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Our Lady of Emmitsburg silenced
Archdiocese of Baltimore issues pastoral advisory

Raymond Buchhesiter and James Rada, Jr.
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(10/16) Gianna Talone-Sullivan has been “strongly cautioned” that if she wishes to be obedient to the Catholic Church she needs to stop presenting messages that she allegedly receives from the Virgin Mary.

“Recent messages and activity by those who support Mrs. Talone-Sullivan have created confusion among many and division in our parishes and our Archdiocese. On more than one occasion, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has conducted investigations into these matters in an effort to protect the faith and good morals of the Christian faithful. Each investigation has concluded that there is nothing of significance to be found in the messages and locutions,” a pastoral advisory signed by Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, reads.

The two-page advisory, dated October 8, 2008 was sent to all parishes in the archdiocese. According to Archdiocese Communications Director Sean Caine, “Frederick County parishes were asked to share this Advisory at this past weekend’s Masses. It was also sent directly to Gianna Sullivan.”

Sullivan has claimed to receive apparitions of Mary since 1989 and has been given messages and teachings from Jesus, and most recently God the Father. The Our Lady of Emmitsburg prayer group currently meets monthly at the Lynfield Complex. The letter also leaves little doubt that Sullivan is being told to cease such meetings.

“I also strongly caution Mrs. Gianna Talone-Sullivan not to communicate in any manner whatsoever, written or spoken, electronic or printed, personally or through another in any church, public oratory, chapel or any other place or locale, public or private, within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Baltimore any information of any type related to or containing messages or locutions allegedly received from the Virgin Mother of God,” O’Brien wrote in the letter.

Sullivan wrote a letter to archdiocese in February asking for guidance on what she should do to be obedient. “All of my priests spiritual advisors and canon lawyers that I have consulted have told me that I am obedient, and that the Church says what it means and would have specified differently if it meant otherwise. So we continue to hold this prayer meeting monthly, open to the public, at the Lynfield Complex in Frederick, MD. All are welcome! If you desire something different, please let me know,” the letter read in part.

She said she had received no direct response to the letter. A statement issued by the archdiocese in September did note that Sullivan had been obedient to a 2000 decree that prohibited Sullivan from conducting her prayer group on archdiocese property.

Sullivan issued a response letter to the pastoral advisory late on Tuesday, Oct. 13. She said she saddened by the advisory, but grateful O’Brien had finally clarified the issue.

“I now beg all of you to heed the Bishop’s cautions. Obedience is the utmost act of authenticity, humility and love. Remember, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather he emptied himself taking the form of a slave … thus he humbled himself even onto death, death on a Cross. He learned obedience through what he suffered,” Sullivan wrote.

However, while urging obedience, Sullivan admits no wrongdoing. She wrote that she did not cause confusion, but rather, Archbishop William Keeler caused it by not clarifying the situation earlier.

O’Brien said that the confusion and division the Sullivan’s alleged visions have caused moved him to write the letter.

“Further, I strongly caution those who participate in any activity surrounding these alleged apparitions or who seek to disseminate information and promote them here in the Archdiocese. To do so is a great disservice to the Church and creates further confusion and division among the faithful,” O’Brien wrote.

While the meetings at the Lynfield Complex have been cancelled and Sullivan says she won’t disseminate any more messages, she points out that she can’t speak for the Foundation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. She even continues to solicit testimonies and healings for the foundation.

The foundation said in an e-newsletter that it will also discontinue disseminating any Marian messages.

This new advisory goes further than the original 2000 decree in an attempt to clarify and remove doubt from the Catholic Church’s position in the matter. The 2000 decree removed the meetings from church property and stated that Sullivan’s messages are not supernatural and that they contain elements that are not consistent with Church teaching, particularly those that are apocalyptic in nature.

Mike Hillman is the webmaster for the Our Lady of Emmitsburg Cult Watch, which he started after Sullivan’s June 20 vision that Hillman called “apocalyptic.”

“I think this is about as definitive a letter as could be,” Hillman said of the pastoral advisory.

He said he would keep his web site,, active to at least the time that the OLOE site is removed. He may even leave it up longer to serve as “a knowledge resource for other communities.”

The letter left no doubt for Hillman as to the church’s position, but he wonders if Sullivan is preparing to follow the letter, not the spirit of the advisory. He points to the fact that the Foundation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary has changed its address from Emmitsburg, which is in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to Fairfield, Pa., which is in the Diocese of Harrisburg.

She appears to be setting herself up to continue in spite of what’s a very clear statement by the church,” Hillman said.

"People who expect the world as it is to end soon
 do a lot of very strange things."

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