Lipa Is Approved
Since a papal decree states Lipa is constat de non supernaturalitate (not supernatural), how can it be approved? In brief, only if the papal decree is not a papal decree. That precisely was the argument made in a prior article. The conclusion was valid promulgation requires both the decree’s What and by Who to be made known. This is fundamentally correct, but that understanding wasn’t fully crystallized.
The essential component of the Who does not pertain, generally, to the particular person/entity making the decision, but rather to what authority/power they possess. For differing authority can result in a different category of decree. The case here regards mainly the categories of Local and Papal. From that perspective, the Who becomes embedded in the What with the pivotal question becoming: can a papal decree be promulgated without revealing it is a papal decree?
Promulgation is the technical term concerning the publication of a decree, without which there is no binding law. It simply means that a decree must adequately be made known, and typically in some prescribed manner. Complications can arise with that process, especially with the manner. But for Lipa, the central issue regards what was made known, which beyond question was NOT a papal decree.
So for our pivotal question, the pivotal answer is valid promulgation requires a papal decree to be revealed as a papal decree. The reason is clear. A Local Ordinary can overturn a decision made by a prior Bishop of the Diocese, but not a decision made by a Pope. Knowing the decree’s type is manifestly essential to understand what the law truly means.
This is one fundamental flaw within Lipa. Archbishop Ramón Argüelles was told he must stop investigating Lipa because the Holy See had already made the decision. He had to be told because that information was a secret; and of course, was told in secret. The conclusion is patent. It being a secret proves the decree was not promulgated, and thereby establishes its invalidity.
Canon 7 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law (same number in the 1983 Code) states that promulgation is necessary for validity. This isn’t a Canon Law particularity but rather a foundational principle of law in general. Obviously, it is impossible to obey a law if the law is kept secret: reason demands a law be published so people know what to obey.
So how was the CDF reduced to functional irrationality with their dealings with Argüelles? Let us start at the canonic beginning. The CDF (previously called the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office) made a decision that was signed by Pope Pius XII – CDF-1951. Bishop Egidio Vagnozzi was entrusted to handle the promulgation.
As Nuncio, Vagnozzi believed the decision would be better accepted if it came from the Filipino Bishops, thus his creative approach to promulgate a papal decree as not being a papal decree. Fortunately (yes, fortunately), this approach has three deep-seated problems: 1) it is metaphysically impossible, 2) it is a massive lie and 3) it requires a miracle to accomplish without clerical abuse.
Specifically, the concept of a local decision is nonsense in the context of a papal decision. This is obvious in the blatant sense. It being an odious lie clearly falls into the same category. For the last item, consider Vagnozzi’s motivation. Back then, a sizable number of Filipinos believed in Lipa, including the clergy.
There were enough conversions, healings and petal showers that pretty much settled the question for them. “No” was going to be a very hard sell, and thus the desire to having it come from their own people. Thus was born the Special Episcopal Commission of six Bishops. And special it was. They had no advance notice: come now. It lasted six hours – in a single day.
The hard sell difficulty didn’t vanish, though now it was more manageable. There is compelling evidence that at least two of Bishops firmly believed in Lipa. That coercion was involved (threatening excommunication) in obtaining a unanimous decision is the sound inference because free will renders the alternate virtually as miraculous. Prediction: Vagnozzi will never be beatified based on alleged miracle.
A local decree was thus promulgated, and no one said otherwise. As such, it could be overturned by the Local Ordinary. To that end, Argüelles requested to view the CDF archives in 2009, which was denied. But he learned and was allowed to say that the contents of the Special Episcopal Commission decree (SEC-1951) “is the official communication of the final decision on the matter, as approved by the Holy See.”
But he was never shown the papal decree. Unfortunately, “the official communication” didn’t trigger a red flag regarding proper promulgation, but rather, doubts about the actual existence of a papal decree arose. Hence, Argüelles decreed Lipa to be supernatural in 2015. The CDF soon nullified it via PROT. N. 226/1949 (called CDF-2015 herein), which provides our main window into the affair.
CDF-2015 indicates that convoking the local commission was Vagnozzi’s sole initiative. It further states that two “two errors in communication”1 were made. The primary stemmed from the Nuncio who “left to this commission the task of communicating the decision approved by the Holy Father.”2 Regarding SEC-1951, the error is said to be with “the formulation used in this decree.”3
In particular, SEC-1951 states that after “having attentively examined and reviewed the evidence and testimonies collected in the course of repeated, long and careful investigation have reached the unanimous conclusion and hereby officially declare that…”4 it was not supernatural. Moreover, the decree opens with “We, the undersigned Archbishops and Bishops” wherein no other authority is mentioned. However, regardless with what CDF-2015 says, the formulation is perfect: SEC-1951 unambiguously states the “unanimous conclusion” was made locally after examining the evidence.
The second error was partly ambiguous. The Apostolic Administrator, who signed SEC-1951 the day before, issued a decree placing four restrictions regarding the convent, the last being: “All visits are suspended temporarily, no letters will be allowed, until final decision of the matter will come from the Holy See.”
The “final decision” evidently refers to restrictions on the convent, no visits, etc. But it can easily be misinterpreted as referring to the decision of the apparition itself, which it widely was. The Vatican had placed some restrictions5, but the wording here could have been more explicit, unless it was purposely suggestive…
While CDF-2015 has more than its share of issues, the substantial parts are well crafted. Indeed, the narration of the two communication errors is a work of art. The obvious is so carefully hidden, without denials and direct lies, that an unsuspecting reader would be none the wiser.
Again, let’s start at the beginning. It was perfectly reasonable6 for Vagnozzi to convoke the SEC. The commission could have been told the CDF had investigated, decided negatively and obtained the necessary papal approval. Then given the information from the investigation, be charged to promulgate the papal decree. Their decree could have stated they concur with the papal decision as supported by the evidence.
CDF-2015 doesn’t say that happened because suggesting the papal decision was somehow forgotten and not mentioned would be laughable. Instead, they say the SEC was given “the task of “communicating the decision” craftily qualified by as “approved by the Holy Father.” Well, the SEC was tasked to communicate the decision, one having papal approval.
But to assert that actually explicitly happened is, well, laughable. Thus the wording: it was “the formulation used” that “understandably, gave rise to some confusion.” Similarly, “this confusion was worsened” by the wording of the “final decision”. Conclusion: “These two errors in communication led to more than 60 years of confusion…” The whole narrative fits in a single nutshell, as used to describe the “final decision” confusion: “a false interpretation regarding the definitive nature of the decree of the Episcopal Commission.”
Those errors did lead to confusion. However, that “confusion” was perpetuated by the CDF for 60 years, unless it actually took that long to discover “the formulation” problem. This raises the question: when did they discover a local decision was promulgated?
Since Lipa was a high-profile case, the CDF would likely soon learn of the local character. Yet, the CDF is a small group that cannot police the whole world, regardless of their global jurisdiction. Without follow-up protocols, Lipa could have initially slipped through the cracks, but not forever.
