Lipa - Rock Crushes Can?

The alleged apparitions in 1948 at Lipa, Philippines and its showers of rose petals have been a contentious affair.  In terms of official action, a committee of Filipino Bishops declared in 1951 that the events were not of supernatural origin.

Lipa petal: circa 1948

The next day, however, the Ordinary of Lipa ended his decree with “until a final decision on the matter will come from the Holy See.”  But years later, four of the six Bishops of the original committee said they were coerced into signing the negative judgment.  Rome briefly examined this, but then upheld the prior ruling.

Then in a surprise reversal in 2015, the Archbishop of Lipa declared the apparitions to be supernatural.  But this was nullified the same year.  There is much more to this story.  But first, some detective training via a peculiar boot camp.

 

Is it Official?

The Mormon Church has its share of issues regarding what is official; including an extra helping from new revelations from living prophets.  For example, Brigham Young said: “I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible.”

Probably his most curious doctrine was that God the Father and Adam are the same, which he taught for two decades.  This is supported somewhat by the additional writings they consider Scripture.  But because it contradicts other passages, and was never formally raised to doctrine, it was later declared to never have been an official teaching.

While disallowed in its original form, it is not outright rejected.  In their universe, man can become God (part of the Godhead), so the doctrine sort of fits.  But there are problems.  However, this isn’t necessarily a contradiction for doctrine is still being revealed.  So this unexplainable teaching is considered, in Mormon parlance, an anomaly.  To recap: the God/Adam theory was never official, is rejected now, but tomorrow…

Pertinent here is the question of whether Mormon prophets are infallible.  The official answer is no.  But this is a fallible statement.  The Mormon Church could become infallible per new revelations.  It could follow the pattern of the identity reassignment of a fallible man transformed into an infallible god through the process of Exaltation.  While the official teaching about this doctrine is scant, it is often said Exaltation could take a long, long time.

Hence, new official revelations could indicate the Mormon Church might be infallible, then probably, then most likely, so on, over a long period, until it is definitely revealed the Mormon Church is infallible.  But before inadvertently proving that motion is impossible, it seems advisable to move on.

Fast forwarding, consider the following scenario.  A dozen of fifteen God/Adam proponents, known as the Youngsters, gain hold of the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve.  They officially infallibly declare the God/Adam doctrine is golden, after lopping out the discordant Scripture passages.  This holds until say the Brigexites infallibly reject the same teaching.  How could the same doctrine be infallibly taught and infallibly rejected?  Simply put, it would be an anomaly.

But sometimes it is easier for a contradiction to pass through a needle’s eye than it is to swallow an anomaly.  The Mormon Church generally refers to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS).  This is by far the largest denomination, but there are about fifty others, stemming from various doctrinal disputes.  But a Youngsters like scenario would almost certainly split the LDS Church into pieces.

The preceding scenario is obviously contrived.  But is it really that far-fetched?  Something quite similar is currently developing in the Roman Catholic Church.  It is too complex to fully describe here, but one issue is whether the divorced/remarried can receive Holy Communion (except when living as brother and sister).  The answer has always been no, but then came Amoris Laetitia.

When asked in an interview if there are now new concrete possibilities, Pope Francis answered: “I can say yes.  Period.”  But Cardinal Schönborn was recommended for additional detail, who said, for example, the existing teaching such as Familiaris Consortio still apply, though mentioned “certain cases” wherein the Sacraments could be given.  Now, if the teaching wasn’t changed, truly new possibilities do not exist.  But Amoris Laetitia is an addition.

Sometime later, the Argentinian Bishops issued a directive permitting the “remarried” to receive Communion in some cases, based on discernment taking precedence over the existing teaching that this is strictly impossible.  Pope Francis applauded their directive, writing in a letter that “There are no other interpretations.”  Well, that pretty much settles this, right?

Except for EWTN and others who quickly pointed out the contradictions with the official teaching on the Eucharist, the indissolubility of marriage, the sacrament of confession, and mortal sin.  But let’s return to the beginning. 

Pope Francis’ “Yes/Period” response was not an official act of the Magisterium.  Similarly, the “no other interpretations” line, leaked from a private letter written on official stationary, is not official.  And neither is Pope Francis adulation official, when he praised the German and Maltese Bishops for putting “no other interpretations” into practice, as reported by L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper.

So is anything official here?  What is the ruling of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)?  Cardinal Müller, the Prefect of the CDF during this period, says those Bishops are misinterpreting Amoris Laetitia and that “It is impossible for there to be a contradiction of doctrine and personal conscience.”  He even believes that adultery is, well, adultery.

All of this deals with the Mormon-like identity reassignment wherein the pastor and adulterers discern, with the help of the Holy Spirit it is asserted, that their adultery is not really adultery.  But as Müller reiterates, adultery is always objectively a mortal sin, which precludes reception of Communion.  Hence, discernment on this point is moot, regardless if it runs a long, long time.

