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Father François-Marie Dermine

A theologian's view on the True Life in God messages

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NEW See also: Vassula Rydén: the reasons of the Church by François-Marie Dermine O.P. Father Dermine's new article of January 2008 in which he presents for the first time on Internet the proof of the censuring and modifications of the original messages by the seer. Click here.

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We present hereunder extracts from an interview of Father François-Marie Dermine, o.p., Canadian, Doctor in Theology, professor of Moral Theology at the Theological Faculty of Emilia Romagna and at the Studio Teologico Accademico of Bologna (Italy), which is affiliated to the Philosophy Faculty of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He is co-editor of the magazine "Religioni e sette nel mondo" (Religions and sects in the world). He is member of GRIS, an association based in Bologna and recognized by the italian episcopal conference, which studies and informs about new religious groups and sects.

In 1995, he wrote "Vassula Ryden: Indagine Critica" (Ediz. Elle Di Ci, Leumann, Torino 1995), a critical study of the messages of True Life in God.

In 2002, he published "Mistici, Veggenti e Medium" (Mystics, visionaires and mediums), edited by the Vatican Publishing House (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano, www.libreriaeditricevaticana.com). It is a profound analysis of mediumistic phenomena. He mentions the case of Vassula Ryden, in particular in the section about automatic writing. The presentation of the book is written by Cardinal Georges Cottier, o.p., theologian of the Pontifical House.

The original interview in Italian was done by Silvana Radoani (Founder and President of the Associazione per lo Studio e l'Aiuto all'Abuso Psicologico - ASAAP) and was published in the magazine "Settimana", EDB, 2/06/1996. The translation to English was done by this site. The complete article in Italian may be read at: http://members.xoom.virgilio.it/radoani/vassula.htm or http://www.asaap.org/vassula.doc

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Interview with Fr. Dermine: "Those suspect messages of Vassula Ryden" by Silvana Radoani

Father François Dermine, professor of theology in Bologna (Italy), is a Dominican who has extensively studied the phenomenon of Vassula Ryden's revelations, even before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's pronouncement against her. Vassula Ryden and her messages dictated by Jesus, have caused a considerable rift inside the Catholic Church, as well as in the Orthodox Church (to which she belongs): many have taken her side whilst others have rejected her without discernment.

With considerable patience, Father Dermine has reconstructed Vassula Ryden's messages and life (in a book: "Vassula Ryden: Indagine Critica", Ed. Elle Di Ci), laying the basis for a fundamental clarification of her views and issuing a warning to all those who have been blinded by the sensationalism and the inscrutable, of which Vassula appears to be the reliable and indisputable bearer.

Let's ask some questions which summarize the phenomena and make it known to people of good will.


Silvana Radoani: It is a period of great confusion even inside the Church, due to the many pseudo-revelations, pseudo-apparitions or spiritistic phenomena: what importance does this phenomena have inside the Christian community?

Fr. Dermine: "Each case must be studied for itself, because some are authentic phenomena, and others not. In general, a large share of Catholics, in particular those more open to the extraordinary, are very sensitive to all the unusual. If we add to this, the insecurity in which people find themselves, or their tiredness of waiting for an end to these situations of uncertainty, plus the rationalism in which our faith is lived or at least presented, it is clear that many persons are tempted to turn to this type of messages and to a parallel magisterium (a magisterium that isn't the Church's), provided by these reassuring private revelations, which seem to be more important than the universal Church's teachings.

I also know many priests who have completely rejected the notification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding Vassula Ryden. Some believe that Vassula is a charismatic, in the word's fullest meaning, and she herself has sought to slip into charismatic circles or in large charismatic demonstrations, but has only achieved it in a modest proportion (more in Canada than in Europe)."


In your book "Vassula Ryden - Indagine Critica" (Ed. Elle Di Ci), you have affirmed that Vassula is a pure New Age prophetess. Why?

She rejoins the New Age current on two essential aspects of that doctrine: 1) in the proclamation of the new age that is about to be established in the world, and which will bring peace, joy, felicity, regeneration, and 2) in the techniques she uses to communicate with Jesus, which are typically New Age (the writing which her defenders call hieratic = sacred, is nothing other than automatic writing).


How are the messages transmitted to her?

Through automatic writing, which she claims to have received against her will, with a phenomenology which put itself into place without warning (and it may be true, at least in it's initial phase), but to which she later fully adhered, accepting the role of celestial secretary and starting to willingly receive these writings. At the beginning, there was only the phenomena of the automatic writing to which, some time later, the interior voice phenomena was added, interior locutions that accompanied the dictation. She, however, did not write with her writing what the interior locution suggested to her, but both phenomena occurred together; one could be sensed without the other or be simultaneous. She also claims to have witnessed apparitions of many personages (Jesus Christ, the eternal Father, the Virgin, some saints, Padre Pio). She has fully manifested charismatic phenomena, even if automatic writing is what characterizes her almost exclusively.

Above all, several messages have been completely counterfeited or cancelled (as reported in my book): she claims that the Father Himself had communicated to her that, if she felt so, she could change all the messages she did not feel appropriate to manifest. From my point of view, this should be enough to discard the whole phenomena.

