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Vassula Rydén: the reasons of the Church

by François-Marie Dermine O.P. (continuation - Part 4 of 4)

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The Vassula-centrism of the messages

(2d) In this setting, it is Vassula Rydén who occupies the main role: against a “weak” Church, or, anyway, weakened, almost adrift, with a disoriented, isolated and neutralized Pope, the messages set up a strong Vassula Ryden, who becomes a protagonist.

1. Some extraordinary powers are given to her: «All acts will be done by Me, through her, I will speak through her, act through her» (November 10, 1987); «Having you exposed in Hades many souls are healing. (Vassula's note: My soul is 'exposed' in purgatory) I have taught you to love Me, your love for Me is healing them. I use your love as a remedy to cure them. Heal them, Vassula, heal them. You are bearing My Cross with Me» (February 10, 1987).

2. She is invested with an extraordinary and unique mission, of vital importance for the Church and the world. She is promoted to the rank of the apostles, almost inheriting succession from them: « Fisherman of men, spread My Net of Peace and Love all over the world. [...] When I was in flesh on earth, I taught a small group of men to become fishermen of men. I left them in the world to spread My Word to all mankind. I, the Lord Jesus, will instruct you and show you how this work was done» (April 26, 1987); also to the rank of priestess: «My priest, for My priest you are, you will walk with Me, never will I abandon you» (March 17, 1987).

3. The messages and the attitude they take consolidate a certain position of superiority in regard to the Church and to any ecclesiastical authority: «But Vassula of course you do not belong to them, you belong to Me, I am your Creator and Holy Father, you belong under My Authority. [...] Tell the Holy See that it is I who sends you to them, hear Me, if they ask in which community you belong, tell them that you belong to Me and that you are under My Authority» (October 27, 1987). Another message says: «Arise daughter! ecclesia needs you» (March 29, 1988) (it is the Church that needs her, and not vice versa). And elsewhere: «Vassula embellish My Church. [...] walk with Me. Ecclesia will revive and into your Father’s House you will assemble them blessing them» (March 3, 1988). She is the prophetic conscience of the Churches, the horrors and errors of which she denounces; she is the pivot around which will take place the unification of Churches (especially the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches): «Vassula, for My sake, will you unite My Church?» (July 3, 1987).

And what sign of credibility, what seal of guarantee does “Jesus” offer to authenticate the mission of his messenger? Nothing less and nothing more than the messenger herself: «Vassula many will ask Me for a sign, that this guidance comes from Me, but the sign that I will give is you» (January 30, 1987); «All that I will give them is you yourself, child» (September 1, 1987). However this is really not enough for her to take the liberty to address her adversaries in the way of Jesus-Christ...

4. Even more symptomatic of this position of superiority is Mrs. Ryden’s recent letter (August 2007) written in response to Cardinal Levada’s, and where she shrewdly asks, among other things, how can one can discourage the faithful to participate in prayer meetings, something which (she says) is «truly against God’s Will». In reality, cardinal Levada clearly has nothing to object against prayer, but does object to the participation in «prayer groups established by Mrs. Rydén», where the pseudo-seer’s writings are the point of reference.

But the most interesting part of Mrs. Rydén’s letter is the following: «With the new conclusion in Cardinal Levada’s letter he is thus rejecting the study and the dialogue that the then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope), and Cardinal Bertone (now Secretary of State) had with me during a period of two and a half years, during which time many inspectors, theologians, Bishops and Cardinals, after study, had to give their final opinion as well and that, as you all know, was positive. [...] So my dear friends, I leave it up to you to choose: You can either follow the positive result after the dialogue I had with the then Cardinal Ratzinger, which gave us our freedom to continue reading TLIG (True Life in God) and evangelizing with love for love, guiding God’s people back to his church and to union in the church, or follow the dispositions of the letter signed by Cardinal Levada that does not say “yes” or “no” and is confusing at best».

This letter indicates once again a profound ignorance about the functioning of the Church, as if the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could have written what he wrote without the assent of the Supreme Pontiff; we seem to go 12 years back, when it was suggested that the Notification published on L’Osservatore Romano with all the characteristics of officiality had been written without the consent of the then Prefect, Cardinal Ratzinger. Basically, the intent was to create the impression of a division among those at the head of the Church: the Pope, the Secretary of State, the Prefect of the Congregation and the bishops seem to go each on their own.

