This includes the "appearance" of St. Joseph in Itapiranga, Brazil.
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Living in an era of “fake news” it should not be surprising that many apparitions of the Virgin Mary or St. Joseph are not real. In fact, throughout the centuries the Church has declared countless private revelations as false, and only declares worthy of veneration those accounts that are proven authentic and spiritually fruitful after careful study.
While Catholics are not required to believe any private revelation, even approved ones, apparitions and messages may be approved by the Church for local or universal devotion. The first step in this process is approval by the local bishop of the diocese where the visionary lives. A Vatican document that was drafted in 1978 describes the steps needed to confirm a private revelation.
When Ecclesiastical Authority is informed of a presumed apparition or revelation, it will be its responsibility:
a) first, to judge the fact according to positive and negative criteria (cf. infra, no. I);
b) then, if this examination results in a favorable conclusion, to permit some public manifestation of cult or of devotion, overseeing this with great prudence (equivalent to the formula, “for now, nothing stands in the way”) (pro nunc nihil obstare).
c) finally, in light of time passed and of experience, with special regard to the fecundity of spiritual fruit generated from this new devotion, to express a judgment regarding the authenticity and supernatural character if the case so merits.
Only the Apostolic See can override a local Ordinary’s decision. It would take something grave and not “motivated by suspect reasons” to reverse such a decision.
The Church is always careful to subject private revelations to a process of study before making any judgment as to the appropriateness of devotion, as it does not want to lead anyone astray from the faith.
Here is a very short list of private revelations over the past century that have been found inauthentic or not of a heavenly supernatural character, and from which the faithful are instructed to stay away.
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