Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More on Marian Apparitions

After James' post I was curious if the RCC ever deemed a Marian apparition as demonic. According to this article, exorcists may be employed in investigations but I couldn't find any official information on this:

The Pope is declaring a 'holy war' against people who claim falsely that the Virgin Mary is appearing to them.

He will attempt to snuff out an explosion of bogus heavenly apparitions with new guidelines to help bishops root out frauds.

...In some cases exorcists will be used to determine if a credible apparition is 'divine' origin or 'demonic'.

Thus far, most Marian apparitions have not been decided on by the Church. According to The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute:

During the twentieth century, there have been 386 cases of Marian apparitions. The Church has made "no decision" about the supernatural character regarding 299 of the 386 cases. The Church has made a "negative decision" about the supernatural character in seventy-nine of the 386 cases. Out of the 386 apparitions, the Church has decided that "yes" there is a supernatural character only in eight cases: Fatima (Portugal), Beauraing (Belgium), Banneux (Belgium), Akita (Japan), Syracuse (Italy), Zeitoun (Egypt), Manila (Philippines) (according to some sources), and Betania (Venezuela). Local bishops have approved of the faith expression at the sites where these eight apparitions occurred. Besides the eight approved apparitions, there have been eleven (out of the 386 apparitions) which have not been approved with a "supernatural character," but which have received a "yes" to indicate the local bishop's "approval of faith expression (prayer and devotion) at the site." (link)

That is approximately 77% Undecided, 2% Yes, 20% No. I believe that the laity is free to believe or not believe any of these types of private revelations.

I thought the graph on this page was interesting. Looking at the past, the Middle ages saw a boom in Marian apparitions while the early church years has no recorded sightings:
Patristic Age : There is no recorded literature about apparitions for the early centuries of the Church. The first attestations of Marian apparitions are from the fourth century. For example, Gregory of Nyssa, who lived in the fourth century, recorded that Gregory the Wonder worker (213-270 A.D.) was the first beneficiary of a Marian apparition.

This page gives some of the guidelines for judging these events. A change in canon law in 1969 loosened the regulations on new occurrences:

A new era opened in the canonical regulations dealing with apparitions occurred in 1969. In that year, Pope Paul VI deleted certain canons of the Code of Canon Law (1917). These canons had specifically forbidden the publication of all books or pamphlets about new apparitions, revelations, visions, prophecies, and miracles, or which introduce new devotions, even though justified as private. Such prohibitions are not part of the Code of Canon Law (1983). So the many reports of Marian apparitions may in part be due to the new freedom to discuss freely and to report such occurrences to the media, without first submitting them to ecclesiastical approbation.


PeaceByJesus said...

The allowance of private, special revelations by Rome, while waring against reliance upon Scripture in determining truth, is intriguing.

The latter is allowed as long as it is not a search to determine the validity of truth taught by Rome, contra Acts 17:11, as Rome is to be held as the dispenser and supreme judge of what truth is, if she does say so herself. And the ability to derive any doctrinal certitude from Scripture is impugned by her statements against private interpretation as dangerous.

The alternative dangerous, that of an assuredly infallible entity that effectively autocratically defines herself as infallible.

As truths which require implicit assent of faith, and which can, in fact, teach new things not seen in Scripture and even contrary against it, the pronouncements of the IM are, for the RC, as Scripture. And the IM claims it is more authoritative than Scripture, as it claims to infallibly define both the extent and meaning of it.

Recently I came across "Papal infallibility: a Protestant evaluation of an ecumenical issue," by Mark E. Powell on the Google book reader, which provides the following by Willam E. Gladstone (1809 - 189), who said in his time:

"These [infallible decrees] are written definitions. What are they but another Scripture? What right of interpreting this other Scripture is granted to the church at large, more than of the real and greater Scripture? Here is surely, in its perfection, the petition for bread, answered by the gift of a stone." — W.E. Gladstone, “Vaticanism: an answer to replies and reproofs.” (London: John Murray, 1875), p. 99


"there is no established or accepted definition of the phrase ex cathedra, and [the Catholic individual] has no power to gain one, and no guide to direct him in his choice among some twelve theories on the subject, which, it is said, are bandied to and from among Roman Catholic theologians, except the despised and discarded agency of his private judgment." Gladstone, “The Vatican decrees and their bearing upon civil allegiance,” pp. 34,35

And as has been often said, what constitutes an infallible teaching, and determining which part of statements are, and how many there are, and what they mean, requires the use of private judgment.

