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A REVIEW OF ARCHBISHOP YOUN’S DECLARATION

His Excellency Victorinus Kong Hee Youn of the Archdiocese of Kwangju in Korea made it official as of January 1, 1998, that his position on "the events arising in Naju" is negative. His grounds for this position were that (1) the messages "lacked genuineness and credibility," (2) "the phenomena alleged to be Eucharistic miracles were contradictory to the doctrine of the Catholic Church," and (3) "various strange phenomena arising from the statue of the Blessed Mother and Julia’s body produced no evidence that could prove that they were truly supernatural and thus from God." Based on this judgment, the Archbishop issued pastoral instructions that prohibited public services and promotional materials regarding Naju in his Archdiocese.

As in all cases of the successors of Christ’s Apostles exercising their teaching authority, we read Archbishop Youn’s Declaration with filial love and respect. We also understand that his pastoral directives are being faithfully implemented in his Archdiocese.

At the same time, we could not help noticing some interpretations and applications of the Church teachings contained in the Declaration that seem to be incorrect. The Church says that her teaching authority is to be obeyed by the Christian faithful (Code of Canon Law, #212, Section 1), but also that this authority is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #86). In other words, the proper function of the teaching authority in the Church in discerning matters concerning faith and morals is not to confer truthfulness or falsehood on them but to find out whether they truly originate from God or not. For this reason, the authority in the Church must be exercised in the spirit of humility and faithfulness to the Will of Christ, Who entrusted His authority to His Apostles and their successors so that His Truth may be transmitted without distortion throughout Church history. Christ protects His Church by preserving the Holy Father and the bishops of the world in union with the Holy Father from errors, when they pronounce official teachings. This also means that individual bishops must make constant efforts to remain in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #85) and with other bishops who are in union with the Bishop of Rome in order to avoid deviating from the true spirit of Christ. The faithful have the obligation to be obedient to their bishops, but, at the same time, expect from them spiritual nourishment that is free from errors. For this reason, the Church states that the faithful have the right and, sometimes even a duty, to make known to their sacred pastors and fellow Christians their spiritual needs and opinions for the good of the Church (Code of Canon Law, #212, Sections 2 and 3).

It is in the spirit of respect and obedience to the teaching authority in the Church, desire to be faithful to the Truth, and concern for the good of the Church that this review is written. The following are the major areas of our concern regarding the Statement.

MISREPRESENTATION OF THE CHURCH DOCTRINE
ON THE EUCHARIST (1)

It is indicated in the Statement that "the phenomenon of the Eucharist changing into a lump of bloody flesh in Julia’s mouth is in conflict with the doctrine of the Church that says that even after the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ with the formula of priests’ consecration, the species of bread and wine remain." (The underline is added.) In the original Korean text of the Statement, the underlined portion is presented as "the species of bread and wine should remain." The English text does not have the word "should," but implies the same by the context in the Declaration. This addition of "should," which is not part of the Church doctrine, seems to have been intended to deny the possibility of Eucharistic miracles. It is a grave matter to insert a meaning that is not contained in the words of the doctrine and, thereby, alter the original meaning of the doctrine.

The true meaning of this doctrine is that, at the moment of consecration by a priest, the substance of bread and wine changes into the substance of Christ’s Body and Blood, but the accidents or appearances of bread and wine remain unchanged.. This doctrine explains the effects of the consecration by a priest and does not explain what is to happen after the consecration. It certainly does not say or imply anything about the possibility of Eucharistic miracles performed by God Himself after the consecration by a priest and, therefore, must not be used to preclude that possibility. Also, if we deny the possibility of miracles, we are also denying that God is all-powerful, which is another Church doctrine. The Declaration, therefore, seems to be in conflict with two Church doctrines, one regarding the Holy Eucharist and another regarding God’s omnipotence. Also, if the doctrine really means that the external appearances of bread and wine must not change after the consecration, then, what about the change of the Sacred Host in our body after Communion? Can the change of the Sacred Host in our body also be in conflict with the Church doctrine?

In order to help the faithful accept the inner reality of the Eucharist, God has allowed Eucharistic miracles many times throughout Church history. Many of them have already been officially recognized by the Church: the miracles in Lanciano, Italy (the 8th Century), Santarem, Portugal (early 13th Century), Bolsena-Orvieto, Italy (1263), Paris, France (1274 and 1290), Siena, Italy (1330 and 1730), Morrovalle, Italy (1560), Bordeaux, France (1822), and many more. If what is mentioned in the Declaration were correct, all of these Church approvals would have been contradictory to the Church doctrine. All the actions taken by the Popes such as granting indulgences to pilgrims to the sites of Eucharistic miracles and making visits to such places themselves would have been mistakes also.

