A photostatic copy of a page from Ilustração Portugueza, October 29, 1917, showing the crowd looking up
The Pope has come out to develop a policy on how to handle the many so-called apparitions of Mary and the related messages that they proclaim:
He is hoping to cut down on an explosion in the number of bogus heavenly apparitions with new guidelines to help his bishops to root out frauds.
Benedict XVI plans to publish criteria to help them to distinguish between true and false claims of visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, messages, stigmata, weeping and bleeding statues and Eucharistic miracles.
In some cases exorcists will be used to determine if a credible apparition is of divine origin or whether it is demonic.
The guidelines will come in a “vademecum”, or handbook, which is in its final stages and will be published soon by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
It sets out step-by-step instructions on how Church authorities should deal with claims of such supernatural phenomena.
The Pope is said to be deeply concerned by the explosion in the number of pseudo-mystics who, claiming a direct line to God, set themselves against the bishops and lure the Catholic faithful out of the Church and into disobedient cults.
When a claim of heavenly apparitions occurs, the local bishop will need to set up a commission of psychiatrists, psychologists, theologians and priests who will investigate the claims systematically.
The first step will be to impose silence on the alleged visionaries and if they refuse to obey then this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false.
The visionaries will next be visited by psychiatrists, either atheists or Catholics, to certify their mental health and to verify whether they are suffering from conditions of a hysterical or hallucinatory character or from delusions of leadership.
The third step will be to investigate the person’s level of education and to determine if they have had access to material that could be used to falsely support their claims.
The new document will also instruct the bishops to see if the visionaries and their associates stand to gain financially from making their claims.
The content of any heavenly messages will also be scrutinised to see if it is harmony with the teachings of the Church.
If the visionary is considered credible they will ultimately be questioned by one or more demonologists and exorcists to exclude the possibility that Satan is hiding behind the apparitions in order to deceive the faithful.
The Pope decided to act because instances of private revelations continue to multiply, with new cases reported around the world every year. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/4223793/Pope-orders-bishops-to-root-out-false-claims-of-visions.html
I had read about this earlier and it actually does make some sense.
Pope Benedict XVI does believe in apparitions of Mary, but is justifiably concerned that some people who claim to have seen Mary are psych-cases, liars, or otherwise delusional.
The other big issue that the Catholics of Rome face is that many of the apparitions give messages that contradict those from others. Hence, this is part of why new rules have been suggested.
We, in the Living Church of God, of course, believe that the dead are in the grave awaiting the resurrection (see What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?) and that since we do not have immortal souls (see Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?), we do not believe that it is possible that Mary, the Mother of Jesus can be appearing.
I should add, however, that there are a variety of Catholic private prophecies that indicate that “Mary apparitions” will rise up in the end and help convert the world to Roman Catholicism. (I am currently reading another Catholic book that is big on Marian apparitions titled The Thunder of Justice.)
“Mary” apparitions could be one of the false “signs and lying wonders” (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9) that will help persuade the irreligious Europeans in particular (and the world in general) to support the future King of the North (the Beast, which Catholic prophets seem to call the Great Monarch), who will then help persuade the world to accept a more “ecumenical” form of Catholicism.
The time for this may be quite soon.
Some articles of possibly related interest may include:
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What might they mean? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How might Mary view them?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Living Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Doctrines of Antichrist Are there any doctrines taught outside the Churches of God which can be considered as doctrines of antichrist. This article suggests at least three. It also provides information on 666 and the identity of “the false prophet”.
Do Certain Catholic Prophecies About Antichrist Warn Against Jesus? Will the final “Anti-Christ” be Jewish, insist on Saturday, be opposed to the trinity, and bring in the millennium? Catholic writings indicate this, but what does the Bible show?