Vassula Ryden’s response has nothing of hasty or impulsive, since it took place several months after Cardinal Levada’s letter, and betrays the “spirit” hidden behind the phenomenon. By appealing, in fact, to her own authority and influence, she, in fact, places her followers with their backs to the wall: either they follow the preceding provisions she considered (arbitrarily) as a semi-recognition, or follow the letter of Cardinal Levada «which says neither yes or no» (but in reality says “no”, let us clarify). In so doing, the seer has seriously or permanently compromised her relationship with the Congregation which, in the Catholic Church, has an authority superior to that of any visionary or charismatic person.



The theological errors

(2e) The other reason why the Church is not giving the green light to the messages of True Life in God is without doubt the content of the messages.


Platitudes and mawkishness

In addition to the above-mentioned Vassula-centrism of the messages, I do not consider negligible their banal content, sometimes close to a “novelette”.  As for the platitudes:

« I suddenly saw interiorly with the eyes of my soul the Lord sitting at table with me watching me eat. He said, "Is it good?" I said: "Yes Lord it is, thank You Lord."» (May 25, 1988).

There are episodes in which the “visionary” shows herself quite bored or thinking about household matters while “Jesus” is visibly in her presence:

«Jesus, I think we will have to rush!

-Where to?

-Downstairs, check the oven.» (May 16, 1987).

«Time is a rival for Me, when you look at your watch and I am with you. (I had offended Him because I looked at my watch)» (May 25, 1987); «At this point I got distracted. Jesus interrupted, saying to me: “Flower, overcome your apathy”» (June 3, 1989 - This part of the message appears in some linguistic versions as a footnote). «I suddenly remembered my household work» (July 8, 1989; during a dialogue with “Jesus”).


And as for the mawkishness:

«-Do you know how much I love you?

-Yes I do Jesus.

-Why then do you refuse My kiss? […] Vassula, have I not told you before not to refuse Me anything? And what have you answered me?

-That I’ll never refuse you anything.

-Yes, why then refuse My kiss; Vassula, never refuse Me; if I ask you something it is out of love, allow Me to kiss you, allow Me to do it! Will you let Me now? Come to Me and feel My kiss, a heavenly kiss on your forehead, are you ready?”

Jesus kissed my forehead. He left me in an ecstatic state of mind. How can I explain it. For the following 2 days I felt hollow, transparent, like clear glass, He gave such a tremendous feeling of peace of the soul; my breathing seemed to go through my lungs and fill into my entire body, thus having this feeling of being air.» (March 19, 1987).

Or elsewhere:

-«And you are showing me Your dimples when You smile

- I love you

- I love You Lord» (October 12, 1987).


Doctrinal errors

But, again regarding the contents of the messages, the most significant obstacle remaining is the doctrinal errors, openly mentioned in the Notification. For reasons of space, I will not dwell long on that question, by now almost superfluous after all that has been said. Moreover it would become impossible not to get unto the slippery and inextricable subject, not of the text of the messages in themselves, but of their interpretations: in the letter of response to Fr. Grech’s questions, Mrs. Ryden in fact puts her hands forward entrenching herself behind the style of «poetic and mystical language»; «this is all symbolic imagery language as well as poetic». Then she expresses gratitude for the «opportunity to clarify and shed light on certain expressions that might appear unclear as they are written in imagery and poetic or symbolic style» not to be taken literally. One is assured that «gradually any non-official terminology was being crystallized with time so if anyone might have had any confusion it became clearer later on».

I do not know to what extent these words and clarifications are successful in convincing the Congregation to reconsider the heavy judgments of the 1995 Notification.

As an example let us cite the millenarianism mentioned therein. The seer denies the presence of this error in her messages, always appealing to the symbolic and poetic style in which they are expressed and interpreting them in a totally spiritual and non-temporal sense: yes, there will be a New Pentecost (as John XXIII said), or something like the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but all that will happen on a personal and interior level. It has nothing to do, then, claims the messenger, with millenarianism, a heresy condemned since the beginning of the Christian era because it projected towards the coming of a reign of prosperity and universal peace, a kind of earthly paradise, perhaps with an interim and glorious coming of Jesus Christ here on earth, and all that before the end of the world.

