Emmitsburg and the Holy See

By Rev. John B. Wang, Ph.D., J.U.D.


In 2002, I wrote an article entitled "Marian Apparitions at Emmitsburg, Maryland" to shed light on the difficulties encountered by the investigative commission of the Baltimore Archdiocese on the mystical phenomena Dr. Gianna Talone-Sullivan has been experiencing since 1987. From the positive feedback I received, I can conclude that the writing was helpful. Recently, there have been some new events at Emmitsburg and this new development prompts me to reflect and write again.



In 2001, the Baltimore archdiocesan commission, consisting of Frs. Morrissey, Gill and Maruca, investigated Gianna's mystical experiences and presented a negative report to Cardinal William Keeler, Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  I have read some learned and rather detailed evaluations and critiques by renowned scholars about this report.  I totally agree with them and I believe that the Archdiocesan Commission's presentation is biased, fallacious and flawed in many aspects. Nevertheless, the Cardinal endorsed it and consequently decreed on June 7, 2003 a "constat de non supernaturalitate," meaning that the Marian apparitions in question are not supernatural.


How about the involvement of the Holy See in this matter?  Evidently, Cardinal Keeler wrote or consulted the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and received a written reply, on February 15, 2003, from the said Congregation stating in part "...Your Eminence is in a position to conclude the matter with a decree of 'constat de non supernaturalitate' in reference to the phenomena in question."  So, there was consultation; there was a letter from the CDF to Cardinal Keeler.  Yet the Mother of God said clearly and unequivocally on February 5, 2006, "I assure you, children, that there never was any written communiqué from the Holy See.  There has never been yet, up to this point."  On February 11th, our Blessed Mother repeated the same thing, with even more emphasis, saying, "Little ones, I do not want you to be concerned about my words to the world regarding the communication from the Holy See.  The fact of the matter is that there has never been such a written communication, and so the Truth must be made known.  For as the Mother of God, I must uphold the Truth; and at all costs, the Truth must be directed to God.  So please, do not be concerned. God the Father will take care of all of this."


So, that is the problem. How can we get out of this dilemma, this puzzle, this enigma? Let me submit and explore some possibilities.



1. The letter of the CDF to Cardinal Keeler is falsified.  The answer: No, not likely.

2. The Mother of God did not know the existence of this letter.  The answer: Not possible.

3. The apparitions in question are not really taking place; Gianna is not receiving messages from Heaven.  Well, one may go that route and think that way.  In the matter of private revelation, one may freely accept or reject.  But as far as I am concerned, I can testify that I have witnessed eight apparitions of our Blessed Mother to Gianna, three times in Gianna's home, three times in Assisi, Italy, and twice in Montana.  My faith in the authenticity of these apparitions is unshakable.

4. Our Blessed Mother does not consider this CDF letter to Cardinal Keeler a "communiqué from the Holy See" in the TRUE SENSE, because it only affirms the right and duty of Cardinal Keeler to investigate and decide.  This is the standard canonical procedure with any local Ordinary in regard to apparitions occurring within the territory of his jurisdiction.  In fact, the Holy See has never personally investigated Gianna's case and Gianna has never received any notification from the Holy See.  In this sense, it is true that there has been no written communication from the Holy See, as our Blessed Mother asserted.  Does this make any sense?  It seems there is some hidden mystery here.  God's Ways are not human ways.




During the last few decades, Marian devotion in our Catholic Church has suffered a great setback. Many parishes removed our Blessed Mother's statues from the church.  The recitation of the Holy Rosary is discouraged. Marian dogmas, such as Mary's perpetual virginity, are denied.  Pilgrimages to Marian sites are blamed and faulted.  A Marian statue is shedding tears.  "So what?" some would say.  A Marian picture is oozing oil.  "Oh, that's interesting," others would mouth while walking away.  I personally heard a bishop mutter, "Mary, she has to obey the Church."  Perhaps that bishop forgot Mary is the Mater Ecclesiae, the Mother of the Church.  A priest was overheard saying, "If Mary really appears here, let her go away."  Incredible!  Bold!  Daring!  The Mother of God is undoubtedly under attack!


Our Blessed Mother is being sent by the Most Holy Trinity to help us with our salvation.  She appears and gives messages in many places.  But her apparitions are ignored or belittled especially by some members of the ecclesiastical Hierarchy and clergy.  The findings of the investigation of Garabandal, Spain, where the Mother of God appeared over 2000 times, between 1961-1965, to four innocent children, have been shelved and ignored.  Mary's on-going apparitions to the seers of Medjugorje are meeting diocesan hostility.  Even the approved apparition sites, such as Betania, Venezuela, and Akita, Japan, are being snubbed by many bishops in these countries.  Despite all these darts thrown at Our Blessed Mother's Immaculate Heart, she continues to love and plead for us before the throne of the Most Holy Trinity.  Mater clementissima.  What a tolerant and tender-hearted Mother we have.


The authentic visionaries are being persecuted and suffering much pain. Indeed, this is the time of purification. They, together with other chosen souls, must suffer in a special way for the salvation of souls.  One cannot help wishing that this trying period be shortened.  Regarding the constant visits and words of our Heavenly Mother, the CDF must assume its proper role and become more active in discerning them.  There is no shortage of qualified Marian theologians and scholars of mystical theology.  Why not seek their assistance?


We know the Mother of God has a plan in Emmitsburg and, in due time, Abba, God the Father, will intervene to set things straight.  Everything hidden will be revealed and all shall see the Truth.  May that day come soon. If on that day I'm still alive, I will give Gianna a gold medal for her heroism.


Fr. John B. Wang's academic degrees include a M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching) from the University of Florida, a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) from the University of Maryland, and a J.U.D. (Doctor Utriusque Juris, Doctor of Both Canon and Civil Law) from St. John Lateran University, Rome.  Over the years, he has taught courses in philosophy, moral theology, canon law, languages, literature and culture in various institutions.  He retired from teaching in 1992 and has been engaged in promoting Eucharistic and Marian devotions through spiritual direction, retreats, conferences, pilgrimages and prayer groups.


Fr. Wang's statement read and distribution supported by:


      Fr. Jacques Daley, OSB, STL, STD                                   Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.

      La Trobe, PA                                                                     Washington, D.C.

      Gianna’s Spiritual Director                                                  Gianna’s Spiritual Advisor


      Prof. Courtenay Bartholowmew, MD

      Trinidad - Tobago

      International Marian Scholar, Author, and HIV-AIDS Researcher