Norms for Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1978
Material Source [Source]
(emphasis in red added, D.A.B., most relevant to current status of Medjugorje)
On February 25, 1978, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued "Norms of the Congregation for Proceeding in Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations." Pope Paul VI had approved these norms the preceding day.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith elaborated, from 1974-1978, some new criteria for discerning apparitions and revelations, which were expounded in a normative text, which, for a long period, was only made available to the Ordinary [local bishop] who, confronted with the fact of an apparition, addressed himself to the Sacred Congregation. These standards govern the treatment of events after 1980 (notably Medjugorje), and they also brought about the resumption of certain previous investigations (those of Bonate and Garabandal, amongst others):
Preliminary Note: Origin and character of these norms.
1. Today more than formerly, the news of these apparitions is spread more quickly among the faithful thanks to the means of information ("mass media"); in addition, the ease of travel supports more frequent pilgrimages. Also, the ecclesiastical authority was itself brought to reconsider this subject.
2. Similarly, because of current instruments of knowledge, the contributions of science, and the requirement of a rigorous criticism, it is more difficult, if not impossible, to arrive as speedily as previously at judgements which conclude, as formerly happened, investigations into this matter (“constate de supernaturalitate, non constat de supernaturalitate”); and because of that, it is more difficult for the Ordinary to authorize or prohibit public worship or any other form of devotion of the faithful.
For these reasons, so that the devotion stirred up among the faithful by facts of this kind can appear as a disposition in full communion with the Church, and bear fruit, and so that the Church itself is able to ultimately distinguish the true nature of the facts, the Fathers consider that it is necessary to promote the following practice in regard to this matter. So that the ecclesiastical authority is able to acquire more certainty on such or such an apparition or revelation, it will proceed in the following way:
I. Criteria of judgement, concerning the probability at least, of the character of the apparitions and supposed revelations.
A) Positive criteria:
B) Negative criteria:
It is important to consider these criteria, whether they are positive or negative, as indicative standards and not as final arguments, and to study them in their plurality and in relation with the other criteria.
II. Intervention of the competent local Authority
2. At the legitimate request of the faithful (when they are in communion with their pastors and are not driven by a sectarian spirit), the competent ecclesiastical Authority can intervene to authorize and promote various forms of worship and devotion if, assuming the criteria given above having been applied, nothing is opposed to it. But there must be vigilance nevertheless, to ensure that the faithful do not regard this way of acting as an approval by the Church of the supernatural character of the event in question (cf. above, Preliminary Note, c).
3. By virtue of his doctrinal and pastoral duty, the competent ecclesiastical Authority can intervene immediately of his own authority, and he must do so in serious circumstances, for example, when it is a question of correcting or of preventing abuses in the exercise of worship or devotion, to condemn erroneous doctrines, to avoid the dangers of a false mysticism etc.
4. In doubtful cases, which do not involve the welfare of the Church, the competent ecclesiastical Authority may refrain from any judgement and any direct action (more especially as it can happen that, at the end of a certain time, the supposedly supernatural event can lapse from memory); but he should not remain less vigilant about the event, in such a way as to be in a position to intervene with swiftness and prudence, if that is necessary.
III. Other Authorities entitled to intervene
3. The Apostolic See can intervene, either at the request of Ordinary himself, or at the request of a qualified group of the faithful, or directly by virtue of the immediate right of universal jurisdiction of the Sovereign Pontiff (cf. above, IV).
IV. Intervention of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
b) It belongs to the Sacred Congregation to intervene of its own accord in serious cases, in particular when the event affects a broad portion of the Church; but the Ordinary will always be consulted, as well as the episcopal Conference, if the situation requires it.
2. It belongs to the Sacred Congregation to discern and approve the way of acting of the Ordinary, or, if it proves to be necessary, to carry out a new examination of the facts distinct from that which the Ordinary carried out; this new examination of the facts will be done either by the Sacred Congregation itself, or by a commission especially established for this purpose.
The present norms, defined in the plenary Congregation of this Sacred Congregation, were approved by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Paul VI, on February 24 1978.
At Rome, the Palace of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 27, 1978.
Francis, Cardinal Seper, Prefect, Fr. Jerome Hamer, O.P., Secretary.
© 2011 Medjugorje-Apologia.comAll rights reserved.