Pope Francis is by no means the originator of such ideas.  It boils down to making one’s conscience supreme.  The funny thing is the Church is then expected to act as if the “discernment” is true, regardless of its decisions/discernment/conscience.  Gee, what’s wrong with that logic…

Cardinal Müller speaks at length, correcting the various errors and spelling out what the Church actually teaches, and insists the problem isn’t Amoris Laetitia but rather the “confused interpretations of it.”  Yet, it goes without saying that interviews and his recent book are not official acts of the CDF.

The presentations from six lay scholars at the recent Congress on Amoris Laetitia gives another perspective though.  Professor Anna Silvas said it is unjust to blame the Bishops for “they have drawn the conclusions patent to any thoughtful, unblinkered reader of this papal document.”  Rather, the blame “lies in the intent embedded and articulated well enough in Amoris Laetitia itself...”

Regarding the fifth dubia, Professor Douglas Farrow said it “cannot be answered – or rather, the only possible answer would be to withdraw the offending section of Amoris Laetitia and to correct or clarify the premises, appearing elsewhere…”  Professor Claudio Pierantoni (also a presenter), wrote in an article that “the same reasoning must be applied to the other four dubia as well, for the very reason that they ultimately depend on the fifth.”

Pope Francis has not answered the five dubias (doubts) that the four Cardinals have distilled as the core issues.  Evidently, this is because, well, Amoris Laetitia contains heresy.  Hence, the strange sparring and convoluted face-saving posturing by Cardinal Müller.

So, what rational conclusion can be drawn when direct contradictions are exalted into reality by the highest powers?  Maybe the solution is to switch subjects to something more sound and sane, such as, say, Mormon apologetics, which typically go something like this:

 

We don't know why Francis Young infallibly declared Adam was the God the Father.  The declaration is a historical fact.  The official act was filmed.  But we don’t know what he was thinking.  There are no brain waves recordings.

The doctrine could be true.  Or maybe it is false.  We just don't know, and we can't ask him now.  And when alive, he never answered anyway.  We simply have no idea what he was thinking.  But the doctrine is now infallibly rejected.  This discrepancy cannot be explained.  It cannot be understood.  It is an anomaly.

 

Thorn Punctures Letter

What does the preceding have to do with the official topic of this essay?  One would hope nothing, yet, putting on a detective’s hat, let us continue...  The December 11th, 2015 CDF decree sheds substantial light on Lipa and the rose petals showers.

Lipa petal: circa 1948

“The main reason” for the negative judgement resides in the confession of the Prioress of the convent, not the alleged visionary, who was a novice at the time.  The confession, from a series of letters, is quite stark.  It includes 1) lying about ever hearing the Virgin’s voice, 2) stating the messages she received were actually given to her in written notes, 3) manipulating rose petals so as to look as containing sacred images, 4) revealing one message encouraged the Sisters to tell the same “story” to the Vatican investigators.

In addition, some Sisters testified that roses were delivered to the convent and they were subsequently ordered by the Prioress to burn petal-less rose stems.  From this, it is no wonder that the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office (now called the CDF) declared the apparitions to be constat de non supernaturalitate which indicates “the events were unambiguously natural in their character and origin” as described in the 2015 decree.

But what was ambiguous was who made this decision.  65 years passed before it was publically known that the original commission had no authority to decide the case.  Rather, it was made beforehand by the CDF and approved by Pope Pius XII.  The Apostolic Nuncio (ambassador) was given the task “to choose what he believed to be the best means to communicate this definitive decision.”  This lead to the “decree” with the “unanimous conclusion” by the six Bishops.  The Nuncio’s thinking was the decision would be better received if coming from the local Bishops.

But this is where the fiasco began.  Many believed in the apparitions, including some in the hierarchy, and apparently at least four of the commission Bishops, who later indicated they were threatened with excommunication if they didn’t sign the decree.

The gravity here should be stressed: their lifeline with the Church with its saving Sacraments was threatened to be cut off if they refused to bear false witness regarding a serious matter they believed in.  Would an Apostolic Nuncio actually do such a thing?  No one, of course, has the authority to coerce someone into breaking a divine law.  As such, even signed affidavits may not be persuasive with such incredible claims.

Previously, it was believed the commission was hastily convened and swiftly concluded, without even interviewing the visionary.  While questionable, the outcome was at least plausible.  But as now revealed, the commission was a pure kangaroo court without jurisdiction: the members had no choice in the matter.  Hence, their testimony of being coerced now becomes highly credible, and arguably much more.

It is also purported that the alleged visionary, Teresita Castillo, faced a similar ordeal.  The Church interrogators composed a confession stating she had fabricated the apparitions to gain personal attention.  Despite the intimidation, Teresita refused to sign it, only to be further threatened by a furious psychologist who acted as if he was going to hurl an ashtray at her.

