Marian Times

Focus on the Medjugorje apparitions and the Catholic Church in the Bosnia Herzegovina region. Other Catholic items of general interest.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Medjugorje - The Objections of Ratko Peric (Part II)

Even though he had informed the Pope and the Holy See on many occasions regarding the diverse opinions regarding Medjugorje, the bishop felt it was necessary to establish a diocesan commission in order to study the events.

This differs vastly from other reports that state that the Bishop only formed the commission after receiving pressure from all sides to do so. Who’s telling the truth?

The First Church Commission (1982 - 1984)
Bishop Žanić established the first Commission on 11 January 1982, which worked until 1984 (O. P., p. 43). It was comprised of four theologians, 2 diocesan priests and 2 religious.

The Commission hadn’t even gathered yet when on 14 January 1982 something happened that marked the bishop’s position once and for all. That day, three of the “seers” came to Mostar with the “Madonna’s” message that the bishop, regarding the famous Herzegovinian Affair acted too hastily, because he sought the removal of two Franciscan associate pastors who were causing problems in Mostar. The bishop, who during his lifetime venerated the Madonna with numerous devotions and pilgrimages, upon hearing that the phenomenon in Medjugorje was accusing him of irreligious disorder in reference to the parishes; that it didn’t recognize in him a faithful son of the Church and the Madonna, the Mother of the Church, to whom a year earlier in September 1980, the Cathedral church of Mostar was consecrated; that the phenomenon was defending disobedient religious friars who were obstructing the normal functioning of the Cathedral, began to look with suspicion upon the “messages” and the “apparitions” in Medjugorje.
What is very interesting is that we have not heard any defence from the Bishops of Mostar to Our Lady’s allegations, except platitudes relating to the Bishop’s frequent veneration or Our Lady and pilgrimages to other Marian shrines, as if this somehow relieves him of the accusations leveled against him.

His lack of defence is not surprising, however, as we know that subsequently the Vatican indeed found that Vego and Prusina were not guilty of any wrongdoing and that Bishop Zanic’s actions were contrary to Cannon Law. Case closed! Mary was right!

Despite this, the Commission began its work. Great sign. The Commission held three conversations with the “seers”. In 1982, the third meeting brought some results.

This statement “the third meeting brought some results” suggests the kind of approach taken by the Bishop. “Results” here, for the Bishop, seems to be in the form of "anomalies”, i.e. something with which to condemn the apparitions. This lack of objectivity characterized the Bishop’s investigations all the way through, resulting in the defensiveness of the visionaries, the Franciscans and, finally, he wore down the patience of the Vatican itself, who removed the matter from his hands.

The Response to the Holy See.
In November 1983, the Congregation for theDoctrine of the Faith asked the bishop if the Commission has come to some conclusions. Bishop Žanić wrote a study on Medjugorje and the Herzegovinian Affair, which he sent to Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. In the conclusion the bishop puts forth the question of the “apparitions”:

Are they from God? - The “Madonna” of Medjugorje has brought more disorder and disarray here than there was earlier! Hence he doesn’t see how he can accept this as coming from God
Disorder to one person is not always so to others. For example, it must be very “disordering” for Bishop Zanic to have accusations leveled at him by the Virgin Mary. Others would consider that justice had been done and that a semblance of order had thus returned.

Is it from the devil? - He has difficulty accepting this hypothesis as well, even though the thought has crossed his mind.
It is very good to see that the Bishop ruled out the diabolical.

Is it all a hoax? – From the outset, one can notice that the children have sometimes lied. At times it’s clear that what they say is what they have heard from the Franciscans, especially regarding the “Herzegovinian Affair”. The bishop goes on to say that he awaits the judgement of the Commission and the cessation of the “apparitions”. The bishop waited 17 years and he saw the Madonna in heaven on 11 January 2000 (the day of his death) before seeing the “visions” of Medjugorje cease.
The Vatican didn’t agree with his findings.

The Second extended Commission (1984 - 1986).
In 1984 bishop Žanić decided to extend the first Commission.
It was not his own decision. The lack of application during the first commission led the then Bishop’s Commission of Yugoslavia to express a desire that the matter be taken more seriously. This resulted in an expanded investigative team, although Bishop Zanic kept the initiative by including members who had already expressed their lack of belief in the visions.

There were 15 members in the Second Commission: 12 priests and 3 medicalexperts. They held seven meetings in all. The first was in Mostar in March 1984, and the seventh in the same city in May 1986, during which the Commission completed its work. The members of the Commission voted on the following conclusion: Non constat de supernaturalitate (11 voted ‘for’, 2 ‘against’, 1 accepted ‘in nucleo’, and 1 abstained). The Commission prepared a draft “Declaration” in which were listed the “unacceptable assertions” and “bizarre declarations”, attributed to the curious phenomenon.
These have all been discussed in detail previously in this book.

The Commission also stated that further investigations were not necessary nor the delaying of the official judgement of the Church.
Alarm bells should have been ringing in the Vatican upon hearing this and, certainly it appears this was the case.

In August of 1993, bishop Žanić handed over the administration of the diocese to his successor who continued his work at a swift pace.
Peric grossly euphamizes the actual situation, which was that the Vatican declined to accept the Bishop’s pronouncements and handed the matter to a third commission which it believed would perform more effectively.

The Interventions of the Holy See

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has intervened four times through two of its Secretaries, while the Prefect, Cardinal Ratzinger, also made an important intervention.

We assume Bishop Peric is referring to the intervention that removed the right to pronounce on the visions away from Bishop Zanic and placed it in the hands of the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference.

In 1985, Msgr. Alberto Bovone notified the Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Italy not to organize official pilgrimages to Medjugorje.
“Official pilgrimages”, as applied to this situation, means pilgrimages that endorse the visions as authentic, while the Vatican itself has not yet confirmed the visions as authentic. Pilgrims can still travel in large groups and be accompanied by a priest. Pilgrims will also receive full pastoral care during their pilgrimages, which means they will able to receive all the Church sacraments in Medjugorje during their pilgrimage there.

In 1995, Msgr. Tarcisio Bertone wrote to the bishop of Langres, Msgr. Leon Taverdet, and repeated the same to Msgr. Lucien Daloz of Besançon, France, who were interested in knowing the position of the Holy See on Medjugorje.

Bishop Peric doesn’t elaborate further on this intervention. I have previously described it earlier in this book and repeat it here. As well as clarifying the position of the Church as regards whether pilgrimages are still allowed, the intervention also made the following comment:

“What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of "Famille Chretienne", declaring: "My conviction and my position is not only 'non constat de supernaturalitate,' but likewise, 'constat de non supernaturalitate' of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje", should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion”

This is a strong statement of the Vatican’s views of the work of Bishop Zanic’s two commissions. It rejected the conclusions that there is nothing going on in Medjugorje and continues to distance itself from these conclusions.

Finally, in 1998, the same Secretary wrote to Msgr. Gilbert Aubry, bishop of Reunion. All these letters emphasized that pilgrimages, whether private or public, are not allowed if they presuppose the authenticity of the apparitions, since this would be in contradiction to the declaration of the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia.

Certainly, this is pure common sense and very few people on either side has any issues with it.

Ratzinger’s frei erfunden:
In 1998, when a certain German gathered various statements which were supposedly made by the Holy Father and the Cardinal Prefect, and forwarded them to the Vatican in the form of a memorandum, the Cardinal responded in writing on 22 July 1998: “The only thing I can say regarding statements on Medjugorje ascribed to the Holy Father and myself is that they are complete invention” - freierfunden - (O. P., p. 283).

You would need to call a good number of highly respected Cardinals and Bishops liars to support this. We do not know which statements are specifically referred to, nor exactly how many statements were presented. Many dozens of statements were made by Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger and other high-ranking officials. Perhaps one of the most telling statements by Cardinal Ratzinger was in the form of an action – i.e. to reject the conclusions of Bishop Zanic’s investigations into the apparitions and the remove from the Bishop his right to judge on the authenticity of the visions because of his unfounded objections.

Below is a long list of statements and actions that have been claimed to support tacit Vatican approval of Medjugorje. Included in the list are some comments and testimonies by various Bishops and Cardinals. It would be extremely difficult to refute all of them, particular newspaper articles in which John Paul is photographed handing an official letter of support and gratitude to Father Jozo for the work he has done in Medjugorje.

  • An extract from one of Pope John Paul II's letters to his friends Zofia and Marek Skmarnicki of Krakow (Dec 8, 1992. Source "I thank Mrs. Zofia for everything concerning medjugorje. I, too, go there every day as a pilgrim in my prayers: I unite in my prayers with all those who pray there or receive a calling for prayer from there. Today we have understood this calling for prayer from there. Today we have understood this calling better. I rejoice that our time is not lacking people of prayer and apostles."

  • Cardinal Frantizek Tomasek, the late archbishop of Prague and former Communist concentration camp inmate, said Medjugorje "fills me with a great inner joy, fills me with a great inner power." In a 1988 interview with Medjugorge Gebetsaktion, he said, "Personally, I am convinced that Medjugorje is the continuation of Lourdes and Fatima. Step by step, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph. And I am also deeply convinced that Medjugorje is a sign for this."

  • From Sister Emmanuel's Medjugorje Report 15 July, 2001
    Bishop Denis Croteau of the Canadian Northwest Territories, went to Medjugorje last April. Before leaving from Medjugorje, he shared his amazing testimony with his fellow pilgrims:I came to Medjugorje somewhat like a certain Mgr Paolo Hnilica, who visited Pope John-Paul II on his return from Russia in March 1984. The Pope asked him, "Paolo, have you been to Medjugorje yet?" "No, I haven't, Your Holiness." "What, you haven't?" "No, the Vatican advised me against doing so." The Pope gestured as if to say, "don't worry," then added: "Go incognito, then report back to me.

  • From Sister Emmanuel's Medjugorje Report 15 May, 1999
    On April 28, Father Schoffberger and I were warmly received by Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna. During our conversation, we brought up the subject of Medjugorje. Among various positive things I also wanted to share with the Cardinal my sadness about the wave of unacceptable slanderous reports against several witnesses of Medjugorje, even by so called 'Catholic media', copied out by people who, for the most part, have never personally met the visionaries nor the local priests. The Cardinal was not taken in by these old methods used in the East to destroy the good name of a priest who bothers the 'regime'. After having listened calmly to me, the Cardinal said, " Do you know, Sister, I invited Fr Jozo Zovko to speak in my Cathedral two years ago?" "Yes, I remember well ! (The meeting took place on September 26, 1997)". And, without any further comment, he summed up his innermost thoughts on the matter: "Would you please tell Father Jozo that I invite him once again to speak in my Cathedral!"

