Vatican to tackle alleged visions
People who claim they have seen the Virgin Mary will be forced to remain silent about the apparitions until a team of psychologists and theologians have fully investigated their claims under new Vatican guidelines aimed at stamping out false claims of miracles.
The new guidelines, approved by Pope Benedict XVI, may have grave implications for alleged visionaries such as Christina Gallagher and her controversial Achill House of Prayer.
According to the directive, anyone who claims to have seen an apparition will only be believed as long as they remain silent and do not court publicity over their claims. If they refuse to obey, this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false.
Ms Gallagher has consistently refused to integrate her work into the local Church. An ongoing investigation into Ms Gallagher’s claim that she receives visions of the Virgin Mary has found no evidence. Local Archbishop, Michael Neary, has consistently pointed out that the Achill organisation has no Church backing and insisted that Ms Gallagher’s work does not enjoy his confidence.
Gallagher’s Achill `cult’ making millions
Christina Gallagher’s controversial House of Prayer in Achill Island continues to make vast profits amid ongoing allegations of fraud and cult-like activity while Church leaders stress that the house has no official Church approval.
Figures obtained by The Irish Catholic indicate that so far this year, the alleged visionary has made €339,283 in donations from members of the public. The same accounts indicate that the House of Prayer pulled in almost €700,000 in less than two years from the sale of religious objects which they purchased for €300,000, giving them a staggering 130 per cent mark up on these objects.
The alleged visionary came under scrutiny by the Gardaí earlier this year after dozens of her former followers complained to the Revenue Commissioners and the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) over alleged fraudulent activity. The Irish Catholic has learned that substantial sums of cash have now been returned to the disgruntled former followers, some of whom have referred to the House of Prayer as a ‘cult’. However, the cash was only returned on the condition that the parties sign a confidentiality agreement preventing them from releasing details of the deal.
The balance sheet shows that combined profits for the House of Prayer stand at almost two million euro. However, profits may take a substantial hit if the Revenue Commissioners go ahead with their plan to tax the profits after the controversial group lost its charitable status.
The House of Prayer is now appealing the decision of the Revenue Commissioners; however, if the decision is not overturned, Ms Gallagher will face a tax liability in the region of €125,000 before interest and penalties.
House of Prayer making millions
Meanwhile, Cardinal Seán Brady is continuing discussions with Ms Gallagher’s Spiritual Director Fr Gerard McGinnity over his involvement with Achill.
Fr McGinnity, a priest of the Armagh Archdiocese, has staunchly defended his involvement in the controversial movement despite allegations that he played a key role in seeking huge donations from pensioners to build so-called ‘chain’ houses of prayer that never materialised.
A source close to Cardinal Brady told The Irish Catholic ”the delicate negotiations with Fr McGinnity are ongoing”. He indicated that the cardinal would not be in a position to comment on the negotiations or their eventual outcome at this point.
Earlier this year, Archbishop Michael Neary, in whose Tuam Archdiocese the house operates, expressed his frustration that attempts to integrate the House of Prayer into the life of the local parish had failed despite his best efforts. The House of Prayer at Achill, he said, has ”no Church approval whatever”. He also added that the work of the House of Prayer does ”not enjoy the confidence of the Diocesan authorities.”
‘Foreigners’ will cause war – Christina Gallagher
”Nests of foreigners” will lead to the outbreak of war in the United States, according to the controversial alleged visionary Christina Gallagher.
Ms Gallagher, who has rejected a plea from Pope Benedict XVI to remain silent, has begun posting messages allegedly from the Mother of God on her website.
The site also claims that Ms Gallagher foresaw many tragic world events including the terrorist attack on the twin towers and the collapse of the global stock market.
In the latest alleged ‘vision’, Ms Gallagher claims that: ”Civil war will break out in the United States and many will fight and kill each other. Nests of foreigners have already been placed in the US.
”The events in the US will also filter throughout Europe and then throughout the world. A great suppression will come about,” she alleges. Ms Gallagher claims she received the vision from the Mother of God on March 29.
