If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
PADRE PIO – NOT A TRUE SAINT
Who was Pio?
St Padre Pio was an Italian Franciscan who said he got the visible stigmata in 1918 after having pains in his hands and feet and side on and off since 1915. Jesus was supposedly nailed hands and feet to a cross and got stabbed in the side. A stigmatic is a person who carries similar wounds as the result of a miracle. He is in a sense more popular than Jesus Christ among Catholics. Catholics say that Jesus made him everything he is so to honour him is to honour Jesus. The Catholic pretends that honouring Pio is all about honouring Jesus. Is it indirect honour of Jesus? That is the most it could be. But to refuse to honour Jesus directly when you can do so suggests that the indirect honour you give him is an insult to him. Indirectly kissing your wife - eg by kissing her on her hat would be a snub when you can kiss her on the lips - ie directly. Catholicism's thinly disguised paganism is even worse than blatant pagan idolatry. At least the pagans though they used images saw the images as the embodiments of their gods. They did not intend to bypass their gods.
People say that if somebody came to confession to him and was not telling all their sins he was able to tell them what these sins were. But there are no cases of Pio saying, "Hey you! On 25 July last year you had sex with a prostitute in Rome." There is no detail. Fortune-telling would explain it. No human being however holy has the right to gaze into a person's soul. People should be free to tell or not to tell their alleged sins and should not go through such an experience.
You hear plenty about Pio's power to answer prayers and his miracles and his stigmata. There is little emphasis on any example he gave. The Pio devotion is unhealthy. Pio never wrote about how the stigmata improved his spiritual life and how this life helps him inspire others. A miracle that is more about the show than making people behave more virtuously is a scandal. It is superstition.
The Catholic Church claims to be able to unite faith and reason. It holds that God does not do absurd miracles and that such miracle reports are because the devil or human error or deception has been at work. If Pio had fissures one day and none the next that would be very strange. One doctor said there were holes in the hands and others found nothing only marks in the skin. A God who does absurd miracles is no better than a God who blesses only those who carry rabbits feet.
The followers of Pio have a thirst for the magical. Thus they have both an unworthy view of God and religion and man. They are superstitious. In Pio's Italy, photos of Benito Mussolini allegedly cured sick children. He worked miracles of giving speech to the dumb and hearing to the deaf. He miraculously stopped lava from flowing (page 146, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). There was plenty in their political and social context to make them to open to tales of alleged miracles and delusions of having experienced them.
Belief in him is Counter-Intuitive
Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age page 28 reveals that even some believers in Pio's stigmata and integrity were complaining about the circle of people around him including the Capuchin friars he lived with daring to encourage superstitious belief in his powers and even using force to make people believe and tell fairytales about him. Indeed public order problems did arise because of the differences between the gullible believers and the unbelievers and the saner believers. Pio himself was asked by Monsignor Rossi about his power to be in two places at the one time and to heal people etc (page 102, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). Pio replied that these were not proven and that he was glad he still had his reason after all the nonsense that took place. Clearly he was unsure if his prayers really healed people but as for the bilocations they were nonsense.
St Padre Pio has done too many miracles that remind one of showing off and conjuring tricks for comfort. There have been countless reports about the miracle perfume, appearing in dreams, Pio being in two places at the one time and healings. He was supposed to have the power to read minds but there would be no market for fortune tellers without similar claims. Such miracles are an insult to Pio if he really wanted, as he said, to hide his miracle powers and avoid appearing special. They also insult God’s dignity. God will only do a miracle as a sign for he cannot do a miracle just to fix errors for he doesn’t make any errors. He is almighty and in control. So God will only do miracles when the forces are in motion for the verification of the miracle by science and the Church. Too many showy miracles are taken to be a sign of suspicion of satanic agency among true Christians. Theologians say Jesus in the gospels only did practical miracles such as healing and avoided showing off and doing absurd miracles. But Pio has been the locum of more miracles than Jesus ever was and most of them are outrageous and that is suspicious.