MISREPRESENTATION OF THE CHURCH DOCTRINE
ON THE EUCHARIST (2)

It is also mentioned in the Declaration that "the phenomenon alleged as a miracle of the Eucharist fallen from heaven is contradictory to the doctrine of the Church that says that only through the legitimately ordained priest’s consecration does the sacrament of the Eucharist begin to exist."

Against the Waldensians, who rejected the hierarchy and claimed equal powers for all the faithful, the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) declared, "Surely no one can accomplish this sacrament except a priest who has been rightly ordained according to the keys of the Church which Jesus Christ Himself conceded to the Apostles and to their successors." (DS 802) Against the Reformers’ teaching of the general lay-priesthood, the Council of Trent defined the institution of a special priesthood, to which the power of consecration is reserved solely. What this doctrine means is that people who are not validly-ordained priests cannot and ought not consecrate this Sacrament (DS 794). It certainly does not imply preclusion of direct intervention by God Himself. The Eucharist is not a lifeless object but the living Christ Himself, Who is in Heaven with His full Humanity and Divinity. We have no right to limit what God wills to do and can do. Jesus in Heaven is identical to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament except the external appearances. It is not necessary for Jesus in Heaven to undergo any substantial change to directly come to us in the form of the Eucharist. Transubstantiation of bread and wine into Christ's’ Body and Blood, on the other hand, requires consecration by a priest.

On two occasions (July 1, 1995 and July 1, 1996), Julia saw the image of Jesus on the Crucifix in the Chapel in Naju turn into the live Jesus, Who was bleeding from His Seven Wounds (two hands, two feet, head, side and Heart). Soon, Julia saw the Precious Blood changing into white Hosts and coming down. On July 1, 1995, seven Sacred Hosts landed on the altar in front the Blessed Mother’s statue and, on July 1, 1996, the Hosts entered Julia’s mouth. One of the seven Hosts that was received by Julia on July 2, 1995 turned into visible Flesh and Blood in her mouth, confirming that these Hosts were truly the Body and Blood of Christ. It is noteworthy that, sometimes, the Sacred Host turned into visible Flesh and Blood in Julia’s mouth and, some other times, the Precious Blood turned into white Sacred Hosts. In both cases, the changes that occurred were changes in the external appearances only, even though the directions of the changes were opposite — sometimes from the Sacred Hosts to visible Flesh and Blood and other times from the Precious Blood to the Sacred Hosts. By miraculously changing the external appearance of Himself, Christ is reminding us that He and the Eucharist are identical in substance despite the different external appearances.

Sometimes, the Eucharist was also brought by an angel from a church as in Fatima. According to Archbishop Giovanni Bulaitis, who visited Naju as the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Korea and personally witnessed two Eucharistic miracles on November 24, 1994, the Sacred Host in Julia’s hands was already broken into two parts and one part had a corner part missing. Archbishop Bulaitis says that this corresponds to the breaking of the Host and placing of the fragment into the Chalice in the Mass before Communion, which seems to indicate that the Host was brought from a church. Julia received a message from the Blessed Mother that the Sacred Host was indeed brought by St. Michael the Archangel from a priest.

INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING 
OF THE MESSAGES IN NAJU (1)

In connection with the subject discussed above, the Declaration also states that the Sacrament is validly celebrated, even when the celebrating priest is in grave sins according to the Church doctrine. This is a correct understanding of the Church teaching, but is not properly applied to what happened in Naju on November 24, 1994, when the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio experienced Eucharistic miracles. The Declaration asserted that "the events in Naju," referring to what happened on that day, contradicted this doctrine. However, St. Michael the Archangel brought the Sacred Host after consecration by a priest and, therefore, valid consecration of the Host was never questioned.

INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING
OF THE MESSAGES IN NAJU (2)

The Declaration also indicates that the part of the messages in Naju (July 16, 1995) "that seems to delay the final time" by the Father is in conflict with the Church teaching which says that the final time is already set and is known to the Father only.

According to Julia’s writing, she was in severe suffering, almost dying, on that day. She attended Mass in Fr. Raymond Spies’ chapel lying on a sofa. During the Mass, her soul was taken to Purgatory. Jesus asked Julia if she was willing to walk through the fire in Purgatory, as she had repeatedly tried to lay down her cross despite her promise to live a life of reparation. Julia said, "Yes," and walked through the fire, which she said was indescribably hot and painful. Then, Julia was taken to Heaven and stood before God the Father, Who asked Julia if she wanted to see an immediate chastisement of the world because it was so filled with sins. Julia was frightened and begged God the Father not to punish the world, promising to work harder to spread the messages and offer up reparations. Julia’s soul was sent back to the world, and she woke up from the ecstasy.

