We found out that, especially abroad, only relatively small groups are enthusiastic about Amsterdam and that the devotion is of very limited significance. Moreover we found out that people outside the Netherlands are informed one-sidedly and amongst others never heard of the repeated statements from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is true that prayer cards are distributed by the thousands in many countries and in many languages but one cannot say that because of this the devotion has taken its place in the spiritual life of millions all over the world... Thousands of pilgrims come to Fatima and Lourdes daily and during high-days hundreds of thousands. An annual prayerday in Amsterdam attracts 1500 pilgrims only... So, one cannot say that there is an untenable situation, like Mr. Soffner of the Supervisory Commission stated and consequently there is no sound argument why the bishop had to speak out about the authenticity.
The question to what extent these 'apparitions' have been bearing fruits cannot be simply answered. An impartial investigation into this could be held. But some 'other' fruits have already appeared: the hard core of 'The Lady' are of the opinion that you have to believe in 'The Lady' to be a Roman Catholic. They consider believing in 'The Lady' as a criterion for the orthodoxy. In that way 'The Lady' acts like seeds of disruption and for this reason 'The Lady' cannot be from heaven.
"It is primarily the task of the local bishop to speak out in conscience regarding the authenticity of private revelations that take place or have taken place within his diocese."
Rightly so, but this was already done sufficiently by his predecessors, unless the present bishop can prove beyond any doubt that his predecessor were utterly wrong. He cannot act as if he were the first bishop to speak out and ignore the well-founded conclusions of his predecessors. If this step would be right, his successor would have as much right to revoke it (which is not as improbable as it seems, because many, clergy, intellectuals , theologians and members of the faithful consider the happenings of Amsterdam as heresy).
In his letter of May 31, 2002 Msgr Punt says a.o.: that he has asked once again for the advice of theologians and psychologists concerning outcomes of previous investigations, and the questions and objections deriving from them.
Who are these experts? Did the bishop also ask the opinion of the skeptics? How was the investigation carried out? Has there been an investigation into the apparitions in itself or was the investigation meant to look into the propagation of the devotion only? Did the experts examine the foundations? Did they thoroughly study previous investigations and take the outcome of this into honest consideration? If only the kind of spiritual fruits a devotion delivers is taken into consideration, then the authenticity of Medjugorje could be approved as well, because many bishops and theologians enthusiastically speak about the fruits of Medjugorje. But this is not a good argument at all. The right argument goes into the foundation of it: the apparitions in itself! A commission also has to follow criteria given by Rome. Did they do so? Former Commissions as well as prominent theologians did see objections, theological as well as psychological. They concluded that the messages did not come, could not have come, from heaven, that Mary never revealed herself in this way and that the revelations did not consist of a supernatural origin, whereupon Msgr. Huibers in 1955 declared that taken into consideration the contents of the messages and also the circumstances of the events, nothing can be found which cannot be explained entirely in a normal and natural fashion. Had those former experts and bishops it all wrong? Does Msgr Punt understand the importance of the investigations of former Commissions, of his predecessors and the confirmations of these by Rome? Does he understand, taken into consideration all previous negative declarations, that his investigation should go much further, much deeper into the matter. The Holy Office (now: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) declared on August 25, 1961:
"After ample consideration the Holy Office has decided that the matter is definite and that one should not revert to it."
This was confirmed again in 1974 and in 1987.
"In light and virtue of all these recommendations, testimonies and developments, and in pondering all this in prayer and theological reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the apparitions of the Lady of all Nations in Amsterdam consist of a supernatural origin",
Msgr Punt professes. Apparently the bishop disregards all former recommendations, testimonies and developments, does not mind anything and just follows the recommendations of 'some theologians and psychologists' whom he once again asked for advice. It is simple enough to ask for advice from people of whom you know that they are behind your cause. But it will be clear that such an advice is of little to no value at all. For such an important cause, of great importance to the World-church, one could expect that a Commission would be set up, in which theologians, psychologists and other influential experts, proponents and sceptics would participate.
