In a recent interview on “In His Image,” a religious program on Italy’s national broadcaster, RAI, Pope Francis opened up on a range of subjects.

He notably emphasized the significance of Mary in Catholicism, but also warned against false Marian apparitions causing confusion among believers.

The Pontiff shared an intimate piece of his past, his grandmother Rosa, who was instrumental in nurturing his devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

But he was clear in pointing out that true devotion to Mary is about pointing towards Jesus, not Mary herself. “There have been true apparitions of Our Lady but always with the finger like this (pointing) to Jesus, not drawn to herself,” he said.

Pope Francis added that when focus on Marian devotion becomes too self-centred, it can be detrimental. He expressed concern over how such false apparitions could mislead the faithful.

Stefano Cecchin of the Pontifical Academy of Mary weighed on these the misunderstandings, which he attributes to misinformation.

The Academy, in response, has rolled out free online Mariology courses to promote accurate Catholic Mariology.

“They say many things—that Pope Francis is the Antichrist, that he is leading the Church to disaster…but everything comes from a lack of information. We .. as the Marian Academy … are … opposed to so many frauds in the world,” Cecchin said.

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