The Roman Catholic Church’s Teaching on Apparitions

Mark Waterinckx


Dear reader,

Out of love for the Church, for the truth and out of concern for so many misled faithful I offer you this article of mainly official ecclesiastical texts about the actual avalanche of new ‘apparitions’ worldwide.

I hope you will comprehend, that this kind of publication is needed.

For me it is like a personal ‘mea culpa’ because, after a miraculous healing of my own wife ( broken neck after a car accident, her brain-stem was contused, and she lost an unborn child of six and a half months; she was in the process of dying...), through prayers to Padre Pio, I have been involved in a whole series of actual non-approved ‘apparitions’.

I went 12 times to San Damiano-Italy, 3 times to Garabandal-Spain, 24 times to Medjugorje and have been a fanatical  promoter of many more of those ‘shrines’. In my many conferences I refused to mention the negative aspects and facts and only spoke about the ‘good fruits’ which were indeed present. Our good Lord spends his graces to all people who go to Confession, to Holy Mass, who pray the Rosary, etc. The real tree that bears good fruits is the tree of the Sacraments, independent of the location. 

But after 35 years of work 'at the base', I know what sorts of personal dramas are hidden behind this all too wonderful pseudo-mystic. Many faithful, without being aware of it, are drawn into it, and become fascinated, drugged, fanatical and end up in pure sectarianism. This already has brought about division, divorce, bankruptcy, turning the back on the Church, moving to real sects, ending up in psychiatry, committing suicide as a result of total deception and disorientation. Often enormous financial interests are involved of course.

The article below is 'ready for use' for Church-organizations, Roman Catholic magazines and websites.  It is at your disposal free of charge. It is urgent, because almost every day new ‘seers’ are arising.

For many years I gather details for my 300 files of false apparitions in and outside Europe, with the help of the local bishops.

My advice to you is not to fix all your attention to not recognized ‘messages’. Even the recognized ones like Lourdes, Fatima and Guadeloupe are not part of our ‘depositum fidei’. You do not have to believe them to be a good catholic. We have enough with the Bible, the Creed, the Sacraments, and hopefully the daily Mass.

For more information you may contact :

Mark Waterinckx,  Weinebruggelaan 49   B - 8200 Brugge (Sint Michiels)  Belgium                                                              Tel. 0032(0)50 38 50 29      E-mail  :


 What does the Roman Catholic Church say

about the many false apparitions in this “End Time” ?

Table of contents

Introduction:        warning of Pope John Paul II in L'Osservatore Romano'

                   I:        warning by Jesus in the Holy Gospel

                   II:       warning by St. Paul in his letters

                   III:      warning from 2000 years of church-history

                   IV:      warning by the Doctors of the Church

                         V:       warning by the Catechism of the Catholic Church

                   VI:      warning by the Congregation for the Faith

Introductory remarks:

In a speech by Pope John Paul II, published in L'Osservatore Romano' (English edition of September 18, 1996) the Holy Father says: Some members of the People of God are not rooted firmly enough in the faith, so that the sects with their deceptive proselytism, mislead them to separate themselves from true communion in Christ. Within the Church community the multiplication of supposed "apparitions" or "visions" is sowing confusion and reveals a certain lack of a solid basis to the faith and Christian life among her members.

I. What does Jesus say about this in the Holy Gospel?

A. The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew:

In reply Jesus said to them: "Be on your guard, let no one deceive you. Many will come attempting to impersonate me. 'I am the Messiah!' they will claim, and they will deceive many (Mt 24, 4-5). Indeed, you will be hated by all nations on my account. Many will falter then, betraying and hating one another. False prophets will rise in great numbers to mislead many. Because of the increase of evil, the love of most will grow cold (Mt 24, 10-12). If anyone tells you at that time 'Look the Messiah is here', or 'He is there', do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear, performing signs and wonders so great as to mislead even the chosen if that were possible. Remember, I have told you all about it beforehand; so if they tell you, 'Look he is in the desert,' do not go out there; or 'He is in the innermost rooms,' do not believe it. As the lightning from the east flashes to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Mt 24, 23-27). No one knows, however, when that day and hour will come - neither the angels in heaven nor the Son: The Father alone knows (Mt 24, 36). Stay awake, therefore! You cannot know the day your Lord is coming (Mt 24, 42). You must be prepared in the same way. The Son of Man is coming at the time you least expect (Mt 24, 44). The moral is: keep your eyes open, for you know not the day of the hour (Mt 25,13). "Be on your guard against false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but underneath are wolves on the prowl. You will know them by their deeds. Do you ever pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from prickly plants? Never! Any sound tree bears good fruit, while a decayed tree bears bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit any more than a decayed tree can bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. You can tell a tree by its fruit. None of those who cry out, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. When that day comes, many will plead with me, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? Have we not exorcised demons by its power? Did we not do many miracles in your name as well?' Then I will declare solemnly to them: 'I never knew you. Out of my sight, you evildoers!'" (Mt 7,15-23).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          - B. The Holy Gospel according to Lucas:

