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Can you Criticize a Priest?

Piccoli Fiori JMJ

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[quote]Is that Pieta book paperback with a blue cover? I think I've seen one somewhere. [/quote]

And it has the imprimatur which means that it is FULLY approved by the Church as recommended reading. If you purchased one today, you'd STILL find the imprimatur.

It has not been condemned.

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Regarding the criticism of a superior, it must be done with great caution. Bishops in particular:

[quote]Let every one bear in mind that most wise teaching of Gregory the Great: "Subjects should be admonished not rashly to judge their prelates, even if they chance to see them acting in a blameworthy manner, lest, justly reproving what is wrong, they be led by pride into greater wrong. They are to be warned against the danger of setting themselves up in audacious opposition to the superiors whose shortcomings they may notice. Should, therefore, the superiors really have committed grievous sins, their inferiors, penetrated with the fear of God, ought not to refuse them respectful submission. The actions of superiors should not be smitten by the sword of the word, even when they are rightly judged to have deserved censure."

--Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter "Sapientiae Christianae"[/quote]
Canon Law also has something to say:

[quote]Christ's faithful are at liberty to make known their needs, especially their spiritual needs, and their wishes to the Pastors of the Church.

[Lay persons] have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ's faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.

--Canon 212[/quote]
My point wasn't that we should go around screaming "heretic" at a Priest or Bishop, or setting ourselves up as their superiors in front of others. But, obviously, we can discuss problems that impact the Church (especially when they are criminal), and ask a Priest or a Bishop to reconsider their behavior; always keeping in mind that the Pope alone is their judge.

The example of St. Paul rebuking St. Peter is not a good one, because St. Paul was an Apostle and a brother Bishop. We do not have that lofty place, and so we must always keep in mind our humble place in the Church.

However, I still remain wary of the emphasis in those "Mutter Vogel" quotes, and would not be inclined to believe they are authentic revelations from Our Lord. But, they may be approved by the Church. I don't know.

Edited by Era Might
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[quote name='Fides_et_Ratio' post='1029294' date='Jul 22 2006, 10:03 PM']
can someone scan or confirm the Imprimatur? Brendan, where did you get your info?

I'm staring at my Pieta right now. Its there.

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Birgitta Noel

I think the key here is to look at the language used.


There are lots of interpretations of those words.

We can offer fraternal correction to a priest in the proper manner and that is not attacking. We can offer constructive criticism. Attacking is different.

We can speak the truth about a priest without being unkind, ie with due charity and only speaking truths when they are perhaps harmful when necessary, ie to protect children.

We can accept the mercy and grace given by our confessors, poor instruments though they may be and not judge their souls or intentions, and pray for them. Prayer can never hurt!

:idontknow: Just a few thoughts. There's nothing dubious if this is the meaning the author is attaching to the words. The intention may have been to correct those who were looking at the splinter in their priest's eye and ignoring the plank in their own :mellow:

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[quote name='hot stuff' post='1029306' date='Jul 22 2006, 11:07 PM']
I'm staring at my Pieta right now. Its there.

Ditto. I specifically checked for it when I bought the book. If the Vatican has spoken about it in the meantime, I would like to know! Brendan, what are your sources? I would like to do some reading on the subject.

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I tried googling the name, but the only conclusive thing I found was that the Church has not officially spoken either way on the revelations of Mutter Vogel.

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This is the book if anyone is wondering:


I have been searching for anything about teachings and this book, and I just can't seem to find anything.

I do have 2 issues with it:

1. I always felt some of it was superstitious, especially the part where it said if certain prayers are said faithfully for a certain period of time that certain types of harm to your children would be prevented.

2. Imprimaturs (correct me if I am wrong) aren't saying the book is GOOD theology, they simply say whatever is in the book will not beaver dam your soul.

So, it comes down to, I LOVE the pieta book. I use it all the time to pray, but I think it can be VERY misleading to non-Catholics or to youth, or to people just coming around to their faith.

Edited by prose
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[quote name='prose' post='1029445' date='Jul 23 2006, 12:17 PM']2. Imprimaturs (correct me if I am wrong) aren't saying the book is GOOD theology, they simply say whatever is in the book will not beaver dam your soul.[/quote]
Yes. A Bishop doesn't have to agree with the contents of a book to give his imprimatur (although I'm sure they usually do). It just means that there is nothing contrary to faith and morals, although there could be wrong theology (not doctrine).

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You're right Prose. I'm just clearing up the idea that it has been condemned by the Church. Which it hasn't

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(Please note: the following was written by a schismatic priest, but it is line with Catholic teaching.)

Magnificent Prayers, Yes — Magnificent Promises, No

[quote]A Monitum from the Holy Office: In certain places a booklet has appeared with the title “The Secret of Happiness: Fifteen Prayers Revealed by Our Lord to Saint Brigid in the Church of Saint Paul in Rome,” published in various languages at Nice (and elsewhere).

Since it is asserted in this booklet that certain promises were made by God to Saint Brigid, and it is by no means certain that these promises were of supernatural origin, Ordinaries of places [bishops of dioceses] must avoid giving permission to publish or to reprint works or writings which contain the aforesaid promises.

Given at Rome, from the Holy Office, 28 January, 1954

(Acta Apostolicae Sedis 46-64, as contained in Canon Law Digest, Vol. IV, p. 389, Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1958)[/quote]

Among the popular devotions of the Catholic faithful are the “Magnificent Prayers” of St. Bridget (Brigid), to be prayed uninterruptedly for an entire year. These fifteen prayers focus on the Sacred Passion of Our Divine Lord, and are believed to have been revealed to St. Bridget of Sweden (feastday - Oct. 8), a great devotee of the Passion. Unfortunately, these prayers sometimes appear in booklets along with the promises whose publication the Holy Office forbade in 1954. The prayers themselves were not condemned, but it will be fairly apparent later on in this article why restriction was placed on the so-called “Magnificent Promises.”...