While never proven, it becomes more credible in light of the kangaroo commission.  This naturally brings up the confession of the Prioress, Mother Mary Cecilia of Jesus.  The negative judgment of Lipa rests primarily on this confession.  How solid is it?

This is a difficult question, but a contemporary incident illustrates the forces at play.  This deals with Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke, one of the four Cardinals who composed the five dubias.  Pope Francis has unofficially given his interpretation on a key point.  The five dubias amount to a confession that this interpretation is heretical.  Hmm, maybe the four (now three living) Cardinals should bring, say, an ashtray, if Pope Francis ever grants them an audience to discuss this.

But the incident of interest centers on Fra’ Matthew Festing, who was elected to replace Albrecht von Boeselager, the prior Grand Master of the Order of Malta because of Boeselager’s direct involvement with distributing contraceptives.  To keep things interesting, Cardinal Burke is the Cardinal Patron for this religious order, which also has the status of a sovereign nation.

So Pope Francis calls in Festing and asks him to sign a letter of resignation as Grand Master, including the confession “that Cardinal Burke had influenced him to ask for the resignation of von Boeselager.”  As Cardinal Patron, Burke would not have the authority to do that.

This is from a leaked interview that Maltese Knight Josef von Beverfoerde conducted with Cardinal Burke.  The pertinent detail is when Burke asked Festing why he signed something he knew was false, Festing “only answered that the obedience toward the Hoy Father did not give him any other choice”.  This is obviously wrong.  Bearing false witness and the 8th Commandment don’t mix; and obedience never extends to immoral commands.

While what exactly transpired is unknown, in this highly sensitive situation, Pope Francis somehow managed to obtain a false confession testifying against his most vocal opponent of Amoris Laetitia, so reports the Beverfoerde interview.

There is the question of transcript accuracy, and the fact that none of the principles have confirmed or denied the report.  But on face value, it does show that a Vatican induced confession can be completely worthless.  Further, it raises the question, would Matthew Festing have signed anything?  Also, would L’Osservatore Romano have printed anything, say Fra’ Festing being married to a Sasquatch?

 

Questions Torture Obedience

A good Sister and obedience are basically synonymous.  While investigating an apparition requires tough questions, physical torture would be, let’s say, uncharitable.  But Teresita was allegedly subjected to something close to psychological torture.  What did the Prioress face?

Was Mother Cecilia tested with: “We know that you are lying, tell us what you did.  Pope Pius XII also wants to know.”  With pressure like that, a confession of most anything wouldn’t be surprising.  However, the intimidation could have been more subtle.  The simple presence of “Vatican interrogators” would be enough to instill significant fear and trembling, especially to a religious.

So, what “interview” techniques were used back in the 50’s?  What was considered state of art?  And particularly, what was used by the actual interrogators?  Curiously, the psychologist with the ashtray was a priest, not a Gestapo agent.  Pop hierarchy quiz: does 50’s psychology trump Gospel principles?

The 2015 CDF decree states that since Mother Cecilia is deceased, “there is no means for rescinding what was, in effect, a confession on her part.”  In explicit form, that is true enough, but what about implicit?  Specifically, if the confession was effectively coerced, it stands to reason there would be some tell-tale signs indicating this.

Lipa petal: circa 1948

For example, the CDF phrasing is “having manipulated rose petals.”  But what did the Prioress write?  Was it generic or something detailed like “breaking the veins to make them look like pictures?”  In fine, was it a rational explanation that would actually work?  Further, would it match with a modern scientific study of the petals?

Though the question of distribution does seem to be a red flag.  It was to “baseball-stadium” sized crowds that claimed to see rose petals “materialize out of thin air.”  How did Mother Cecilia pull off that hat trick?  Were nuns madly throwing out manipulated rose petals from top of the convent for the wind to catch, or using blowers like the newspapers later charged?  Sounds like a good episode for the Myth Busters.

How is this explained in Mother Cecilia’s confession?  For if missing, the CDF statement of “the events were unambiguously natural” would give new meaning to “unambiguous.”  And if present, does it hold water or is it impossibly lame?  As mass deception wasn’t claimed, petals being handed out with instructions to lie seems to be precluded.

It is worth noting that a similar phenomenon was reported at Fatima, but there the globs of light would disappear before reaching the ground.  Witnessing materialization is much stronger than just rose petals falling out of the sky.  But it would take analyzing the area as it was in 1948 to see what is possible and within the technological reach of the convent.

Forgeries can be extremely clever.  But here, it must match with the confession.  There might be other giveaways, but the distribution problem does appear to be a smoking gun.

Also questionable is treating the Prioress as “the principal witness.”  Indeed, she was the focus, but the primary visionary was Sister Teresita, who was still alive in 2015, but now is conveniently deceased as well.  The first became the last as her visions were given the explanation “there was evidence that Teresa was often under the influence of pain medication.”

And so, Pope Pius XII was delivered a decision by the CDF, largely based on the confession.  Did he give his approval after something like the following?

