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Discernment of Apparition Claims

Official Church Statements


Bryan J. Walsh

During the twentieth century, a number of purported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been reported throughout the Americas. While the Catholic Church has investigated the authenticity of a number of these apparitions, it has approved of none of them at this time. Apparitions such as these are considered private revelations and as such add nothing to the truths publicly revealed by Jesus Christ. Since even approved revelations are not part of the deposit of faith completed by Jesus, belief in them is not required of Catholics.

Since the end of Vatican II, there has been an explosion in the number of purported apparitions. By 1993, there were more than 30 reported visionaries in the United States alone with the notoriety of the apparitions ranging from relatively well known—as in Conyers, GA and Scottsdale, AZ—to the visionaries in Cleveland, OH and Hollywood, FL. Obviously, with such a dramatic increase in purported visions and locutions, anyone interested in exploring this phenomena needs to proceed with all due caution. One should take neither the content of the information provided nor the visionary seriously unless the following questions can be successfully addressed:

—does the person claiming to have visions or locutions possess sound judgment and common sense?
—does the person involved appear well-balanced?
—does the person involved appear to be sincere rather than given to making up stories and exaggerating?
—does the person involved contact appropriate religious authorities and seek guidance from the Church?
—does the information provided by the vision or locution contradict accepted articles of faith.
—is the information provided opposed to any moral law?
—as a result of the apparition, does healthy religious devotion and increased spirituality result?
One additional caution to those who wish to explore Mary's appearances further. The New Age movement has grabbed onto this phenomena and incorporated elements of it into their "teachings". The best example of this is Annie Kirkwood's book "Mary's Message to the World". Mrs. Kirkwood purports to receive "inner locutions" which have been recorded by her husband and published as a book. This book is actively promoted at a number of the large discount bookstores including Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble and Brentano's. It is also filled with hundreds of half-truths and falsehoods. Some examples of these are:
—Mary had 8 (yes, eight) children.
—Mother Earth is about to punish her children for what humanity has done to her. (God is not involved at all).
—Hell is a concept of the human mind; it doesn't really exist and the devil is an illusion.
—Each of us lives many lives and "rests" for a long time between lives.
—Repentance is seeking to be one with your very God-Essence.
—The Holy Spirit is a human conception of the Brotherhood.
Before providing a listing of some of the better known 20th Century American "apparitions", I offer one final note of caution. Several of the apparitions have already been found to be seriously flawed and therefore not worthy of further attention. In Bayside, NY and Necedah, WI individuals reported apparitions or locutions which directly contradicted a number of articles of the Catholic faith or made venomous accusations against the Catholic Church. Clearly, if there were visions involved, the source of the apparitions was likely either their own imaginations or the Great Deceiver. Regardless, the diversion and confusion caused by these cases should give anyone interested in apparitions reason for pause before accepting the claims of the visionaries. True discernment is required.
Some Significant Alleged Marian Apparitions North & South America Twentieth Century
1920 Verdun, Quebec Emma Curotte Marian visions.
1929 Campina, BZ Sr. Amalia Marian visions
1953 Sabana Grande, PR Barrio Rincon Marion visions & prophesy
1954 Dayton, OH Sr. Mil. Neuzil Marion vision
1976 Betania, VZ Maria Bianchini continuous Marian apparitions, rose smell, healings
1980 (?) Paulina, LA Fr. Albert Hebert Marian Apparitions and prophesy
1980 Cuapa, NIC Edward Martinez Marian apparitions
1981 Worcester, MA Eileen George Jesus visions
1983 San Nicolas, AG Gladys Quiroga Marion visions
1983 Penablance, CH Miguel Poblete Visions of Jesus & Mary
1984 Guatemala Carmen Marian messages
1986 Michigan Mariamante Marian visions
1987 Conyers, GA Nancy Fowler Marian apparitions, solar phenomena, healings, prophesy
1987 Terra Blanca, MX Elba & Zendia Marian visions
1987 El Ranchilo, TX Bro. David Lopez Marian apparitions & prophesy
1988 Phoenix, AZ Estella Ruiz Marian apparitions & & family prophesy
1988 Lubbock, TX Mary Constancio Marian messages & & 2 parishoners solar phenomena
1988 El Cajas, EQ Pachi Borrero Marian apparitions & prophesy
1988 Scottsdale, AZ Fr. Spaulding visions and locutions & 6 parishoners of Jesus & Mary. Healings
1989 Marlboro, NJ J. Januszkiewicz Marian messages lights & doves
1989 Burlington, ON Zdenko Singer Marian & Trinity visions & prophesy
1990 Denver, CO Theresa Lopez Marian apparitions & prophesy
1991 Lake Ridge, VA Fr. James Bruse Weeping statues of Mary, stigmata
1992 Denver, CO Veronica Garcia Jesus & Mary visions

The content of most of these visions and locutions typically have several common characteristics:
—a request to return to Jesus.
—a request to pray to God frequently.
—a request to confess and repent for sins.
—a request to sacrifice for the purpose of converting sinners.
—a warning that if humanity fails to return to God through His son, Jesus Christ, then a series of catastrophes will occur that will wipe out the greater portion of humanity and set the stage for the coming of the anti-Christ. The timeframe given for these events is most often described as "very soon".

Aside from this content, a number of apparition sites are purported to have observed a spinning, multicolored sun, headings of chronic diseases, statues of Mary crying and religious objects such as rosaries changing color.
To those who wish to explore these apparitions further, there are a number of pamphlets, books and videocassettes available from several of the services available on EWTN which should prove helpful in attempting to discern what is behind this extraordinary series of events.
Provided Courtesy of:
Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210

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