Evidence of the coercive nature of SEC-1951 surfaced in 1994 with the affidavit of Bishop Godofredo Pedernal, who was a confidant of Bishop Alfredo Obviar (Chaplain of Lipa in 1948). The evidence was brought to the CDF in hopes of invalidating that local decree. Bizarrely, the CDF dismissed the claim; though in retrospect they had no choice per papal decision. But four decades of ignorance for that event seems very remote.
The CDF was still dealing with the convent and Prioress, leaving Lipa on their radar. It was probably only months, if not sooner, that the CDF had seen the two local decrees. Indeed, why wouldn’t Vagnozzi himself have reported his own brilliant work? Moreover, an Apostolic Visitor had been one of the investigators, which means Pope Pius XII was personally watching the case to some extent.
Thus, early detection will be taken as the most probable. Now, the CDF’s response would be subject to Canon 244, which states every important Congregational affair requires the Supreme Pontiff be notified by the moderator beforehand, and all decrees require the approval of the Pope except when special faculties are granted to the moderator.
One would think Pius XII was utterly horrified when notified. Imagine, the initial act of the Philippines’ first Nuncio being so monumentally stupid. Regardless, it is evident he wasn’t in the mood for an international incident, and thus sanctioned the cover-up. This virtual fact can expectedly be found in the CDF archives along with the coveted CDF-1951. No wonder why the CDF doesn’t want anyone to see their files. For the bigger cover-up apparently involves the Pope.
There are at least seven credible items that demonstrate SEC-1951was intentionally a coerced local decision. Three will be immediately mentioned. First, Mr. Dychangco’s interview7 of Bishop Vicente Reyes, who tersely said a commission investigated and they signed the document after a six hour conference. The second being Father Lorenzo Guerrero’s affidavit stating Bishop Cesar Guerrero believed in the apparitions and signed “under duress.”8 Finally in the 1960’s, Bishop Obviar asked Bishop Cesar Guerrero and Archbishop Juan Sison why they signed SEC-1951: “Their uniform reply was: ‘We were forced to sign.’” This was witnessed by Bishop Pedernal as cited in his affidavit.9
Moreover, the indirect evidence is preponderous, even simply from the circumstance. If the SEC forgot to state the decision was a papal decree, it would have been quickly rectified. But Vagnozzi signed SEC-1951 himself, and most likely composed it. But there was another force at work.
Bishop Rufino Santos was, quite evidently, one of the investigators.10 As such, he knew it was the CDF that was conducting the investigation, and they would normally make the decision. But about a year into the investigation (and possibly coinciding with becoming an investigator), and a year before the decree, Santos suddenly became the Apostolic Administrator of Lipa, replacing the Local Ordinary (Bishop Verzosa) who was functionally disappeared.
Santos was one of the six bishops who signed SEC-1951. To speculate, Santos was not an insider11 involved in making the decision; nor had any privileged knowledge the other investigators didn’t. Yet, when Vagnozzi convoked the SEC, was it with Bishop Santos’ assistance? Further, was Santos told the CDF had made a decision? At a minimum, he must have inferred the CDF issued a decree and should have understood it had papal authority: for why else was the Nuncio there pressing the Bishops to issue a decree with a predetermined decision?
To that degree, Santos was complicit in Vagnozzi’s fraud. Consider this: Guerrero said “I had to sign because the Cardinal (referring to Monsignor Santos) said we all had to sign this.” (per Obviar’s question via Pedernal12) Why would Santos say “we all had to sign” unless there was a papal decree? One can infer the threats of excommunication then followed.
As stated above, Santos was ready with his own decree the next day that included “until final decision… will come from the Holy See.” Did he believe SEC-1951 was a temporary show with actual decision to be announced by the Vatican in the near future? While towing the line, Cardinal Santos (becoming one 9 years later) may have come to believe13 in Lipa, or maybe that incident was just a ploy – he was a rather stealthy character.
Teresita said glowing things14 about him regarding the interrogations. Indeed, Santos had so gained her confidence that she confided one secret from the Virgin to him.15 After the verdict, Santos became a friend of the family and “Teresing would visit him… at least once a month…”16 Teresita only learned of “his role in the sentence on Lipa”17 in about 1990, almost 20 years after his death.
But to return to the cover-up, Bishop Guerrero’s witness is not restricted to Pedernal. Two of the Sisters also testify to his belief in the apparitions.18 Yet, despite Santos’ involvement, it still seems the fake decree was solely Vagnozzi’s purposeful invention. He may even have forged the date.19 All told, the safe bet is still that the Vagnozzi/Pope cover-up is a reality that continues to this day.
CDF-2015 states that SEC-1951 “was and remains, the definitive response”20 and further says “the authority of which this declaration was made was not”21 the SEC “but rather that of the Supreme Pontiff.” With pure consistency, SEC-1951 is the “response” and “declaration,” and “the official communication” as expressed six years earlier. Indeed, SEC-1951 is everything but a valid decree.
But the actual decree, the one they don’t want to mention, is CDF-1951. The CDF initiated the investigation and formulated this decree. Though, since all decrees require papal approval (Canon 244), it was thus a papal decree.
CDF-1951 is one decree, not two. For it to be valid, the decree must have been promulgated to everyone: laity, clergy, Bishops: particularly those in the Philippines and especially the Local Ordinary. Moreover, the whole decree must be promulgated, not just in part. There is one decree.
The essentiality of the Filipino Bishops knowing the decree type was previously established. But it has importance for all. The purpose of apparition decrees is to guide the faithful. While never infallible, higher authority should imply a higher degree of certitude. Indeed, a papal level decision has never been reversed. In fine, the decree type should be promulgated to the faithful as well; and since there is one decree, it has to be.
As established previously, CDF-1951was clearly invalid. But an important question remains. Did the CDF/Pope believe CDF-1951was validly promulgated via the communication of SEC-1951?
Pius XII could have understood the defect and thereby gave faculties to the CDF for a future promulgation. Then, CDF-1951would become valid in 2010 when Argüelles revealed it existed. However, would the Holy See fraudulently pass off SEC-1951 knowing no valid decree existed? Beside the legality question, that’s hard to imagine. Moreover, faculties would have ceased decades earlier since the 1983 Code evidently has no transfer clause in the pertinent section (closest is Canon 4 dealing with “acquired rights and privileges”).
This leaves they were blinded and forged ahead believing communicating the decision was sufficient without regards to decree type, as CDF-2015 indicates. Note that Vagnozzi’s power was over because delegation “ceases if the work assigned to the delegate has been completed.” Further, as it is a papal act to promulgate a papal decree, CDF-1951 became permanently void with Pope Pius XII’s death in 1958. Even when alive, a specific act would be required since the original promulgation failed: new circumstances would require a new act of the will.
In response to Argüelles’ request, the CDF examined its archives in 2010. At that point, did they see the promulgation defect? Namely, did they realize CDF-1951wasn’t promulgated and concluded it never could be, and therefore invented “the final decision” with the decree replaced by the decision?
