ROME (CNS) — Devotion to Marian apparitions should lead people to Jesus and not to a particular individual or community, Pope Francis said.
In an interview with the Italian state television network, RAI, broadcast June 4, the pope said Marian apparitions are “an instrument of Marian devotion that is not always true” and may be used to focus on or promote an individual.
“There have been true apparitions of Our Lady, but always with her finger like this, to Jesus” he said pointing outward, “never has Our Lady drawn (attention) toward herself when (the apparition) is true, she has always pointed to Jesus.”
Pope Francis said that a Marian devotion that becomes “too centered on itself” and lacks guiding people to Jesus “is no good, be it in the person that has the devotion or those who carry it forward.”
Through an observatory body overseen by the Pontifical International Marian Academy, the Vatican tracks alleged Marian apparitions around the world and studies their authenticity. During his upcoming trip to Portugal Aug. 2-6, Pope Francis will travel to a shrine honoring the apparitions at Fátima in which Mary appeared to three Portuguese children in 1917. Public devotion to Our Lady of Fátima was approved by the local bishop in 1930 and has since been promoted by the Vatican.
In the interview, the pope said that it was his grandmother who first talked to him about Mary when he was a boy in Argentina, but “always with Jesus at the center.” He said he was taught that “Mary was the one who brought Jesus into the world and Joseph watched over him.”
The weekly Sunday religious TV program titled, “A Sua Immagine” (In His Image), which Pope Francis has occasionally referenced after praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, presents human interest stories of faith. During the hour-long episode with Pope Francis, he listened to an Olympic gold medalist, a prison chaplain, an engineer turned religious sister and a girl who overcame bullying in her school.
“There are certain people who find pleasure in torturing (others),” the pope told her. “We see it in wars, in videos of the war, the pleasure of so many soldiers, or others working there, in torturing a Ukrainian soldier, and often this happens with children.”
“With peace you always gain, maybe little, but you always gain,” the pope said. “With war you lose everything — everything — and the so-called gains are losses,” he said before pointing to screens showing destruction from war.
Pope Francis said the interview was the first time he had visited a television studio, aside from a “tiny” one in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires.
Asked what he used to watch on TV as a child, the pope smiled and said: “I’ll tell you a secret, when I was young there was no television yet.”
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