Catholic doctrine says, "God has supposedly arranged nature as it is. He does not make mistakes but he occasionally does miracles to give evidence of his presence and to direct people to religious and spiritual truth." So a miracle will only take place in the context of evidence and for the sake of being evidence. What if Pio did a few well-substantiated miracles and the other alleged or suspected miracles are not as convincing or are just hearsay? The miracles cannot both command evidence and not command them. The unconvincing ones actually refute the convincing ones. It is just like how in court you can have terrific evidence for something and something happens that undermines it all.
The magazine La Settimana Incom Illustrata after claimed that Pio predicted that Roncalli would become Pope. Angelo Roncalli became Pope John XXIII in 1958 the year before the magazine published the alleged prophecy. Unfortunately the prophecy comes after the event. There is no evidence that it was made before the event or even that Pio really made the prophecy (page 263, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). The claim that Roncalli secretly visited Pio in 1956 and didn't let the cat out of the bag until Pope Pius XII died in 1958 is pure invention. John XXIII went to the trouble of declaring that in writing (page 278, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age).
Jesus warned about signs and wonders that could deceive even the elect - if this does not refer to miracles with inadequate proof then his warning was meaningless.
Pio supposedly got the stigmata on 20 September 1918 while praying in the morning. He told nobody about this until the middle of the following month. He opened up to Father Benedetto. It seems he didn't even tell his spiritual directors (page 21, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age).
Pio by silence gave consent to his aggrandizement
Padre Pio has caused a lot of trouble. During his life, many totally reliable people and even the Church said they knew he was a hard-faced weirdo. He never repudiated the aura of sainthood he was invested with. He encouraged it and cultivated his popularity by building hospitals and screaming in his cell at night and claiming to have been attacked by Satan. He never said his claimed stigmata and miracles and his ability to be in two places at the one time should be forgotten about. A truly self-effacing saint would. Thus Pio was saying that a person could be condemned by everybody and by those in authority and who should be considered in a position of knowing and still be a misunderstood saint. This attitude has poisoned the Catholic chalice and promoted religious personality cults in the Church.
Pio lowered the standard. Today we have frauds like Christina Gallagher of Achill who mimic Pio and who have been thoroughly exposed by the media and by people in authority. Even her bishop didn't recognise her as a true visionary. Despite all the scandal, many of her followers stand by her and continue to give her loads of money to keep her in her opulent lifestyle which of course they pretend didn't exist. She continues to deceive and her faithful continue to kid themselves. Her followers typically cite the case of Pio who was condemned by Church authorities and proclaimed a fraud as evidence of how crafty Satan is and how he sets it up so that truly holy mystics like Pio and Gallagher will look like hypocrites and charlatans when they are in fact genuine prophets of God. The result is that millions are being led astray by frauds like Gallagher. Pio cast the die and lowered the standard and the result is that vulnerable people are being lied to and severed from their life savings. If that is not a bad fruit then what is? Pio's work was not from God.
In relation to Pio, we can definitely agree that if a person is not part of the solution then they are part of the problem. He is no help or inspiration in a world riddled with religious frauds.
Pio and the Perfumes
The blood from Pio's allegedly miraculous wounds was perfumed - the smell should have been rancid if he really had the long-term wounds he said he had. He must have used eau-de-cologne for the allegedly miraculous fragrance.
Incredibly the Who is Padre Pio? booklet claims that Pio occasionally exuded the smell of tobacco! And it adds that the smell was faint at times and strong at other times. Pio claimed he didn't smoke. And that proves to believers that the tobacco smell was a miracle. How persuasive! How scientific!
Pio did nothing to hide the smell though his followers boast about how humble he was and hated attention and was even ashamed of his stigmata. They might say Pio could not disguise the smell for it was a miracle but that is too hard to believe. God would not pull off such mundane stunts. When saints have an aroma (you will understand why I do not designate the smell of tobacco as an aroma!) it is regarded as a special miracle marking out a man as so holy that even his body smells nice even though he has not been using scent. Pio had no problem then with this tobacco substitute for an “I am holy and humble” tattoo on the forehead.