  • Saturday Evening, August 24, 2002, Zagreb Daily Newspaper, Headline Reads: "A Surprising Gesture From the Vatican. The Pope Thanks Father Jozo for Medjugorje!". Front page shows JPII together with Father Jozo. The cover photo was taken when the Holy Father welcomed Fr. Jozo in 1992, in the midst of the Bosnian war. At that time the Pope told him: "I am with you, protect Medjugorje! Protect Our Lady's messages!"

  • From Sister Emmanuel's Medjugorje Report 15 October, 2002
    During a visit to Vicka's home with a few friends the other day, Mario showed us the Apostolic Blessing that Pope John Paul II signed for Vicka, just as he did for Marija and Fr. Jozo (none of the four other visionaries were given this Blessing - at least at that time). We can only celebrate the Holy Father's decision to express his heart felt care for these outstanding witnesses of the Queen of Peace.

  • From Sister Emmanuel's Medjugorje Report 1 September, 2002 Ewa Jurasz, the Polish translator of the Echo of Mary, Queen of Peace, is taking part in the retreat given in Medjugorje for all the translators of the Echo in these days. When she heard the news about Fr. Jozo and the Pope, she called a couple whom she knows well in Krakow to share it with them, since they have been close friends of the Holy Father for many years: Zofia and Marec Skwarnicki. Marec is a famous poet, a little younger than the Pope, and many people in Poland love him (see PPS). Well, at the other end of the phone, the reaction was good to hear: Zofia started to tell about a dinner that she, Marec and a few other people had with the Pope shortly before the day dedicated to the Laity, in the Jubilee Year 2000. She said it might have been on Saturday, Nov. 25th (she had not yet heard of Fr. Slavko's death). Before dinner, as a gift, she handed to the Pope that beautiful book from Fr. Jozo, called, As She Asks. When the Holy Father saw the book, he exclaimed, "Oh! Jozo!" (not "Fr. Jozo", but "Jozo!"). Then, instead of placing the book in the pile with the other books already given to him, he quickly put it aside and covered it, to make sure it wouldn't be taken away with the rest. After dinner, Mgr Stanislaw Dziwisz, while collecting all that was near the Pope, found the book and picked it up. But the Pope stopped him, took the book back and said before everybody, "No! This one I take with me to my room!"

  • In response to thanks for what he did to free Poland from communism Pope John Paul II has said, "No, not me, but by the works of the Blessed Virgin according to her affirmation at Fatima and Medjugorje." He also said "Medjugorje is the fulfillment and continuation of Fatima."

  • From Sister Emmanuel's Medjugorje Report 15 January, 2003
    Cardinal Christof Schönborn taught in his cathedral in Vienna last month that Mary today is doing missionary work all over the world: in Argentina, Mexico, Lourdes, Sri Lanka, Medjugorje... Her power to attract people, especially the poor and those in need, is not the work of clerics or some kind of unhealthy cult, as some might have it, he said. Rather, if Mary is there, people come! Even though she never really traveled during her lifetime or preached to anyone, Mary has been a powerful missionary drawing millions to her Son. "On Medjugorje I don't want to express myself from the standpoint of an ecclesiastical judgment. But I only can ascertain one thing again and again, that this is a place where there is obviously an intense mission-station of heaven where thousands upon thousands of human beings find prayer, confession, conversion, reconciliation, healing and deeper faith." (The complete German text of the Cardinal's Dec. 1, 2002 catechesis, titled, "Mary - Mission in Her Heart," can be found on the web)

  • Pope John Paul II, in response to a question asked by the Archbishop of Asuncion, La Paz, Bolivia. - Feb. 1995 "Authorise everything that regards Medjugorje!"

  • On April 6th, l995 a Croatian Delegation made an official visit to the Holy Father. The Delegation included the President Tudjman, the Vice President Radic and Cardinal Kuharic from Zagreb. The Pope read his official statement and afterwards, as he often does, he spontaneously added a few words of his own. "I want to go to Split, to Maria Bistrica and to Medjugorje!"

  • On April 2, 1986 reported by Fr. Ivan Dugandzic, OFM, during a meeting with the Holy Father. The Holy Father told him that he follows the events continuously. "You can tell everyone that each day I pray for a happy conclusion to these events."

  • From Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer, OMI, Bishop of San Angelo, Texas, National Catholic Register, April 15,1990: "During my Ad Lumina visit to Rome with the Bishops of Texas in April 1988, I asked our Holy Father his opinion about Medjugorje during the private conversation I had with him. He spoke very favorably about the happenings there, pointing out the good which had been done for people. During the lunch which the Texan bishops later had with the Holy Father, Medjugorje came up for further discussion. Again His Holiness spoke of how it has changed the lives of people who visit it, and said that so far the messages are not contrary to the gospel."

  • "Medjugorje is a great centre of spirituality!" - The Holy Father's comment during a February 1990 conversation, as reported by Bishop Murilo Krieger, Auxiliary Bishop of Florianopolis, Brazil, made prior to His Grace's fourth Medjugorje pilgrimage. The Holy Father assented to Bishop Krieger's request and gave his papal blessing to the visionaries (National Catholic Register, April 29, 1990)

  • From Sister Emmanuel's Medjugorje Report 15 May, 2000
    On March 25, 1984 this Holy Father, of whom the Gospa said in Medjugorje, "I have chosen for these times," did the consecration in Rome that she had requested at Fatima. Several hours later that same day in Medjugorje she told the children, "Rejoice with me and with my angels, because a part of my plan has already been fulfilled. Many have been converted but many do not want to be converted. Pray!" This was Our Lady's 1000th apparition in Medjugorje! After the Act of Consecration that day the Pope spent 4 hours alone with Bishop Paolo Hnilica, who had just returned from saying a Mass in the Kremlin (Moscow) in unity with the Holy Father's Act of Consecration in Rome. Surprised that his friend hadn't stopped in Medjugorje on his return, the Pope told him, "Medjugorje is the fulfillment and continuation of Fatima!" The Gospa herself confirmed the Holy Father's words seven years later: "Dear children! Today also I invite you to prayer, now as never before, when my plan has begun to be realized... I invite you to renunciation for nine days so that with your help everything I wanted to realize through the secrets I began in Fatima may be fulfilled. I call you, dear children, to grasp the importance of my coming and the seriousness of the situation." (8/25/91). And again from Medjugorje the following month she called, "Help my Immaculate Heart to triumph in this sinful world!" (9/25/91). What else could the fulfillment of Fatima be if not the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart? And this explains why Our Lady's apparitions in Medjugorje are her last on earth. At Fatima she gave THE prophecy about the future: "Nevertheless, in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph!"

  • "If I wasn't Pope, I'd be in Medjugorje already!" - Reported April 21, 1989 by Bishop Paul Hnilica, SJ, Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, after having been admonished by the Holy Father for not stopping in Medjugorje on his return trip to Rome from a meeting in Moscow on behalf of the Pope.

  • The Archbishop of Paraguay, Mons. Felipe Santiago Bentez, in November of 1994, asked of the Pope if he was right to give approval to the faithful gathering in the spirit of Medjugorje, especially with the priests of Medjugorje. The Holy Father answered: "Approve all that is related to Medjugorje".

  • 1987, in a private conversation with the visionary Mirjana Soldo the Pope said: "If I were not pope, I would already be in Medjugorje confessing!"

  • Possible miracle through the intercession of JPII could be the one required for his beatification. The miracle was the cure of a nun who had Parkinson’s disease, incidentally the same disease JPII had. This must hurt those who try to sack Medjugorje and deny John Paul’s obvious love for Medjugorje. Here we have a possible saint-in-the-making, who endorsed Medjugorje throughout his term. Indeed, some of his pronouncements, such as the Year of the Rosary and the consecration of Russia to Mary, have been directly attributed to what has come out of Medjugorje.

  • The Pope said to Fr. Jozo Zovko, the so-called "Disobedient Franciscan", on the 20th July 1992: "Busy yourself with Medjugorje, look after Medjugorje, don't tire. Persevere, be strong, I am with you. Watch over, follow Medjugorje."

  • JPII told Father Jozo Zovko in 2002: "I am with you, protect Medjugorje! Protect Our Lady's messages!"

  • Again in 2002, after coming back from Poland, the Pope wrote from the Vatican to personally thank and send his apostolic blessing to Fr. Jozo Zovko. ''Our Poland is grateful for your every word, for every thing that you have done for us", said the Pope's collaborator, Krystyna Gregorezyk, who personally handed the thank you note to Fr. Jozo in the Siroki Brijeg church.

  • In 1995, Vicka, one of the visionaries, went to Rome as the translator for 350 wounded and crippled Croatian soldiers who had obtained a private audience with the pope. He immediately recognized her and asked, “Are you not Vicka from Medjugorje?” He then prayed over her, blessed her and said: “Pray to the Madonna for me. I pray for you.”

  • The Archbishop Kwangju said to the Pope: "In Korea, in the town of Nadju, Our Lady cries..." The Pope answered "There are Bishops , like in Yugoslavia for example, who are against this...., But it's important to look at the great number of people who are answering her invitations, the amount of conversions... all this is underlined in the Gospel, all these facts have to be seriously investigated." (L`Homme Nouveau, 3. February 1991.)

  • Mons. Maurillo Kreiger, former bishop of Florianopolis (Brazil), visited Medjugorje four times. His first visit was in 1986. He writes as follows: "In 1988, I was with eight other bishops and thirty three priests on spiritual retreat in the Vatican. The Holy Father knew that many of us were going to Medjugorje afterwards. After a private mass with the Pope, before leaving Rome, he said, without having been asked anything, "Pray for me in Medjugorje". On another occasion, I told the Pope "I am going to Medjugorje for the fourth time". He concentrated his thoughts and said, "Medjugorje! Medjugorje! It's the spiritual heart of the world". On the same day I spoke with other Brazilian bishops and the Pope at lunch time and I asked him: "Your holiness, can I tell the visionaries that you send your blessing?" He answered: "Yes! Yes!", and embraced me.

  • Italian priest Fr. Gianni Sgreva - "The following question bothered me: how to establish and lead a community that is connected with a reality such as is Medjugorje where yet 'unapproved apparitions' are taking place? Before founding the community I spoke with Cardinal Ratzinger. He listened to everything attentively and instructed me what to do. For Medjugorje he told me, "Don't you worry about the tree, you worry about the fruits, the vocations, and Medjugorje is our concern." I spoke also with the Holy Father. I talked to him about the community and the vocations connected with the experience of Medjugorje. The Holy Father listened to me, drew close to me and right in my ear said to me, reminding me not to forget: "Don't be concerned about Medjugorje, because I'm thinking about Medjugorje and I pray for its success every day.You be concerned with the vocations and pray for me every day".

  • Cardinal Schönborn told Cardinal Ratzinger that if Medjugorje were closed, he would also have to close the Seminary in Vienna, because the majority of those candidates had received their call to the priesthood through Medjugorje. To this, Cardinal Ratzinger replied: "Closing Medjugorje is not even a question!"

  • August 1, 1989 address by the Pope to a group of Italian physicians dedicated to defending unborn life and to making scientific and medical studies on the apparition, as reported by Bishop Paul Hnilica, SJ, Auxiliary Bishop of Rome: "Today's world has lost its sense of the supernatural, but many are searching for it - and find it in Medjugorje, through prayer, penance and fasting."

  • June 1986 response to a group of twelve Italian bishops seeking pastoral advice on people making pilgrimages to Medjugorje. "Let people go to Medjugorje if they convert, pray, confess, do penance and fast."

  • In July '98 in Lourdes, Cardinal Schönborn clearly recalled: "If, as Jesus said, we must judge the tree by its fruit, then I must say that the tree is good... Indeed it is the mission of the shepherds to promote what is growing, to encourage the fruits which are appearing to protect them, if need be, from the dangers which are obviously everywhere... Medjugorje is not invulnerable, this is why it is and will be so important that bishops be very conscientious about their mission as shepherds for Medjugorje so that the obvious fruits that are there might be protected from any possible unfortunate errors". (July 1998, Interview with Dr Max Domej) Every year, spiritual exercises are organized for priests and bishops and that way also the archbishop of Pescara often comes. One time he told me that he asked the Holy Father about these events. "Holy Father what should I do when the faithful from my diocese of Pescara want often to go on pilgrimage to Medjugorje?" "What are they doing?" asked the Holy Father. "They pray and go to Holy Confession." "Well, isn’t that good?" answered the Holy Father. (Brazil's Bishop Martin talking in an interview with the Medjugorje Press Bulletin, Dec. 3, 1997. (source: )

  • Sister Emmanuel in her Medjugorje Report 15 May, 1999
    Let me tell you about an interesting report, already published in the magazine "Maria" (March-April 1999) concerning Medjugorje.
    (Remember that during Pentecost 1998, Pope Jean-Paul II invited the 'New Communities' to Rome. On this occasion, Cardinal Ratzinger expressed the confidence the Church has in those Communities, founded for the most part after Vatican II. He spoke of a "New Springtime in the Church".) Among these communities, that of "The Beatitudes" is present in Medjugorje. It seeks to be of service to the pilgrims who flock there in great numbers. In order to be well in line with the Church, Dr. Fernand Sanchez, Moderateur General, and Father Francois-Xavier Wallays, a member of the Community's general council, went to Rome on January 12, 1999. They received from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith its directives in regard to Medjugorje. They were warmly welcomed by the Congregation's Secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone. Cardinal Ratzinger and Mgr Bertone know the Community of the Beatitudes and how it developed within the Church, after its recognition by Cardinal Coffy, at the time Archbishop of Albi (France) in 1976. Moreover, their presence in Medjugorje having started in 1989, Archbishop Bertone was able to refer to something concrete, i.e 10 years of prayer life and apostolic work of this Community there. The conversation which took place was therefore based on the precise experience of the particular community. It should not be taken as a word systematically given to every Catholic group. Nevertheless, some elements give much light on the Vatican's position towards Medjugorje, and should cut short many rumours. Besides, they can easily be checked in Rome itself.
    Dr. S. - Can we remain in Medjugorje and continue our apostolate there of Evangelization with the pilgrims ?
    Arch. B. -Not only can you do so, but you must remain in Medjugorje, at the service of the pilgrims! (The answer was categorical.)
    Dr. S. - Can we continue to accompany private pilgrimages there?
    Arch. B. - It is necessary to accompany private pilgrimages! Archbishop Bertone stated, "For the moment, one should consider Medjugorje as a Sanctuary, a Marian shrine, in the same way as Czestochowa." He added: "The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has asked the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia Hercegovina to take over the dossier of Medjugorje and start again from the beginning. A team of experts will take part in the work."

  • In the Korean Catholic weekly "Catholic News" from the 11th November 1990 an interview with Mons. Angelo Kim Nam Soo President of BK Korea was published. He had been at a luncheon audience with Pope John Paul II together with six other bishops on Oct 15th that year. Mons. Kim recalls that, "words of praise were addressed to the Pope regarding the change brought about in Eastern Europe. The Pope replied with a smile that he hadn't done much, rather, it was a work of providence from above, and it was carried out in accordance with the promise of Our Lady of Fatima. The Pope continued that the account of Our Lady of Fatima is private revelation and said that it differed fundamentally from public revelation. He also used the example of Our Lady's apparitions in Medjugorje, and commented on how wonderful it is that despite some Bishops opposition, many people visit there, are converted and favored with God's grace. He then smiled."
Not only are these statements ascribed to the Holy Father and
Cardinal Ratzinger “complete invention” but the numerous messages of Medjugorje, ascribed to the Madonna are also complete invention.

The Bishop’s credibility is again seriously called into question when sweeping unfounded generalizations are made such as these.

If our faith is considered obsequium rationabile - rational service to God, true and healthy spiritual worship, as it rightfully is (Rm 12:1), then it cannot be any person’s private fantasy or illusion (O. P., p. 84).

The Church is competent to say this. In her name, 30 chosen priests and physicians, working together in three Commissions for 10 years, in more than 30 meetings, dutifully and expertly investigated the events of Medjugorje and brought forth their results of study. And not one, but twenty bishops responsibly declared that there exists no proof that the events in Medjugorje concern supernatural apparitions or revelations.

It is deliberately misleading to paint their declaration as “We’ve studied it and we just can’t find anything resembling the supernatural”. It is closer to the truth, I feel, to translate the The Zadar Declaration as: “While all indications are that the visions are authentic, it still cannot be outrightly proven (silent adding: “not to mention the many political pressures)”.

As in Fatima, Lourdes and practically every other approved apparition, not to mention other processes such as those required for beatification of saints, there must be a period of “wait and see and study”. Generally the Vatican waits until the apparitions are finished before making a final pronouncement, and even then, the pronouncement may not come for a long time. It is wholly wise and prudent. In the case of Medjugorje, the apparitions have still not ceased and there is no immediate sign of their cessation. It is natural and right for the Vatican to be reserved. The statement of the Zadar Declaration is nothing more than a re-iteration of this prudent approval process.

In order for a vision to be called “supernatural”, it must be shown to be “of God”, i.e. the actions of Satan must be ruled out. This has not been shown to a perfect degree. A great sign was promised by the Virgin that would be “for the atheists”. We gather that this sign will remove all lingering doubt that the visions are “of God”. The Zadar Declaration left the door open for this event to outrightly pronounce what the Yugoslav Bishops conference apparently wanted to pronounce but, because of political machinations, felt unable to outrightly pronounce at the time.
We note, at the time of writing, the important news that a new commission is being formed to continue the investigation into the Medjugorje apparitions.

The believer who respects both principles: ratio et fides, adheres to this criterion, convinced that the Church does not deceive. Regarding Medjugorje, there’s a real danger that the Madonna and the Church could be privatized. People could start contriving a Madonna and a Church according to their own taste, perception and deception: by not submitting their reason as believers to the official Magisterium of the Church, but rather forcing the Church to follow and recognize their fantasy. Naïve believers could easily then leave the living
fountains of grace in their own parishes to mosey on down to Medjugorje or follow the “seers” around the world, who by
the way, thanks to the “apparitions” have good homes and a comfortable existence - at least that’s what the mass-media say.

I personally can’t see this danger, at least not to the extent portrayed by the Bishop. The reason is, funnily enough, in one of the Bishop’s own objections, i.e. as to “banal” messages of the Virgin, which “can be heard in any church”. The Virgin is not some “new improved” Mary. Rather, she is bringing people back to the absolute grass roots of Mass, prayer and the sacraments. Another objection I recently heard from a prominent anti-Medjugorje campaigner, in his arguments supporting a scam, was that this apparition was obviously modeled on Fatima or Lourdes.

Father Jozo said: “Our Lady is not coming of her own will or outside of God or His plan; instead she is coming with His permission”. Our Lady constantly points us in the direction of the Church, to the sacraments and the Eucharist. Father Jozo is often called the “Eucharistic Father” because he is forever leading people to the Eucharist as the solution to everything. She once said on September 26, 1982: Concerning the Pope: "Have him consider himself the father of all mankind and not only of Christians”, which appears to be a clear affirmation of the leadership of the Catholic Church in the world.

Objectors have to get used to the idea that the Charismatic movement is an integral part of the Catholic Church and it rightfully belongs there. It’s not a movement away from the Church.

As for the “good homes” and “comfortable existence”, the inference to corruption and reference to the “mass media” speaks volumes. The visionaries have homes no larger than the average American household, which are used for housing pilgrims, whom they regularly host. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

There are at least 6 or 7 religious or quasi-religious communities, just initiating or already established, some of diocesan right, some not, which have arbitrarily been installed in Medjugorje without the permission of the local Diocesan authorities. These communities are more a sign of disobedience than a real charisma of obedience in this Church! There exists a problem in this diocese of Mostar-Duvno which in recent years has practically precipitated into a schism. At least eight Franciscan priests, who have rebelled against the decision of the Holy See to transfer a certain number of parishes administered by the Franciscans to the diocesan priests, have been expelled from the Franciscan Order and suspended ‘a divinis’. In spite of this, they have occupied at least five parishes through force, and continue to exercise sacred functions. They invalidly assist at marriages, hear confessions without canonical faculties and invalidly confer the sacrament of confirmation. Three years ago they even invited a deacon of the Old-Catholic Church who falsely presented himself as a bishop, to preside at a confirmation and he “confirmed” about 800 young people in three parishes. Two of these expelled priests sought after episcopal consecration from Swiss bishop of the Old-Catholic Church, Hans Gerny, yet without any result. So many invalid sacraments, so much disobedience, violence, sacrilege, disorder, irregularities, and not a single “message” from tens of thousands of “apparitions” has been directed towards eliminating these scandals. A very strange thing indeed!

