Catholic culture is like tofu: It takes on the flavor of the culture around it. When Islam took over the Middle East, Christians suddenly starting having cows about veneration of images and the Iconoclast heresy was born. When Calvinist rigorism was all the rage in 16th century France, Jansenist rigorism became all the rage in the French Church. When French hubris and nationalism was at its peak, so was Gallicanism in the Church. And when American star-spangled patriotism is what a civilization is gaga for, Americanism is all the rage in the Church.
Celebrity worship is another feature of our culture and Catholics tend to emulate that too, particular in an hour when the bishops have distinguished themselves with more than their usual ineptitude.
Time was when the Folk Heroes tended to be on the left end of the spectrum, battling the Church on Pelvic Issues. Richard McBrien, Charles Curran, Rosemary Radford Reuther and sundry others could be depended on to show up on TV to tell us why we didn’t need to listen to JPII or the Magisterium.
These days, however, the Freak Show Right has strenuously adopted all the stupidest tricks of their Culture War enemies while learning nothing from their mistakes while the Left seems to be returning to common sense and listening to the Magisterium again. Often this manifests, as the link shows, by anointing some new alternative Magisterium to tell the Right Winger what his itching ears want to hear about money, guns, war, torture, greed, the environment, capital punishment or whatever other teaching the Church offers that the enemy of the real Magisterium does not wish to hear.
But not everybody likes laboring through tedious sophistry explaining that torture is just peachy or slaughtering innocent people on death row is swell. That comes dangerously close to thinking and may run the risk of awakening the conscience. So some people prefer to get their information directly via supernatural download because if the Blessed Virgin Mary herself appears and tell you you are free to ignore the Magisterium then, well! That’s that, innit? Surely she trumps the Pope!
So there are any number of crank visionaries out there telling people what they already think and believe and urging them to ignore the bishop and the pope in favor of what the visionary wants.
Take, for instance, this bit of fraud dispelled by the bishop of Fort Worth:
NEW YORK – After video footage evidenced that a woman claiming to receive roses from the Blessed Virgin Mary was falsifying her claims, Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas has declared her supposed Marian apparitions to be a “fabrication.”
Earlier this month, Olson advised Texas Catholics to be wary of the claims that Mary had been appearing at various locations in the diocese under the title of the “Mystical Rose – Our Lady of Argyle” and leaving messages related to the sanctity of human life.
Despite claims on social media and several websites, Olson said that the apparitions had not been validated.
On Monday, however, the diocese said the apparitions were a fabrication after video footage surfaced from the Loreto House, a pro-life center in the diocese, showing the alleged visionary dropping roses on the floor.
“According to the officials, though the woman told participants at the time that the roses were ‘a gift from Our Lady,’ in reality, she surreptitiously dropped them,” said a diocesan statement.
“After viewing the video and consulting with diocesan advisors and others, I have concluded that the Mystical Rose – Our Lady of Argyle is a fabrication and not true,” Olson wrote in a letter to the diocese.
He went on to note that he had attempted to meet with the alleged visionary, but that she had cancelled the meeting. He has since asked her to take down her website chronicling the now denounced apparitions.
Any sensible Catholic, seeing the hoax, would put this bit of quackery behind them at once. But, of course, “supporters of the alleged apparitions say that Satan is trying to discredit their visions.”
The woman who claims to see visions of the Blessed Mother says on her website that she was under a demonic attack when she dropped the rose on the floor, and then acted surprised by its discovery.
An Aug. 23 post on the site reports “a recent severe demonic attack in which demons influenced the visionary to act in such a way as to potentially discredit the messages.”
After that alleged demonic attack, “the visionary immediately sought the counsel of a holy priest and bishop who confirmed the deception as being of demonic origin and also gave assurance that the messages were authentic and of God.”
The site claims that the visionary has had several “frightening and unnerving demonic attacks where the fallen have sought to have her act against her will in an attempt to discredit the messages.”
Supporters of the alleged visionary claim that the Blessed Virgin Mary began appearing in May 2017 to her. They claim the first such apparition was in Arkansas, and subsequent appearances allegedly took place at St. Mark Catholic Church in Argyle, Texas.
The alleged visionary claims to have received seven messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary in 2017, and in 2018 and 2019 to have received more than 30 “warning messages for the Church…from saints, angels, the Blessed Mother, and even from Christ Himself.”
The website, still active Aug. 27, says that “The creators of this website, the visionary, and all involved with this apparition believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God. All are members in good standing of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
Olson’s letter added that while he had tried to arrange a meeting with the alleged visionary and another Catholic involved in the apparitions, they agreed to do so only in the presence of their canon lawyer, Mr. Philip Gray. It does not appear that a meeting has been scheduled.
Gray, president of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, is also the canon lawyer behind a petition sponsored by some Fort Worth Catholics to have Olson removed from his post as diocesan bishop. In June, Gray told web site Churchmilitant that the effort to have Olson removed was his idea.
And so it goes. When cranks want to get rid of a bishop for some reason, they dragoon the Blessed Virgin in to denounce him and then the useless rage baiters at Church Militant, with their infallible talent for wrongness, join in. Note that this has nothing to do with crime or sexual abuse. It’s 1500 crabby Traditionalists out of a diocese of 1.2 million people who don’t like some of his admin and personnel decisions. So they are whistling up the Blessed Mother to launch a little coup.
If you have a beef with your bishop and it’s not about crime and punishment but just your Traddy disgruntlement, stop lying that Mary is appearing to bless your rebellion.