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A critical website on Vassula Rydén and the True Life in God messages

Validity of the Notification regarding

Vassula Ryden and the True Life in God messages

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Important Update (August 2007): Text of the internal communication of 25 January 2007 directed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to all the Presidents of the Bishops' conferences confirming the doctrinal judgement of the 1995 Notification. Read here

See also NEW (October 2011)The Vatican puts on-line the complete text of the 1995 Notification regarding Vassula


The 1995 Notification

On October 6th, 1995, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) issued a Notification regarding Vassula Ryden's writings "as a result of the testing of the spirits (1 Jn 4,1)". Whilst recognizing some positive aspects, the CDF points out several negative elements, among which doctrinal errors and the way the messages are received (a form of automatic writing).

The negative aspects lead the CDF to conclude that Mrs. Ryden's writings and speeches should not be considered as supernatural, and to request the Bishops to suitably inform the faithful and not open their Dioceses to the dissemination of TLIG.


Reactions against the Notification (1995-1996)

TLIG supporters challenged its validity arguing that:

- Vassula Ryden had not been heard by the CDF.

- The notification was just an opinion and the faithful could ignore it if they believed it to be wrong. Some went as far as to say that it was a mere private "letter" from the CDF to the Swiss Bishops.

- The notification was not signed and Card. Ratzinger's name wasn't on it; therefore it had no validity whatsoever.

The Notification was officially published in the diverse language editions of L'Osservatore Romano, one of the main means used by the RCC for the dissemination of important information regarding the Church. This fact should have been enough to realize that the Notification was and is valid.

The argumentation regarding the fact that the Notification did not bear the name of Card. Ratzinger (it bore the name of two other members of the CDF, including the number two Mons. Bertone) was later used as a "clue" to prove the existence of an alleged "anti-TLIG complot" in the Vatican. The truth, however, is that the CDF issues every day communiqués such as the Notification. The importance of these Communiqués is that they are issued by the CDF, an official Congregation of the Church, and are often reproduced by the media without even indicating who signed them.

However, due to the numerous protests of TLIG-promoters, we decided to write to the "Official" of the Diocese of Lausanne, Geneve and Fribourg (Switzerland) to request an "authentic interpretation" of the Notification, i.e. a clarification regarding the Notification's validity. The answer arrived on August 13th, 1996 (click here to view original in French). Extracts of that letter are reproduced hereunder:


Validity of the Notification

"A NOTIFICATION issued by a Roman Congregation is a clarification addressed to a numerous group of persons and/or institutions which have requested that the Holy See pronounce itself on a certain subject.

In the case of a LETTER, it would be addressed to a person in particular (for instance, a Bishop), but even in that case, this particular communication would remain a point of reference for the universal Church.

In the present case of the NOTIFICATION regarding Mrs. Ryden, it is an answer to many bishops, diocesan groups, associations of the faithful and private persons which have written directly to the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation to obtain a clarification. It has a value for the whole Catholic Church."


Why the Notification was not directly addressed to Mrs. Ryden

"The Notification of the Congregation was not directly addressed to Mrs. Vassula Ryden, but to the numerous bishops, priests, religious and lay-persons which requested from the Congregation a judgement of authority regarding Mrs. Ryden's activities.

We cannot therefore speak of a public blame done by the Congregation to Mrs. Vassula Ryden, but rather of a warning that the Holy See addresses to those who are surprised or confused by Mrs. Ryden's activities or words."


"The Catholic Church is faithful to its principle of not interfering in the spiritual life of another Church's faithful, but the Catholic Church has the duty to clarify and warn its faithful about any disorder created by any person's or organization's attitude, whether from a point of view of the Church's Doctrine or discipline.

Mrs. Ryden's writings are numerous and quite spread among the Catholic faithful for the Congregation to give it's opinion regarding their content. Some rare positive elements can be found, but so can an ensemble of fundamentally negative elements that have to be considered under the light of the catholic doctrine.

Mrs. Vassula Ryden was not summoned to give her point of view, mainly to avoid the interference in the spiritual life of a Christian who belongs to another Church; secondly, because she does not teach in a RCC faculty, seminar or institute."


Card. Ratzinger disproves his alleged statement at Guadalajara (Mexico)

In May 1996, a small group of Mexican supporters of TLIG had the possibility to meet briefly with Card. Ratzinger in Guadalajara, Mexico. After this private meeting, the group affirmed that the Cardinal Prefect of the CDF had told them: "You may continue to promote her writings". 

However, on November 29th, 1996, Card. Ratzinger issued a Press release, which was published in all the language versions of L'Osservatore Romano, mentioning specifically his alleged statements at Guadalajara. In the press release, he confirms the absolute validity of the 1995 Notification and recalls that one cannot freely spread within the Church messages from presumed revelations that have not been approved, and that one has the moral obligation not to read nor spread writings which might endanger faith. Click here to read the press release.

Despite this, the TLIG association continues to cite the "You may continue to promote" phrase without even mentioning the press release where Cardinal Ratzinger publicly disproved it.