 

“This determination is very manifest from the Prioress’ confession,” Pius XII acknowledges, though inquires:  “But the alleged visionary did not confess.  Wasn’t she threatened with a prospective flying object?”

The CDF members look at each for a moment before bleating: “It was an ashtray, your Holiness.”  They continue, “But remember the pain medication.”

Pius XII’s mystified look changes to enlightenment as he begins to nod in agreement, saying: “Of course, pill suppresses projectile.”

 

While ridiculous from today’s perspective, to not follow the accepted practice would be bad practice, though the evidence here is the specific practice was an aberration.  Yet, ethics aside, the problem is with the results.  While it may flush out more lies, there is also the serious danger of inducing false testimony.  Even the superior/inferior relation has intimidation potential as exemplified by the Pope and Matthew Festing.  In fine, the unintended effect of a false confession could easily be the result with such practices.

 

Knife cuts radio waves

Attention all detectives: sophisticated communication equipment and a potentially lethal weapon was found at the scene of the crime.  Or so reported a tabloid to describe a butter knife and a $2 transistor radio.  While the 2015 decree puts a good face on it, the 50’s decision has a tabloid ring.  For something on the up-and-up, revealing details should answer questions.  Here, seemingly, the opposite results with incongruities becoming more conspicuous.  This comes from giving a natural interpretation to everything, no matter how forced.

It is reported the other Sisters believed in Teresita after seeing her in ecstasy.  Visionaries typically exhibit profound beauty while in ecstasy, the result of experiencing heavenly realities.  Pain killers do not produce such an effect.  But it is reminiscent of a similar case from the same time period, dealing with the alleged apparitions at Montichiari, Italy (Rosa Mystica). 

Here, the Bishop established a commission to investigate.  The physician declared the visionary, Pierina Gilli, was addicted to morphine, which became the only medical report accepted.  The commission rejected the thorough examination by the head physician of the psychiatric clinic, who concluded Pierina was “absolutely healthy and normal.”

The butter knife employed was Pierina’s answer regarding former diseases, to wit, she once had kidney problems for which sedatives were prescribed.  From this, came the declaration of morphomaniac, which A. M. Weigl characterized as “a malicious defamation.”  Adding criminal would also be fair.

Lipa petal: circa 1948

But back to Lipa.  One detail is the alleged delivery of roses to the convent, alleged as evidently no invoices were uncovered.  But what the latest decree doesn’t mention is the rose variety was exclusive to Russia: this being the conclusion of the botanists who analyzed the petals.  Roses can grow anywhere, but unless demonstrated the variety could be obtained locally, this is not a slam dunk.

Another item is “the messages regard exclusively relations between the prioress and Teresa, and among the prioress and the other sisters.”  However, the message cited in The Final Hour (by Michael H. Brown) is anything but that, being a request for prayer, penance and so forth, ending with “What I ask here is the same I asked at Fatima.”  The only other message cited was indeed directed to a religious, but wasn’t about “relations.”  Rather, it was an admonishment to an unbelieving nun: “I do not oblige you to believe.  But do not block nor debase my sacred place, nor despise my words.”

There is virtually no correlation between these and the CDF decree.  Was it because such messages were refused from consideration by the commission with the confession being the only source for what was examined?  It is always necessary to judge what will be admitted as evidence.  But here, the criterion seemingly was whether a natural origin could readily be ascribed.  Additionally, other accounts of the apparition are at odds with the CDF’s characterization as well.

What ever became of the pulsating sun, the mysterious blue bird flying about, the statue with moving hands and lips, and the jasmine vine that vigorously shook, as witnessed during the apparitions and afterwards?  To these, the 2015 decree is silent.  Did they make an honorable mention in the original or were they outright rejected?  Were the claimed cures ever studied?  Sorry, only questions here, such as does that confession need addendums?

 

Brick Hits Stonewall

It was Archbishop Ramón C. Argüelles who issued the positive decree.  His working assumption was he had the authority to override the prior decision, which was reasonable enough.  However, the CDF sent him two letters in 2010 (March and September) explaining the decision had papal approval, and gave him permission to make this public.  But even after receiving the 2015 decree, he expressed doubts that Pope Pius XII had been involved.

Granted, the official decree has never been released.  And without explicit approval via a signature (verses tacit with just a nod of the head), it being official would be questionable.  But the CDF should be taken at its word.  However, the original CDF commission may have stepped on some toes. 

While “the foremost authority” resides with the local Ordinary, the 1978 norms do permit the CDF to intervene “but the Ordinary will always be consulted, as well as the episcopal Conference.”  The evidence suggests they were “told” not “consulted” albeit the norms back then may have been different.

In 2009, Argüelles’ request to view the archives was denied.  He thus had a limited perspective on the basis of the decision.  But ignoring the red flags (no appeals for a papal decision) regardless of the long string of positive developments makes evaluating his judgments a hard call, though “anomaly” comes to mind.

