|Born||Vassiliki Claudia Pendakis
January 18, 1942
|True Life in God|
Her writings frequently call for people "to repent, love God, and unify the churches." She has developed a large following, particularly among Roman Catholics, who come to her lectures and buy her writings and tapes. She writes the messages in English, and has changed some writings between editions.
In 1995, the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) published a Notification (a message from the Holy See) on the writings of Rydén, saying her communications should not be considered supernatural, and calling all Catholic bishops to prevent Rydén's ideas from being spread in their dioceses. In 2007, Cardinal William Levada confirmed that the 1995 Notification was still in effect; he recommended that Catholics should not join prayer groups organized by Rydén. In 2011, the Greek Orthodox Church officially disapproved of Rydén's teachings, instructing their faithful to disassociate from Rydén. In 2012, the Church of Cyprus said that Rydén's teachings were heretical.
Rydén was born Vassiliki Claudia Pendakis on January 18, 1942, in Heliopolis on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, the daughter of Greek Orthodox parents established in Egypt. She started school in Egypt, and then at the age of 15, she emigrated to Europe.
In November 1966, she married a Lutheran man in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland, at a Greek Orthodox Church. Her husband was a student who obtained a position with the United Nations after graduation. The couple had two sons together. Because of the husband's job, the family lived in various places in Asia and Africa. From 1966 to 1980, Ryden kept up an active social life. She did not practice any particular religion. The couple was divorced in Sweden in November, 1980.
On June 13, 1981, she married her current husband, Per Rydén, a Swedish Lutheran who had been working for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in Mozambique. He took a new position with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) department of the United Nations in Lesotho from 1981 to 1983, then worked again for SIDA from 1984 to 1987 in Bangladesh. On October 31, 1990, the Rydéns celebrated their existing union in the Greek Orthodox Church in Lausanne.
Rydén is best known for her writings entitled "True Life in God", which is a compilation of nearly 2000 messages she claims to have received from God since the year 1985 when she was living in Bangladesh. While she was writing a grocery list, she claims to have suddenly experienced a light electrical feeling in her right hand and at the same time, an invisible presence. She says she felt led by this presence and, permitting her hand to be guided, she wrote a line in a very different style from her own with the words: "I am your guardian Angel and my name is Daniel." She adheres to the idea that she has been called to transmit to the world the messages she receives. Ryden has never published the first ten months' worth of received messages, explaining that she burned them because there were too many. In 1993, Father Rene Laurentin contradicted Ryden and said that she did not destroy the first messages, and that she plans to publish them.
Rydén had never received any catechetical instruction, or theological formation. A "spiritual zero" before the revelations began, Rydén believes that God chooses those otherwise incapable of such achievements so as to leave no doubt that it is His power at work. She believes that she was chosen for all that she was not. She stated that: "Jesus wanted a nothing", she explains, "in order to prove that I have not invented all this and that it comes from Him. He said it in a message: "All you have comes from Me and is My Work and not yours. Without Me, you are unable to even wink your eyes-so abandon yourself to Me."
In 1991, the organization called Trinitas was formed to publish her writings.
Rydén's messages are believed by her followers to have been prophetic. The Holy See instructs Catholics that the messages should be considered Ryden's personal meditations, and not divine revelations.
Ryden supporters claim that graphological analysis of the handwriting that Ryden says she produces "under dictation" shows that she is under the control of a spiritual force that she both resists yet finds agreeable. In Skeptical Inquirer magazine in 2011, longtime investigator Joe Nickell compared Rydén's "messages" to alleged communications from Jesus to other women claiming revelations and wrote, "the contrived handwriting, the linguistic lapses, and the indications of fantasizing all suggest that Vassula Ryden is not in touch with supernatural entities but is simply engaging in self-deception that in turn deceives the credulous. Her automatic writings therefore are not works of revelation but simply of pious imagination." Nickell says that Rydén's personal misspellings and linguistic errors are identical to those claimed to be written as Jesus, God, Mary, her own invisible "guardian angel, Daniel," and Satan, and all seem to have the same hand writing and grammar. Nickell suggests, "If God deigns to use the English language, should we not expect it to be rendered accurately?" According to Nickell, "One suspects that if Ryden were prevented from seeing what was being written, the entities supposedly guiding her hand would be unable to so faithfully follow the lines! I invite Ryden to accept my invitation to perform a scientific test to refute or confirm this suspicion."
In March 2013, Ryden published Heaven Is Real But So Is Hell.
Fathers Rene Laurentin, Robert Faricy, and Michael O'Carroll as well as Archbishop Frane Franic, who are major promoters of Our Lady of Međugorje, also actively support Rydén through their public statements and publications. Upon examination of the many objections made against Rydén, Laurentin stated that: "she has excited more opposition than any other." In 1996, Belgian theologian Joseph Moerman criticized an attack made by Laurentin on those who had been speaking out against Rydén. Moerman said that Laurentin's defense of Rydén included unwarranted caricaturization of CDF leaders, and unsupported positive analysis of her writings. Moerman said that Rydén's writings could not be directly from Jesus because of inconsistencies within them, and because of differences between the style of known mystics writing in a state of religious ecstasy and Rydén's writings performed in "normal lucidity".
Supporters Fr. Edward O'Connor and Niels Hvidt believe that God is using Rydén's messages to "consolidate his church" and bring it into unity, which they feel is the main theme of her books.
