This includes the “appearance” of St. Joseph in Itapiranga, Brazil.
Living in an era of “fake news” it should not be surprising that many apparitions of the Virgin Mary or St. Joseph are not real. In fact, throughout the centuries the Church has declared countless private revelations as false, and only declares worthy of veneration those accounts that are proven authentic and spiritually fruitful after careful study.
While Catholics are not required to believe any private revelation, even approved ones, apparitions and messages may be approved by the Church for local or universal devotion. The first step in this process is approval by the local bishop of the diocese where the visionary lives. A Vatican document that was drafted in 1978 describes the steps needed to confirm a private revelation.
When Ecclesiastical Authority is informed of a presumed apparition or revelation, it will be its responsibility:
a) first, to judge the fact according to positive and negative criteria (cf. infra, no. I);
b) then, if this examination results in a favorable conclusion, to permit some public manifestation of cult or of devotion, overseeing this with great prudence (equivalent to the formula, “for now, nothing stands in the way”) (pro nunc nihil obstare).
c) finally, in light of time passed and of experience, with special regard to the fecundity of spiritual fruit generated from this new devotion, to express a judgment regarding the authenticity and supernatural character if the case so merits.
Only the Apostolic See can override a local Ordinary’s decision. It would take something grave and not “motivated by suspect reasons” to reverse such a decision.
The Church is always careful to subject private revelations to a process of study before making any judgment as to the appropriateness of devotion, as it does not want to lead anyone astray from the faith.
Here is a very short list of private revelations over the past century that have been found inauthentic or not of a heavenly supernatural character, and from which the faithful are instructed to stay away.
1. Itapiranga, Brazil
It was claimed that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Edson Glauber, and was often accompanied by St. Joseph. The visions extended from 1994 to at least 2001. Initially these visions were viewed favorably by the local bishop, but after a further investigation the Church officially declared on February 7, 2017, that the apparitions were not authentic.
2. Cleveland, Ohio
An individual named Maureen Sweeney Kyle allegedly received various heavenly apparitions. After careful examination by the local bishop, examining the visions and the messages received, it was declared on November 11, 2009, that the apparitions were not supernatural in origin the faithful were advised not to adhere to the apparition’s teachings.
3. Necedah, Wisconsin
Between November 12, 1949, and October 7, 1950, an individual named Mary Ann Van Hoof claimed to have received visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her home. She drew a massive crowd for a vision in 1950, and many came to the small city and established a shrine. In 1955 the local bishop declared the visions false, and the declaration has been confirmed by subsequent bishops.
4. Dublin, Ireland
A woman nicknamed “Maria Divine Mercy” has claimed that she was given multiple messages from heaven regarding certain prophecies. The local bishop has since stated, “These messages and alleged visions have no ecclesiastical approval and many of the texts are in contradiction with Catholic theology