August 11, 2003
Cardinal William Keeler
Archdiocese of Baltimore
320 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, Maryland, 21201
An Appeal to Cardinal Keeler
Stephen Hawkin, the brilliant theoretical physicist, once wrote that our goal should be to know the mind of God. As a Catholic and also one in the field of science, I made a humble attempt to discern the mind of God as to why He would choose Emmitsburg in Maryland to be TheCentre of His Mothers Immaculate Heart. I came to certain conclusions and a rationale about which I have already written extensively on the web which I suppose you have not read, and so, I will now write an open appeal to you.
Not being disrespectful in any way, since your dictates re the authenticity of Our Lady of Emmitsburg have been publicly printed in the wide press, I therefore consider it quite ethically and morally acceptable to copy this letter on the web, albeit to a much smaller audience than that of the press.
Now, unlike the members of your Commission of Inquiry, I have been privileged, very privileged to have been present next to Gianna Talone-Sullivan, both in the Church of St. Joseph in Emmitsburg and at her home, on occasions when Her Majesty appeared to her with messages for the world. As a professor of medicine I am trained to observe. Indeed, the nineteenth century French physician Claude Bernard once wrote: Observation is also a science albeit a passive one.So said, my observations told me that I was in the midst of authentic events. My God-given intelligence also clearly informed me that it is humanly impossible for any mortal (certainly not I) to compose on the spot such long, eloquent, profound, poetic and spiritually-deep messages unless they came from the lips of a supernatural being. But, in addition, I have also gotten to know Michael and Gianna Sullivan extremely well over the years and through closeness one can often discern innocence or deception.
I am aware that several serious critiques on the report of the Commission of Inquiry have been submitted to you by learned Marian scholars and holy men and women, some of whose CVs are more mariologically and theologically impressive than most. I myself have been extremely disturbed over the dearth of awareness and knowledge by the commissioners of the messages of Our Lady given in Church-approved apparition sites throughout the world and the apocalypticnature of some of them, for example, in Fatima, Amsterdam (recently approved by Bishop Josef Maria Punt), Betania (approved by Bishop Pio Bello Ricardo) and, above all, in Akita, Japan (approved by Bishop John Ito). Yet in spite of this, your Commission of Inquiry states:
Some of the messagesderived from presumed apparitions seem to be apocalyptic forebodings, the prediction of forthcoming catastrophic events, such as the death of (all) the fish in the world. We find this discrepancy disconcerting. To speak of the bitterness of chastisement, humiliations and persecutions, purging the world from its crimesand similar expressions is not the way for Christs message of peace and love to be transmitted & We think that the Church should not promote or encourage persons claiming to have extraordinary channels to God.
With respect to the latter comment, this of necessity will therefore have to include in retrospect people like Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes, Catherine Labouré of the Rue du Bac in Paris, Margaret Mary Alacoque of Paray le Monial in France, Ida Peerdeman of Amsterdam, Helen Kowalska of Poland, Maria Esperanza of Venezuela, and many, many others! Is it, for example, that the whole world is fully aware that mankind has been flirting with a nuclear cataclysm except the commissioners?
But isnt it also a disregard of and disrespect for the warnings and lamentations of Jesus Christ Himself as quoted in the New Testament (Matthew 24:1-31; Mark 13:2-27; Luke 21:7-24, and 2 Peter 3:5-10), and indeed of St. John in the Book of Revelations? Are the faithful therefore to be lulled by the Church into a sense of complacency over sin and its consequences?
In addition, without waiting to see whether it would come to pass in time, the commissioners unwisely, and now embarrassingly chose to single out in a derisive way the prophecy made by Our Lady in 1989 re the death of manyfish of the world. Unfortunately for them, the recent discovery by marine biologists of the decline of over 90 per cent of the large ocean fish in the world was of such importance that it was given front cover prominence by Newsweek a few weeks ago and was also reported in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.
Not only was it unwise to document such a premature criticism but the report of the commissioners was also unintelligently written, illogical and inelegantly derisive of the visionary (indeed bordering on the libelous) and unworthy of the Catholic hierarchy. In fact, I wish it were made accessible to all the faithful to read. Moreover, it has been indisputably shown that the commissioners also distorted and wrongly interpreted some of the important words of Our Lady of Emmitsburg. This is an extremely serious matter. How therefore can anyone, even with a modicum of intelligence, give credence to that report when it is ethically, morally and theologically unacceptable?
