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Vassula Rydén: the reasons

of the Church

by François-Marie Dermine O.P.


Added January 23, 2008

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The author: Fran�ois-Marie Dermine, a Dominican priest of Canadian origin, is a professor of moral theology at FTER (the Faculty of Theology of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, Italy), National President of GRIS (Group of Research and Social-Religious Information, consultant to the Italian Bishops’ Conference for questions on alternative religions), co-director of the review Religioni e Sette nel mondo [Religions and Sects in the World], and official exorcist for his own diocese. He is author of numerous articles on alternative religions and of the following publications, of particular importance for the subject of the present investigation: Vassula Ryden – Indagine critica [Vassula Ryden – A Critical Examination] (Elle di Ci, 1995) and Mistici, veggenti e medium – Esperienze dell’aldil� a confronto [Mystics, Visionaries and Mediums – Comparison of after-life experiences] (Libreria editrice vaticana, 2002) . Co-author of L’estasi [Ecstasies] (Libreria editrice vaticana, 2003).

The booklet:  The scope of this article is to help understand some of the many reasons why the authenticity of the TLIG messages has not been recognized. The author discusses some of the main arguments presented by supporters and takes into account the most recent events. He also presents here for the first time on the Internet, the proof of the censuring and modifications of the original messages. You will find in the chapter Disappearance, cancellation, censuring and modification of messages”, photocopies of the original messages with the corrections done by the “seer” herself. These documents are part of the famous photocopies circulated by Fr. Pavich in the 1990s, where it is possible to see the censuring of the messages, and how words have been changed and even the sense of a sentence modified. You will also find a fax written by Vassula in which she confirms having two sets of notebooks and tries to justify the censuring done to the messages.

Note: The article hereunder is a translation into English of the original article written in Italian. The highlights and subtitles have been added by this website in order to facilitate the on-line reading.

Download:   Word document: dermine.doc     PDF document: dermine.pdf

Or read the booklet on-line:



WB00955_.GIF (961 bytes)  Introduction

WB00955_.GIF (961 bytes)  Chronology of the Church's official reactions

WB00955_.GIF (961 bytes)  Disappearance, cancellation, censuring and modification of messages

WB00955_.GIF (961 bytes)  Automatic writing   

WB00955_.GIF (961 bytes)  The ambiguous attitude of Mrs Ryd�n toward the Church

WB00955_.GIF (961 bytes)  The Vassula-centrism of the messages

WB00955_.GIF (961 bytes)  The theological errors 

WB00955_.GIF (961 bytes)  Conclusion


(Part 1 of 4)


Vassula Ryd�n, born in Egypt of Greek parents in 1942, married in 1966 to an official of F.A.O. with whom she had two sons, is of the Greek Orthodox religion. From November 1985, she has claimed to be receiving private revelations dictated by an entity which she identifies with Jesus. The contents of the revelations refer  essentially to the ecumenical movement, the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the conversion of both the mankind and the Church. Such revelations produced a widespread impact, and, thanks also to the open support of certain world-wide known theologians such as Ren� Laurentin, they were well accepted by many lay people and priests as well as some bishops and cardinals.

The messages, available in 10 to 12 volumes (depending on which of the 40 different language editions one refers to), present some contents capable of stirring feelings close to the heart: they in fact denounce the process of apostasy underway in the Christian world and the rationalism which has considerably contributed to rendering our faith boring, cold and insignificant. The messages reaffirm the existence of Satan and hell, and the dramatic aspect of the struggle between good and evil. They condemn abortion, New Age, reincarnation. They preach a message of radical conversion, fidelity to the Pope, the need to receive the sacraments and the importance of fast. They spread the devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the practice of the Rosary also among the Orthodox followers, and encourage ecumenism by exhorting the Orthodox to unite with Rome. Last but not least, they refer to the “fruits” of the messages, namely to thousands of conversions and even some miracles (although not scientifically documented).

Yet these undeniable positive aspects are not sufficient to obtain the approval or at least not to be objected by the Church, and one spontaneously wonders why. My claim here, that is completely personal, is to offer some elements of the answer, given the tendency of a certain number of misinformed Catholics to believe in the aforementioned messages.


In the first part (1), I present the chronology of the Church’s substantially negative official reactions in regard to the revelations, and also the useless attempts of Mrs. Ryden and several of her collaborators to modify these reactions to their advantage.

In the second part (2), I consider and review the main reasons for which, always in my opinion, the Catholic Church (and also the Orthodox Church) refuses to attribute a supernatural dimension to the messages in question. These reasons can be summarized in the following points:

(2a) The disappearance of the messages received by Mrs Ryden during the first 10 months of revelations, as well as the cancellation, censuring or modification of several of them. Such facts are probably the main reason that, in the most definite manner, contributes toward discrediting the revelations.

