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At the beginning of April the Vatican’s Pontifical International Marian Academy (PAMI) announced that it would be launching an “International observatory on Marian apparitions and mystical phenomena.” In a press conference held on May 3, 2023, the director of the Observatory, Sister Daniela del Gaudio, gave more details about this group’s purpose, highlighting that they want to help develop a “critical consciousness,” in order to protect vulnerable people from false seers and swindlers.
The Observatory’s function
The Observatory is made up of about 20 experts from varying fields such as medicine, biology, law, and theology. Its aim is to study supernatural phenomena, without taking the place of the Church hierarchy, said Sister del Gaudio. She explained the organ will focus on providing an “intellectual” contribution to the research being carried out.
The Observatory will also focus on a second aspect: that of forming the public, especially journalists, through courses on the various mystical phenomena. All of this is aimed at developing “critical awareness,” said Paolo Cancelli, a lawyer specializing in the protection of vulnerable people against abuse. It is when this critical awareness is lacking that “illegality” flourishes, he added.
Sister del Gaudio highlighted that although the new organism can provide important information, its mission is not to make judgements on the veracity of the apparitions. “From a scientific point of view, we analyze the phenomena when they are finished,” she warned.
The Observatory will thus not issue opinions on the apparitions in progress.
Catholics are not “required” to believe any private revelation, even approved ones. But apparitions and messages may be approved by the Church for local or universal devotion. This approval is done for the benefit of the faithful, declaring “worthy of belief” those private revelations that can be helpful to Christians striving toward the ultimate goal of Heaven.