"Also authentic images and visions are always transmitted to us, - to use the words of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -, through the filter of our senses, which carry out a work of translation..." and "...are influenced by the potentialities and limitations of the perceiving subject."
To use this pronouncement of Cardinal Ratzinger (Cardinal Ratzinger, Theological Commentary In Preparation for the Release of the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima, L'Osservatore Romano, June 28, 2000) in this context is wrong and misplaced. Obviously Msgr Punt wants to cover himself against the frequently made objection that the alleged seer of Amsterdam was not a very exact person and not clear in het expressions; they were often vague. The comparison with the children of Fatima is misplaced because in Fatima the children were very exact and what they saw and heard was clearly imprinted on their memories. It was all precise, concrete and reliable and of completely different and incomparably higher order of experience than the reports of Ida Peerdeman of Amsterdam. In Fatima Mary made predictions which came true. Take for instance the miracle of the sun. Apart from unintelligible statements Mary never made clear predictions in Amsterdam and if they were made, never came true. Influences from the world around the seer were more than often the basic elements of the so-called apparitions.
"Unlike Holy Scripture, private revelations are never binding upon the conscience of the faithful", Msgr Punt said. Correct, but if a bishop throws his weight in the scale, announcing that he recognizes some alleged supernatural event, he plays on the conscience of the faithful.
But the not-binding character of a bishop's pronouncement does not release the bishop of his duty to make a thorough investigation whereby the results of all former investigations will be taken along. Furthermore Msgr Punt should realize that his 'approval' is not so non-committal as it sounds, because proponents will continue to strive for the dogma, as is asked for in the 'messages'.
Though a private revelation may never be binding upon the conscience of the faithful, it nevertheless is thrusted upon you in some churches. Those who want to pray the special prayer of 'The Lady' should do so in private gatherings in order not to burden or irritate the faithful who have no affinity with 'Amsterdam'.
"And the signs of our times are dramatic. The devotion of the Lady of all Nations can help us, in my sincere conviction, in guiding us on the right path during the present serious drama of our times, the path to a new and special outpouring of the Holy Spirit", so the bishop says.
It is not strange to believe that the Holy Spirit comes to our help also in our times. But is it the Holy Spirit who speaks in the messages to the seer Ida Peerdeman, messages which are of dubious help, very much confused and debatable and even silly. The exalted expectations of a special coming of the Holy Spirit is akin to and paves the way to sensational end-of-the-time thinking and feeling, that something mysterious, something special will happen that will change this decadent world, a kind of feeling similar to that of the Pentecostal movement.
THE LETTER OF JUNE 18, 2002: ONLY RECOGNITION OF THE DEVOTION
In a letter, dated June 18, 2002, addressed to the faithful of the Haarlem Diocese (a sort of a pastoral writing, but which was not) Msgr Punt wrote:
"Undoubtedly you have heard of the approval which I gave to the devotion of Mary as the Lady of all Nations." and "What I have said is that to my sincere conviction this devotion is in fact authentic and comes from God."
Contrary to what Msgr Punt announced in his letter of May 31, 2002, viz.
"...I have come to the conclusion that the apparitions of the Lady of all Nations in Amsterdam consist of a supernatural origin"
he casually and only once used the word 'apparitions' in this letter of June, 18. So de bishop now says that he approves the devotion to Mary as the Lady of all Nations and that to his sincere conviction the devotion is 'in fact' authentic. As the devotion was already publicly allowed in 1996 and in 1997, the contents of this letter to the faithful in the Haarlem diocese was not very sensational, certainly not to those who had not heard of the letter dated May 31, 2002, because many people (wrongly) believed that the devotion had been approved already in 1996/1997. Now some people, rightly or wrongly, got the impression that the bishop climbed down, that he, in his letter of June 18, was somewhat premature, spoke before his turn.
Possibly the confusion is even greater now.
Because of this remarkable manoeuver opponents and proponents are more divided than ever before.
