The bishops’ warning about the mystical Maria Valtorta

Noting a growing success of the writings of the mystic Maria Valtorta, the Doctrinal Commission of the Bishops of France issued a note on September 29 to recall the blacklisting of her main work. This one tells details and anecdotes about the life of Jesus absent from the Gospels.

The Gospel as revealed to me “. This is the title of the major work of Maria Valtorta (1897-1961), which retraces the life of Christ with a profusion of details and anecdotes that Jesus himself would have revealed to her. Having become a true bestseller, the work has been sold since its publication in 1956 in more than 4 million volumes worldwide and translated into 27 languages. A worrying success for the bishops of France, whose Doctrinal Commission published a note on September 29, 2021 to recall the controversial status of the story of this mystical woman.

“The dissemination of the writings of Maria Valtorta has intensified for at least two years. We meet, in addition to the faithful who are nourished by these texts, priests who spread these writings, Maria Valtorta reading groups whose activities are in certain places announced in the parish bulletins, note the bishops. Associations and Internet sites broadcast on a large scale emails commenting on the Sunday Gospel with texts by Maria Valtorta. » The problem underlined by the episcopate: “The faithful in good faith assume that this work is approved by the Church. »

Maria Valtorta’s book put on the Index

On the contrary, “a clear judgment” against this book was pronounced by the Magisterium of the Church, the bishops recall. On December 16, 1959, he indeed “put [l’ouvrage] to the Index”. In its commentary commenting on the decree, the Vatican press organ (Osservatore Romano) pointed above all to the literary value of the text and the puzzling attitude of Jesus and Mary as they are presented. They defined the work strictly as a “life of Jesus badly romanticized”.

The bishops insist: this disapproval of the work was reiterated on January 31, 1985 by Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They quote his statement at the time: “Although abolished, the Index retains all its moral value, which is why it is not considered appropriate to distribute and recommend a work whose condemnation was not taken lightly, but on reasoned arguments in order to to neutralize the damage that such a publication can cause to the faith of the poorest. » The Episcopate also recalls that Joseph Ratzinger had demanded from the publisher on May 6, 1992, through the voice of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, “not to publish the writings of Maria Valtorta without explicitly indicating that they are not of supernatural origin”. The letter stated that the writings of this woman “must be considered simply as the literary forms used by the author to tell, in his own way, the life of Jesus. »

Distinguishing the Word of God from Private Revelation

The whole point of the note is to“to help the faithful to clearly distinguish the Word of God from private revelations”, as recommended by the 2008 synod on the word of God, the bishops specified. These private revelations do not have the role of “‘to complete’ the definitive Revelation of Christ, but to help to live it more fully at a certain time in history”, they quoted.

“We observe in certain faithful of the Catholic Church an interest in private revelations, a taste for what appears new and manifests the actuality of Revelation through mystical graces or charisms, again underline the bishops in their note. This deserves to be accompanied by pastoral care which aims, not to quench the Spirit, but to enlighten the faithful on this distinction between the Word of God and private revelations”.

Conversation with God is not “pietist-individual”

Faced with this enthusiasm, the episcopate wished “recall an important truth of faith”: “A person alone, without full communion with the Church and its pastors, cannot claim to be the depository of the Gospel or of tradition. For the fruit of the reception of the Word of God is the communion of the Church with the Father and the Son. » And to add: “The ongoing conversation of the community of the faithful with God is not ‘pietist-individual.’ It is about God’s dialogue with the Bride of Christ, the holy Church. »

God pursues this “dialogue with the Church” through “various modes”, explained in the dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum and quoted by the bishops: “either by the contemplation and study of believers […]either by the interior intelligence that they experience of spiritual things, or by the preaching of those who, with the episcopal succession, received a certain charism of truth”. The bishops conclude by welcoming the “spiritual thirst” of the People of God and the “need for reading, living food to encourage fervor and contemplation of the mystery of Christ”.

Maria Valtorta, bedridden since she was 37, is said to have written in one go, between Holy Thursday of 1943 and the year 1947, fifteen thousand pages without erasures on the revelations that Christ made to her about his life and his passion. She says that at the dawn of her 50th birthday, on February 3, 1943, Jesus would have given her this injunction: “Take this work and do not seal it, but read it and have it read. »

Camille Lecuit

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The bishops’ warning about the mystical Maria Valtorta

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