Question to EWTN from D. Maanum on 02-05-2002:
|Please advise what is the status of Maria Valtorta's private meditations? I heard they were once on the list of condemned books, but that was lifted. Can a Catholic read them for inspiration and what are the Churches rules on private meditations? Thank you.|
|Answer by EWTN's Bill Bilton on 02-05-2002:|
|The works of Maria Valtorta have been
condemned by the Church after a careful and serious investigation and study
that found their contents to be harmful to faithful Catholics. On December
16, 1959, the Congregation of the Holy Office ordered the 4-volume work
entitled "The Poem of the Man-God" placed on the Index of Forbidden Books.
Pope John XXIII approved the decree and directed that the condemnation be
published. The decree was then promulgated by the Holy Office on January 5,
1960. The Vatican's newspaper "L'Osservatore Romano", on the following day,
published an article summarizing the investigations of the cardinals of the
Holy Office who were responsible for protecting the faithful in matters of
faith and morals. It should be noted that none of Maria Valtorta's works
have been approved by the Church.
On June 14, 1966, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith abrogated the Index of Forbidden Books. Although the Index was abolished in 1966, the censure and prohibition of books already on the Index still retain their validity as to the moral law which totally forbids the dilution of faith and morals.
The publishers who have re-printed Maria Valtorta's works have been deceiving the Catholic faithful in printing and distributing these condemned works to a devout, but unsuspecting Catholic faithful. They have done so despite the efforts of the highest Church authorities to warn the faithful that the moral authority represented by the condemnation on the Index of Forbidden Books remains even today, and that the works of Maria Valtorta should be avoided by sincere and conscientious Catholics.
We would like to sincerely urge you to consider the fact that the works of Maria Valtorta have been condemned by the Church as unreliable and spiritually harmful accounts of the life of Jesus and His Mother. Catholics wanting to know more about both should spend their time reading the Gospels or a good life of Christ.
Bishop Roman Danylak
Titular Bishop of Nyssa
Parish of Saints Sergius and Bacchus
00184 Roma. Italy
The Editorial Board
To Whom It May Concern:
Your column Questions and Answers was recently brought to my attention; specifically your response to a question from your listeners and readers concerning the writings of Maria Valtorta.
I donít know who Mr. Bill Bilton is, or his relationship to EWTN, but I wish to advise you that his answer to your listener is a splotch and a blotch on the good name and authority which EWTN rightly enjoy among Catholic listeners, not to mention the failure to investigate the status of the question.
As I read his answer my blood boiled at this arrogating to oneself the authority that belongs only to the magisterium of the church.
It is true that the first edition of the Poem of the Man God was placed on the index of the Roman Catholic Church. This index was scrapped by the authority of Pope Paul VI in 1965. As the authoritative explanation of the accompanying document of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith explains, the old index may retain the moral, but not canonical, authority as a guide to Catholic readers. The documents of 1965/6 acknowledge that not every work that had been placed on the index was necessarily against morals and faith.
The repetition of the notions of the earlier censors and maligners of Maria Valtorta reveals that whoever continues to invoke this index is not aware of the response of Cardinal Ratzinger to the bishop of Birmingham, Alabama in 1993; and of the statements of the Conference of Italian Bishops over the past several years. These acknowledge that there is nothing against faith or morals in the Poem of the Man God and the other writings of Maria Valtorta. They further acknowledge the current legislation of the Catholic Church in the Code of Canon law, that no longer require the nihil obstat of ecclesiastical authorities for writings purporting to alleged messages or revelations (CIC cann. 823-4, 830, 832)
To continue the scurrilous witch-hunt against Maria Valtorta and her writings reminds me of the theologians and canonists who burned Saint Joan of Arc at the stake, of those who excommunicated Saint Thomas Aquinas, of the detractors of Blessed Padre Pio. It reminds me of the high council or synedrion [Sanhedrin] of the Jews who condemned Christ. Unfortunately one of the failings of the offices of the Church is the fact that these offices do not make formal retractions of their own accusations when it has been brought to their attention that they have made mistakes. This is a common failing of bishops and pastors and of many in authority.
This is what happened with Maria Valtorta. The Osservatore Romano was made aware of the falsity of the innuendos of writers maligning Maria Valtorta in their articles, published in the Osservatore in 1961. They were informed by the Servite fathers who had presented the volume of the Poem of the Man God to Pope Pius XII. Pope Pius XII commended her writings: "Publish them as they are, taking nothing away, nor adding to them. Who will understand, will understand." The Osservatore stopped printing negative comments. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of others.
Fortunately there is another remedy in the Catholic Church. The Popes have raised Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Blessed Padre Pio to the altars of the Church. The Eternal Father raised His Son from the dead and seated Him at His right hand. Hopefully some day the Church will recognise the sanctity of this chosen victim soul.
Although the first Italian edition of the Poem of the Man God did not carry a nihil obstat, and this is the reason why the Poem of the Man God was placed on the index, several bishops have subsequently given their nihil obstat and imprimatur to the writings of Maria Valtorta over the past years. Her writings have been translated into French, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Polish, Ukrainian, Malayalam and other languages. Several bishops, including myself, have given their imprimatur to these translations so that Catholic readers may not hesitate to take these writings into their hands They are truly a gift from Our Lord. I wish to refer Mr. Bilton to what I have written. I have included several of my articles in defense of Maria Valtorta in my website at www.heartofjesus.ca. I especially commend the masterly website, and the extensive research of a Catholic monk, who has collected many articles and papers of various authors and included them in his website. Cf. http://www.bardstown.com/~brchrys/index.html
The present editor and publisher of the works of Maria Valtorta, Dr. Emilio Pisani, has compiled the arguments of various writers pro and contra of the writings of Maria Valtorta in a new book. In a cursory glance at the Google listings on the Internet, you will find more than 200 websites dedicated to the writings of Maria Valtorta, in a variety of languages.
You owe a retraction to your reader(s)
Respectfully yours in Christ and the Blessed Mother,
+ Roman Danylak