If Bishop Zanic had followed Our Lady’s instructions as well as the wishes of his peers in other parts of the country and ceased his one-sided campaign of destruction, in favour of a reasoned balanced approach to his original investigations, there would be no disorder whatsoever, except the residual disorder that resulted from the first secular Bishop’s planned takeover of parishes from the Franciscans. All disorder has originated from the Diocesan camp, all of it, since 1890. The Franciscans have lived in peace with their parishioners in this region for centuries before the arrival of the first Austrian hard-line Diocesan Bishop. Since then, the Catholic landscape has been a shambles and, even today, the current Bishop of Mostar can scarcely tolerate the presence of the Franciscans. He puts up red tape wherever possible to block initiatives by the Franciscans. We remember well the very first day of Bishop Peric’s inauguration as Bishop of Mostar. He announced that he was going to carve up everything for the Diocesans and that it was all agreed to by the Francisicans. When the Franciscans pointed out that they had indeed NOT agreed, Peric’s response wasn’t to correct himself, but to take away the objecting Franciscan’s Cannon mission and other sanctions. We have seen no end of this strong-arm behaviour since the days of the first secular bishop in the region. It has been one similar Bishop after another. I admire the strength and perseverance of the Franciscans. In my opinion, the Franciscans are justified in trying to work around the red tape and stumbling blocks as best they can, while remaining obedient to the Holy See. And furthermore, I am quite sure the Holy See sympathises with the Franciscans. We have already seen the Vatican clear Vego and Prusina of the charges brought against them by the Bishop of Mostar. And we have seen, instead, the Bishop of Mostar officially found to be acting contrary to Cannon Law. Still, the Franciscans have had very little other official justice to soothe their agonies. In the case of the Vatican being duped by the secular bishops into having parishes handed over, a Holy See representative sympathized, but said there was now little that could be done to overturn the declaration. St. Francis of Assisi would probably praise God for providing such trials to endure for sinners and, indeed, I’m sure many of the Franciscans do adopt this attitude themselves, which could be why the Seculars have gotten away with so much injustice over the years. The passiveness and humility of the Franciscans probably contributed to their being targets for bullying in the very first instance with the arrival of the first European secular Bishops, who came from a background where bishops and cardinals associated with Kings and entered politics.

The Church, from the local to supreme level, from the beginning to this very day, has clearly and constantly repeated: Non constat de supernaturalitate! No to pilgrimages that would ascribe a supernatural nature to the apparitions, no shrine of the Madonna, no authentic messages nor revelations, no true visions! This is the state of things today. How will things be tomorrow? We’ll leave them in God’s hands and under Our Lady’s protection! Mostar, February 2004.

The Bishop ends with same subtle deception as he began, placing his faith in the Zadar Declaration as somehow supporting his position that the visions are all completely false. Let me repeat for readers who missed it above: “Non constat de supernaturalitate” does not mean “definitely nothing supernatural is found”. That would be “Constat de non-supernaturalitate”. Rather, it means “It looks like the supernatural, but we just can’t prove it YET”. And to confirm that there is indeed a YET on the end, the Zadar Declaration specifically provides for pastoral care of pilgrims in the meantime as well as specifically stating that the door is left open for future investigations. Indeed, as I have already stated, at the time of writing, there is another commission just formed to continue the investigations. Yes, let us wait and see what the results of the new commission will be.

Medjugorje - The Objections of Ratko Peric (Part I)

Here we list some of the objections of Bishop Ratko Ratko Peric, successor to Bishop Zanic as Bishop of Mostar. These are taken directly from his May 2004 publication “MEĐUGORJE: SECRETS, MESSAGES, VOCATIONS, PRAYERS, CONFESSIONS, COMMISSIONS”. We will not repeat the objections already covered by Bishop Zanic unless there is particular reason.

All these “messages” of the various interpreters of Medjugorje, are heard every Sunday in churches. For us, the novelty of Medjugorje would be that the “Queen of Peace” on the 25th of each month sends out a special communication with the message: “Thank you children, for responding to my invitation”.
There is no making the Bishop happy. He would be happier if he found messages that were contradictory to what is found in the Church every Sunday, so that he could more easily renounce the visions.

The Madonna thanks the “seers” for having the time, for wanting to, and deigning themselves to meet and talk with her. According to these words the “Madonna” is amazed and grateful to the “seers” who have responded to her invitation! This is somewhat like parents thanking their children for being born, or physicians thanking the infirm for seeking their health back! (OgledaloPravde=Mirror of Justice, Mostar, 2001, pp. 249-250).

Again, there is no making the Bishop happy. He would be happier if the Virgin lacked any of the gentleness and humility that she displayed on earth. He would also be happier if the Virgin displayed more of a bossy attitude compelling and ordering the visionaries and the world to follow her precepts. Then he would have more ammunition in calling the visions demonic. It is quite funny, because one prominent anti-Medjugorje journalist once asked me how it is possible that the Virgin could speak so harshly about a Bishop. I reminded him that the Virgin is now the crowned Queen of Heaven, with all Bishops and the Pope as her servants and that, in such a light, we can still see humility in her statements. Even though the warnings was clear, she used words such as “I request…”.

Of the six “seers” of Medjugorje, none of them have achieved a religious vocation. Three of them mentioned that they were going to enter and two even went on to follow this inexplicable voice, yet with time everything vanished.

It is probably unfair to compare a modern apparition with others at Lourdes and Fatima when discussing lifestyle choices of visionaries. None of the visionaries themselves entered the religious life, but it was not through lack of effort by the Virgin, who expressed her preference that they enter the religious life, though did not compel them to do so.

There may not have been any vocations among the visionaries, but this is offset by the huge numbers of vocations among the pilgrims. Cardinal Schönborn told the then Cardinal Ratzinger that if Medjugorje were closed, he would also have to close the Seminary in Vienna, because the majority of those candidates had received their call to the priesthood through Medjugorje.

There’s something strange in all of this: three “seers” who tried to “enrol” themselves into religious life, who later on dismissed themselves and were happily married, still have regular daily “apparitions”. The other “seers” though, who didn’t enter the religious life, receive an “apparition” only once a year. Can this be considered a reward for those who didn’t enter the religious life? A grace of God.

Should married life be considered somehow lower than religious life? Most married couples would take exception, including Mary and St. Joseph themselves. I’m sure the Bishop has never had to deal with screaming babies or realized the saintly patience required to bring up children while maintaining a healthy spousal relationship. Again, there is no pleasing the Bishop. Many argue that the number one problem in the world today is the “family unit”. All visionaries are happily married, with children, and no signs of marital problems. They are beacons for healthy family living. Thus, God has managed to be glorified despite the fact that none of the visionaries themselves entered the religious life.

Prayer as a context. Prayer is an important factor in the “apparitions” of Medjugorje. It’s in the context of praying the Our Father that in most cases the “apparitions” begin for the “seers”. They even cease praying so that the “apparition” can be followed for a few minutes.

The Bishop is taking a backward view of prayer as needing to be interrupted in order to cater for a vision. Rather, it is the vision that is being awaited by the visionaries and prayer is the chosen method to spend the time in preparation for the vision. Again, there is no keeping the Bishop happy. Would he perhaps prefer, for example, in the context of the Holy Mass, that the faithful lounge about the aisles chatting to each other rather kneeling and praying in preparation for the opening hymn, at which time they cease prayers and stand up.

A Message not to pray. On 16 September 1981: “She also told them that they need not pray for themselves, because she has rewarded them in the best fashion. They should pray for others instead” (O. P., p. 111). - The Biblical Madonna will never say that people need not pray for themselves and that the “reward of apparitions” replaces personal prayer. This is false teaching. Even Jesus prayed firstly for himself, then for his apostles and then for the entire world “that all may be one” (Jn 17).

This message was for the visionaries themselves, not necessarily for the rest of the world. The visionaries have a mission to bring others to God. Certainly the rest of us should pray for ourselves. Mary herself has given many other messages which specifically state this. For example, she has often told us to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit and for peace in our hearts.

A Message to pray for bishop Žanić. Concerning a prayer-group of Medjugorje “the Madonna has asked that they fast on bread and water twice a week. Three months later we are fasting on bread and water three times a week. The group is offering the majority of their prayers for him (bishop Žanić). We often offer our adoration, rosaries and visits to the place of the apparitions where we pray long into the night for him. God shall look upon our prayers and fasting” (O. P., p. 126). So wrote Fr. Tomislav Vlašić OFM on 8 January 1984. The phenomenon established a prayer-group around Fr. Tomislav Vlašić OFM, who in a letter in 1984 presented himself to the Pope as the one “who through Divine providence guides the seers of Medjugorje” (O. P., p. 56). This group has been praying and fasting just so that the bishop would give in to their hallucinations.

The Bishop against ruins his credibility by taking liberties with his use of loaded language and rash assertions, e.g. "hallucinations". Scientists and psychologists have proven over the course of several intensive investigations that the visionaries are not hallucinating, with all evidence pointing to their actually seeing and talking to something or someone external to themselves.

Regarding the prayers and fasting for Bishop Zanic: If we assume the visions are genuine, then prayer and fasting is an appropriate and historical course of action in the event of the “obstacles”. Thus, because of the course of action adopted, we must be inclined to assume that the visions are genuine. If demonic, surely Satan would only need to make a couple of appearances to the Bishop to get him “onside”. It is already certain that the visions are not a hoax, so these are the only two options – genuine or demonic.

They also built a convent in Medjugorje with close to 100 beds and didn’t even think of asking the bishop for permission to do this. Then the “mystifier” Fr. Vlašić was recently removed from his guiding role in the prayer-group, after having mixed the spiritual with spiritism in Medjugorje during a retreat!
I am not sure if there was any permission granted for the building of the convent. Again, we see liberties taken in using loaded words. The “spiritism” Peric speaks of is nothing more that the usual Holy Spirit filled charismatic practices that are a legitimate and integral part of the Catholic Church under Vatican II.

