According to Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez “will unveil guidelines for discerning Marian apparitions and other supernatural phenomena on Friday.”

The Holy See Press Office announced that tomorrow, May 17, 2024, a press conference will be held “to present the new provisions of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith for discerning between apparitions and other supernatural phenomena.” The press conference will be live-streamed here:

The last time the Vatican addressed apparitions issuing norms for evaluation of the validity of claims by “seers” was in 1978. Here is a link to the document that originally was published in secret and Latin:

However, in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI ordered the re-publication of the norms in nine languages due to the increase in apparition reports.

Multiple criteria are listed in the document, including “the sincerity and moral uprightness of the seers, the theological accuracy of the messages, and positive spiritual benefits resulting from the apparition event.”

What are Marian apparitions? Per Wikipedia, “A Marian apparition is a reported supernatural appearance by Mary the mother of Jesus, or a series of related appearances during a period of time.”

Throughout time and across the world many apparitions of Mary have been recorded. Though the Catholic Church believes that supernatural appearances of Mary do happen, there is a “formal evaluation process” established by the Vatican to assess such claims. Those apparitions approved by the Vatican can become part of national identity. Some examples are Our Lady of Lourdes in France, Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.

The University of Dayton’s website section “All About Mary” lists apparitions’ statistics of the 20th and 21st centuries through 2011. It lists the following results: “Out of 386 apparitions, the Church decided that there is a supernatural character only in eight cases: Fatima (Portugal), Beauraing (Belgium), Banneux (Belgium), Akita (Japan), Syracuse (Italy), Zeitoun (Egypt), Manila (Philippines) (according to some sources), and Betania (Venezuela).

An article on Religion News Service explains that “while alleged Marian apparitions are plentiful, most go without official recognition by the Catholic Church. Only 25% of apparitions have been recognized by the local bishop in the church’s 2,000-year history. Of those, the Vatican has only recognized 16.”

Social media’s speculations regarding the “new guidelines” that address not only Marian apparitions but also other supernatural divinities and even Jesus Christ, range from celebration, to fear, doubt, and mockery.

Some people are pointing out that the Vatican’s announcement may be related to Project Blue Beam which some believe will include deceptive images of UFO sightings and alien encounters with possible abductions. Project Blue Beam considered a conspiracy theory, also claims that the Second Coming of Christ will be a technological projection in the heavens and will deceive many.

As followers of Christ, we are warned repeatedly in His Word against worshiping idols. We are to worship only God. Any other worship, of any other false god is demonic worship. Even the Lord’s angels in scripture refuse to be worshiped (Revelation 19:10). The apostles reminded anyone who bowed to them that they were only men, and only Jesus Christ was to be worshiped.

The Bible also warns us to not worship the created, we are to worship the Creator God alone. In Exodus 20:4-6 God prohibits the idolatry of images.

Biblically, the idolatry of Mary and any other saints, gods, or spirits is not permitted. The first and second commandments recorded in God’s Word are: 1) You shall have no other gods before Me. 2) You shall not make idols.

God did not teach us to ask bishops or popes, or pastors and priests to tell us what to believe and what not to believe with man-made rules and regulations. He left clear instructions to His followers to “test the spirits” in the Holy Scriptures.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:26).

In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, there are clear warnings about false apostles and deceitful workers who masquerade as apostles of Christ. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”