As Catholics, it has already been stated that a balance between Faith and Reason must be maintained in order to possess a sound understanding of the Catholic faith and to find reasons to believe. For what is the point of being able to find a reason to faithfully uphold a God-given truth, when truth itself hides fearfully amongst a body of lies? Why even bother believing in anything, when one has to accept contradictions and charlatans, all of whom walk alongside a so-called ‘truth’?
UFOs, or Unidentified Flying Objects, and Roman Catholicism are two subjects that tend not to mix with each other for obvious reasons. Some suggest that the UFO people tend to get mixed together with one’s interpretations of God or angels or demons. At the same time, there are those who believe that they do not exist for a whole slew of reasons. Whether a member of the Church Militant believes in the existence of unusual air vehicles displaying speeds and maneuvers far beyond that of conventional combustion airplanes, or whether the ones piloting them are of this world or not, is irrelevant to this blog post. The main idea here pertains more so to the human perceptions of phenomena that are unconventional by appearance, and the Church’s response to it. In this case: the visitations of Our Lady of Fatima and allegations made by a certain individual who forwarded the hypothesis that it was actually a UFO encounter.
Dr. Jacques Vallée (shown right with Dr. J. Allen Hynek, left), a French Computer Scientist and early NASA member, was also one of the first major UFO researchers to look into the phenomenon, back when it was beginning to become increasingly well known by average people. What first started as a UFO sighting from his home in Pontoise, France in 1955, followed by his experiences as part of the French Space Committee in 1961, marked the beginning of Vallée’s extensive research into the subject of these mysterious air vehicles (Painter).
His UFO books pertain to how the phenomenon is seen through the prism of human perception. The reason being is because the underlying theme that ties Vallée’s UFO books together is the sociological aspects of the phenomenon, whereas others in the UFO community concern more about contacts, visitations, abductions and other associated matters that sometimes deviate into New Age spiritualism. In an interview, Dr. Vallee addresses his opinion on how human perception can be used to address one’s interpretation of supernatural phenomenon, using Our Lady of Fatima as an example:
“It may be that the phenomenon itself is using our reactions to it in order to turn into something that we expect or understand. We may be carrying a matrix of imagery that it somehow picks up. A good example of that is Fatima. The apparitions witnessed at Fatima did not start in 1917. They started two years before. Some of the same kids were involved, and there were also other witnesses. What they saw was a globe of light. Then they saw a globe of light with some type of being inside. Then they started calling the being an angel, and then the angel started communicating with them and gave them a prayer. It developed in stages, and culminated in 1917, but even then the virgin [sic] Mary wasn’t seen by everyone who was present” (Our Strange Planet).
Unfortunately, based on this interview and the following excerpt from Cosmic Conflict, for Roman Catholics interested in UFOs for whatever reason, Dr. Vallée believes that Our Lady of Fatima was a UFO encounter that the Catholic Church unknowingly interpreted as a Marian apparition. The focus of Dr. Vallée’s postulation pertains to the Sun Dance that the Blessed Virgin did in late 1917.
“The crowd that stood in a field in Fatima, a small village in the district of Leiria, some sixty-two miles north of Lisbon, on October 13, 1917, was waiting there for a miracle, because three children had been assured such an event would take place after a number of meetings with an ‘entity’ that came from the sky in a globe of light.
…According to the very words of the Reverend General Vicar of Leiria, who was one of the witnesses, the lady came in an ‘aeroplane of light,’ an ‘immense globe, flying westwards, at moderate speed. It irradiated a very bright light.’ Some other witnesses saw a white being coming out of the globe, which several minutes later took off, disappearing in the direction of the sun.
The last episode was the miracle itself. It was seen by seventy thousand persons, among whom were pious individuals and atheists, clergymen and reporters from a socialist newspaper. As promised, it happened on October 13 at noon. Among the crowd was Professor Almeida Garrett, of Coimbra University, a scientist, who described the phenomena in the following terms: ‘It was raining hard, and the rain trickled down everyone’s clothes. Suddenly, the sun shone through the dense cloud which covered it: everybody looked in its direction. IT LOOKED LIKE A DISC, OF A VERY DEFINITE CONTOUR [sic]. It was not dazzling. I don’t think that it could be compared to a dull silver disk, as someone said later in Fatima. No. It rather possessed a clear, changing brightness, which one could compare to a pearl. It looked like a polished wheel. This is not poetry. My eyes have seen it. This clear-shaped disk suddenly began turning. It rotated with increasing speed. Suddenly, the crowd began crying with anguish. The sun (disk?), revolving all the time, began falling toward the earth, reddish and bloody, threatening to crush everyone under its fiery weight…’
…Fatima was a modern event, yet it is already clouded with the distortions of ‘belief’. The Photographs of the object had ‘disappeared.’ The key prophecy has been suppressed. Lucia shut herself away from the world. As the years passed, the object was turned into a ‘dancing sun,’ the angel hair became ‘rose petals,’ and the entire phenomena was removed from the field of science and entrusted to the religionists…” (Taff)
Obviously, in the eyes of a devout Roman Catholic, all of this reads like a skeptic who is trying to rationalize the Miracle of the Sun and all of the occurrences at Fatima as anything but a way for Our Lady to allow both faithful and non-believers alike to witness a miracle. To anyone who is not Catholic, particularly the type of individuals “who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church” as being, to quote the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, they might conclude that this is a supposed ‘example’ of the Catholic Church maintaining its grasp over what the Church Militant can believe (Archdiocese of Denver). Sure, the Church will do its best to root out anything that is heretical or contradictory to the Catholic faith, but to these individuals whom Archbishop Sheen mentioned during His Excellency’s ministry, those practices are beyond those people.
