French theologian prepares dictionary on Marian apparitions

 Father René Laurentin, consultant to the Vatican Council on the Blessed Virgin Mary, has started work on a dictionary of Marian apparitions.

The French theologian, who is now 88, has already published more than 150 books. His Short Treatise on the Blessed Virgin Mary has been translated into several languages. A new revised version of that book, in French, is expected early this year.

Speaking with journalist Judex Acking, during a visit to the island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean, Fr René said he has devoted most of his life to writing about Our Lady and has not finished his work yet.

Father René was one of the trio of French consultants to the Vatican Council on Mariology, together with Yves Congar and Henri de Lubac.

He presents his work as being "devoid of discourse and invention, as through it I simply aim at inviting people to penetrate what the Gospels, particularly that of Saint Luke, say about Mary."

Fr Rene said he took to Marian research after working with the British and America Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"I remember how an Anglican vicar recited the rosary his parishioners," he said.

"The fact remains that non-Catholics do not accept our Church's dogma of the Immaculate Conception, because, they argue, nothing related to this is to be found in the Bible."

His reply to that is that "Pope Pius XII put it rightly when he taught that the immaculate origin and the glory of the Blessed Virgin Mary were linked to the resurrection of Christ. What the Catholic Church affirms is that Jesus, who had been born virginally and eternally to his Father, had to come to his human life in accordance to his paternal image. The conception of Mary had to be immaculate to that purpose, she has been kept free from the sin to that end. One can read profitably about this in the writings of the late Swiss Protestant theologian Karl Barth."

Fr Laurentin says that "the apparitions of Mary also are to be viewed under the light of the faith in Christ and that of the Gospels. What matters most for the Church is that people, when they deal with Marian apparitions, do not forget that Jesus said that 'blessed are those who believe without having seen.'

"The exact meaning of the apparitions of Mary is not easy to determine, they are a one-to-one, tangible communication between Mary and those who experience them through her choice, and at each event it is to done to a particular purpose."

Fr Laurentin thinks his dictionary will deal with around 1,500 officially- recognised apparitions dating from the Middle Ages to the present time.

first posted LA REUNION - 30 January 2006 - 464 words

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