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Creating the Illusion of Church Support

Flagrante Delicto

We have to hand it to the propaganda machine of the Our Lady of Emmitsburg cult; they've done an outstanding job of duping their followers into believing the Catholic Church supports the pretend messages and babbly tales of Gianna Sullivan. Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler would have been proud of such propaganda activities.

As near as we can tell, the cult has less than 40 followers in the Emmitsburg area. The followers of the cult who regularly attend her monthly prayer services are spread out over nearby states. The vast majority of her followers appear to be scattered across the county, but all are connected together and fed by the cult's internet propaganda machine.

To get the word out on the cult's nefarious activities to undermine the negative decision of the local Archdiocese on Gianna's messages, as well as propagate the new pretend messages from Saints, Mary, Jesus, and God, the cult depends heavily upon the use of the Internet; specifically e-mail lists, religious discussion forums, and their principle propaganda home base, The Our Lady of Emmitsburg web site, which they arrogantly describe as "The New Heavenly Site in Cyberspace'!

Why visit the Vatican's web site, your local Archdiocesan web site, The Catholic Review, or Zenit - The Vatican's Catholic news service to learn about the Catholic Church when you can visit a web site directly tied to heaven?

Following the Archdiocesan commissions investigation of the nature of the pretend messages of Gianna Sullivan, which resulted in the determination of 'We do not believe,' and the Vatican's concurrence on the commissions findings, the cult had to scramble to buttress the illusion they had created over the years that the Church believed Gianna and her messages. For without the illusion of support from the Church, most, if not all of her followers would vanish. (With the noted exception of those who believe that the U.S. Government shot down the space shuttle Columbia because it was bringing back proof of Gianna's messages, and other wacky conspiracy schemes ... Which will be a subject of another article.) Without Church support, the empire that had been created around and was feeding Gianna would crumble.

I first became aware of the extent the propaganda machine of the Our Lady of Emmitsburg cult would go to create the illusion of Church support several years ago, long before the establishment of the cult watch, when we received a call from one of the local Catholic parishes in Emmitsburg asking why their church's web site, which is part of emmitsburg.net, "was now part of the Foundation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart's web site," one of the many internet fronts set up by the Our Lady of Emmitsburg cult to disseminate their propaganda.

Looking into the issue, we discovered that what the cult had done was to place links to all four Catholic organizations that were part of Emmitsburg.net on every page on its site. The idea being that no matter where you went on the site, be it reading the latest pretend message from Gianna, or her wacky autobiography (sic) of Jesus, you would see the names of the local Emmitsburg Catholic institutions. The very presence of their names and links to their sites was supposed to add credence to the cult's propaganda on any given page.

When I realized what the cult had done, we called the church back and explained that no, their church's web site was not on the Foundation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart's web site, but was merely linked to it.

"Well, isn't that illegal?" I were asked.

"No, that's what the internet is all about. The idea of links is to allow people to jump to other sites where they can find more information on a given subject, or other organizations that agree with or support the message on the web page with the links..."

"But we don't support them! We don't want to have anything to do with them. Can't you do something to stop them?"

Hmm...

"Not really," was our first reply. "While it's common practice to ask permission before you link to someone's page, there is no law against it."

"But we don't want anyone to even think we are associated with or support them, can't you do anything? ANYTHING? PLEASE!!!!!"

Hmm...

"Maybe ...but it's going to take a few hours to set up and test itů"

Without going into techno mumbo jumbo, suffice it to say that whenever anyone clicks on a link on a web page, the name of the original web page is sent to the web site that contains the document linked to. [This is how sites like Google keep track of how many people click on links so they can charge their advertisers.] It took us a couple hours but we were able to write a line of code that intercepted anyone coming from the Foundation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart's web site. But that created a dilemma. Once we captured those coming from the cult's web site we had the ability to send them to any place else on Emmitsurg.net, or for that matter, and place else on the Internet

In discussing where to send the cult's followers, after a lengthy, thoughtful, and playful discussion of almost a minute, well maybe two, the staff here at emmitsburg.net settled on sending them to the most appropriate place possible - the Archdiocesan web site's page detailing their findings of the commission - which was appropriately titled 'We Do Not Believe.' 

