Vassula and Cardinal Ratzinger (Fr. Lars Messerschmidt, Vicar General of the Catholic Church in Denmark)
On July 10th 2004, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, sent a letter to a number of bishops concerning the same Congregation’s judgment of Vassula Rydén who visited a number of Nordic countries from 2nd to 11th October 2004.
A short presentation of Vassula for those who do not know her: She is born in 1942 in Egypt of Greek parents belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church. After having been married to a Swede she traveled the world belonging to the higher social classes. She was not a practicing Christian. In 1985, while living in Bangladesh, she met God in a special way which was the beginning of a deep Christian life. Jesus truly entered her life and she started writing down her daily conversations with him. Vassula hears Jesus’ voice, but the strange thing about this communication that continues to this day is that Jesus at the same time guides her hand, i.e. he writes his messages by using her hand. This is seen very clearly in the handwritten manuscripts that have been published. Several renowned theologians have written about this hand-writing that as a phenomenon on a number of points differs from the so-called ’automatic writing’. Since then she has traveled the world and evangelized on the basis of her writings that carry the name True Life in God.
The 6th of October 1995 the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith issued a Notification in response to many Catholic bishops and faithful that had written for guidance. The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith at the time decided to warn the faithful not to consider Vassula’s writings as supernatural and questioned certain dogmatic expressions in them. The Notification raised a storm of protestation from renowned theologians who were convinced of the authenticity of the writings. The last couple of years an ongoing communication has taken place between the Congregation and Vassula resulting in a document to a number of bishops’ conferences that had expressed particular concern to have the Congregation’s opinion of Vassula clarified. The document is signed by Cardinal Ratzinger himself. He mentions in the letter that Vassula in her answers to the Congregation printed in the latest volume of ’True Life in God’ has supplied "useful clarifications regarding her marital situation, as well as some difficulties which in the aforesaid Notification were suggested towards her writings and her participation in the sacraments".
This statement sounds rather laconic, but on the basis of the 1995 Notification it means that the Congregation is satisfied with her answers and no longer holds on to the dogmatic reservations against her. Understandably, the Congregation abstains from concluding whether she is truly God’s instrument, but rather leaves it to the individual bishop, priest or believer to make their own judgement, only, the document says that bishops if necessary should give indications for the ecumenical prayer groups that Vassula organizes.
There are abundant testimonies from different denominations and even from non-Christians indicating that people have come to a real and deep faith in Christ by reading and listening to Vassula. Jesus says that spiritual things are to be judged by their fruits. There can be no doubt that the fruits of Vassula’s activities are good, but every one has to discern, whether she is one of Jesus Christ’s instruments today. On the basis of Cardinal Ratzinger’s short letter it is now without the shadow of doubt that a Catholic with a clear conscience can consider Vassula as sent from God. Of course, everyone is free not to do so, but it is no-longer possible to posit dogmatic grounds to reject her. To judge spiritual things one needs to listen to one’s heart. Freedom and respect for each other’s opinions are imperative when dealing with apparitions and prophesies.
Fr. Lars Messerschmidt
The Catholic Church in Denmark