MAKING SENSE OF PRIVATE REVELATIONS
by Fr Paul Newton
(Divine Mercy Publications, 2004, 77pp, $12.50. Available from AD Books)
At some time or other, most Catholics come across private revelations, usually in the form of reports of apparitions of Our Lady with accompanying messages. In an era when interest is high in the paranormal, these messages may intrigue or even attract many people, but they can also be very confusing, even divisive and destructive.
Fr Paul Newton has done a great service in providing sound and accurate advice about the status, authority, purpose and credibility of private revelations. He presents the Church's guidance in an accessible manner to help people distinguish between public revelation and the wide range of private revelations.
He rightly indicates the freedom Catholics enjoy as to whether they accept these revelations, but accompanied by prudent advice as to whether they should believe them. He sets up the most favoured example, Fatima, as a useful point of reference.
He includes some practical advice in the form of "Ten Guides for Authentic Devotion" which readers will find helpful as a means of discernment. He adds some wise guidance for people who believe they are recipients of messages inspired by God.
Rev Mgr Peter J Elliott is Episcopal Vicar for Religious Education, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.