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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The Catholic church. The document on “supernatural phenomena” comes into force

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Today, the document of the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding “standards of conduct in discerning alleged supernatural phenomena” enters into force. It assumes the possibility of six different assessments in discerning supernatural phenomena. From positive to negative opinion.

Approved by Pope Francis The document of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Norms of conduct in the discernment of alleged supernatural phenomena”, contains the possibility of six different assessments in the discernment of supernatural phenomena.

From “nihil obstat” (Latin: “nothing stands in the way”), through “prae oculis habeatur”, i.e. the recognition of positive signs with the need for a doctrinal explanation of certain elements of the phenomenon, “curatur”, when it is advised not to issue a ban so as not to disturb the faithful , but the bishop is required not to promote the phenomenon, even to the point of receiving a negative opinion.

The document makes it possible to comment more quickly on the supernatural nature of the phenomenon.

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The bishop's duty

However, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith will have to approve the bishop's final decision and will have the right to intervene at any time through a “motu proprio”. In recent decades, in many cases in which individual bishops have spoken out, the Holy Office has been involved, but its intervention remained behind the scenes and was not made public.

According to the document, “the bishop's duty is to examine the cases and submit their assessment to the dicastery for approval.” However, he is to refrain from public declarations regarding the authenticity or supernatural nature of phenomena and try to avoid confusion and “fomenting a climate of sensationalism.”

The research commission appointed by the Ordinary should include at least one theologian, canonist and expert, selected on the basis of the nature of the phenomenon.

The criteria proving that a phenomenon is not of a supernatural nature include: doctrinal errors, “a sectarian spirit that breeds division within the Church, an obvious pursuit of profit, power, fame, public fame, personal benefits closely related to the fact, serious immoral acts (…), mental changes or psychopathic tendencies in a given person, which may have had an influence on the alleged supernatural event, or psychosis, mass hysteria or other elements attributable to the pathological scope.

The Vatican dicastery began revising the norms in 2019. The document enters into force on Sunday, May 19, the day of Pentecost.

Vatican introduces new guidelines. Grounds

Why Vatican introduced new guidelines? “The source of this document is the long experience of the last century with cases when the bishop of a place (or bishops of a given region) declared the supernatural nature of a phenomenon in a very short time, and then the Holy Office expressed otherwise,” we read on the website of the Catholic Information Agency.

According to the BBC, in recent years, especially in the era of social media, the number of reports about such phenomena has increased dramatically. Meanwhile, they are assessed differently, even by the hierarchs themselves.

As noted in the Holy See document, it takes time to assess all phenomena and their potentially non-supernatural nature. “Today we have come to the conviction that we must always avoid those complicated situations that cause confusion for the faithful,” writes the Vatican.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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