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Vatican to reveal new rules for supernatural phenomena

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Claims of religious phenomena have reportedly exploded in recent years in the age of social media.

  • Author, Mark Lowen
  • Role, BBC correspondent in Rome

When are reports of a crying statue fake news? How credible is the claim that a holy relic led to miraculous healing? And how can we confirm a divine apparition?

These are themes that will be addressed in the Vatican’s new guidelines on supernatural phenomena, which are due to be presented on Friday.

The document, drawn up by the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, will establish rules for assessing the veracity of such claims.

Reports of such phenomena have reportedly increased in recent years, in the age of social media, sometimes spread by misinformation and rumors.

The guidelines will likely strengthen the criteria for selection, analysis and possible rejection of cases. The Vatican made its last decision on this phenomenon in 1978.

Apparitions have been reported over the centuries. Those recognized by the Church encouraged pilgrims and popes to visit the places where they would have taken place.

Millions of people go, for example, to Lourdes in France or to Fatima in Portugal, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to children promising a miracle, after which the crowd saw the sun zigzagging across the sky.

The visitation was officially recognized by the Church in 1930.

But other reports are considered absurd by Church officials. In 2016, an Italian woman began claiming regular apparitions of Jesus and Mary in a small town north of Rome after reporting a statue from Medjugorje in Bosnia, where the Virgin Mary is also said to have appeared.

Crowds prayed in front of the statue and received messages including warnings against same-sex marriage and abortion. It took the local bishop eight years to debunk this story.

So the Vatican, an institution steeped in mysticism and still communicating through smoke signals, hopes its new rules can regulate claims of the supernatural.

News Source : www.bbc.com
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