One thing is for sure when a person has a nice smell that is supposedly a miracle you can be sure that it is not. No sensible God would do such a mundane and easily duplicated miracle. Those who believe in this miracle are making the same mistake as those who say that the miracles of super-psychics are real though there are professional magicians who can do exactly the same things by trickery. Their prejudice and selectiveness is disturbing and Pio, like many others, is to blame for that. He and they didn’t think much of their all-wise God.
Pio and his Demonic Visitors
Pio claimed that he was attacked often at night by demons in his cell and they fought. Demons would harm him more discreetly than that. A man who declares that unverifiable miracles happen is not to be trusted. There was nobody there to verify the attacks and who saw them happening.
Pio was reportedly beaten by demons at night time. When demons gave him bruises why couldn’t they give him the stigmata? Why did they make so much noise that others near Pio’s cell heard them? Why were they so keen to make him look like a target of evil spirits? They would only do that if he was one of their followers. It was all just a performance if demons were involved at all. Or perhaps Pio was the performer!
Demons would not come up from Hell to kick the door and shake Pio’s bed when he could do that himself. Nobody can prove that Pio was not doing these poltergeist stunts himself for he was alone in the room. No God would let miracles happen that one could create oneself for if he would do that then we should believe in miracle-workers who accomplish feats that any magician can do easily. Pio was not the miracle man he had people thinking he was.
It is interesting that Pio who acted so determined to hide his stigmata did not gag himself to stop shouting at the demons and screaming so that nobody would know what was going on. He was conniving and manipulative. The fact that suspicion regarding the source of the wounds hangs over him shows that the faithful are dallying with demons for risks like that should not be taken for God says he comes first.
In 1964, Pio shouted out in his cell one evening at 10pm. The monks ran to his aid and found him in his cell with a gash on his head claiming that it was inflicted during a battle with Satan who had been trying to scrape his eyes out. Pio admitted that Satan could inflict wounds. Interesting. And there is no doubt that Jesus who said that you have to hide your prayers and good works in the Sermon on the Mount would not think much of a man who had to tell people that the Devil was to blame for his head wound for that is the same as saying, “I am such an important person in the Church and such a good man that the Devil himself came up from Hell to knock me about”. Satan would die with embarrassment if Pio had been going about with no eyes for it would be practically advertising Pio as a man of God. Satan was slandered. It was either a poltergeist that caused the wounds not Satan or Pio did it himself.
It is disquieting that Pio claimed that he lived on nothing but the sacred host for twenty-one days (page 5, Who is Padre Pio?). He reportedly put on weight which indicates that he was lying. But of course the believers say the weight, the evidence of eating, was a miracle and he was telling the truth. What we must never forget is that there were several mediums who had such incredible powers and were regarded as superstars for years until Houdini caught them out. What I am saying is that there have been people who did more daring and open things than Pio and who shocked sceptics and academics into faith and who were still frauds – getting caught the once was enough to prove it. To believe in Pio as in any personage with alleged supernatural powers only means you believe in a man who had the luck never to get caught if he was up to anything. You just don’t know if he was the real thing. You can’t and no God would waste time doing miracles through him in that case.
Pio the Alleged Clairvoyant
The devotional books tell us that Pio knew the thoughts of the penitents who came to him in confession. But fortune-tellers have been able to manage much the same thing. There has to be people who were not impressed by the alleged clairvoyance and their voice is ignored. And indeed there are. People like to believe that God went to the trouble of telling Pio something about them so you will have plenty who only imagined that Pio did that. Pio once answered the question a Swiss priest wrote on a letter sealed in an envelope which he gave to Pio without opening the letter (Who is Padre Pio? page 37). This raises the question of how Pio knew that whatever told him what was on the letter was from God? Satan masquerading as God could have told him a lie to trip him up. Pio reported visions from Hell that looked exactly like Heavenly ones. Did Pio care? Did Pio know as much as God so that he could tell? There is a madness here. He reported that during one of his visions he asked the apparition he thought was from God but had suspicions about to call out “Hail Jesus”, and it couldn’t say the words and vanished in a cloud of sulphur (page 7, Who is Padre Pio?). This is totally ridiculous for loads of saints had visions of demons that pretended to praise God. Demons can mime the words but not mean them. Pio must have known that which is why he cannot be considered a dependable person regarding the supernatural.
