Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Crackdown on Marian Visionaries


Various newspapers report the Holy Father has instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to issue a directory, a Vademecum, on Marian apparitions. Undoubtably it is aimed in part at the Medjugorje visionaries. see here

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.

I find it surprising that good faithful priests and people, who would never dream of disobeying the Church normally, flock to the latest site of an apparition, despite the instructions of the local bishop. It is often their first introduction to liberalism or pick n mix Catholicism.

23 comments:

Henry said...

What horrid architecture. I would not want to go to such a place as a pilgrimage destination. And think of the CO2 emissions flying all that way. And the cost.

Now West Grinstead, on the other hand, is a decent nineteenth century Gothic revival place with a bit of history behind it and less than 20 miles away.
Mass at West Grinstead

GOR said...

Yes, a very timely and appropriate admonition! The obedience of Our Lady is the model to be held up for us all while the "non serviam" of Satan should be a warning to all would-be seers and 'mystics'.

A hallmark of true mystics - such as St. Teresa of Avila - is a deep skepticism and mistrust of the revelations being received. Well aware of the Devil's power to deceive, they were slow to accept as 'gospel' what was being revealed to them.

St Teresa even notes that it was only under obedience to her spiritual directors that she reluctantly documented the visions she received.

Pride brought Satan down and can bring all of us down. Humility and obedience to the Church's authority are the antidotes to pride.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Couldn't really agree with yr statement Fr Ray..my experience is that people became more orthodox & fervent..having been myself 5 times. However I did review Donal Foley's book Understanding Medjugorje & do come on the side that it is inauthentic..but await the Vatican decrees.

Would you do me the favour of e-mailing me..as I lost yr e-mail rosary@blueyonder.co.uk

Fr Ray Blake said...

It is not a matter of agreeing with me Jackie but with the Church, the voice of which is the local bishop.
I think this is the problem with the place, it teaches otherwise mainstream Catholics to disobey the bishop.

Michael Clifton said...

One very good reason for rejecting Medjugorice is that quite early one the local Bishop tried to remove one of the Franciscan priests there and the Vision so called when asked by the childen about this said the Bishop was in the wrong. Since then the so called statements absolutely bland and even banal have poured out and the Vatican does not usually intervene to examine the case in full until AFTER visions have stopped. Now I know some people have found great spiritual help there, but this is NOT because of the false visions but because of a general air of holiness often found there.
I note the Church never approved of Garabandal but many still go there.

USLAWSTUDENT said...

Excellent insight, GOR!

I understand the faith that is underlying the motivation in many of these pilgrims, but we must sentire cum ecclesia on such matters. We cannot go off on our own journeys when it is not in our best, spiritual interest which is so often explicated by our Holy Mother Church, and hopefully through the local ordinary.

The biggest problem I have seen in my limited amount of time here in this earthly exile is the lack of obedience by adults. Everyone thinks they should have so-called total freedom. They forget that in almost every aspect of life we are subservient in some way. It is not that this subserviences diminishes our human worth, but actually frees us and enlightens us. Children practice obedience (usually, haha), employees practice obedience, athletes practice obedience, priests and religious practice obedience (hopefully), etc. Why is it that the normal, Catholic adult thinks they do not need to practice obedience to the Church and Her Magisterium!?! It's an outrage!

Michael Petek said...

The local Bishop is the competent authority for alleged visions etc. unless and until Rome intervenes to remand the case elsewhere.

Rome did precisely that in the
1980s, and put the case in the hands of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia-Hercegovina.

I think Father Michael Clifton is referring to the case of Father Vego and Father Prusina. Bishop Zanic ran them out of the priesthood over some matter, then the two priests were laicised and later married.

They took their case of mistreatment to the Apostolic Signatura and won.

