|In Defense of thePoem
By Jonathan A. Baker
Article from Mother of All Peoples publication, June 2007 [Source]
[empasis and font color added by D.A.B ]
"In 1961 a little-known Italian woman named Maria Valtorta died after a long illness that saw her bed-ridden for nearly 30 years. Before she died she had written almost 15,000 pages describing visions and dictations she received from Our Lord, the Blessed Mother, her guardian angel and more. Two-thirds of these comprised an account of the life of Our Lord that would come to be known as The Poem of the Man-God. From the very beginning, the publication and dissemination of The Poem met with enthusiastic acceptance but also virulent opposition. Does that mean it’s not authentic?
The true works of God have always met with opposition—we don’t have to look any further than lives of the saints for abundant evidence of that. In fact, we don’t have to look further than the life of Our Lord himself. Did Our Lord meet with universal acceptance?
In 1994 an article by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., concerning The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta, appeared in the February edition of "New Covenant." This article is still frequently quoted by many against The Poem. I have chosen to respond to his article not as a personal attack against him, but because it is a very good summary of the typical arguments against Maria Valtorta’s work. Therefore, because his article is so often cited by those who claim that the Church has condemned The Poem or that it is disobedient to read or promote it, I will quote from it frequently.
Fr. Pacwa starts his article thus:
"The Poem of the Man-God" is a five-volume "narrative" of the life of Jesus written in the 1940s by a sickly Italian woman named Maria Valtorta. "Poem" purports to fill in the details of Jesus’ life left blank by the four Gospels. Such narratives have been produced since the second century A.D. Some were written by gnostic heretics. Some by New Agers and occultists. And some were produced by pious Christians who made up stories about Jesus to edify their readers and listeners.
The four Gospels do not give a biography of Jesus—or of anyone else in His life. Their purpose is evangelical and theological—to proclaim the Good News that human beings need for their salvation. Thus, for centuries, the "hidden life" of Jesus has been the subject for speculation.
"The Poem of the Man-God" is in this tradition of apocryphal literature on New Testament themes. Valtorta claimed that she was the "secretary" of Jesus and Mary, and was setting down the divinely inspired truth about Jesus’ life. The Church has rejected this claim. Nevertheless, "Poem" has become quite popular, particularly among Catholics as well.
I must disagree with categorizing The Poem of the Man-God as a work in the tradition of apocryphal literary narratives such as those done by Gnostics and New-Agers. The Poem is clearly more in the tradition of private revelations such as those of Catherine Emmerich or Maria Agreda. Apocryphal works, whether orthodox or heterodox in content, were usually touted as equivalent to the Gospels in regards to both historicity and the revelation of the Faith. They either originated from the period of the very early Church or, for works that appeared later, claimed to have preserved ancient, secret knowledge. Private revelations such as those by Emmerich, Agreda and Valtorta, by contrast, make no such claims and are very clear as to their origin and source—in these cases Our Lord, Our Lady or particular saints desired to communicate additional details about their lives for the good of the Church, not to contradict or compete with the Gospels (as apocryphal literature often did and still does).
Fr. Pacwa writes: "The four Gospels do not give a biography of Jesus—or of anyone else in His life. Their purpose is evangelical and theological—to proclaim the Good News that human beings need for their salvation." And so it is with works such as The City of God by Maria Agreda and The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta. They do not exist to fulfill our idle curiosity. Though they have more detail than the Gospels it is never useless and without meaning. The purpose of these revelations is also "evangelical and theological"—to guide the Church and give the faithful spiritual nourishment (see, for example, the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, which did not create new doctrine but rather manifested a desire on the part of Our Savior that his Church put a new and greater emphasis on devotion to his Sacred Heart, for the good of the Church).
It is often stated that The Poem is condemned, that "the Church has rejected" the claims of Maria Valtorta. There have been negative things written about the work, some of which has been published in L’Osservatore Romano. Nonetheless, it must be emphasized that negative opinions, even by those in the Church hierarchy or those publicly presented in L’Osservatore Romano, do not necessarily constitute a true formal rejection by the Church, and given what we know about the negative statements on The Poem of the Man-God, it would be inappropriate to conclude that they are of the nature of official condemnations.