But was this not the report that was sent to Cardinal Ratzinger? If so, this is strong reason why the faithful should be entitled to see the written response of the Cardinal to you. Of course, it is also well-known that the recognition of authenticity or otherwise of private apparitions is ordinarily left to the local bishop!
As I have already written on the web, the well-known Marian scholar and author, Fr. Albert J. Hebert, S. M., referring to private apparitions, once wrote: No Catholic is obligated by the Church to believe in any private revelation even those private revelations as famous as the ones reported of Lourdes and Fatima. The simple reason is that private revelations do not constitute part of the original Deposit of Faith, the official Public Revelation of the Church which was closed with the death of the last of the Apostles, St. John the Evangelist. The Church does not oblige me to accept a judgment as truewhen a local bishop declares a particular revelation to be credible. That is because the judgment of the bishop is not objectively infallible. Similarly, I do not have to accept a negative condemnatory statement from a bishop re a private revelation, especially when I have had close contact with the principals or have acquired extensive knowledge of the matter through competent witnesses, authors, priests, theologians and other professional people, and have reached a judgment adverse to that of the local bishop.
Indeed, as Fr. Hebert concluded: A Catholic also has to protect his own God-given integrity, loyalty to the truth, and even to the good of the Church. Again I say, where competentand well-informed persons are concerned one cannot dodge life and the responsibilities that come with a confrontation of truth.This, Eminence, is my plight and that of many of the faithful.
Moreover, in conformity with Fr. Heberts opinion, in the Catechism Of The Catholic Church, it is also written: In accord with the knowledge, competence and pre-eminence which they possess, (lay people) have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church faithful they have a right to make their opinions known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence towards their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and for the dignity of persons(II. The Lay Faithful, 907).
I also therefore wish the faithful, many of whom are not versed in these matters, to appreciate fully that I am also therefore not being in the slightest way disrespectful or disobedient to the magisterium of the Church in expressing to you my unshakeable and stubborn belief in the apparitions of Our Lady of Emmitsburg. At least it is not an impious stubbornnessabout which the King of Denmark accused Hamlet in the Shakespearian play nor is it the stubbornness of pride which God so hates.
But above all, as a scientist, I need to be told why the commissioners have refused to acknowledge or comment upon the most thorough scientific examinations and tests performed on Gianna Talone-Sullivan by French and American scientists during an apparition which led them to the definitive conclusion that she was undoubtedly in ecstasyduring the alleged apparition. One cannot pretend to be in ecstasy. It is also impossible.
I deeply believe that in spite of the sins of the United States, including, of course, those of the American Catholic Church which were recently revealed from a cloak of secrecy, there are more devout and devoted Marian Catholics in the U.S than in most countries of the world. Maryland indeed was named after Her Majesty and she was declared Patroness of the United States in 1846. I believe that Mother Setons Emmitsburg will eventually be the greatest of all Marian shrines and is a privilege which Americans should not disregard, disrespect or deny. Indeed, Mother Seton was once a member of the American Episcopalian Church. She left to become a Roman Catholic. The relevance of this looms larger today following recent and unacceptable decisions of the hierarchy of that Church.
In view of the above arguments, thousands of us therefore respectfully request you, as awkward as it may be, to convene a new Commission of Inquiry with superbly and appropriately-qualified commissioners. There is precedence for this in the history of Marian apparitions. In the meantime, I call for a recruitment of Marian people to plead to the Vatican to allow the events in Emmitsburg to continue until the apparitions cease, as was allowed in Medjugorje.
Although I obviously have no authority over your Eminence, and I appreciate that you have no obligation to reply to me (as most people expect), however, I still look forward to your kind response to me and the faithful, to whom I am now also appealing to offer a novena of Masses and/or Rosaries, beginning from August 22, the feast to the Queenship of Mary, so that Gods truth may be decisively revealed and obeyed by all of us.
Professor Courtenay Bartholomew
M.D., F.R.C.P (London), F.R.C.P (Edinburgh), F.R.C.P (Ireland)
c.c. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Rome
All the faithful worldwide