The Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas, said Monday that alleged local appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary are not real apparitions, and that alleged evidence of the visions is fake. But supporters of the alleged apparitions say that Satan is trying to discredit their visions.
“It is my sad responsibility to inform you that last week the Diocese of Fort Worth received irrefutable evidence that these purported apparitions, messages, and miracles are, in fact, a fabrication,” Bishop Michael Olson wrote in an Aug. 26 letter.
Earlier this month, Olson warned in a letter that the apparent apparitions, which were said to be taking placing in Argyle, Texas, should not be considered authenticated by the Church. But his letter this week was more direct.
The bishop said that he had reviewed a security tape from Loreto House, a pro-life apostolate where both apparitions of Mary and the miraculous appearance of roses were said to occur.
“The videotape clearly reveals the alleged visionary surreptitiously dropping a rose on the floor of a room; she would later make the claim that the rose was a miraculous gift of the Virgin Mary.”
“After viewing the video and consulting with diocesan advisors and others, I have concluded that the Mystical Rose—Our Lady of Argyle is a fabrication and not true.”
The woman who claims to see visions of the Blessed Mother says on her website that she was under a demonic attack when she dropped the rose on the floor, and then acted surprised by its discovery.
An Aug. 23 post on the site reports “a recent severe demonic attack in which demons influenced the visionary to act in such a way as to potentially discredit the messages.”
After that alleged demonic attack, “the visionary immediately sought the counsel of a holy priest and bishop who confirmed the deception as being of demonic origin and also gave assurance that the messages were authentic and of God.”
The site claims that the visionary has had several “frightening and unnerving demonic attacks where the fallen have sought to have her act against her will in an attempt to discredit the messages.”
Supporters of the alleged visionary claim that the Blessed Virgin Mary began appearing in May 2017 to her. They claim the first such apparition was in Arkansas, and subsequent appearances allegedly took place at St. Mark Catholic Church in Argyle, Texas.
The alleged visionary claims to have received seven messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary in 2017, and in 2018 and 2019 to have received more than 30 “warning messages for the Church...from saints, angels, the Blessed Mother, and even from Christ Himself.”
The website, still active Aug. 27, says that “The creators of this website, the visionary, and all involved with this apparition believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God. All are members in good standing of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
Olson’s letter added that while he had tried to arrange a meeting with the alleged visionary and another Catholic involved in the apparitions, they agreed to do so only in the presence of their canon lawyer, Mr. Philip Gray. It does not appear that a meeting has been scheduled.
Gray, president of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, is also the canon lawyer behind a petition sponsored by some Fort Worth Catholics to have Olson removed from his post as diocesan bishop. In June, Gray told web site Churchmilitant that the effort to have Olson removed was his idea.
In a July 29 letter to supporters, Gray wrote that Olson “touts his ordination to the priesthood, his consecration as a bishop, his position as a rector in a seminary, and he claims a preparation for the unique situation of the Church in North Texas. He recognizes himself for the collar and the miter he wears, but not for the justice and charity he is to practice.”
Gray claims that Olson’s “ineffective and even harmful acts,” have had “grave effects on the priests and faithful of the Diocese of Fort Worth.”
Gray did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.
According to Olson, the effort to have him removed is the work of a small group of Catholics dissatisfied with his handling of administrative and personnel matters in the diocese. The online petition has some 1,500 signatures. There are approximately 1,200,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Forth Worth.
Olson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in December that the petitioners are “a handful of people with their own agenda.”
I think people have a right to be critical. I don’t think people have a right to slander or be destructive or say untrue things. I think people have a right to be happy and a right to be unhappy, and if you are, pray for me, pray for themselves. This is about the salvation of souls ... it’s not a hobby. It’s centered on Christ,” the bishop added.
As to the alleged apparitions, Olson's Aug. 26 letter asked Catholics to “pray for the healing and conversion of all involved in these matters that have brought about discord and disunity where there should be peace and communion. I am asking the clergy of our Diocese to be especially aware of anyone who seeks healing because of this scandal and to provide compassionate spiritual counseling.”