Clearly, the situation was distilled into the “communication of the decision” to avoid speaking of SEC-1951 as a decree since it obviously was invalid. But did they really create the legal fiction of the “decision” as if a Pope can act outside the principles of law? That is hard to believe. However, the alternative isn’t much less non-flattering: they fell for their own propaganda.
That is to say, by switching the language from decree to decision, they lost sight of the foundational requirement that a decree must be promulgated; although they did “promulgate” the mistake from sixty years prior, apparently. In any case, there remains one decree – regardless of the effort made to obscure that fact.
Presuming this analysis is correct, Lipa is an open case. The CDF and/or Holy See can basically do whatever they see fit. The simplest would be a purely legal approach: declare CDF-1951 and SEC-1951 invalid, which renders CDF-2015 null and void, and thereby leaves Argüelles’ declaration of supernatural as valid.
This is the recommended action since his investigation was very thorough, covering decades of subsequent events and testimony. However, the original objections from CDF-1951must first be dispensed with.
The Wizard of Lipa
Let us now examine the investigation of the apparitions. There is a humorous blip of the grand theory of the Wizard of Medjugorje. This quickly dissolved with the alleged man behind the curtain pulling all of the strings nowhere to be found.
This is not so with the present situation. Yet, how do we definitively know there was a wizard at Lipa? Because (repeat four times), becauuuuuusse, because CDF-2015 says it does! Sooooo, we’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Lipa.
Paragraph 5 of CDF-2015 reports the discovery of the Wizard with its summary of CDF-1951 and the investigation. Herein we learn: “The Prioress confessed to having lied about” several things. Significantly, her prior claim of locutions from the Virgin was a lie: she “never heard any such voice. Rather, the messages she received were given to her in the form of written notes allegedly from the Blessed Virgin.”
The Wizard thus enters: center stage. So who was the Wizard behind the notes? The Prioress confessed “About the strange written notes allegedly from Our Lady herself, I have never made any of them.” I am not the Wizard, says the Prioress. But fortunately, she provides a list of suspects: “They were not always in the same penmanship, sometime (sic) like the one written on the picture I gave to the Very Reverend Father, the Apostolic Visitor; sometimes exactly like Sister Teresa’s, sometime like a little child’s…”
Were there multiple Wizards, including a fledgling? That doesn’t seem to be the case. CDF-2015 reports: “One of these messages ordered her to re-write the notes she received and then to destroy the originals.” The Wizard clearly wanted to cover his tracks. We are thus dealing with a relatively intelligent Wizard, and evidently one with expertise in forging handwriting.
So how did the Prioress “receive” the notes? As quoted above, they were “given to her.” But how? Were they handed to her by someone? Did she mysteriously find them on her desk? Unfortunately, CDF-2015 doesn’t provide any clues. But what is certain, the Prioress had complete trust in the Wizard because she followed the notes blindly. In fine, the Wizard controlled key aspects of the events.
The Prioress probably didn’t know the identity of the Wizard. While only the archives know for the sure, this inference seems sound because the Prioress was the only one (excluding a mystery suspect) to be overtly punished. But Carmel of Lipa was a small community: about a dozen22 sisters in the enclosure, hence the number of suspects is few.
Top of the list would be the visionary, Teresita Castillo, who entered the Carmelite Monastery on July 4th, 1948. Her account is that on July 31, she heard the voice of Satan, who left behind two footprints in soot. His temptation for Teresita to return to her parents was repeated the next day. On August 7, she heard the voice of the Virgin Mother. After another bout with the Devil 4 days later, Teresita sees the Virgin Mother on August 18. In brief, the events started almost immediately.
At this juncture, information beyond what CDF-2015 provides is needed. Fortunately, there is the Journal of Father Angel de Blas, who played a significant role in the CDF’s investigation of Lipa. Additionally, the Prioress wrote an “Account” of the events approximately as they happened, which Father Blas often cites. To fill in gaps, additional material is drawn from Lipa by June Keithley (1992) and Teresita’s account from 2008. Note: Keithley’s book contains in full the Prioress’ Account as Appendix A. Additionally, this book is a distillation of Keithley’s excellent documentary series on Lipa.
Teresita reported her experiences verbally to the Prioress, Mother Cecilia. Father Blas ascertained that only about two times was a written form used instead. Regarding the Voice that Mother Cecilia heard, the first ones were instructions for caring for Teresita: her first blindness had begun. Significantly, Teresita was unaware of the Voice, and was very surprised when Father Blas told her.23
But we are searching for the Wizard. Was it Teresita? To anyone who knew her, this is preposterous. In a long paragraph, Father Blas says no one unprejudiced “would consider her capable of such an aberration.”24 The context is different, but the same conclusion would apply here as well.
The CDF Wizard paragraph ends with: “the fact that there was evidence that Teresa was often under the influence of pain medication, which she took due to regular, intense physical pain.” In brief, the allusion to opiates is the CDF’s worst assessment.25
On the other hand, Father Blas concluded: “I truly believe that Teresita has received supernatural favors from heaven.”26 Moreover, per Father Blas’ interrogation, Teresita was not involved in giving the “Voice” messages to the Prioress, which implies the “penmanship… exactly like Sister Teresa’s” was forged. The tally so far: two wizard suspects crossed off.
The third major personality in Lipa was the Chaplain of the convent, the Auxiliary Bishop of Lipa. Since the cause for Bishop Alfredo Obviar’s canonization has been opened, presently being a venerable, he will be referred to as Venerable Alfredo. He was involved from the beginning.
On August 1st, the day after the soot footprints were found, Mother Cecilia told Venerable Alfredo, who came and saw them27, and then examined Teresita. Since “the events were unambiguously natural,”28 the footprints were not made by Satan. Did Venerable Alfredo make them? Carmel is an enclosure so he could enter only if let in. The footprints appeared on a Saturday, whereas he was generally only there on Sunday to celebrate Mass. The event from August 11th also has relevance. Early in the morning, the Devil appears to Teresita in the form of a “terribly ugly” creature “about five feet tall… surrounded by fire… who disappeared after being sprinkled … with holy water.”29 This is something Venerable Alfredo could not have machined.
Nevertheless, Venerable Alfredo is a suspicious character: it was his jeep that picked up Teresita when she fled home to join the convent. While Venerable Alfredo wasn’t responsible for the diabolic episodes, yet, was he the Wizard? CDF-2015 assures us that “all of the relevant testimony”30 was evaluated. Venerable Alfredo was never interviewed, which demonstrates his testimony would be irrelevant. Therefore, he could not be the Wizard. Q.E.D.
However, Venerable Alfredo soon informed the Bishop of Lipa about the footprints. Now, the cause for Bishop Alfredo Verzosa’s canonization has also been opened. Though fortunately, he is not yet a venerable as the two share the same first name. Thus, without ambiguity, he will be referred to as Servant of God Alfredo.
His involvement was less direct, but Servant of God Alfredo had more authority and could be the Wizard. Being the Local Ordinary, Servant of God Alfredo had the financial interest in what an apparition could bring to his diocese. Though, he would need a means to deliver the notes to the Prioress. Inside help seems a necessity.