Jesus said: "Take care not to be misled. Many will come in my name saying, 'I am he' and 'The time is at hand.' Do not follow them" (Lk 21,8). He who hears you, hears me. He who rejects you, rejects me. And he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me (Lk 10,16).

C. The Holy Gospel according to St. Mark

Jesus began his discourse: "Be on your guard. Let no one mislead you. Any number will come attempting to impersonate me. 'I am he', they will claim, and will lead many astray (Mk 13, 5-6). If anyone tells you at that time, 'Look, the Messiah is here!' 'Look, he is there!'-do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear performing signs and wonders to mislead, if possible, even the chosen. So be constantly on guard! I have told you about it beforehand (Mk. 13, 21-23). As to the exact day or hour, no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven nor even the Son, but only the Father. Be constantly on watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come (Mk 13, 32-33).

II. What does St. Paul write in his many letters?

A.   First letter to the Thessalonians:

Do not stifle the Spirit. Do not despise prophesies. Test everything. Retain what is good. (lThes. 5,19-21)

B.   Second letter to Timothy:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power, I charge you to preach the word, to stay with this task whether convenient or inconvenient -correcting, reproving, appealing -constantly teaching and never losing patience. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires, will surround themselves with teachers who tickle their ears. They will stop listening to the truth and will wander off to fables. As for you, be steady and self-possessed; put up with hardship, perform your work as an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2Tim 4,1-5).

C.   Second letter to the Thessalonians:

Let no one seduce you, no matter how. Since the mass apostasy has not yet occurred nor the man of lawlessness been revealed -that son of perdition and adversary who exalts himself above every so-called god proposed for worship, he who seats himself in God's temple and even declares himself to be God (2Thes 2, 3-4). The lawless one will appear as part of the workings of Satan, accompanied by all the power and signs and wonders at the disposal of falsehood by every seduction the wicked can devise for those destined to ruin, because they have not opened their hearts to the truth in order to be saved. Therefore God is sending upon them a perverse spirit which leads them to give credence to falsehood, so that all who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evildoing will be condemned (2Thes 2, 9-12).

D.  Second letter to the Corinthians:

Such men are false apostles. They practise deceit in their disguise as apostles of Christ. And little wonder! For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2Cor 11,13-14).

E. Letter to the Colossians:

Let no one rob you of your prize by insisting on servility in the worship of angels. Such a one takes his stand on his own experience; he is inflated with empty pride by his human reflections (Col 2,18).

III. What do 2000 years of Church History teach us?

The number of false prophesies over the 'End Times' is innumerable. Already in the second century (+/-156) Montanus, 'inspired by the Paraclete', announced together with two exalted women -Priscilla and Maximilla, the 'New Jerusalem' and the 'Millennium' or the '1000 years of peace'. This Montanism had followers up into the sixth century! Many faithful and bishops let themselves be deceived by this pseudo-mysticism. The early-Christian writer Tertullianus was a.o. seduced by the 'new prophecy' of Montanus. Like so many nowadays, just as in these times, out of disillusionment over the lukewarm official Church....! Such sensational false prophets are already sweeping through 2000 years of Church History.  In the last few years, with the Millennium fever increasing, it is only getting worse. Hundreds, if not thousands of 'new prophets' speculate on fear and uncertainty in this atomic era and fling at our ears an approaching world war, all sorts of catastrophes, the Anti-Christ, the immediate return of the Messiah. And again, many good people are misled by these croakers. Amongst these all too naive followers time and again also many priests, even bishops and cardinals. John Paul II (see preface) doesn't without reason warn against these confusing manipulations. Cardinal Lambertini, the later Pope Benedictus XIV, already warned in his book 'De servorum Dei beatificatione et Beatorum canonizatione' against false revelations, which temporarily offer something good, to totally disillusion the naive followers later on. He mentions for instance, that his predecessor Pope Gregorius XI on his deathbed warned mankind for people who allege to have 'visions'. Cardinal Ratzinger in 1998 wrote in a letter bearing his signature that the 'positive' words about Medjugorje which were put in his and the Pope's mouth, are freely invented! Those, who are guilty of these scandalous manipulations, are well-known people....!

