“Today, thanks to the obedience of its members, the Opus Angelorum can be considered to be living loyally and serenely in conformity with the doctrine of the Church and with canonical and liturgical law,” the Vatican said.
“Therefore, in its present state, the Opus Angelorum is a public association of the Church in conformity with traditional doctrine and with the directives of the Holy See.”
The ruling means that local bishops can welcome the Opus Angelorum in their dioceses. The movement is largely confined to Austria and Germany, but there is a U.S. branch based in Detroit.
One Vatican official with close knowledge of the situation, told CNA that problems remain with some ex-members of the Opus Angelorum, including some ex-priests, who follow the original controversial practices of Bitterlich.
The official, who requested that his name not be used, said the Vatican is concerned that these ex-members may attempt to “deceive” Catholics into engaging in practices that the Vatican has prohibited, including referring to the angels by the names allegedly revealed to Bitterlich, and receiving Communion multiple times in one day.
In its letter, the Vatican warned bishops of “very discrete propaganda in favor of this wayward movement, which is outside of any ecclesiastical control, is taking place, aimed at presenting it as if it were in full communion with the Catholic Church.” Bishops, the Vatican said, must remain “vigilant” and “forbid” these activities.
However, in the main, the order is now in step with Vatican directives, the Vatican official told CNA.
Those members who did not abide by the regulations established were dismissed from the order, he said. In this way, problems were "totally eliminated" and incongruencies with Church teaching within the order are no longer an issue.
“As the letter says, it is an ecclesial movement that like all movements has its particular aspects, its spirituality, but everything is in order,” he explained.
Opus Angelorum is formed of lay members, religious sisters and priests. It has full pontifical status as a religious order within the Catholic Church, but its uniqueness is found in the practice of its members consecrating themselves to both their guardian angels and to the entire body of holy angels to attain "active" status in the order.
Father Paul Haffner, a theologian at the Regina Apostolorum University in Rome who has studied the Opus movement, said there is nothing wrong with venerating angels. Problems arise, he said, when veneration crosses over into worship. He noted that “worship of angels,” was specifically forbidden by St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians.
"Worship," Father Haffner explained, "must always be Christ-centered." Devotion to saints and angels, must be limited to "reverence." This proper reverence can also be shown through a consecration or special dedication to the angels similar to that promoted by Opus Angelorum.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
He added that the Church "is very positive towards angels” but does not sanction the use of names for angels other than those angels specifically named in Scripture.
As for whether Mrs. Bitterlich's private revelations might one day be examined and possibly approved by the Church, the Vatican source familiar with the situation said that is not under investigation at the moment.
“There are many things that are good in these visions and revelations, useful things for the Church, along with these there are things that are not in conformity with the Church and must be put aside," he said. "Surely, she was a very religious soul and she had a very strong relationship with God."