Here we go again!
On March 6, 2002, the Italian news agency ANJA reported that late the previous evening a passer-by had seen a "red liquid", said to be "bloody tears", oozing from a statue of "Padre" Pio (1997-1968) in the Sicilian town of Messina, Italy. Police were reported to have taken away a sample for "analysis". No doubt the Vatican’s "miracle"-factory will succeed in transubstantiating the rust (or whatever it is) into "blood" so that the discovery can coincide conveniently with Pio’s "canonisation" on June 16, 2002.
Pio – in reality a Capuchin monk by the name of Francesco Forgione – was already "beatified" by Pope John Paul II in May, 1999. He is the subject of a multitude of websites, organisations, over 600 books, and a Roman Catholic cult spurred by reports of supernatural visions and fears of an immanent "Great Chastisement" to punish the world before the Second Coming of Christ.
The Internet is littered with the most incredible absurdities about this "Padre Pio". For example, a site calling itself "Speak to the World of Mary" comments that his canonisation will be
the most momentous […] since Therese the Little Flower. Not since St. Francis of Assisi has there been such a miracle-worker, and elevation of this great mystic to sainthood is bound to unleash a torrent of heavenly power.
The same site claims that Forgione healed "literally thousands"; that he "could read souls – knowing in case after case exactly what a person in confession had done"; that he was seen in "dozens of cases of bilocation (appearing far from where he actually was)"; and that during World War II, pilots seeking to bomb the vicinity of his town of residence, "time and again recounted how they had been unable to bomb the area after spotting the apparition of a monk – at times a towering apparition – in the clouds." (The mind boggles!) "It's impossible," says the site, "to do justice to the entire array of miracles. They are endless, and they have transcended his death." "In one memorable case," the same site declares, "he materialized on the altar to give Communion to a startled woman at San Giovanni Rotundo!"
Others of his "partcular charisms", according to the "Flashline" site (which is highly critical of the whole show), included "raising people from the dead", "ecstasies", "prophesying" and "exuding perfume"!
Two types of miracle
The Church of Rome has always claimed that miraculous powers have been transmitted to her and that her relics, images and saints have all wrought – and continue to work – miracles; but the character of the doctrines which Rome’s "miracles" are calculated to support warrants us to reject them out of hand, for the Bible declares that any sign given or wonder wrought in support of any doctrine contrary to the Word of God (like the Romanist system) is, without further examination, to be pronounced false.
The nature of Rome’s "miracles" is aptly summarised in Dr. Paisley’s booklet Bible Christianity and Romanism, reproduced elsewhere on our website. (See in particular Questions and Answers 202-206.) Shaff says that the "miracles" of the Church of Rome, in contrast to the miracles of the Bible, have been "not so much supernatural and above reason but unnatural and against reason". Indeed, the changing of water into wine required no bleeding image, the feeding of the five thousand no monk ascending into the clouds, the raising of Lazarus no "beatified saint" "bi-locating" from where he really was to materialise on an altar. ("Beam me up, Scotty!") Moreover, the miracles of the Bible were demonstrably all performed for the glory of God and the benefit of God’s people – not for the enrichment of a Church which down the ages has preyed on the superstitions of its credulous dupes.
Cobbin, in his Exposure of Popery – see elsewhere on our website – says that the latter type of "miracles" must be classed among "popish absurdities", e.g. Rome’s claim that St. Raymond de Pennafort laid his cloak on the sea, and sailed on it from Majorca to Barcelona, a distance of 160 miles, in six hours; or the story of the house of "Our Lady of Loretto" being whisked through the air from Nazareth by angels, which is another prodigious absurdity. How unlike are these inventions of Popery to the miracles of Christ and his Apostles, which were all wrought before the world, attested by competent witnesses, and designed to confirm their mission, and were all acts of benevolence. The "miracles" of popery, says Cobbin, may be dismissed by writing simply beneath them: "LYING WONDERS".