If Father Clifton is referring to any other case, the matter almost certainly concerns an historic dispute between the Bishop and the Franciscans. There is a question mark over whether the Bishop has the canonical power to remove a religious priest from a parish assigned to his Order.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

I do feel that some get very self-righteous over the Medjugorje issue. We're so perfect good Catholics that we know which visions are true blah blah..the Medjugorje issue is complicated by the Franciscan situation that I would prefer to go with what Rome issues..I like the way that over 30 million people had access to the Sacraments in the Church of St James & continuous adoration & confessions..no wonder our family has been so richly blessed by so much prayer..it's obvious for all to see that there have been many blessings from pilgrimage to Bosnia Herzegovena..doesn't necessarily mean the visions are true. Can't really say I've personally seen anyone harmed by the affair..about 30 members of my family have been & we are all strong, Catholics inspiring others..so I don't worry so much now about authenticity..Holy Mother Church will have the final say. I DO see what you are oh not you...what you think the church is saying..Fr Ray. I'm playing devil's advocate here!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jackie,
Some of my parishioners and priest friends go there in good conscience, I could not. I tell them to be incredibly skeptical of the visionaries, even if visionaries are fraudulent, the sacraments are certainly not.

but

The the local bishop has spoken, until Rome speaks, his judgement stands.
As far as I understand Canon Law the Franciscans have autonomy within their own community but in all matters relating directly to the care of souls and the liturgy they are subject to the bishop.

Anonymous said...

Michael Petek: You are a prime example of what, by this document, they're trying to avoid in the future. I know a local woman who is a follower of Veronica Leuken (Bayside, Queens, New York). She is just like you. No amount of evidence would convince her that Bayside is false. In fact, she refuses to read anything "negative" (her word) about Bayside.

This is the danger of allowing allegations of false apparitions to run rampant.

Veronica

Marc Datz(Ukrainian Greek Catholic)(US) said...

Father Ray and fellow bloggers,

Where is this stated in the Bible or in Sacred Tradition?: "Mary herself, in fact, would never validate an act of disobedience against a bishop, even if they were in error." Where could I verify this concept? How could Mother Mary, the Theotokos, not validate an act of disobedience against a bishop or any church authority, if they are in error? Mary stands for absolute truth, not the errors of men, bishops and such! I understand the concept of Satan, using the apparition, to spread deceit and fights among us the Body of the Church. Would Satan, even in his greatest deceit, be able to use or stand for absolute truth, caught up in his pride, which is the main reason for his fall from grace? Is and should disobedience be necessary to fight for absolute truth, in the case of visions or anything else? For example, Christ and the moneychangers! There is an example of disobedience, by God himself, to temple authority, which was the religious leadership of the time. He based His anger on absolute truth, which He is! Wouldn't Mother Mary, the Theotokos, do the same and tell us if the bishops are right or wrong? Wouldn't the vision be able to instruct us if it is true? A vision is always questionable of course, because of skeptics and Satan's power in this world! Putting that aside, if the vision is true, Mary is telling us the absolute truth to disobey bishops and stand for her apparitions to us! We, as the Church, the Body of Christ, have a right and duty to bring errors to the attention of our bishops and if they are not rectified, we must disobey falsehood! What if the bishop is under the spell of Satan and the disobedient are under the guidance of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit!?!

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Of course I'm all for obeying the Bishops but there are exceptions for example our Arch Bishop would like to teach our 5 year olds sex education. Will I obey him as knowing what's best for my children as appointed by our Catholic Church? Well actually no I won't! The bishop in ? in Medjugorje I'm not sure but didn't Archbishop Zanic agree with them?
Must really dig out my article refuting the visions...but it is a highly complex situation. I tend to advise people to just go to confession & adoration in their own churches..no need to hop on a plane. Have met all the visionaries on more than one occasion..will save that for another day!

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Fr Ray have posted the review on my blog.

Michael Petek said...

As I said before, the matter of Medjugorje seems to be complicated by the historic rivalry, if that is the correct term, between the diocesan authorities and the Franciscans.

The Catholics of Hercegovina have the collective memory of persecution at the hands of the Turks during the four centuries when the area was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

The Catholics were persecuted because they would not submit to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who was appointed by the Sultan to exercise authority over Christian dhimmis under Islamic law.

