The Evangelization Station

Best Catholic Links

Search this Site




Mailing List

Pray for Pope Francis

Scroll down for topics

100+ Important Documents in United States History


Apostolic Fathers of the Church

Articles Worth Your Time

 Biographies & Writings of Notable Catholics

Catholic Apologetics

Catholic Calendar

Catholic News Commentary by Michael Voris, S.T.B.

Catholic Perspectives

Catholic Social Teaching


Church Around the World

Small animated flag of The Holy See (State of the Vatican City) graphic for a white background

Church Contacts

  Church Documents

Church History

Church Law

Church Teaching


Doctors of the Church



(Death, Heaven, Purgatory, Hell)

Essays on Science


Fathers of the Church

Free Catholic Pamphlets

 Heresies and Falsehoods

How to Vote Catholic

Let There Be Light

Q & A on the Catholic Faith

Links to Churches and Religions

Links to Newspapers, Radio and Television

Links to Recommended Sites

Links to Specialized Agencies

Links to specialized Catholic News services


General Instruction of the Roman Missal


Marriage & the Family

Modern Martyrs

Mexican Martyrdom

Moral Theology


Pope John Paul II's

Theology of the Body

Movie Reviews (USCCB)

New Age


Parish Bulletin Inserts

Political Issues

Prayer and Devotions



Hope after Abortion

Project Rachel


Help & Information for Men


Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults




The Golden Legend


Vocation Links & Articles


What the Cardinals believe...

World Religions

Pope John Paul II

In Memoriam

John Paul II


Pope Benedict XVI

In Celebration

Visits to this site

Poem of the Man-God

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL

In 1959 when the "Poem" was put on the Index of Forbidden Books, it was described as "a badly fictionalized life of Christ" (L'Osservatore Romano, quoted by Cardinal Ratzinger in a letter to Cardinal Siri, 31 January 1985). Catholics were warned that it was not to be considered as revealed by God, and in fact, under the rules of the Index, no one, not even a priest, could read the volumes without a serious reason (e.g. to refute its errors) and the permission of the bishop or religious superior. Despite Roman judgements against the work its promoters have continued on their merry way, publishing and promoting it without interruption.

In 1966 when the Index was abolished many thought this meant the works listed on it could be read. Cardinal Ratzinger addressed this issue with respect to the "Poem of the Man-God," in the aforementioned Letter saying,

"After the dissolution of the Index, when some people thought the printing and distribution of the work was permitted, people were reminded again in 'LOsservatore Romano' (June 15, 1966) that, as was published in the 'Acta Apostolicae Sedis' (1966), the Index retains its moral force despite its dissolution. A decision against distributing and recommending a work, which has not beeen condemned lightly, may be reversed, but only after profound changes that neutralize the harm which such a publication could bring forth among the ordinary faithful."

In 1993 Bishop Boland of Birmingham, AL wrote the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about "Poem" on behalf of an inquirer. Cardinal Ratzinger responded by letter, which the bishop then quoted in his response to the person, who shared it with us. The response noted that because of continuing interest in the books the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had requested the Italian Bishops Conference to ask the publisher (who as I noted never in the past has complied with Roman decisions) to have a disclaimer printed in the volumes that "clearly indicated from the very first page that the 'visions' and 'dictations' referred to in it are simply the literary forms used by the author to narrate in her own way the life of Jesus. They cannot be considered supernatural in origin." Whether this has been done I don't know.

So, quite apart from any supposed value that these writings have for helping the faith of Catholics is the promotion of the tendency to self-judgement in areas already judged by the hierarchical authority of the Church. Since the duty of submission to the Magisterium is part of the divine constitution of the Church and necessary for salvation, whereas, private revelations (even authentic ones, which this is not) cannot oblige in faith, it should be an easy call what the loyal Catholic should do. Is it forbidden? In the strict canonical sense (legal prohibition and sanctions for violating), no. Is it grossly imprudent to read things which the Church has discouraged in the strongest terms? Yes. Is it a bad use of time when there are writings of the Magisterium, of the saints and the Catechism that are not being read? Absolutely.

But people claim that never have they understood Scripture as when they have read "Poem." Understood in a certain way, as explained by Maria Valtorta! But this way the Church has said is not according to its mind. Catholics do well to follow the Holy See in this.



Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved