Home News As paranormal phenomena spread online, Vatican updates its rules

As paranormal phenomena spread online, Vatican updates its rules


The Roman Catholic Church has long been wary of supernatural phenomena, such as those claimed to be supernatural. Virgin Mary sightings, weeping virgin Or a bloody cross. Over the centuries it has supported only a small number of its thousands, protecting believers from charlatans, doctrinal errors or attempts at profit.

However, the age of social media has accelerated the spread of unsubstantiated claims, leaving the Vatican concerned that such phenomena could easily spiral out of control and escape its control.

So on Friday, the Vatican unveiled new guidelines for evaluating Virgin Mary visions and other faith-based paranormal phenomena in a document that provides detailed instructions to bishops tasked with assessing the nature of reported claims.

“The Church needs clear procedures,” said the document, whose guidelines were approved by Pope Francis this month, adding that it was not intended to deny all new claims as they emerged.

“The norms for discerning so-called supernatural phenomena that we now propose here are not intended to control or, much less, stifle the Holy Spirit,” the document states.

Given that apparitions or other sightings are personal and private experiences, the Church does not require believers to accept the authenticity of such events.But some of them were sanctioned by the Vatican, such as the 19th-century Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes, Franceand those in Fatima, Portugal, early 20th centuryhas become a very popular and lucrative pilgrimage destination and focus of faith.

These claims are not just from a bygone era. Last March, a local bishop dismissed the claims of a self-proclaimed visionary who claimed to receive regular messages from the Virgin Mary.

Known as the “Virgin of Trevignano”, for nearly nine years hundreds of pilgrims have gathered on a hill on a lake near Rome on the 3rd of every month to pray to the statue of the Virgin Mary and listen to her messages . A committee of theologians, psychologists and canonists concluded this month that it had no supernatural dimensions.

The specifications released on Friday replace rules written in 1978 and published in 2011. The new guidelines offer six possible “cautious conclusions” for church leaders investigating incidents of suspected supernatural origin, ranging from outright rejection to more nuanced reasoning. The Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, the Dicastery of the Congregation of the Faith, will also evaluate each case.

Most importantly, the church will no longer issue statements Accept the supernatural origin of a phenomenon.

Instead, “after assessing the various spiritual and pastoral outcomes of the event and finding that there are no substantial negative elements therein,” the church can issue a citation that essentially says that nothing prevents “the bishop from receiving pastoral benefits from the event.” spiritual benefit”. spiritual phenomenon” and even promote its spread.

The document did not cite any specific cases that might prompt a review, other than to acknowledge that the 1978 code was “no longer sufficient.”

Secretary to Giuseppe Ferrari Italian Association of BolognaThe organization that monitors religious phenomena in society said the number of reported ghostly incidents “continues to increase – some ending, some starting”. He said social media was one of the factors that made this phenomenon so widespread, but many people also experienced vulnerability and a need for “certainty in the afterlife.”

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