There was no diocesan hierarchy under Turkish rule. The Franciscans were the only source of spiritual and pastoral care for the people, and they suffered with them and shared their martyrdom.

That is why the local people are so fiercely loyal to the Franciscans and will tend to prefer their ministry to that of diocesan clergy.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Did you see Fr. Michael Brown’s post about your Medjugorje post on his “Forest Murmurs” blog? I recommend it. He prefaces his post by saying, “I am no fan of Medjugorje as it strikes me as lacking credibility but if the Church judges it to be authentic I’m happy to accept it.”

Fr. Brown goes on to make an interesting point which ties in with a big question that you have been tackling in a very measured and decorous way over the past few weeks, and which Jackie refers to: the “Bishop issue” in the Catholic Church.

To quote Fr. Brown again: “One of the things that does appeal to me about Medjugorje is the idea of the Blessed Virgin intervening on the side of the Franciscans against the decrees of the local bishop.”

The Catholic blogs keep coming back to this question, whether it’s about doctrine, liturgy, ecclesiology or mysticism: To what extent may priests and lay Catholics express disagreement with a bishop? Is the bishop “right even when he’s wrong,” so to speak? Must I always obey? For all serious minded and faithful Catholics, this is becoming one of the central problems of their faith.

Michael Petek said...

Francis, I hope the following tentative comments are helpful.

We are to obey the Bishop and the Holy Father, and ecclesiastical aithorities dependent on them, in all that concerns the good of the Church and of souls, where obedience would give no offence to God.

Pastors must themselves set an example of good and fair administration, and respect for due process essential to the exercise of good judgement.

The hierarchical order of the Church entails a power of a higher authority to set aside the ruling of a lower authority, and either to substitute its own decision, or not, and to remand the matter to an intermediate authority if it so chooses.

A genuine apparition of Jesus or Mary will never incite disobedience against civil or ecclesiastical authority, and will be susceptible of integration into the Catholic faith and communion.

If an apparition is from the Devil, then it will not be long before it seduces people into sin, and specifically into pride and departure from the faith, or into open rupture of ecclesial communion.

More subtly, a demonic apparition will seduce the credulous into Modernism, which is the synthesis of all heresies.

In his infernal ingenuity, the Devil will use the occasion of true or false apparitions to lay traps for the local Bishop which he will certainly fall into unless his heart is ardently obedient to his own superiors.

One of these is the temptation to deviate from the principle that his role is to pass judgement on the apparitions and messages only, and not to derogate from the honour and reputation of visionaries.

The following is perhaps a good question: given that the Author of a genuine apparition is the Holy Spirit, would a genuine apparition admonish pastors to measure up to their grave responsibilities, as Catherine of Siena did when she leaned on the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon and reform the clergy etc.?

Marc Datz(Ukrainian Greek Catholic)(US) said...

Dear Father Ray and bloggers,

Mr. Petek states: "A genuine apparition of Jesus or Mary will never incite disobedience against civil or ecclesiastical authority, and will be susceptible of integration into the Catholic faith and communion."
I agree with him to a degree. Mary and Jesus stand for love, peace and unity, but how about justifiable anger as exemplified in the Gospels by Jesus and his reaction to the money-changers in the Temple? This disobedience and anger directed towards religious authority is by a Person of God Himself and written down in the Gospels-God's divinely inspired record handed down to us through the Church through the ages!

In regards to the Francis comment:
"The Catholic blogs keep coming back to this question, whether it’s about doctrine, liturgy, ecclesiology or mysticism: To what extent may priests and lay Catholics express disagreement with a bishop? Is the bishop “right even when he’s wrong,” so to speak? Must I always obey? For all serious minded and faithful Catholics, this is becoming one of the central problems of their faith."
This is a serious dilemma we are all going through as Catholics! Even the Bible tells us to be angry at and do something about errors within our Church bodies, structures and/or hierarchies, AS STATED BY THE GOSPEL DEALING WITH CHRIST AND THE MONEYCHANGERS!!!

