As Pope Benedict XVI began his first visit as pontiff to France, being greeted at Paris airport by President Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni, it emerged that he had asked a Spanish Jesuit to draw up new guidelines for bishops around the world on the recognition of reported apparitions.
The Vatican said it had asked Monsignor Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer to launch his investigation because the Pope wanted to avoid “excesses and abuses” of such visions. The pontiff believes bishops should resist being swayed by the emotional reaction of believers and be guided instead by strictly applied “scientific, psychological and theological criteria”.
Ignazio Ingrao, Vatican correspondent of the weekly news magazine Panorama, said the inquiry had been prompted because of the readiness of a bishop of Civitavecchia, the port north of Rome, to approve reports that a statue of the Madonna owned by a local family had wept tears of blood. The bishop even claimed to have seen the tears himself while holding the statue in his arms. The bishop was later replaced.
The Vatican is also sceptical about reported Marian apparitions since 1981 at Medjugorge in Bosnia-Herzegovina, despite the fact that the site is visited by two million pilgrims a year. – timesonline