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Vatican to release guidelines for discerning alleged apparitions

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is set to release new guidelines on how to distinguish authentic apparitions from false claims, in the wake of an explosion of alleged private revelations.

According to the UK's Catholic Herald, the Congregation will publish up-to-date criteria to help Catholics to distinguish between true and false claims of visions, messages, stigmata, weeping statues and Eucharistic miracles. The paper said the boom in such phenomena posed a risk to the unity of the Church and warranted an "exemplary pastoral response" from the Holy See.

"The document, due early this year, was announced in the latest edition of Attivita della Santa Sede, a Vatican year book.

The Congregation hopes new guidance will clarify the meaning of "apparitions, messages, and extraordinary events in general, in keeping with the teaching of the faith and ... the practical criteria which could bring about a resolution."

It said that between 1905 and 1995 there were 295 reported 'apparitions,' only 11 of which were recognised as genuine. It said that in many cases false seers had been unmasked, pecuniary transactions discovered, and 'signs from heaven' exposed as human trickery."

Among those considered genuine private revelations are the occurrences at Fatima Portugal (pictured), as well as apparitions in Belgium, at Betania in Venezuela, Kibeho in Rawanda, and in Poland to Sister Faustina Kowalska. Pope Pius XII was said to have been visited by Jesus and Mary during the Second World War, and the private letters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta have shown that she began her ministry to India's poor after she received interior messages from Our Lord in 1947. The most famous current apparitions, at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina, are still under study and have not yet been either rejected or granted official Church recognition.

Spirit Daily

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Catholic Apparitions of Jesus and Mary
Appearances of Mary

23 Jan 2003