CDF, On Fatima, June 26, 2000, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

THE teaching of the Church distinguishes between “public Revelation” and “private revelations”. The two realities differ not only in degree but also in essence.

The term “public Revelation” refers to the revealing action of God directed to humanity as a whole and which finds its literary expression in the two parts of the Bible: the Old and New Testaments.

[...]  The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in this regard: “...even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made fully explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries” (No. 66). [...]

The concept of “private revelation”, [...] refers to all the visions and revelations which have taken place since the completion of the New Testament. [...Thus the]:Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church... It is not their role to complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history (No. 67). This clarifies two things:  

1. The authority of private revelations is essentially different from that of the definitive public Revelation. The latter demands faith; [...]

2. Private revelation is a help to this faith, and shows its credibility precisely by leading one back to the definitive public Revelation.

[...] The criterion for the truth and value of a private revelation is therefore its orientation to Christ himself.

When it leads us away from him, when it becomes independent of him or even presents itself as another and better plan of salvation, more important than the Gospel, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, who guides us more deeply into the Gospel and not away from it.

[And]  it should be kept in mind that prophecy in the biblical sense does not mean to predict the future but to explain the will of God for the present, and therefore show the right path.


 1. CDF, Presumed Apparitions or Revelations (1978 / 2011)


 2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church §65-67 (1992)


 3. CDF, on Fatima (2000)


 4. Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church §9-10 (2002)


 5. Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini §14 (2010)

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