He could have but didn’t want to? In an interview in 1993, during the height of the war, the “seer” Jakov said: “The Madonna has asked me today, as every day during these last twelve years, that I pray for peace in the former Yugoslavia. The Virgin convinced me that I could stop the war with my prayers…” (O. P., p. 37). - If this weren’t so naïve, a normal believer would ask himself: if the “seer” was capable of stopping the war in ex-Yugoslavia, then why didn’t he go pray and bring to an end?

The war DID come to an end!

Yet during the war over 2 million people were displaced, over 200,000 were killed, thousands of religious sites and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed, and then the unjust Dayton accord was imposed upon us!
Perhaps the war would have ended sooner had not the Bishops of Mostar put off so many people from following Our Lady’s instructions.

Can prayer be considered proof? There are people within the Church who say: If the people are praying to God, let them then go to Medjugorje, let them make their pilgrimages and pray. It’s better for them to pray than not to pray, better to venerate “the Madonna of Medjugorje” than not to venerate any Madonna at all! For 2000 years now the Church has been teaching and suggesting to the faithful that they pray, fast, do penance, go to confession and convert. She doesn’t prohibit anyone from praying to God where they please. But she doesn’t allow “pilgrimages to the place of the apparitions” to be endorsed in churches from the altar, that have not been accepted as authentic. She does this so that the truth may be separated from falsehood, and true doctrine separated from false doctrine. As if it were really necessary for someone to travel thousands of kilometres from Corea or Ireland to Medjugorje just to pray a rosary or to make a confession. Yet Jesus teaches us to go into your room and pray to your Father in heaven! (Mt 6:6). Do those who say that they have travelled to Medjugorje over thirty times, really prove by saying this that they have “converted”? This could be a real sign that they haven’t converted (O. P., pp. 229-230). A truly converted person would never boast about this but would rather demonstrate it by his life! If the faithful of the parish of St. James’s in Medjugorje sincerely confess their sins and pray, regardless of all the nursery rhyme “apparitions”, they thereby certainly receive the same Divine graces that other believers receive who pray and validly receive the sacraments in Catholic churches throughout the world. The local Church has always held this belief (O. P., pp. 268-269).

Prayer is not the key issue from the perspective of devoted Catholics. We are concerned with non-believers and backsliding believers (the latter Jesus said would be “spewed out”), both of which benefit from the pilgrimage experience. The physician doesn’t come to heal the healthy. Prayer has always been Mary’s first recommendation for believers to maintain a strong relationship with God and for non-believers to begin to establish their new relationships with God.

Those who travel to Medjugorje multiple times are drawn by the peace they find there, and they yearn to be a more permanent part of a community that is on fire for God. Many of them bring non-believers with them on subsequent trips and their experience and companionship eases the path to conversion. Medjugorje is the edge of Heaven and who can blame people for wanting to experience it often. These people generally have the time and the resources to spare and you generally find them to be the most constructive of all in their home communitie, organizing prayer groups and pilgrimages and disseminating information to members of their communities. God uses them well!

Continued in Part II...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Medjugorje - Media Lies Revealed

Satan is having a field day, and it's not in Medjugorje. It's in the media. It's coming from uninformed people. Malachi Martin' s rash, uninformed statement that Medjugorje is a satanic cult has been picked up by trouble-makers and wannabe writers with time on their hands (see this blog for an example of utter nonsense derived from the comment of Malachi Martin). The Vatican doesn't think it is a Satanic Cult and nor does the original detractor Bishop Pavao Zanic, so who does he think he is to spread his uninformed conclusions.

Bishop Zanic got an official warning from his superiors for coming to rash conclusions that affect people's perceptions of Medjugorje. He tried to pass his own opinion off as the official Vatican opinion. The faithful got confused and clarification was requested from the Holy See. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded with the following letter to Bishop Gilbert Aubry of Saint Denis clarifying its position on Medjugorje. He received it on June 24th. On the 25th, he spread it to the priests and communities of his diocese (circular # C003) so that they can have the latest statement from Rome and, if necessary, inform the faithful with full knowledge of the facts.

CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI Pr. No 154/81-06419Citta del Vaticano, Palazzo del S. UffizioMay 26, 1998To His Excellency Mons. Gilbert Aubry,Bishop of Saint-Denis de la Reunion

Excellency:In your letter of January 1, 1998, you submitted to this Dicastery several questions about the position of the Holy See .... Since the division of Yugoslavia into different independent nations it would now pertain to the members of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Hercegovina to eventually reopen the examination of this case, and to make any new pronouncements that might be called for.

What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of "Famille Chretienne", declaring: "My conviction and my position is not only 'non constat de supernaturalitate' (Ed: Not proven that something supernatural is happening) but likewise, 'constat de non supernaturalitate' (Ed: Proven that there is nothing supernatural happening) of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje", should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion.

Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentification of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church.

I hope that I have replied satisfactorily at least to the principal questions that you have presented to this Dicastery and I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my devoted sentiments.

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone (Secretary to the "Congregatio", presided over by Cardinal Ratzinger)

Fr. Daniel-Ange (France) summarizes this way:
  • The declarations of the Bishop of Mostar only reflect his personal opinion. Consequently, they are not an official and definitive judgement from the Church.
  • One is directed to the declaration of Zadar, which leaves the door open to future investigations.
  • In the meanwhile private pilgrimages with pastoral accompaniment for the faithful are permitted.
  • A new commission could eventually be named. (Ed: this new commission has begun)
  • In the meanwhile, all Catholics may go as pilgrims to Medjugorje
If anyone doubts that the media would deliberately smear Medjugorje, then take a look at the following article on about the shenanigans of "The Wanderer". This is happening everywhere.

by Denis Nolan:

A vicious attack against Fr. Jozo Zovko, OFM., and Medjugorje has been launched in the main traditionalist publication in the US, The Wanderer, (November 14, 2002). Many of these false allegations have been refuted long ago and this is just one more example of how the enemies of Medjugorje rely upon disinformation in order to destroy Medjugorje and her Franciscan priests. Highly volatile "flash words" are used so as to indirectly associate Medjugorje with recent scandals in the USA involving clergy, though no facts are given to back up these allegations. Guilt by association, innuendo and slander serve their intended purpose. The Wanderer should be held accountable for such libelous journalism.

You'd think this time the news editor for The Wanderer would have at least gotten the date right: "the alleged apparitions began in 1979," in light of the fact that several paragraphs later Paul Likoudis quotes: "the apparitions of the blessed Virgin Mary first started in 1981," (p.1).

In point of fact Likoudis established lack of credibility four years ago with his article, "Film Probes Underside of MEDJUGORJE INDUSTRY," (The Wanderer, March 26, 1998). Now, four years later, the director and producer of that film, the cameraman, the journalists - all of whom Likoudis referred to and quoted throughout his article - testify publicly that everything he reported was false. It was all part of a deliberate campaign to destroy Medjugorje! And Likoudis has the audacity continuing this campaign in the November 14, 2002 The Wanderer! This is criminal. He and the Wanderer should be held accountable!

There never were any death threats made by the Franciscans of Medjugorje against Jones and others There never was a pedophile ring of Franciscans in Medjugorje!

The story that was kept alive for two years in the Muslim newsdaily, "The Feril Tribune," - that all money given by pilgrims to the Franciscans in Medjugorje during the war, for refugee aid,was instead used by them for ethnic cleansing of Muslims - was entirely false!

At the time the acting Provincial for the Hercegovina Province, Fr. Tomislav Pervan, OFM., felt it necessary to answer some of these accusations in an article titled "Campaign Against Medjugorje" in the Croatian weekly "Nedjeljna Dalmacija (April 17, 1998). Likoudis and The Wanderer should be apologizing and printing a retraction instead of continuing their shameless campaign.

I can just imagine the scenario surrounding Fr. Jozo's speaking engagement at the Basilica of Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.... The same thing happened several years ago when he was invited to speak at the National Conference of Medjugorje at the University of Notre Dame. Mybishop's fax machine was flooded with faxes from the same number (is it a coincidence that one paragraph from Likoudis' article is exactly the same - word for word - as a paragraph in the fax my bishop received)? The attempt failed. Bishop John M. D'Arcy saw right through what was happening.

Commenting on the recent The Wanderer article, the Franciscan Provincial in Mostar, Fr. Slavko Soldo, OFM., Fr. Jozo's superior, told me: "It's not true that Fr. Jozo was suspended by his Franciscan general. He is not suspended! He is a priest in good standing with his community!" (Note that the November 14th letter from the Provincial and a November 21st letter of clarification from the Franciscan Vicar General in Rome are posted at He continued: "And regarding the charges against him, it's interesting that not one of those women has ever sent any of those letters to me. And I'm the first person who should know. Fr. Jozo is responsible to me as far as discipline goes. I find it interesting that neither has the
bishop ever sent me a copy of any of those supposed letters. Let me repeat: never have such charges - or anything like them - ever been brought to my attention - and there are none in my office files preceeding my time as Provincial! Of course now they can be invented and sent to me afterwards."

Fr. Soldo has good reason to be frustrated. Charges of sexual misconduct brought against Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, OFM (who was named Pastor in Medjugorje after Fr. Jozo was sent to prison) spread publicly by the Bishop of Mostar have been refuted countless times by the very woman whose name appears at the end of the letters - who was supposed to have written them and sent them to the bishop. ... she pointed out to him that two letters he had with her name at the end were even written in different handwriting... "I am ready to swear by the Cross in the presence of anybody and everybody that I never disclosed or wrote who the father of the child is." The bishop's response was to ask her to be quiet, and he continued spreading those letters to journalists as authentic!

(Cf. "At the Sources of Medjugorje: Objections," Daria Klanac, ZIRAL, Hrvatski mladezi bb, Mostar, 1999, p. 39).

The Holy Father has just recently thanked Fr. Jozo for all that he has done in a signed blessing delivered to Fr. Jozo by Polish pilgrims coming to Medjugojre via Rome and the Vatican. And what is it that Fr. Jozo has done to draw this extraordinary attention and gratitude of the Holy Father except to "protect the children' as heaven asked him to do. The original children were the visionaries when the Communists tried to silence them. It was Fr. Jozo and not the bishop who protected the children. And it is Fr. Jozo and not the Bishop who has continued to "protect the children" of Medjugorje worldwide.

