Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Jesus is " the culmination of revelation, the fulfilment of God's promises and the mediator of the encounter between man and God. He who 'has made God known' (Jn 1:18) is the one, definitive word given to mankind". For this reason " presumed apparitions, visions and messages attributed to supernatural sources ", ie "private revelations", to be true must be "oriented" to him, they may " new emphases, give rise to new forms of piety, or deepen older ones, but not in any way, ie, "correct" or counter the only definitive Revelation. The statement, which also reiterates the traditional stance of the Church, is contained in the "Preface" written by Card. William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the doctrine of faith, on " Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations."
The document now being made public, is actually dated to February 25, 1978 (full text is http://press.catholica.va/news_services/bulletin/news/29271.php?index=29271&lang=it ). At that time, however, "the norms were sent to Bishops for their information, without, however, being officially published, as the norms were given for the direct aid of the Pastors of the Church."
The current relevance of the issue of the experience of supernatural phenomena in the life and mission of the Church was also recently observed during the XII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in October 2008 and was inserted by Benedict XVI within the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini.
The Pope affirmed that "the Church gives voice to her awareness that with Jesus Christ she stands before the definitive word of God: he is 'the first and the last' (Rev 1:17). He has given creation and history their definitive meaning; and hence we are called to live in time and in God's creation within this eschatological rhythm of the word; 'thus the Christian dispensation, since it is the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Tim 6:14 and Tit 2:13)''(Dei Verbum, 4)."
For this reason Benedict XVI noted that "the Synod pointed to the need to 'help the faithful to distinguish the word of God from private revelations' whose role 'is not to complete Christ's definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history.' The value of private revelations is essentially different from that of the one public revelation: the latter demands faith; in it God himself speaks to us through human words and the mediation of the living community of the Church. The criterion for judging the truth of a private revelation is its orientation to Christ himself. If it leads us away from him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, who guides us more deeply into the Gospel, and not away from it. Private revelation is an aid to this faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public revelation. Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals; it is licit to make it public and the faithful are authorized to give to it their prudent adhesion. A private revelation can introduce new emphases, give rise to new forms of piety, or deepen older ones. It can have a certain prophetic character (cf. 1 Th 5:19-21) and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time; consequently it should not be treated lightly. It is a help which is proffered, but its use is not obligatory. In any event, it must be a matter of nourishing faith, hope and love, which are for everyone the permanent path of salvation. (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , The message of Fatima, June 26, 2000: Ench. § 19, n. 974-1021) "1.