VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic bishops of Ivory Coast have denounced the increasingly recurrent circulation in their country of emails and text messages claiming to include messages from Mary.
In a letter March 13, the bishops said the authenticity of the messages “has neither been proven nor approved by the church.” In fact, they said, most of the messages are “contrary to the teachings of the church.”
“People, claiming to be from the Catholic Church, have given themselves the mission to disseminate messages that, according to their authors, are from the Virgin Mary,” said the bishops.
After reviewing their content, the letter said, “the conclusion is that the content of most of these messages is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ … for some messages may even disturb public order and create psychosis and fear among the people.”
The apocalyptic messages, which describe impending calamity for Ivory Coast and the coming of “the victory of God,” call people to prayer and repentance.
In response, the bishops have invited the faithful to exercise “prudence and discernment” so as not to be “troubled or frightened during this time of Lent, which is a time of trial, where all sorts of temptations may present themselves to lead us away from God.”
They instructed the faithful to “be careful” about everything they read and listen to and “to follow” only that which is issued officially by the Catholic Church.
The bishops urged the faithful to continue serenely on their Lenten journey and to continue to pray unceasingly for peace and reconciliation in Ivory Coast.
The bishops did not identify the person or persons allegedly sending the messages and they did not provide details about the content of the messages.