Wayne Weible and the Papal Nuncio: A Response

Emily - statue

Emily - statue

On March 23 last, Wayne Weible criticized a letter written in 2013 on Medjugorje by the Papal Nuncio to these United States, Archbishop Carlo Viganò. Weible, himself the author of several books supportive of Medjugorje, has since expanded his criticism in the form of an open letter dated April 27 to Cardinal Müller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome (CDF). The following is a response to Weible’s letter.

Before beginning this response, it is necessary to note that I have provided some background in a couple of articles here on Catholic Stand (first and second). The reader is encouraged to read them in the order herein indicated. Next, it is important to read the letter from the Nuncio, dated October 21, 2013. Lastly, the reader is especially encouraged to read over the Church’s Norms for discerning alleged private revelations.

To begin, let me clarify that I am responding to Weible’s letter as it appeared on his Facebook page on April 27. I printed it on April 28 for my records and I am using this document to make my response.

Weible prefaces his letter with a preliminary note. In this note he makes two specific claims that are questionable. The first is that the letter is “poorly written” and the second is that it “contradicts the law of the Church” on alleged apparitions.

Concerning the first claim, it must be clarified that “poorly written” is not in reference to the entire document. It is only two areas that fall into serious question (as Weible himself relates in his April letter). Additionally, there is an important observation on the letter itself: it does not appear to have been intended for public consumption.[i] If it was not intended for public consumption, then it is reasonable to state that it was not going to be the most finely-tuned document.

As to the second claim, Weible alleges that it is the law of the Church that Catholics can believe any apparition unless the Church has said otherwise. This is an overly simplistic view as it neglects to take into consideration the duty of the faithful to inform themselves of the facts of a case before devoting themselves to an alleged apparition.

The faithful have the duty and responsibility to exercise prudence in these matters. To use an obvious example, if someone is running after every private revelation that happens to come to his or her attention, such may be an indication of a lack of true faith. We are all called under the Natural Law to adhere to faith and good morals, and not to expose ourselves to matter that is or could possibly be harmful to these.[ii]

Speaking of people who hear about an alleged private revelation, the true and authentic Catholic response to such claims ought to be one of indifference. This is not an indifference of hatred or desire to be unfaithful to God’s Will because fidelity to the Church and the moral law is more pleasing to God. Rather, what I am speaking of is the indifference of prudence which allows for cool heads to prevail and the soul to be safeguarded against sensationalism. It is at this point where people can exercise their duty and responsibility to inform themselves well of the facts (if necessary) in order to form an opinion on the matter.[iii]

If the faithful are to follow the kind of pattern outlined above, then they could find evidence for themselves of a non-supernatural character of the claims to private revelation. One’s duty to form his or her opinion based upon an objective examination oftentimes precedes an official judgment by the Church in these matters.

It is for this reason that Weible’s point is overly simplistic as he is not careful to explain the duty and responsibility the faithful have in these matters. His remark, as stated, makes it sound like the faithful are free to abdicate their moral duty and responsibility and indulge themselves in such matters as these only so long as the Church has said nothing to the contrary. As error could be present in the initial stages of development, it does not conclude that anyone is free to believe the claim prior to an official judgment by the Church.

I suspect that confusion exists on this point because of a simple truth with cases of private revelation. This truth is that for various reasons it is not always so obvious at first whether or not an alleged private revelation is from God. In false cases, sometimes the public is dealing with one or more very crafty individual(s) who lie, cheat or conceal information. Beyond the artifice of humans, there is also the preternatural order and it is here where hell can easily bedazzle the human mind and eyes.

For her part, Holy Mother Church is careful to make a crucial distinction in such cases. She does not want to harm any good that may come from a devotion.[iv] While investigating the facts of a case (and before rendering a formal judgment), the Church oftentimes promotes a good and holy devotion. The faithful, sadly, do not always understand the distinction between the alleged revelation and devotion. As a result, a case can quickly become complicated, especially if the competent Ecclesiastical Authority does not intervene in a timely fashion.

The above having been said, I will now dive into Weible’s letter.

Weible opens his letter by characterizing the Nuncio’s 2013 letter as having had a “disturbing effect.” There is much subjectivity to this remark as the Nuncio’s letter is mostly “disturbing” the supporters of Medjugorje. As the purpose of the Nuncio’s letter was to curtail supportive Medjugorje activity out of respect for the Holy See’s examination, it ought to come as no surprise that the intended effect is coming to pass. Weible makes a statement of the obvious, but with the expectation that somehow the effect is wrong when it is not.

