Is Benedict Cracking down on Apparitions?
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Exclusive: In a Vademecum (handbook) the crackdown by Benedict XVI on Marian apparitions may have started.
A ‘pool’ of theologians, psychiatrists and exorcists will be 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 evidence 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 the 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
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: pseudo-visionaries will be visited by psychiatrists and psychologists, possibly either atheistic or Catholic, 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 be done: determine the level of education of the one being proclaimed a ‘mystic’ so as to avoid one who, after having carefully studied writings on theology and Mariology, might mislead church authorities and the faithful. 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 computers, 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 the bishops are also asked to determine whether the 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 the 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 nothing abnormal should result directly from the analysis, and the visionary then be considered credible, that visionary will finally 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 stricter 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 the phenomena reported there as true and supernatural.
Of course, according to the ‘Vademecum’ which the Pope had to be 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 in the house that shed tears. To know the mind of Benedict XVI on the subject, it suffices to remember what he, while still a Cardinal, said 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 events documented in
the history of the Church. But out of almost 300 requests for investigation
initiated in the last century, church authorities have officially certified
only a dozen appearances as true. The most recent recognition is that of Our
Lady of Laus, in
At the beginning of this article we mentioned
More complex is the case of Medjugorje: for more than a quarter of a century, the Madonna is supposed to have appeared every day to the visionaries, and once a month to have spoken a message to 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 on the side of the diocesan bishop, Msgr. Ratko Peric, who like his late predecessor, does not believe in the truthfulness of these phenomena, and after having never been listened to, already some time ago asked the alleged visionaries to live a hidden life and not disclose any messages 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]
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