APPROVAL BY THE LOCAL BISHOP
In 1995, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith permitted the public veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title, “Lady of All Nations,” as well as the “Prayer of the Lady of All Nations.” In 2002, the local bishop stated that that the apparitions, in essence, consist of a supernatural origin. In an accompanying pastoral letter, he explained that the recognition of a private revelation never constitutes a guarantee on each word or vision, as some human influence of the receiving subject cannot be entirely excluded. Rome has not yet confirmed the statement of the local bishop. There normally is no need for Rome to give a final judgment, since, as a private revelation, even when recognized, does not bind the conscience of the faithful. A private revelation, however, can be a help in understanding the signs of the times, as Cardinal Ratzinger once wrote.
It is the particular responsibility of the local bishop to provide pastoral guidance to the faithful in regards to private revelations reported in his diocese. In this specific case, the devotion and prayer based on the Amsterdam apparitions have, over the past 70 years, spread throughout the world. In 1973, the “Lady of All Nations” appeared again in Akita, Japan, where a convent of religious sisters dedicated to Eucharistic Adoration had made a wooden statue after the image of the Lady of All Nations, and faithfully prayed the Prayer of the Lady of All Nations each day. Many miracles took place at the site. After ten years of investigation, the local bishop, Bishop John Ito, officially recognized the events as being of a supernatural origin and later made two personal pilgrimages to Amsterdam (learn more about Akita here).
The messages of the Lady of all Nations in Amsterdam also contain the request for a fifth and final Marian dogma. Of course, a dogma is not based on a private revelation, but on Scripture and a long history in the Tradition of the Church. This is, in fact, the case here. For over a century, there has been a strong movement for a new Marian dogma, started by Cardinal Mercier of Belgium in 1915. The title ‘Co-redemptrix’ has a much longer tradition in the life of the Church and in the teachings of the Magisterium. For example, Pope St. John Paul II repeatedly used the Co-redemptrix term in magisterial documents during his pontificate. For more on this, see the penetrating study With Jesus by Prof. Dr. Mark Miravalle. Some have the impression that a 1996 Czestochowa theological Commission gave a final statement that the Co-redemptrix title was too “ambiguous” to be defined at this time. However, this commission was neither magisterial nor authoritative, and several members have stated that it did not constitute a true study, but rather a thirty-minute discussion of the issue with a third of its members from non-Catholic traditions, thereby has only a marginal relevance in this ongoing theological discussion.
It is not unusual, however, that private revelation precedes a dogma, as was the case with the last two Marian dogmas. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, for example, was preceded by the Miraculous Medal apparitions to St. Catherine Labouré, Paris 1830, which revealed the prayer, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us…” and encouraged Bl. Pope Pius IX in his decision to proclaim this Marian doctrine as dogma in 1854. The dogma of Mary Assumption into Heaven was preceded by a Marian apparition to a young French boy, Gilles de Bonheure, to whom Our Lady revealed how her body was carried into heaven by angels. He was instructed to convey this message to Pope Pius XII, who received the young French visionary in an audience, and was humble enough to take it seriously. This also served as an encouragement for the dogmatic proclamation in 1950.
It also is normal that a dogma is preceded by a long and intense dialogue within the Church. Articles and newspapers at the time immediately preceding the proclamation of the dogma of Mary Assumption, for instance, make this very clear. The Pope had to face great opposition from bishops and theologians who were very much troubled about the perceived ecumenical implications. In the end, a Pope has to take a hard and lonely decision, which actually led to the most fruitful development of Christian ecumenism in the history of the Church.
The current worldwide campaign of prayer, therefore, is especially meant to invoke the Holy Spirit, through Our Lady’s intercession, to enlighten Pope Francis so as to know what the Lord expects him to do in our present and serious moment of human history. The campaign is also based on the faith that behind all the dramatic events in world and Church, a spiritual struggle is going on between good and evil, light and darkness. Whatever can be done, and must be done in politics, society, economy, etc., the ultimate victory will only be gained on the spiritual level. Prayer, conversion, and certainly a dogma which would solemnly acknowledge Our Lady’s great roles of motherly intercession, would serve as a strong public testimony of faith, and a powerful weapon in the present spiritual battle.