We admit we would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when the first e-mail or call was received by the cult's propaganda department that the cult visitors were being sent to a page debunking the cult!

Within days of our actions, the cult removed the links to all the Emmitsburg Catholic churches from all their pages. Now, you'll only find the names of the churches on the cult's web site's links page. But Instead of providing a 'real' link which we can block, the cult gives their users only the URL of the church's web site, which the followers must then copy and paste into their web browser, and thereby bypass our code. The cut and paste option left no 'fingerprints' that the visitors were coming from the cult's web site.

The ball was back in our court.

As we were unable to intercept visitors who used the cut and paste option we did the next best thing, we put a link to the Archdiocesan position paper titled 'We Do Not Believe' on each of the Catholic institutions' home pages, such as Saint Joseph's so any visitor could clearly see it.

Beaten again, the cult called a halt to trying to create an illusion on their web site that the local Emmitsburg churches were supportive of the movement.  I never gave it another thought until recently when we began to investigate the cult.

Use of Misdirected Catholic Priests

Links are one thing, but using misdirected Catholic priests to give credence to Gianna's messages is downright devious and deceitful.

The cult's propaganda machine understands only too well that the blubbering messages of Gianna wouldn't get more than a passing notice unless they had some seal of approval by the Church. What better way to get that appearance of approval then to have a priest comment on each message! Surely if a Catholic priest is praising the message, then the Catholic Church must support it.

Pretty sneaky, huh?

In interviewing ex-followers of the cult, all of them said they were deceived into thinking the cult messages were approved as a result of the actions of a priest. To quote one ex-follower, "We were raised to trust priests, so if Father _____ said it was OK, then who were we to question him? If he hadn't given his go ahead, we would never have believed Gianna and would have spent our time and money supporting real causes that help real people in need."

The most current priest duped into the role of providing the appearance of Catholic Church support for the cult is a Father Wang of the Archdiocese of Helena Montana. Every pretended message from Mary, which is spammed to all her followers via the internet and then reposted on countless discussion forums, carries a statement from Father Wang which gives the message of the appearance of legitimacy in the eyes of the Church, and with it, legitimacy in the eyes of the followers.

While we never were able to talk to Father Wang, his secretary provided some interesting insights to us on the basis for his disobedience:

"The Church as a Divine institution can never be wrong and the core doctrines of the Church are unshakeable, yet the human clergy can indeed make mistakes...

...In God's time, I believe the mistakes made in discerning the authenticity of Our Lady of Emmitsburg will be corrected. As Truth continues to come to light, it is the on-going duty and right of any Catholic Christian, touched by Our Lady of Emmitsburg and aware of the errors made to defend and proclaim her presence and messages."

Wang himself is quoted as saying the work of the commission as being "biased, fallacious, and flawed in many aspects."

In short, Father Wang has taken it upon himself to overrule to findings of the Archdiocesan Commission set up to investing alleged messages, and ignore the decision of the Vatican ... Can you say 'schism'?

Funny, Father Wang's superiors were unaware of his activities ... wonder why he hid it from them?

In Gianna's pretended messages from God and in her fairytale of Christ's early life, the cult attempts to create the seal of Catholic Church approval by using a Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD.

As Father Kavanaugh is a mere English translator, the question we find ourselves asking is: What makes him an authority on the authenticity of revelations? What makes him more qualified than Father Francis Morrissey, O.M.I., J.C.D., Professor of Canon Law at St. Paul University, Ottawa, Father James Gill, S.J., M.D., Chicago, Illinois, and Father Dominick Maruca, S.J., S.T.D., now of Baltimore and until recently in Rome, where he served as a Consultor to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. These priests, highly qualified in Canon Law, human behavior, theology, and spirituality, interviewed a number of people, including Dr. Talone- Sullivan and others whom she named as witnesses. What grounds does Father Kavanaugh have for ignoring the rulings of these representatives of the church?

