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Uncomfortable.

 

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Alleged private revelations have occurred throughout the history of the Church and continue to occur today. Many Catholics are confused about the status of such events. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private revelations’, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith” [para. 67]. The only way that Catholics can avoid being led astray in the matter of alleged private revelations is to be completely docile, humble and obedient to the Church’s legitimate declarations at all times.

Perhaps the most persistent local ‘apparition’ of recent times is that of ‘Our Lady of Surbiton.’ Operating as the Divine Innocence Trust, it has been the subject of many reports in the secular press over the years, including a very sympathetic article in The Spectator early in 2002. Its founder, Patricia de Menezes, lays claim to 2,000-3,000 followers in 42 countries. Patricia alleges that around 1984 she began seeing the Virgin Mary and Jesus in a pine tree located in a new housing development in Surbiton, south London, where, she says, Our Lady continues to appear to her at 12 noon Monday-Friday and 9pm on weekends. She also claims to have been personally catechised by Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Official Response
The then Ordinary with competency in this matter, Archbishop Michael Bowen, declared that Patricia’s messages are not of supernatural origin. It has also been categorically stated by Archbishop’s House, Southwark that Patricia’s messages are not being examined by the relevant Congregation in Rome with a view to eventual approval. Official representatives of Divine Innocence have been less than honest about this when contacted. A phone call was made to Divine Innocence querying the official position, and the representative stated “The (local) bishop hasn’t conceded yet. It’s all gone to Rome now, so we’re just waiting…”. Other inquirers have also been given this sort of information – or more correctly, misinformation – as there is nothing to wait for. Patricia’s works are not being examined by the relevant Congregation in Rome.

Patricia and her followers often make much of the fact that her writings have been well received by certain theologians, but any opinions offered by these theologians, no matter how positive in tone, are only their private opinions and as such are of no consequence in this matter. It would be very misleading of anyone to claim otherwise. In recent years, many renowned theologians supported the fraudulent ‘seer’ Vassula Ryden, until the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith officially stated that her messages contained error and could not be considered to be of supernatural origin. 

What I find really disturbing is the Divine Innocence followers continue to ‘believe’ and exist without the Pope’s blessing! This already throws doubt on the authenticity of the group. Move askance  from the Pope and the Magistarium, and do so in error and at great risk.

I have had direct contact with this group over a number of years and they are definitely set themselves apart from  mainstream Catholics. Their way of life is very conservative with seemingly little contact with anyone outside of the group. The children are cosseted and ‘protected’ from secular activities deemed unsuitable for young children. There are many of them. The women present as having an inferior role in parenting the children to those of men. They are a close-knit group that seem suspicious of anyone outside of their ideals.

Surely we should be in society to make a change in society?

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