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New Vatican rules state only Pope can confirm divine visions

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For centuries, Catholic devotees have shared tales of miraculous encounters, from sightings of the Virgin Mary to reports of weeping statues of Jesus Christ. These occurrences, seen as divine interventions by many faithful, have often served to strengthen the beliefs of followers within the Catholic Church.

However, amidst the age of advanced technology and widespread social media, distinguishing genuine divine phenomena from scams and hoaxes has become increasingly challenging. In response, the Vatican has unveiled new guidelines aimed at rigorously assessing such claims.

Outlined in the document titled "Norms for Proceeding in the Discernment of Alleged Supernatural Phenomena," bishops are provided with a framework for investigating reports of divine visions and apparitions. Crucially, the guidelines emphasize that only the Pope, as the head of the Catholic Church, possesses the authority to officially recognize an event as "supernatural."

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Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the head of the Vatican doctrine office, underscored the importance of these guidelines in safeguarding believers from potential deception. He warned against the exploitation of divine occurrences for personal gain, power, or manipulation.

The document, developed over nearly six years, represents a significant update to the Vatican's previous directive on supernatural events, which dates back to 1978. It offers a meticulous evaluation process, presenting six potential conclusions regarding reported phenomena. Even with the highest level of approval from the Vatican, certainty about the event's authenticity is not guaranteed, but bishops are allowed to recognize its "pastoral" significance.

Throughout history, locations associated with apparitions and visions, such as Fátima in Portugal and Lourdes in France, have attracted pilgrims seeking spiritual solace and miraculous healing. These sites continue to hold profound significance for believers worldwide, serving as tangible expressions of faith and devotion.

May 18, 2024 12:35 p.m. 551

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