Following this note, Weible then mentions two errors of misquotation in the Nuncio’s letter. The Nuncio cites the 1991 Zadar declaration on Medjugorje and Weible says the document is misquoted in that the Nuncio omitted some key words and changed a verb tense. In order to verify this claim, I had to do two things: 1) Verify the original language of the 1991 Zadar Declaration, and 2) check the language with someone who is competent in the native language of the document.[v]

The Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, wherein Medjugorje is located, has an entire section of its web site devoted to the “Medjugorje Phenomenon” (Međugorski fenomen). In an article entitled “Medjugorje – Secrets, Messages, Vocations, Prayer, Confession, Commission” dated 2007 and written by the Bishop himself, there is a citation (endnote 25) with at least a partial text of the 1991 Zadar Declaration in Croatian. The Croatian text reads as follows:

I z j a v a

Na temelju dosadašnjeg istraživanja ne može se ustvrditi da se radi o nadnaravnim ukazanjima i objavama.

Međutim, brojna okupljanja vjernika s raznih strana koji u Međugorje dolaze potaknuti i vjerskim i nekim drugim motivima zahtijevaju pažnju i pastoralnu skrb prvenstveno dijecezanskog biskupa, a s njime i drugih biskupa, kako bi se u Međugorju, i povezano s njime, promicala zdrava pobožnost prema Blaženoj Djevici Mariji, u skladu s učenjem Crkve.

U tu svrhu biskupi će izdati i posebne prikladne liturgijsko-pastoralne smjernice. Isto tako preko svojih će Komisija i dalje pratiti i istraživati cjelokupno događanje u Međugorju. Zadar, 10. travnja 1991 (emphasis mine).

Before diving into the grammar, the reader should know that I am not an expert in Croatian. I had recourse to someone who has a working knowledge of various Romance and Slavic languages. I am making use of some of his observations in the following remarks.[vi] For the rest, it is my own work.

Weible’s first contention with the Nuncio concerns the words “so far” (dosadašnjeg in the above Croatian). The Nuncio omits this word in his citation of the Declaration. Thus, Weible’s observation is correct. However, Weible appears desirous to make more of this than what the word is intended to convey.

In reading his letter, Weible gives the impression that this “all important” word dosadašnjeg indicates some uncertainty on the part of the Bishops of former Yugoslavia. He says that “the matter of whether or not [the alleged apparitions] are supernatural is not determined to this point.” This understanding is questionable.

First, the word dosadašnjeg is placed before the noun istraživanja (“investigations” or “researches”). Thus, it does not mean that dosadašnjeg is associated with the verbs (može and ustvrditi), but rather with a verb in ellipsis as we will see below. Moreover, Weible believes that this statement from the Yugoslavian Bishops is not a “negative” judgment when in fact, it is.

The way that the Church’s theology of private revelation works, the Church looks to answer the question of whether or not the purported revelations are supernatural in origin. There are only two possibilities: affirmative and negative. Within the Church’s tradition on these matters, she has given three Latin expressions that render her judgment on a claim: Constat de supernaturalitate (affirmative) and Non constat de supernaturalitate and Constat de non supernaturalitate (both are negative).

The latter two expressions (non constat and constat de non) are both negative judgments. The second (constat de non) is a straightforward “no” to answering the above question. The first (non constat) indicates that evidence submitted to support a claim as supernatural in origin has not established a supernatural character. This is a less-definitive negative judgment but a negative judgment nonetheless because the evidence does not support a definitive affirmation of a supernatural character. The less-definitive nature of this judgment leaves the possibility of a definitive one later, but this in no way is meant to detract from the fact that it is a negative judgment.

It is to the non constat de supernaturalitate category that the Yugoslavian Bishops consigned Medjugorje. Thus, this is, in fact, a “negative” judgment—even if in a “minor” sense—and the Bishops are to be taken at their word. That word is simple: based upon the investigations that had been done by April, 1991, one cannot say that the Mother of God is appearing in Medjugorje. If it was so “cut and dry” as Medjugorje’s supporters portray the case, why were the Yugoslavian Bishops not able to encourage devotion in the form proposed by the Gospa and the alleged visionaries of Medjugorje? Moreover, why do Medjugorje’s supporters clearly violate the 1991 Zadar Declaration by affirming what the Declaration itself says cannot be declared?