Fr. Pacwa states: "Remarkably, the book has grown in popularity in part because its champions claim that high Church officials—including one Pope—endorsed it. They haven’t." He goes on to say:
On Feb. 26, 1948, Fathers Migliorini, Berti and A. Cecchin enjoyed a private audience with Pope Pius XII, as listed in L’Osservatore Romano’s daily announcement of audiences. Standing in St. Peter’s Square after the audience, Father Berti wrote down Pope Pius’ words as he remembered them. These words were "not" printed in L’Osservatore Romano, but Father Berti remembered the Pope saying:
"Publish this work as it is. There is no need to give an opinion about its origin, whether it be extraordinary or not. Who reads it, will understand. One hears of many visions and revelations. I will not say they are all authentic; but there are some of which it could be said that they are."
There is no reason for rejecting Fr. Berti’s quotation of Pius XII as a mistake or lie. The fact that Pius XII’s testimonial was not printed in L’Osservatore Romano does not mean he never gave it. Not everything the pope says is recorded, and not everything that is recorded is printed in L’Osservatore Romano. Fr. Pacwa’s article continues:
Did Pope Pius read the whole manuscript or parts? If only part, which part? Advertisements by the Canadian Central distributors for Valtorta (CEDIVAL) quote Father Bea: "I have read in typed manuscripts many of the books written by Maria Valtorta . . . As far as exegesis is concerned, I did not find any errors in the parts which I examined." Notice, he read only parts of the books. Which were they?
There is nothing in this statement by Fr. Bea that indicates anything negative about the book. What is stated is that an eminent theologian of the Church, later Cardinal, read parts of the book and found nothing wrong in them. Speculation on what he would have concluded had he read the rest of the work will not help us in our discernment. We can only go on what he did conclude. There is no reason to assume that he might have found fault with it had he read more. Given that he had found what he read to be orthodox, the more logical assumption would be that he would have been just as satisfied with the rest.
I would also like to briefly comment on the some of the alleged disobedience of the publishers of The Poem, sketched out in this passage from Fr. Pacwa's article:
CEDIVAL calls this a "Supreme Pontifical Imprimatur," where "he took upon himself to pass the first official judgment on these writings." CEDIVAL glues this inside the cover, though the publisher does not print an imprimatur. The reason: it has none!
Confident of papal approval, Father Berti brought the books to the Vatican press. However, in 1949, two commissioners of the Holy Office, Msgr. Giovanni Pepe and Father Berruti, O.P., condemned the "Poem," ordering Berti to hand over every copy and sign an agreement not to publish it. Father Berti returned the manuscripts to Valtorta and handed over only his typed versions.
Despite his signed promise, in 1952 Father Berti went to publisher Emiliano Pisani. Though aware of the Holy Office’s opposition, Pisani printed the first volume in 1956, and a new volume each year through 1959.
When volume four appeared, the Holy Office examined the "Poem" and condemned it, recommending that it be placed on the Index of Forbidden Books Dec. 16, 1959. Pope John XXIII signed the decree and ordered it published. L’Osservatore Romano, on Jan. 6, 1960, printed the condemnation with an accompanying front-page article, "A Badly Fictionalized Life of Jesus," to explain it.
The article complained that the "Poem" broke Canon Law. "Though they treat exclusively of religious issues, these volumes do not have an "imprimatur," which is required by Canon 1385, sect. 1, n. 2."
I don’t necessarily concede the truth of this account, for there are other versions not so negative to the cause of The Poem. Nonetheless, for the sake of argument let us grant this account full recognition. The truth of the matter is that none of this is relevant to discerning the genuineness of Maria Valtorta’s revelations. Whether those responsible always did exactly what they should have done is immaterial to whether The Poem is legitimate. They were human as we are, and we all make errors in judgment and, yes, even sin. All the apparent conflict between the Holy Office and the publishers had nothing to do with Maria Valtorta herself, who was bedridden through it all. If they were supposed to have an Imprimatur they should have gotten one. If Fr. Berti made a promise not to publish it he should have kept it, and if Mr. Pisani knew about that he should not have printed the book. Yet all this is still irrelevant as to the authenticity of The Poem. Again, I do not concede that that these points are true, only that if they are they still bring us no closer to resolving the issue.