This entails going through the portress – potentially an unwitting accomplice who left the messages, say, on Mother Cecilia’s table. Servant of God Alfredo could have employed different couriers to escape suspicion. A stroke of a genius would be feigning anger when coming on November 19th “to chastise his auxiliary bishop and to put an end to the entire affair”31 and then feigning astonishment when met with the petal shower at the monastery door. Alas, Servant of God Alfredo was never interviewed, rendering his potential testimony irrelevant and thus disqualifying him from Wizardship.
So, was the portress the Wizard, or at least the delivery means? At the time, Sister Elizabeth was the portress32 and she was interviewed33. But CDF-2015 doesn’t mention her and neither does Father Blas (June Keithley didn’t provide details). But as she wasn’t explicitly punished, the CDF apparently had no evidence, umm, no confession.
Regarding the timeline, the Account states the Prioress first heard the Voice on August 22nd.34 Someone outside the convent could thus know of the events for 21 days now, but only through Venerable Alfredo or Servant of God Alfredo. But who would care about the diabolic?
While Teresita heard the Virgin on the 7th, the first apparition wasn’t until the 18th. The Prioress did keep Venerable Alfredo informed. But if the Wizard wasn’t inspired until the apparition, he would only have 4 days to react. The notes would regard of caring for Teresita, whose first blindness started on the 22nd, which evidently would be a gambit to gain her confidence.
Unfortunately, excepting the mystery suspect to be considered later, any remaining suspects are unknowable: the yellow brick road has abruptly ended. Yet we must push forward. This is no time for sleepiness. And so, … Vagnozzi is …wizzard…forggged everyythingg…to loook good… Well, whether that garble was induced by the poppy field is anyone’s guess. But with the fresh air, and perspective, provided by the yellow brick Bridge, the Wizard of Lipa is within reach!
Man of Science
Situations like Lipa have arisen throughout the centuries. And surprisingly, some cleverly applied science can quickly provide an answer, simply via non-dissimilarities of physical properties of binary substances. Given a material that burns, (besides more of said material) what else burns? Wood is an excellent choice here, for it also floats. In addition, of great significance, a duck also floats.
So, logically, if the accused weighs the same as a duck, whom thus is made of wood, and by induction therefore is a Witch! That is about the speed and coherency of portions of the Lipa investigation. These have Monty Python written all over them.
The Prioress’s confession hinges upon the existence of a Wizard: a fact that evidently escaped the CDF via their borderline implicit definition. For besides Teresita and Mother Cecilia, the Chaplain would be next in line for interrogation. As Venerable Alfredo waited his whole life “for official church representatives to come for his testimony,”35 they surely didn’t look very hard. Moreover, the concept of a Wizard is nearly nonsensical here.
In particular, the Wizard theory has this internal contradiction: the Prioress “lied about certain aspects,” and hence, not others. This implies the Prioress believed in the apparitions while embellishing/fabricating other elements.
By all accounts, Mother Cecilia did initially believe in the apparitions. Yet per interrogation, it morphed into seeking “the forgiveness of the Holy Father.”36 So, did she ever believe or not? The episode surrounding the washing of the feet, coupled with the sign37 asked for through Teresita (per counsel of Venerable Alfredo), leaves little doubt the Prioress believed before the Voice enters.
Moreover, Mother Cecilia showed Father Blas her folder of letters from people claiming to have received favors through the petals. Father Blas wrote: “There are many in number which narrate the favors received that with diligent study and authentication would very probably be considered true miracles.”38 The well-known case of Melania Maria Sunga is also worth citing here. Born with a deformed foot, she was miraculously cured in 1949 after water from Lipa was applied, plus a petal shower inside the home of the young girl occurred soon after.39
With the petals in such high demand, they were dipped in water. The water was then placed in bottles and given to the devotees. Still, the reports of cures continued unabated. Indeed, the water applied on Melania’s foot had merely been placed overnight next to the convent’s statue40 of the Mediatrix of All Grace.
The main apparitions were the 15 day sequence that started on September 12th. These were initially private to Teresita, though the Community was included starting on the 15th. After the sequence and a few others, the final apparition41 was on November 12th with petals beginning to fall outside the convent two days earlier.42 However, the first occurrence was on August 20th when Teresita in her cell saw rose petals “falling from nowhere” and “was surprised because there was no hole in the ceiling.”43
The Prioress confessed that one message “told her to destroy the petal-less rose stems.” While forging petal showers is not in the confession cited by CDF-2015, it seems implied. The Wizard theory thus requires the Prioress to have obtained roses at least by August 20th. Here are the main internal contradictions:
1) First petal shower to Teresita. No opium yet. Hallucinations don’t leave physical evidence. When Mother Cecilia came, they could “not solve the mystery.” Dumping petals from 7 feet up that form a cross is no small trick. This was 2 days before the Voice entered and thus the written notes. Why should the Prioress be later instructed to destroy rose stems if she had nothing to do with petals?
2) Physical evidence of Satan’s soot footprints that appeared 20 days earlier. These manifestations are beyond the Prioress’ capabilities to forge. If that wasn’t a lie, then why are the apparitions false since the preternatural was followed by the supernatural in a credible manner?
3) First, assuming the Prioress believed in the apparitions, did she believe the “written notes allegedly from the Blessed Virgin” were real? If yes, why would she lie by saying the messages were coming from the Voice? And why would she believe the Virgin Mother was telling her to fake the petal showers, deceive everyone, and then destroy the evidence?
4) But if the Prioress thought the “the strange written notes allegedly from Our Lady” were bogus, why would she follow them? In particular, still under the assumption she believed in the apparitions, why would she follow bogus messages from an unknown source to deceive people about a real apparition?
5) Finally, let’s walk the remote path of the Prioress not believing in the apparitions, which rules out thinking the written notes were real. Hence, she believed they were fake. During Teresita’s first blindness, the notes44 said the blindness would last three days, then five days. On the next day, it was updated again with September 7 being when the blindness would end (17 days). The notes also gave the particular hours that Teresita would suffer. Venerable Alfredo was there on September 7 and witnessed her recovery of sight. The main contradiction: Teresita didn’t know if/when she would be healed, but the forged notes knew, including the exact hours Teresita would suffer.
6) The Prioress with “dominant nature”45 would follow “strange written notes allegedly from Our Lady” from an unknown source…
7) As Mother Cecilia certainly believed in Lipa, two specificities are worth highlighting. On August 27, Teresita suffered at 4 different intervals wherein “The Mother knew beforehand all these hours of pain as it was announced.”46 It sure was one impressive Wizard who sent that note!47 On November 5th, Teresita suffered for three hours as being crucified on the cross. When it started a second time that First Friday, “the Mother heard the voice that told her to call the Community.”48 This entails the Wizard placing a note under her nose without being detected, defying the laws of logistics.