Though more technical, there is yet another matter for the consideration of Weible and others in this affair of the non constat category.

In 1978, when the Vatican privately issued its Norms for discerning alleged private revelations, there was a peculiar omission in the document. The tradition of the Church is for there to be three constats (as given above). The 1978 Norms, however, only give two—constat de supernaturalitate and non constat de supernaturalitate (cf. Preliminary Note, 2). Scholars and other interested people have pondered this curious omission.[vii]

For the purposes of this response, I am compelled to ask a couple of questions. What if the Yugoslavian Bishops took the 1978 Norms literally and assigned Medjugorje to the non constat de supernaturalitate category? Did they do so with the understanding that it was the only negative judgment assigned by the Church in these matters? If the answer to these questions is yes, such would very quickly change the dynamics of the discussion on the Medjugorje phenomenon.

Up to this point, I have only addressed Weible’s observation on the words “so far.” I shall now proceed to his second grammatical observation, namely the change of a verb tense.

Weible objects to the fact that the Papal Nuncio changes a verb tense from the present to the past. What is most strange is that in his April 27 letter, Weible neglects to specify the verb to which he is referring. One is dependent upon an earlier article written in March, 2015 by Jakob Marschner in order to see which verb is in question, which appears to be the word “were.” It is at this time that some clarity is necessary and so the following are the translations of the passage (headed first by the Croatian) for comparison reasons:

The Croatian:

“Na temelju dosadašnjeg istraživanja ne može se ustvrditi da se radi o nadnaravnim ukazanjima i objavama.”

Weible’s April 27, 2015 Translation:

“On the basis of studies so far, it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations.”

The Nuncio’s October 21, 2013 Translation:

“On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions of supernatural revelations.”

The first part of this sentence, “On the basis of studies to date,” there is, in fact, no verb. The Croatian employs an ellipsis. A word (in this case a verb) has been left out because it is implied. In this construction and when translating, simpler is better. For the sentence in question, the words “made,” “conducted” “performed,” or even “done” would suffice. Weible’s translation follows the Croatian more literally and does not include the verb, whereas the Nuncio employs a verb in the perfect passive tense.

In the second half of this statement, the debate surrounds the Croatian words “ne može se ustvrditi.” The word može is from the verb moći meaning “be able to,” “may” or “can” and is present tense (3rd person). This verb is modified by the adverb ne (not) and ustvrditi is an infinitive verb meaning to “ascertain, maintain, assert, allege.” It is the last verb, “were,” in the Nuncio’s translation that appears to give offense to Weible. A happy coincidence for Weible is that this verb isn’t in the Croatian text. There is only the preposition “o” meaning “concern.”

Based upon the above considerations, a good translation of the Croatian text would be as follows: “On the basis of studies to date, it cannot be asserted that these matters concern supernatural apparitions and revelations.”

The differences between Weible’s translation and the Nuncio’s are plain for all to see. Admittedly, Weible makes some poignant grammatical observations, indicating that there are mistranslations in the Nuncio’s letter (whether or not he or a secretary made them is not clear at this time). While Weible is correct on this point, this does not mean he is thereby correct in his conclusion.

Despite the accuracy of his grammatical argument, Weible’s overall argument faces some questions. To be clear, Weible’s overall argument is that the misquotations invalidate the “cease and desist” order of the Nuncio/CDF. Weible is here mistaken for two reasons. First, he does not consider the possibility that the Nuncio’s letter is an entirely new act on the part of Rome concerning the Medjugorje phenomenon. Secondly, the matter of pilgrimages to Medjugorje has already been addressed in subsequent statements by the Holy See. Allow me to explain this beginning with the second observation.

Weible is careful to note towards the end of his response a statement dating to 1996 from the former Vatican spokesman, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls. This statement is that people are not forbidden to go to Medjugorje. It is curious that Weible then omits that the CDF made a statement in 1998. I covered this matter in my previous article, Medjugorje: More on Ivan Dragicevic. For our purposes here, it suffices to say that (then) Archbishop Bertone clarified that people can go to Medjugorje—as long as they do not do so believing it to be a supernatural phenomenon. The ramifications of this statement, I leave to the reader to read in my above-cited article.

From the above, it is entirely consistent for the Papal Nuncio, in 2013, to request that events supporting Medjugorje’s claims “cease and desist.” In conjunction with this point, now we must address the matter of the character of the Nuncio’s 2013 letter as a possibly new act on the part of the Holy See.

