Raymond Buchhesiter and James Rada, Jr.
(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
“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
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
“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,
www.emmitsburg.com, 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
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