When the Holy Father blesses a Private Association of the Faithful such as the International Movement of the Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it does not mean that the Vatican has approved the entire Message of the Spiritual Diary of Elizabeth Kindelmann. It simply means that the statutes of the Organization have been approved by the competent authority, the local ordinary Péter Cardinal Erdő, Archbishop of Budapest, Hungary, and the Holy Father offers an acknowledgment that the Organization has a mission it is pursuing on behalf of the Church, which is within its purview as a lay organization under proper spiritual direction and subject to Canon Law. While Cardinal Erdő has indeed approved the entire Diary of Elizabeth Kindelmann as having nothing against Faith and Morals, and he has further praised the Diary as a “Gift to the Church” in formal remarks, his approval of the Movement in his Diocese does not bind nor prevent other Bishops from making their own judgment. While Cardinal Erdő’s decision should be held in the highest respect according to the documents of the Church, and Pope Benedict has reminded all in the Church of the proper submission to the messages contained in the Diary due to the presiding Bishop’s approval in these matters, the Vatican reserves the right to ultimately decide whether the Diary and the prayers are in complete conformance with Church doctrine. The Movement is currently seeking approval as a Public Association of the Faithful, which, if granted, would allow it to operate in all Dioceses within the Church. All prayers of the Movement from the Diary must be considered private prayers and prayed in private or in a private group in which all members agree to pray the prayers. If the prayers are prayed in a Church as a private group, the permission of the Pastor must be obtained. No materials should ever be left in the Church or the Parish property without the Pastor’s approval. The Movement has formally operated within the Church for at least 20 years and was also given a letter of praise from Cardinal Francis Stafford. The leaders of the Movement in the United States have pledged complete loyalty to the Church and will unconditionally follow whatever decision the Holy See makes with regard to the Movement.
Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis
Pronouncements of Cardinal Péter Erdő
Pronouncements of His Eminence Péter Cardinal Erdő, Primate of Hungary, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, concerning the Association “Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Movement.”
1. Quotes taken from his homily on June 1, 2009 at Máriaremete, on the Feast of Pentecost. “…I personally believe that the completion in the spring of this year of the revision of the Spiritual Diary of Elizabeth Kindelmann and of the Rule of the Association of Prayer ‘Flame of Love’ is a sign of the life giving Holy Spirit. This Movement now functions in many dioceses of the world with the approval of the bishops and also prospers here in Hungary, the country of its origin. We have found that it brings an authentic Catholic spirituality and devotion toward the Virgin Mary that is in total conformity with the Catholic faith. May this recognition given in our diocese contribute to the spiritual renewal of our community of believers and of our people. This Saturday (June 6 at 11:00 a.m.) we will solemnly promulgate this approbation in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Kispest.”
2. Pronouncement of Péter Cardinal Erdő in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kispet (June 6, 2009) at the Tenth National Conference of The Flame of Love (of Hungary).
Cardinal: “Praised be Jesus Christ”
Faithful: “Let Him be eternally praised. Amen!”
“Thank you very much for the kind words of introduction given by your pastor and by the leaders of the ‘Flame of Love Movement’. Certainly the Holy Spirit will work in the Church until the end of time. Frequently, the entire community of the Church accepts inspirations that originally came forth from the heart of a Christian person who was completely dedicated and deeply believing. After examining these impulses, the successors of the apostles eventually welcome them as gifts of God for the whole Church.
For many centuries, the Church institution and charismas were seen as two distinct realities, as if opposed to each other. On the contrary, the Church’s history shows that truly authentic charismas (those special Divine Gifts given to believing persons for the benefit of the Church) and the institutional structure established by Christ’s Will, are in strict correlation with each other.
The most beautiful example of this is the history of religious orders. The great founder of an order is a truly charismatic person, as was St. Francis and St. Ignatius of Loyola. They were an extraordinary phenomenon in their own age. The Church rejoices so much in the value of their spirituality and of that form of life that it represents, that the Church shouts to the founder, ‘Do not go away.’ We want this form of life to remain and this charisma to last in the Church. In this way, the religious orders and their charisma become part of the institutional Church.
I will say even more. Christ Himself, His person and His mission, travels along the road of Church history. Jesus said to His disciples, “As the Father sends Me, so I also send you.” (Jn 20:21) Therefore, the Church on earth, as a visible community, carries on the mission of Christ. It follows that the Church is not merely an external human organization. Rather, she lives within the world. Also, the Church is not just some invisible, mysterious reality of grace. The same Church is both an invisible reality and a visible society. These are not two distinct things. Sometimes human frailty and human history produce an obstacle. However, at a given moment of history, there appears in the Church something beautiful, a new possibility for the Church. I believe that this is true of the “Flame of Love Movement”.
