Strangely and sadly, when many in Western Society appear to have grown weary of Christianity, and Christian people need to drink from the sources of Word and Sacrament within the Church, there are instances of devout people turning to weird sects, of decent Catholic people and others giving credence to some self-proclaimed visionary who leads them down paths that sew sorrow for many. These cults frequently result in family breakup, spiritual distress, rejection of the teachers of the Church, a self-righteousness and insulation from the wider Christian community is created and all based on someone’s supposed private revelations. Words are attributed to Jesus or Mary suggesting actions that are in contradiction to Jesus’ teachings in the Gospel.
In our Australian Church we saw the harm that visionaries, Sisters claiming to have private revelations, created for Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop. Fr Tenison Woods believed them, but Mary had a greater common sense and attachment to the proper processes of the Church, and refused to believe them.
Through history the Church has been very reluctant to assent to private visions, and private revelations. Such things are more often attributable to delusion rather than to Jesus or Mary.
In the 1970s and 80s, there grew up near Nowra, NSW, a special cult led by William Kamm who took the title “Little Pebble”. He had the reputation for being a very holy man, and a group of people began to live in community with him, wearing a form of religious habit.
|The Little Pebble - William Kamm|
Kamm’s revelations grew weirder and weirder. He claimed he would be the last Pope before the end of the world, and that he would succeed John Paul II. When that didn’t happen, the revelations were adjusted to reveal that he would success Benedict XVI. That doesn't seemed to have happened either, so far… There will be a gathering up of the elect at the end of the world, and a new race will commence, led by the Little Pebble, and this race will grow from his mystic seed through the help of twelve queens and seventy-two princesses.
Accusations of child sexual abuse were raised, and the Little Pebble is currently serving a sentence for those crimes against two under-age girls. His movement was condemned by the Bishop of Wollongong (now Archbishop Wilson). Kamm is due for parole in April this year, and yet there are still followers waiting for his release. Delusion.
Another movement grew up in the Diocese of Toowoomba, the Magnificat Meal Movement. The prophetess responsible for this movement was known as Debra. It had much the same 2 idea, that revelations were coming to Debra from Mary, and the followers were being instructed to repudiate any of the changes in the Liturgy.
I knew personally a devout couple who were split apart by this movement, with the husband accepting Debra’s words, and the wife knowing them to be weird. At one stage Debra revealed a revelation that said that the English Mass was invalid, and that Mary had withdrawn the “power” of priests to transform bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ! The husband asked Debra what he should do, as he still wanted to accompany his wife. Debra replied that he should close his eyes at the Consecration and say a decade of the Rosary! I had to speak with him later, because I noticed that when I held the Host in front of him and said “the Body of Christ”, he just looked and made no answer, no Amen.
Debra grew wealthier and wealthier driving expensive cars, and eventually court actions were taken against her for failure to repay loans. Debra has left the scene and is presently in the United States, with a lot of wrecked lives left here in Australia.
There is another one of these strange organisations operating presently, and it goes under the title of Divine Mercy Maria. It has a website entitled “The Warning”, referring to the end of the world. It is not clear at all who Maria is. The revelations are sometimes signed “Your Jesus” and others by Mary are signed as “Mary Mother of Salvation”. (It is Jesus, not Mary, who was the author of salvation). This particular movement has prophesied that Pope Benedict would be ousted, and he would be followed by the False Prophet. Good people are now believing this about Pope Francis!
The revelations contain various elements that are common to most of these sects. First of all
There are a few common characteristics to these movements. The visionary is the sole mediator of the divine messages. Those who oppose the visionary are inspired by Satan. It is important to contribute financially. These movements have a lot of money; their websites are professional and expensive. The visionary will be denounced by others, and this is a form of persecution. There is a lot of reference to the Apocalypse, and the various symbols in the Apocalypse are interpreted for today. The end of the world is coming soon, and we
will be taken up to a new world (this process is often called the Rapture).
In assessing these claims and movements, the Church uses the Gospel sayings of Jesus, that by their fruits you shall know them. When these fruits are family division, suspicion, conspiracy factors, anti Semitism, rejection of Vatican II (and practices such as Communion in the hand), the claim that the disciples of the visionary are the only true believers and as the elect, will be the only ones who will be saved at the end of the world. In some instances sexual immorality is condoned.
|St Ignatius of Loyola|
In a time of great corruption and scandal in the Church, Saint Ignatius Loyola devised his “Rules for Thinking with the Church”. No matter what mistakes Church leaders might make, the Church remains the Bride of Christ, and the teacher of the Word. A simple guideline given by Ignatius for discernment was “where would this take me; in what direction would this go?” In other words, does it lead to a good end or a bad end. These movements such as those listed above, clearly lead to hurt and disruption, disillusion and loss of faith, people cheated financially, a suspension of ordinary common sense, and a rejection of the teaching authority of the true Church.
The people who are lulled into these sects are people who became interested because they have a love for Jesus and the saints. That love was played upon and twisted by the visionary and prophet leader. We should all bring to our prayer the families of those who have gone into these sects, because they grieve, and we should pray for the members of the sect, that the Word of Jesus, the truth that sets us free, will bring them back to the community of the Church which loves them and wishes to nourish them.
Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ
Bishop of the Diocese of Port Pirie
Source: Fundamental Delusion