In March of 2010, the Vatican established a commission of inquiry into the Medjugorje phenomenon. This commission formally ended its work in January, 2014—roughly two months after the Nuncio’s letter was written. The commission was overseen by the CDF who ordered the Nuncio to inform the Bishops of these United States against allowing supportive events of Medjugorje. In this light, it is clear that the situation has changed and thus an argument can be made that the Nuncio’s 2013 letter is a new directive from the Holy See (even if it repeats previous directives).[viii]

Any further statements that Weible makes in support of his argument fall on the above point.

In conclusion, this article has sought to demonstrate the merits and drawbacks of Wayne Weible’s letter to Cardinal Müller on Medjugorje. We have seen both the merits and the shortcomings of his argument. It is hoped that people who read Weible’s letter will read this article and weigh the issues for themselves.

[i] The person who first published it ought to give an account of how the letter came into his/her possession and whether or not the Nuncio gave permission for its publication.

[ii] In response to this point, it is often remarked, “How does this claim square with Fátima?” This is truly an intriguing question, and the concept behind it is being worked out. For the moment, it is to be noted that neither Lúcia nor Our Lady asked the faithful to travel to Fátima prior to it being approved. In fact, during a number of early investigations, Lúcia was always adamant in saying, “I did not ask them to come.”

[iii] It is at this stage that specific positive and negative criteria given in section I of the 1978 Norms are applied. These criteria can be used by laity and cleric alike in their forming an opinion on an alleged private revelation. Because of this, and the process indicated in the Norms, it is possible for people to form an opinion—for or against—a claim. This opinion should only come after a diligent search and examination of the facts. It is not that the Church allows people “willy-nilly” to believe until she decides otherwise.

[iv] See my article The Greatest of Pastoral Care for more on this point.

[v] Pertaining to the first point, I was surprised to learn in my research that it was not readily apparent which language the 1991 Zadar Declaration was written in. My thought was that the document was in Croatian, but my research did not turn up definitive evidence for this. There is a vast multiplication of this document on the Internet (in English), but I did not find an authoritative source that states with certitude what the original language was. Despite this drawback, it is most likely that the original language was Croatian and it is upon this that I will base my observations.

[vi] My gratitude is with R.C. for his assistance in this matter.

[vii] I myself have partaken in some of the discussions. In my opinion, I believe there needs to be a clarification from the Holy See on this matter in order to dispel the doubt.

[viii] It is thus understood that the order to “cease and desist” was not rooted in the misquotations. It was, rather, in the nature of this new act on the part of the Holy See. Because this is an entirely new act, it might be possible to argue that the legal adage “nothing to the contrary withstanding” (contrariis quibuscumque non obstantibus) is now in effect. In other words, whatever was said previously would now be superseded.

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51 thoughts on “Wayne Weible and the Papal Nuncio: A Response”

  1. I always see so much fear concerning Medjugorje and I truly don’t understand this. I have followed it from the beginning..or very close to that and I have never seen anything in the messages that went against the Church or the teachings of the Church. What I have seen is the many, many conversions and healings and so many Catholics returning to the Church and to the Sacraments, especially Confession, because of the messages. Jesus did say we would know a tree by the fruits. Possibly the controversy surrounding this is due to Satan? He does fear Mary and he knows who she is and what her role is now.

    1. SnowRose,
      The problem with Medjugorje is what its supporters and propagandists “don’t” tell.
      Now, to get the ball rolling, have you read or at least glanced at Sean Bloomfield’s children’s book on Medjugorje?

    2. Hi Kevin,
      I recall vividly the controversy in the early years concerning the Bishop of Mostar and the Franciscan Friars. What do you mean by what it supports and propagandists? When I speak about Medjugorje I usually confine it to the actual messages that I have read and my own experiences concerning it. I also am not in any way distressed by any of this as I completely trust that God and the Church will make the right decision concerning the apparitions.
      Anyway, no I have not seen the book, but I did look it up online after seeing your comment. Have you had a chance to read it yet? Is it good?

    3. No, I looked for a way to read some reviews but I can only find EWTN and few others..all good reviews. I haven’t actually seen the book. How are the children portrayed? My sister has met the visionaries in person, talked with them… she spent a few weeks in Medjugorje back in the 90’s.

    4. Read Bloomfield’s depiction of them in the book. Then go and read the official interviews conducted by the Diocese and its Commission(s).
      I am interested to see what you find.