To recap, the kangaroo commission substantiates the Bishops were coerced, which corroborates the visionary being threatened and thus supports the Prioress was as well, whereupon the contradictory evidence implies her confession was false, that renders the decision bogus, which only gets worse the closer one looks.  The problem is: it is all too easy to paint it that way, and fairly convincingly.  Though of course, that doesn’t make it true.

The original decree resulted from evaluating “the opinions of theological experts.”  If this was only about timeless moral truths, there would be little to discuss.  But also considered was “all of the relevant testimony,” which two psychologists had their fingers in.  Interestingly, this parallels the priest abuse scandal, which was fueled in part by an overreliance on the same type of professional opinion.

The two psychologists are also reminiscent of the health education films made in the 1950's.  These films provided countless laughs for a generation of grade-school students.  So why was Archbishop Argüelles denied access to the archives?  The reason given was “to avoid scandal,” possibly to the Covenant, the CDF or even the Holy See.  But a greater danger might be that of mass drollality asphyxiation.

Lipa petal: circa 1948

Apparition decisions are not definitive in the dogmatic sense.  False positives are rare, and probably nonexistent at the papal level.  But false negatives are another story.  Pope Pius XII confirmed the CDF decision – the very next day.  No hung jury there.  Though significantly, Pius XII had a pretty good set of spiritual antennas.

For example, Pius XII refused to condemn the Divine Mercy devotion, evidently per the emphatic expression mortis corpus as Cardinal Ottaviani only succeeded in suppressing the devotion about a month into the pontificate of Pope John XXIII.  But Pius XII did, based on inaccurate information, place the diary on the index of forbidden books.

Lipa was declared non-supernatural, which denotes either a demonic or a natural origin.  The 2015 decree says “unambiguously natural” (presumably a faithful representation), which means the original decree categorically excluded a demonic origin.  However, demonic activity was reported immediately before the apparitions begin. 

On her 21st birthday, Teresita Castillo fled home in order to enter the Carmelite Monastery.  Her brothers objected: the eldest pointed a gun at her through the grill saying he preferred her dead.  This family “curse” may have opened the door for the demonic attacks she was soon subjected to, which aimed at destroying her religious vocation.

Teresita first heard guttural man’s voice saying her father awaited her return, and left behind two black inhuman footprints.  A similar message was given the next day, and she heard many footsteps running below her cell.  Ten days later, she saw Satan, surrounded by a small ring of fire.  He invoked the same temptation regarding “obligations” to her parents, but this time the devil struck her, leaving marks that were seen by the Prioress.

However, there are natural explanations for these; respectively, a bad batch of pain medication, a really bad batch, and a really, really, really bad batch of pain medication.  But how was this actually interpreted in the original investigation?  Evidently, the confession trumped all other testimony, regardless…  In appearance, the original decree provokes the strong suspicion that it is hopelessly flawed, replete with forced natural interpretations, and dominated by a false confession.

But appearances can be deceiving.  It is quite possible that the full report would draw any reasonable person to wholeheartedly agree with its conclusion.  But would it?  That actually has an easy answer: it is impossible to judge the unknown.

Alas, all is shrouded in secrecy.  Though on another front, the historical context is worth noting: the Cold War was beginning to heat up.  Significantly, well, comically, this eventually gave rise to hit sitcom, Get Smart.

The pertinent episode here deals with the paperwork after Control had again defeated an evil Kaos plot.  Maxwell Smart had burned one, shredded the second, and filed the third copy of the report.  He then asks Chief why they make the two copies only to be destroyed.  The punchline from Chief went something like “That used to confuse me too…”

 

Snake slips through pitch fork

The alleged apparitions at Lipa take on yet another hue when considered within context.  Mary came under the title of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace; six years after the Church in China was consecrated to Mary under that title.  The importance is that doctrine is one third of Final Marian Dogma, a precondition for the era of peace.

Additionally, the Lipa apparitions occurred in 1948.  This was three years after the Lady of All Nations began in Amsterdam, which is thee apparition regarding the Final Dogma.  However, this apparition also received a negative judgment by the local Ordinary in 1956.  The decision was confirmed the next year with consent of the Holy See, and thus languished.

But then in Akita (Japan), a statue was made based on the image of the Lady of All Nations.  Shortly after, the Virgin Mother began appearing and the statue “wept” tears 101 times.  Akita was subsequently approved by the local Ordinary in 1984.  After this, the tables turned and the Amsterdam apparition was declared in 2002 to be of supernatural origin as well.  Of significance, both apparitions are strongly linked to Fatima.

Sadly, there is a false Fatima sentiment present today, being fostered in the form of anti-triumphism.  Strangely, this would reduce the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, evidently, to the Heart of Mary…  But Archbishop Argüelles isn’t one to suffer from that malaise.  His decree radiated confidence in the Mediatrix of All Grace to help establish Christ’s reign in his country and beyond.