Soon all will come into the light. And be at peace. These kinds of slanders are exactly the kinds of things that should be expected
if Our Lady were really coming to Medjugorje!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Medjugorje - Arguments of E Michael Jones (Part II)

E Michael Jones' arguments continued, with Editor's comments....

10. Evidence from other sources close to the seers corroborates Ivan’s testimony. Mirjana once described a vision in which she saw the Virgin Mary appear, only to be replaced by a second virgin, who told her in a different voice, “You see even the devil can come dressed as me.”
Firstly, that was a lazy misquote from Jones. The virgin didn't say this. And we did not get any “testimony” from Ivan, simply an eyewitness comment taken out of context. Even so, this is far from any type of corroboration except if we are corroborating “seeing something”, which needs no corroboration because people have been saying nothing else since day one. And here we have more misrepresentations regarding Satan’s appearance to Mirjana. Below is the full story as told at

"Mirjana related an apparition she had in 1982 which we believe sheds some light on some aspects of Church history. She spoke of an apparition in which satan appeared to her disguised as the Blessed Virgin. Satan asked Mirjana to renounce the Madonna and follow him. That way she could be happy in love and in life. He said that following the Virgin, on the contrary, would only lead to suffering. Mirjana rejected him, and immediately the Virgin appeared and Satan disappeared. Then the Blessed Virgin gave her the following message, in substance: "Excuse me for this, but you must realize that Satan exists. One day he appeared before the throne of God and asked permission to submit the Church to a period of trial. God gave him permission to try the Church for one century. This century is under the power of the devil, but when the secrets confided to you come to pass, his power will be destroyed. Even now he is beginning to lose his power and has become aggressive. He is destroying marriages, creating division among priests and is responsible for obsessions and murder. You must protect yourselves against these things through fasting and prayer, especially community prayer. Carry blessed objects with you. Put them in your house, and restore the use of holy water."

So, the key question seems to be: can the devil appear in two places at once in the disguise of Mary? Because it seems that Mary appeared while Satan was still there and shooed him away, i.e. they were both in the same space for a brief moment. The other interesting point about this event is that we see what Satan is really like. Before Mary appeared and shooed him off, Satan opened his mouth and out came the things we can immediately recognize as being from Satan. Forget the theories that Satan can be 99% convincing in order to pass on 1% of lies. Most of us believe that God would not test us beyond our ability to reason according to the limits of human ability and knowledge.

11. The possibility that the seers were seeing a spiritual entity which was not the Blessed Mother was mentioned explicitly the day before our trip to Surmanci by a priest who has been associated with the apparitions for over ten years and during that period has gone from an being avid believer and promoter to a confirmed skeptic. After years of hearing confessions and assembling a library of new age material from penitents, it became clear to him that Medjugorje was a major stop on the New Age circuit.
The “assembling a library of new age material” was, in fact, "confiscation". During this period, New Age thinking was prevalent all over the world, so it is no surprise that the philosophies were present in pilgrims. Franciscan priests and nuns regularly asked pilgrims to surrender their new age crystals and books, etc. because they came under the umbrella of “spiritism”, which was not acceptable at Medjugorje.

Before long, the Blessed Virgin even started talking like a new age guru. The first message to issue from the lips of “Our Lady of Medjugorje” after the bishops’ condemnation was that her devotees should turn “negatives into positives,” a turn of phrase which struck this priest at the time as totally unbiblical, a feeling which received dramatic confirmation when he found exactly the same phrase coming from the lips of New Age guru, Sanaya Roman, “Channel for Orin.” “Or,” the priest remembered, was the Hebrew word for light. The Latin word is Lux, whose genitive is lucis, which is the root of the name light-bearer, or Lucifer. The passage about changing negatives into positives, which Marija Pavlovic cited verbatim as the first message from the Gospa after the bishops’ declaration of April 1991, is the title of Chapter Five of Sanaya Roman’s book, Living with Joy: Keys to Personal Power and Spiritual Transformation (Tiburon, CA: H. J. Kramer, 1986).
Here is Jones’s latest angle – "Indian Jones and the New Age Guru". Unfortunately, this allegation probably holds the least water of all. As mentioned above, it was about this time that the new age idea was rampant all over the world. However, it is very clear that Mary is anti-new age. We have testimonies from the pilgrims on this subject. These pilgrims testify that they arrived with new age ideas and left without them. On one particular visit, one of the clergy asked if anyone believed in new age crystals as a means of fortune-telling. Quite a few people pulled crystals out of their pockets. They were told to get rid of them, in fact, in some cases, to leave them at the cross of Krzevac. There are many other testimonies, including a man who had been involved in Transcendental Meditation (TM) and, while in St James Church, saw a big black bug crawling across his mind’s eye. Believing he had a demon, he went to a priest in Medjugorje who referred him to an exorcist who was there. The exorcist asked the demon to reveal its name and the reply was in the form of a “mantra” that the man had used during his meditation. The man had unwittingly attracted a demon related to lust through his involvement in TM. The demon was expelled. The biggest supporting argument Jones can raise in support of his proposition that Medjugorje is New Age is Our Lady’s comment that we should turn the negatives into positives. I mean, this is laughable. What about all the saints who turned the “negatives” of suffering into positives for those they suffered for. Jesus kissed His cross, knowing that the negativity associated with His passion would bring unbelievable positive benefits for mankind. It is more unbiblical if one doesn’t turn the negative into positive, for we know that despair is a mortal sin because it rules out the power and mercy of God. New Age is a big no-no at Medjugorje. Case closed!

12. I begin to descry a third possibility, based on its geographical and historical context and their relationship to the massacres at Surmanci just on the other side of apparition hill. The “seers” saw a ghost. Ghosts, to begin with, are psychological, whereas demons are ontological. Demons are actual beings; they are pure spirits, or angels who have chosen to rebel against God and live in a state of eternal separation from Him. Their only consolation comes from making other rational creatures, who were created to share happiness withGod, share their misery instead. Ghosts, on the other hand, are a function of the mind which beholds them. They are traditionally seen as the souls of men who have not gone to hell but rather to purgatory, from whence they escape periodically to admonish the living about some still unfinished business.
I’m laughing literally. This is a huge stretch. Why are there no other ghosts except Mary and, on one occasion, Satan? It takes no account of the repetitive vision of the same Marian apparition every day for 25 years. Surely, there would be a mass of entities rising from the graves of Surmanic, with no logical pattern and no clear messages, probably just a lot of moaning and dragging of chains. Furthermore, it doesn’t tie in the other phenomenon, miracles and healings for example. I don’t want to dignify it any more than that, but I’ve added even more of it below because I want to show something else.

13. Like the monster in horror fiction, ghosts represent the return of the repressed. Both Banquo’s ghost and Hamlet’s father represent an unrighted wrong. Like the monster in horror fiction, ghosts represent the return of the repressed. Both Banquo’s ghost and Hamlet’s father represent an unrighted wrong. They are an indication that an event in the past has failed to achieve closure. As a result of repression, usually caused by guilt, the ghost frequently re-presents itself at moments usually associated in some way with an anniversary of the event that needs to be repressed. To give a typical example, women who have abortions generally relive the guilt and anguish associated with the death of their child on the anniversary date of either the abortion itself or on the day the woman has calculated as the child’s birth date. The aborted child rises ghost-like on the anniversary of his death and accuses the mother in much the same way that Banquo’s ghost accuses Macbeth and the ghost of Hamlet’s father reproaches Hamlet.
We clearly see Jones' penchant for a story and his main strength as a writer rather than an investigator. He takes examples from fiction books and movies to back up his hypotheses in a real-life context. There is more than enough fiction in his writings without bringing Shakespeare into it. I wonder if anybody else is rolling around in the isles laughing besides me! He even says later “But as in horror movies, so in real life.” Ha ha! It actually makes me wonder if Jones is really Catholic. Surely, he must know that the dead lose their free will and come to under the Will of God. That being the case, it is impossible for a spirit to roam the earth without God’s knowledge and approval. The most likely reason for a spirit to be roaming the earth would be to work out some type of penance before coming to Heaven. If he is saying that it is an illusion fabricated by the mind and springing from guilt, well, this is even more of a stretch, firstly because of the evaluation of science and secondly because only six people have this so-called “repressed guilt delusion”, children who were not even born during the periods of oppression and that had the least to be guilty about.

14. Reduced to its simplest form, Medjugorje was this: two girls saw something one hill away from the place where the Surmanci massacres took place on the fortieth anniversary of the massacres, at a time when Tito had been dead for a little over a year and all of eastern Europe was aflame with the nationalism that the Polish labor union Solidarity had inspired in the subject nations of the Soviet empire.
Pure fiction.

15. Father Zovko tried to deflect attention from Surmanci, claiming that it was absurd “to offload on Medjugorje all the guilt for wartime atrocities that even we older ones hadn’t heard of; and as for the children, they weren’t even born,” but the Serbs remained unconvinced. Belgrade papers satirized an Ustase terrorist Madonna with a large knife between her teeth and a caption proclaiming, “The True Face of the Blessed Mother.”
Obviously Father Jozo was in his correct mind and thank you, Mr. Jones, for pointing out his perfectly valid reply to such a ludicrous idea. More surprising is Jones’ rebuttal that “the Serbs remained unconvinced”, as if their strong sense of nationalism would afford them any reason to be so convinced.

16. What the children saw, of course, became irrelevant by the third day of the apparitions when the Franciscans, specifically Jozo Zovko, became involved and turned the seers into foot soldiers in their war against Bishop Zanic. The deal with the children was cut as payment for not denouncing them as a hoax and exposing them thereby to the ire of a local population that wanted to believe that their deliverance was just around the corner.
Hopefully realising his ghost theory was sounding a little “out there”, Jones has changed tack, though unfortunately it doesn’t get much better. All the Zanic arguments are discussed previously in this book. Nevertheless, I will answer anything that resembles a good objection (and there honestly isn’t much). Now, we see again the meaty prose designed to hook the reader, pointing to Jones’s confusion as to the point of his book - is it a serious assessment of Medjugorje or is it a novel? He accuses a Catholic priest of deceptively and uncaringly using children for his own agenda. Yet, he cannot consolidate this accusation because we then have to address the selfless act of Father Jozo’s willingness to go the jail in support of his beliefs, from which position it would be extremely difficult to orchestrate his "clandestine plan" any further. Now, the local population was already very suspicious of the apparitions in the beginning. The childrens' parents and even Father Jozo scolded them for "lying". Father Jozo remained suspicious for a long time. In an ironic twist, we hear that Bishop Zanic was the one trying to convince Father Jozo of the authenticity of the apparitions. But later, Bishop Zanic apparently changed his tune after being called in by the Communist Police. If Father Jozo’s worry was simply that the population would get upset over a fraud, then the population surely could understand six mischievous teenagers playing a prank than a priest praying a prank. It would have blown over very quickly.