Moreover, Rome she even allows that one may know that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate by special revelation. - (Trent, The Sixth Session, CHAPTER XII, http://history.hanover.edu/early/trent/ct06.html)

James Swan said...

Here's something related:

If I recall correctly, the Romanist behind this stuff (Father Nicholas Gruner) may be on the outs with Rome:


I get this magazine in the mail. I've been getting it for years.

So, he crossed some sort of "Mary line." Or maybe it's some sort of X File.

Viisaus said...

"These [infallible decrees] are written definitions. What are they but another Scripture?"

And Gladstone was a high-church Anglican, a member of the "Oxford Movement" in his youth.

Likewise, Edward B. Pusey (whom Protestants like Spurgeon unhesitatingly labeled as a closet Papist) was also deeply uncomfortable with the 1870 declaration of papal infallibility:


"According to Manning's theory, it is our duty to accept implicitly whatever the present Church teaches, and to be sure that, however opposed this may seem to what we find in Scripture or antiquity, we need not trouble ourselves about the matter, and that the opposition can only be apparent. According to this theory, then, all the prerogatives of Scripture are annulled: the dicta of Pius IX. and Leo XIII. are as truly inspired by God's Spirit, and are to be received with as much reverence, as the utterances of Peter and Paul. Thus the function of the Church, in the latest form of Romanism, is made to be not so much to guard and hand down securely an original revelation as to be a perpetual organ for making new revelations.[11] Whenever a new controversy arises, the Pope is divinely inspired to discern its true solution, and to pronounce which of the parties is in the right and how far. In this way Manning's party have now got beyond the old Ultramontane doctrine of the inerrancy of the Pope. This doctrine has been changed into that of his divine perpetual inspiration,[12] giving him a power of disclosing new truths as infallibly as Peter and Paul.

Dr. Pusey called this theory a kind of Llamaism, implying as it does a kind of hypostatic union of the Holy Ghost with each successive Pope."

Carrie said...

If I recall correctly, the Romanist behind this stuff (Father Nicholas Gruner) may be on the outs with Rome:

There is investigation on the guys behind Medjugorje also, I believe. This apparition stuff is probably a good moneymaker.

James Swan said...

A Vacation idea:



Carrie said...

A Vacation idea:

"Saint Maximilian is considered the patron of journalists, families, prisoners, the pro-life movement, those afflicted with chemical dependency and eating disorders, and the media communications."

Pretty diverse coverage.

PeaceByJesus said...

Yes, Manning magnified the Magisterium, as if it was writing Scripture (though apparently Rome makes some distinction, even if it hardly makes a practical difference).

And in so doing almost makes Mary part of the Godhead, by both formal declaration and lack of reproof (born, lived sinless, made herself a type of sin offering, and gave us her flesh to eat, both in the person of Christ, and ascended to heaven which he was crowned and enthroned, and later appearing unto many from heaven, having many more things to tell her disciples, leading souls into more truth, and commanding them, and for whom she ever liveth to make intercession for the saints, processing infinite amounts of prayer, with seemingly infinite knowledge, and acting as the dispenser of all grace, etc.)

Back to Manning, here is a classic quote which someone labelled, "sola ecclesia with a vengeance") which illustrates what self-assumed autocratic power can do:

"It was the charge of the Reformers that the Catholic doctrines were not primitive, and their pretension was to revert to antiquity. But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine. How can we know what antiquity was except through the Church?

I may say in strict truth that the Church has no antiquity. It rests upon its own supernatural and perpetual consciousness. Its past is present with it, for both are one to a mind which is immutable. Primitive and modern are predicates, not of truth, but of ourselves." — (Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost: Or Reason and Revelation (New York: J.P. Kenedy & Sons, originally written 1865, reprinted with no date), pp. 227-228.

Gojira said...

"There is investigation on the guys behind Medjugorje also, I believe. This apparition stuff is probably a good moneymaker."

Hi Carrie,

Yep, I would most certainly have to agree with you. In fact, it is quite interesting that in the case of Medjugorje there were a total of three secrets to be revealed (by the way, this apparition in content is quite similar to Garabandal, which, officially speaking is still open to approval). Then word got out, and of course tourism greatly increased. The money started pouring in, and the next thing you know there were supposed to be a total of ten secrets to be revealed. Marian apparitions are good business.