These internal contradictions show just how sketchy the Wizard theory is. The external contradictions bring it fully into the realm of Monty Python. Consider again the manifest miracle of Melania’s healed foot, facilitated by her seminarian uncle (subsequently Monsignor Edmundo Abaya) who obtained the water. So did the whole crew give thanks to God by forging a petal shower with Melania (who was never investigated49) perpetuating the fraud by becoming a religious?
The Prioress’ confession is touted as naturally explaining the petal showers without saying how. Numerous witnesses said otherwise. Bishop Pedernal saw an entire rose materialize with the petals then falling to the ground.50 The Manila Times reported the petals always fell straight downwards within the convent premises, even on windy and rainy days.51 Similarly, Retired General Godofredo Jullano witnessed “red rose petals falling – not falling straight but sort of fluttering down… The petals were falling flat to the ground in spite of the breeze going across the courtyard.”52
There were also “the remarkable almost instantaneous conversions” and the slew of reports “that the petals of Lipa were effecting outstanding miraculous cures.”53 Without taking the space for details, the external evidence completely contradicts the Wizard theory, with all this known at the time.
In the following decades, the subsequent evidence further demolishes the Wizard. Teresita literally testified to her dying breath that she truly saw the Virgin Mother. When Mother Cecilia was being punished at Carmel of Jaro, Sister Mary Tayamora and several others witnessed “a shower of petals fell [falling] within the confines of the infirmary.” While the Sisters “had excitedly gathered up the petals,” “the former prioress maintained her composure.” But “when pressed for a reaction,” she quietly said: “I feel so happy, because our Blessed Mother is still following me.”54
Moreover, Sister Cecilia was allowed in 1963 to return to Lipa. Then in 1982, she asked permission from her Superior to offer her life to hasten the cause of the Lady of Lipa, which was granted. She further told another “that the year is ending and Our Lady is not yet here,”55 which also contradicts CDF-2015’s “there is no means for rescinding”56 her confession. Sister Cecilia soon suffered head injuries from a fall and died later that day.57 The Wizard of Lipa anti-materialized into fairy dust that same day with Lipa’s revival period beginning within a decade.
In terms of phenomenon, it included petal showers for Teresita: first in the convent church and then in her apartment for about ten months, which evolved into rose showers as “full roses materialized out of thin air.”58 Teresita also began receiving interior locutions59 from the Virgin. Moreover, before Vagnozzi’s appointment, Monsignor Morelli60, Charges d’Affairs of the Holy See, twice saw the sun spinning61 in Lipa. Thus, the Miracle of the Sun was not without precedence when witnessed by tens of thousands during a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gaviola Emeritus of Lipa on the convent grounds in 1992.62
So where did the Wizard theory come from? Strangely enough, it originated from the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the date of the fourth apparition at Fatima, August 19th, Venerable Alfredo was there regarding permission for Teresita to wash the Prioress’ feet. “On leaving the Parlor, the Mother Prioress stepped on three azucenas [flowers] and on a piece of paper.”63 Mother Cecilia said the “piece of paper… was placed at the door by a postulant whom she saw and who immediately disappeared.”
The message read: “Conform yourself with what your child asks.” The Prioress showed it to Venerable Alfredo, thinking it was from Teresita. But when asked later, “Sister Teresita was surprised and said she knew nothing about it.” The Voice started three days later. The only other written note from the Blessed Virgin came on September 22nd. The Virgin told Teresita that the Prioress would find a note on her table, which was to be read to the Community, excepting herself.64
Besides these two notes, the Wizard theory was also spawned by Father Blas. While believing Lipa was authentic, he did reject a few elements, particularly the Voice: “it is evident that such voices are fiction.”65 He based this on “the dominant nature of Mother Cecilia” and concluded:
Mother Cecilia “was convinced that… Teresita… was something extraordinary and when she heard… the Virgin wanted her to know everything that happened, M. Cecilia convinced herself to believe she had been chosen to direct [Teresita].” She thus followed the Voice “which, as we have said, have all the characteristics of being an invention.”66
In itself, this is the anti-thesis of a Wizard. Father Blas said Mother Cecilia “certainly believed… the celebrated voices… would save the day,” but yet doesn’t “seem to be very convinced of their existence.”67 Ignoring the contradiction for the moment, he was positing a common problem with locutions: their source is the imagination. This is a reasonable conjecture, but it doesn’t imply lying or fraud.
Two things apparently led to Father Blas’ erroneous assessment. The first was logical: “such voices are fiction as they were not necessary...” True, the Voice was not necessary but that carries virtually no weight regarding if it was real or not. The second is personality, which parallels the Curé ďArs who believed in La Salette until he interviewed Maximin. Regarding the Voice, Father Blas questioned Mother Cecilia about it and wrote:
“She talked about them with such timidity and with such an expression that I was convinced that there had never been such a thing. In Jaro, I pointed out that as it was in her account, the most important person in all those events was her and not Teresita. She shrugged and with a very weak voice answered that she did not know.”68
He should have been ecstatic. When Maximin met first with the Curé’s non-believing assistant, he was hit with the visionary’s stock answer to the doubting: “Well, if you like, put it that I have told a lie and have seen nothing.”69 Returning to Father Blas, he also wrote: “Undeniably, the M. Superior's account manifests itself like heavenly praise of the rationality of her own conduct…”70
While some of his criticisms are valid, Father Blas was unduly harsh with “the most important person” and “heavenly praise.” The Prioress had her faults, including some measure of spiritual pride. But this was of garden variety that was blown out of proportion, though the space to justify that assertion won’t be taken. Of significance here is Mother Cecilia’s response to his attitude. Would it be more accurate to replace “such timidity” with “such meekness”?
But if the Voice was imaginary, how could it know when the blindness would begin or end? Same question with the second written note found on September 22nd, which said a second blindness would begin on October 7th. Father Blas particularly contends with this event. On the 7th, Venerable Alfredo requested that Teresita ask for a sign. When the Virgin appeared, “the Lady made the sign of the cross on each of my eyes”71 and told Teresita the blindness was the sign.
But how could it be a sign when it had been “predetermined”72 and explained as being “necessary for the salvation of souls”? Father Blas answers his question by saying it “could serve both” provided Venerable Alfredo didn’t know beforehand, though undoubtedly he did. But to interject an alternative, the Chaplain could have mentally framed, say, that her left arm also be effected. Hmm, sounds like that would have been a good line of questioning for Venerable Alfredo…
Father Blas also asked: “was the Bishop certain that said blindness was real and not simulated?”73 He comments that Teresita “needed a guide… does not… prove anything.” He wrote earlier that “Both the M. Prioress and Monsignor Obviar were too credulous… An examination was in order… by competent persons.”74 Though he might have been unaware of what Teresita later recalled: “Sr. Mary Anne who was our infirmarian took a needle and pricked my arm to find out if it was really paralyzed.”75 In any case, with surface consistency Father Blas explained the prediction via “The date of the [7th], I believe was added to the message after verifying the blindness of the 22nd.”76
To summarize: Mary tells real visionary that pseudo visionary will receive a note via Angel Express, which predicts second blindness – generously leaving room for pseudo visionary to fill-in unknown start date, wherein reality of blindness is uncertain per possible simulation of real visionary via unspecified suggestive power of pseudo visionary to confuse real visionary while seeing Mother of God, correlating with day Venerable Alfredo knew beforehand but asked for sign thereon anyway.
