On October 2, 2019, a member of the Heralds wrote a letter to renowned Vaticanist Marco Tosatti to share with him some reflections on the canonical procedures of which the Heralds of the Gospel were being objected to. Without entering into the merits of the assessments it contains, we believe it appropriate that this letter, having already been reproduced in several means, was published here to help contextualize our readers.
Dear Dr. Tosatti,
I am a celibate layman, 67 years old, graduated in Canon Law. As a member of the TFP, I was an aide to its founder, Prof. Plinio, for years. Today, I continue my journey in the Heralds of the Gospel. I have no directionitory position in the entity, but I was able to closely monitor the entire process relating to the Apostolic Visit designated by the Holy See, including participating in the committee of experts responsible for preparing the dossier of "Answer to Questions Finals" raised by the visitors, due to the unfounded accusations, of a grupelho of former members unaficionados of charisma. I am therefore aware of the cause.
I write this report on my own initiative, contrary to it, it must be said, the indication of maintaining silence, in force between us. Thus, after a profound reflection before God, I feel in the duty of conscience to defend my personal honor and that of many souls who seek to collaborate with the fruitful apostolate of the Association for the good of the Church.
I've been following your work for a long time, dear Dr. Tosatti, and I admire your courage. For this reason, I believe that you are the person most suitable to bring to light this testimony of mine, which was motivated, above all, by the news of Vatican Insider, signed by Salvatore Cernuzio (9/28/2019): "The Vatican commissioned the Heralds of the Gospel, the Brazilian association of strange exorcisms, under investigation since 2017".
Indeed, several world press agencies soon broke the news of the Herald commissioning. We've been expecting sensationalist or false information. The unpleasant surprise was that the most aggressive reaction came from whom many regard as the unofficial vehicle of a certain fervent curial sector of the winds of 'mercy'.
What would be the cause of this? Cui bono? That is, who do you benefit from? We don't know, but here's some clues.
I) How much need…
We begin with the initial word of Cernuzio's article: "lack", referring to what the Heralds supposedly suffer. Any Christian knows that only God is exempt from any kind of "need" (S. Theol., I, q. 4, a. 2, co.). However, it is difficult to see where and how the Association has "a lack" of vocations, government or administrative. Especially if we contemplate today's Catholic landscape, so full of "neediness". I am honest in recognizing that no one is a good judge in their own question, but on the other hand we cannot deny the public truth known as such: the decline of vocations, the serious government and administrative problems that exist in many institutes. The Auxiliary Sister of the Commissioner appointed to the Heralds, for example, is Superior General of the Sisters of Divine Providence, which now has 928 religious, against the 1411 they were in 2005. We mentioned exactly Divine Providence so that the reverend mother will guide us, so as to prevent us from succeeding with us the same thing that happened to them…
On the other hand, we can see with sadness a "lack" in Cernuzio's article and it is that of a basic principle of justice, so well received by the deontological code of journalism: "Audiatur et altera pars". And that's not all. The Code of Canon Law declares (can. 1526) "onus probandi incumbit ei qui asserit" – "the burden of proof falls on those they accuse". In fact, the judge has an obligation to question the parties before delivering the sentence (can. 1530) "interrogate parts semper potest, immo debet". Cernuzio called himself a judge, but "lacking" all legal jurisdiction, did not apply to the case the principles proper to justice, because, it seems to me did not seek any of my confreres.
After repeating the alleged "shortcomings" that, among other things, are on the Vatican News website as the legal reasons, both visiting and commissioning, Cernuzio tries to exhume an old controversy over alleged exorcism, already widely clarified to various press agencies, several local bishops and the Vatican itself in this 572-page dossier – accompanied by 42 volumes, containing 75 annexes, totaling more than 18,000 pages of documents and publications – with explanations detailed about these and other events. As regards the alleged exorcism, the case was considered closed by the judicial authority of the diocese concerned, without any violation of canonical or liturgical rules. So why reignite an already archived controversy? "Res iudicata pro veritate habetur": the judgmentd legal judgment should be regarded as a truth.
II) "Strange exorcisms" or church memorial practice?
The history of incriminated exorcisms basically was "prayers of liberation", recommended even for lay people and lay people, widely disseminated in the Catholic orb, as provided for in the Roman Ritual itself: Exorcismis et supplicationibus quibusdam. In the case under analysis, it was not a "solemn exorcism", an act of public worship of the Church, but only of invocations ad libitum against the spirits of darkness, effective in so many cases ex virtute charismatis; as so many Catholics have done throughout history, several of them canonized, such as St Francisca Romana and St. Pius of Pietrelcina.
In a situation of diabolical vexation it is the duty of charity of every Christian – the fortiori of a priest – to seek the spiritual healing of the "needy" soul of supernatural aid. Is that no mercy, or am I wrong? The proof of the naturalness of these facts emerges from the testimonies of thanks – I want to believe that they have been kept carefully on file – sent to the members of the institution, on the part of very many people benefited. If the fruits are good, won't it be the tree too?