  2. I don’t find any harm in receiving inspiration from apparitions that are allowed but not yet approved due to circumstances, like Medjugorje. From what I have understood, the Church usually waits until the messages end, to either approve or condemn an apparition. This one has lasted for so many years that a decision was recently made to decide on it soon. Even Pope JPll, Pope Benedict and St. Padre Pio, to name a few, did not condemn Medjugorje and in fact said good things concerning it. What would be wrong would be to go against the Church and continue to follow an apparition if the Church did, in the end, condemn it. Obedience to the Church is the one thing we should never waiver on, it is our only true safety. That’s what I think Wayne Weible is saying concerning this.

    1. When I read Weible’s statement, and the mere fact that it was addressed in an open letter format to the head of the CDF, I saw obstinence, not obedience.

    2. Oh, hmm. Well I’ve been reading and been aware of Wayne for the past 25+ years, I have not ever known him to be or even had the impression he was obstinate. I can’t ever recall him going against the Church. He has an amazing story.

    3. my grateful thanks to you, SnowRose. Your comments on the graces of Medjugorje say it all. God bless you.

    4. You are very welcome, I am praying for Pope Francis to make a decision soon!
      I fell away from the Church many many years ago when I was young and impulsive and when I saw the first paper that was out on Medjugorje something inside of me melted, broke, changed instantly, I had just turned to and started asking Jesus to help me as I felt so lost! I was very strongly drawn back to the Catholic Church..no holds, immediately and went straight to confession! 🙂 I was then sent by the Blessed Mother and Jesus to a Catholic book store and the two books I was drawn to were John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila- I had no idea who they were or why I bought them, but I took them home and then I was sent to a wonderful spiritual director and my life was completely changed! I will never stop thanking God for what He did for me and my children, He saved all of us from certain misery! I have kept a very close eye on Medjugorje since! God bless you and may His will be done in everything!

    5. Kimberly, where am I disobedient in my open letter? I have a right as a member in good standing to say what I said. I have stated many times I will accept the final ruling by the Church on the Medjugorje apparitions. However, I could never deny belief in the apparitions and that it is what brought me to conversion from a life of secularism and no real belief in God. I would continue to witness to the faith and how it transformed me, specifically, the Holy Eucharist. It is the center of Medjugorje. Please understand my frustration as the source of the open letter. If you see that as obstinate, then so be it.

    6. Why did you feel the need to send an open letter to the head of the CDF; open as in public for all the world to see and comment upon? Why did you not send a private letter asking for a clarification? Surely you could have sent a private letter asking for clarification and then published the response in an open letter format. Why so public?

    7. That was tried and received with silence. That is why I then wrote the open letter. Obstinate? Maybe. Good choice? Maybe not? However, A huge swell of likes and good comments leads me to believe it was the right thing to do. I prayed long and hard before releasing it. Listen Kimberly, I love this church. I am totally committed to my Blessed Virgin who always leads us to Jesus.

  3. Good article. And good comments with amazing amounts of research behind them. My take on this is not scholarly at all; its purely observational. About 2 decades ago I attended one of Ivan Dragicevic’s road shows. (Thats not being uncharitable; its the only way you could describe it.) Wayne Weible was there and I happened to meet him as well. At first I was open to the possibility that these were legitimate private revelations despite the obvious that was pointed out to me then by people I trusted. In hindsight Weible has for decades written a lot of books on the “phenomenon” that is Medjugorje and so is clearly financially benefiting from these road shows. That is why he wrote an “open letter” (advertisement) nitpicking an instruction written by the CDF. Weible’s letter was an attempt to discourage people from listening to church authority. He was de facto encouraging people to attend the road shows despite the CDF instruction that no appearance of church approval could be given (so to speak.) Weible’s recent actions and those of Dragicevic appear to me as petulance towards legitimate church authority; they stated what they thought they could get away with and encouraged others to do so as well. The spirit of petulance certainly is not divinely inspired, and I therefore doubt that these (assumed legitimate) private revelations are.

