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December 2010 - Statement from Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, DD, STL


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Statement from Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, DD, STL

On September 28 before my visit to Montegiorgio, the hometown of the First Bishop of Lipa, I had a meeting with two key personalities of the Holy See's CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH. I asked for this meeting in my March 24, 2010 letter to the Congregation explaining why I was invited to speak in Rome on March 25, 2010, not on the Mediatrix of All Grace of Lipa but on the proposed Fifth Marian Dogma: Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. It was a very influential archbishop from the Philippines who was invited to the said meeting organized by the review INSIDE VATICAN. He passed it on to me, claiming I was the proper person speak on behalf of the many Philippine bishops supporting the proposed Marian Dogma. Indeed on that occasion I was not asked to speak on Lipa although almost all my Marian Conferences everywhere had references thereto. Nevertheless I eagerly looked forward to that meeting with the Congregation to know the real and definitive stand of the Holy See on Lipa.

Actually since I became the Archbishop of Lipa in July 16, 2004, countless people have been pressing me to do this.Truly we have for a long time been wondering whether the Holy See really concurred with the April 11, 1951 Declaration of the six Philippine (Arch)bishops who composed the commission that investigated the 1948 supposed Marian apparitions in Lipa. In 1992, the late Archbishop Mariano Gaviola lifted the ban enforced fifty years earlier by the then Lipa Apostolic Administrator Bishop Rufino Santos. That April 12, 1951 decree contained the contentious phrase 'until final decision on the matter will come from the Holy See'. On November 12, 2009, I earned almost universal approval and praises for affirming the Gaviola declaration referring again to the phrase of the late Cardinal Santos. I did not hesitate to ask again the Holy See for the definitive statement.

September 28, 2010 will be remembered as the day the final statement was released. I am allowed to publish the following:

'The text of the declaration of the Bishops of the Philippines, published on 11 April 1951, is as follows: "We, the undersigned Archbishops and bishops, constituting for the purpose a special Commission, having attentively examined and reviewed the evidence and testimonies collected in the course of repeated, long and careful investigations, have reached the unanimous conclusion and hereby officially declare that the above mentioned evidence and testimonies exclude any supernatural intervention in the reported extraordinary happenings - including the shower of petals - at the Carmel of Lipa."; This declaration is the official communication of the final decision on the matter, as approved by the Holy See.'

What many have been asking for is now finally clarified by the Holy See. The official communication of the final decision on the matter, as approved by the Holy See (italics mine), is the April 11, 1951 declaration. Take note that in the above statement, the April 12, 1951 decree of the then Lipa Administrator Bishop Rufino Santos is not cited. Therefore the oft referred phrase 'until final decision on the matter will come from the Holy See' can no longer be invoked. Obviously, the Holy See's approval concerns the contents of the April 11, 1951. There is no mention of the April 12, 1951 decree.

Exactly a year ago, I issued the following decree: "Whereas, on April 12, 1951 the then Apostolic Administrator of Lipa, Rufino J. Santos, D.D., issued a decree banning public veneration of the image of Our Lady Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace; Whereas, while the Carmelite nuns and some others, most specially the Lipa clergy, obediently observed the ban, the great majority of ordinary faithful silently but perseveringly continued their prayer to and devotion towards the Mediatrix of All Grace; Whereas, on July 16, 1991 after 40 years of silence the Most Rev Mariano G. Gaviola in effect lifted the ban and allowed the veneration of the Image of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace for the people to pray for world peace; Whereas, the fervour of numerous faithful from the Archdiocese of Lipa and from elsewhere continued and even increased throughout the subsequent years and many miracles of physical and spiritual healing have been ceaselessly reported; Whereas, increasing number of pilgrims heed the supposed call of the Blessed Mother Mediatrix of All Grace by visiting the monastery making penitential processions and praying almost everyday but most of all on first Saturdays and every twelfth day of the month; Whereas, the faithful seek from the official church guidance and assistance in deeper faith; Whereas, the local church of Lipa that will celebrate its centenary from April 10,2010 to April 10, 2011 looks forward to a deeper renewal of faith in all the faithful and the increase of missionary fervour with the help of Mary,the Star of Third Millennium Evangelization; Whereas in the last one hundred years apparently the issue on the Mediatrix of All Grace, regardless of the authenticity or not of the so-called Marian apparitions in the Carmel of Lipa, is the most celebrated event recorded of this local Church; So, therefore, I, the undersigned Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Lipa declare and publicly announce:

That pursuant to the instructions and conditions issued by my predecessor Archbishop Mariano G. Gaviola, the decree of 1951 is hereby reversed;
That the public veneration of the image of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace in the Carmelite Monastery of Lipa be continued and made available for the prayer of the pilgrims for true peace in our nation and the sanctification of all priests;
That the contemplative and prayerful atmosphere of the Carmelite monastery as willed by the reforms of St. Teresa of Avila be properly maintained for the edification and spiritual growth of the pilgrims who join the prayers of the contemplatives of the said place;
That all bans written or unwritten intended to curtail or diminish the devotion to Mary Mediatrix of All Grace be lifted;
Finally, that a new commission be established to review the documents about the so-called apparitions in1948 as well as to compile further documents thereafter up to the present.

Humbly, respectfully and joyfully,I must state that my November12 decree does not in any way conflict with the final statement of the Holy See. I owe the late Rufino Cardinal Santos a lot for what I am now. He was the one who received me as a seminarian and later member of the clergy of Manila. I believe he, who was himself deeply Marian, will be happy to know that the difficulties of the early fifties are being resolved slowly in favour of the honour due to the Blessed Mother and the good of the Church especially in our part of the world.
Some clarifications need to be made.

