Bishop Rhoades' judgement was issued in the July 29, 2019 decree, which was signed also by Fr. Mark Gurtner, then-chancellor of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
The five other bishops where the purported visions were said to have occurred – Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Bishop Timothy Doherty of Lafayette in Indiana, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, and Bishop Daneil Thomas of Toledo in Ohio – each concur with Bishop Rhoades' findings and conclusions.
The six bishops had in 2017 asked the US bishops' conference to investigate the alleged apparitions, considering that inquiries were being received about the alleged apparition and its purported request for a procession of the nation's bishops and that a statue of Our Lady of America be placed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith advised that it be conducted by one of the bishops, and Bishop Rhoades agreed to do so.
He received documentation of Sr. Neuzil's correspondence the following year, and he conducted the evaluation with a commission of theological and canonical experts. They also gathered personal interviews with witnesses who knew Sr. Neuzil.
The procedure for the investigation was carried out in accordance with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 1978 "Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations."
Some bishops have permitted the public display of statues of Our Lady of America, and then-Msgr. Liebold had given an imprimatur to a prayer attached to the devotion in 1963.
The six bishops wrote May 7 that "given this history of prayers and religious articles being given approval by competent ecclesiastical authority, the use of such prayers religious articles may continue as a matter of private devotion, but not as a public devotion of the Church."
"Indeed, such private devotion would be consistent with the history of the United States of America being dedicated to Our Lady," they added.
However, "such private devotion should in no way imply approval or acceptance of purported revelations, visions, or locutions attributed to Sister Mary Ephrem (Mildred) Neuzil other than as her own subjective inner religious experiences."
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend told CNA that "the conclusion of Bishop Rhoades and the other five bishops pertains to the entire Church. The same would have been true if the decision were in the affirmative."
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