(2b) "The suspect nature of the ways in which these alleged revelations have occurred" (words of the 1995 Vatican Notification), namely, as a result of  automatic writing.

(2c) The ambiguous attitude of the protagonist toward the Church.

(2d) The Vassula-centrism of the messages.

(2e) The theological errors.

My investigations cover only the first six volumes of the Italian edition of True Life in God, which is more than enough to get a good idea of the revelations. Someone might object that many things have changed since then: the messages, they say, have acquired a more calm approach, the terminology has evolved and is cleaned up from what lends itself to confusion. However, these factors are of little or no convincing value, because the messages of the most recent volumes are also attributed to God, and there is nothing that forbids one from thinking that the changes result from the kind of auto-censorship that Mrs Ryden would have done by herself.



Chronology of the Church's official reactions

(1) The relationship between the Church and Vassula Ryden oscillates between the official judgment of the Church, substantially negative and still confirmed until today, and the numerous initiatives of Vassula (and of those acting on her behalf) aimed at reversing that judgment.

The first official reaction of the Catholic Church came by means of the Notification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the writings of Mrs. Vassula Ryden (October 6, 1995). Here is the complete text:

Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Many Bishops, priests, religious and lay people have sought an authoritative judgment from this Congregation on the activity of Mrs. Vassula Ryden, a Greek Orthodox residing in Switzerland, who in speech and in writing is spreading in Catholic circles throughout the world messages attributed to alleged heavenly revelations.

A calm, attentive examination of the entire question, undertaken by this Congregation in order to “test the spirits to see whether they are of God” (cf. 1 Jn 4:1), has brought out -- in addition to positive aspects -- a number of basic elements that must be considered negative in the light of Catholic doctrine.

In addition to pointing out the suspect nature of the ways in which these alleged revelations have occurred, it is necessary to underscore several doctrinal errors they contain.

Among other things, ambiguous language is used in speaking of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, to the point of confusing the specific names and functions of the Divine Persons. These alleged revelations predict an imminent period when the Antichrist will prevail in the Church. In millenarian style, it is prophesied that God is going to make a final glorious intervention which will initiate on earth, even before Christ’s definitive coming, an era of peace and universal prosperity. Furthermore, the proximate arrival is foretold of a Church which would be a kind of pan-Christian community, contrary to Catholic doctrine.

The fact that the aforementioned errors no longer appear in Ryden’s later writings is a sign that the alleged “heavenly messages” are merely the result of private meditations.

Moreover, by habitually sharing in the sacraments of the Catholic Church even though she is Greek Orthodox, Mrs. Ryden is causing considerable surprise in various circles of the Catholic Church. She appears to be putting herself above all ecclesiastical jurisdiction and every canonical norm, and in effect, is creating an ecumenical disorder that irritates many authorities, ministers and faithful of her own Church, as she puts herself outside the ecclesiastical discipline of the latter.

Given the negative effect of Vassula Ryden’s activities, despite some positive aspects, this Congregation requests the intervention of the Bishops so that their faithful may be suitably informed and that no opportunity may be provided in their Dioceses for the dissemination of her ideas. Lastly, the Congregation invites all the faithful not to regard Mrs. Vassula Ryden’s writings and speeches as supernatural and to preserve the purity of the faith that the Lord has entrusted to the Church.

Vatican City, 6 October 1995.


As we see, the double reference to �some positive aspects� takes nothing away from "a number of basic elements that must be considered negative. [...] Given the negative effect of Vassula Ryden’s activities". The highlighted aspects are essentially concerning with the way the messages are transmitted, doctrinal errors, and disciplinary problems.

Mrs Rydén’s supporters immediately challenged the validity of the Notification, especially because it was published without the signature of the Prefect of the Congregation. Someone even said it had been written without Cardinal Ratzinger’s knowledge or without his permission, perhaps by some member of the “Vatican Freemasonry.”

A confirmation of these allegations seemed to be reflected in the words addressed by Cardinal Ratzinger to a group of Mexican supporters on May 10, 1996: "On the basis of what you have told me in your letter about testimonies and conversions, that is very good, we only want you to proceed with discernment, - do not take as the word of God what is considered, for the moment, only human and personal. What we have said is that Vassula should not present her testimony in churches (inside the church) because she is an Orthodox and her marital status is not yet clear, since she was divorced. We are studying all this. You may continue promoting her writings, but always with discernment".

However, these words do not diminish the validity of the Notification, which was obvious given the authoritative style of the text and its publication in L’Osservatore Romano, the official and ordinary means for the dissemination of Church documents. To cut short the discussions and interpretations, the Congregation had to intervene on November 29, 1996 with a press release, the full text of which is as follows:

I. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has received various questions about the value and authority of its Notification of 6 October 1995, published in L'Osservatore Romano on Monday/Tuesday, 23/24 October 1995, p. 2 (L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 25 October 1995, p. 12), regarding the writings and messages of Mrs. Vassula Ryden attributed to alleged revelations and disseminated in Catholic circles throughout the world.

