Prompted in part by heightened apocalyptic language in recent ‘vision’
Gianna Sullivan complied today by suspending her monthly appearances at a Frederick County conference center. Sullivan, of Fairfield, Pa., also pledged not to personally disseminate messages in written, spoken or electronic form within the jurisdiction of the archdiocese, as requested by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien.
O’Brien’s warning, which was distributed to churchgoers last weekend, marked an escalation of the church’s efforts to silence Sullivan, who was banned in 2000 from delivering her messages during weekly appearances at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Emmitsburg.
In 2003, the Vatican backed an investigative commission’s conclusion that the apparitions were not supernatural. Nevertheless, Sullivan’s followers continued to post her messages online and flocked to her monthly appearances at the Lynfield Event Complex near Frederick.
In a statement to supporters, Sullivan said that while she was saddened by O’Brien’s directive, she would obey his warnings and urged her followers to do likewise.
She added, though, that neither she nor her husband, Michael, are responsible for the actions of the Foundation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, a group that has disseminated her messages online.
Three priests appointed by O’Brien’s predecessor, Cardinal William H. Keeler, investigated Sullivan’s claims and concluded the visions were not supernatural or miraculous and contained apocalyptic prophecies uncharacteristic of genuine messages from Mary.
Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said O’Brien’s letter was prompted by confusion and anxiety among the faithful stemming from the heightened apocalyptic language in Sullivan’s June 1 message.
“After awhile, you will see a time when there is another body in orbit around your solar system, coming between Earth and the Sun and leading to tremendous devastation,” the message read. “Approximately 60-70% of the world’s population, as you know it, will cease. Of those who survive, 60% of them could die of disease and starvation.”
Gianna Talone-Sullivan, of Fairfield, Pa., has claimed that the Holy Mother first appeared to her more than two decades ago. She began to share her alleged messages during weekly meetings at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Emmitsburg in 1993.
Talone-Sullivan attracted hundreds of followers from across the country to the church. In 2000, the archdiocese asked that she take her messages elsewhere; three years later, a commission issued a decree after finding her messages were not compatible with Catholic teachings, said Sean Caine, a spokesman for the archdiocese.
Talone-Sullivan continued to use other means to distribute her messages, including the Internet; in 2002, she compiled them on a website she created — www.centeroftheimmaculate heart.org.
Earlier this month, the archdiocese decided more needed to be done to bring an end to the messages; a pastoral advisory was written Oct. 8, Caine said, warning Talone-Sullivan not to talk or write about the alleged apparitions anywhere within the archdiocese, including Baltimore city and nine Maryland counties.
“I strongly caution Mrs. Gianna Talone-Sullivan not to communicate in any manner — written or spoken, electronic or printed, personally or through another in any church — or any other place — public or private, within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Baltimore any information of any type related to or containing messages or locutions allegedly received from the Virgin Mother of God,” the advisory states.
“It is my hope that this warning will result in greater clarity for the faithful and resolve the divisions created by this situation.”