Pio's Alleged Miracles
The hypocrisy of believing those who cleared Pio and of believing the twelve apostles who give no evidence of telling the exact same story about the resurrection and who were never tried in court is obvious – another of the endless bad fruits that come from belief in miracles for Pio would have wanted people to think that his miracles pointed to the main doctrines of Christianity which are that Jesus died for sins and rose again. If there was a supernatural being doing the miracles through Pio then this being was the Devil for the miracles were never intended to create a saint – it just happened that Pio ended up on the canonisation decree.
Miracles like this will one day destroy the faith for reason will triumph in the end.
The Duchess of St. Albans wrote, "Magic of a Mystic Stories of Padre Pio". A girl, Gemma di Giorg, born without pupils began to see when she was on the train to San Giovanni. Her grandmother was with her. They were going to Pio. Believers falsely allege that when Pio met them he healed the girl. The girl still had no pupils so we can safely assume that this was no miracle but a fluke of nature.
Miracles are said to call you to submit to a body of doctrine supposedly revealed by God. Many cults boast that miracles back them up meaning that the spreading of belief in miracles is really about trying to enslave you to other peoples’ opinions. Any religion can use miracles to get followers so the esteem people like Pio have is desperately misplaced and dangerous. Pretend your mother is in a poor country where women have bad medical care. Do you want her to die rather than have an abortion to save her life? You will if you respect the likes of Padre Pio having who sought to bring the world under the spell of the pope. Pio often declared that his miracles and good deeds were motivated to bringing people to obey the pope and the Church in all their teaching for what they say is God’s will. This means that to accept Pio you can’t be a cafeteria Catholic like most of Pio’s devotees are so he has failed to change them and that is a bad fruit especially since Catholics vow at their baptism and confirmation to accept without reserve the will of God as spoken through the Church.
There is actual and potential. As regards being a good person, potential is more important than actual for you won’t act good unless you have the potential to be good. Catholics like to encourage people to believe in miracles on account of the actual good fruits that follow the events. But it is the potential that matters the most so miracles that have bad implications are simply evil sorceries or frauds.
Miracles are intended to be a cause of faith according to Church doctrine. Any character, and Pio claimed to be one, who experiences them all the time has a substitute for the virtue of faith. The Church always said that apparitions should be short and sweet to prevent that happening and yet people like Pio have been canonised. The reason the Church says that God gives us sufficient evidence but not too much is so that we will have genuine charity and be sure that we do good because it is good. If you know the faith is true you can’t be sure of your motives for we never know ourselves very well at the best of times. And if you know there is a Hell it is impossible to do good with a totally selfless attitude. We conclude then that the canonisations of stigmatists who had constant visions and miracles, Padre Pio, Gemma Galgani, Francis of Assisi, Maria Maddalena de Pazzi, Mary Frances of the Five Wounds, Margaret Mary Alacoque, Veronica Guiliani, Rita of Cascia, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Genoa and Catherine of Siena are null and void. These saints have destroyed the faith. Faith is the main and essential good fruit so any other good fruit cannot compensate for its disappearance. Interestingly, what we have just read means that Jesus was from the Devil if he did such prolific miracle working for he destroyed the faith of the apostles and gave them knowledge instead. The apostles with the knowledge that their faith and their motives were destroyed were evil men who hid their vice as well as some “holy” fake stigmatists did.
Pio and his Visions
Pio according to the Ruffin book said that he had a vision of a soul in Purgatory that appeared to ask for his prayers. Pio was supposed to be humbly embarrassed by the stigmata as it got him attention. Does that humility sound sincere coming from one that didn't have to tell about his visions but did nonetheless?