However, that desire isn’t shared by all.  The official magazine of the Philippine Masonic Grand Lodge, the Cabletow, announced they had obtained permission from the Philippine Catholic Church that a priest may say Mass at the headquarters of the Grand Lodge.  Per canon law, it is a mortal sin to belong to a Masonic lodge, which makes one ineligible to receive Holy Communion.  When Argüelles’ decree was nullified, the Philippine hierarchy responded by saying they didn’t need that particular devotion, which is true enough, but also darkly ironic.

Argüelles still professes his personal belief in the Lipa apparitions, which is his right.  There are checks and balances, of sorts, with apparitions.  Church decrees are not binding in conscience regarding the decision of their supernatural character, though any regulations imposed are.  This differs from doctrinal decisions, which are binding in conscience.

Hence, one is free to believe Lipa is supernatural, natural or demonic in origin; regardless of what any Pope has signed.  Though besides admixtures, there is still a fourth position, which some may find reasonable; namely, the suspension of judgement.

But second guessing the Vatican isn’t exactly the best of all possible worlds.  Decrees from Rome should be trustworthy.  With this one, however, there is enough to seriously question the original decision.  It seems prudent to reexamine this case, with an impartial investigation, and let the chips fall as they may.  The Philippine people deserve that much, as well as the Church at large.  Though there is some problem with the evidence.

Lipa petal: circa 1948

Following orders to do his best, the Apostolic Nuncio, after allegedly threatening the Bishops, turned his attention to the diaries and letters, the rose petals, basically anything associated to the apparition, and had them burned, well allegedly.  Supposedly, they could have spontaneously disappeared.  But the Nuncio did order the statue to be destroyed, though instead it was hidden by the nuns: one failure of his scorched earth policy.  Yet, one wonders what the Nuncio would have dreamed up if instructed to do what he thought was worst.

To bridge Lipa to Akita via fire, one of the more chilling prophecies from Akita is “if men do not repent and better themselves…  Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity…”  Heaven, evidently, sides with reason as to mercy without repentance is nonsense.

And to further extend the bridge to Amoris Laetitia: “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops.”  This message and the preceding were both from Akita’s final apparition in 1973.

Although fermenting for decades, Modernism exploded into the open after Vatican II and was in full swing when Mary spoke at Akita.  Caution is always needed when interpreting prophecy, but it is easy to imagine such confrontations erupting in the wake of Amoris Laetitia, which has already spawned skirmishes.

Ominously, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines has recently also thrown open the doors for adulterers to receive Holy Communion.  Apparently, granting that for freemasons wasn’t enough.

To continue with Lipa per masonry, it happened that the alleged visionary’s father was a freemason.  Though at the September 22nd apparition, Teresita happily told the Virgin that her “father had retracted from Masonry,” albeit not so her brothers.  Further, for the remaining detective work, all is not so bleak in terms of the evidence.  With the restrictions progressively lifted, Teresita was able to give her account after 40 years of imposed silence.

Worth mentioning is that early on, in 1948, the Virgin foretold the sufferings Teresita would undergo, which she accepted.  From then on, she often felt her whole body was being pricked by needles.  On September 5th, for example, the Virgin asked this day’s suffering be offered for several priests in danger of losing their vocation.

The Prioress would have been amiss not to have called a doctor.  This would explain “there was evidence that Teresa was often under the influence” as pain medication would likely be prescribed.  But without a natural cause found and believed to be mystical suffering, would it be taken?  This partly challenges the “unambiguously natural” verdict, but it is more complicated.

During the persecutions, Teresita was advised by the new Prioress to leave so she could reapply later.  But she was never readmitted because of health issues, specifically, a serious heart condition.

However, the psychologist with the alleged ashtray clearly did not support “unambiguously.”  Father Angelo Blas wrote in his final report that “Teresita Castillo is perfectly normal and not suffering from hallucinations or other mental disorder.”

Lipa petal: circa 1948

Regarding the rose petal showers, they occurred under various conditions, including one day when petals fell into the cellsOr probably found as the Sisters might not have witnessed them falling of all the Sisters, as reported by the one diagnosed as being “perfectly normal.”  Two other notable petal showers within the convent occurred in October, on the 3rd and 15th, respectively the feast days of Saint Therese of Lisieux and of Avila.

Teresita’s mother had prayed a novena to Saint Therese of Lisieux petitioning for another daughter.  Teresita was born shortly after and was thus named.  Furthermore, Teresita said the Little Flower appeared on her name day after the rose petal shower, which gives a partial explanation for the roses.

For the public petal showers, people said sometimes “clouds would form” out of which the petals fell.  That’s a good one for Myth Busters, though less so for the electric blowers cited by the media: the whole providence had no electricity in 1948.  Yet, as the petals fell as far as 70 feet away, the size of the alleged blower could be determined and the amount of noise it would produce.  But the petals always fell vertically, even on windy days, and always within the convent grounds.  From that, the petal showers have no natural explanation, which were witnessed by many.

