The Vatican has ordered the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to stop any activity celebrating the 75th anniversary of the alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary in a Carmelite monastery in Lipa in 1948.

Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the CBCP, sent a letter to bishops dated July 14, informing them of the Vatican’s advice “not to authorize” any activity to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the alleged apparition.

In a letter to David dated May 8, 2023, a copy of which was obtained by PressOne, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, S.J., the then-Prefect of the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, said that Archbishop Charles John Brown, apostolic nuncio to Philippines, had forwarded to the dicastery a letter from Lipa Archbishop Gilbert Garcera seeking the “Dicastery’s advice with regard to the preparations being made by the Confraternity of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the alleged apparitions in Lipa.”

Ladaria said it “would not be advisable” for David as president of the CBCP to authorize “under any form” the celebration of the alleged apparition’s 75th anniversary, recalling that in 1951, the dicastery’s predecessor, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy See, declared the alleged apparitions in Lipa to have no supernatural character or origin. It was a decision “directly approved by Pope Pius XII,” he added.

The cardinal-prefect noted that one of the documents considered in the decision was the written testimony of Sr. Mary Cecilia of Jesus, prioress of the Lipa Carmel Convent, “who initially seemed to endorse the supernatural events and subsequently confessed the untruthfulness of those events and her complicity in giving credence to the same.”

“When this Dicastery became aware of the persistent confusion and false notions deriving from erroneous and inaccurate information relating to its decision of 1951, it reaffirmed its decision with the Decree of December 11, 2015,” Ladaria said.

That 2015 decree, signed by Ladaria’s predecessor Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, said Pope Pius XII had made in 1951 a definitive negative finding of the Lipa apparitions and that the Lipa archbishop has no authority over the matter. The decree effectively overruled the earlier declaration of then-Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles that the Lipa apparitions were “worthy of belief”. 

Ladaria noted that “through many letters and dialogues with the Archbishops of Lipa” the dicastery “repeatedly pointed out the theological inaccuracy associated with the title, Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, and repeatedly asked them to adhere to the Czestochowa Statement (4 June 1997) and to catechize the faithful accordingly.”

The Czestochowa Statement, made by a commission established by the Holy See, sought the opinion of scholars at the Mariological Congress held at Czestochowa, in August 1996 on the possibility and the opportuneness of defining a new dogma of faith regarding Mary as “Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate.”

The commission unanimously stated  that it was not opportune to define a new Marian dogma and abandon the ecumenical path marked out by the Second Vatican Council.

Ladaria said he hoped David would dissuade “any form of activity in view of the proposed celebration in Lipa.”

David, in his letter to the member-bishops of the CBCP, said Ladaria’s letter was “quite clear in its intent” and since Cardinal Ladaria addressed the letter to him as CBCP president “I presuppose that he expects me to communicate it, not just to the archbishop of Lipa, but to the rest of you, our brother bishops in the CBCP, with the specific instruction that we “dissuade any form of activity in view of the proposed celebration in Lipa.” — Rommel F. Lopez