Mark Miravalle analyzes “Maria Divine Mercy”

Here’s an item from the “Credit Where It’s Due” department.
Ireland seems to be the hotbed for phony Catholic prophets. Every few years, it seems, another kook mystic either comes from there or goes there from here to set up shop. For a while Christina Gallagher was attracting followers with her supposed messages from the beyond, then American-born Kathryn Ann Clarke (“Anne, a lay apostle”), and now it’s the anonymous gal styling herself “Maria Divine Mercy”. With a name like that, obviously she didn’t get the humility memo from Pope Francis.
Her writings are full of angry, apocalyptic talk, and even after the failure of her date-specific prediction of a worldwide “warning” to souls, there are still Catholics here and there sucked into her stories of impending doom and disaster, war and warnings, false popes and fake prophecies. From what I see, these are angry people who would like God to knock heads and kick butts, and they are quite willing to spread the gospel of anger provided by this would-be seer. She tells us that the Church isn’t going to approve her messages, but that we should believe her anyway, because God’ll get you if you don’t; and (in her apparently heretical dispensationalist teaching) she indicates that the Church will no longer have a real Pope, so who’s gonna say no to her?
Well, that’s not how Catholic life works.
Professor Mark Miravalle has helpfully applied the Church’s criteria for evaluating mystical claims to her case, and gives the results of his analysis in an on-line article.
Why is this a case of “credit where it’s due”? Because I’m usually pretty skeptical about Miravalle’s writings; after all, he’s taken far too favorable positions about various cases of dubious mysticism: Medjugorje, Kathryn Ann Clarke, and the Amsterdam case. But when he’s right, he deserves our thanks.

Free speech, part III: Critical website on Vassula Ryden case returns at new address:

Here’s a little good news for readers who are concerned about the case of non-Catholic false mystic Vassula Ryden. You may recall that Mrs. Ryden won a small victory in 2012 by shutting down the leading web site with critical information about her writings.
Her campaign of harassment by means of lawsuits got the site owner to close the web site.
But in an example of the Streisand Effect, the suit brought lots of attention to Mrs. Ryden and her dirty method of dealing with sincere religious critique: among Orthodox Christians here and among sect-watchers here, and particularly here on the world’s leading English-language Catholic news site. And there’s information here in Spanish; and here in French and here in German.
And various people took action to make sure that the informative material on that web site would not disappear. For instance, Catholic Culture picked up this analysis of the case by a prominent Dominican theologian, Fr. François Dermine, O.P.
Now the theologian himself has stepped up by putting the whole website back on line, at the new domain He’s the president of an Italian organization studying religious sects, and they’re willing and able to defend their freedom of speech from legal harassment by sect leaders.
Mille grazie, Padre Dermine!

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.

From the files: Bishop and exorcist Andrea Gemma on Medjugorje: “Absolutely diabolical”

