The apparitions of the Virgin to Ida Peerdeman in Amsterdam under the tite "Lady of All Nations" has received much controversy over the years. What many do not fully know is that the apparitions has received the full stamp of approval of the local bishop, in a landmark declaration on May 31, 2002. This article summarizes the developments of the Church position on the apparitions, eventually leading to the declaration of authenticity by the local bishop in 2002.
May 7, 1956
It is primarily the task of the local bishop to speak out regarding the authenticity of private revelations that take place or have taken place within his diocese. The local Bishop then, Msgr. J. Huibers (1935-1960) declared that he "found no evidence of the supernatural nature of the apparitions". He prohibited public veneration of the picture of the Lady of All Nations and the spreading of writings which would attribute a supernatural origin to these apparitions and revelations.
Msgr. Huibers, however, gave permission for the nihil obstat of the prayer and image. Thus, the prayer spread throughout the whole world receiving the imprimatur from more than 70 bishops for their dioceses.
After a short investigation, the new local bishop, Msgr. Zwartkruis again prohibited public veneration of the picture of the Lady of All Nations.
May 24, 1972
The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Vatican confirmed the previous negative decision on the matter.
May 31, 1996
The succeeding Bishop of Haarlem Amsterdam, Msgr. Henrik Bomers, together with his auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Jozef Punt, adopted a new, more positive, position. Confronted with worldwide devotion and many requests for public veneration, they widened in a decree the scope of the nihil obstat of the title and prayer to include public veneration of Mary under the title "Lady of All Nations". However, regarding the supernatural origin of the apparitions and the contents of the messages, no statement was made saying that "everybody is free to form their own opinion according to his or her conscience". According to Bishop Punt, before writing the declaration, he discussed the new policy with His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in Rome to which the latter gave his consent.
May 31, 2002
In response to so many inquiries from all over the world regarding the authenticity of the apparitions of the Lady of all Nations, Bishop Jozef Punt, Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, gave out a landmark memo-circular. He states: "I observed that the devotion had taken its place in the spiritual life of millions all over the world, and that it possesses the support of many bishops. Many experiences of conversion and reconciliation, as well as healings and special protection also have been reported to me... In light and virtue of all these recommendations... I have come to the conclusion that the apparitions of the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam consist of a supernatural origin”.
May 31, 2002
In Response to Inquiries Concerning the Lady of All Nations Apparitions
As Bishop of Haarlem / Amsterdam, I have been requested to make a statement regarding the authenticity of the Apparitions of Mary as the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam during the years of 1945-1959. Many members of the faithful and bishops have emphasized the urgency for clarification. I also have been personally aware that this development of devotion, which has spanned over 50 years, call for this.
As it is known, my predecessor, Msgr. H. Bomers and myself had previously given permission for public veneration in 1996. As to the supernatural character of the apparitions and contents of the messages, we did not give our judgment, bur declared that “everyone is free to make a judgment for himself or herself according to their conscience.” Having had a generally positive attitude towards authenticity, we decided to await further development and to discern the spirit” further (cf. 1 Thes 5:19-21).
Over the period of six subsequent years, I observed that the devotion had taken its place in the spiritual life of millions all over the world, and that it possesses the support of many bishops. Many experiences of conversion and reconciliation , as well as healings and special protection also have been reported to me. In full recognition of the responsibility of the Holy See, it is primarily the task of the local bishop to speak out in conscience regarding the authenticity of private revelations that take place or have taken place within his diocese.
Therefore I have asked once again for the advice of theologians and psychologist concerning outcomes of previous investigations, and the questions and objections deriving from them. Their recommendations state that no theological or psychological impediments for a declaration of supernatural authenticity can be found therein. I have also requested the judgment of a number of brother bishops concerning the fruits and development of the devotion, who within their own diocese have experienced a strong devotion of Mary as the mother and Lady of All Nations. In light and virtue of all these recommendations, testimonies, and developments, and in pondering all this in prayer and theological reflection, I have come to the conclusion that the apparitions of the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam consist of a supernatural origin.
Naturally, the influence of the human element still exists. Authentic images and visions are always transmitted to us, in the words of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, “through the filter of our senses, which carry out a work of translation…”and”…are influenced by the potentialities and limitations of the perceiving subject” (Cardinal Ratzinger, Theological Commentary In Preparation for the Release of the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima, L’Osservatore Romano, June 28, 2000).
Unlike Holy Scripture, private revelations are never binding upon the conscience of the faithful. They are a help in understanding the signs of the times and to help live more fully the Gospel (cf. Lk 12:56, Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 67). And the signs of our times are dramatic, The devotion to the Lady of All Nations can help us, in my sincere conviction, in guiding us to the right path during the present serious drama of our times, the path to a new and special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Who alone can heal the great wounds of our times.
To follow the further development of this devotion and to come to even deeper insight into its meaning, I have installed a commission whose task it will be to continue to document all initiatives, experiences, and testimonies stemming from the devotion in order to help insure and preserve a correct ecclesial and theological progress of devotion.
I hope this has provided sufficient information and clarification.
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