From thearchives - Published from 1982-96, Fidelity magazine was the predecessor of Culture Wars.
Fallen Angels: Rome Condemns the Opus Angelorum (OA)
by Inge Bluemel
From the July/August 1992 issue of Fidelity magazine
In a document signed buy Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II, the Vatican issued a condemnation of the Opus Angelorum (Work of the Holy Angels), a controversial group headquartered in Austria whose purpose was the propagation of devotions to angels based on the alleged private revelations of Gabriele Bitterlich. The Opus Angelorum is also prohibited from using the “alleged revelations “ of Mrs. Bitterlich, which include the names and functions of more than 600 angels (both good and bad) as well as long lists of animals, plants and objects which allegedly radiate “demonic energy” at Masses, in prayers, or in spiritual formation. Similarly, the Opus Angelorum is strictly prohibited form “teaching or using” these theories “in any manner of form.” Also forbidden by the decree of the Sacred Congregation is the use of consecrations to the angels and other deviations form the norms of Catholic liturgical practice.
Bishop Reinhold Stecher, ordinary of the Diocese of Innsbruck where the international headquarters of the Opus Angelorum is located, expressed relief and satisfaction over the decision from Rome. Stecher also took the occasion to issue a note of warning about the increasing proliferation of private revelations in the Church. “The time has come to be much more cautious in dealing with these things” he said. “There is, especially in pious circles,” he continued, “a dangerous susceptibility of the phenomena of religious sensationalism, whose authenticity remains highly questionable.” Frequently these sings and wonders are evidence of “religious pathology,” according to Stecher. “We should never forget,” the Bishop of Innsbruck continued, “that Jesus Christ alone is our salvation, and that there is only one faith for Catholics to which we must give our hearts’ assent, namely, that which we know from the revelation based on Christ himself.”
In April l990, the Austrian bishops prohibited the dissemination of the Opus Angelorum Handbook in their dioceses, as well as banned Opus Angelorum from the use of diocesan facilities. Bishop Stecher had accused the Opus Angelorum of the demonization of persons as well as the spreading of superstition.
In addition to the strictures listed in the letter of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger issued in l983 (See “Gabriele’s Angels,” Fidelity, July/August, l991), the current Vatican document added the following norms:
In an article which appeared in the October-December l999 issue of Fatima Family Messenger, Rev. Robert J. Fox, an American promoter of the Opus Angelorum, accused Fidelity magazine of irresponsible journalism for reporting the concerns of the Austrian and German bishops and went on to claim that “the work of the angels is doctrinally sound.” In a related article in the same issue, Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J., claimed that Fidelity “had not verified the credibility of the author of the critical article.” When contacted by Fidelity, Father Fox said that he planned to stop promoting both the private revelations of Mrs. Bitterlich and the consecrations to the angels.
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