The two claim that they have received divine revelations
LAST November, it was reported that a group of individuals was distributing unusual devotional objects within Singapore’s Catholic community. Later, a charismatic speaker gave talks about her reconversion to Catholicism. These episodes are related to a much larger phenomenon which Catholics are advised to be cautious about.
A few Catholics had been distributing what appeared to be Marian medals and Benedictine crucifixes. They are also thought to have given out miniature “prayer cards” imprinted with a “Seal of the Living God” and a “Crusade Prayer 33”.
An Internet search of this “Seal” and “Prayer” will instantly identify them as items associated with Maria Divine Mercy, as is the so-called “Marian” “Medal of Salvation” or Numisma Salutis.
Who, or what, is Maria Divine Mercy? This is the name assumed by what is believed to be a self-proclaimed Irish seer called Mary Carberry.
For several years, she publicly claimed to have received messages from Christ and the Virgin Mary. These included apocalyptic predictions about an ousting of Pope Benedict XVI, and words to the effect that Pope Francis was a false prophet who would usher in the antichrist.
It was later reported that she had backdated these self-declared prophecies.
Nonetheless, Carberry has a significant international following and published at least two books. Through these channels much confusion has been caused among Catholics.
Carberry has done this behind the screen of anonymity, updating her unauthorised revelations through a website and Facebook page that she discontinued after her cover was apparently blown by an Irish newspaper in 2015.
Claiming that Jesus wished that she stay anonymous to protect her family and avoid distraction from the messages, Carberry maintained her cult by hiding her true identity, deliberately evading Dublin’s archdiocesan authorities.
Unsurprisingly her “ministry” has been soundly rejected by them and other European, American and Australian dioceses where she has been known to have followers.
Last year, Singapore’s own archdiocesan authorities noted that Carberry had a following here. This had probably started as a well-meaning if misguided effort to uphold “traditional” Catholicism.
Soon after came Fabienne Guerrero to Singapore in mid-November. She gave lectures to private audiences and originally intended to speak at not-so-private venues like Toa Payoh’s Church of the Risen Christ.
Attendees at them reported hearing a troubling mix of her story of reconversion to the Catholic faith after years of self-inflicted spiritual abuse, and her explicitly mentioned “divine revelations” that she was a prophet.
Guerrero presented herself as having been sent to warn people that they were destined for hell if they continued practices like having their mortal remains cremated, or that receiving communion by hand rather than on the tongue was liturgical abuse.
Rather like Mary Carberry, Guerrero strenuously avoided Singapore’s Catholic authorities. She and the local Catholics who organised her talks repeatedly ignored archdiocesan Chancery regulations for foreign speakers to first obtain permission to conduct ministry here. It is now believed that these supporters were local followers of Maria Divine Mercy.
IT MIGHT sometimes be hard for ordinary Catholics to distinguish genuine from false preachers, as they often present un-Catholic messages alongside more orthodox elements. Catholic familiarity with the names “Maria” and “Divine Mercy” would have made Carberry’s assumed name more “recognisable”’.
The name “Maria Divine Mercy” suggests some link with Christ, His Mother or St Faustina Kowalska. The use of the Church’s traditional Latin language, as for the Numisma Salutis distributed by those believed to be Carberry’s followers, lent another touch of authenticity.
To give her controversial messages the weight of authority, Guerrero on the other hand provided what were supposedly testimonials from Catholic priests outside of Singapore. Even if they were genuine endorsements, they may not have been provided for the type of messages which the speaker was proclaiming in Singapore.
This is why Chancery regulations regarding foreigners doing local ministry, as well as official Chancery notices against certain individuals, groups or activities exist; these protect local Catholics from the confusion and theological, doctrinal, spiritual and moral harm that could be spread by unapproved activists.
This article was contributed by the Chancery, an arm of the Archbishop’s offices – collectively known as the Curia, whose primary functions are to assist in archdiocesan administration and governance.