In this regard, the Congregation wishes to state:

1) The Notification addressed to the Pastors and faithful of the Catholic Church retains all its force. It was approved by the competent authorities and will be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official organ of the Holy See, with the signatures of the Prefect and the Secretary of the Congregation.  

2) Regarding the reports circulated by some news media concerning a restrictive interpretation of this Notification, given by His Eminence the Cardinal Prefect in a private conversation with a group of people to whom he granted an audience in Guadalajara, Mexico, on 10 May 1996, the same Cardinal Prefect wishes to state:

a) as he said, the faithful are not to regard the messages of Vassula Ryden as divine revelations, but only as her personal meditations;

b) these meditations, as the Notification explained, include, along with positive aspects, elements that are negative in the light of Catholic doctrine;  

c) therefore, Pastors and the faithful are asked to exercise serious spiritual discernment in this matter and to preserve the purity of the faith, morals and spiritual life, not by relying on alleged revelations but by following the revealed Word of God and the directives of the Church's Magisterium.

II. Regarding the circulation of texts of alleged private revelations, the Congregation states:

1) The interpretation given by some individuals to a Decision approved by Paul VI on 14 October 1966 and promulgated on 15 November of that year, in virtue of which writings and messages resulting from alleged revelations could be freely circulated in the Church, is absolutely groundless. This decision actually referred to the "Abolition of the Index of Forbidden Books", and determined that - after the relevant censures were lifted-the moral obligation still remained of not circulating or reading those writings which endanger faith and morals.

2) It should be recalled however that with regard to the circulation of texts of alleged private revelations, canon 823 �1 of the current Code remains in force: "the Pastors of the Church have the ... right to demand that writings to be published by the Christian faithful which touch upon faith or morals be submitted to their judgement".

3) Alleged supernatural revelations and writings concerning them are submitted in first instance to the judgement of the diocesan Bishop, and, in particular cases, to the judgement of the Episcopal Conference and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”


The conclusions to be drawn from this press release leave no room for doubt: the Notification is valid and, moreover, explicitly validated by the Prefect. The messages of Vassula Ryden continue to be considered "only as her personal meditations" and the moral obligation neither to spread them nor read them remains.

In 1998, Cardinal Ratzinger said in an interview: "…the Notification is a warning, not a condemnation. From the strictly procedural point of view, no person may be condemned without a trial and without being given the opportunity to express her/his views first. What we say is that there are many things which are not clear. There are some debatable apocalyptic elements and ecclesiological aspects which are not clear. Her writings contain many good things but the grain and the chaff [or darnel, "loglio" in Italian] are mixed up. That is why we invited the Catholic faithful to view it all with a prudent eye and to measure it by the yardstick of the constant faith of the Church".   

Although the presence of unclear elements, and even of “chaff” in a phenomenon described as supernatural is not reassuring, the Church refrains from any condemnation: Mrs. Ryden was not contacted directly by the Congregation and, as a Greek Orthodox, does not fall under its jurisdiction.

However, after Vassula Ryden expressed a desire to establish a direct relationship with the Congregation, one of its consultants, Fr Prospero Grech O.S.A., submitted five questions related to the reservations of the Notification. The answers provided by Vassula, written in a clever and theologically developed manner (including quotations of Cardinal Ratzinger) take up thirty pages. The initiative is highlighted in the following letter from the Congregation (July 10, 2004):


To the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of France, Switzerland, Uruguay, Philippines, Canada.


10 July 2004

Prot N. 54/92-19631


As you know, this Congregation published a Notification in 1995 on the writings of Mrs. Vassula Ryden. Afterwards, and at her request, a thorough dialogue followed. At the conclusion of this dialogue, a letter of Mrs. Ryden dated 4 April 2002 was subsequently published in the latest volume of “True Life in God”, in which Mrs. Ryden supplies useful clarifications regarding her marital situation, as well as some difficulties which in the aforesaid Notification were suggested towards her writings and her participation in the sacraments (cf. Attachment).

Since the aforementioned writings have enjoyed a certain diffusion in your country, this Congregation has deemed it useful to inform you of the above. Concerning the participation in the ecumenical prayer groups organised by Mrs. Ryden, the Catholic faithful should be called to follow the dispositions of the Diocesan Bishops.

In communicating to you the above, I use the occasion to assure you of my lasting and profound esteem�.