The reality that The Poem was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books is more often than not judged to be the definitive argument against The Poem. However, books were not only put on the Index because they were condemned. We must bear in mind that it was a common practice to put books that were being investigated on the Index until the Church could more thoroughly examine them. Books could also be put on the Index because there was some irregularity in their publication (such as the author not being clearly indicated or the lack of an Imprimatur). It becomes clear, therefore, that having been on the Index does not automatically mean that a book contained material contrary to Catholic faith and morals and was condemned by the Church.
There are many reasons why the Church may issue a prohibition against a certain work, and many types of prohibitions. It is thus prudent to ascertain exactly what took place with a particular work before jumping to the hasty conclusion that it was condemned for all time. A perfect example of this would be Divine Mercy by St. Faustina Kowalska, so dear to the hearts of so many Catholics. This work and the devotion associated with it were once strongly prohibited by the Church. Yet, this same Church came to not only strongly endorse the devotion but canonize the messenger! Fr. Pacwa also declares that:
…the long speeches of Jesus and Mary starkly contrast with the evangelists, who portray Jesus as "humble, reserved; His discourses are lean, incisive." Valtorta’s fictionalized history makes Jesus sound "like a chatterbox, always ready to proclaim Himself the Messiah and the Son of God," or teach theology in modern terms. The Blessed Mother speaks like a "propagandist" for modern Marian theology.
We know that the Gospels do not relate everything that Jesus said and did, because the Gospel of St. John tells us this explicitly: "But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (Jn 21:25). When crowds came and stayed for days to listen to Our Lord speak we know he must have said more in that time than the Gospel’s pass on, for what is written down would only take a few minutes to articulate. This is not to imply that the Gospels are inaccurate or made up, but rather that the Evangelists recorded the most important and essential words of Our Lord. The same would hold for the Blessed Mother.
I’m not sure if the phrase "always ready to proclaim Himself the Messiah and the Son of God," is meant to imply that Jesus in The Poem was boastful, petty or arrogant. In any case, nothing could be further from the truth—in The Poem Our Lord is humble, strong and holy, exactly how you would expect him to be. As for Mary being a propagandist for modern Marian theology, I will limit myself to pointing out that as she is the Seat of Wisdom and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, then as now. She knew who she was, as her Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55) amply demonstrates. We read further in Fr. Pacwa’s article:
Third, "some passages are rather risque," like the "immodest" dance before Pilate (vol. 5, p. 73). There are "many historical, geographical and other blunders." For instance, Jesus uses screwdrivers (Vol. 1, pp. 195, 223), centuries before screws existed.
There are theological errors, as when "Jesus says" (vol. 1, p. 30) that Eve’s temptation consisted in arousing her flesh, as the serpent sensuously "caressed" her. While she "began the sin by herself," she "accomplished it with her companion." Sun Myung Moon and Maria Valtorta may claim the first sin was sexual, but Scripture does not.
Vol. 1, p. 7, oddly claims, "Mary can be called the ‘second-born’ of the Father . . ." Her explanation limits the meaning, avoiding evidence of an authentic heresy; but it does not take away the basic impression that she wants to construct a new mariology, which simply goes beyond the limits of propriety." "Another strange and imprecise statement" made of Mary (vol. 4, p. 240) is that she will "be second to Peter with regard to ecclesiastical hierarchy. . . " Our Lady surpasses St. Peter’s holiness, but she is not in the hierarchy, let alone second to St. Peter.
Private revelation has never been, nor will it ever be, perfect, even when received by canonized saints. This is not because God has made a mistake or passed on error, but because what is received is received through the humanity of the seer, and as such is subject to that humanity. Those who receive private revelations may make mistakes as to its interpretation. Those who record the messages from the seers can make mistakes in recording and interpreting. To invalidate a particular private revelation you would have to demonstrate that serious errors were present, not that someone thought they saw a screwdriver when they didn’t. Maria Valtorta may have seen a tool in her vision that she simply mistook for a screwdriver (in fact, in the page 223 example given she mentions that she only "thinks" it’s a screwdriver). A visionary is a witness. They are shown something and then report what they have seen. They are not guaranteed infallibility in this regard.