Like Father Wang, Father Kavanaugh also thought himself more qualified then the members of the commission. In an August 2005 letter to the editor of a local weekly newspaper, Kavanaugh wrote that,

"saying Talone-Sullivan's visions were "non supernaturalitate," the church decree was using a narrow definition of the word supernatural. Here the term would mean supernatural in the way the event has transpired. That is, the phenomena perceptible to the senses cannot be explained by natural causes and is therefore miraculous."

In short, Father Kavanaugh blew off the Archdiocesan report and the Vatican concurrence on it and in doing so, gave the go ahead to her followers to ignore the decision of the Church ... Can you say 'schism'?

In January of 2007, Cardinal William Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore, ordered Kavanaugh's Carmelite superior to forbid the priest from attending the prayer meetings and from speaking publicly about the events. And while Father Kavanaugh had obeyed the order, the propaganda machine of the cult ignored the order. They had to. If they removed Kavanaugh's priestly seal of approval and any reference to him on the cult's web site, they would put in jeopardy the house of cards they had created giving the illusion of approval by the Catholic Church to her stories, like the pretended autobiography of Jesus, or to her messages from God.

While we can understand why the cult did not remove the material, what we don't understand is why Kavanaugh did not order them to remove the references.

As steeped in the Internet as we are, we fully understand that it is next to impossible to remove all references of support for the cult's messages attributed to Father Kavanaugh, which as we noted earlier, are now plastered on countless discussion forums. But having them removed from the cult's web site was, and still is, within his power. Why then hasn't he requested the removal of his name?

We also noted with interest that in case of Fr. Al Pehrsson, the former Pastor of St. Joesph's where Gianna's cult held sway for over 7 years, his request to have his testimony in support of her activities be taken down from the cult's web site resulted in it being removed for one day, and then reposted the next day.

Again, we can understand the cult's actions. It's hard to keep up the illusion of Catholic legitimacy when the priest most closely involved in the alleged apparitions has no visible presence on the cult's website! So in spite of Father Pehrsson's request to have it removed, material with his name on it giving credence to Gianna's claim of legitimacy remains on the site. But like Kavanaugh, Father Pehrsson could have ordered the cult to remove any mention of his name on the web site, but apparently has not. Again, we ask, Why?

Which raises an interesting question ... are Fathers Wang, Kavanaugh and Pehrsson about to join the list of misdirected Catholic priests who have lead Catholics in schism from their Church? Former priests like:

Emmanuel Milingo

When Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo rejoined the wife chosen for him by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Catholic Church excommunicated him. But Milingo says it's all part of a divine plan.

Milingo was consecrated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 at the age of 39 as a bishop of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, where he became an exorcist in the 1970's. In a press release announcing his new ministry, Milingo says he was called to Rome in 1982 amidst controversy over his "extraordinary healing powers," failing to mention that another reason was his repeated performing of exorcisms without the Church's approval.

Similarly, according to Milingo his ministry to "'preach the Gospel, heal the sick and cast out devils' flourished in Europe, and his popularity grew despite efforts to restrict his ministry" doesn't mention that he was actually in Rome serving on the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

Mr Milingo's marriage caused problems for the ChurchBy the turn of the millennium Milingo had become a supporter of Reverend Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church, and Milingo even allowed Sun Myung Moon to arrange a 2001 marriage to the South Korean acupuncturist Maria Sung. According to Milingo, that marriage was not recognized by the Church, "and out of respect and love for the Holy Father," he "honored the pontiff's request to return to his healing ministry in Rome."