First of all, the Holy See, while accepting officially the April 11,1951 verdict about the Lipa apparitions, does not prohibit the spread of the devotion to Mary under the worthy title Mediatrix of All Grace. In fact the Holy See recognizes that the devotion of the people of the Philippines and especially of the faithful of our Archdiocese to the Blessed Mother is well known and must be promoted.

Pope Pius XII said this already in 1954:

"Philippines! Kingdom of Mary! Philippines! Kingdom of the Holy Rosary! Run to this throne of Grace, to this saving devotion, because the storm is raging not far away from you. Remain firm in the Holy Faith of your fathers that you have received at the cradle, just as your islands remain firm, although shaken by earthquakes and violently besieged by irritated waves.

Organize your nascent nation but in giving a rightful place to Christian values. By so doing, you will guarantee for yourselves the best in all things and prepare yourselves to be in the Far East a lighthouse of Christian faith, column and pillar of an edifice whose greatness no one can predict."

I myself will not cease from promoting love and devotion to the Blessed Mother. We badly need her help especially as we face these critical moments when the Church is persecuted and God is terribly offended by the massive effort to promote government policies that violate God's commandments. I have also again and again emphasized that the Blessed Mother counts on us to join Her in the great Third Millennium Evangelization task.

Secondly, the April 11, 1951 decree stated that the special commission, which examined attentively and reviewed the evidence and testimonies collected in repeated, long and careful investigations, reached the unanimous conclusion and officially declared the … evidence and testimonies exclude any supernatural intervention in the reported extraordinary happenings --including the showers of petals-- at the Carmel of Lipa.

This as well is the official stand of the Holy See. But no one can be stopped nor be faulted if he feels otherwise. In fact many people at that time left personal testimonies of their own experience of the extraordinary events. But they did not challenge the Episcopal commission then. Like the saintly souls including Bishop Alfredo Versoza and Bishop Alfredo Obviar, they kept their conviction in their hearts, obedient to the Church, hoping until their dying breath that 'someday the Blessed Virgin will vindicate Herself' . In respect for the Holy See's recently better clarified stand, refraining from reference to the 1948 apparitions, in spite of personal belief will be more pleasing even to the Most Holy Mother.

True followers of Mary are obedient and humble. Our love for Mary must also show in our love for the Church, the Bride of Christ.

Pilgrims may continue to join the Carmelite nuns in promoting and relishing the prayerful atmosphere of the place. All must plead with heaven that the Blessed Mother will still gather many of Her children around Herself to save the Church especially in the Philippines from the escalating threats to our faith. May God Himself intervene and strengthen all to close ranks with the Mother of all humanity to save our Church from imminent dangers and the faithful from losing their faith. The local Church in Lipa will and must remain --and even give compelling proof that it is-- the Marian Center of the archipelago. This archdiocese which celebrates its centennial Jubilee must enter the new century with a greater missionary vigour always under the guidance of the Our Lady of Caysasay, the Mediatrix of All Grace.

Thirdly, the commission created this time last year accomplished the compilation of old and new documents which are by no means kept undisclosed. The documents were freely given them by many pious people and freely shared with all interested. The final declaration from the Holy See makes the existence of the said commission as tasked with gathering past documents irrelevant. This pious and selfless circle of lay faithful, of religious and of priests, so devoted to the Holy Mother, and consequently obedient to the Holy Church, will henceforth cease to function like an investigative body.

They are now assigned to help all devotees and pilgrims deepen their Marian commitment to the total benefit of the local Church and of all the faithful according to the desires of the Blessed Virgin Mary expressed in many of her self manifestations (especially in Lourdes and Fatima). These seasoned scholars and experts in various fields who put their specialties at the service of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace, are instead to make studies of present graces and favours due to the ardent prayers and steadfastness of devotees.

They are to reflect and explain prayerfully the meaning of Marian attachment to Jesus in these difficult times in the country and theworld and its bearing on theChurch's millennium evangelization project.

September 28, 2010, will remain a memorable moment for me for something I experienced. It was the Feast of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the only
so far canonized Filipino saint.

Earlier I celebrated Mass at the altar of Blessed Pope John XXIII after which I went to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith to meet the two Vatican personalities.

The meeting was very cordial. I thank them until now for the kind reception. I will be dishonest if I deny my feelings of sadness and disappointment. But there is also a sense of contentment and joy. At least we can go on properly guided by the official Church. As I haveremarked again and again, what happened sixty years ago is past.

What we do now and what happens now and in the near future iswhat matters more. We have still to stand by our Holy Mother and with Her fearlessly awaken in everyone the need to return to God, to bring the good news to people of our times, to witness even through suffering to the love of Jesus.

Outside the building of the Holy Office, I read a text in my cell phone. ABS-CBN wanted to interview me. I texted back asking on what topic and if possible to wait for a week on my return to the country to answer their queries. Before the day was over, numberless communications arrived through my cell phone announcing with great alarm President Noynoy Aquino's declaration in the USA which he was visiting, that he was going to support the Reproductive Health Bill pending in Congress and this clearly after being promised financial aid from the USA.

A coincidence? Returning home, I was met with so much tearful remarks regarding the sudden upsurge of the anti-Catholic propaganda.

I felt our country was on the way of degeneration like many countries I saw in my journey. It seemed to me that the faith situation is different from the Philippines I left two weeks earlier. Even friends and former comrades, including priests and religious, have shifted sides. Thanks to San Lorenzo Ruiz, patron saint of the Filipino laity, most combatants against the anti-Life bills are lay people. The more I realized, we need Mary, the foremost laywoman, in these times of great crisis. The evil one must not prevail. I hope more pilgrims will see the need for God's help and Mary's assistance more than ever. I do at this very moment. In spite of everything I trust heaven will not abandon us. Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, help our country and the whole world.

Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles, D.D.
Archbishop of Lipa

Source: SpiritDaily

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