Here’s a background item on the Medjugorje case, a May 2008 interview with Bishop Andrea Gemma from Gianluca Barile’s website Petrus. It was reported in the press at the time, and some quotations did appear, but I never came across the full text until recently.
Medjugorje: the accusation of the bishop-exorcist Mons. Gemma: “The apparitions of the Madonna? Completely false: the seers lie under the inspiration of Satan to profit economically”
by Gianluca Barile
bp-andrea-gemma.jpgVATICAN CITY – A mixture of economic and diabolical interests, with the alleged seers and their collaborators directly involved in profits related to the increased flow of pilgrimages and visits in the area, and the Evil One well content to sow discord between the faithful most convinced of the validity of the apparitions of Medjugorje and the Church, sceptical as ever in the face of what she has declared more than once, through the words of two successive bishops of Mostar during that time, “a great deception”. Monsignor Andrea Gemma, former bishop of Isernia-Venafro [served 1990-2006], among the greatest exorcists living, does not mince his words: instead of the Virgin, so far only rivers of money have appeared at Medjugorje, a grave accusation that sums up not only the courage but also the moral and spiritual capacity of the prelate who agreed to respond to questions from “Petrus” on such a prickly event.
So, Excellency, how do you define Medjugorje?
“It is an absolutely diabolical event, around which numerous underworld interests revolve. The Holy Church, which alone can make a pronouncement, through the words of the Bishop of Mostar, has already said publicly and officially that the Madonna never appeared in Medjugorje and that this whole production is the work of the Devil.”
You speak of “underworld interests”. Of what kind?
“I’m referring to ‘the Devil’s dung’, to money, what else? At Medjugorje everything happens for the sake of money: pilgrimages, overnight stays, the sales of trinkets. In this way, abusing the good faith of the poor people who go there with the idea of meeting the Madonna, the false seers have set themselves up financially, they have married and live a wealthy life, to say the least. Just think: one of them, directly from America, with a direct economic profit, organizes tens of pilgrimages every year. These people don’t seem to be really disinterested persons to me. Rather, with all the people vulnerable to this noisy swindle, they evidently have a great material interest in getting people to believe that they see and speak with the Virgin Mary.”
Monsignor Gemma, is there no appeal from your verdict?
“Could it be otherwise? These people claim to be in contact with the Madonna, but in reality are inspired solely and exclusively by Satan, are creating chaos and confusion among the faithful for the sake of absolutely deplorable interests and advantages. Think, then, of the disobedience they have fed in the bosom of the Church: their spiritual guide, a Franciscan friar expelled from the Order and suspended a divinis, continues to invalidly administer the sacraments. [NB: The interview took place in 2008, before the laicization of Tomislav Vlasic.] And numerous priests from all over the world, despite the express prohibition of the Holy See, continue to organize and participate in pilgrimages with Medjugorje as their destination. It’s a shame! This is why I speak of a mixture between personal and diabolical interests: the false seers and their helpers are pocketing money, and the Devil creates discord between the faithful and the Church; the more fanatical faithful, in fact, aren’t listening to the Church, which – I repeat – has, from the beginning, warned about the mendacity of the Medjugorje apparitions.”
And if the alleged seers were really seeing the Madonna?
“In reality they would be seeing Satan under false pretenses. Because Satan has great interest in splitting the Church, setting the two currents of the ‘pro’ and the ‘contra’ Medjugorje against each other. Moreover, it wouldn’t be the first time: St. Paul himself asserts that the Devil can appear as an Angel of Light and can, so to speak, camouflage himself. He did that, for example, with St. Gemma Galgani. But beyond his disguises, the Evil One has already intervened and I can assure you that it is he inspiring the false seers since the beginning with the promise of easy money.”
You’re not exactly fond of those seers…
“Please! It’s enough to see how they act: they’re disobedient to the Church, they should have withdrawn to private life and instead they keep on making propaganda for their lies, for the sake of money, and thus playing the Devil’s game! My thoughts go immediately to St. Bernadette, the seer of Lourdes: that sweet creature wanted to shed her life and took up the habit of a Sister to serve the Lord. Instead, the impostors of Medjugorje continue to live comfortably in the world without showing any kind of love either for God or for the Church.”
The supporters of Medjugorje emphasize that the Holy See has never expressed any position on the matter.
“That’s another lie! As I pointed out before, the Vatican has forbidden pilgrimages by priests to the place and has spoken through the words of the two successive bishops of Mostar, Monsignors Zanic and Peric, with whom I have spoken personally, and who have always manifested their doubts to me. You see, even for Fatima and Lourdes, the Holy See didn’t express any position directly on those Marian apparitions. So why would they have to make an exception in this case? The truth is that when the Bishop of Mostar speaks, the Church of Christ speaks, and is it to him, who speaks with the authority conferred to him by the Vatican, that we need to listen. Thus, the Holy See has already expressed itself with the words of the Bishop of Mostar, making evident that Medjugorje is a diabolical trick. But I will share a secret with you. You’ll see that soon the Vatican will intervene with something explosive, to unmask once and for all who is behind this swindle.”
The same supporters note that at Medjugorje every year they report a record of conversions and miracles…
“It’s artificial. And who is counting all these conversions? You see, if someone has a conversion, it’s because he had a certain predisposition, because he thinks to look inside himself, because he receives the gift of the Spirit. The place in which this conversion happens is completely relative. Let’s think of St. Paul: he converted on the road, and now what should we do, all go out to the road and wait to be converted? As regards the miracles, I’ll tell a personal anecdote. I owe the miraculous healing of a person in my family to the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompei, but that doesn’t imply that the Madonna ever appeared to me at Pompei. So, just from believing, or from being healed inside or outside, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Mary is letting people see her.”
To the best of your knowledge, what opinion does the Holy Father Benedict XVI have of Medjugorje?
“I’ll limit myself to underscore what he did as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to send out official notes adverse to Medjugorje, such as the one which forbade priests and religious from going on pilgrimages in that country. Do you …”
Yet it is said that John Paul II was convinced of the goodness of the apparitions.
“An unproven legend, considering that his opinions were personal and did not in any way represent an act of the Magisterium.”
[Thanks to Gianluca Barile. Translation (c) Richard Chonak, 2011, all rights reserved.]

Norms for discernment of apparitions and revelations

In 1978, CDF wrote a document of norms to guide bishops in judging alleged apparitions and other private revelations. While the document has never been published, copies were sent to bishops after Pope Paul VI approved it, and they have used it in cases of alleged private revelation since then.
While it is not permitted to publish the Latin text, some authors have published translations of the text in books and on the Internet, and have contributed to understanding the Church’s thinking on the issue of private revelations.
Those translations, due to their writing style, or due to inconsistencies, have made me wonder about what the original text says. In some cases, there are translations based upon other translations, adding an additional layer of possible imprecision.
For this reason, I was happy to join the efforts of writer Kevin Symonds and a priest colleague a few weeks ago to produce a new translation of the Norms from the Latin text. I’ve posted a copy on Scribd, and I hope it will be of use to pastors and interested readers.