We do not believe in the
An archdiocesan theological commission
investigating messages alleged to have been delivered to
Gianna Talone-Sullivan by the Blessed Virgin Mary has
concluded that there is nothing supernatural going on and
that, in fact, there are "negative elements"
contained in some of the apocalyptic prophecies she has made
In a letter sent to the visionary Sept. 24
at her home near Emmitsburg, the archdiocese’s judicial
vicar and cardinal’s delegate for canonical affairs,
Monsignor Jeremiah F. Kenney, informed Dr. Talone-Sullivan
that Cardinal William H. Keeler accepts the findings of the
three-priest commission and has instructed that "no
Catholic church properties may be used for the purpose of
providing a platform for any activities associated with the
"We do not believe in the
apparitions," Monsignor Kenney told The Catholic Review.
Sept. 27 Cardinal Keeler sent a letter to the pastor of St.
Joseph, Emmitsburg, informing him of the commission’s
decision. It was at St. Joseph that Dr. Talone-Sullivan
claimed to receive messages from the Virgin Mary during
Thursday evening prayer services beginning in 1993 until
September 2000 when the archdiocese banned them.
In the letter to Father William O’Brien,
C.M., Cardinal Keeler quoted the commission as stating that,
"given the present circumstances throughout the world of
what may be called a growing addiction to the spectacular, we
think that the Church should not promote or encourage persons
claiming to have extraordinary channels to God."
In response, Dr. Talone-Sullivan, who has a
doctorate degree in pharmacology, said she is "grateful
for the time, devotion and commitment, which the commission
undertook in reviewing and studying the alleged experiences
"It is," she further stated,
"a great gift to belong to the Catholic Church, and we
are always safe when we bow in obedience under her wing."
However, she maintained that her regular apparitions and
messages were and continue to be real.
In an open letter to those who have followed
her messages, Dr. Talone-Sullivan said, "We ask
forgiveness from you if any misunderstanding or confusion has
been caused to you or your family as a result of the lessons
and messages that have been given to me by Our Lord and Our
The archdiocese and the commission were also
critical of a video called, "Unbridled Mercy,"
produced by Dr. Talone-Sullivan’s Mercy Foundation, in which
references are made to a "eucharistic spiritual reign
where the Child Jesus will usher in a kingdom of peace."
The commission noted that "such a
spirituality is not the traditional Church teaching about the
"It may well be a comforting devotion
for the visionary," the commission stated, "but it
cannot claim to be a private revelation of divine inspiration,
to be presented as a divine message for the public."
Married to a physician, Dr. Michael
Sullivan, Dr. Talone-Sullivan is the founder of the Mission of
Mercy, based in Fairfield, Pa., near Emmitsburg. It is a
non-profit mobile medical program that works to provide free
medical and dental care to the poor, homeless, uninsured and
underinsured patients in central and Western Maryland.
After first receiving "private
revelations" in Scottsdale in 1987, Dr. Talone-Sullivan
said she began to receive messages in 1988 that she said the
Virgin Mary wanted to be made public. She said that from Dec.
19, 1989, to the present time, Our Lady has appeared and
spoken to her nearly every night (except Fridays) during her
private prayer, and during nearly every weekly public prayer
group in both Scottsdale, Ariz., and since November 1993 at
St. Joseph, Emmitsburg,
In 1989 Bishop Thomas O’Brien of Phoenix
formed an investigative commission to look into Dr. Talone-Sullivan’s
reported apparitions and messages and later announced that the
diocese neither supported nor condemned the events. The bishop
wrote that people were "free to believe in private
revelations if you wish."
The Archdiocese of Baltimore remained silent
on the events in Emmitsburg until Aug. 30, 1995, when
Monsignor Kenney said that because a diocesan investigation in
Arizona had uncovered "nothing contrary to faith"
Baltimore was "neutral on the matter at this time."
Events at St. Joseph’s parish accommodated
the growing crowds which averaged some 600 people every
Thursday evening, growing to about 1,000 during the summer
After the archdiocese ordered the cessation
of the Thursday prayer service, which Dr. Talone Sullivan
accepted "in obedience," she stopped publishing the
messages she claimed to receive from the Virgin Mary until
this past August when she again began to post them on an
internet Web site.
In his letter to Father O’Brien, Cardinal
Keeler noted that the commission acknowledged that
"impressive results" came from the Thursday evening
prayer services, including conversions, significant increases
in the number of confessions as well as physical and spiritual
However, the commission stated that while it
"gladly recognizes the working of God’s grace, even in
somewhat strange circumstances," it saw "no
necessary connection" between Dr. Talone-Sullivan’s
alleged apparitions and the reported benefits.
"No one can go off and start up his own church and call it Roman Catholic."
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