Catholic Church orders woman to stop spreading messages she says come from the Virgin Mary

Associated Press/October 15, 2008

Hagerstown - The Roman Catholic Church has told a disputed visionary to stop disseminating within the Archdiocese of Baltimore messages she purportedly receives from the Virgin Mary.

Gianna Sullivan complied yesterday by suspending her monthly appearances at a Frederick County conference center. Sullivan, of Fairfield, Pa., also pledged not to disseminate messages in written, spoken or electronic form within the jurisdiction of the archdiocese, as requested by Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien.

O'Brien's injunction, which was distributed to churchgoers last weekend, marked an escalation of the church's efforts to silence Sullivan, who was banned in 2000 from delivering her messages during weekly appearances at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Emmitsburg.

In 2003, the Vatican supported an investigative commission's conclusion that the apparitions were not supernatural. Nevertheless, Sullivan's followers continued to post her messages online and flocked to her monthly appearances at the Lynfield Event Complex near Frederick.

O'Brien's letter cautioned Sullivan not to talk or write about the alleged apparitions anywhere within the archdiocese. He also warned Catholics in the archdiocese that supporting Sullivan "is a great disservice to the church and creates further confusion and division among the faithful."

Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said O'Brien's letter was prompted by confusion and anxiety among the faithful stemming from the heightened apocalyptic language in Sullivan's June 1 message.

"After awhile, you will see a time when there is another body in orbit around your solar system, coming between Earth and the Sun and leading to tremendous devastation," the message read. "Approximately 60-70% of the world's population, as you know it, will cease. Of those who survive, 60% of them could die of disease and starvation."

The Sullivans moved in 1993 from Scottsdale, Ariz., where Gianna Sullivan has said she began receiving the messages. The couple founded Mission of Mercy, a nonprofit organization based in Frederick that provides health care to the poor and uninsured in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Texas.

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