17. Although it was modeled consciously on Lourdes, with a little bit of Garabandal (the warning, the chastisement, the permanent supernatural sign) thrown in for good measure, Medjugorje itself was more like the equally bogus apparitions in Marpingen in Germany, which for a brief moment in the 1870s outdrew even Lourdes, upon which it too was based.
Jones has this habit of arrogantly pronouncing on apparitions just because he can, despite the fact that the Vatican has not finally pronounced. This applies to both Garabandal and Marpingen, neither of which have been condemned by the Church. Regarding the 1999 apparitions at Marpingen, after six years of investigating the case, the Catholic Church announced that "there was justified doubt about the supernatural character of the alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary." The special church commission did not go as far as proclaiming a pious fraud, but it also stopped short of explaining why the miraculous appearance of the mother of God could not be proven. My take on this is that the Vatican either weren’t willing to commit to a positive pronouncement given the available evidence, or found something in the Virgin’s comments, or other aspect of the vision, that alerted them to a need to revise some current Church proclamation or dogma, as it has done regularly over the centuries once some new information comes to light. In the case of the latter, it would be inappropriate to approve of a vision until the Church’s teachings are in line with what the visions teaches us, if indeed this is necessary. Marpingen has a similar history to Medjugorje in the sense of both apparitions occurring during a period of upheaval and religious persecution. This fact was used as ammunition by Jones, when he quoted Blackbourn: "there is overwhelming evidence... of the link between the apparitions and a combination of political persecution, material distress, and social change. That is true not only of the original events in Marpingen, but of the revitalized apparition movement in the twentieth century". He employed Blackbourne’s statement to support his tale that these apparitions are somehow some ghostly illusion or repressed injustices somehow surfacing in the form of an apparition. Jones says that the” fake” apparitions are borrowing ideas from the genuine apparitions and even borrowing off other “fake” apparitions, e.g. that Medjugorje is borrowing the apocalyptic aspects of Garabandal. However, if hoaxsters wanted to invent an apparition, surely they would make it as close as possible to apparitions that had been approved. Anyhow, the final word on the “hoax” card goes to the scientists. In the case of Medjugorje, scientific studies are multiple, extensive and intensive. Where one investigation left something out, the next one covered it or the way was left open for anyone to take up the challenge. At Medjugorje, there is no room for cynicism about current scientific findings. Because any objector has the opportunity to investigate further. The visionaries and Franciscans have wholeheartedly welcomed scientific investigations, excited by the prospect that science, at least, would be able to confirm what the Bishops and cynics have long doubted. As it is, there is very little doubt that Medjugorje is not a hoax. For more, see “Scientific Investigation”. Jones knows this, which is why he steers well clear of it because he finds fulfillment in writing and selling tall tales, not facts. Facts such as these would simply spoil his fun.


A huge wet blanket composed of an ill-fitting collage of objections and whinings aimed at bombarding the reader with pure volume rather than substance. I don’t enjoy writing somebody off completely, but Jones’ objections are simply preposterous. He has caught the investigative journalism bug big time. He makes Zanic and Peric seem almost believable. Perhaps that was his aim.

More of a writer than a serious investigator, he endeavours to connect dots from Medjugorje to anything that sounds ominous, including Nazism, New Age philosophies, Spiritism and plenty more. He has left no stone unturned, bottom-trawling for anything that could possibly, if the story is told just the right way, smear and damage the reputation of the seers or those immediately connected with them. Notice I did not say that these things could smear the Virgin or the apparitions themselves or the messages that come from them, because there is simply nothing that can directly stain these. And these are actually all we really care about.

As well as "Indiana Jones", he would suit the nickname “Sideshow Bob. I have honestly scoured his writings for fair objections so that I could bring them out in the open for discussion but, unfortunately, I cannot. The best arguments were already given by Zanic and Peric. His writing picks up the threads and stretches them as far as they can go. It is all so outlandish and far removed from what we should be concentrating on – the visions and the visionaries. He has us traversing the landscape looking at unrelated, though possibly interesting, sideshows.

In fact, I cannot see how he has deserved any type of reputation as a serious critic. His writings cannot be taken seriously and they would have most people falling about laughing – Medjugorje supporter or not. He has lost sight of the hay, looking for the needles.

He is seriously confused about his mission – writer or investigator? He should choose one and stick with it. I can’t imagine people getting into a “novel” about Medjugorje. People want to read about Medjugorje in real life – the visions and the visionaries and the miracles and the healings. They don’t want to read all that ungracious nastiness. Jones has smeared every character that has not been nailed down and even some things that were nailed down (he even had some negative comments about the design of the outdoor pavilion behind St James’ Church!) He takes far too many liberties in his condemnation of holy priests, such as Father Jozo. He has cast stones in all directions and borne outright false witness against innocent people.

I have had long email discussions with Jones during which I admitted that it did look as though the visionaries had told a couple of white lies to the Bishop, although I could not confirm it absolutely. And we kept coming back to his one main objection that he keenly insisted on:

“If the seers have admitted that they lied, there is no way that the Vatican can approve the apparitions. If the seers lied, they are not credible witnesses. If they are not credible witnesses, the apparitions are not worthy of belief. The conclusion flows inexorably from the premise which you have already admitted, namely, that the seers have lied.”

He held this position even after I clearly showed the context of the alleged lies, which I have since explained. He did not reply to my latest email, in which I pointed out that there is room for “momentary aberration”, as shown below from the Church’s procedure for evaluating private revelations (any emphasis is mine):

An inquiry into the visionary's character might be pursued as

  1. What are his natural qualities or defects, from a physical, intellectual, and especially moral standpoint? If the information is favourable (if the person is of sound judgment, calm imagination; if his acts are dictated by reason and not by enthusiasm, etc.), many causes of illusion are thereby excluded. However, a momentary aberration is still possible.
Not the mention that a revelation can be regarded as Divine in its broad outlines, but doubtful in minor details, e.g. the revelations of Marie de Agreda and Anne Catherine Emmerich.

Jones, and all those who blazed Indiana Jones trails with him, has attacked not only Medjugorje, but most other Marian apparitions that have not yet been approved by the Vatican. Rick Salbato, who is of a similar ilk to Jones, even attacked an apparition that HAD been approved by the Church (i.e. Rwanda) on his website.

Their favourite deception is using the loaded word “condemned”, a word that is rarely used in the Vatican since there was a list of “condemned books”. “Doubt” is a key word here. Ever since Sts Peter and Paul – these anointed men of God – fell into doubt so soon after Christ had risen to heaven (concerning whether Gentiles could join the Church without circumcision), doubt and confusion has characterized the voyage of the Catholic Church.

Where there is doubt, it is not an appropriate reaction to spoil perfectly good fruits. It is in the hands of the Holy See. The fact is that the Vatican is uncertain about many of these apparitions, just as it is uncertain about other issues, which we see for example in the Vatican’s revision of the dogma that unbaptised children go to limbo. And, at the time of writing, the Vatican is revising its ban on condoms under certain circumstances. The Catholic Church is growing and evolving and is being assisted along the way by God’s regular providence in the form of private revelations.

Jones and all those like him have a very great deal to answer for in terms of leading people away from what may turn out to have been very genuine apparitions – and for what? For the thrill of the chase! This is not God’s way! Their sensationalist writings have spread widely on the internet, with Rick Salbato even bragging that he had achieved a high Google page ranking. The effects of this include that atheists now have every reason to take miracles and apparitions less than seriously. This reflects, in turn, on the Catholic Church and on religion as a whole. Within the Church, backsliding believers (those most sternly reprimanded by Christ), who were originally re-ignited in their faith by the events at Medjugorje, had a wet blanket thrown over them by the first person they met who had seen an article or a blog regurgitating the writings of those such as Jones, Salbato et al.

Medjugorje - Arguments of E Michael Jones (Part I)

There have been other Catholic authors and self-styled investigators who have taken up the cause of the Bishop of Mostar. One such individual is E Michael Jones. We don’t know their real motivations, but from all appearances, it is purely related to selling the sizzle and grabbing eyeballs. No doubt one or two of them enjoy the image of the maverick crime-buster that it creates. It's just a big Indiana Jones thriller for them. After all, the noisiest ones like Jones come from the land of Hollywood, Reality TV, Talk Shows, Ratings and Press Deadlines.

They initially picked up on the subtly deceptive and persuasive language and arguments used by Vatican negotiator and subsequent Bishop of Mostar, Pavao Zanic in his last ditch effort to get the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference to condemn the apparitions. They spread the arguments all around the place as gospel about Medjugorje. After the Zadar Declaration, we were reading headlines such as “Vatican Condemns Medjugorje”, which was particularly painful to all concerned. This set the rumour mill working overtime and it brought all the would-be heroes out of the woodwork, semi-retired well-off folks with laptops and a loud mouth started up websites with all the arguments and objections listed in hyperlinks, preferably kept within their own website so that they could increase their Google ranking. And we sat back and saw it all working. Catholic Forums everywhere were inundated with the innuendo. People would come online telling about how they had been converted through Medjugorje and then someone would reply “Didn’t you know it has been condemned by the Church?” or “didn’t you know the Franciscans were disobedient?” We don’t know what happened to all those converted souls. We only hope and pray that God was looking after their new-born faith while these people sowed seeds of disruption and confusion all around them.

Here are some of the objections of Jones

1. "Phil Kronzer had lost his wife to Medjugorje around the same time Jeff Lopez had lost his, which is to say, over the winter of 93-94. Both of these domestic tragedies began with Medjugorje; just where they were going to end was not clear. When Jones got back to his hotel room in Reno, he got a call from a man in England warning him that if he went back to Bosnia, the Franciscans were going to have him killed."