As the allusion to opiates was nixed by editorial staff, a minor housecleaning item will be made instead. The Journal contains a gloss regarding October 7th, which is written as the 2nd. How this may have happened is discussed here, but the correct date is quite clear.
Finally, let us examine the mystery wizard suspect. Shortly after the Prioress was removed, Mother Mary Ann Cuna was also reassigned77 and “banished to Laoag and suffered the same fate as Mother Cecilia.”78 Sister Mary Anne was the subprioress and infirmarian, but wasn’t mentioned in CDF-2015. But Sister Bernadette provides a clue.
Mother Mary Ann told her that “she was brought to UST [University of Santo Tomas] and there met Mother Mary Cecilia.” And while there, “they were questioned by Fr. Blas … [and] they were accused by a former sister in Lipa. I think a novice, but she didn’t mention the name.’”79 The first page and a half of the Journal provides the background, which deals with the nuns that didn’t believe: first two then only one.
Regarding the last unbelieving Sister, Father Blas narrowed it down to Sr. Luisa del Mundo or “the nurse, Sr. Ana Maria” (the mystery suspect). He concluded “there is no way to determine who this nun is.” This is because of conflicting statements: the Prioress’ declaration says i) she never doubted Sr. Luisa’s faith and ii) the Virgin’s words “[Teresita] is well and she has no physical impairment” was in answer to a “nun that left the convent,” and iii) Sr. Luisa never told her “that Sr. Teresita could perhaps be sick.”
On the contrary, Sr. Luisa asserted she did tell the Prioress that, and “Sr. Ana Maria vows never to have doubted nor do the other nuns at Lipa.”80 Father Blas recorded more details, but it seems highly likely the unbelieving nun was indeed Sr. Luisa. Moreover, as only Sr. Luisa (then a novice) and a postulant (for health reasons) left the convent, it is fairly certain the accusation “by a former sister” was made by Sr. Luisa.
Initially, Father Blas gave much credence to the account written by Sr. Luisa. But uncovering glaring contradictions, he decided “to examine the matter slowly with the required prudence.” In conjunction with Teresita being “ill,” he subsequently wrote “it follows that not all that Sr. Lucia declares is fabricated” though continues with “unless…[ it was] to promote her own purpose.” In fine, Father Blas considered it plausible that everything Sr. Luisa said was a lie, though this particular section was probably accurate.
So what accusation was made against the Prioress and subprioress? It likely dealt with sexual immorality. Moreover, taking “they” as operative, claiming the subordinate gave fake messages to her superior would be a one sided accusation. In any case, it seems very doubtful the accusation had anything to do with the Wizard, who hadn’t been invented yet.
To conclude, the Wizard was invisible to Father Blas after the first interrogation. Mother Cecilia was left in doubts and unsettled after this ordeal, though still firmly believed81 even after a year’s worth of interrogations. If the Journal was Father Blas’ final word82, the magical force that conjured up the Wizard was still on the horizon.
Somewhere over the window
With the Overton Window swung wide open: one can find, truthful souls speaking goodness, instilling peace of mind.
While the chronologies are uncertain,83 the investigation of Lipa began in the spring/summer of 1949, with some indication of witnesses being questioned even beforehand84. However in early 1950, this turned into a miniature Inquisition. The interrogations began after the Prioress was removed in February of 1950 with her confession coming later.85
Threats will flush out confessions that wouldn’t come forth otherwise. The problem is so will false confessions, or even damaging the person. The studies of the witch hunts of 16th century show that when torture was used, the conviction rate greatly increased as did the more fanciful elements being confessed. This difference was particularly seen between England and continental Europe, although a better legal system also contributed to England’s fewer trials86.
Was torture used at Lipa to draw out a confession of flying by broom to the monthly Apparition Fraudsters Sabbath? Physical torture: no. Psychological torture, well, define torture… The actual interrogation method employed is unknown. But Teresita provides a general overview.87
Sr. Stephanie and Teresita were brought to the UST Hospital. On their second day of rest, a chair began “moving, jumping” and on another occasion Teresita’s tunic started to burn. For both, Sr. Stephanie sprinkled holy water, which put an end to these presumed works of the Devil. The next day, it was now the turn for two doctors.
The first was a psychiatrist who immediately started shouting at Teresita. He then wore her out by asking “the same questions over and over” for three hours. Later in afternoon, the second doctor came, but he “was calm and showed no anger.” After a two days rest, Father Blas came. He was at first kind for about five minutes, then “suddenly changed his attitude… He looked fierce” and she “was really scared.” The encounter the next day was more of the fierce. Also, Saint Santos was involved, who visited Teresita “nearly everyday” and “showed so much care and interest, and made sure that I was treated well.”
The Reid technique is an interrogation method “known for creating a high pressure environment… followed by sympathy and offers of understanding and help… has been a mainstay of police procedure.”88 A well known instance of that method is the Good cop, Bad cop technique “in which a team of two people take opposing approaches to the subject.”89
Lipa’s method used the same underlying principles, but the form was good/bad cop plus nice chauffeur. Placing the reception role of the good cop with the chauffeur conceals that the later is an interrogator. Teresita fell for this completely, and confided one of Mary’s secrets to Santos without suspecting his interrogation role. Teresita was still oblivious to this manipulation sixty years later, and so was everyone else.
This type of interrogation is not for finding facts; rather, it is designed for obtaining a confession. After being previously rattled and alternately calmed by the two “cops,” Father Blas instructed Teresita “to answer all his questions” and to “do whatever he wanted me to do.” Soon after, he turned into Monster Cop. After unsettling her via “questioning [her] strongly,” for a period of “three hours,”90 he gave her a piece of paper and told her to sign.
The three part confession was 1) the apparitions were purely her imagination, 2) she invented this to obtain the Sisters’ affection and 3) she joined Carmel because of a family feud. She refused to sign and then endured more of his anger and coercive pressure. The next day was more anger coupled with the finale of hurling a crystal ash tray at her, crumpling the paper, throwing it into the garbage and then hurriedly leaving the room – presumably an Oscar worthy performance.
Teresita survived. Mother Cecilia did not, but they probably went after her much harder and longer. The Reid technique made its debut in 1955 by triumphantly solving a shocking murder case per confession. Too bad the accused recanted the next day. Too bad he was convicted anyway. Too bad he spent 13 years in prison. Too bad the real murder wasn’t found until…91
It was Saint Santos who drove Stephanie and Teresita to UST wherein “All the time I thought that the Cardinal brought me to the hospital for a check-up.” After the preternatural cops, Bad Cop #1 unexpectedly came. Teresita then noticed Stephanie was gone. Unprepared, she was “afraid to answer in the beginning” which gave excuse for the psychiatrist’s increased anger. The ordeal left her too exhausted to eat.
