The Puerto Rican bishops have
followed their colleagues in Italy and Switzerland by warning the island's
Catholics against the unauthorized "ecumenical" activities of Vassula
Ryden, the Greek Orthodox mystic who claims to receive voluminous messages from
Jesus Christ (as well as our Lady and other saints) by direct dictation from
Heaven. Vassula's widest following around the world appears to be among
Catholics, and her alleged revelations are promoted vigorously by some (not all)
leaders of the Medjugorje movement.
In view of a widely publicized
presentation on the part of Vassula scheduled for early May at a liberal
Protestant university in San Juan, the Ecumenical Commission of the Puerto Rican
Episcopal Conference issued a warning in the island's official Catholic
newspaper, on April 29th. The announcement, signed by Bishop Ricardo Surinach,
president of the Ecumenical Commission, is in Spanish. A translation follows:
to recent announcements, a self-styled 'ecumenical activity,' jointly sponsored
by the San Juan campus of the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico and 'The
Friends of Vassula,' is to take place at the beginning of May. The central
figure in this activity is to be Mrs. Vassula Ryden, a member of the Eastern
Orthodox Church. This lady claims to be the recipient of numerous private
revelations which, so it is said, have to do with the restoration of unity among
Christians. Neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the Eastern Orthodox Church
have approved these alleged revelations as authentic.
Ecumenical Commission of the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference wishes to call
the attention of faithful Catholics to the following norm of [the Holy See's]
1993: 'The participation of Catholics in the various types of ecumenical
encounter and projects of cooperation shall respect the norms established by
local ecclesiastical authority. Ultimately, it is the diocesan bishop who is to
judge the opportuneness and relevance of all forms of local ecumenical activity,
taking into account what has been decided at the regional or national level' (n.
wish the Puerto Rican public, and in particular members of the Catholic Church,
to know that neither the cardinal archbishop of San Juan [His Eminence Luis
Aponte Martinez], in whose archdiocese the activity is to take place, nor the
Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference, has given any approbation or authorization to
the said activity, which should therefore not be considered by faithful
Catholics as an authentic act of ecumenism.
the reunion of the separated ecclesial communities with the Catholic Church is
indeed an objective of the greatest importance, for which we should all work and
pray to the extent possible, there also exists a danger that certain persons,
even though well- meaning, may propose false, inadequate, and confusing paths
toward that unity which we long for thereby impeding rather than fostering true
ecumenical progress. For that reason, Catholics should not feel themselves
called to participate in any self-styled 'ecumenical activity' that has not been
approved by the competent authority of their own Church."
is worth noting that in this statement of the Puerto Rican Ecumenical
Commission, future Church unity is spoken of in terms of "the reunion of
the separated ecclesial communities with the Catholic Church." A major
doctrinal problem with Vassula's claimed revelations is their insistence that
Heaven's plan for unity does include the need for Eastern Orthodox Christians to
convert to Catholicism, and that unrestricted intercommunion between the two
churches should be practiced even before there is a full agreement on doctrine.
Catholic Church's official criteria for the evaluation of private revelations
also insist absolutely on "uprightness of moral life" on the part of
the alleged visionary as a condition for authenticity (norms of the Sacred
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Feb. 25th, 1978, section I-A, b:1).
Since this clearly means conformity to moral norms, another grave objection to
Vassula's authenticity arises here, since she is divorced and remarried, any
declaration of nullity of the first marriage.
Her own Greek Orthodox Church, in a
clear conflict with Catholic doctrine, claims the power to dissolve even valid,
sacramental marriages under some conditions, and in such cases grants divorced
persons the right to remarry in church without inquiring whether the first
marriage was valid or not. Vassula's second marriage was thus blessed by the
Greek Orthodox Church in 1990, but for five years previous to that, while living
in a purely marriage, she had been receiving hundreds of pages of
"revelations" in which "Jesus" not once told her that she
should correct her irregular lifestyle. (On the contrary, he explicitly condoned
it-while admitting it was sinful!-in a "revelation" of Sept. 24th,
1988!) Thus, even from the doctrinal standpoint of Vassula's own church, her
credentials would be decidedly murky. The whole Vassula "phenomenon"
thus involves a quiet but dangerous undercurrent of permissiveness which must
tend to erode her Catholic followers' belief in the indissolubility of
marriage-or to reinforce their doubts about that doctrine.
(Fr. Harrison wrote about Vassula's "revelations" and "ecumenical mission" in magazine May, 1992 and May, 1994. Also see of Jan. 21st, 1993, p. 8 and Jan. 28th, 1993, p. 1.) This article was taken from the May 11, 1995 issue of "The Wanderer," 201 Ohio Street, St. Paul, MN 55107, 612-224-5733.
Text taken from http://www.ewtn.com/library/newage/vassula.txt.