Bishop In Netherlands Issues Formal Approval For 'The Lady Of All Nations'
By Michael H. Brown
Bishop Joseph Mary Punt of Haarlem-Amsterdam in the Netherlands today issued a formal declaration approving the supernatural nature of apparitions that have come be known as "Our Lady of All Nations" [see previous story]. The apparitions occurred between 1945 and 1959 to a local woman named Isje Johanna Peerdeman (nicknamed "Ida"), who died in 1996 at the age of 90.
It was that year that Bishop Punt, then an auxiliary, and his superior, then Bishop Henricus Bomers, granted a first-stage approval in the way of sanction for a prayer based on the apparitions as well as an image of the Blessed Mother as represented to Ida, widely described as a holy, devout woman. "As to the supernatural character of the apparitions and contents of the messages, we did not give our judgment, but declared that 'everyone is free to make a judgment for himself or herself according to their conscience," says the declaration. "Having had a generally positive attitude towards authenticity, we decided to await further development and to 'discern the spirit' further (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). Over the period of six subsequent years, I observed that the devotion had taken its place in the spiritual life of millions all over the world, and that it possesses the support of many bishops. Many experiences of conversion and reconciliation, as well as healings and special protection also have been reported to me."
Bishop Punt said he had asked for the advice of theologians and psychologists concerning the outcomes of previous investigations and found no theological or psychological impediments "for a declaration of supernatural authenticity."
"In light and by virtue of all these recommendations, testimonies, and developments, and in pondering all this in prayer and theological reflections, I have come to the conclusion that the apparitions of the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam consist of a supernatural origin," stated the bishop.
At the same time, the bishop emphasized that "the influence of the human element still exists" and quoted Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the Vatican as saying that they come "through the filter of our senses, which carry out a work of translation" and "are influenced by the potentialities and limitations of the perceiving subject."
Bishop Punt called the apparitions "a help in understanding the signs of the times and to help live more fully the Gospel.
"And the signs of our times are dramatic," stated Bishop Punt. "The devotion to the Lady of All Nations can help us, in my sincere conviction, in guiding us on the right path during the present serious drama of our times, the path to a new and special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Who alone can heal the great wounds of our times."
Bishop Punt said that he has installed a commission to document initiatives, experiences, and testimonies stemming from the devotion "in order to help insure and preserve correct ecclesial and theological progress of devotion."
Today (Saturday June 8) has been declared a national day of prayer based on the devotion.
It remains unclear to what extent the messages themselves, which have been the subject of controversy, have also been accepted. "He doesn't mention the messages explicitly," noted Raphael Soffner, an assistant to the bishop.