    1. Hi Kimberly, this is Wayne Weible. How easy it is to make observations about people with no facts to back them up. Just so you know, I was quite well off before Medjugorje became the center of my life. I gave that up to do what I now do, which is spread the messages of Medjugorje, which, by the way, have never been challenged by the Church as in opposition to Church teaching or doctrine, or against Scripture. As for getting rich off of the books I have written, that has not happened. I only write when I feel I am supposed to write. If my intention was to “get rich” off of writing, I would have written more than 10 books in 30 years of involvement or ventured into secular writing. Just a little food for thought for you: Saint John Paul the Great believed totally in the apparitions of Medjugorje; so did Pope Benedict as well as our present Pope Francis. You will soon see the Church formally comment on the apparitions and take the step of naming it a major international shrine.

    2. I don’t understand why you placed the words “get rich” in quotes. Those were not my words. I did imply that you had a financial interest in these conferences. Do you deny that? Is that not the case? If you tell me you have no financial interest in these conferences or that the books you write about the Medjugorje phenomenon benefit from these conferences then I’ll take your word for it, but you must see that at least the appearance of financial interest exists.

      One of the hallmarks of a legitimate church approved apparition is that the people who received them were always obedient to church authority. I do not see your open letter as encouraging obedience.

    3. My dear sister in Christ, am I to write for free? Am I not allowed to make a living or is there a canon law that forbids making profit off of spiritual writing? Of course I make profit from my books. What author do you know who does not? As stated earlier, I owned four weekly newspapers and a printing business and was doing quite well. I can only tell you that it would take an insane person to give up a multi-million dollar business to spend the rest of his life witnessing to the reality of God, or, one truly and sincerely motivated by faith. You decide.

    4. Mr. Weible,

      To date, I have not received a written reply or acknowledgement in my personal and respectful E-mail to you and Mr. Marschner notifying you of my response. Instead, the first response that I see from you is you taking swipes at women–WOMEN–in comments.
      How about you focus upon what I have said in the above article?

    5. I posted the above comment at about 7:45 a.m. CST. At 7:59 a.m. CST, Mr. Weible sent me a private E-mail with a response. This is the first and only notification of a response that I have received from Mr. Weible.

      I state the above facts so as to keep the facts in order.

    6. Hello Kevin? So that we can keep the facts straight, please tell me where in my private email to you in response to your public response where I stated I would publish the email on another site?

    7. No I have not. Perhaps you would like to converse by telephone? If so let me know and I will send you my number or you can send me yours.

    8. In my E-mail, Mr. Weible, I gave you both, privately & confidentially, my phone number and Skype ID. I sent it to the address with which you E-mailed me yesterday.
      It is 9:36 a.m. CST. I am available for the next hour.

  4. This article and the comments it has inspired are very enlightening. St Teresa of Avila is also a trusted authority on the discernment of the authenticity (or not) of visions and private revelations. In light of her teaching, and that of St John of the Cross and of Pope Benedict, I am puzzled that the Church is so tolerant of people who build a large (and often highly lucrative) following upon the basis of the claim that they have received personal revelations from Christ, Our Lady and the saints. I have in mind supposed “seers” such as Christina Gallagher and Anne, the “lay apostle”, in Ireland.

    1. I have, Harry… and I very much share his worries and concerns about her movement. A small group of “Lay Apostles” has formed at my church and I have been invited to join, so I read the DFOT brochure I was given and started reading one of her books. I felt so doubtful as to the authenticity of the “messages” she allegedly receives that I decided to try to find more information via online research and, quite frankly, feel very uncomfortable that the Church is permitting this movement to gain ground.

    2. I hear Kathryn Clarke (“Anne a lay apostle”) is going to be in England this weekend.

    3. Yes, Kevin, that’s right. The group from my church in the UK is attending an event she is holding and I have been asked to join them. I am thinking of going in order to see if my “gut instinct”‘remains the same and, if so (as I strongly suspect it will), perhaps raise the concerns I have with my priest.

    4. Thank you. This letter is printed at the back of the brochure/ newsletter I was given dated Winter 2014 and it is one of the main reasons as to why my initial misgivings as to the authenticity of the messages and the ethics of the DFOT movement have grown deeper. It sounds to me that critics of “Anne” and DFOT are possibly being silenced.

    5. Yes, it’s printed in a 24-page DFOT colour brochure entitled “The Newsletter of the Lay Apostolate of Jesus Christ the Returning King”. The more I read about this movement, the more it sounds rather cultish to me….

    6. Oh, I didn’t realise. The lady who started the group at my church gave it to me along with a prayer card and a leaflet when I attended the group’s monthly prayer meeting to say the Rosary. I’d assumed that literature was free.

