The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles on Monday canceled a Christian unity conference that it was to host later this month after realizing that the main speaker was a controversial self-proclaimed mystic who the Catholic Church cautions against.
In a letter to sponsors, Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik explained that what they had initially presented as a Christian unity conference had turned out to be a forum for Vassula Ryden, a Greek Orthodox laywoman who has attracted worldwide attention as well as criticism, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Vatican statements in 1995 and 1996 caution Catholics against following Ryden, the monsignor pointed out in discussions with sponsors. They advise bishops not to provide any opportunity in their dioceses for the dissemination of her ideas.
A leading Greek Orthodox priest, Fr. John Bakas, also pulled out of the Jan. 28 conference, saying: "Everything is very suspect.”
According to the Times, Msgr. Kostelnik said the decision, faxed to sponsors Monday, was final and returned a $3,000 donation to the cathedral and a $200 deposit for food service. Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, has agreed with the decision.
Sponsors are now scrambling to find another venue. They claim cathedral officials had all the information ahead of time.
The conference had already been advertised in Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Press releases were also issued, saying that Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant leaders would discuss "a new era of relations" at the conference.