Pio had so many visions and revelations that if anybody knew that an apparition of the Virgin was authentic it was he. In a letter written by Manuel Pio Lopez, Archbishop of Jalapa to Fr Gustavo Morelos in 1966 it is stated that Pio believed the visions of Mary at Garabandal in Spain were genuinely from God and had told the four witnesses to speak the messages. But Garabandal was a hoax and the visionaries confessed to the hoax. Pio was a false prophet and God says in the Bible one error is enough to prove that God was not speaking through a man for God makes no mistakes (Deuteronomy 18). It would be blasphemous to trust a prophet to give the word of God when he makes mistakes in what he says is the word of God. You have to be very sure that something is the word of God before you could say you respect God by accepting that word.
St John of the Cross spoke about how dangerous revelations were and that it was a sin to desire them. If it is a sin to desire them then it is a sin to talk about them. Many saints revelled in their miracles and visions. They attracted those who admired them for their experiences and thereby led them into sin. That’s the kind of holiness they produced. The Church rejects miracles that have bad fruits in the lives of those who experience them. So miracles reduce their goodness and give them a devotion to goodness but not for its sake but for their own. They always have bad fruits. Period. Christians endlessly harp on about fruits proving the visions and miracles they want to believe in not realising that the fruits are at the end of the list of the four things for discerning if a revelation is really from God (Criteria for Discerning Apparitions by Mons Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar). The first is there must be only a few revelations. The second is that the revelations must not contradict the faith or incite to disobedience against the bishops. Third there must be no element of human work – for example, when the visionaries tell the apparition when to appear. God will do what he sees is best not what we see. Fruits are the fourth and are not a reliable test for any false apparition gets converts and ignites reports of healings – the Church says that the regular workings of God through the sacraments are often hijacked by miracle mongers as evidence that there is something in what they claim. Pio who read about the mystics knew fine well that his revelations if supernatural were not from God but Satan and didn’t care and didn’t warn people to ignore them.
Pio Stole St Gemma's work
Pio lied that he was keeping his distance from those he described as false apostles and from crooks such as Brunatto (page 187-8, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). He was also involved in shares and managing money despite his vow of poverty (page 193, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). It comes as no surprise to learn he was always a cheat who wanted to convey a public impression of him that didn't match the truth. His arch-apostle the con-man Brunatto pretended to have empty pockets and provided the money to pay for Pio's hospital (page 205, Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age). These funds were raised through fraud and black market trading.
Pio got the pope's permission to own the hospital in 1957 (page 259). Pio's shares were deposited with the Vatican Bank.
Padre Pio, Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, pages 20, 21 says that Pio didn't tell that his accounts of mystical experience were really St Gemma's. More than that, "he sought to make them believe that he did not even possess Gemma's book" (page 20). He wrote to Father Benedetto on May 2 1912. He wanted his help to get him some books that "I would very much like to read". The books were called Letters and Ecstasies of God's Servant, Gemma Galgani and her own The Holy Hour. Yet he had been using these works and copying from them long before that letter (page 20). The Catholic excuse is that he may have clairvoyantly read the books before receiving them or that he just wanted his own copies and the copies he used before that letter were just on loan. This excuse does not fit the fact that the letter says he wanted to read them. Another excuse is that mystics often report similar experiences and so their descriptions of what has happened can be identical.
Padre Pio wrote very spiritual letters to those in charge of his spiritual formation to give the impression of being a very holy mystic. However, it has been found that many sections of his letters were plagiarised from the published works of the mystic St Gemma Galgani. Pio never attributed the plagiarised sections to their true author but presented them as his own. Some sections had slight differences from her work and others were exactly what she wrote. Pio wrote to Fr Agostino on March 21 1912 following mass. This priest was one of his spiritual directors. "My mouth savoured all the sweetness of the immaculate flesh of the son of God. But I became confused and I am unable to do anything but weep and say, 'Jesus my nutrition!'. What afflicts me most is that so much love from Jesus is met with so much ingratitude from me. I would like were it within my power to wash with my own blood those places where I have committed so many sins and where I gave scandal to so many souls. Thursday evening until Saturday and then again Tuesday have been a painful drama for me. My heart, my hands and feet seem to have been pierced with a sword and the suffering is so great. And meanwhile the devil never ceases to appear before me in his horrible guises and to brutally assault me in his terrible and frightening way". The Catholics excuse this by saying Pio didn't copy Galgani as such. He just went through the exact same experiences as her. The Church came up with this incredible excuse when Pio's stealing of Galgani's work came out. The excuse appears in the May 2003 journal of the Jesuits, La Civiltà Cattolica. They said that Pio wanted to emulate the holiness of Galgani and he was only human so he copied her work for it was as true of him as it was of her. So by only human they are implying he copied out of human weakness not out of any sinfulness or dishonesty. Very plausible! Pio was courting fame and lying that he went through what Galgani experienced.