The crux of the Pio cult, however, is even more serious. When "Monsignor" Vincenzo d’Addario, Archbishop of Manfredonia and Vieste, started the beatification process in 1999, he described Pio as "a living image of Christ suffering and risen", who "shared in Christ's Passion with uncommon intensity" and had experienced "an enthralling and enduring sharing in our Lord’s sufferings".
Metaphorically, of course, true Christians are all "partakers of the sufferings" of Christ (II Cor. 1:7), but not in the blasphemous literal sense claimed by and attributed to Pio, who, according to the "Speak to the World of Mary" website, one day heard a voice telling him: "You will be scourged, crowned with thorns and nailed to the Cross like St. Francis." The same site asserts: "On September 20, 1915, he [Pio] received the invisible wounds of Christ. Three years later, on September 20, 1918, Padre [Pio] received the visible wounds." (Really?)
Since that time, the Roman Church has claimed that his body was "marked by the stigmata". The "Angelus" website attests that he was "the only priest to have borne the stigmata of our Lord Jesus Christ", and a Capuchin site announces as a simple fait accompli: "For 50 years he suffered the five wounds of the Crucifixion."
The audacity of any human being who professes to have shared in Christ’s suffering for the salvation of lost sinners is totally beyond belief. It amounts to the most blatant blasphemy since it annuls the "full, perfect and sufficient" sacrifice of our Lord offered once only and for all mankind. It belittles Christ’s suffering and denies him as the sole Mediator between God and man. Yet Rome claims in regard to Pio: "It would seem that God expects the just to expiate in a special way, by means of temptation, the public sins of their contemporaries." ["Father" Jean in The Angelus magazine, May, 1999.]
Fraud, forgeries and philandering
In May, 1999, the "Flashline" website mentioned that as a youth Forgione regularly fell into "trances" and "hallucinating states of altered consciousness". He also developed "a habit of self-flagellation [whipping himself], a behavioural phenomenon which some have speculated fuels those altered mental states and creates visions or feelings of wholeness and transcendence". There were claims, too, that he liked the intimate company of young women who wore perfume [Ah! the exuded perfume!], and had even inflicted the stigmata wounds on himself "using acid".
"Speak to the World of Mary" maintains that since he received the "visible wounds" (in 1918), they "bled incessantly" during the night and "the daily content of lost blood equalled a teacup". Now the Bible tells us to "prove all things" (I Thes. 5:21), so at that rate, then, assuming a teacup measures roughly a third of a pint, Pio must scientifically have lost about 6,000 pints of blood before he died – officially "of natural causes" – in 1968.
It is therefore hardly surprising that "Flashline" accuses the Pope of beatifying a monk accused of "mental illness, fraud and philandering".
Anyone for a tinkle in the Vatican’s coffers?
"Pope running ‘saint factory’?" asked the same site on May 2, 1999, pointing out that John Paul II had by then already "canonised" 283 "saints" since his election in 1978, almost surpassing the record of all previous Popes in the 407 years of official Vatican records. At the same time, Britain’s Daily Telegraph predicted that the present Pope would enter 2000 as "the most prolific saint-maker in history".
Churning out the "saints" on the production line also reaps in the loot for the Vatican. The "Ship of Fools" site lists some of the Pio paraphernalia which is even available online from a religious catalogue: it ranges from key-rings to "the next big must-have" – a Padre Pio electric statue which lights up and bows at your command. It can be ordered for US$128. No mention is made of postal costs, so perhaps it will take to the air, bilocate, and materialise on your doorstep! An electronic statue of Old Papa kissing the airport tarmac on some of his jaunts surely cannot be far behind. Then, of course, there are the predictable "relics" – first or second class according to Canon Law. The Capuchin curia in Rome is reportedly deciding when they will become available for distribution "among the faithful".
Of such the Bible says: "They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." (Ps. 115:8)