FREE Catholic Classes
Note: (See Normae Congregationis)
In 1978 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly of the Holy Office) issued "Norms of the Congregation for Proceeding in Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations" containing the following provisions:
- The diocesan bishop can initiate a process on his own initiative or at the request of the faithful to investigate the facts of an alleged apparition. The bishop may refrain from looking into it if he chooses, especially if he thinks that not much will come of the event.
- The national conference of bishops may intervene if the local diocesan bishop refers it to him or if the event becomes important nationally or at least in more than one diocese.
- The Apostolic See (the Vatican) can also intervene at the request of the local bishop himself, at the request of a group of the faithful, or on its own initiative.
The steps of the investigation are mandated as follows: An initial evaluation of the facts of the alleged event, based on both positive and negative criteria:
- Moral certainty (the certainty required to act morally in a situation of doubt) or at least great probability as to the existence of a private revelation at the end of a serious investigation into the case
- Evaluation of the personal qualities of the person in question (mental balance, honesty, moral life, sincerity, obedience to Church authority, willingness to practice faith in the normal way, etc.)
- Evaluation of the content of the revelations themselves (that they do not disagree with faith and morals of the Church, freedom from theological errors)
- The revelation results in healthy devotion and spiritual fruits in people's lives (greater prayer, greater conversion of heart, works of charity that result, etc.)
- Glaring errors in regard to the facts
- Doctrinal errors attributed to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, or to the Holy Spirit in how they appear
- Any pursuit of financial gain in relation to the alleged event
- Gravely immoral acts committed by the person or those associated with the person at the time of the event
- Psychological disorders or tendencies on the part of the person or persons associated
After this initial investigation, if the occurrence meets the criteria, positive and negative, an initial cautionary permission can begranted that basically states: "for the moment, there is nothing opposed to it". This permits public participation in the devotion in regard to the alleged apparition.
Ultimately, a final judgment and determination needs to be given, giving approval or condemnation of the event.
Local diocese approval
If the local bishop authorizes devotion inspired by an apparition to proceed, based on an initial assessment, that permission is to bedistinguished from formal approval, which recognizes an event as being supernatural in origin. Such approval may follow years or even centuries later. A recent example of such a delay is the case of Our Lady of Laus, in which devotion was approved by the local diocese in 1665, but which obtained formal recognition as a supernatural event only in 2008.
Moreover, Marian apparitions often involve complications at the local diocese, and a letter of approval or disapproval from a local bishop, does not automatically signal approval or denial. A recent example is the apparitions of Our Lady of Kibeho in the 1980s in Kibeho, Rwanda. In 1982 the teenagers who saw the visions reported truly gruesome sights and said that the Virgin Mary asked everyone to pray to prevent a terrible war. Some today regard the visions as an ominous foreshadowing of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, and particularly in that specific location in 1995, where some teenagers died a decade after their vision. The apparitions were accepted by the local bishop (accused by many of complicity in the genocide himself), but have not been given final approval by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
More Mary, Mother of God
Appearances of Mary
The term "appearance" has been used with Marian apparitions and visions of Jesus Christ. The Church will confirm an apparition as worthy of belief, but belief is never required by divine faith. Read More
Mary as Mother
From antiquity, Mary has been called "Theotokos", or "God-Bearer". The word in Greek is "Theotokos". The term was used as part of the popular piety of the early first millennium church. Read More
Mary was there at the Incarnation, Birth, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of God Incarnate. She was there throughout the often called "hidden years" in Nazareth. In the life of the Redeemer... Read More
Since the Virgin Mary's role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. She is acknowledged as... Read More
Mary as Model
Christian Scripture calls the "more excellent way", the way of Love. Mary understands this Way and walked on it with extraordinary humility. Follow her in journey through the Scriptures. Read More
A Bishop named Nestorius objected to the title of Theotokos, Mother of God or God Bearer for Mary. The Council of Ephesus met in 431AD and affirmed Mary was the "Mother of God"... Read More
Devotion to - and love for . Mary, the Mother of God, is a foundational part of the Christian Church both East and West. The Eastern Christian emphasis, both doctrinally and devotionally, is... Read More
Mary as Disciple
Way of Mary
And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. (The Gospel of Luke 2:34-37) Read More
Mary's Prayer teaches us to stay afloat in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows. Mary's way is to become an ark within, where the same God who became incarnate within her... Read More
Mission of Mary
In a beautiful apostolic exhortation entitled the Sacrament of Love, issued in 1997, Pope Benedict XVI wrote these words under a section entitled The Eucharist and the Virgin Mary... Read More
Before they were called Christians (Acts 11:26), at Antioch, they were referred to as "the Way". A Rabbi named Saul spoke of persecuting "the way" (Acts 22:4) before he was profoundly converted... Read More
"Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother... When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son." Read More
Message of Mary
Devotion of Mary
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them... Read More
But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered... Read More
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org
Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel
Learn the Catholic way
Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all
K-12 & Adult Education Classes
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education
Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.