Teresita “had hardly overcome the trauma” when Monster Cop arrived. After that two day trial, she “was still in a state of shock when Sr. Stephanie came and saw me so pale that she wanted to send me to the Cardinal.” Ah yes, the benevolent chauffeur. “Full of charity, Cardinal Santos… made sure that I was treated well.” Indeed, Saint Chauffeur “frequently brought us some food since I developed very poor appetite.”
Teresita’s account continues with “One day, Cardinal Santos asked me if I would like to see Mother Cecilia.” This “one day” was a year after the first interrogations, apparently in March of 1951, since “after a few weeks,” SEC-1951 was minted. The narration from Keithley gives the same chronologies, though Teresita gave that testimony twenty years earlier.92 It differs in a few details and tone, with the gushing over Santos less pronounced.
In particular, the Blas interrogation didn’t end with the ash tray: he asked “Why don’t you like to sign?” Her response included “Kindly tell Monsignor Santos to kindly come here because I need him.”93 He continued with saying that Carmelites can imagine things, etc.94
When Santos came the next day, to the crying Teresita he said “He will be back yet again.” Teresita pleaded saying “Please, I don’t want this anymore… it’s not prudent because he asked me to sign something that, that’s not true.” The non-idolized Santos answered: “It has to be, it has to be.” So presumably, the Oscar performance95 of the last attempt to obtain a signature came after the next event.
Keithley recorded there was a fourth cop on the beat, Dr. Leopoldo Pardo. This bad cop “wanted me to tell him that I was under strain because of my… brother… family… that triggered all these things.”96
Keithley also recorded additional diabolical harassments: again with a chair and fire97 as the interrogations continued over a year with multiple sessions. But let’s fast forward to finish the last one, after which Teresita visited the Prioress, who had been staying in the next room for ten days now. At first Mother Cecilia wouldn’t speak. So Santos said “perhaps Mother is acting that way”98 because he was present, and then left.
That scene won’t be described, but since Mother Cecilia was being punished, one would conclude the confession was already extracted, particularly since SEC-1951 was just weeks away. Though why was she at UST again? One final torture session and used as a tool to test Teresita? If so, a hidden microphone would only have captured Mother Cecilia’s words to Teresita: “This is not only our cause but it is purely Mama Mary’s cause.”99
On the surface, the investigation appears to have been a hatchet job because it 1) ignored obvious believing witnesses, and 2) evidently didn’t investigate any purported miracles. While Father Blas’ findings would provide a hunting license for a switch in focus, that doesn’t explain the Prioress being removed before the interrogations. Did they have something on her, or was the purpose to scare the Sisters? The latter surely was the effect regardless.
Despite Father Blas’ limitations that led to errors, he was still an excellent investigator as the Journal shows. Moreover, Father Angel’s fallen side as an interrogator still doesn’t introduce a hatchet to purposely destroy Lipa, removing the suspicion from the investigators.
But considering the methodology of the interrogators, Confession Extractor is a more accurate term. The Extractor of the Prioress’ confession was likely the Apostolic Visitor100, though this is another secret hidden in the archives. In any case, the Extractor was a man of science largely in the Monty Python sense. Science deals with constantly forming and testing hypotheses, not running with a single lame idea.
For an investigator, the obvious question would be: how did the Prioress get the petals high into the sky? But as the petals fell straight down in the wind, even when “military planes were grounded,”101 a true scientist would ask if she flew her broom to drop the petals. If asking “hard” enough obtained the model of the broom usually flown, the conclusion would be these techniques are unreliable. Unfortunately, this went on for decades, destroying who knows how many Marian Apparitions.102
That being the state of affairs, Lipa was basically doomed. However, two written notes from Heaven were wisely sent. Naturally, the Extractor would seek a natural explanation as finding fraud was the goal. The Prioress would immediately testify to receiving the two notes; and when asked “hard” enough, “refashioned” her locutions into written notes as well. That gave birth to the Wizard, which is just as good as a broom model number for demonstrating a coerced confession.
Though to the Extractor, confession shows fraud. What else shows fraud apart from confession? More confessions! “Some of the sisters testified that they had seen deliveries of roses to the convent,” and subsequently “had received orders from the Prioress to burn rose stems without petals.”103
Confirming confessions, of course, can make for a compelling case. But when the primary confession is decidedly coerced, any additional are immediately suspect of being more thereof. Particularly if they have the same object, which here is the petals. The invoices for the roses would have provided real collaborating evidence.104
But as shown above, the behavior of the petals was physically impossible, leaving the confessions’ internal consistency as being merely consistency of coercion. The report of the botanist assigned to the investigation also supports that: “Dr. Quesumbing claims that some of the petals, do not seem to have ever been attached to a flower.”105
The core element of the Prioress’ confession needs to be stressed. Did the Extractor fail at obtaining the reasonable explanation of her simply making up the voice and messages, and was thus forced to settle for the Wizard? Or was the Extractor so lost from reality that he didn’t know any better?
Whatever the case, a Wizcraft 910 Deluxe was being flown. Moreover, Mother Cecilia confessed that the broom’s printed User’s Manual was hers. For truly, the logistics, specificities and internal/external contradictions surrounding receiving written messages verses locutions are ridiculous; in fact, so ridiculous that a Wizcraft User’s Manual becomes a mild exaggeration.
Lipa is complex. Even with this long article, parts of the Journal were not covered, information from other investigators is scant, and various elements are uncertain. But when considering the full picture, in spite of the obscurities, the authenticity of Lipa shines forth. After all, the message is the primary criteria for judging apparitions. It is thus ironic the investigation managed to so tangle, mangle and strangle Lipa.
Citing “a reliable source,” Bishop Patrick Shanley was “so disgusted by the conduct of the investigation and the manner in which certain church officials influenced the outcome of the verdict, [that in] a fit of anger, denounced the proceedings and revealed that the bishops had been forced to sign the verdict by the papal nuncio upon the pain of excommunication.”106
Hatchet men were at work. It would be nice to say that the true ‘“deception” of Lipa’107 was the self-deception of the Extractor(s) being ignorant of the likely effect of their techniques. But Bishop Shanley’s statement, and many others, indicates that things were much darker.
Fortunately, this story has an unlikely hero: Bishop Vagnozzi, who indeed played a major role in destroying Lipa. But he also accomplished something likely unique in Church history: the destruction of a papal decree. This coupled with the broom model quality of the Wizard theory gives Lipa a chance for life.
Cardinal Luis Ferrer, the outgoing Prefect of the CDF (currently called the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith), recently lamented that devotion has “continued almost unabated to this day.” This response is outwardly correct, but facts are stubborn things. Also curious is constantly repeating the decision was “definitive” as this term usually denotes dogmatic definition. If Pope Pius XII signed for the SEC-1951 cover-up, would that also be definitive?
