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Statement on John Leary's visions


In the past few years, John Leary Jr., of Greece, has published more than 15 books on private revelations he claims to have received from Jesus, Mary and various saints. In a letter dated June 25, Bishop Matthew H. Clark notified Mr. Leary that he judges these "locutions" human in origin, not divine, based on the unanimous judgement of a Commission appointed by the Bishop to review his works.

Under current church law, Mr. Leary was not required to seek Bishop Clark's permission to publish. However, Bishop Clark, exercising his ordinary pastoral responsibility, initiated a review of these volumes more than a year ago. The Commission of clery and laity with expertise in spiritual theology and psychology, was established to study Mr. Leary's writings and offer an informed judgement about their source. The found him "psychologically sound and spiritually serious" but felt he misjudged ordinary mental prayer to be supernatural communication.

Recognizing Mr. Leary's strong faith as a Roman Catholic, Bishop Clark did not forbid him to write or teach. However, he insist (sic) that a corrective preface be inserted in each newly printed or reprinted volume. This preface warns readers against various doctrinal errors in the works, such as his teaching about an upcoming thousand-year reign of Christ on earth or that the next pope elected should not be obeyed. In addition, the Bishop asked Mr. Leary to seek theological advisement before printing any future books.


Rochester Courier - Diocesan Newspaper Report

CATHOLIC COURIER - July 15th, 1999

 Bishop Mathew H. Clark has declared that John Leary - a
Catholic layman who has claimed to have interior visions of
Jesus, Mary and some saints, has misjudged ordinary mental
prayer for supernatural communication.
 Bishop Clark also said Leary's messages contain doctrinal
errors that run counter to the Catholic Faith. Leary was
informed of the Bishops decision through a meeting with
Diocesan officials and a June 25th letter from the Bishop.
 However, Bishop Clark stressed that the diocese considers
Leary a "Faithful Roman Catholic". The Bishop said he wll
not forbid Leary to publish or teach about the messages he
claims to receive during the visions, so long as he points
out in his published works that the diocese considers the
messages to be of human origin.

  Over the past six years — Leary, a retired Kodak chemist
who lives in the Rochester suburb of Greece — has detailed
the messages in public talks and 13 published volumes.
Titled Prepare for the Great Tribulation and the Coming Era
of Peace, the volumes have sold in the tens of thousands,
and have appeared on Catholic bestseller lists.

 Each volume is a diary of the messages — known as
"locutions" — Leary claims to have received daily since July

 Bishop Clark has asked Leary to place a preface in each
newly printed work or reprinted volume. The preface is to
warn readers against various doctrinal errors in Leary’s
works. The diocese announced Bishop Clark’s decision in a
July 7 press statement.

 Leary has claimed that his locutions warn of the coming of
the anti-Christ, a political leader who will forge an
alliance with the next pope. According to Leary’s diaries,
this pope — whom Leary calls a false pope — will replace
Pope John Paul II after the current pontiff is exiled. Leary
writes that the false pope will undermine church teachings
and support persecution of religious and political opponents
of the anti-Christ’s regime.

 The preface required by the bishop outlines two errors, in
particular, that concerned him and a five-member commission
he appointed to study Leary’s writings over the past year.
In addition to Father Joseph A. Hart, diocesan vicar general
and Pastoral Center moderator, the commission comprised
three theologians and a psychiatrist.

 "The first (error) is called by the Church
‘millenarianism,’" the preface reads. "This erroneous
teaching, contained in the first 6 volumes of Prepare for
the Great Tribulation and the Coming Era of Peace, holds
that Christ will return to reign on the earth for a thousand
years at the end of time." The preface goes on to quote the
Catechism of the Catholic Church, which rejects a literal
interpretation of the thousand-year reign of Christ referred
to in the Book of Revelation.

 "The Church has rejected even modified forms of this
falsification of the kingdom to come under the name
millenarianism ...," the catechism states.

 Interestingly, Volume VI of Leary’s locutions, published in
1997, actually contains a passage in which he claims Jesus
told him on March 27, 1997, "The leaders of My Church have
made binding interpretations of ‘millenarianism’ which I
wish you to acknowledge under obedience to My Magisterium.
They have not interpreted one thousand years to be taken
literally. I will not reign then in My Body. Only
spiritually will I be present."

 The preface also points out that Leary’s books counter
church doctrine on the office of the pope.

 "The second error is ‘anti-papalism’...," the preface
continues. "Mr. Leary’s locutions select Pope John Paul II
to be obeyed but his successor to be ignored as an ‘imposter
(sic) pope.’ This erroneous teaching is found in all the

 The bishop’s June 25 letter stated:

 "The Commission is convinced that you are sincere in your
affirmation that these are supernatural (locutions), that
you are psychologically healthy and that you have not
perpetrated a fraud on the community," the bishop wrote.
"Nevertheless, they are persuaded that you have mistaken the
normal workings of the mind in the processes of mental
prayer for supernatural locutions."

 The Catholic Courier attempted to contact Leary both at his
Greece home and in Ireland where he is reportedly speaking,
but was unable to reach him. However, Father Hart said that
Leary had told the diocese he would cooperate with the
bishop’s request.  Father Hart also said Leary has agreed to
use a theological adviser to work with him on future

 Father Hart said the diocese decided to examine Leary’s
volumes after a number of people asked diocesan officials
about them. Commission members met with Leary and found him
to be "sincere, open, straightforward, honest, spiritual,
but mistaken," Father Hart said.

 Father Hart said the commission unanimously found that
Leary’s writings were riddled with doctrinal errors and that
they were of human origin. He said the messages themselves
were the basis for this finding.

 In addition, Father Hart said he believes Leary does not
fit the pattern of a true visionary. He noted that Leary’s
own beliefs correspond too closely to those reported from
the locutions, whereas genuine visionaries often learn
something that either contradicts or goes beyond what they
believed before the vision.

 For example, he cited St. Bernadette, to whom the Blessed
Virgin Mary appeared in 1858, at the French grotto of
Massabielle, saying "I am the Immaculate Conception." That
was a term with which the saint — then a 14-year-old girl —
was completely unfamiliar.

 Another difference Father Hart noted between Leary and
genuine visionaries is the fact that he did not express any
reluctance about having such visions. Genuine prophets and
visionaries often resist God’s call, Father Hart said,
pointing to Jeremiah and other biblical figures as examples.
Yet Leary seemed to have a great desire to be such a
prophet, Father Hart said, a quality that predisposed him to
have locutions of the kind he has had.

 "There is no prophet who really wants to be a prophet,"
Father Hart concluded.

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