English | Français | Deutsch | Español | Português
Dialogue between Vassula Rydén and the CDF
Between 2001 and 2004, Mrs. Vassula Rydén had an official dialogue with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in the Vatican that was requested by the then Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
The purpose of this report is not to provide cheap propaganda for Mrs. Rydén, but rather to offer some balanced and detailed insight into the progression and outcome of this dialogue.
It must be emphasized here that the dialogue did take place and that it reached a cautious but positive conclusion. The entire dialogue between Mrs. Rydén and the CDF was published in the form of a booklet
in 2004 and - at the specific request of Cardinal Ratzinger - in all subsequent versions of Mrs. Rydén’s books entitled True Life in God
(TLIG), reminiscent of other cases of CDF critique that were clarified through dialogue. As it will become clear in this report, Cardinal Ratzinger had first declined when asked in 1999 to meet Mrs. Rydén because of "the situation with the Notification", as he put it. However, what he did offer was an official dialogue with the CDF. It was this dialogue and its positive outcome that made it possible for Cardinal Ratzinger to receive Mrs. Rydén, along with myself, in private audience in November 2004 during which I took the picture below.
It must be understood that the dialogue in itself entails no official "approval" of the True Life in God
messages experienced by Mrs. Rydén. The Notification of 1995
with some critical comments on Mrs. Rydén’s experience remains formally in effect. Only the publication of a new Notification could "cancel" the former of 1995, and such publication will most likely not occur during Mrs. Rydén’s lifetime, given the Vatican’s always careful stance on alleged mystics still living.
When Mrs. Rydén asked Cardinal Ratzinger during this audience what the CDF would reply when asked about her status, he answered: "Well, we would say that there have been modifications in the sense that we have written to the interested bishops that one should now read the Notification in the context of your preface and with the new comments that you have made." (See below in Dialogue
There are at least three reasons why I take it as my duty to relate the facts of this dialogue:
1. I first requested the dialogue of the then Cardinal Ratzinger following an interview with him published in Communio in 1999 and elsewhere.
2. From 1997 to 2001 I wrote my doctoral degree on the issue of Christian Prophecy at the Pontifical Gregorian University. It contains a paragraph on the case of Mrs. Rydén as a possible historical example of an experience seen by many as prophetic. It was published by Oxford University Press in 2007, with the Foreword written by the then Cardinal Ratzinger (see www.christian-prophecy.org). After the said doctoral studies, I taught theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and, thus, I lived in Rome from 1997 to 2004 and was able to closely follow and engage in the dialogue. Hence, I am a witness to all that occurred.
3. Some people have raised doubts concerning the legitimacy or positive nature of the dialogue, partly because of a somewhat enigmatic letter from Cardinal William Levada, the present Prefect of the CDF, dated January 2007, that I will put into perspective below. Thus, with this report, I wish to dispel possible doubts concerning the legitimacy and positive outcome of the dialogue.
This report covers the following:
The preamble of the dialogue from 1995-1999
The dialogue itself from 1999-2004
that was concluded with the aforementioned meeting between Cardinal Ratzinger and Mrs. Rydén.
The subsequent developments
arising from Cardinal Levada’s letter of January 2007.
All letters mentioned in this report are on file with the author. For important purposes, copies can be obtained by contacting me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Niels Christian Hvidt
Professor for Spiritual Care (50%)
Clinic und Policlinic for Palliative Medicine, LMU, Munich
Associate Professor (50%)
Research Unit of Health, Man and Society
University of Southern Denmark