Same here, Mor. Are you sure you're not Catholic?
Hypo, Mor is the walking, talking Catholic Encyclopedia.
Well, there was a time during which I seriously contemplated entering the Roman Catholic Church. I studied a lot, and it seemed to make sense. When I studied Orthodoxy more and compared the two, I began to see where things didn't make sense in Roman Catholicism, and how much sense Orthodoxy (with all our quirks
) made. I don't think I'll ever look back in that direction, but I know a little about it, and respect it. So even if the Theotokos herself appears from heaven and gives a revelation... this isn't binding? Here's another question... if the Pope, exercizing papal infallibility, said that one of the appearances were definately legit, would the words spoken at that apperance then be something that Catholics would be obliged to believe? Or, could Mary say something and claim that it was there from the beginning, but that the Church just hadn't taught it explicitly before (sort of a divinely given, instantaneous "development of doctrine"?) I'm not asking this for any insincere reason, I'm genuinely curious.
As Frobisher said, apparitions are considered private revelation, and so need not be believed. I think the Catholic Church recognises that, in every case of such mystical phenomena, the possibility of deception by demonic forces exists (what the Russians call prelest
if I'm not mistaken). Hence, when any apparition is approved, all that means is that the messages, if any, delivered during the phenomena do not contradict the RC faith, and are OK to be believed in, and the "fruits" of the apparition are good (for example, sinners coming back to the Church and the sacraments, repentance, etc.). In the case of Lourdes and Fatima, the fruits were good, and the messages compatible with the RC faith, and so they were approved. One can believe in them; one can also reject them and stick purely to the Church, her theology and sacraments, the Scriptures, etc. It's extra.
Could the Pope proclaim infallibly that a private revelation was a matter of faith? I don't think so. Papal Infallibility only allows that a Pope can define something infallibly, and make it binding on all Catholics, if it is a matter of faith and morals, and the faith in question, if I'm not mistaken, is public revelation. A private revelation, then, couldn't be defined. Of course, when the RCC defined PI and the Immaculate Conception as part of that public revelation, things became more interesting.
What if Mary taught something during one of these apparitions and claimed it was there from the beginning but not explicitly taught? I suppose it depends on what is taught, but I suspect that, because private revelation cannot dictate the Church's faith, but only support it, this wouldn't happen/wouldn't be accepted. At most, something that was said in an apparition could spark a debate large enough to require a definitive ruling, but I don't think this has ever happened, and I think it is unlikely to happen. Those of you who are familiar with the Fatima apparition will recall “Our Lady’s” continuous demands (I deliberately choose the word ‘demand’ as opposed to request) to the Catholic hierarchy about the consecration of Russia, and the consequences that might follow should her demands be ignored, namely the annihilation of nations and other chastisements.
Now if private revelations such as this one are not binding on believers, (clergy would be included in that category, I assume) why would serious consequences follow the rejection of a non-binding demand, made by a non-binding apparition? Unless I’ve overlooked something, I believe it becomes exceedingly difficult to reconcile the teaching on private revelations with the actual demands made by “Our Lady.”
This is a great point. I never thought of this, and it certainly is worth investigation.