Sunday, 27 November 2011

Vassula and the Liturgy

I would like to make a few remarks on this topic because of things said elsewhere, but first of all I would like to say how difficult it is to say anything in defence of TLIG and Vassula, especially when others people are mentioned. There was a case not so long ago where a priest was almost deprived of everything because of a seriously false accusation based on some photographs. He was accused on concelebrating at a non-Roman Mass. The charge was false but it took quite a while to deal with this and one priest especially suffered greatly as a result. Often what appears to be the case is NOT the case. Vassula is often accused of being "disobedient" in one form or another, but this has to be seen in context. Intercommunion has been mentioned. Vassula personally visited the Unity Office at the Vatican, some years ago, and was told that in the case of the Roman Liturgy, on the TLIG pilgrimages, it would be acceptable to invite non-Roman Christians to receive Holy Communion. This was regarded as an "exception" and we have often told pilgrims that they are not allowed to do this "at home". Also, at the suggestion of the person consulted at that time (in the Vatican), non-Roman clerics could be invited to stand near the altar (not around it) in their liturgical robes during the Mass. To some this might look like concelebration - it is not! We have a TLIG policy document (which I helped to draft) which specifically states that we DO NOT encourage or ALLOW concelebration. As far as Holy Communion in Orthodox liturgies are concerned we have always honoured the local community and the bishop and where we have received Communion it has always been at the invitation of the archimandrite (in one case) or the bishop (in more than once case). We are now extremely careful in such matters and Vassula has NEVER encouraged disobedience to Church rules in such matters. having said all that I am not going to say that mistakes have not occurred. In the messages Vassula admits that she made a mistake in at least one case, but this was because she did not have enough knowledge about such things. Similarly there are people (and sometimes even priests) coming on retreat who seem to be ignorant of some matters. It is never possible to personally guide each individual in such matters and in any group or organisation there are always going to be "loose canons". The same applies in the Church itself. Do we condemn the whole Church because of innocent - and sometimes not so innocent - mistakes? If there have been rogue theologians in the Church and troublesome lay-people (take Austria as a present example) do we thereby condemn the Pope or local bishop by association or the whole local or universal Church? I can state categorically - in case anyone wants to know - that I have personally NEVER encouraged anyone to be disobedient to Church norms in these matters.


  1. Thank you for a very good and clarifying post! I think this is what our dear pope JPII expressed in his encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia

  2. But, dear friend in TLIG, it is not at all allowed to distribute the holy Communion to non catholics, but in specific, note, specific cases when specific individuals with a specific permission from the specific bishop with the specific authority over the place in question permits it. All kinds of general permissions from the so called "Vatican" or from elsewhere is not at all true obedience! There are no general permissions when it comes to distribute holy Communion, and of course the official in the "Vatican" is in error in this case if it did give such a general permission, I am sad to say.
    So if you could encourage people in the TLIG to follow the accurate obedience, it would be for the better for all TLIG.
    Of course I can understand the bewildering situation, when things like this comes from the "Vatican", but I am sorry true obedience requests more of us and TLIG.

  3. Thank you. I am certainly going to check on this point, but when advice is sought from the "Vatican" one tends to trust that advice. However, to make doubly sure I will certainly take this back to the "Vatican" to make this specific point. I can certainly say that in one very recent case (in Lanciano) the local bishop took the trouble to come out in person to welcome us into his diocese, knowing full well who we are and what we were about. If it is - in all cases - necessary for us to seek out the local bishop's specific permission then that is what we must do. Thank you for your comments.

  4. Thank you for the unusual humble and positive way you responded in! This is really what True Life in God is about!
    Just a clarification of what I said before:

    1. The prohibition to give the holy Communion to non Catholics of course do not apply to the Orthodox people.

    2.It is the different sorts of societies in the Evangelical ecclesiastical societies and other organisations who are not members in the Orthodox Churches or Catholics who this prohibition applies to. As the Messages of Vassula describes it: "Those who go under the name of Luther, return to Peter!" The prohibition also applies to everyone who doe's not accept Peter as the ministry of Unity.

    3. As I said before: Even if a local bishop gives permission, he is never entitled to give a general permission to a group. It has to be specific individuals who actually are dispensed from the prohibition. I know there is a widespread abuse by many bishops. And a sort of scandal it was in Taizes too. But this is an important issue especially to TLIG, which is committed to true ecumenicism and not a false one, as the Messages of Vassula puts it. A false ecumenism is about the "movements" toward a sort of new Church based on just sharing the holy Communion and everything else in the Church avoiding the actual and concrete Union under Peter. A total another thing is of course that the way to Peter can be long and dwindling. But we have to separate between the goals and the means.

    Thanks again for the delightful and Christian way you replied in! I think you are in love with TRUTH, himself!

  5. I certainly need to check on these matters and I will do so with the help of a Canon Lawyer. I am not so sure that your interpretation is correct in all cases, but since you have brought these things to my attention they obviously need to be investigated.

  6. The Church's position on Vassula Ryden has been somewhat ambigious. I was inspired by your articles to write a blog post on TLIG myself. I had dismissed her before, given the conflicting reports that her ministry was condemned by the Vatican. After reading that you supported Vassula, I have recently went back to her website and discovered some incredible parallels in her prophecies with a certain hypothesis I forward in my book. I have heard some reports that the previous negative judgment remains in force. Do you have any information on the Church's current position on her ministry?

  7. Emmet. The "Church's position" is often misunderstood. First of all, the Notification was classed as a "warning" by no less a person than Cardinal Ratzinger. This Notification remains "in force" BUT he told Vassula, through Fr. Prospero Grech, that the CDF would now say that "the position has been modified" because her answers were accepted as "useful clarifications". What this means is that the Notification should now be read in the light of her answers and vice versa. Cardinal Ratzinger personally insisted that her answers be first of all published in her books, thus signalling that it is alright to have her books (otherwise how would one see her answers?). Now, her answers are available elsewhere. You also need to read the story of the dialogue that took place over a period of time between Cardinal Ratzinger and the lay theologian Dr. Neils Hvidt regarding Vassula. When Dr. Hvidt wrote his book on prophecy, which contains a section on Vassula, he asked the Cardinal to write the foreword, which he did. This can be seen in the book. Add to this the witness by the retired Bishop Terra of Brazil who was working under the Cardinal at the Pontifical Biblical Institute at the time of the first Notification who has publicly put on record (on video) a short conversation he had with the Cardinal where he asked him about reading Vassula's writings. He was told to continue as before "all is well". These and other facts can be seen on the official website. Cardinal Levada's letter (cited by many against Vassula) caused much confusion. It contained some factual errors and suggested that the TLIG prayer groups were not safe. When asked for clarification he replied by not making ANY reference to what he had said in that letter and did not answer any of the questions put to him. We are still unsure of the status of that letter. No one has yet clarified it for us. When I was in Rome recently Vassula had a meeting with the new head of the Secretariat for Christian Unity. It was described as a cordial meeting and lasted around one hour. She was accompanied by a Catholic bishop. There is more to be said (so much of it) but this should give you a glimpse of the "conflict" around her and the strange contradictions issuing from the "Vatican" (many think that the Vatican is one thing and that everything that comes from it is of the same authority!) We cannot expect more than this I'm afraid. Seers and "prophets" who are still alive remain under investigation - this is normal procedure. But Vassula's writings have not been banned not have Catholics been put under any particular order (from the Vatican that is) regarding her writings and meetings. Of course, individual priests and bishops have been very negative, even, in at least one case, to the point of disobeying Canon Law.

  8. Thank you very much for this detailed and informative reply. This helps to clarify things somewhat.