It’s a miracle! Oh no, it’s not

Hotline to heaven: Pope Benedict is concerned by the explosion of ‘mystics’ who claim they can speak to God

As the recession deepens, religious observers are braced for an upturn in visions and apparitions of the Virgin Mary and other supernatural Catholic phenomena.

Stigmata, the strange bodily marks resembling the wounds of the crucified Jesus, may again start to appear regularly.

Statues and icons are expected to bleed, weep and move around, as the world faces its greatest economic crisis since the 1930s.

In the depths of the recession of the 1980s, with unemployment rising in Ireland and a prevailing mood of hopelessness, statues began to shift mysteriously.

Devotion to icons that come alive may be a comfort in insecure times, but the current Pope would prefer Catholics to remain silent about these alleged miracles after they have witnessed them.

Pope Benedict was this week reported to be deeply concerned by the explosion in the number of “pseudo-mystics” who claim a hotline to God. Like many within the traditional hierarchy, he is afraid that these witnesses end up in conflict with the Church and lure the Catholic faithful out of the pews and into cult-like groups.

In a bid to halt the apparition boom, the Pope has ordered a thorough investigation to be carried out into the visionaries and their sponsors.

New guidelines are being drawn up for local bishops on how to tackle them. It is the biggest clampdown on phoney apparitions and their associated industries for decades…

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