According to a booklet that publishes the alleged promises,5 Our Lord had revealed to St. Bridget that He received 5,480 blows to His Sacred Body during the Passion. Therefore, if one were to pray the 15 prayers daily for a year, along with 15 Our Fathers and Hail Marys, one would thereby have honored each of the wounds received. (Actually, 15 times 365 is 5,475. If the leap year is factored in, the calculation is closer. Thus, 15 x 365.25 = 5,478.75, which rounds off to 5, 479.)

This part of the revelation does not seem to be against Catholic doctrine. When the Scriptural accounts of the Passion are considered, this number seems to be a reasonable calculation. It is entirely possible that the Divine knowledge, which knows the minutest details of the Passion, chose to communicate to St. Bridget the number of actual blows to edify the faithful and inspire them with a greater love of the suffering Redeemer.

It is the promises, though, that are problematic. Some of them are consistent with Church teaching, but some of them definitely are not. Here is a sampling6 of those that are not, along with my comments:

“2. Fifteen souls of his lineage will be confirmed and preserved in grace.” How is it possible for anyone to be “confirmed in grace”? No one can be certain of salvation in this manner, much less can this certainty be given gratuitously to descendants.

“4. Whoever recites these Prayers will attain the first degree of perfection.” What is the first degree of perfection? This is nebulous and ill-defined. Reciting these prayers daily for an entire year would imply some degree of perfection, but not necessarily the highest. Moreover, neurotics and those who love to “rattle off” prayers in great quantity may easily say these prayers daily, and be no closer to perfection than they were when they started. Quality is necessary and even more important than quantity.

“5. Fifteen days before his death I will give him My Precious Body in order that he may escape eternal starvation; I will give him My Precious Blood to drink lest he thirst eternally.” It is true that when we receive the Sacred Host, we are at the same time receiving the Precious Blood of Jesus. Why is a distinction necessary here?

“11. Let it be known that whoever may have been living in a state of mortal sin for 30 years, but who will recite devoutly, or have the intention to recite these prayers, the Lord will forgive him all his sins.” Whoa, Nelly! — as Keith Jackson the broadcaster would say. This is not consistent with any promises given in other approved private revelations, such as the Promise of the Nine First Fridays or of the Five First Saturdays. What is so significant about 30 in this context? If one were to be tragically living in mortal sin for, say, 29 or 31 years, would the promise suddenly be ineffective? Also, how does the mere intent of saying the prayers for a year constitute an act of perfect contrition? One could resolve to say the prayers out of fear of God’s punishments, and this would be only imperfect contrition. A sacramental Confession would be needed as well for actual forgiveness.

“19. He is assured of being joined to the supreme Choir of Angels.” This sounds nice, but one would have to have the fervor and sanctity of a saint such as St. Francis to receive the reward of the Seraphim or Cherubim.

The reader should be able to see why the Holy Office took exception to the “Magnificent Promises,” and, with the apostolic authority it possessed, forbade publishers to print them and the faithful to believe them. The prayers themselves are fine, and certainly conducive to sanctification. I encourage you to pray them devoutly every day for a year, and blessings are sure to flow from this recitation.

One may wonder how it is that St. Bridget’s revelations could have been faulty. After all, she is a canonized saint! It must be understood that the Holy Office did not definitively condemn the Promises. Rather, it ruled that we cannot be sure of their origin: either they are a concoction, or they were not accurately transmitted by the writers of the past, or the holy seer herself did not clearly enough transmit them (after all, no visionary is an infallible oracle). With wisdom and charity, this highest of Roman curial departments simply ordered the Promises to be removed from circulation.

This very point underscores the nature of private revelation. It is apart from the Deposit of Faith taught by Our Lord, communicated to us by the Apostles, and safeguarded by the Church as what we absolutely must believe to be saved. The Church does not receive or transmit ongoing revelation of truths which are necessary for salvation. All the Church can do is examine private revelation, and determine whether it is contrary to faith and morals or not. If it is not, then it is presented to the faithful as something that may be believed. Though charity, as St. Paul declares to the Corinthians, “believeth all things” (I Cor. 13:7), it is still governed by faith in the Church’s guiding, infallible authority and obedience to her decrees. We do well to bear this in mind, as we make use of private revelations to help us on the path of holiness.


1A. & K. Mausloff, Saint Companions for Each Day, London: St. Paul Publications, 1959, p. 277
2The Magnificent Prayers, Rockford: TAN Publishers, 1983, p. 3 — a reprint of the 1971 Marian Publications version, South Bend, Indiana
5The Pieta Prayer Booklet, Hickory Corners, MI: MLOR Corporation, 1996, p. 5
6Ibid., pp. 5-6

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Birgitta Noel

And Sunday was the Feast of St. Birgitta (that is the proper way to spell it you know ;) )

What a co-inky-dink :D:

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I've never heard of Mutter Vogel or her revelations. :idontknow:

fwiw, Mutter means Mother in German so I'm pretty certain we're talking about a woman, not a man. Also fwiw, Vogel means bird. Vogel is also a common German last name so it is probably proper to call her Mother Vogel and not Mother Bird.

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Right! Because Mother Bird would have written this:

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