Catholic World News News Feature

"Weeping" statue a fraud, Australian prelate says July 29, 2004

An Australian bishop has announced that reports of a weeping statue of the Virgin Mary, which had drawn enormous crowds to a chapel near Brisbane, are based on fraud.

After a two-month study of a statue located in the Inala Vietnamese Catholic Center, Archbishop John Bathersby reported that investigators were "not satisfied the phenomenon was, within the proper meaning of the word, a miracle."

Observers had reported seeing the statue weep, shed blood, and issue an oily aromatic substance. These reports had drawn thousands of people to the Vietnamese chapel, many of them purchasing rosaries and other items associated with the chapel. The archbishop said that he had asked for a full accounting of the revenues received from visitors since the reports of the weeping statute had begun.

But Archbishop Bathersby, in his July 29 announcement, said that "human agency could produce the phenomenon," and that he had concluded it "cannot be said to be of supernatural origin." The archbishop ordered the statue removed from public display.

Father Joseph Nguyen Thanh Liem, the rector of the chapel, had been convinced that the weeping statute was an authentic supernatural phenomenon. But Archbishop Bathersby said that the priest had accepted his verdict.

The archbishop told an Australian television audience that he was not sure how the "weeping" had been caused, but "I do think that there was some human intervention." The archbishop's investigating committee had found that the aromatic oil on the statue was "very likely one that is commercially available." The traces of red found on the statute were not blood, the investigators added.