Lipa petal: circa 1948

But the CDF had a natural explanation: i) roses were delivered to the convent, ii) the Prioress ordered the petal-less rose stems be burned.  However, there is one small problem with this.  An American university that studied the petals reported “that there was no way they could ever have been attached to a stem!”  Hmm, isn’t that rather un-unambiguous?

So what ever happened to the Prioress, who was given 30 minutes to pack when exiled in 1950, as the negative verdict rests on her confession?  After thirteen years of being reduced to a scullery maid, banned from community life in another convent, she was allowed to return to Carmel of Lipa.

Nineteen years later, Sister Cecilia asked permission from her Superior to offer her life to hasten the cause of the Lady of Lipa.  This was granted.  Sister Cecilia soon suffered head injuries from a fall and died later that day.  This was about a decade before the revival period beginning in 1990’s.  This account testifies to her belief in the apparitions: thus rescinding the confession.  From this, seemingly, the only thing left of the original decree is a Pope’s signature.

Definitely, this brings up allegedly.  There is much testimony, some directly from Teresita and the Sisters from the convent.  For example, Teresita said the ashtray was actually thrown as she moved to the side, though presumably he missed on purpose.  But there were no witnesses and Father Blas is deceased, so allegedly...  Similarly, the Sisters have testified they were indeed ordered to burn everything.  After forty years of being silenced, the primary witnesses were finally able to talk, and yes they did.  For more details and the nuances, see the documentary by Jun Perez.

Lipa petal: circa 1948

But the petal showers were only the beginning.  The petals’ healing power was soon discovered with numerous cures reported.  Miraculous cures were even obtained from water set in front of the Lipa statue of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace.  In one celebrated case, water was applied to the deformed foot of a girl, which curled upwards, forcing her to jump and limp about.  After several weeks, her foot and leg that had wasted away from disuse, suddenly healed.  Crowds flooded there to see this marvel, and began noticing the strong fragrance of flowers.  Soon, to their amazement, a rose petal shower occurred within that family’s house.

With all of the cures and conversions, Lipa soon gained international fame.  In 1949, a replica of the Lipa statue was flown to New York.  When carried off of the plane at LaGuardia, “a fragrance of roses swept over the crowd of people who had gathered at the air field!”  And on and on it goes.  The petals are still in circulation and cures are being reported to this day.

This is the evidence against which the CDF obtained confession needs to stand if it is to be taken seriously.  And the testimony from Jaro, the initial place of the Prioress’s exile, doesn’t exactly make it easier.  In the infirmary, where Sister Cecilia was consigned to sleep, Sister Mary Tayamora and several others witnessed a rose petal shower.  As they excitedly gathered up the petals, Sister Cecilia remained composed, and thus they pressed her for a reaction.  She eventually quietly said, “I feel so happy – because our Blessed Mother is still following me.”

Like everyone, Pius XII had to make decisions based on what was known, though often, some facts turn up only many years later.  And mistakes can be made even with the details in plain sight.  For example, the 2015 CDF decree nullified the decree dated September 15th referencing that date three times.  Argüelles’ decree was actually dated September 12th, the anniversary of the first apparition.  The dating is a minor gloss.  Or perhaps, it is a gaffe permitted by Heaven which gently chides: you can’t even get that right.

Judicially, the Müller led CDF had little choice regarding the "September 15th" decree.  But "there is no means for rescinding" the confession betrays a cursory understanding.  Sister Cecilia expressed her belief in the authenticity of Lipa, 30 years ago.  In substance, this is a retraction of the negative judgement’s foundation.  Yet per canon 333, the Holy See can act like, well, an ostrich.  But not without the risk of incurring a declaration of constat de non rationale, a definitive formulation indicating behavior that is unambiguously irrational in character and origin.

Meanwhile, life goes on.  It needs to be conceded that Freemasonry’s goal to secularize the world, including the Church, has massively succeeded.  The doctrinal crisis within only highlights that.  So how could Cardinal Müller, for example, help stem the tide, without entangling the Holy Father?

For the Philippines, there is a potential ready-made solution with the Mediatrix of All Grace.  Donning his contortionist suit, he can point out the clericalism of the CDF, how it marginalized the Filipinos and the events at Lipa, and for good measure, state he is opposed to the apparition.  Finally, with limbs in latest impossible position, he could recommend Fra’ Matthew Festing to lead a new commission because of his expertise with atomic volition intra-nullification per ultra inversive impulsion.  That oughta get the process rolling.

So with Lipa, did rock crush can of worms, or do worms cover rock?  Regarding the original decree, only one thing is certain: it is official.  It will take Pope Francis or a successor to reopen this can in order to officially get to the bottom.

Interestingly, the Holy Father has peeked under the lid.  A young Filipino priest residing in Rome recently got a call from “Papa Francesco” to come immediately.  They had a private conversation focused on Lipa. Allan Jay Gavino Schp later wrote: “I expressed my personal desire that he would have the case reviewed.”  Thus, Pope Francis has shown some interest in the case.

