This page has been constructed for those who desire a basic understanding of the current findings of the Catholic Church, concerning the apparitions of Gianna Sullivan.
It also provides documents that help to explain those conclusions.
Detailed theological reports or analysis are not contained on this page , nor anywhere on this site. What is contained here is an attempt to present information in an easy to understand manner, for people of varied backgrounds.
A Few Basic Concepts
Catholics Are Free to Believe in Apparitions,
But Adhere to the Church's Directives on the Subject. Because apparitions are private revelations, Catholics are free to believe in them without Church approval, so long as the apparition contains nothing which contravenes with faith and morals. However, the faithful rely on the Church's opinions in these matters because of her obvious expertise in the things and the nature of God. The faithful regard the Church as the accepted authority on determining the authenticity of apparitions.
The Church's approval of an apparition is of tremendous importance to the faithful, as it signals that they may include the message/s of an apparition into their spirituality, if they so choose, without fear of encountering errors.
The Church's Approval Does Not Come Easily or Quickly The Church never gives her approval on an apparition without exhaustive and repeated investigation. It is not unusual for the Church to grant approval after the apparitions cease and/or after the death of the visionary.
When The Church Investigates An Apparition
It Signals There Is Enough Evidence to Warrant
the Commitment of Resources Just as the U.S. Justice System does not launch an investigation without sufficient evidence, neither does the Church commit its resources to an investigation, without sufficient evidence. However, when the U.S. courts have enough evidence to open a case, it is not a happy day for the accused. Conversely, when the Church provides an investigation into an apparition, that action signals that there has been enough evidence to warrant the commitment of the Church's resources. And, that is a good thing for the subject of the inquiry.
Supervision of the Church's Investigation Rests with the Authority of the Local Archbishop/ Bishop This means that the Archbishop or Bishop, of the locality in which the apparition is occurring, has been granted the authority, by the Church, to supervise the case, draw conclusions, and pronounce a decree, (a verdict).
Following the Church's Decisions In These Matters Is Not Much Different From What Occurs in Every Day Life We depend on stamps of approval from institutions all the time.
An example of two
The U.S. Department of Agriculture stamps its approval on food that is safe to eat,
The Food and Drug Administration stamps its approval on medications that are safe to take
And, so it is with the Church: She gives her approval to apparitions that are safe, meaning those without doctrinal errors .
But, There Are Differences When institutions, inspecting our goods and services, provide conflicting or mistaken inspections, a recall is often issued and the situation is usually rectified. However, when the Church provides conflicting reports, a debate often ensues and the matter may not be rectified for quite a while.
Although it is not a typical occurrence, obstacles and difficulties occurring to members of commissions, tasked with investigating apparitions, have lead to inaccurate conclusions, casting unnecessary doubt on authentic messengers of God. And at times, these errors were not corrected until a great number of years had passed.
The Devotions of The Sacred Heart of Jesus
A Book That Was Once Condemned A very prominent practice in most Catholic parishes is The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This private revelation, given by Jesus through apparitions to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, encourages the faithful to participate in Mass and sacramental confession on the first Friday of each month, for nine consecutive months. The messages that St. Margaret Mary received in her apparitions were compiled in a book which was disseminated for awhile, but was then placed on the Church's "Index of Forbidden Books".
St Margaret Mary's reputation suffered greatly and her name and mission were not cleared until exhaustive Church investigations were executed.
" The discussion of the mission and virtues of Margaret Mary continued for years. All her actions, her revelations, her spiritual maxims, her teachings regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart, of which she was the chief exponent as well as the apostle, were subjected to the most severe and minute examination, and finally the Sacred Congregation of rites passed a favorable vote on the heroic virtues of this servant of God." New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia
Investigations of Apparitions And the Holy See The Holy See is the center of the Church's government. It is located in Vatican City, Rome, Italy. The Holy See does not personally attend to the investigation of every apparition. Rather, the supervision of an investigation is under the authority of the local bishop, or as in the case of Emmitsburg, the Archbishop. This local authority provides the Holy See with his conclusions. The findings are reviewed.
The Local Authority's Decrees Are To Be Given Due Respect
The local authorities, referred to as the local Ordinary, are the archbishops and bishops. They are successors of the Apostles. They are in union with the pope and govern the Church. They are responsible for the spiritual life of the diocese, with archbishops having the added responsibility of a certain amount of responsibility over the bishops in neighboring diocese.
The archbishops and bishops are part of the Church's authority and make up the Church's hierarchy. Their guidance is an essential component in the spirituality of the faithful. They are shepherds and work for the benefit of the fold that has been entrusted to their care. Their judgments must always be given due respect.
However, Infallibility Does Not Apply The Catholic Doctrine of Infallibility teaches of the pope's inability to err on central issues of the Christian faith, when making an official statement about faith or morals. This doctrine does not extend to any other member of the hierarchy of the Church. Actually, infallibility does not even extend to the pope in his everyday circumstances. Infallibility only extends to the pope when he is making and official statement about issues pertaining to the faith and morals of the Christian faith.
As history has taught us, everyone makes mistakes, we all have weaknesses. Therefore, prayer and openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit needs to be employed, especially in controversial situations, as they are tools that never fail us, bringing us the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and reverence of the Lord, making true discernment possible.
The Truth Will Emerge and the Church Will Proclaim It There is no doubt that debate and controversy will always surround active and on-going private revelations and apparitions. There is also no doubt that in the end, the Church will always provide the faithful with the Truth on the matter.
In the Words of Pope Urban VIII
"In cases like this [apparitions], it is better to believe than not to believe, for, if you believe, and it is proven true, you will be happy that you have believed, because our Holy Mother asked it. If you believe, and it should be proven false, you will receive all the blessings as if it had been true, because you believed it to be true."
His Holiness, Urban VIII (Pope, 1623-44 )
Concerning the Apparitions of the
Blessed Virgin Mary to
Gianna Talone Sullivan Find out more
An Explanation of, and Response to,
the Archdiocese of Baltimore
Commission of Investigation:
The Marian Apparitions,
at Emmitsburg, Maryland,
by Rev. John B. Wang, Ph.D., J.U.D. Find out more
Messages From Our Lady of Emmitsburg Concerning Communications of the Holy See Find out more