QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
I have been reading Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta. What does the Church say about her work?
Maria Voltorta was a invalid living in Italy, who claimed to have received private locutions from Jesus and Mary (that is to say, that Mary and Jesus spoke to her), telling her about their lives.
These presumed locutions took place starting in 1943 and continued until her death in the 1950's.
The end result was 100,000 handwritten pages which she gave her spiritual advisor, Fr. Berti.
In 1948, Fr. Berti and 2 other priests met in a private audience with Pope Pius XII.
In his own recollections, Fr. Berti claimed that Pope Pius XII stated that the work did not need an Imprimatur and could be "published as is."
Fr. Berti, also, stated that the Pope said: "Whoever reads it will understand."
It should be noted that these statements were never part of any official Church proclamation, and never appeared in the L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Holy See.
However, when Fr. Berti tried to have the Vatican Press publish the work, it was rejected by two commissioners of the Holy Office who had studied the works.
Pope Pius XII did nothing to stop this rejection, which was followed later by a condemnation, when Fr. Berti went to a lay publisher to publish the works (even though he had signed an agreement not to publish the works).
Again, Pope Pius XII did not stop the condemnation. It is believed that if the Pope did originally approve of the writings, it may have been that he only saw excerpts (the Pope's spiritual director, Cardinal Augustin Bea stated that he (the Cardinal) only read certain small parts of the books, and had no objections, but no one knows which parts he read).
Finally, Pope John XXIII, also, signed a declaration of condemnation.
The works were put on the official Index of Forbidden books in 1959.
Though the index was abolished in 1966, Cardinal Ratzinger in 1985, restated that the works of Maria Valtorta are still considered as suspect and, if published, should contain a disclaimer that her writings are of her own imagination and not true visions.
While there are Valtorta Web-sites that promote her work, the majority of official Catholic sites do not. Included in the sites which reject Maria's writings as divinely inspired are EWTN, and the Sunday Visitor, Catholic Answers, Departures (by Fr. Brian Wilson), to name a few.
Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. of the Sunday Visitor states, that if you decide to read Maria Valtorta's works then:
"When Catholics insist on reading the Poem, despite Church condemnation, I make these requests: First, read three hours of Scripture for every hour spent in the Poem. The Church guarantees that the Bible is God's Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Church has judged the Poem to be a poorly done human work. Second, read solid Catholic theology books in addition to Scripture. G.K. Chesterton, Frank Sheed, Archbishop Sheen's Life of Christ and many other works are excellent starts. Third, maintain a strong prayer life, drawing closer to Christ Jesus, Our Lord, at Mass and at eucharistic adoration, and to our Blessed Mother Mary, especially in the Rosary."
- Deacon George Kozak (6/01)