 

Got Max?

While the original series is relinquished to reruns, there now is Get Smart: the New Generation.  Or is it the Next Generation?  Or possibly, is it the Unofficial Generation?  In any case, the detective story is over: any paper work will have to wait till tomorrow. So kick back and enjoy the last episode of the season, already in progress, starring none other than Pope Francis and co-starring Cardinal Müller in his final appearance:

 

“I just finished my latest Encyclical,” announces Francis proudly.

“Wonderful.  You followed all protocols, I trust,” inquires Müller.

“Of course!  I made three copies and have filed the last one.  The first copy was shredded yesterday and sent off for recycling; the second is biodegrading in the Vatican compost heap out back,” Francis happily reports.

“Excellent!” applauds Müller, and subsequently requests that he would like to read it.

Francis turns grave and replies:  “You can’t.”  To Müller’s very puzzled look, he explains “Because it isn’t published yet.  But it will be soon.”  He then adds, not wanting to speak further, “One thing that I’ve been meaning to ask: why do we make those two copies only to be destroyed?”

Brightening up, Müller illuminates, “I used to find that confusing too.  But that is explained in the CDF’s Manual on Apparitions to Everything.  Now, getting back to your new Encyclical, could you at least reveal the title?”

Francis teases, “Well, I’d rather not tell.  But I can say it contains a new invention, what I call a sub-footnote.”

Increasing worried, Müller responds, “How many levels?”

“Uh, not sure what you mean.  What I did for one footnote was to add a footnote to it,” Francis explains triumphantly.

“Of course, your Holiness,” begins Müller before elucidating: “A sub-footnote could have a sub-sub-footnote, and so on.  The depth level is limitless.”  Observing his keen interest and what he thought was a half-smile, he continues, “Footnotes could reference other footnotes, including circular references with sub-circular references.  The title could even be a footnote, or say a sub-sub-footnote, which could spawn all other footnotes, eliminating the need for content, and providing a topological labyrinth of cyclical footnotes, making for an ‘en’ cyclical...  Pardon the bad pun.”

Francis almost falls to the floor.  “Encyclicals with only footnotes!” he gasps.

Müller had spoken in jest, but now is quite concerned this was taken seriously.  He begins asking Francis if he would remember writing the footnotes, but immediately switches to: “Do you suppose that would increase the clarity or the ambiguity?”

Francis, somewhat recovering, answers, “Eh, getting back to that manual of yours...”

“Ah, yes, the CDF’s Manual on Apparitions to Everything.  It is an amazing document that explains… everything.  It goes without saying, it is ultra-top secret,” Müller adds cryptically, glad the subject has changed.

“I would like to read it,” states Francis.

“I’m afraid that is not possible,” answers Müller.

Francis is quite surprised, and then demands: “I insist.  I am the Pope.  I want to read that manual.”

Müller replies, “I am sorry, but I cannot facilitate your request.”

Slightly angry, Francis responds with a half-rhetorical question: “Why cannot I read that secret manual?”

Müller freezes.  The question, cross-pollinating with the Lipa decision, threw him into an infinite loop, rendering him oblivious to his surroundings.

Unaware of this, an uneasy period transpires before Francis is forced to repeat the question: “Why cannot I read that secret manual?”

Again, no response.  This is a reasonable question, Francis concludes, it deserves an answer.  He thus begins to perceive this as insubordination, and therefore forcefully repeats: “Why Cannot I Read That Secret Manual?”

Müller remains unresponsive.  The words only reach his sub-sub-sub-subconscious: the question is immediately rejected as a duplicate.  With a Cheshire pleasant expression, and normal breathing, his mind is entirely occupied with endless flows of streams of contradictlessness: “worm flees can, but hook holds worm, but pliers bends hook, but mud jams pliers …”

Francis is beginning to boil, and is shocked: Müller has never acted this way before.  He shouts: “WHY Can’t I READ That Secret Manual?”  Still wearing a pleasant smile, Müller’s mind continues to churn: “fly eat honey, but spider catches fly, but bird pecks spider, but cat pounces bird…”

By now, Francis is becoming concerned, yet, his anger holds sway.  He thus thunders: "WHY CAN'T I READ THAT SECRET MANUAL!"

This has zero impact.  Müller serenely simply silently begins another iteration: “Scissors cuts paper, but rock crushes scissors, but can contains …"  However, the 110 dB sound wave does stimulate (its canonical status uncertain) a reflex response from which it is echoed: "Because we had to destroy it."

 

External links referenced in this essay

 

Revision history

 

Sergeant detective, one lead remains to be investigated.  It is alleged the below contains information leading to a beautiful song to the Virgin Mother.  The hot tip also said ordering information was discovered at the For You home page ../images/songs/ForYou/ForYou_ImageMedium.jpg