Also does modernism desensitize us towards obedience and Church authority? The devil could use this in his fight against absolute truth! How about us obeying a ruling bishop, who is becoming heretical in his authority!?! WHAT DO WE DO AS INTELLECTUALS? OR DO WE BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD AT THIS POINT, CEASE QUESTIONING AND PRAY?

What do we do with Mr. Petek's question?:
"The following is perhaps a good question: given that the Author of a genuine apparition is the Holy Spirit, would a genuine apparition admonish pastors to measure up to their grave responsibilities, as Catherine of Sienna did when she leaned on the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon and reform the clergy etc.?"
I SAY FOLLOW CATHERINE OF SIENNA WITH PRAYER ASKING FOR GOD'S HOLY SPIRIT TO BE OUR ADVOCATE, OUR PERACLEATE!!!

James M said...

Francis,

Fr Brown's comment at the end of his post is vital to his ultimate position:

"It seems to me that this is where Medjugorje falls down: the Blessed Virgin should appear to the bishop and defend the visionaries. Her failure to do this is surely a weak point in the credibility of the whole thing given that she seems so willing to appear to her followers so often."

Diane M. Korzeniewski said...

USLAWSTUDENT commentsThe biggest problem I have seen in my limited amount of time here in this earthly exile is the lack of obedience by adults. Everyone thinks they should have so-called total freedom.

As the bottom of all my blogposts reads at Te Deum Laudamus!:

"The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world! "

Obedience is not so much about submission. Rather it is chosen, as the Blessed Mother chose it when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her.

Only the free can choose obedience.

Unless a bishop is commanding something which contradicts Church teaching, it is better to err on the side of obedience. It is more pleasing to God because, next to death, there is no greater sacrifice than to surrender one's own will.

Obedience is a gateway through which only the Holy Spirit and the angels may pass. It is a barrier to the Angel of Darkness whose pride is to great to fit through that gateway.

In 1985, after having been convinced the apparitions were inauthentic, Bishop Zanic, demanded that the seers end publicity of messages. The children, led by the Franciscans, used their own version of loop-hole interpretation of the statement to disobey. Bishop Peric publicly demanded again, in 2006 in a widely publicized homily on the diocese of Mostar-Duvno website, and again, they disobeyed and the messages flow today.

So, should they obey the bishop to stop something as simple as conveying messages? Which choice would Our Lady - a model of humility and obedience - recommend to the seers?

The lack of obedience is a checkmate on Medjugorje for me.

No matter how many good fruits come out of something, they can never be weighed to the exclusion of bad fruits. And, it doesn't take a greater weight of good or bad fruits to discern it. Often times, a single bad fruit is enough to spoil the whole thing, depending on the nature of the bad fruit.

Some say, "but even if it is not authentic - leave it be, people are converting...".

My response: The ends do not justify the means. If Holy Mother Church has evidence that Medjugorje is inauthentic, she will not resort to consequentialism to let it continue....especially under Pope Benedict XVI.

Diane M. Korzeniewski said...

Fr. Ray says: I find it surprising that good faithful priests and people, who would never dream of disobeying the Church normally, flock to the latest site of an apparition, despite the instructions of the local bishop. It is often their first introduction to liberalism or pick n mix Catholicism.

It is for this reason that I feel the story of a handbook on dealing with claims of apparitions is plausible and will be made public.

There is division in the Church on alleged apparitions and private revelations and this division is a symptom of many things, among which is a lack of catechesis in this area.

In contrast to approved apparitions, the number which went unapproved or condemned is much greater. The Church, in her infinite wisdom has had a process of discerning these things which was only understood by some within the hierarchy (hence, the need for the 1978 criteria).

