Virgin Mary Shrines Draw Pilgrims of Other Faiths, Stirring Controversy Among Catholics

August 19, 2004

Source: Yahoo! News

Wire Service: Reuters

On August 19, 2004 Reuters reported, "In an unexpected twist of globalisation, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and other pilgrims regularly worship at famous Roman Catholic shrines to the Virgin Mary such as Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal. They drink the holy water, light votive candles and pray fervently to the Madonna for help with life's hardships. Many venerate her like one of their own goddesses, a view that would be a heresy if a Catholic theologian tried to defend it. Rather than turned away, the newcomers are free to join the crowds from Ireland, Italy, Spain, and other traditionally Catholic countries who flock to Europe's most popular shrines. In Fatima, the warm welcome they have received has caused an uproar among traditionalist Catholics... [who] are up in arms against the shrine's directors for allegedly being so open to Hindu pilgrims that they let them perform religious rites there. 'They have sinned against God and given scandal to the faithful,' thundered the U.S. monthly Catholic Family News. 'They allowed Mary to be worshipped as God by pagan apostates.' Fatima's director, Father Luciano Guerro, issued a statement in late June denying that a Hindu pilgrim group led by its own priest had somehow defiled the shrine during a visit in May."