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Fidelity logosFallen 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:

  1. The theories which derive from the alleged revelations of Gabriele Bitterlich concerning the work of the angels, their personal names, their rank and function may no longer be either taught or in any way, either explicitly or implicitly, made use of in the organizational structures of the Opus Angelorum or in any cult or in prayer or in spiritual formation or in any public or private spirituality.  The use and the dissemination of books and other writings which contain the above-mentioned theories is forbidden both within the above-mentioned organization as well as outside its formal structures. 
  2. The various forms of consecration to the angels as practiced in the Opus Angelorum are prohibited. 
  3. Also forbidden are the so-called remote dispensing of the sacraments as well as the interpolation of texts, prayers and rituals into the Eucharistic liturgy or the liturgy of the hours, which are related either directly or indirectly to the above-mentioned theories. 
  4. Exorcism may only be performed according to the norms and discipline of the Church and only according to the use of ecclesiastically approved formulae.
  5. A delegate with plenipotentiary powers appointed by the Vatican will work together with the local bishops to ensure that the above-mentioned morns are put into force.  He will also strive to regulate and clarify the relationship between Opus Angelorum and the Order of the Holy Cross. 

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. 

A more detailed story on the consequences of Rome’s decision will follow in the September issue of Fidelity.Fidelity

 Inge Bluemel

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