CDF publishes document on apparitions 34 years after its first issuance

Thanks to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has just published its 1978 document of guidance for bishops discerning private revelations.
Yes, you read that right. It’s 2012, and we’re talking about the publication of a 1978 document. If anything proves the old quip “Roma eterna, sed civitas Vaticana sempiterna” (“Rome is eternal, but Vatican City is almost eternal”), it’s this.
The document, usually known as Normae Congregationis from the first words of its title, was issued in 1978 and sent to bishops. It contains principles and general procedures for bishops on how to judge a claimed private revelation. It was issued with the intimidating marking sub secreto, a warning that it was not to be published: not because it contained anything startling, but probably because it hadn’t undergone the full review process a public document would receive.
But “information wants to be free”, as the saying goes, and from 1994 to 2010 various writers, from Japan to France, and from Canada to Italy, have published it in Latin and in vernacular versions. It appeared in at least one canon-law dissertation, and I even contributed to its spread a little by publishing an English translation made with two colleagues (and yes, the leader of the project did have permission from his bishop). Most recently, the vaticanist Andrea Tornielli got a copy by simply asking the CDF for it, and his copy had no instructions about keeping it secret, so he published the Latin text and an Italian translation in February 2012.
Cdl. Levada writes in a preface that the document had in effect passed into the public sphere, so CDF chose to make its release official, here in Latin and with five vernacular translations, including the English version, Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations. Cdl. Levada’s preface also discusses the issue of private revelations in general and mentions how the topic came up in the bishops’ Synod on the Word of God, and expresses his hope that the document will be helpful to pastors and experts needing to deal with this pastoral issue.


  1. I agree on the recent post. I think this might have something to do with the coming Medjugorje findings. When I was in seminary there was a professor (who will go unnamed) who was a student in Rome under then Fr. Josef Ratzinger. One day I brought up the issue of Medjugorje at lunch. The professor said that Ratzinger, who by then was the head of the CDF, was not a believer in the apparitions. Now that he is the Pope, he is doing his best to regin in ALL dissents from both left and the right. The issuance of this document seems to have everything to do with the coming announcement on the appartions. The dark side of the appartions is many-fold including the defrocking of some of the Franciscans invloved. I think the CDF will declare as the bishop in Medjugorje declared on three differnt occasions: nothing supernatural. This is only my opinion. I may end up wrong.

  2. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (under the direction of Cdl. Ratzinger) issued a notification in 1995 which urged bishops to not allow Mrs. Ryden to have a forum in Catholic churches. I’m sure there are priests who are not aware of this fact.
    The text of the notification is on-line at .
    If you’re aware of any cases of such events, it might be good to inform the local bishop of what is happening. It would help if you can send him a copy of the CDF notification and perhaps some documentation of the event: for example, a copy of some advertising.
    God bless you, and Merry Christmas!

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