Irish bishop tells pilgrims to stay away from apparitions site
A senior west of Ireland bishop has strongly appealed to Catholics intending to travel to Knock next month to stay away from a predicted apparition of the Virgin Mary on December 5.
Speaking yesterday in Ennis, Co Clare, the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh, said he would not like to see a large number of people going to Knock on that day expecting "strange visions".
The bishop was responding to the announcement by Dublin self-styled visionaries Joe Coleman and Keith Henderson that Our Lady will appear on Saturday, December 5, at 3pm.
Bishop Walsh is the first member of the Catholic hierarchy to voice public support for the beleaguered Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, who has warned that such predictions were misleading the faithful and have threatened to bring the internationally renowned Marian Shrine under his jurisdiction into disrepute.
Last Saturday up to 15,000 pilgrims defied Archbishop Neary by thronging Knock in expectation of seeing the Virgin, causing crowd hysteria and a dangerous stampede when people claimed a sighting of her in "the dancing sun".
Asked for his views during the Ceifin conference, Bishop Walsh expressed his worry that so many people suddenly would turn up at Knock because someone said that Our Lady was going to appear there.
"It doesn't make sense to me that Our Lady, in some way, would tell someone 'I'll see you in Knock on the 5th of December'," Bishop Walsh said, scathingly. "That goes away from the rational."
"I'm not going to say to people that they shouldn't go to Knock. Knock is a place of prayer, but I would discourage the idea of going off to Knock expecting strange visions," added Bishop Walsh.
"I would certainly discourage that in every way".
Dr Walsh, who said he had no personal experience of visions over the past 70 years, questioned this approach to religion.
"The Church has always been very careful about the idea of special visions. I would like to think, by and large, our faith is based upon something deeper than this kind of thing.
"Ultimately, our religion and our practise of religion for me is found somewhere in the Gospel and the life and teaching and example of Jesus Christ. That is the foundation, not the visions, not the moving statues."