It is clear from Julia’s description that God the Father was only reminding her of the seriousness and urgency of the situation in the world and was encouraging her to continue working hard. It is a distortion of facts to say that God the Father was postponing the final time for the world which had already been set.

It was not mentioned in the Declaration, but the messages in Naju have been criticized by some of the committee members for frightening people with predictions of an impending end of the world. The term "end of the world" was not mentioned or implied in the messages in Naju. If one focuses attention on when and how the world will end or when and how the chastisement will come and on how to prepare for it, he is missing the true essence of the messages, which is repentance of our sins and sanctification of our lives. Of course, the messages in Naju warn us of God’s punishment, if we persist in sins and rejection of the Faith, but this is a teaching in the Gospels also. The messages in Naju are full of hope, as they mention that "new buds will sprout even on the burnt ground," "everything will become beautiful again," and "the Second Pentecost will come." They seem to coincide with Our Lady’s prediction in Fatima that a period of peace will be granted to the human race after the triumph of her Immaculate Heart. The messages in Naju does refer to the present age as "the end time," but it is obvious from the above-quoted messages that this only means the end of an era before the opening of a new era.

INVOCATION OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE MAGISTERIUM IN THE STATEMENT IS INAPPROPRIATE

In Item 2.3 of the Declaration, the authority of "the Magisterium" was invoked in requesting obedience from "people around Julia." "The Magisterium" refers to the Holy Father and all bishops in union with the Holy Father who can exercise the charism of infallibility in official teachings on faith and morals. A bishop can participate in this infallibility by remaining in union with the Holy Father and other bishops in the Church. The full authority of the Magisterium, however, cannot be invoked by an individual bishop.

BISHOP DOES NOT HAVE TO "PROVE" THE SUPERNATURAL ORIGIN OF PRIVATE REVELATIONS

In Item 1.3 of the Declaration, it is said that the "various strange phenomena which happened to Julia and in her circumference produce no evidence which prove that they are truly supernatural and thus from God. Perhaps, they can be said to show some preternatural power." This remark discounts the importance of all the signs in Naju. The fact of the matter, however, is that a bishop is not called to prove anything with regard to private revelations. An official recognition of a private revelation does not mean that the bishop is positively confirming actual occurrences of certain apparitions, messages, and miracles. It only means that the bishop recognizes (1) the absence of anything in the reported events that contradicts the teachings of the Church or any other evidences that indicate insanity, pride, frauds or diabolic involvement and (2) the likelihood of such events to produce positive fruits for the spiritual advancement of the faithful. This is why positive decisions on private revelations do not impose an obligation on the faithful to accept them as articles of faith. An official recognition of a private revelation still leaves room for individuals to deal with it as a personal matter between themselves and God. Private revelations do not bring us new truths, but function as catalysts for revitalizing our faith and invigorating our efforts to sanctify our lives and spread the Truth. The contents of the private revelations must not only conform to the official teachings in the Church but also reinforce them and expedite their implementation in the lives of the faithful. As such, private revelations are essential parts and signs of the unfolding of God’s Plan for Human Salvation. A good example of this is the conversion of almost ten million people in Mexico from idolatry to the Catholic Faith in the 16th Century, when the local bishop and the faithful accepted the miraculous image of Our Lady and her messages as true signs from God.

QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE SOUNDNESS
OF THE INVESTIGATION

In the case of Betania, Venezuela, the local Bishop and his investigating committee interviewed thousands of people about their experiences. The Bishop was able to make his conclusion, when a Eucharistic miracle finally occurred. The Sacred Host on which some bleeding occurred is being preserved in a monstrance. The events in Betania were officially approved.

In the case of Naju, only fourteen people were interviewed. The committee members made just one brief visit to the Chapel in Naju. The test results from the medical laboratory at Seoul National University regarding samples of cloth that had absorbed tears of blood from the Blessed Mother’s statue were never considered. Neither were the doctors’ statements on Julia’s stigmata examined. The committee did not order any new scientific examinations, either.

Some of the Eucharistic miracles in connection with Naju and Julia were personally witnessed by Archbishop Giovanni Bulaitis, the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Korea (November 24, 1994), Bishop Roman Danylak (September 22, 1995), Bishop Dominic Su (September 17, 1996), Bishop Paul Kim (June 12, 1997), a monsignor from the Vatican (July 13, 1997) and Father Raymond Spies (August 27, 1997), but their opinions were not sought. Bishop Roman Danylak and Bishop Dominic Su already issued written statements acknowledging what they personally witnessed as "Eucharistic miracles." Archbishop Giovanni Bulaitis has repeatedly spoken and written favorably on the revelations in Naju. Bishop Paul Kim has also been consistently positive about Naju. While the Blessed Mother was still shedding large amounts of tears of blood from her statue in Naju, Bishop Daniel Chi of the Wonju Diocese in Korea stayed several days in Naju and wrote his testimony before leaving: I clearly saw and firmly believe.

