Published January 13, 2009
Pope Bendict XVI is launching new guidelines for those who claim the Virgin Mary has appeared to them, in an attempt to end bogus sightings around the globe, the U.K.'s Daily Mail newspaper reported Tuesday.
In his own "holy war," the pontiff will publish criteria to help bishops determine which “visions” are true and which are false. In some cases, the Mail reported, exorcists will be used to determine the validity of a statement.
The pope is reportedly concerned about an explosion in the number of people who claim to see the Virgin Mary, Jesus, bleeding or weeping statues and experience signs of the stigmata – the crucifixion wounds of Jesus.
Under the current protocol, a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, theologians and priests are set up by a bishop to probe the claims.
Between 1905 and 1995, there were 295 reported claims of visions, only 11 of which were confirmed by the Catholic church, the Mail reported.