The credibility of the Lipa “definitive” decision virtually vanishes when the facts are objectively considered. As Church decisions are non-binding108, it is no wonder that devotion has continued unabated. The CDF simply has massively botched Lipa. This truly is lamentable – along with the entire chain of events.
That Vagnozzi projected his disbelief on the verdict is all but certain. That the Church failed him miserably is all the more so certain. It was a great lack of charity to favor their rising star by not correcting him. One can only guess how fast he would now exchange his Cardinalship for a good confession on his doings in the Lipa investigation. But alas, the Pope (with an uncertain certainty) upheld the great deception of a papal decree as being a local decision.
But before the window closes, a word on the CDF’s interrogation techniques that evidently were on the cutting edge of psychology, and theologically from the prehistoric age – boarding on the demonic. Among the Devil’s favorite tools are fear and deception: the same foundation for these techniques. Though to be fair, the Reid Technique evolved over the decades with many safeguards added, eventually becoming a three stage process with interrogation last and only if necessary. However, these refinements109 are not visible with the method used at Lipa.
Teresita, in her simplicity, gave witness to what happened behind closed doors. The first videotaped testimony came after a 40 year Church imposed silence. Teresita cried much relating what presumably were repressed memories she hadn’t really dealt with. 20 years later, her written testimony exhibits that the trauma was integrated, though a tinge of a Stockholm-like symptom110 can be suspected.
Teresita was unaware of the safe harbor role embedded in this type of interrogation. That she reports it with Santos without understanding the principles increases her credibility. The CDF has thus far maintained there is no evidence of coercion. Teresita’s account alone refutes that.
This also explains why the two Alfredo Bishops were not questioned. Intimidating them to sign false confessions would be a great risk to having their interrogation methods exposed. Likewise, it strongly indicates that obtaining confessions was the only thing they cared about.111
Yet back then, even if the CDF didn’t have a good handle on the false confession rate, the theological sore thumb should have been apparent. Unfortunately, the Church with its long history also has a long history of this form of abuse.
The mitigating factor is “For a long time, people had thought that the most normal attitude with respect to visionaries was to contradict them…” Father René Laurentin goes on to state the danger, and moreover: “It is to tempt God then, to place them in an impossible situation, for we defy the Creator in order to produce His trials.”
For ages, this was the “wisdom” of the Church. However, when “contradict” is coupled with pressured coercion, modern sensibilities scream with indignation. Yet, this was state of art in the Pillar of Truth not that many decades ago, with the Gospel replaced by the end justifies the means.
Consequently, it is fair to ask: is one substantial purpose of Lipa to vent Heaven’s commentary on that destructive folly? For truly, with coerced evidence and a coerced commission, the Lipa decision was proclaimed. As the Overton Window closes with a crash, muffling the mitigation, one can still make out: did they lie to men or to God?
Finally, the below letter was mailed to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on February 9th, 2024. Let us pray that it will be read and given a favorable response.
Can a papal decree be validly promulgated without saying it is a papal decree? Since a Local Ordinary can overturn a prior Bishop’s decision but not one made by a Pope, the answer evidently is no. In fine, knowing the decree’s type is fundamental.
Yet, this is exactly the case regarding the 1948 apparitions in Lipa, Philippines. The Special Episcopal Commission decree (SEC-1951) was clearly presented as a decision made by local Bishops. In pursuit of overturning it, Archbishop Ramón Argüelles requested in 2009 to view the CDF archives. To his surprise, he was told he must stop investigating Lipa because the Holy See had already made the decision.
Briefly, as the CDF wouldn’t show him the decree, Archbishop Argüelles began doubting its existence and eventually issued his own decree in 2015. The CDF soon responded with PROT. N. 226/1949 that nullified his decree. As it happened, the CDF had investigated and ruled negatively (CDF-1951) and obtained the necessary approval from His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. But the Nuncio charged with promulgating CDF-1951 “accomplished” this via SEC-1951. Nearly six decades would pass before its papal authority became known.
Plainly, CDF-1951was not validly promulgated because 1) the original effort failed, 2) the delegation had ended, and 3) merely revealing the decree’s existence is not promulgation since a papal act is needed to promulgate a papal decree. Provided this understanding is correct, there explodes forth the great spectacle of PROT. N. 226/1949 nullifying Archbishop Argüelles’ valid decree based on the invalid CDF-1951, not to mention the apparent cover-up of the Nuncio’s forged Episcopal Commission, presumably with Pope Pius XII’s consent.
At a minimum, it seems this Dicastery should respond to the question of the validity of CDF-1951. If your official judgment coincides with my opinion, please consider the following suggestion: allow Archbishop Ramón Argüelles’ 2015 local decree to stand as the valid decision regarding Lipa. His decree was based on an extensive investigation that included decades of subsequent events and testimony.
Of course, the original objections against the apparitions at the Carmelite monastery cannot be ignored. The main reason for the negative decision was the Prioress’ confession, not anything the postulate visionary did. However, this confession can readily be demonstrated as being coerced.
Specifically, the Prioress claimed receiving locutions from the Virgin Mary regarding caring for the visionary, and subsequently, for minor details regarding the apparitions. But after being interrogated, her confession was that these locutions were actually written notes “allegedly” from the Blessed Mother. Thus enters the Wizard of Lipa: the man behind the curtain who wrote the notes, which is nonsensical for many reasons.
Of course, there is no evidence for a Wizard. And the content of the “notes” is incongruent with an external natural source. Further details won’t be given here, though examining the interrogation methodology will be outlined.
In particular, the method’s underlying psychology was independently developed (starting in 1947) into what is known as the Reid Technique. This method resulted in numerous false confessions. Only after many years of refinement did it evolve into something reliable, if properly applied. For example, two stages were added before the Interrogation stage wherein “Everyone… may be interviewed, but very few are interrogated.”
In contrast with Lipa, the visionary was never interviewed, only interrogated. The same can be inferred for the Prioress. Most egregiously, the visionary was soon given a crafted confession to sign; whereas the last step in the modern Reid Technique is “converting the verbal confession to a written or recorded document.”
The Lipa interrogation was state of art, but its 1950’s technology contained critical elements that were still very crude. This leaves every reason to believe the Prioress’ confession was indeed coerced when considering the intrinsic contradictions of the Wizard theory.
Moreover, the Prioress told the visionary, evidently soon after her confession: “This is not only our cause but it is purely Mama Mary’s cause.” Furthermore in 1982, after stating “she would vouch for their authenticity,” she asked permission from her Superior to offer her life to hasten the cause of the Lady of Lipa. This was granted, and within the year, she died after falling down a staircase.
The case of Lipa is complex. I have covered the issues at length, including extensive treatment of the vaporous Wizard, at the link given below. And I believe the original records in your archives would support my conclusions.
The CDF had been hamstrung by what it thought was a papal decree, thus treating as moot the two affidavits from the clergy: one which declared two of the Bishops said “We were forced to sign” SEC-1951. Now, as a Dicastery, I pray for a just decision regarding Lipa and a rectification of the abuse of power by a prejudiced Nuncio and the harm inflicted, particularly on the Filipino people.