Catholic Websites Discuss Japanese Marian Shrine

The Catholic News Agency is trying to tell us something:

The epicenter of the earthquake that caused a deadly March 11 tsunami is located near the site of an apparition in which Mary warned about a worldwide disaster that could afflict humanity.

…The city of Akita, which experienced fire damage and flooding along with many parts of northern Japan, is a place of veneration for Catholics.

In 1973, the Virgin Mary was said to have predicted a number of future events – including natural disasters even more serious than Friday’s earthquake and tsunami – during three appearances to a Japanese religious sister, Sr. Agnes Sasagawa.

…”If men do not repent and better themselves, God the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity,” Mary reportedly told Sr. Agnes. “It will be a punishment greater than the (biblical) flood, such as never seen before.”

“Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful,” she said. “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church, in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops.”

…Reports from Akita following Friday’s earthquake indicate that the city received significantly less damage than other parts of northern Japan, despite its proximity to the epicenter. However, residents did report power outages, burst pipes, and fires…

Clearly the author wants us to infer – without spelling it out – that the earthquake was hinted at in prophecy, and that Akita has received some special protection. This inference explains why various Catholic websites have been enthusiastically repasting the story.

So, before people get carried away (and particularly before it reaches Glenn Beck), it’s perhaps worth pointing out that Akita is in fact about 150 miles away from the earthquake’s epicentre, and is located on the coastline opposite to that which bore the brunt of the disaster. Further, the anonymous “reports” telling us that “the city received significantly less damage than other parts of northern Japan” are so vague as to be meaningless, especially as the article also concedes “fire damage and flooding”. No other news site has compared damage in Akita to damage in adjacent areas, so one wonders where this information has come from.

And as for the apparition’s warning, a prophecy about a future earthquake in Japan would have been so obvious to be laughable. But it’s clear that Sasagawa’s apparition refers to something else: in 1973, “fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity” was obviously meant to resonate with contemporary fears about nuclear war.