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Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:
Some of Mary’s apparitions have involved messages or visions that have a prophetic character. In 1982, the visionaries of Our Lady of Kibeho in Rwanda saw a frightening image of rivers of blood and massacred bodies. This is commonly interpreted to be a prophecy of the Rwandan genocide (many people were massacred in Kibeho in the 1990s). In La Salette, France in 1846, Mary warned the two visionaries of the impending failure of several crops, and of crushing famine; within a few years’ time, Europe suffered significant crop failure and many went hungry. Another example is found in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. Among other warnings, Mary indicated that there would be the outbreak of a new war during the pontificate of Pius XI (his pontificate ended in 1939, around the beginning of WWII).
What to make of all of this? First of all, it’s important to emphasize that the majority of Marian apparition messages are not prophetic in nature, but are simply calls to prayer and conversion. It’s also worth remembering that the Church considers Marian apparitions to be “private revelation,” and therefore not a required part of the Catholic faith: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history.” (CCC 67)
Ultimately, it’s up to you as to how much thought and attention you give these apparitions and their messages. Many Catholics find the apparent fulfillment of these prophecies to be a nudge towards conversion, repentance and prayer. Other Catholics never give the apparitions much thought but have a vibrant faith life all the same. Personally, I find it helpful to think of the apparitions as one of many different ways that God invites us to reflect on and renew our faith, knowing that what speaks to one person may not resonate with another.