I have yet to see anyone bring to light serious or consistent historical, theological or geographical errors in The Poem. It would be a great point in favor of The Poem’s authenticity if in all those thousands of pages of writing, apparently misplaced screwdrivers were the most serious potential problems encountered. The reality is that the geographical detail and precision in The Poem is nothing short of astounding, especially when we keep in mind the circumstances under which it was written. The Poem was not written cover to cover chronologically, as some may suppose; Maria received the hundreds of different visions out of order, at different times over years. She would be told by Heaven where to put a particular vision, before this other vision or after that one. To have composed these all and then put them in correct order, creating a seamless work that spans decades in the lives of the characters, and includes dozens if not hundreds of different geographical locations, different seasons, and end up with the work we now have that so perfectly follows the chronology of the Gospels is miraculous. It would be the equivalent of throwing all the pieces of a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle into the air and having them land on the floor fitted together in perfect order.
Regarding the immodest dance, is this not merely demonstrating an unfortunate reality of mankind’s situation? Was Roman society at the time of Christ a moral, modest and pure society? It is not at all unlikely that immodest dances were sometimes performed at Roman ceremonies or parties. All that passage does is report something that Maria Valtorta saw. Scripture contains many examples of much more serious impurity than that. But if God deemed it necessary to include in Scripture, it was good that it be included. Same with The Poem. Though the description might affect someone very sensitive to that sort of thing, as might some Scripture passages, it does not contain an amount of detail that would warrant condemning it as grossly inappropriate.
It is true that Scripture does not say the first sin of Adam and Eve was a sexual one, but it also doesn’t clearly define what it was. It’s been generally agreed that the description of Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit is a symbol of their sin, of their disobedience, not the actual material object of their sin. The Church has never formally taught what that sin was, so though one is free to disagree with the belief that it was sexual in nature, one cannot claim that belief to be an error.
Hesitation about Mary being referred to as the second-born of the Father is unwarranted. This term, and its accompanying theology, has a long history within the Church, especially in the Franciscan school of Mariology. In reality, the title describes Mary’s role as the New Eve, the new Mother of the human race, Co-redemptrix with Christ. It describes her eternal predestination with Christ before all creation. The Church teaches that the Incarnation and Mary’s divine motherhood were eternally decreed by God in one and the same decree of predestination; (1) thus there is a real truth, and a deep one, in saying Mary is the "second-born" of the Father. Both Jesus and Mary were willed and loved by God in the same instant and before all other persons were willed and loved, and as both were to be the immaculate and sinless parents of all the redeemed, of the "new creation," it is absolutely correct to say they are the first-born and second-born of the Father, for they preceded all, not in time but in intent. There is no new Mariology here, only a very old one. If someone were to find difficulties with this title what would they make of the term "Mother of God"?
The quote about Mary being second to Peter in the hierarchy was misunderstood by Fr. Pacwa, or the author from who he is quoting. Here is the actual passage (spoken by Our Lord to the Blessed Mother):
"During the time that you will remain on the earth, and you are second to Peter with regard to ecclesiastical hierarchy, he being the head and you a believer, but first as Mother of the Church having given birth to me, who am the Head of the Mystical Body, do not reject the many Judases, but assist and teach Peter, my brothers, John, James, Simon, Philip, Bartholomew, Andrew, Thomas and Matthew not to reject, but to assist."
Looking at this passage carefully one will see that Our Lord is not placing Mary second in command in the Church hierarchy, he is reminding her that even though Peter surpasses her in terms of the running of the Church—and that is what her being "second" here means: it is being used in the sense of "lower," or "after," not "number two in position"—she, as Mother of the Church must be a mother to that Church, including the popes and apostles. She must mother them and teach them the way of holiness. It is as Mother of the Church that Mary is above Peter, not in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The Church herself declares Mary to be the Queen of Heaven and Earth. In terms of her holiness, her position within creation and God's plan of salvation, she is higher than Peter (or any other pure creature). Our Lady is the Mediatrix of All Graces, so any grace that Peter or anyone else received was received through her. It is a common tradition among saints and theologians that during the early Church period the apostles and others would go to Our Lady for guidance and advice. In this passage Our Lord is merely preparing her for her future role.
Towards the end of his article Fr. Pacwa mentions the Index once more:
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, present head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—formerly the same office that condemned the "Poem" (2)—informed Cardinal Siri in 1985 of the "Poem’s condemnation:
After the dissolution of the Index, when some people thought the printing and distribution of the work was permitted, they were reminded again in L’Osservatore Romano (June 15, 1966) that "The Index retains its moral force despite its dissolution."
