Vassula Rydén: the reasons
of the Church
by François-Marie Dermine O.P.
Added January 23, 2008
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 dellaldil� a confronto [Mystics, Visionaries and Mediums Comparison of after-life experiences] (Libreria editrice vaticana, 2002) . Co-author of Lestasi [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.
Or read the booklet on-line:
(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.
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
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 Churchs 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:
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 Rydens activities". The highlighted aspects are essentially concerning with the way the messages are transmitted, doctrinal errors, and disciplinary problems.
Mrs Rydéns 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 Ratzingers 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 LOsservatore 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:
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):
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
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
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.
January 2006, Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik, pastor of the
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:
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 Rydens 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).