Newsletter of the District of Asia

 October 2007 - March 2008

A Correction about the approval
of Akita by Rome

In the May Sept. 2007 Newsletter, p. 38, it was said that Card. Ratzinger in June 1988 gave a definitive and positive judgment on the Akita events and messages. The exact facts are the following:

In 1975, Bishop John Shojiro Ito flew to Rome, where he consulted Archbishop Jean Jerome Hamer, O.P., the then Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concerning how to handle the Akita events. Archbishop Hamer told the bishop that conducting an investigation and making a decision on matters of this nature primarily belongs to the authority of the local ordinary of a diocese where an apparition was reported to have taken place.

Then, on February 27, 1978, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith laid down directives concerning criteria for discerning the supernatural authenticity of reported apparitions after Pope Paul VI approved the directives on Feb. 24. The document of the directives is entitled "Normae Sacra Congregationis pro Doctorina Fidei de Modo Procedendi in Dijudicandis Praesumptis Apparitionibus ac Revelationibus."

The directives stipulate that the responsibility to intervene into matters related to reported apparitions primarily belongs to a local ordinary. Article 3 of the document says, ''Officium invigilandi vel interveniendi praeprimis competit Ordinario loci." This means that the responsibility and authority to investigate and intervene primarily belongs to the relevant local ordinary. The document is signed by both Cardinal Franjo Seper, the then Prefect of the congregation, and Archbishop Hamer.

The following year, Bishop Ito went to Rome again, holding consultations with Cardinal Seper. The Holy See gave a copy of the printed document to the bishop.

Then, on April 22, 1984, Bishop Ito, following the Holy See directives, issued a pastoral letter in which he declared that no one can deny the supernatural character of a series of mysterious events at a convent in Akita and solemnly declared that he has decided to ''authorize the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Akita'' on the strength of his power as the local ordinary.

In the pastoral letter, the ordinary described the messages of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Akita for the Catholic Church, communicated through Sr. Agnes Sasagawa. In it, Bishop Ito, a strong backer of the theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas, said, "It is impossible to find in these phenomenon any element that is contrary to Catholic doctrines and morals."

In 1987, Bishop Ito sent a letter to Pope John Paul II, along with a copy of the pastoral letter. Then, he received a reply from the Sovereign Pontiff in which the pope, acknowledging the receipt of the bishop's letter, said that he forwarded the pastoral letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


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