Chancery Notices 10 November 2014
PRIVATE REVELATIONS AND CIRCULATION OF INFORMATION ON CATHOLIC FAITH AND MORALS
I. PRIVATE REVELATIONS ALLEGEDLY RECEIVED BY A PERSON NAMED “MARIA DIVINE MERCY”
From time to time in Church circles there have been those who, especially motivated by a wrong understanding of the Catholic faith or a misguided spirituality, circulate “private revelations” which have not been confirmed as authentic by Church authorities. These messages, originating from different sources and circulated by means of books, pamphlets, leaflets, the Internet, etc., often give emphasis to divine retribution, the imminence of the end of the world and the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Very regrettably, freely spreading the above-mentioned messages is becoming a common practice in our Diocese and abroad. In particular, there are widespread messages (also compiled and published as a book named The Book of Truth), alleged to have been received by a woman who refers to herself as “Maria Divine Mercy”. One of her messages asserts that Pope Benedict XVI was “the last true Pope” on earth, and that “the next Pope (namely Pope Francis)” will be the “False Prophet”. This message clearly contradicts the legitimacy of Pope Francis as a validly elected Pope, and his role as Vicar of Christ on earth and the Supreme Pastor and Teacher of the universal Church.
In order that the faithful may not be misled by unconfirmed “private revelations”, Cardinal John TONG exhorts them, on the one hand, to always stay sober and alert as taught by Christ, and to strive for their personal sanctification and the transformation of society as befits their Christian vocation. On the other hand, the faithful are to bear in mind the following Church teaching based on Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
‘ “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.’ (CCC 85)
‘ “It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.” ’ (CCC 95)
“This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given (in matters of faith and morals), in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra (infallibly) in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention ….” (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 25; cf. new Code of Canon Law, Canon 752)
“Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium (i.e., a supernatural sense of the faith imprinted by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the faithful, enabling them, as a whole, as the People of God, to be free from errors in matters of faith and morals) knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept ‘revelations’ that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment…”. (CCC67)
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The above-named alleged seer, persistently circulating worldwide her messages via the Internet and printed texts, has obstinately refused to identify and submit herself to Church authorities for proper discernment and evaluation. Not only are her messages not conducive to greater fidelity and union with the Church, but they are causing a division among the faithful and run the risk of leading to formal schism. Those messages contain various doctrinal errors and false prophecies. Moreover, purporting to interpret the “signs of the times”, such as natural disasters and unprecedented human miseries in recent years, the alleged seer considers the Catholic Church, the global society and human destiny with a gloomy outlook and extreme negativity, and is spreading messages that provoke fear and anxiety, rather than bringing about a renewed faith, a more intense charity, a genuine conversion, trust in God’s love and mercy, and spiritual peace and joy.
It is the decision of Cardinal John Tong, therefore, that the messages of Maria Divine Mercy are not to be treated as of supernatural origin, nor are the faithful permitted to spread them by whatever means or discuss them in our Diocese.
II. CIRCULATION OF INFORMATION ON CATHOLIC FAITH AND MORALS
The faithful should take note of a long-standing, common misunderstanding which claims that with the abrogation of Canons 1399 and 2318 of the former Code of Canon Law (promulgated in 1917), alleged apparitions, revelations, prophecies, miracles, etc., have been allowed to be freely circulated and read by the faithful without requiring the express permission of Church authorities. In this connection, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a Press Release reported in L’Osservatore Romano (English edition, 4 December 1996, p.12), made the following clarifications:
1) The interpretation given by some individuals to a Decision approved by Paul VI on 14 October 1966 and promulgated on 15 November of that year, in virtue of which writings and messages resulting from alleged revelations could be freely circulated in the Church, is absolutely groundless. This decision actually referred to the “Abolition of the Index of Forbidden Books”, and determined that — after the relevant censures were lifted — the moral obligation still remained of not circulating or reading those writings which endanger faith and morals.
2) It should be recalled however that with regard to the circulation of texts of alleged private revelations, canon 823 §1 of the current Code remains in force: “the Pastors of the Church have the … right to demand that writings to be published by the Christian faithful which touch upon faith or morals be submitted to their judgement”.
3) Alleged supernatural revelations and writings concerning them are submitted in first instance to the judgement of the diocesan Bishop, and, in particular cases, to the judgement of the Episcopal Conference and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Apart from abiding by what has been clarified above (also applicable to such mass media as the Internet, etc.) by the Congegation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the faithful are to observe the following regulations regarding printed matters on religion (including prayers) or morals:
1) Books or other written material dealing with religion or morals may not be displayed, sold, or given away in churches or oratories unless they were published with the permission of the competent ecclesiastical authority or were subsequently approved by that authority. (New Code of Canon Law, promulgated in 1983,Canon827 §4).
Even in the case of printed matters that bear the “imprimatur” (ecclesiastical permission or approval for printing or publication), it is for Parish Priests, Rectors or the Pastors concerned, in the first place, to judge whether or not they may be made available in churches, chapels, etc., for the spiritual benefit of the faithful. Should there be disputes, the Chancery Office is to be consulted.
Given at the Chancery Office,
10 November 2014.
Rev. Lawrence LEE