In September 1995, the Holy Father sent Msgr. Vincent Thu, his personal secretary, to Naju to comfort Julia. About a month later, on October 31, 1995, Julia visited the Vatican and attended Mass celebrated by the Holy Father in his private chapel. During Holy Communion, another Eucharistic miracle occurred through Julia which involved a change of the Sacred Host into visible Flesh and Blood of Our Lord. The Holy Father saw this miracle and gave blessing to Julia. Later, the Holy Father reportedly said to several bishops that he had seen the Eucharistic miracle through Julia. He also said to the visiting Korean bishops in the spring of 1996 that he wanted the Koreans to share this wonderful grace with others in Asia.

In addition, there are many other bishops and priests around the world who accept the messages and signs in Naju as authentic revelations from God. The number of people who experienced healings of their souls and bodies may be hundreds of thousands. All these fruits were ignored by the Committee.

Also, Item 1.3 of the Declaration hints a possibility of "the various strange phenomena" in Naju such as tears, tears of blood, fragrant oil, stigmata, and Eucharistic miracles occurring by "some preternatural power." When a question of such a grave nature remains unanswered, the investigation must continue until a satisfactory finding can be obtained. A conclusion based on a suspicion or unconfirmed accusation cannot be objective. Our Lord Himself was accused of performing miracles by the power of the devil (Matthew 12:24).

GOD SENDS US MIRACULOUS SIGNS
TO STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH

There seems to be a tendency among many to discount the importance of miracles, even when they are genuine signs from God. Of course, our focus should always be on the correct understanding and faithful practicing of the eternal truths revealed through Christ. At the same time, we need to be open and alert to the continuing signs from God, because God uses them to strengthen our faith and stimulate our efforts to reform our lives. To be able to appreciate the value of the miraculous signs from God, we must make efforts to penetrate their fascinating external aspects and understand God’s messages contained in them. If they are genuine signs from God, the meanings contained in them will clearly and beautifully resonate with the eternal teachings that Our Lord entrusted to His Church for the sake of the whole human race. Saying that our faith is healthy, while rejecting the signs from God, may be a symptom of our pride and, ironically, lack of faith. The Church teaches us on the meaning of the miraculous signs:

In order that the "obedience" of our faith should be "consonant with reason," God has willed that to the internal aids of the Holy Spirit there should be joined external proofs of His revelation, namely: divine facts, especially miracles and prophecies which, because they clearly show forth the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are most certain signs of a divine revelation, and are suited to the intelligence of all. Wherefore, not only Moses and the prophets, but especially Christ the Lord Himself, produced many genuine miracles and prophecies; and we read concerning the apostles: "But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal and confirming the word with signs that followed" (Mark 16:30). (The Vatican Council, 1869-1870: DS 3009)

The Church also emphasizes the need for discernment of the special graces among her members as well as the need for keeping and protecting the genuine ones for the common good in the Church:

Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms. It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. Their office is not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good, so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together for the common good. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #800 and #801)

THE FAITHFUL ARE IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE
FROM THE CHURCH

Thus, many of the faithful are finding themselves in a painful dilemma between the need to be obedient to the teaching authority in the Church and the need to be faithful to the Truth. Discrediting the words and decisions by the Church leaders is the last thing they want. At the same time, they do not want to compromise the Truth, because, if they do, they will be betraying the Lord, from Whom all Truth originates. St. Paul emphatically reminds us that misrepresentation of the Church teachings is a serious matter and is not acceptable, whether they come from humans or even an angel: "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed!" (Galatians 1:8)

The faithful need an explanation of how the contents of the Statement on Naju can be in conformity with the Church teachings. If they are not, a re-investigation of Naju is necessary — hopefully, at the Vatican level to minimize the risk of prejudice and errors and as urgently as possible, because too much precious time has been wasted already. The Blessed Mother said in her message on July 13, 1997 that the signs in Naju are for the whole world and the entire Church. Then, it will be most fitting that the subject of Naju be considered and responded to at an international level.

The Blessed Mother’s tears are signs for the Church. They testify to the fact that there is a Mother in the Church and the world.

Oh, the Mother of tears! Look down with your mercy upon the sufferings in the world and see those who are in agony, forgotten and in despair. Wipe away tears from the eyes of those who have become victims of all forms of cruelty. Intercede for all for the grace of tears so that they may experience a new surge of God’s Love, open their hearts, repent their sins and resolve for a new life. Help all so that they may shed tears of joy after experiencing the deep love in the Mother’s Heart.

Praise be to Jesus Christ! Amen!

— Pope John Paul II, while visiting Syracuse, Italy, on November 6, 1994.


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