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In a letter sent to the Holy See and dated 1 December 1977, Cardinal Joseph Höffner, Archbishop of Cologne and President of the German Episcopal Conference, requested an examination of the association called Opus Angelorum (Engelwerk) and of its particular doctrines and practices arising from the private revelations alleged to have been received by Mrs. Gabriele Bitterlich.

After finishing this examination, particularly in regard to the written works containing the aforementioned teaching, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a letter of 24 September 1983, communicated to His Eminence the following decisions already approved by the Sovereign Pontiff in an Audience of 1 July (cf. AAS 76 [1984], pp. 175-176):

1. In promoting devotion to the holy Angels, Opus Angelorum must obey the teaching of the Church and of the holy Fathers and doctors.

In particular, it will not disseminate among its members and the faithful that veneration of the Angels which makes use of "names" learned from an alleged private revelation (attributed to Mrs. Gabriele Bitterlich). The community's use of these same names in any prayer will not be permitted.

2. Opus Angelorum will not require of its members nor propose to them the so-called "promise of silence" (Schweige-Versprechen), although it is legitimate to maintain the proper discretion regarding the internal affairs of Opus Angelorum which befits members of the Church's institutions.

3. Opus Angelorum and its members will rigorously observe all liturgical norms, especially those regarding the Eucharist. This particularly applies to the so-called "Communion of reparation".

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was later able to examine other writings from the same source and was informed that a correct interpretation and implementation of its preceding decisions were not taking place.

An examination of these writings confirmed the judgment on which the preceding decisions had been based, namely, that the angelology peculiar to Opus Angelorum and certain practices arising from it were foreign to Sacred Scripture and Tradition,1 and therefore, cannot serve as a basis for the spirituality and activity of associations approved by the Church.

Therefore, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has considered it necessary again to publish these decisions, together with the following complementary norms.

I. The theories arising from the revelations alleged to have been received by Mrs. Gabriele Bitterlich about the world of the Angels, their personal names, their groupings and functions can neither be taught nor made use of in any way, explicitly or implicitly, in the organization and working structure (Baugerüst) of Opus Angelorum, as well as in worship, prayers, spiritual formation, public and private spirituality, in ministry and the apostolate. The same provision applies to any other institute or association recognized by the Church.

The use and dissemination of books or other writings containing the aforementioned theories, either inside or outside the Association, is forbidden.

II. The various forms of consecration to the Angels (Engelweihen) practiced in Opus Angelorum are prohibited.

III. In addition, the so-called remote administration of the sacraments (Fernspendung) is prohibited, as well as the insertion of prayers or rituals which directly or indirectly refer to these theories into the Eucharistic liturgy or the Liturgy of the Hours.

IV. Exorcisms may be practised only according to the Church's norms and discipline in this regard, with the formulas she has approved.

V. A Delegate with special faculties, appointed by the Holy See, will verify and insist, in consultation with the Bishops, on the application of the norms laid down above. He will see to it that the relations between Opus Angelorum and the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross are clarified and regularized.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Decree, adopted in the Ordinary Meeting of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.

Rome, at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the 6th of June 1992.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Alberto Bovone
Titular Archbishop of Caesarea in Numidia

* L’Osservatore Romano, English Edition, N. 25, 24 June 1992, Page 12.

1 Cf. Pope Benedict XIV, Doctrina de Beatificatione Servorum Dei et de Canonizatione Beatorum, Bk. IV, Part II, ch. 30, "De Angelis et eorum cultu", Venice, 1777.