|Pope Francis venerates Our Lady Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace |
in most reccent Philippine visit, January 2014
The archbishop, Ramon C. Arguelles of Lipa [left], had declared the apparitions "worthy of belief" on September 12, 2015, and stated that the events were indeed supernatural, strongly encouraging devotion to "Our Lady, Mediatrix of Grace," as she called herself there. As we reported at the time, "Unless overturned by Rome, the apparition is thus 'Church-approved.'"
That reversal occurred on December 11, 2015 -- though Archbishop Arguelles was not made aware of it until two weeks ago.
The archbishop says a bishop in the Philippines Conference of Bishops informed him on May 28 that the Congregation had nullified his approval and that he had received the official document on May 31 from the nation's papal nunciature in Manila. (We strictly abide by such determinations.)
|Archbishop Arguelles with the image of Our Lady, Maediatrix of All Grce in Lipa|
For more than half a century now, the matter has been the focus of terrific dispute, with four of the six bishops involved with the original negative document in 1951 later recanting (and despite what they signed, expressing belief in the apparitions) and Cardinal Santos of Manila authorizing promulgation of the devotion. Arguelles says two Filipino bishops outright ignored the commission's negative ruling, allowing faithful to continue visiting the shrine.
|The vine where the Lady appeared|
|Bust of the Bishop Alfredo Verzosa, Bishop of Lipa in 1948|
It was further alleged but never proved that Church interrogators tried to intimidate the alleged visionary into signing a false confession, a statement saying the apparitions were a fabrication intended to bring her personal attention, and when the befuddled young postulant found the strength to refuse, she was confronted by an angry psychologist/priest who made motions as if ready to throw an ashtray at her.
Meanwhile the prioress of the Carmel convent there, Mother Mary Cecilia of Jesus, who supported the apparitions, was transferred to another convent and given the role of a scullery maid. "I told them that four bishops quoted [in the 1951 committee] had made notarized declarations that they believed in manifestation of Lipa," argues Archbishop Arguelles. "I had asked for documents on the investigation but several of the six were not bishops before 1950. Four died believing and even the Cardinal, in 1963 -- twelve years after ban -- had signed a document that allowed printing and spread [of the devotion], so that means he also believed. That's why I am now asking how it can really said that the declaration of 1951 could be the official stand of the Holy See. The four bishops encouraged support."
Still, the current Vatican ruling holds sway and must be obeyed. The Congregation is the Vatican body with authority over mystical claims. Its determinations can be reversed only by the Holy Father, who has been silent on the issue.
|Sister Teresita Castillo, the 1948 visionary|
Those who support such happenings argue that the devil often attacks when he knows the Blessed Mother is about to appear, in an attempt to dilute it or divert attention. On the other side are those who fret that a deceiving spirit counterfeits Mary.
Archbishop Arguelles, who has visited Lipa since childhood, and says he has himself seen miracles occur there and is skeptical that Pius XII was involved in the original Lipa ruling. "I don't think that in 1951, Pope Pius XII was even thinking of what was happening in such a small country as the Philippines with so many things were happening in the world," he argues, adding that the Pope was favorable toward such mysticism. "He approved an apparition in 1954 in Italy and also Our Lady of All Nations was also approved by Pius XII, as was a weeping statue and in Syracuse [Sicily]," he told Spirit Daily in a lengthy interview.
He also argues that there was an approval of Lipa in 1992, when the late Archbishop Mariano Gaviola lifted the ban enforced forty years earlier by the then Lipa Apostolic Administrator Bishop Rufino Santos. "I was just repeating and following the decree of 1992," Arguelles maintains.
|Rose petal with religious images|
The Lipa archbishop has conceded that the latest ruling by Cardinal Muller [left], who also has indicated opposition to Medjugorje, holds sway and as a matter of "obedience" released what he was given by the nuncio on May 31. "I did not respond and I have no intention," he says. "The document was not addressed to me but was meant for me and implied I was disobedient and I am not disobedient. I think there is a lot of antagonism to whatever is Marian and I am very hurt by that. I don't know if the Holy Father Pope Francis knows about this. I think this is completely contrary to what he believes."
When asked if he would halt people from visiting the shrine, Archbishop Arguelles said, "No, no not at all. You don't stop people from believing and loving the Blessed Mother. No, no, no. They can tell me to keep silence, but they cannot force me to say it's not true, as one bishop of Lipa once said." - Full story on Spirit Daily
(Related photos from various Internet sources added in this blog).