A believing woman, Elizabeth, prays and hears voices in her soul. She perceives that these wonderful voices come from the Virgin Mary. No one asks – since this is not important – what is the nature of the experiences that she describes in her Spiritual Diary. This is not the task which the Church has undertaken in these years of judgement. It has not tried to discern some special happening or supernatural phenomenon. What we have deeply and seriously studied is the content of the message.
While we could not yet officially deal with this matter in Hungary, this spirituality spread to many countries throughout the world and has produced positive fruits. Before making this decision in Budapest, we have spoken with bishops, priests and people from other countries. We have also talked with pastors of souls in our own country. They have testified that the Flame of Love produces fruits in the lives of individual persons and of communities. These testimonies were very positive and we know that a good tree produces good fruits.
After this, we established a commission. Various priests examined the written documents, including the Spiritual Diary itself, the documentation from foundations outside of Hungary and the recognitions that local bishops in many parts of the world (from Brazil to Mexico) have given to this Movement as a private association of the faithful. Just a short time ago, this investigation was finished. As a conclusion, our Church recognizes as authentic, in accord with the Catholic faith, all of the material contained in the Spiritual Diary. Also, this archdiocese considers that the activity, life and rule of this community is in accord with all that characterizes movements of spirituality and authentic communities of the Catholic Church.
At this point, the entire Church receives this charisma as a gift from God. Instead of forgetting about this gift, we ought to place it on the lampstand so that it lights up everything in the house. Having already seen the effects of grace poured out in many other countries, we pray that this charisma shine upon the entire country of Hungary. For this reason, I have asked the senior director of the Archbishop’s office to read this decree.”
Excerpts from the official Decree
(read by Canon Laszló Süllei)
Our Lady of Hungary, pray for us!
With these words, I establish in the Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest the ‘Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Movement’, as an ecclesial association of the faithful in Christ. It is a private association enjoying a juridical personality.
At the same time, I also approve for this Archdiocese the Statutes of this Association accepted in San Paulo, Brazil, on August 15, 2008 and as approved in the Archdiocese of Hermosillo, Mexico, on December 11, 2008.
I ask God to give His abundant blessings for the life and activities of this Association: May your activities serve the spiritual renewal of our homeland!
Budapest, Palm Sunday, 2009
With my blessings as pastor,
Cardinal, Primate and Archbishop
On October 22, 1996, Cardinal Bernardino Echeverria Ruiz (Archdiocese of Guayaquil, Ecuador) approved the statutes of the Flame of Love Movement and asked the Holy Father to give approval so that the Flame of Love would be accepted in the whole Church. The Vatican, through Cardinal Francis Stafford, responded to Cardinal Ruiz for the Holy Father: “I encourage you to continue so the Association bears abundant fruits among its members and the whole Church. I invite you to continue your duties as spiritual director.”
Letter of Cardinal Bernardino Echeverría Ruiz
With great devotion and emotion, we have read this book, Flame of Love, translated [into Spanish] by Father Gabriel Róna, S.J., and presented for approval prior to its publication. We must confess, with due sincerity, that we have found in the pages of this book the most beautiful and profound lessons of spiritual life, so much so that not only we believe it is appropriate to give the requested authorization, but also to recommend this book, which will contribute to deepen the demands of the Christian life.
Flame of Love is a new name given to that immense and eternal love that Mary professes to all human beings, for whom Christ offered His Life and shed His Blood. Likewise, Flame of Love is the name that expresses the love that Mary has for her children. Flame that enlightens, flame that warms up, flame that burns, flame that, while burning in the heart of Mary wants also to burn in the heart of her children, especially on Thursday and Friday, the days chosen for the prayer of reparation.
With this Flame of Love, which is the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we discover innumerable treasures of the five wounds of Christ, which are not only the refuge of the soul, but also the lesson of the Cross we need to understand when we make the sign of the Cross repeating one of the most simple and profound prayers. By the Holy Cross, He delivers us from our enemies. The Cross is the most powerful weapon to defeat the devil, the evil spirit, who dominates the world more and more every day.
The Flame of Love must be ignited to save all Christians and to save families. It will save fathers and mothers, and will help to sanctify priests. They will have a more effective ministry as they grow more like Christ. This Flame of Love should illumine every moment of the Christian life – the moments of suffering, of illness, of agony and of death. Even after death, this Flame of Love will continue to light the hope of those in Purgatory.
While giving the authorization to publish this beautiful book of love, we express the most fervent wishes that it will reach many and become an instrument drawing all closer to God, unceasingly enlightened by this eternal Flame of Love, which is the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Bishop Bernardino Echeverría Ruiz
Archbishop of Guayaquil, Ecuador
Letter from Monsignor Ralph J. Chieffo