More recently (April 17, 1993, Prot. N. 144/58i), he wrote:
"The ‘visions’ and ‘dictations’ referred to in the work, "The Poem of the Man-God," are simply the literary forms used by the author to narrate in her own way the life of Jesus. They cannot be considered supernatural in origin."
An Index that no longer exists can’t retain any force at all, moral or otherwise. If this admonishment means one should be cautious in reading something that was once on the Index, that is valid, at least until you find out why it was on the Index. Notwithstanding, an Index that no longer exists is not binding on Catholics in any way. It was the Church herself that abolished that Index, and when they abolished the Index they abolished the canonical authority of that Index—and it’s moral force—and gave the faithful the freedom to decide what they would or would not read. The Church no longer has a list of books Catholics are forbidden to read, and having recourse to that non-existent Index to infer that a certain book should not, or can not, be read is simply an invalid argument. The Church does not forbid Catholics from reading any book. Catholics are allowed to read The Poem of the Man God. And it should be noted that though it is asserted here that Cardinal Ratzinger "informed Cardinal Siri in 1985 of the Poem’s condemnation," nothing stated here by Cardinal Ratzinger is actually a condemnation.
Cardinal Ratzinger’s statement of April 17, 1993, may seem to be a condemnation, but is it? In a May 11, 1993 letter to a Mr. Terry Colafrancesco, Bishop Raymond Boland, then Bishop of Birmingham, Alabama, mentions this notification from Cardinal Ratzinger. Permit me to quote the letter in full:
Dear Mr. Colafrancesco:
His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in a letter which I received from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith this week, has asked me to inform you about the position of the Church regarding the writings of Maria Valtorta called The Poem of the Man-God.
The Cardinal wants you to know that the Congregation in the past has issued certain "Notes" on this subject for the guidance of the faithful and these were published in L’Osservatore Romano.
In the light of the recent recurrance (sic) of interest in the work, the Congregation has come to the conclusion that a further clarification to the "Notes" previously issued is now in order. Thus it has directed a particular request to the Italian Bishops’ Conference to contact the publishing house which is concerned with the distribution of the writings in Italy in order to see to it that in any future reissue of the work "it might be clearly indicated from the very first page that the ‘visions’ and ‘dictations’ referred to in it are simply the literary forms used by the author to narrate in her own way the life of Jesus. They cannot be considered supernatural in origin."
The implications of this most recent decision of the Holy See (Prot. N. 144/58 i, dated April 17, 1993) are obvious insofar as those who use, publish or sell the writings in question should know and clearly express the judgment of the Holy See as indicated in the underlined section of my previous paragraph.
Hoping that this letter will serve as an authoritative response to the question which you addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Ratzinger in your letter of July 21, 1992, I am,
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Raymond J. Boland, D.D.
Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama
This extra information provided by the letter of Bishop Boland helps to put Cardinal Ratzinger’s statements in context. We can see that the Holy See was not stating that The Poem is condemned, it was only ordering that the publishers at the time must tell their readers that they cannot yet consider it a proven fact that The Poem is of supernatural origin. This approach to private revelation is a common one of the Church. They often advise promoters of an a private revelation that if it has not been proved or disproved that it "cannot be affirmed to be of supernatural origin" or "cannot be considered of supernatural origin." This is not Church-speak for "we have officially ruled that it is not of supernatural origin" but Church-speak for "we have not yet officially ruled that it is definitely of supernatural origin." But this does not close the door on personal belief in it as such. At the level of personal belief we are still allowed to consider it as coming from Heaven. We can see an example of this in Medjugorje: in a May 26, 1998, letter to Bishop Gilbert Aubry (Pr. No 154/81-06419), then-archbishop Tarcisio Bertone said of pilgrimages to Medjugorje:
As for the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, this Dicastery respects what was decided by the bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Declaration of Zadar, April 10, 1991: "On the basis of the investigations so far, it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations." Since the division of Yugoslavia into different independent nations it would now pertain to the members of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina to eventually reopen the examination of this case, and to make any new pronouncements that might be called for.
What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of "Famille Chretienne", declaring: "My conviction and my position is not only ‘non constat de supernaturalitate,’ but likewise, ‘constat de non supernaturalitate’ of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje", should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion.
Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentification of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church.
Here the Archbishop re-iterates that though "it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations" private pilgrimages to Medjugorje are allowed (hence belief in the authenticity of Medjugorje is allowed). Notice how similar the language is to that used by Cardinal Ratzinger in reference to The Poem of the Man-God. Surely Cardinal Ratzinger chose his words carefully in 1993, and if he wanted to he could have used the term constat de non supernaturalitate when referring to The Poem, which is the Latin term declaring that an alleged private revelation is not of supernatural origin. He could have used words in this category but he chose not to.
In further regard to the earlier 1985 statement to Cardinal Siri, it is important to note that it would appear that Cardinal Ratzinger himself is modifying his earlier statement, for if in 1993 he is telling the publishers how they should publish the work it is clear that not only are the publishers now allowed to publish the work, the faithful are allowed to read it. It is not possible for Cardinal Ratzinger to have given guidelines to the publishers for the benefit of potential readers if he was not also at the same time acknowledging their right to publish The Poem and our right to read it.
Fr. Pacwa ends his article with these observations:
The best that can be said for "The Poem of the Man-God" is that it is a bad novel. This was summed up in the L’Osservatore Romano headline, which called the book "A Badly Fictionalized Life of Jesus."
At worst, "Poem’s" impact is more serious. Though many people claim that "Poem" helps their faith or their return to reading Scripture, they are still being disobedient to the Church’s decisions regarding the reading of "Poem." How can such disregard for Church authority and wisdom be a help in renewing the Church in these difficult times?
When Catholics insist on reading "Poem," despite Church condemnation, I make these requests: First, read three hours of Scripture for every one hour spent in the "Poem." The Church guarantees that the Bible is God’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Church has judged the "Poem" to be a poorly done human work. Second, read solid Catholic theology books in addition to Scripture. G.K. Chesterton, Frank Sheed, Archbishop Sheen’s "Life of Christ" and many other works are excellent starts. Third, maintain a strong prayer life, drawing closer to Christ Jesus, Our Lord, at Mass and at eucharistic adoration, and to our Blessed Mother Mary, especially in the Rosary.
If sheep insist on bad pasturage, at least let them take antidotes.
Whether or not one believes that The Poem is genuine, surely the quality of it must be acknowledged. In fact, its quality has always been one of its strongest attributes. Defenders are wont to say, "but tell me, how could this monumental work be merely the product of this woman’s imagination? How could she have written it without divine help?" The Poem of the Man-God is not a bad novel. If novel it be, it’s a fantastic one, brilliantly written. I wish I could write as skillfully. If The Poem is simply Maria Valtorta’s private meditations, we are bound to declare that here true literary genius has graced the human race. I have read many books, theological, spiritual, secular, and The Poem is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read, both a delight to read and of the deepest profundity.
Fr. Gabriel Roschini, one of the most eminent Mariologists of the twentieth century, was so impressed by The Poem that he wrote a work entitled The Virgin Mary in the Writings of Maria Valtorta. He had this to say on The Poem:
I must candidly admit that the Mariology found in Maria Valtorta’s writings, whether published or not, has been for me a real discovery. No other Marian writing, not even the sum total of all the writings I have read and studied were able to give me as clear, as lively, as complete, as luminous, or as fascinating an image, both simple and sublime, of Mary, God’s masterpiece.
I think I have already sufficiently demonstrated that those who choose to read The Poem are not "being disobedient to the Church’s decisions" and that the work has not been condemned by the Church. No more need be said on this.
The spiritual advice to read Scripture, Chesterton, Sheed and Sheen is undoubtedly good. The insistence on a strong prayer life, especially the Mass, Adoration and the Rosary are laudable. I absolutely agree that there is a lot of bad "pasturage" out there. However, The Poem of the Man-God and other works like it are the antidote, for they bring us back to the full truth and wonder of our faith and rescue it from the stale desert our modern skeptical intellectualism has led us to. May we once again turn from the wasteland of contemporary doubt to the true Jesus and Mary—both of whom are found in The Poem of the Man-God.
(1) Cf. Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, November 1, 1950, 40.
(2) This phrase originally had parentheses instead of m-dashes but they were replaced by the author, as an end-quotation mark followed by a close-parenthesis mark is sometimes displayed incorrectly by certain internet browsers