It was widely reported that Milingo had since spent considerable time in seclusion praying for repentance, and was last heard of in Italy in 2004. "Archbishop Milingo is not seeking to defy or divide the (Roman Catholic) Church, but is acting out of deep love for the Church and concern for its future," according to George Stallings, founder of the African American Catholic Congregation (AACC), in the same press release announcing the launching of Milingo's "ministry."

In 2006 the Vatican finally had enough Milingo and excommunicated him.

George Stallings

This renegade priest launched the Washington, D.C.-based Imani Temple African American Catholic Congregation--a Catholic offshoot for black worshippers, in 1989.

Church authorities reacted rigidly to his new church. He even received an unequivocal suspension, forbidding him from celebrating mass and administering sacraments. Jacqueline Wilson, director of the Washington, D.C. archdiocesan office for African American Catholics put it in Time, "No one can go off and start up his own church and call it Roman Catholic."

stallings.jpg
Stallings with his wife

Although Stallings risked excommunication from the church for his actions, he remained unrepentant. Nearly one year after the formation of his Imani Temple, Stallings was indeed excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. He had appeared on the Phil Donahue Show, a nationally televised program, just a few days earlier on January 30, 1990. He boldly announced on the show: "As of today, the African American Catholic Congregation is going independent and is no longer under Rome ... no longer under the Pope." Stallings also announced that his unsanctioned African American organization would permit abortion, birth control, divorce, homosexual activity, women in the priesthood, and marriage among priests--all of which are forbidden under Roman Catholic Church law.

Father William Kane, who was then the archdiocese's vicar general, later declared in a statement reprinted by the Catholic Standard: "By his public declaration that he has separated himself from the church and by his renunciation of church teaching, Father Stallings has excommunicated himself." Father Kane added that the excommunication also extended to Catholics who willingly renounce the Roman Catholic Church to join the congregation.

In May of 1990 Stallings was consecrated as a bishop of his church by Richard Bridges, an archbishop of another breakaway denomination, the Independent Old Catholic Church. The next year, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop.

In 2001 the 53 year old Stallings again made national news with his wedding to a young Japanese woman handpicked by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon. Stallings denied that the marriage has been arranged by Moon. He also denied claims that the Imani Temple is being indoctrinated by the Unification Church. Stallings said that the Imani Temple is not getting money in return for his union with the then 24-year-old Sayomi Kamimoto, an employee and member of the Unification Church.

Least you forget ...

Sun Myung Moon founded the Seoul-based Unification Church in the 1950's and the conservative Washington Times newspaper in 1982. His church owns hundreds of companies around the world, including the United Press International news agency.

Moon's followers believe he came into the world to complete the work of Jesus Christ.

In 2004, Moon was the center of a coronation ceremony in Washington at which he declared himself the Messiah. He also became widely known for performing mass weddings of followers.

Moon considers himself to be the 'Messiah' - called, together with his wife, to fulfill what (according to Moon) Jesus failed to do: start the 'perfect family.' Moon claims to have the support of, among others, Jesus, Satan, Buddha, and Muhammad.

Jesus, Satan, Buddha, and Muhammad ... Hmm ... but not Mary and God? We guess Gianna's still got a leg up on Moon. But what about her followers? Are they being led into Schism, or something far, far worse?

One Final Note

Recently it's come to our attention that the cult has taken a page directly out of the George Stallings play book and now begun to refer to the Lynfield Complex as the Lynfield Chapel! To re-quote Jacqueline Wilson, director of the Washington, D.C. archdiocesan office:

"No one can go off and start up his own church and call it Roman Catholic."

Have your own stories or thoughts about the Our Lady of Emmitsburg Cult?
If so, send them to us as cultwatch@emmitsburg.net

Other Articles on the 'Our Lady of Emmitsburg' Cult

Note:  Information on Emmanuel Milingo, George Stallings, Sun Myung Moon was compiled for this article from various news websites. For more information on these individuals we recommend you visit the Vatican's News website: http://www.zenit.org/