Vatican: Divine Innocence Spirituality Flawed

Archbishop of Southwark Releases Decision

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LONDON, SEPT. 23, 2007, (Zenit.org).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith denied approval of the statues of the Community of the Divine Innocence, reports the Archdiocese of Southwark.



Archbishop Kevin McDonald released a statement Friday reporting the decision of the doctrinal congregation, along with the note issued by the dicastery entitled "Observations of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Writings of Mrs. Patricia de Menezes and the Community of the Divine Innocence."

The observations were communicated to the archbishop of Southwark on July 16, by the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Angelo Amato.

In his statement, Archbishop McDonald explained that the Community of Divine Innocence was founded by Patricia de Menezes, who lives in the diocese of Southwark.

"The group's spirituality and beliefs," he said, "are based on divine revelations that de Menezes claims to have received. A distinctive feature of the Divine Innocence -- and something that de Menezes claims was revealed to her -- is that all children who are aborted should be proclaimed by the Church as martyrs and be seen as companion martyrs of the first Holy Innocents."

The archbishop said that since its founding interest in the group has spread, and so have inquiries into the validity of the apparitions.

In 2001 the archdiocese issued a public statement that clarified that "the authenticity of the alleged apparitions concerning Divine Innocence has not been accepted by the Archdiocese of Southwark and the archdiocese has not given its authority to publicly promote it."

Archbishop McDonald added: "When inquiries were made about the status of the Divine Innocence, the answer given was that individuals have no authority to meet publicly as a group known as Divine Innocence because this would indicate public acceptance by the competent authorities of the alleged apparitions and that has not been given."

Meanwhile, the Community of the Divine Innocence prepared statutes for their community and submitted these and other documentation to the Holy See for approval.

Four concerns

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the request of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, conducted an in-depth study of the Divine Innocence.

The conclusion of this study was that the congregation was not convinced by the substantial content of the messages allegedly communicated to de Menezes.

The note names four particular areas of concern: the exaggerated claims made for the Community of Divine Innocence; the inappropriate words and phrases attributed to Jesus; the questionable demand made concerning the status of aborted children; the intemperate language used in the "Inspirations" when attacking Church authority.

The dicastery concludes: "Given the supposed revelations which ground the spirituality of the Community of Divine Innocence are highly questionable, it follows that the community's spirituality is flawed at its root.

"Because this spirituality thoroughly animates the community's proposed constitution, it cannot be approved."

Archbishop McDonald echoed the decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in his statement: "It must be clearly stated that the Divine Innocence has no recognition or approval whatsoever either from the diocese of Southwark or the Holy See and that there is no ecclesiastical approbation for Catholics to meet as the group known as Divine Innocence.

"Finally, I am aware that many devout people, deeply committed to the pro-life movement, have become involved with the Divine Innocence.

"I wish to encourage them in their work and prayer but in view of the observations of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this must no longer be in the context of the organization or spirituality of the Divine Innocence."