Many people may now believe that the bishop has approved the authenticity of the apparitions. He has indeed done so in his letter of May 31, 2002 to a number of bishops and at the prayerday on June 8, 2002. But in his letter to the faithful of June 18, 2002 he does not mention the authenticity of the apparitions of 'The Lady' at all but only mentions the approval of the devotion. It seems that he backs out from the approval of the authenticity of the apparitions.
What now is the status of 'The Lady'? What is against a bishop being explicit? A bishop too may be mistaken in such matters. This occurred several times in church history but was later on set right.
In our opinion it is Msgr Punt task now to provide clarity in this matter. That is his duty as bishop. And the faithful have the right to get it. Furthermore it is desirable to investigate whether the approval of the devotion is misplaced because, according to our opinion, the approval of the devotion (1996) also means, to a certain extent, approval of the apparitions (see our Newsletter number 2 of June 2001 for an explicit explanation). Furthermore also the approval of 'The Lady of Akita' should be reexamined by the local bishop or the bishops conference in conjunction with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The church can too easily be influenced by such very questionable 'apparitions' which are propagated worldwide for the purpose of a certain ideology.
Msgr Punt further declared:
"For me a sign of supernaturalness is also the strong Trinitarian and Christocentric character of the devotion. Mary repeatedly points to Him and the cross."
This explanation is irrational, one only has to look at the image of the 'Lady', who places herself before the cross (without the body of Christ on it!), focusing the attention to herself and not to Christ. In fact, she takes the cross all for herself! Her posture is brazen, the expression on het face is commanding. Yet, the real Mary was humbly standing under the cross, not in a victorious posture, but suffering.
"The Supervisory Commission will draw up a list of questions and remarks and evaluate these to the best of their ability",
bishop Punt says. This Supervisory Commission only just started with its work and it should get a chance to come forward with something tangible. Does a Supervisory Commission differ from a Commission of Inquiry? What is the sense of a forgoing approval? Are the members of the new Supervisory Commission independent, unprejudiced and do they have sufficient expertise? Who appointed the members of the Supervisory Commission? What is their background? Is there within the Commission room for experts who, in accordance with the declarations made by the church from the beginning until the 'approval' by Msgr Punt, will be in a position to dispute the authenticity of the 'apparitions' and the 'messages' of 'The Lady'? Questions to which many would like to get an answer in order to avert the pretense of prejudiced cliquism.
THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
What can now be expected from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? Rome repeatedly declared that the apparitions are not supernatural. As recent as 1987 the Congregation confirmed that the declaration of May 25, 1974 concerning alleged apparitions in Amsterdam has neither been revoked nor altered and as a consequence remains in force in full. (See AVE Newsletter number 2 of June, 2001).
It is an undeniable fact that the 'Lady of all Nations movement' draws lots of gullible people (and clergy too) who also believe in other so-called apparitions. You can fill in the examples yourself. With each supposedly supernatural phenomenon a sense of devotion is created by certain people. Other people who have carefully studied the 'case of Amsterdam' and the confusing, questionable and sometimes silly and occult messages, wonder how it is possible that fanatic headstrong persons could have come that far with 'Amsterdam' and read with disbelief Msgr Punt's declaration.
The success of Amsterdam and many other apparitions/phenomenon is mainly the result of propaganda made by some very closely involved people and/or of commercial interest. Amsterdam came into the spot-light thanks to Msgr Hnilica (a bishop who, according to some people, has never been able to prove that he was ordained as bishop) and father Paul Sigl, who, after they tried in vain to get involved in Medjugorje and with the meanwhile exposed impostor Theresa Lopez of Denver USA, travel the wold in order to promote Amsterdam, whereby they do not hesitate to misuse Fatima (at Fatima's strong displeasure), to manipulate with Fatima and to call Amsterdam the fulfillment of Fatima. The question remains by what authority Msgr Hnilica and father Sigl operate in Amsterdam.
Let us pray, for all of us who need it, for enlightenment from the Holy Spirit.