Vatican City, May 24, 2012 / 11:13 am
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has published guidelines to help the Church worldwide handle claims of private revelations and apparitions.
In his preface to the new publication, prefect Cardinal William J. Levada voiced his “firm hope” that the norms will aid Church leaders “in their difficult task” of discerning apparitions, revelations and “extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin.”
The norms were drawn-up for internal use in 1978 under Pope Paul VI, and, until now, have never been officially published or translated from Latin.
Yet with many unofficial versions in circulation, however, Cardinal Levada said he believed that “now opportune to publish these Norms, providing translations in the principle languages.”
The decision to publish the guidelines comes as a special commission established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith moves into its third year investigating alleged apparitions by Our Lady in the town of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Since 1981, it has become a popular site of pilgrimage due to reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six local Catholics.
The committee of bishops, theologians and other experts was convened in March 2010 at the request of Medjugorje’s local bishop and under the chairmanship of the former Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini.
The newly published guidelines set out a three-stage process by which a legitimate church authority can come to a decision regarding claims of apparitions or revelations.