Ms Gallagher has consistently refused to reconcile her activity with the Church. Archbishop Michael Neary has ordered that no sacraments be celebrated at her Achill Island base.
Dr Neary has insisted that the House of Prayer at Achill has ”no Church approval whatever”. He also added that the work of the House of Prayer does ”not enjoy the confidence of the Diocesan authorities.”
The Pope has also issued new guidelines insisting that alleged visionaries keep quiet and seek the guidance of the Church. Ms Gallagher has so far refused the Pope’s request.
The alleged visionary came under scrutiny by the Gardaí last year after dozens of her former followers complained to the Revenue Commissioners and the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) over alleged fraudulent activity.
In her latest message, Ms Gallagher also claims that ”many, including Church authorities will go willingly in union with the anti-Christ because of the control he wields.” The only way for people to be saved, Ms Gallagher insists, is to take refuge in her controversial movement.
I see it as a cult’ – donor
Michael Kelly meets a woman who believes she was brainwashed by the controversial visionary Christina Gallagher
‘They made us sign a confidentiality clause, never to speak to anyone about it,” the woman tells me as we sit together before a roaring log fire in her isolated home in rural Ireland. It’s the only room in the home with heating. After giving more than €100,000 to Christina Gallagher, the controversial woman who claims to receive visions, repairing the antiquated heating system has to wait.
Clearly shaken by her experiences, Mary, not her real name, recounts a tale of being enthralled by the events at Achill Island from her first visit there. ”It was so beautiful, the prayer, the preaching, the traditional form of Catholicism, we were getting something there that wasn’t in the parishes.” Many of the Achill House of Prayer devotees are there searching for the Catholicism of their childhood, ”a Catholicism all but gone in your average parish,” Mary insists.
”When we heard that Christina needed this money to continue her work, I thought ‘we have to help’.” Mary recalls that her husband was more reticent. ”He was always much more suspicious than me, but, in the end he handed over the money too, I suppose in a way to make me happy.”
Mary’s dealings with the House of Prayer have brought her considerable pain. ”It’s a wonder my husband and I have not separated, this has put such a tremendous pressure on us and our relationship, to think that we parted with all that money.” Mary has received much of the money back, but spent tens of thousands of Euro in legal fees trying to get her money back. ”Eventually they did give us the money back, but, only when we served them with a High Court writ. They made us sign a confidentiality clause, never to speak to anyone about it, but I don’t care, I just want the House of Prayer exposed for what it is.”
How could an evidently intelligent woman part with so much money in such strange circumstances? ”Looking back now, I can tell you I think we were brainwashed, we fell for all of it, we fell for the mysticism, we fell for the alleged messages, everything, and every time money was needed, we were there like fools.”
Mary’s suspicion that all was not well at the House of Prayer was fuelled by what she describes as Christina Gallagher’s ”extravagant” lifestyle. ”We know that there was a lot of money being spent, people were saying about Christina’s lovely homes and possessions, I began to get suspicious, but, every time, there was always someone there with a ready answer: ‘poor Christina is suffering so much, poor Christina needs our help, poor Christina is being attacked by Our Lady’s enemies’.
”In the end it was all too much, we got out, I could see that all was not well, it’s only now that we’re out of it that I can see it like a cult. I think we were being brainwashed into thinking that Christina is a messenger from heaven, if you ever disputed this you were accused of being an ‘enemy of Our Lady’. I now know that this is false, I’m only so disappointed with myself that it took so long for me to realise that I was been taken for a ride,” Mary says.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised by this article, or by the alleged happenings at the Achill House of Prayer please contact the author in the strictist confidence at michael@irishcatho lic.ie or via mail to:
The Irish Catholic, The Irish Farm Centre, Bluebell, Dublin 12
Review of the Year: April
Following numerous revelations about alleged practices around the Achill House of Prayer, the Revenue Commissioners and An Garda begin separate investigations into the house, established by self-proclaimed visionary, Christina Gallagher. Questions had been raised by a former devotee of Achill about the source of Ms Gallagher’s apparent wealth.
Filed under: House of Prayer