However, it is clear that even though the bishop followed that criteria in Medjugorje and attempted to halt a cult following when alarm bells went off for him, it got away from the Church at an early stage. The bishop had no recourse when the Franciscans led the children into defiance of his 1985 order. He could not send in the Swiss Guards to enforce his attempt to place the "seers" into silence and the 1978 criteria did not give leeway to condemn a claim based on such disobedience. I believe that is about to change. Had they obeyed, even if he were wrong, it would have later revealed extraordinary grace - one of many good metrics to track. The ability to withstand the silence in the face of an authentic encounter with the Blessed Mother is a magnificent test. She herself would be aware and would counsel the "seers" to obey (as we have seen in the case of St. Faustina when Our Lord explained the importance of obedience to her superiors).

I believe the handbook is coming and I believe it will be made public to enable the faithful, including priests and bishops, to understand. I think we will see a new statement on Medjugorje some months after the book is released.

But, "soon" in Vatican-speak can mean next week, next month or in a year or two.

David Armitage said...

Well, it seems that this latest report about a 'crackdown' on Medjugorje is, as usual, without real foundation. The following has just appeared on the National Catholic Register website:

False Rumors About Apparitions

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 8:49 PM

A Vatican official has denied a document is being prepared about how to deal with alleged Marian apparitions and visions, such as those at Medjugorje.

According to some reports that have circulated in the last few days, Pope Benedict has instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to prepare a vademecum, or handbook, on the matter. It reportedly would require individuals who said they have experienced appearances or visions of the Virgin Mary to remain silent while their claims are investigated carefully by Church authorities.

The document was also rumored to specify that local bishops should set up commissions composed of psychiatrists, psychologists, theologians and priests to investigate the claimed apparitions.

But according to a Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith official who spoke with Register correspondent Edward Pentin, there is no truth to these reports. The official stated emphatically that no work is underway on a vademecum or on any other type of document regarding the question of how to handle claims of apparitions.

Athanasius said...

People don't realize that history is replete with examples of people experiencing amazing graces from false apparitions. In the 16th century there was a Poor Clare nun in Spain who was a mystic and lived on the eucharist, and people came to her for advice and begged her prayers, and went to confession and were renewed.

How many of them were when it was revealed that this "mystic" had in fact been possessed by the devil and was sneaking food when no one was watching!

The devil can bring about false apparitions to ensnare men's minds because he knows how the brain works, how people are attracted to supernatural affirmation. Then it becomes a perfect means to reel them in. How many people went to see that anti-pope Gregory XVII in Spain when he was reported as a "Mystic", who had "visions" and hailed for bringing men back into confessionals and starting people to pray the rosary? Then he went and declared himself to be the Pope and took half of those people into schism. Those are souls that might have been great servants of Jesus Christ that are now outside of the ark of salvation, due to alleged apparitions and miracles.

The problem with modernity is complete and total disobedience, and in my estimation Medjugorice fosters that absolutely.

de Brantigny........................ said...

I post my two cents, I present no theological masterpiece here...

I seem to recall that Christ himself said something like, ...What you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven... Now Christ may have been talking sin here or maybe something much broader as well. What has thrown me off of Medjugorie is the lack of "disintrestedness" that other visionaries have shown. This ce-disant vision, is published in newspapers, magazines, shown on TV, etc. The visionaries are routinely in a newspaper telling us about the latest locution. those media which are in opposition to the Church, find pilgrims who tell of the latest miracle. Those same media then question the Vatican about the lack of approval. (That should be reason enough!)

Satan is a great mimic; like a mime, he presents a picture but no substance.

These aforementioned Franciscans, in their obtaining dispensation from their vows is evidence of their lack of vocation. Those who are so lacking in conviction about their vocation, bring me to sense a need for caution.

If nothing else, the pilgrimage to MG shows us that even well meaning Catholics "follow" their own "conscience" by disobeidiance to the local ordinary and to Rome. This disobediance leads to disaffection to the Magisterium, and error. Even Martin Luther knew that!

As for Garbandal I believe that the local Priest told, (not asked) the three girls not to enter into the local Church during an apparition, and never again did their vision lead them there. I have less sceptism about that apparition than MG, but I am not going there, until and unless it is approved.

Personal apparitions do not satisfy any requirement for salvation, but obediance to Rome does.

Richard

http://lefleurdelystoo.blogspot.com/