IV. What do the Doctors of the Church say?

A.   St. John of the Cross:

In his book 'Ascending Mount Carmel': The devil is elated when he observes, that a soul is longing for revelations and taking great pleasure in it. Then the opportunity is favourable and an excellent chance for him to hold out all sorts of hallucinations. The devil flatters the senses. To the eyes he shows images of saints in a glorious aureole. To the ears he mumbles flattering words. And also he produces delicious fragrances and feelings of heavenly joy. And that is all totally aimed at luring souls and hurling them in perdition...! God has nothing more to reveal to us now. He has concluded all what he said in individual fragments through the prophets from the Old Testament and has given us everything in his Son Jesus Christ. Longing for visions and revelations nowadays, is not only foolish, but it insults God, because one doesn't suffice in Christ, but is looking for new things.

B.   St. Theresia of Lisieux:

Extract from "J'entre dans la vie: derniers entretiens": I never longed for visions. On earth one cannot see the angels as they really are. I prefer to wait until after my death. No, I do not long to see the good God here on earth. How much I ever love him. I also love our Dear Lady and the saints. But also them, I do not wish to see now.

V.  What does the official Catechism of the Catholic Church say?

Nr. 67: Through the centuries there were so-called private revelations, some of which were approved by the church. They are however NO part of the Deposit of Faith. Their task is NOT to better or to add to the definite revelations of Christ, but as an aid to experience them more fully in a certain era in history. Guided by the teaching authority of the Church the faithful will distinguish and accept what in these revelations an authentic call from Christ or from his Saints is to the Church. The Christian Faith cannot acknowledge 'revelations', which claim to 'outclass' or 'improve' the revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment. That is the case with some sects of recent dates, which base themselves on such 'revelations'.

VI. What does the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith say? (Formerly the Holy Office')

On the occasion of the second warning against the non-supernatural 'messages' of Vassula Ryden, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published on November 29, 1996 the following notification (bulletin nr. 447): 'In connection with the circulation of texts from so-called 'private revelations' the Congregation defines:

1.   The interpretation some people are given to a decision, approved by pope Paul VI on October 10, 1966 proclaimed on November 15, 1966, according to which these writings and 'messages' originate from so-called 'revelations', may freely be spread in the Church, is absolutely not valid. The above-mentioned decision does concern the abolition of the Index of forbidden books and mentioned, that since now the censure is abolished, the moral obligation still exists not to spread or read writings, that endanger faith and morals.

2.   With that it is repeated, that whatever concerns the spreading of texts of so-called private revelations, the valid norm of Codex, that is canon 823, stays fully in force. It gives the right to pastors to demand that moral writings concerning faith and morals, which persons are planning to publish, are submitted to their judgement.

3.   The so-called supernatural 'revelations' and writings are at the first hand submitted to the judgement of the diocesan bishop, and in certain cases to the judgement of the bishops-commission and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


For Medjugorje, Garabandal, San Damiano, Vassula, Naju, Marpingen, Little Pebble, Palmar de Troya, Bayside, Ladeira, Heroldsbach, Schio, Onkerzele, Dozulé, Montichiari, Necedah, Penablanca, Mère Marie-Claudine, Eisenberg, Manduria and so many others, the legal judgement of the diocesan bishop was time and again negative.

What was the consequence? Rebellion and disobedience of many deceived faithful against the local bishop. Some people even say: If the Pope does not acknowledge 'the apparitions', then I will no longer acknowledge the Pope!

Sectarian fanaticism instead of Christian faith... Satan, the father of lies (Jn 8, 44) allows with pleasure that many will 'convert' in places were false apparitions occur, if only he can disengage the faithful from the Pope and from Rome...

We have the Bible, the Credo, the Holy Mass, the Sacraments. Why chasing for sensation? Authentic visionaries are not recognized by signs, wonders, conversions, healings, prophecies, but only by their heroic virtues, primarily obedience and humbleness. Let us be humbly obedient to the teaching authority of the Church of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit shall never leave her and be with her always. (Jn 14,16 and Mt 16,18)