Now the messages seem to go much further than that: «The hour has come to sort out and pull out all who are not Mine, sort out from those who acknowledged Me, all those who have not willed to comply with My Law; sort out from those who allowed and welcomed My Holy Spirit [...] all those who rebelled in their apostasy against Me, sort out from those who are branded on the forehead with the Lamb’s Seal, from all those with the name of the beast or with the number 666» (July 20, 1992). This separation of the darnel from the good wheat, that Jesus Christ did not place here on earth nor before the end of the world, will be followed by a cosmic upheaval and will introduce humanity to a realm of universal peace: «A universal peace is soon to come, Peace is about to be born» (December 24, 1989). The evil one will disappear, «when My Day comes, I shall withdraw all evil and have it locked I, the Lord of Love, will let this New Earth sprout with seeds of Love. [...] Love will reign in every heart and Virtue will be worn as a crown for all My people of My New Earth» (November 10, 1988).

It is not apparent that these descriptions intend to be a mere symbolic representation of the future kingdom of heaven, in as much as the prophesied events do not announce the sic et simplicitur end of the world, but the end of a world, this current world of sin and death: «These signs are to be observed, they are the signs of the end of Times, they are not the signs of the end of the world, they are the signs of the end of an era» (January 31, 1990). In a lecture delivered in Ottawa on July 9, 1994, the protagonist spoke of the «end of these dark times».

It should be pointed out that the earthly interpretation and, therefore, not at all symbolic, is not so far off since it is found to be shared, for instance, by two of Vassula Ryden’s public defenders and supporters, both authors of works with a symptomatic title and sprinkled with quotations from the messages. I am referring to the now deceased Msgr. Aldo Gregari, author of The Intermediate Coming of Jesus and to Paul Bouchard (the director of L’Informateur catholique in Montréal, also instrumental in launching the protagonist), who wrote Le Règne de Dieu sur la terre: utopie ou réalité? [The Kingdom of God on earth: utopia or reality?].

If Mrs. Ryden was “misunderstood” by her closest supporters and colleagues, then how could the trap of millenarianism be avoided by the simple readers of True Life in God?

In other words, the messages present some contents that are at least ambiguous, which the Church can only look at with suspicion. While it is Revelation itself, namely the New Testament, that explains with a “heavenly” key the “ambiguous” texts of the Old Testament about an earthly kingdom of peace and of universal prosperity, in Mrs. Ryden’s case instead, it is necessary to resort to theological explanations and reassurances that do not transpire from the messages themselves.




There are literally thousands of cases of people who claim to speak with God, Jesus or the Madonna, even though few of them reach Mrs. Rydén’s worldwide fame. However, this fame cannot constitute in itself a criterion for divine authenticity.

The unusual way of transmission of TLIG clearly contributed to this fame, much more than the messages’ contents (which are common to other similar and lesser known “revelations”). Here we are not only confronted with the marvelous and the extraordinary (locutions and visions), but most of all with the mediumnistic and the paranormal (a hand that moves on its own), to which some have wanted to confer a supernatural status (“hieratic”, “holy”, etc.), in a superficial way from my point of view.

Let us add to these elements a most opportune observation of Marie-France James: «In the wake of the New Age movement, the phenomenon Vassula aims at reviving the heresy/utopia of a “Third Reign” or “Reign of the Spirit”: a vision of the future, the acme of a historical process which is vague and deceitful, but able to galvanize the crowds and the collective imaginary. This revival is not new. As early as the 2nd century A.D., this same idea had made its way into the heresy of Montanism. From the 12th century on, the germination of this darnel has regained speed and vigor under the impulse of Joachim of Fiore» (Le Phénomène Vassula, p.84).

But, it will not be stressed enough: the explicit support given to the phenomenon by some worldwide famous theologians, among which René Laurentin stands out, has been a decisive factor. In any case, there is nothing impressive in the argument of the “fruits”: all one needs to remember is that the Testimonies of Jehovah resort to it, referring to the many persons that have indeed changed their life by following their teachings.

A valid discernment requires instead an ensemble of necessarily positive elements: conformity with the doctrine and the morals taught by the Church, the seer’s credibility (background, sincerity, self-denial, humility and submission to the ecclesiastical authority, physical health and mental balance, temperance, openness and clearness in the exposal of the facts or of the messages, profoundness, coherence, etc.), the fulfilment of the prophecies and the signs that go with the revelations (physical, psychical and spiritual healings, etc.)

I hope that the above pages are sufficient to document the absence of many of these positive elements in the phenomenon Vassula.


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