Local visionary gives apocalyptic
Dispute over validity of messages
causes Sullivans to leave St. Joseph’s
Raymond Buchheister and James Rada, Jr.
(7/17/2008) Gianna Talone-Sullivan, who some
say is a visionary, recently claimed to have received a message from the
Blessed Virgin Mary for the world that has caused some controversy.
“After awhile, you will see a time when
there is another body in orbit around your solar system, coming between Earth
and the Sun and leading to tremendous devastation. Approximately 60-70 percent
of the world’s population, as you know it, will cease. Of those who survive, 60
percent of them could die of disease and starvation,” Sullivan said as part of
her June 1 message that she said was from the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Sullivan has claimed to receive apparitions of Mary since 1989 and has been given messages and teachings from Jesus, and most recently God the Father. The Our
Lady of Emmitsburg prayer group currently meets monthly at the Lynfield Complex, where this message was reportedly received.
Local media response
Sullivan was last in the local news in
February 2007, but the June 1 message caused Michael Hillman, webmaster for www.emmitsburg.net, to post his interpretation of the message, which NBC 25
followed up on with a broadcast report.
Hillman wrote an article called, "Emmitsburg’s own end of the world cult?" In it, he said that the message "is predicting the
Earth is about to get smacked by an asteroid or comet." The article lists asteroid tracking information and links, as well as outlined eight "end of the world" cults that have been in the recent
He said that reading the message left him
“troubled” and NBC 25 quoted him as saying in response to Sullivan, “You’ve
crossed the line into predicting doom and gloom.”
The Foundation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, a web site that publishes Our Lady of Emmitsburg messages published
a special Enewsletter on June 30 to explain the revelation in response to the negative publicity.
"That newsletter was put out to demonstrate how the Church has responded in previous approved apparitions," said Sullivan's
husband Michael. He said in at least five previously church approved apparitions Mary has given apocalyptic messages.
Hillman’s web site now hosts an “Our Lady
of Emmitsburg Cult Watch” and he has posted another article “Debunking the Myth
of the Coming ‘Two Suns’.” The article ultimately deals with predictions of the
year 2012 as the end of the world.
The date has gotten a lot of attention of late, including programs on The History Channel and a documentary by televangelist Dr. Jack Van Impe. Depending on the
site where the information comes from, 2012 has been predicted as the year the world ends or the year that events will unfold related to Christ's second coming.
Sullivan declined to be interviewed, but
her husband said the message was about change. One part of the message reads,
“When you see the two suns on the horizon, you must know that this is a time of
change, a time of this new beginning about which I have spoken to you before.”
However, neither Sullivan or her husband offered an interpretation of the
The Church’s position
In 2003, Archbishop William Cardinal Keeler of the Archdiocese of Baltimore declared, "that in
this case, constat de non supernaturalitate (it is established not supernatural)" and banned Sullivan's messages and visions from Archdiocesan churches and property.
The results were the findings of a theological commission that investigated Sullivan's visions and locutions for two years.
Father Vincent O'Malley, pastor of St. Joseph's parish in Emmitsburg said, "Rome has spoken. The issue is over."
"The Gianna movement is on the verge of schism," he said. When asked if he thought this was a cult, he said the Our Lady of Emmitsburg group
had "cult-like characteristics."
Michael Sullivan responded, saying, “How
can this be a diabolical cult? Gianna attends daily Mass, prays the daily
rosary, frequents confession and encourages people to do the same. How is that
diabolical?” Father Kieran Kavanugh also serves as her spiritual director.
Michael Sullivan pointed out that multiple current and ex-parishioners have been harassed and intimidated by O'Malley. The Sullivans
themselves have left St. Joseph's and are now registered at St. Mary's parish in Fairfield, Pa.
Michael Sullivan, a physician of 33 years, cited O'Malley's quickly changing moods, behavior outbursts, distortions of the truth, and
obsession with spreading false statements about his wife and people who are using this private devotion to Our Lady of Emmitsburg, as reasons for their departure.
Furthermore, Michael Sullivan said O'Malley's actions "cause me serious concern for his overall health; and with what appears to be malicious
intent, these matters may even constitute what would 'legally' be considered defamation of character, over and above a lack of Christian charity, even though Gianna
is considered a 'public' figure."
Father Michael Messaro, pastor of St. Mary's, said he has made no judgment on the matter since he is Sullivan's confessor. However, the
Diocese of Harrisburg issued a statement saying it "accepts the findings and conclusions of the theological commission of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in matters
regarding Gianna Talone-Sullivan."
"People who expect the world as it is to end soon
do a lot of very strange things."
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