The Independent reports on some very sensible new rules issued by the Vatican to deal with people who have visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or BVM.
Anyone who claims to have seen an apparition [of the Virgin Mary] will only be believed as long as they remain silent and do not court publicity over their claims. If they refuse to obey, this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false.
The visionaries will then be visited by a team of psychiatrists, either atheists or Catholics, to certify their mental health while theologians will assess the content of any heavenly messages to see if they contravene Church teachings.
If the visionary is considered credible they will ultimately be questioned by one or more demonologists and exorcists to exclude the possibility that Satan is hiding behind the apparitions in order to deceive the faithful.
I have put my name forward as a volunteer outreach demonologist for the new scheme. Peeking behind apparitions to check for the presence or absence of Satan is, after all, a long-standing hobby of mine, and I think I have the required skills-set. I would also perform my demonology duties in a robust and transparent manner, or in a weedy and opaque manner if that is what the Vatican would prefer.
The instructions concerning the religious orientation of the attending psychiatrists seems rather specific… Does this mean that psychiatrists who are agnostic, Shinto, protestant or devotees of Aztec gods need not apply?
Substitute ‘Dobson’ for ‘BVM’, ‘Blodgett’ for ‘Satan’ ‘Hooting Yard’ for the ‘Vatican’ and there’s an investigation I could subscribe to…
According to orthodox doctrine the Virgin Mary occasionally reveals herself to inept photographers, for example – in this collection:
She never seems to show herself infront of the kind of flack-jacketed men who carry huge telephoto lenses and high-end camera bodies. Why is this?
St John of the Cross advises us to assume all visions are inspired by the Devil, on the grounds that the Evil Horned One is too subtle for us, so we will eventually accept one of his infernal visions as the real deal, and thus go astray.
This does rather leave one in a bleak position, unable to accept any visions whatsoever, but there it is.