The automatic writing instead, from our point of view, is used by the devil: there are in fact pages and pages of Vassula in which the devil steps in explicitly, that is to say that he manifests himself using the same identical writing of the divine messages. The same writing would therefore be used without distinction by God and by the devil, how is it possible?


Can you summarize the content of the messages transmitted by Mrs. Ryden?

She insists very much on global renewal, wants to prompt the churches, in particular the catholic, orthodox and anglican ones, to a renewal that should take them to achieve full unity, a unity however not defined on a doctrinal nor hierarchical level. She declares to be above the churches, and this is most preoccupying, because it pre-announces the coming of a church that would receive instructions directly from heaven and would be directly guided by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, prescinding from a hierarchy or an institution; a church very much spiritualized, where each one will let the Holy Spirit guide him/her. (*)

She is particularly violent against bishops and priests that oppose her, proposing the message that there are dozens or hundreds of bishops inside the Church which belong to the masonry: in this way, she has created a strong distrust for the catholic hierarchy. It is impressing to see how many lay people and priests have let themselves be seduced by this lack of confidence in Christ's promise to be always present in His Church until the end of the centuries.

And there is also the teaching of an imminent reign of millenaristic type, which would be established on this earth and will bring only good fruit. There are also positive messages, to which her supporters refer, and against which no one has anything to object: she denounces the rationalism that can be found in many catholic circles, and speaks against faith being presented as an ensemble of ideas or dogmas, and not as a reality which puts us in a personal relationship with God; even though Vassula's relationship with Jesus often stoops to banalities: for instance, when Jesus sits on the couch to speak with her while she is preoccupied about the house, feels a bit bored, starts to look at the clock because she has to prepare dinner and asks Jesus to let her go.


Why is it more often referred to spiritism than to divine revelation in Vassula's case?

Never has automatic writing been present in the story of mysticism. Vassula's supporters often cite the case of Santa Catherina of Sienna, who was illiterate and from one day to another started to write. But she had received the gift to write as if she had always known how to write, and not through guided writing. Mystics have always been respected in their humanity and their liberty, and have never been guided by God against their will and forced to do things that they could not achieve otherwise.

God uses our humanity without excluding it and without going against it, which was not the case at the beginning with Mrs. Ryden. Some people say that Vassula has remained free, but was given the faculty to write with her hand the messages without herself being responsible for it: but this isn't respect of God for our humanity, a respect that has always characterized His doing.

In the inspiration phenomena, for instance, the Lord always respects the persons' culture, their freedom and their humanity: when a saint writes what God inspires him, he is well aware of what he is writing; his arm is not reacting as a telewriter: if that were the case, God could have also better used an ape. We encounter here a big confusion generated by the New Age, which affirms that our mystics are essentially mediums: no difference is made between spiritism and a real charisma.


Is Vassula's life in accordance with the Gospel and the Church's teachings?

She has a marital record that places her in an irregular situation, at least for the Catholic Church: there are contradicting versions, given by René Laurentin, who gives up to four different ones. She appears to be a divorced/remarried, situation that seems to be admitted in her orthodox church, but that is not accepted in ours. She claims to be more catholic than Catholics in doctrinal matters, but does not want to adhere to the Catholic Church to avoid damaging this unifying role she proposes to play between the Orthodox and the Catholic. She claims to be catholic from a doctrinal point of view, but refuses to submit to any ecclesiastical authority (nor catholic, nor orthodox), remaining substantially on a neutral and irreproachable ground. In spite of this very irregular situation, she has felt the duty to accede to all the Catholic Church's Sacraments, although remaining legally speaking an Orthodox and in spite of being a divorced/remarried.


Why do so many priests let themselves be involved in these facts?

Many of these priests, yet being good priests, feel the need to be comforted: though being reliable, attentive and obedient to the Church, the Pope and their ministry, they feel discouraged by a world that every day moves farther away from them. This is why they feel the need for a call that works as a strong reference point for a profound renewal, and offers certainties to their doubts.

Vassula offered a return to the Church of the origins, to the Pope, to the Rosary; she  opposed reincarnation, and therefore seemed traditional in her teachings. The priests who were already faithful to these points, found a great affinity with Vassula's thought and God's personal comfort (because she seemed to be speaking in the name of God, encouraging them to continue doing what they were already doing, while waiting for something that would come and completely shake the world, harvesting the fruit of their submissiveness).


However, I seem to understand that, in spite of the clarification given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Ryden phenomena continues to subsist?

The Congregation has been very clear and specific in its pronouncement: this means that no bishop nor priest can invite Mrs. Ryden for a public conference, and this implies that effectively her activities have been almost completely reduced. I believe that bishops and priests that do not obey these dispositions risk ecclesiastical disciplinary actions.

Exception made of some sporadic episodes of priests who still support Vassula Ryden, the phenomena seems to have greatly diminished, and on the other hand, it is in her interest to remain quiet and prove her good will and her obedience (something never done before).

(*) Note added by this website: This point clearly refers to a world religion, which is what the New Age proposes. That "Jesus" is not different from the New Age Cosmic Christ.


The original text is in Italian. The translation to English was done by this website. The complete article in Italian may be read at: http://members.xoom.virgilio.it/radoani/vassula.htm or http://www.asaap.org/vassula.doc


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