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New content added August 2005 - Revised January 2008

Comments on Cardinal Ratzinger's 1999 interview

In January 1999, the Italian magazine 30 Giorni published an interview with former Cardinal Ratzinger by Dr. Niels Christian Hvidt, a very active Danish supporter of Mrs Ryden. Dr. Hvidt has done much to promote the TLIG messages in Denmark and in the world. He has a masters degree in Theology and has collaborated as a journalist for several catholic media, including the Scandinavian section of Vatican Radio. He is very close to Mrs Ryden, having lived in Rome during the same period she was there. He also was the person who made possible the photo of Pope John Paul II with a TLIG book in his hands (see: http://www.tlig.org/fr/frpope.html).

The last question of the interview of Cardinal Ratzinger was about Vassula Ryden. Dr. Hvidt asked if the Notification is a condemnation. Cardinal Ratzinger answered (highlights added):

"You have touched on a very problematical issue. No, 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 air their 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 [darnel] are mixed up (*). That is why we invited Catholic faithful to view it all with a prudent eye and to measure it by the yardstick of the constant faith of the Church."

Dr. Hvidt: Is the procedure to clarify the question continuing?
Cardinal RATZINGER: "Yes, and during the clarification process the faithful must be prudent, maintaining a discerning attitude. There is no doubt that there is an evolution in the writings which does not yet seem to have concluded. We must remember that being able to set oneself up as the word and image of interior contact with God, even in the case of authentic mysticism, always depends on the possibilities of the human soul and its limitations. Unlimited trust should only be placed in the real Word of the Revelation that we encounter in the faith transmitted by the Church."

Some people have interpreted these statements as a denial of the validity of the Notification by Cardinal Ratzinger and an encouragement to read the TLIG messages. However, former Cardinal Ratzinger is quite clear in his answer:

  • Cardinal Ratzinger confirms the contents of the 1995 Notification: the messages contain a mix of good and bad elements, therefore the faithful are not to view them as infallible. He confirms that "from a strictly procedural point of view" it is a warning, not a condemnation, since Mrs Ryden was not "given the opportunity to air her views first".

  • He insists on the importance of the faithful maintaining a discerning and prudent attitude. This implies not reading the messages believing them to be the infallible "Word of God", considering the fact that there are errors and unclear elements in them, and that "even in the case of authentic mysticism", the seer's human soul has its limitations. The prudent approach also implies that one must not spread these messages nor encourage people to read them as if they were approved by the Church, as indicated in the 1996 Press release.

Since the date of this interview, Mrs Ryden was given the possibility by the CDF to clarify some of the points raised in the Notification. Her explanations however were not enough to modify or cancel the Notification (see Church Position).

(*) The original text as published in Italian reads "I suoi scritti contengono molte cose buone, ma il grano buono è misto al loglio" (www.hvidt.com). Most Italian-English dictionaries translate "loglio" as darnel or tare (a weed of grain fields in Biblical times, usually identified with darnel). In some on-line dictionaries, it has also been translated as "rye-grass", probably the reason why the English version that circulates translates the word as "chaff". However, giving the context of the phrase, a more correct translation would be "darnel".

Other comments on the 1999 interview:

St. Michael Center for Apologetics website:  http://www.saint-mike.org/QA/FS/ViewAnswer.asp?QID=355


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New content added March 2006 - Re-edited January 2008 - Updated October 2011

Did the Vatican remove the text of the Notification from its website ?

The Notification has always figured on the Vatican website without its text, so it could have never been "removed". Of the aproximately 60 documents listed (the number varies from one language version to the other), half do not include a link to the complete text (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/doc_doc_index.htm )

One of the official blogs of TLIG (publicized on their website http://www.tlig.org/en/news/2006-01-26/1970/ but no longer available online) published an article dated January 16, 2006 titled “Vatican removes text of Notification” in which they affirmed that "the Congregation removed the original text of the notification [from the Vatican website] as the questions they posed to Vassula they felt clarified the previous issues they had.”

We consulted the CDF and asked them if this was true. We received the following answer from the person in charge: “The fact that some documents appear without a link in the web site of the Congregation does not mean that they are no longer valid. Simply it means that the relative text is not yet available in electronic format. That is the only reason, and that is why most documents without a link are the oldest ones”. It was also pointed out to us that the Notification continued to be a valid document, could be found in the the Acta Apostolicae Saedis and had not been annulled.

Moreover, as a correspondent brought recently to our attention, if you go to the Wayback Machine (Internet archive), and look up the doctrinal documents page of the CDF, you will see that it is traced back to February 2002 (before the dialogue with Mrs Ryden), and that it NEVER included a link to the complete text of the Notification. You cannot remove something that was never there... (see: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/doc_doc_index.htm  )

Update October 2011 The Vatican has put on its website the full text of the 1995 Notification in several languages: English, French , German , Spanish , Italian, Portuguese and Polish . Previously the Notification had figured only with its title and AAS (Acta Apostolicae Sedis) reference.

Update March 2013: The Congregation's 2007 communication confirming the validity of the Notification is now available on-line on the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/doc_doc_index.htm

Maria Laura Pio