Yours Eminence’s/Excellency’s Most Devout

Joseph Card. Ratzinger



This letter is quite well balanced and does not really commit itself: it makes mention of some clarifications on some of the difficulties, with explicit reference to those related to discipline, and, in particular, to the marital situation of the protagonist, who got married in 1966 in the Greek-Orthodox Church, then divorced and re-married on June 13, 1981. Finally, she regularized her situation in her Church five years after the beginning of the revelations, on October 31st, 1990. These clarifications are described as “useful”, but without intending them to be sufficient to “clear” the situation. Then, even though the matter does not appear in a way that is completely obvious, it seems to grant individual diocesan bishops greater autonomy in managing any events promoted in favor of the protagonist.

However, can we really say, as the supporters do, that the situation has now been modified (words attributed to Cardinal Ratzinger), to such an extent as to induce the Vatican to withdraw the Notification from its website?

With regard to this last point, we must specify that the text can not have been removed from the website for the simple reason that it never appeared there: the same happens with  about half of the 60 documents of the Congregation listed on the webpage, which were almost all written before the creation of the website and were  not available in the electronic format.

The Notification still remains the point of reference for the Congregation in regard to Mrs. Ryden, as can be deduced from the following two events.

In January 2006, Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik, pastor of the Los Angeles cathedral, with the support of the city’s Archbishop, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, withdrew permission for a conference on Christian Unity under the auspices of Vassula Ryden of True Life in God. Msgr. Kostelnik wrote that the statements by the organizers, claiming that the Vatican had already given the green light to Mrs. Ryden’s writings, constituted �a serious misrepresentation of the current Vatican view of Mrs. Ryden’s speeches and writings� and that the 1995 and 1996 Vatican warnings remained �in full force�.

The second event dates back to January 25, 2007, and has universal significance for the Catholic Church, since it is a letter of the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed to all the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences. Its full text is as follows:



25th January 2007

Prot. N.: 54/92 – 24945

Your Eminence / Your Excellency,

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith continues to receive requests for clarification in relation to the writings and activities of Mrs Vassula Ryden. These requests address in particular the import of the Notification of 6 October 1995, and the criteria to be considered by the local Church in judging whether the writings of Mrs Vassula Ryden may appropriately be disseminated.

In this regard, the Congregation wishes to state de following:

1) The Notification of 1995 remains valid as a doctrinal judgment of the writings examined (see Enclosure 1).

2) Mrs Vassula Ryden, however, after dialogue with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has offered clarifications on some problematic points in her writings and on the nature of her messages which are presented not as divine revelations, but rather as her personal meditations (see Enclosure 2: Letter of 4 April 2002, published in True Life in God, vol. 10). From a normative point of view therefore, following the aforementioned clarifications, a case by case prudential judgment is required in view of the real possibility of the faithful being able to read the writings in the light of the said clarifications.

3) Finally, it remains inappropriate for Catholics to take part in prayer groups established by Mrs Ryden. Concerning the question of ecumenical meetings, the faithful are to follow the norms of the Ecumenical Directory, of the Code of Canon Law (canons: 215; 223 �2 and 383 �3) and of Diocesan Ordinaries.

Thanking you for your attention and with sentiments of esteem, I am

Yours sincerely in Christ

Cardinal William LEVADA



This letter makes it clear that after more than ten years of talks and a continual giving and recalling, nothing in substance has changed for the Congregation: no supernatural value is attributed to Vassula Ryden’s messages, and while allowing a greater autonomy to individual dioceses, the Congregation advises against the participation of Catholics in her prayer groups and reaffirms the universal value of the provisions of canon law regarding ecumenical meetings.

In other words, the above mentioned clarifications, as already stressed, were not enough to lift the reservations regarding “a number of basic elements that must be considered negative in the light of Catholic doctrine” (Notification of 1995), nor to allow a recognition, in spite of all the good will manifested by the then Prefect of the Congregation.

This also means that the official declarations of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regularly signed by its present or previous Prefects, prevail over the unofficial declarations that were given to some journalists and persons, who rushed to conclusions.

If the Congregation continues to refrain from an explicit condemnation, it is for the reasons already mentioned: Mrs Rydén, a Greek Orthodox, does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Church. One may also reckon that the Congregation is trying not to aggravate nor scandalize those Catholics still involved and unaware of the real reasons for the lack of recognition.

In a letter of August 2007, Mrs Ryden protested against the position taken by Cardinal Levada, for failing to take into account the apparently positive balance of the referred dialogue. Moreover she denies having ever said that the messages "are presented not as divine revelations but rather as her personal meditations". Now, even if we must recognize a certain ambiguity in the wording of the letter, it only takes up again what was affirmed by the Notification of 1995 and the press release of 1996.

The very fact that, as Father Prospero Grech wrote to the protagonist, "your latest books, too, seem to have laid aside some ambiguous expressions contained in your earlier ones" (March 21, 2003), does not change anything, since the Notification had already pointed that: "The fact that the aforementioned errors no longer appear in Rydén�s later writings is a sign that the alleged �heavenly messages� are merely the result of private meditations" (while the protagonist, for obvious reasons, considers that the revelations are true and real).


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