III) Cult of a kind of "trinity" or virtue linked to justice?
In the pages of a certain Brazilian anti-Catholic press, to whom Vatican Insider is now joining, the craze for confusing veneration or devoted respect to prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Dona Lucilia, her mother, and Mons. John, with "worship."
As we know, the objection against any type of cult of men or women is protestant profile, since within these separate denominations of the Catholic Church has been eliminated all kinds of veneration or respect for people who deserve it, considering such practice as a genre of idolatry, in favor of what they call Biblical Christenism.
You don't have to be a theologian to know the difference between respect and honor due to superiors (see S. Theol., II-II, q. 102-103), and the cult of latria reserved only to God. Even the pagans paid tribute to the people considered excellent among them. On the other hand, it is not necessary to be formed in Canon law to perceive the difference between public worship and private worship. The question was clearly elucidated by the Heralds in various publications and in the "Answer to final Questions" of the Apostolic Visit, referred to above.
In short, every faithful can and must, by virtue of justice and the fourth commandment of the Decalogue, consider worthy of respect the people invested with authority or virtuous, as the Apostle says: "Reddite omnibus debit[…]a: cui timorem timorem, cui honorem honorem" (Rm 13,7).
So we must take into account that it is not canonization that makes a good person, but it is because someone is holy who comes to be canonized; and, in fact, it is the "fame of holiness" among God's people which leads to initiating canonical processes. In this sense, the reputation of holiness of the Professor. Plinio and, above all, his mother Lucilia, extended far beyond the circles of the Heralds of the Gospel. Indeed, the amount of statements about graces received, whether material or spiritual, from people of all conditions, countries and age, is enormous.
IV) Millennials or prophesy?
It is also strange to label the Heralds as debuts to a kind of "secret and extravagant cult made of millennial theories raised because of Our Lady of Fatima". First, one cannot confuse millennials with prophesy. Indeed, in 2007, Benedict XVI declared, regarding the message of Fatima: "it is the most prophetic of all modern apparitions".
That same year, on the other hand, during the apostolic visit to Brazil, the Pontiff used the word "millennialism", one of the few times in the recent magisterium. And for what purpose? To refer to Liberation Theology as an easy millennialism, "a wrong mixture between Church and Politics." However, as we know, the Heralds are no longer interested in political discussions. Once again millennialism was attributed by St John Paul II to movements linked to The New Age, an empty philosophy, gnostic philosophy, which enjoys sympathy within other congregations, but not among the Heralds, of course.
Finally, assigning the Heralds the appealing "millennial" is a contradictio in termis. First of all, because they find themselves in the tracks of the counterrevolutionary movement; second, because it was stated by the Vatican News. However, as we know, this movement is diametrically opposed to the "mass revolution", intended as a means of reaching the supposed worldly kingdom, a typical characteristic of millennial movements.
The Heralds, too, were considered by Benedict XVI as an Association capable of stopping the expansion of sects, many of them considered by Ratzinger himself, in the book Rapporto sulla Fede, as being of a millennial character. And that's precisely because, according to him: "The correct appreciation of messages like Fatima can be a kind of response[ao crescimento das seitas, em particular aquelas apontadas como milenaristas]." In conclusion, I believe that Cernuzio is really wrong: according to the recent magisterium of the Church, the Heralds and their devotion to the prophetic message of Fatima are a reality opposed to millennialism.
V) Some curiosities to finish…
It is curious that Cernuzio states that an "in-depth investigation involving the Institute" was already underway on the occasion of the founder's resignation, when in reality the visit had not even been announced.
It is curious that commissioning has been enacted (with a basic error that could invalidate it at least partially), although the evidence shows that there is no consistent fact to justify such a measure.
It is curious that a newspaper, which is supposed to be so up-to-date, has omitted well-known information from the Vatican authorities, that is, the obvious partiality of one of the visitors against the Heralds. Fact confirmed according to the documents I had before my eyes.
Finally, the Vatican News news describes the founder of the Heralds as "former member of the Traditionalist Catholic association and Brazilian counterrevolutionary TFP". With everyone knows, the founder of TFP is Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, a great Catholic leader of world reputation. He himself, in the distant year of 1979, unmasking the intention of a certain more "advanced" wing of the Church, in a book whose title already reveals its prophetic content: "Indigenous tribalism, communal-missionary ideal for the Church of the 21st Century".
In short, it seems to me highly symbolic that part of this faction, heiress of chameleonic liberation theology – today, after strange metamorphosis, transformed into a kind of eco-theology – on the verge of the Synod of the Amazon, has declared to sacrifice on the altar of the "earth mother" an institution that, both in its origin and in its spirituality, has such a close connection with the Prof. Plinio.
In addition to their intentions, one thing I know and believe: God's works are immortal!
Originally published as: www.marcotosatti.com
(*) M. Jiménez holds a PhD in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas – Angelicum (Rome).