For us in the Church Militant, one must ask oneself, what sort of benefit that the Catholic Church, out of all people, could get from perpetuating a supposed UFO sighting as a Marian apparition? None whatsoever, but what sort of basis or criteria does Holy Mother Church use to consider events like Our Lady of Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun as being a miracle and not a UFO sighting as Dr. Vallée claims?
Contrary to what Dr. Jacques Vallée would like to assert, the Church does in fact have enough competence to determine whether a supernatural event is legitimate, with the key ingredient in question being Faith and Reason. To begin, whenever an apparition or something miraculous occurs, “as established in the Council of Trent (1545-63), the local bishop is the first and main authority” in the matter. The Bishop in question then makes an evaluation of the event based on the following parameters:
“1.The facts in the case are free of error.
2.The person(s) receiving the messages is/are psychologically balanced, honest, moral, sincere and respectful of church authority.
3. Doctrinal errors are not attributed to God, Our Lady or to a saint.
4. Theological and spiritual doctrines presented are free of error.
5. Moneymaking is not a motive involved in the events.
6. Healthy religious devotion and spiritual fruits result, with no evidence of collective hysteria.” (The Miracle Hunter)
Summed carefully, an incumbent bishop, archbishop or cardinal of a diocese or an archdiocese must meticulously look for inconsistencies in the message that can seriously contradict Catholic teaching, judge whether the receiver(s) display any kind of good integrity or character, and decide if such event actually resulted in any spiritual benefits. If His Excellency or His Eminence has reason to suspect that there were inconsistencies, or the receiver does not display signs of honesty or integrity, or else there was no spiritual benefit to speak of, then it is more than likely that the supernatural event in question was illegitimate. The Our Lady of Fatima apparitions was no exception to this methodical and careful process, either.
Furthermore, to understand Dr. Vallée and why he decided to arrive at such a conclusion, one has to understand that he was researching the sociological aspects of how the unconventional phenomena associated with UFOs can affect the perceptions of average people. This was important during his later life, when he and Dr. J. Allen Hynek began to look beyond the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis, which forwards the idea that beings from other planets are visiting this one, and into the Interdimensional Hypothesis. The Interdimensional Hypothesis:
“Holds that UFOs are a real phenomenon that may exhibit physical and empirical effects, but whose origin and nature belongs [sic] not to extraterrestrial spacecraft, but to another dimension of reality beyond our time-space continuum. Sometimes described as the paranormal/occult view of UFOs, some UFO experts (especially Christian) have ascribed a demonic interpretation to this alleged extra-dimensional presence. Such leading secular UFO experts as Jacques Vallée have argued for a correspondence between the UFO phenomenon and the occult or demonology.” (Samples)
Much has been written about the two aforementioned worldviews covered here, from proponents and opponents alike. However, observant readers might recall that, earlier, it was stated there were researchers in that same community who ‘sometimes deviate into New Age spiritualism.’ This aforementioned statement is not an exaggeration or an overestimation; there is ample evidence to suspect that Ufology has a tendency to deviate into Occult or New Age spiritualist ideals, which can indubitably conflict with the Catholic faith. Unfortunately, this needs to be covered in a future segment of “Approaching Faith and Reason.”
Mit herzlichen Grüßen,
-J. N. Enriquez
“Discernment of Miracle Claims.” The Miracle Hunter. MiracleHunter.com, 2015. Web. 24 July 2016.
“Jacques Vallee Interview.” Our Strange Planet. Our Strange Planet, n.d. Web. 22 July 2016.
“Our Faith.” ArchDen. Archdiocese of Denver, 1998-2016. Web. 24 July 2016.
Painter, Sally. “Jacques Vallee Continues Begging for Serious UFO Research.” Top Secret Writers. Top Secret Writers, 11 Mar. 2016. Web. 22 July 2016.
Samples, Kenneth R. “The Buzz On UFOs.” Reasons To Believe. Reasons To Believe, 1 Oct. 2005. Web. 24 July 2016.
Taff, Barry. “Jacques Vallee On The Miracle At Fatima: It Was A UFO Encounter.” Dr. Barry Taff’s Official Site. Dr. Barry Taff, 19 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 July 2016.