In 1995, Dominican theologian François-Marie Dermine, a Canadian-born priest serving as exorcist for the diocese of Bologna, Italy, wrote a book, Vassula Rydén: indagine critica (Vassula Rydén: critical inquiry), analyzing Rydén's first six books. Dermine described Rydén's early works as promoting a New Age-type spirituality including millennialism and pan-Christian ecumenicism, preceded by a time in which the antichrist dominated the Church. He said these ideas were heretical to Roman Catholicism, and that Rydén stopped putting them in her writings after warnings from the Church, a factor which demonstrates that they are her own thoughts, not those of spirits. He showed how Rydén's automatic writings were said by her to be from a variety of sources: guardian angels, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, God, and several Christian saints. Dermine noted that Rydén found some of her own messages to be false; she cancelled these ones. He wrote that Rydén explained away the problem by saying that God told her she could change any messages that she felt did not work. Dermine said that the whole body of Rydén's writings could be dismissed on the basis of this supposed revelation. More damning than that was Dermine's assessment that Rydén's automatic writing was directed not by Jesus or God but by the Devil. Dermine wrote that automatic writing has never been part of Christian mysticism and divine revelation, but it has been connected with demonic possession.
In 1999, the Argentine organization Servicio Para el Esclarecimiento en Sectas (Foundation S.P.E.S.), formed to investigate new religious movements and sects, published a two-part bulletin critical of Rydén and her followers, authored by Mónica de López Roda. De López Roda described how Rydén's mission appeared to be the unification of all Christian churches under a non-hierarchical ecumenicism; a spiritual Christianity devoid of doctrinal differences. She said that the positive words from Rydén provoked division among Christians because of questions about whether the messages were fake. De López Roda named supporters of Rydén who were acting in defiance of the directives of the 1995 Notification by the Holy See: Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, and Fathers René Laurentin, Emiliano Tardif and Guido Sommavilla.
Some skeptics have noted how the revelations have changed with time and have alleged that this was in order to conform more with church doctrine.
In September 2005, the spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland warned people against going to Rydén's conference in Edinburgh. Referring to the 1995 Notification, he said Rydén "certainly did not" operate with the approval of the Church and that "the advice to Catholics is not to attend her gatherings due to the suspect nature of her alleged revelations, which contain doctrinal errors."
In January 2006, Roger Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, California, approved the withdrawal of an invitation to host to a conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at which the main speaker was to be Rydén. Mgr. Kostelnik, pastor of the Cathedral, explained in a press release that the organizers had assured him that Rydén's writings had "been cleared by the Vatican", but that he had discovered that those assurances were "a serious misrepresentation of the current Vatican view of Mrs Ryden's speeches and writings" and that the 1995 and 1996 Vatican statements cautioning Catholics against following Rydén remained "in full force".
On March 16, 2011, the Greek Orthodox Church and synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople issued a disapproval of her teachings and instructed all Orthodox Christians not to associate with her. The Ecumenical Patriarchate "denounce[d] from the Mother Church" Rydén and her organization, "True Life In God", and refused "ecclesiastical communion" to those involved. The Synodical Committee for Matters of Heresy of the Church of Cyprus announced on January 13, 2012, that Rydén's "teachings are heretical, and her claims that she communicates directly with Christ are fantastical and outside of the spirit of the experience of the our Church."
Cardinal Prosper Grech reviewed Heaven Is Real But So Is Hell and said it was an autobiography and apologia in the apocalyptic genre. Grech said that he does not know the origin of Ryden's visions but that if they bring more people to God then "there is no reason to reject them outright." In 1995, the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a Notification on the writings of Rydén, the Notification was also printed in L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper. The CDF stated that the "attentive examination of the entire question" had brought up "a number of basic elements that must be considered negative in the light of Catholic doctrine" as well as "several doctrinal errors". It also questioned the "suspect nature of the ways in which these alleged revelations have occurred" and considers the fact that "the aforementioned errors no longer appear in Ryden's later writings is a sign that the alleged heavenly messages are merely the result of private meditations". The Notification concludes by requesting "the intervention of the Bishops" to prevent the dissemination of Ryden's ideas in their dioceses and "invites all the faithful not to regard Mrs Vassula Ryden's writings and speeches as supernatural".
In November 1996, the CDF issued a press release, stating that the Notification "retains all its force" and "was approved by the competent authorities and will be published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official organ of the Holy See". It instructed Catholics "not to regard the messages of Vassula Ryden as divine revelations, but only as her personal meditations". Cardinal Prosper Grech said he communicated to Ryden in the name of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith in some period after 1997. He had thought the CDF was satisfied, but  in a letter dated January 25, 2007, the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada, following continued requests for clarifications on the writings and activities of Rydén, wrote to the Catholic hierarchy around the world stating that "the Notification of 1995 remains valid as a doctrinal judgment" of the writings, which should be seen as her own personal meditations and that Catholics should not take part in prayer groups established by Rydén.
Lawsuit against critical website
In 2002, Maria Laura Pio, a former follower of Ryden's teachings, published a website critical of Ryden. The website hosted a collection of documents and interviews that were critical of Ryden's teachings. Niels Christian Hvidt cited the website in his book Christian Prophecy: The Post-Biblical Tradition. In May 2012 the website was closed because of the threat of legal action from Ryden's attorneys, who argued that the term "Vassula" was trademarked, that a website named "infovassula" must belong to Ryden. Pio announced on 3 May 2012, "I am going to close the website at the end of May and unfortunately, since I do not have the means financially nor mentally to face another lawsuit, no matter how ridiculous it is, I am constrained to hand over the domain name to Vassula in June 2012." In 2013, the Catholic research group Gruppo di Ricerca e Informazione Socio-Religiosa (GRIS) obtained permission from Pio to remount the critical website under a new domain: www.pseudomystica.info.
In 1998, Rydén's True Life In God Foundation initiated the Beth Myriam (Mary's House) project to feed the poor.
Rydén has made speaking appearances a Buddhist Temple in Hiroshima, Japan in 1999, in Benin, Africa in 2000, and at a Christian Unity conference "United in Christ" at Namur, Belgium in 2009.[undue weight? ]
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