    7. Your article, “Deception for our times”, is the most detailed and well-researched article I’ve read on the matter, and I am thankful that there is a Catholic writer willing to explore this controversy instead of allowing it to continue unchallenged.

  5. “Weible alleges that it is the law of the Church that Catholics can believe any apparition unless the Church has said otherwise”

    That isn’t just simplistic, it’s preposterous. The Doctor of the Church with the highest authority on matters of mystical theology, Saint John of the Cross, urges most strongly in The Ascent of Mount Carmel that God does not want us to pay attention to phenomena like private revelations (he’s first of all talking about our personal prayer life but the same principles are understood to apply to other people’s claims of private revelation that we may hear of, too), because they may be from the devil or from human confusion, in which case they mislead and do us harm, and if they are really from heaven then any authentic good God wants us to have will come to us without our needing to pay any special attention to it. The reason for this very strong exhortation is that these phenomena are almost impossible for individuals to discern (the Church clearly holds that it is up to the local bishop to discern if private revelations are worthy of belief). John of the Cross and other Saints also point out that the proof of spiritual growth is in virtue, whereas phenomena are basically superficial and proliferation of sensory experience type phenomena is typical of some mid stages in the spiritual journey but not of the more advanced reaches of the spiritual life. Bottom line about Medjugorje is, if everyone ignores it then it will eventually be proven or disproven, even by its own standards, since it claims to have various “secrets” that either will come to pass or won’t.

    1. Hello ElizD and thank you for posting. I believe I’ve seen you over at Fr. Z.’s blog?

      You have a point and I believe that my response reflects what you say. I tried to be careful and demonstrate a “process” in these matters. That process reflects what you say.

      I do not recall at the moment and if you have St. John OTC’s text handy, I’d appreciate seeing it, but are his remarks largely concerning individuals ‘receiving’ as opposed to a devotion inspired by a private revelation?

    2. Brother Gabriel

      Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book 2 chapter 24, paragraph 7,9 states:

      7. “The devil likewise can produce these visions, by means of a certain natural light, whereby he brings things clearly before the mind, through spiritual suggestion, whether they be present or absent.”

      9. “It is well, then, for us to journey to Him by denying ourselves everything. For otherwise, even if the soul be so wise, humble and strong that the devil cannot deceive it by visions or cause it to fall into some sin of presumption, as he is wont to do, he will not allow it to make progress; for he set obstacles in the way of spiritual detachment and poverty of spirit and emptiness in faith, which is the essential condition for union of the soul with God.”

      Alhough St. John of the Cross was speaking primarily of personal visions and revelations the same advice would equally extend to other visions as well. The entire thrust, trajectory and foundation of the spiritual life for St. John is through a defining process of pure faith. A faith journey that strip us of every inordinate attachment to any created “thing” that is not God, that impedes our ultimate created goal – union in Love with our Beloved.

    3. Yes I am the Elizabeth D at Fr Z’s, I should have been explicit that I loved your article and was not arguing with you but with the person whose views you were critiquing in the article. I have strong feelings about these things! I am gratified by who I believe is a Discalced Carmelite friar from Holy Hill showing up and supplying good quotes and information. St John of the Cross writes much more about the subject and although the translation by Fathers Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez is the best, there is a public domain translation available online, for instance here: https://www.ewtn.com/library/SOURCES/ASCENT-J.TXT (scroll to Book 2) He is writing for Carmelite priests who will serve as spiritual directors, about how to guide people about their personal prayer life. But as Brother Gabriel also says, it applies to how we look at other supposed private revelations people are devoted to. Cardinal Ratzinger quotes St John of the Cross in his great commentary on the 3rd Secret of Fatima to say that private revelations add nothing to the divine Word revealed in Jesus Christ, and anyone desiring some vision or revelation offends God by not fixing their eyes totally on Christ but wanting novelties.

    4. I believe St. John OTC to be very much underappreciated by a lot of contemporaries. I once wrote an article that defended the West against an Eastern charge that we were somehow “ignorant” of the notion of “prelest” (spiritual deception). I said simply, “Have you read any of St. John of the Cross?” 🙂

      Holy Hill, eh? I have some friends in Neenah.

    5. I agree, I just love St. John of the Cross! He is very overlooked and has a rich treasure of sound spiritual council!

    6. Preposterous? Really. What is preposterous is that what you quote has nothing to do with the matter of apparitions or my statement that the Church allows the faithful to follow, promote, believe in or what have you, until a ruling is officially made by the Church . You need to learn more on the subject.

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