Publishing the norms

For a comic interlude (with uncomic implications and underpinnings, but never mind that for now) – the Vatican goes public with its formerly sekrit and super-technical Roolz for authenticating authentic sightings (or apparitions, as it helpfully calls them) of “the Virgin” Mary.

The “Norms Regarding the Manner of Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations” have been in use since 1978, but until now had been available only in Latin, never officially published and only circulated among bishops and specialists.

Ya specialists, who have had like years and years of specialist training in how to tell the real apparitions from the fake ones.

The Vatican document has now been translated into English and other languages to aid bishops in the “difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or … extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin,” Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Vatican doctrinal office, wrote in a companion letter last December that was published only recently on the Vatican website.

Kind of mean not to help the poor bishops until now. Poor guys, sitting in their studies, taking a break from excommunicating nuns who fail to prevent abortions to save the life of the pregnant woman and telling secular legislators what to do  – taking a break, I say, to sift through the stack of tortillas and pieces of toast and open jars of Marmite on their desks to figure out which twin has the Toni, and not having a Vatican document in their own language to assist. It’s sad.

The norms mandate that the local bishop must conduct a “serious investigation” to ascertain, with “at least great probability,” whether the Marian apparition effectively took place.

The rules also require an evaluation of the “personal qualities” of the alleged seer, including his or her “psychological equilibrium,” “rectitude of moral life” and “docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority.” The contents of the “revelation” must be “immune” from theological error, and the apparition must bear “abundant… spiritual fruit,” such as conversions.

The contents of the revelation must be immune from theological error? How do they arrange for that to be the case? Show your work.


  1. MichaelD says

    I’m guessing theological error means supports the catholic church’s current positions. No virgin marry sightings saying that the Mormon’s are right or abortion isn’t always a bad thing.

  2. Kevin Alexander says

    “….whether the Marian apparition effectively took place.”

    I fast read that as Martian apparition. About as likely I guess.

  3. Sunny says

    “docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority.”

    – such as not complaining when the local bishop gets a little too friendly with children.

  4. Robert B. says

    Yeah, “docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority” wins the Creepy Phrase Award for today.

  5. Stacy says

    “docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority.”

    That’s the one I love.

    Don’t want some upstart visionary challenging the Church by claiming direct revelation from an invisible friend. ‘Cause that’s what the Pope is for.

  6. BethE says

    Immune from theological error = must not contradict any teachings of the Church, especially anything said by the Pope. Therefore, there could be a sighting of Mary saying that she approves of gays and gay marriage and it would be thrown out because obviously the _real_ Mary would never say that.

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