LAS CRUCES - Is it natural or supernatural? Is it divine or demonic? These are the questions the Las Cruces Catholic Diocese is hoping to answer at the conclusion of its investigation into a statue of the Virgin Mary that appears to shedding tears at a Hobbs church.As reported by Evan Folan of the El Paso television station KVIA, June 10, 2018:
Bishop Oscar Cantú addressed the statue in a news conference last week, saying the diocese, which serves as the governing entity for all Catholic churches in southern New Mexico, including Hobbs, is in the middle of its investigation into the occurrence at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs.
"We've initiated an investigation," Cantú said. "It'll be on a lot of different levels."
As of last Wednesday, Cantú said he had not visited the church since parishioners first reported seeing what appeared to be tears streaming down the face of a statue of the Virgin Mary last month. The church has since become a destination for Catholics, non-Catholics and others who have traveled from near and far in pilgrimages to see what many have called a miracle.
Several images of the statue are on the church's Facebook page, including one that shows a long line of people waiting to see the figure.
In its investigation, the diocese will first try to determine if the tears are a supernatural occurrence, Cantú explained. This part of the probe includes laboratory tests of the liquid believed to be tears, eyewitness interviews and scrutiny of possible natural causes, including human tampering.
"We have to rule out any natural possibilities of that statue emitting liquid, whatever it is," he said. "We will continue to conduct interviews with eyewitnesses, with the pastors, with the priests."
He added: "We are sending the liquid for a chemical analysis, (and) we're going to reach out to the fabricator, the producer of the statue."
However, it is unclear how long the analysis will take to complete. Cantú said it wouldn't be a quick process.
But if the diocese ultimately concludes the tears are in fact a supernatural phenomenon — which has not yet happened — officials will then try to decipher the underlying message, Cantú said.
"If it is supernatural, then is it God? Or it of an evil spirit? We do believe in the fallen angels," he said, "and we renounce the fallen angels because we believe from the scriptures that they're frustrated and they want to make everyone else frustrated — and sometimes they use things, they can be rather cunning.
"So that would be other piece: what are the fruits? If it's from God, it's going to produce positive fruits of joy, of peace, of healing — perhaps physical healing," Cantú said.
Cantú said he personally has not reached any conclusion, and even admitted to being somewhat apprehensive. "As the bishop, I have to kind of have a distance and a kind of a healthy dose of skepticism, as well," he said.
Since the first sighting of the suspected tears, the church has remained open around the clock, only closing for a few hours, as crowds gather in droves to pray before the statue. One person wrote on the church's Facebook page that he drove from Denver to see the statue, and said he hope a permanent church is built in the Virgin Mary's honor.
Cantú views the overwhelming response as a sign that people are looking for "peace or direction in their lives," or "illumination in their lives."
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Twenty thousand people from as far away as Hong Kong have traveled to see the statue of the Virgin Mary reportedly crying at a Hobbs church, parishioners say.
"We've been swamped," said Judy Ronquillo, the church manager.
Not only that, the church told ABC-7 the statue began weeping again on Saturday.
"We need to stay together and unite each other and pray," Ronquillo said. "All I ask is for everybody to forgive and pray."
The Las Cruces Catholic Diocese, the governing body of all Catholic churches in southern New Mexico, will interview witnesses tomorrow, Ronquillo said.
Bishop Oscar Cantú told the Las Cruces Sun-News the diocese will first try to determine if the tears are a supernatural occurrence. This part of the probe includes laboratory tests of the liquid believed to be tears, eyewitness interviews and scrutiny of possible natural causes, including human tampering.
It is unclear how long the investigation will take to complete. The church is open daily, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.