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The "Rosary of the Unborn" Controversy

The “Rosary of the Unborn™” Controversy
Posted by Matt Yonke (June 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm)
Here at the Pro-Life Action League we have received many inquiries over the years about the “Rosary of the Unborn™,” a rosary produced by Holy Love Ministries in Elyria, Ohio that claims to bear certain promises from the Blessed Virgin Mary through messages given to purported visionary Maureen Sweeney Kyle.
People have contacted us to exhort us to employ and promote the devotion, but others have had questions about the veracity of the claims surrounding it.
Relevant Radio’s Father Rocky Hoffman was recently asked about Holy Love Ministries on the air and further clarified the Catholic Church’s position on the matter on Facebook, so it seems like a good time to address the issue.
Controversial Visions Make Extraordinary Claims
Holy Love Ministries claims that Our Lady gave this message to Maureen Sweeney Kyle on July 2, 2001:
“I see you are using the new Rosary of the Unborn. I affirm to you, my daughter, that each Hail Mary prayed from a loving heart will rescue one of these innocent lives from death by abortion. …”
Maureen asks: “Blessed Mother, do you mean any Hail Mary or just one prayed on the Rosary of the Unborn?”
Blessed Mother: “This is a special grace attached to this particular rosary.”
Understandably, in their fervor to save babies from abortion, many pro-lifers have latched on to this devotion. Some even figure that it’s worth the risk that the promise might be untrue because of the great good that would be done if it is true.
Discerning Spirits to See if They Are from God
But when it comes to matters of alleged apparition and private revelation, we must test the spirits to see if they are from God, as St. John said (cf. 1 Jn. 4:1).
That’s exactly what Bishop Richard Lennon of the Diocese of Cleveland was asked to do by the Vatican. They asked Bishop Lennon to discern for the faithful whether Holy Love and the associated apparitions were from God or not and give an official opinion. He issued a letter [PDF] and a decree [PDF] in November 2009, which included the following:
I declare that the alleged apparitions and locutions to Maureen Sweeney Kyle are not supernatural in origin.
I forbid members of the clergy of any jurisdiction to celebrate the sacraments on the site of Holy Love Ministries.
I admonish the faithful of the Diocese of Cleveland to cease gathering for any religious, liturgical, spiritual or devotional purpose on the site of Holy Love Ministries.
First, Bishop Lennon declares that the apparitions are not of supernatural origin. This means they did not come from Our Lady. Maureen Sweeney Kyle can’t promise anything on Mary’s behalf if the visions didn’t really come from Mary to begin with. That means that the promises Mrs. Kyle claims to have received are either innocently misunderstood (i.e., she thought she received a vision but did not) or they are maliciously made up.
In either case, it would not be in the best interests of pro-lifers to be praying based on false promises.
Second, Bishop Lennon forbids priests from celebrating the sacraments and admonishes the faithful not to pray on the premises of Holy Love. This is because Holy Love Ministries is not a Catholic ministry. They claim to be an “ecumenical ministry,” but they use the term “ecumenical” not as most people do—to convey that they welcome people of other faiths—but rather to make it perfectly clear that they are not subject to the authority of the Catholic Church.