The Church wants you to imagine that plagiarism isn’t plagiarism when a saint does it. That reasoning is totally dangerous and unfair. It advocates a holiness that borders on expediency not on morality. When you write something yourself it is your work. If you copy someone else’s work nobody can be sure if you described your thoughts or not. Pio in sending such letters to his spiritual directors was definitely trying to fool them. He was presenting the spirituality in the letters as his own when it was Gemma’s. Some say there was no harm in Pio using sections from Gemma’s books if he had attributed them to her which he didn’t do. But the fact remains, he infringed the rights of the people who published these books and copyrighted them. Anybody could be a saint if excuses are made for their sins. It is Church politics that makes saints not holiness.
Pio wrote a whopping 12 letters to his spiritual directors between September 1911 and May 1913 that stole Galgani's work. He even had the nerve to write on May 2 1912, "I would very much like to read the book titled Letters and Ecstasies of God's Servant, Gemma Galgani ... along with another work by that same servant of God, The Holy Hour. Confident you will find this desire worthy and procure me these books". He was pretending he didn't have those works when he plagiarised from them.
The context of Pio's life shows that he was capable of lying about and faking his stigmata. The medical reports at best say he may have had deep fissures in his hands but the doctor did not do the examination well for Pio complained of being in great pain. It is known that Pio's marks could be explained without miracles.
Arthur C Clarke’s World of Strange Powers, John Fairley and Simon Welfare, Collins, London, 1984
Chapter 7 of this book explores evidence that willpower can make bodily changes when it is strongly enough exercised by some people. Breasts have been increased in size by mindpower and the research of Dr Albert Mason and Professor Oscar Ratnoff verifying that non-religious stigmata happens is detailed in this book. A girl Maria K could make herself bleed from the ears and eyes and the head just by making herself very angry according to a study undertaken by Dr Magnus Huss. The fact that Teresa Neumann was doing erratic things and making strange unnecessary motions under her bedclothes before her wounds appeared is mentioned – was she making the wounds then?
The Bleeding Mind, Ian Wilson, Paladin, London, 1991
Looking for a Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993
England's Lost Eden, Adventures in a Victorian Utopia, Philip Hoare, Harper Perennial, London, 2006
The Stigmata and Modern Science, Rev Charles Carty, TAN, Illinois, 1974
Who is Padre Pio? Fathers Rumble and Carty, TAN, Illinois, 1974
Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, Sergio Luzzato, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2010
Padre Pio Under Investigation, Francesco Castelli, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2008
Criteria for Discerning Apparitions, Mons Peric, Bishop of Mostar, available from Militia Immaculatae Trust, 35 New Bond Street, Leicester
Counterfeit Miracles, BB Warfield, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1995
The Book of Miracles, Stuart Gordon, Headline, London, 1996
The Jesus Relics, From the Holy Grail to the Turin Shroud, Joe Nickell, The History Press, Gloucestershire, 2008
The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism, Herbert Thurston SJ, H Regnery Co, Chicago, 1952 or Roman Catholic Books, PO Box 2286, FortCollins, CO 80522
The Supernatural A-Z, James Randi, Headline Books, London, 1995
(Note: This book in the entry for Stigmata observes that the claims made for people like the alleged stigmatist Teresa Neumann with their miraculous bleeding and living on communion wafers cannot be verified for they were never observed 24 hours a day every day. Fr Siwek, an investigator of Neumann wrote that he had grave doubts about her miracles. To me, no God is going to bother doing all these miracles when the miracle worker is not going to be watched all the time.)