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Bishop's Decision on John Leary's Alleged Messages
December 14, 2003

This past August I was asked if the alleged messages to John Leary, reported by him as supernatural, were in-fact messages from Heavenly sources and if they carried Church approval? I told the requestor at the time that I only read an occasional Leary message sent to me by others, that I had no interest in them, that I knew little about them and that I did not have Leary's volumes of messages to research. The requestor said she had learned that Leary's messages had been disapproved by his diocese (Rochester, NY).

I originally e-mailed Mr. Leary asking him to supply me with the alleged messages that were supposed to have been disapproved or condemned by his bishop. Mr. Leary never responded to me. I then wrote to the Catholic Courier in Rochester and to the Vicar General in Rochester for more information. The last of the information came in this month, December 2003. All of the information received, along with my own research library, was used to compile this report.

The following quotations are from the Catholic Courier article about John Leary1:

  • Bishop Matthew H. Clark has declared that John Leary - a Catholic layman who has claimed to receive interior visions of Jesus, Mary and some saints - has misjudged ordinary mental prayer for supernatural communication.
  • Bishop Clark also said Leary's messages contain doctrinal errors that run counter to Catholic faith.
  • The bishop said he would not forbid Leary to publish or teach about the messages he claims to receive during the visions, so long as he points out in his published works that the diocese considers the messages to be of human origin.
  • Bishop Clark has asked Leary to place a preface in each newly printed work or reprinted volume. The preface is to warn readers against various doctrinal errors in Leary's works.
  • The first error is called by the Church 'millenarianism', the preface reads, "This erroneous teaching, contained in the first 6 volumes of Prepare for the Great Tribulation and the Coming Era of Peace, holds that Christ will return to reign on the earth for a thousand years at the end of time." The preface goes on to quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which rejects a literal interpretation of the thousand-year reign of Christ referred to in the Book of Revelation.
  • The preface also points out that Leary's books counter church doctrine on the office of the pope. The second error is anti-papalism, the preface continues, "Mr. Leary's locutions select Pope John Paul II to be obeyed but his successor to be ignored as a imposter (sic) pope. This erroneous teaching is found in all the volumes.
  • In addition, Fr. Hart (Vicar General for the Rochester, NY Diocese) said he believes Leary does not fit the pattern of a true visionary. He noted that Leary's own beliefs correspond too closely to those reported from the locutions whereas genuine visionaries often learn something that either contradicts or goes beyond what they believed before the vision.
  • Another difference Fr. Hart noted between Leary and genuine visionaries is the fact that he did not express any reluctance about having such visions. Genuine prophets and visionaries often resist God's call, Fr. Hart said, a quality that predisposed him to have locutions of the kind he had.
  • "There is no prophet who really wants to be a prophet," Fr. Hart concluded.
The following quotations are from a Diocese of Rochester, NY news release2:
  • In the past few years, John Leary Jr., of Greece, has published more than 15 books on private revelations he claims to have received from Jesus, Mary, and various saints. In a letter dated June 25 (1999), Bishop Matthew H. Clark notified Mr. Leary that he judges these 'locutions' human in origin, not divine, based on the unanimous judgement of a Commission appointed by the Bishop to review his works.
  • Recognizing Mr. Leary's strong faith as a Roman Catholic, Bishop Clark did not forbid him to write or teach. However, he insisted that a corrective preface warns readers against various doctrinal errors in the works, such as his teaching about an upcoming thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth or that the next pope elected should not be obeyed. In addition, the Bishop asked Mr. Leary to seek theological advisement before printing any future books.
The following quotations are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church3:
  • Paragraph 67, Page 23: "Throughout the ages, there have been so-called private revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or His saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept revelations that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment (my emphasis), as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such revelations."
  • Paragraph 100, Page 30: "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him".
  • Paragraph 676, Page 177: "The antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the intrinsically perverse political form of a secular messianism."
  • Paragraph 937, Page 246: "The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls".
  • Paragraph 939, Page 246: "Helped by priests, their co-workers, and by the deacons, the bishops have the duty of authentically teaching the faith, celebrating divine worship, above all the Eucharist, and guiding their Churches as true pastors. Their responsibility also includes concern for all the Churches, with and under the Pope."
  • Paragraph 2034, Page 491: "The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ (my emphasis), who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice. The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe (my emphasis), the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for."
The following quotations are from the Code of Canon Law :4
  • Canon 753, Page 285: "Although they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority, the bishops in communion with the head and members of the college, whether as individuals or gathered in conferences of bishops or in particular councils, are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care; the faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own bishops with a sense of religious respect (my emphasis)."
  • Canon 823.1, Page 307: "In order for the integrity of the truths of the faith and morals to be preserved, the pastors of the Church have the duty and the right to be vigilant lest harm be done to the faith or morals of the Christian faithful through writings or the use of instruments of social communication; they like wise have the duty and the right to demand that writings to be published by the Christian faithful which touch upon faith or morals be submitted to their judgement; they also have the duty and right to denounce writings which harm correct faith or good morals (my emphasis)."
"Should a Catholic be so unfortunate as contumaciously to deny a single article of faith, or withdraw from the communion of his legitimate pastors, he ceases to be a member of the Church, and is cut off like a withered branch."5 "Profession of Faith A public act by which personal belief is outwardly manifested in the form of a recital of a creed giving witness to the community of the authentic belief by the person in the teachings of the Church."6 We profess our faith every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. We must remember that as we profess our faith in 'one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church', we are also agreeing to the magesterial teachings of the Church.

In fairness to Mr. Leary, I believe that Bishop Clark is inferring that we are to be obedient to the next Pope if he is actually the Pope. In other words, we are required to obey a legitimately elected Pope and are required to obey his truthful teachings. Throughout history there were several illegally elected or appointed Popes. Since they took office illegally, they were not really Popes and the faithful did not have to follow them. I mention this only in the event that our next supposed Pope repeats history and comes into office illegally. We must also remember that Holy Church teaches that prophecy concerning the future can be given by the Lord (the example of Mary predicting WWII to occur in the future at Fatima) but that these types of prophecies can be mitigated, changed or eliminated according to the prayerful response of mankind.

In summary, the following applies to the alleged messages of Mr. John Leary:

  • Mr. Leary's bishop has determined that the totality of the alleged messages is not supernatural in origin but are 'thoughts' that result from mental prayer.
  • The specific alleged messages concerning Jesus returning to earth and ruling for 1,000 years and telling us to automatically disobey the next Pope are contrary to the teachings of our faith.
  • Any future publications or reprints of alleged messages to Mr. Leary must have a disclaimer stating that they are 'thoughts' that come from mental prayer.
  • As of 12/14/2003 John Leary's official website does not have the disclaimer he was told to use by his bishop.

1 Bishop: Leary Visions Not Divine, 07-15-99, Catholic Courier, by Rob Cullivan - Staff Writer, Rochester, NY
2 News Release - Statement on John Leary's Visions, 07-07-99, Diocese of Rochester, NY
3 Catechism of the Catholic Church, (1994), Apostolate for Family Consecration, Bloomingdale, OH
4 Code of Canon Law, (1983) Canon Law Society of America, Washington, DC
5 The Faith of Our Fathers, (1876), James Cardinal Gibbons - Archbishop of Baltimore, John J. Crawley & Co., Union City, NJ, P. 8
6 Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia, (1998), Rev. Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas - Editor, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN., P. 817

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