For those who are not familiar with the story, Phil Kronzer is a wealthy California businessman, whose wife believed in Medjugorje while he developed a deep cynicism towards it for various reasons. I read a comment from someone who knows Phil Kronzer’s wife, Ardie. This person said that she “made her own choices” (as opposed to the claims of her being brainwashed in cult fashion) and that Phil “did a lot to make her look bad”.

I have also been speaking at length by email with another major anti-Medjugorje Catholic reporter, who we shall call "RS". I asked him about his relationship with Jones and Phil Kronzer. He told me that he wanted nothing more to do with Phil Kronzer because his methods are not from God. He wanted to take all reference to Phil Kronzer off his website.

Jones' complaint is rather weak. He is trying to cultivate bad fruits from Medjugorje by pointing to two failed marriage, failing to balance his report with the many testimonies of healed marriages as a result of Medjugorje.

2. Proponents of the “apparition” like to talk about its fruits when they become uncomfortable with the behavior of the seers and their Franciscan handlers. Over the ten years since he had become involved in investigating Medjugorje, Jones had come up with his own list of fruits. The death threat he had just received in Reno was the beginning of a long list of bad things that had happened to the world since the Queen of Peace arrived in Yugoslavia in 1981.
Jones’ list of fruits consist of a few highly dubious personal issues that have no bearing on the validity of the apparitions. His arguments rely on people being ignorant of the facts. People who get uncomfortable about the alleged “bad behaviour” of seers and Franciscans probably don’t realize that a few behavioural anomalies do not count against a vision’s authenticity. They also might not be aware that the Virgin herself scolded the visionaries on a couple of occasions, meaning that the Virgin nor the visions can be tarred by the humanity of the visionaries.

Very few, I imagine, have read up on the Herzegovinian Affair, where they could be quickly enlightened as to the undesirable behaviour of the secular clergy and the injustices against the Franciscans. From this, they might fairly quickly understand how it is possible for Franciscans and visionaries to be defensive in the presence of the Bishop of Mostar and how it was possible that the Virgin herself spoke against the Bishop. Jones, if he understand the history himself (sometimes I doubt that he does), would never reveal it as it would seriously damage his case against the Franciscans and stain the reputation of his mentor and hero, Bishop Zanic. Click here for more about these unfortunate events.

3. Broken vows, the pregnant nuns, the poor people bilked of their money, the division in the Church, the de facto schism, leading most recently to illicit confirmations in Capljina, the kidnapping of the local bishop, the ethnic cleansing, and, most dramatically, the worst fighting in Europe since World War II. All in all it was an impressive amount of malfeasance coming, as it did, from a group of people whose stated intention was prayer and following the instructions of the Blessed Mother.

We will deal with each of these many objections individually, though some of them have already been dealt with on previous pages:

Broken vows and pregnant nuns:
Yes, it is true that Vego left the priesthood and married a nun who had also left religious life. This event occurred in a private way and can no more affect the authenticity of the visions than could the actions of paedophilic priests affect the authenticity of the Catholic Church. Both the ex-priest and ex-nun live peacefully in Medjugorje, working in charities and demonstrating a model married life with their children.

Defacto Schism:
This objection comes from the writer’s negative view of the Charismatic movement. To not accept the Charismatic movement as wholly part of the Catholic Church under Vatican II is to indulge in schismatic behaviour oneself. The Franciscan leaders at Medjugorje are very watchful and quick to crack down on any perceived development that goes along with false teaching. Father Jozo Zovko is a prime example. In an example already given in this book, he denounced a movement that adopted a fatalistic apocolyptic view of the Medjugorje apparitions, a view which Father Jozo never took. They tried unsuccessfully to use his name as an endorsement for their work. The visions and the visionaries cannot be stained by any downstream anomalies which are bound to spring up. Leaders can only be as watchful as possible.

Division in the Church:
Division has been part and parcel of the Catholic Church since the very beginning with Peter v Paul over circumcision of the Gentiles.
Division at Medjugorje has been caused by unreasonable detractors from Bishop Zanic to the writer, Jones, himself.

Illicit confirmations in Capljina:
Fr. Bonifac Barbaric from Capljina has been the most outspoken opponent of Medjugorje from the beginning and yet has never come to hear confessions or to concelebrate Mass in Medjugorje. Although he has had his faculties removed, in defiance to the Bishop and in opposition to the Franciscan Provincial, he continues to do parish work in Capljina. The other Franciscans fail to understand his motives and intentions. It is beyond them.

People Bilked out of Money by Con-men:
Wherever there are pilgrimages, the corrupt will find a way to cash in. Even Jesus had to deal with merchants and moneychangers outside the temple.

Father Svet, a Franciscan from Medjugorje said: “I know that it is mostly the poor people who come as pilgrims to Medjugorje. They choose to come. They come for God. They know that a pilgrimage always involves a sacrifice. I see the phenomenon of Medjugorje as a continuation of the pilgrimage tradition of the Church. Pilgrims see good coming out of it for them. I know that it is not I who makes their pilgrimage good or fruitful for them. There is the rain, the heat, the cold and people still come. And they pray and sing and confess. They praise God and they climb the mountains regardless. They tell each other to come and they come again. The longer I stay in Medjugorje the more I realize that I am not the one bringing pilgrims here. No one could "make them" come.”

Kidnapping of the local Bishop:
If Jones knows the full story here, he would certainly not tell you. The word “kidnapping” sounds damning and, from a quick reading, it looks like the Bishop is an innocent victim, which is far from the truth. This incident relates to the Mostar Affair and has been discussed previously in this book. It is an example of the Bishop reaping what he sowed. Personally, I am quite surprised that there was only one such incident.

Ethnic Cleansing of Muslims from Gradska:
Simply no truth or backup and is an example of the lengths to which Agatha Christie writers like Jones go to establish any kind of negative link to the visions in order to spice up their stories so they can sell more books.

A story of ethnic cleansing was kept alive for a long time in the Muslim daily “Feril Tribune” and was completely false.

Father Svet personally addressed this ethnic cleansing accusation from Jones as follows:

“Gradska is a place near Ljubuski. In addressing this point, the pressure against the Church in Croatia needs to be mentioned. In 1992, in Bosnia and Hercegovina (here noted as "BH") there were 900,000 Catholics. Now there are less than 450,000. Even now, the Catholics are the ones who are being most pressured to leave.

The world is being told that it is the Catholics who are the most non-cooperative and are the ones responsible for the war. This is not true. There are 14 Catholics from BH in the Hague tribunal accused of war crimes. Very few Serbians and Muslims are there. A few days ago, a BBC broadcast from London blatantly accused only the Croatians of causing trouble in BH and bringing instability. There was no mention of almost half a million Catholics who are not able to return to their homes. In my former parish of Konjic in central Bosnia, for example, prior to the war, there were 12,000 Catholics. Now there are less than 1,000.

Thousands of Catholics were killed. Ten of thousands were evicted from their homes. As refugees, they were forced to seek refuge in the Croatian controlled areas of Ljubuski. It was these refugees from Bosnia who caused tensions with the resident Muslim community in Gradska. The refugees were angry because they lost everything and they wanted to take justice into their own hands. The local authorities and people were powerless. It was then that the Croatian army, the HVO, decided that it would be best to bring the Muslims out of Ljubuski and out of Gradska. They were not killed like the Catholics in Bugojno. Some went to Croatia, some went abroad and some to Bosnia in Muslim controlled areas. At the same time as this was taking place, most of the residents of Medjugorje were refugees in Croatia, most in Dalmatia.

Today, the remnant Catholic population in Bosnia continues to be under great pressure. For example, Catholics constitute 18% of the population of BH but they receive only 2% of the allotted funding. It is also documented that while Catholics have given and continue to give humanitarian aid to everyone in need, regardless of religion or political conviction, this is not reciprocal. In 1901, 43% of the population of Sarajevo was Catholic. Now it has been reduced to only 3%. Likewise, following the war, the Catholic population in Banja Luka has been reduced to less than 10 percent and would not exist at all if it were not for the bravery of Bishop Franjo Komarica. It was this same Bishop who was told by an EC [European Community] diplomat that it was not in the plan for the Catholics to remain in Banja Luka at all. Whose plan? The situation facing the Catholic community in BH is truly tragic and cannot be expressed in this short letter.”

Malfeasance and trouble caused by visions:
This appears to be an effort to call the Medjugorje visions demonic, a conclusion that Bishop Zanic himself stated that he did not agree with. Much of the disorder occurred or had its roots long before the virgin arrived. We have the wars, ethnic divisions and the long-running combined Herzegovinian, Mostar and Apaljina Affairs. Basically, before the Madonna came, the landscape was a political, ethnic and religious shambles. We prefer to believe that Our Lady came to clear up the mess and bring peace according to her title “Queen of Peace”. Experts who know a little bit more about the history, e.g. Dr. Viktor Nuiæ, OFM, points to the Bishops of Mostar as being practically WHOLLY responsible for ALL the inter-Church malfeasance in the region (his testimony can be read here). Our Lady spoke out about the Bishop in her well-known statement/warning that irked the Bishop enough to make him turn against the apparitions. However, as smoke always indicates fire, the Bishop was eventually found guilty of having acted against cannon law in the Prusina and Vego affair. Malfeasance was to continue when the Bishop, refusing to believe the Virgin could be speaking against him, set about the task of destroying the credibility of the visions. Malfeasance is the legacy of this as the world's media, including Jones, picked up the threads and spread them widely and rashly. If any malfeasance occurred directly from any of the Franciscans in the form of “disobedience” for example, it was simply provoked. And informed people will know that all the sideshow shenanigans in the world do not automatically render authentic visions false. The coming of Jesus Christ was at a time much needed and He himself said in Matthew 10:

34Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and a man's foes will be those of his own household.

Ironically, we are seeing this “brother against brother” situation right now in the Catholic Church over Medjugorje.

Like his predecessors Misic and Zanic, Bishop Peric has had to deal with the rabidly nationalistic Herzegovinian Franciscans. Peric found out first-hand just how bellicose the “Queen of Peace” and her supporters can be.

Although this is not an objection as such and has nothing to do with the authenticity of the visions, I have included it to give people a sense of how the media, often completely uninformed, uses loaded words and impressive prose. This came from Jones’s book, which is written like an Indiana Jones novel. I am not going to mention the name of the book because it deserves no publicity. The”rabidness” he attributes elsewhere is more correctly applied to his own writings.

I’m also going to point out the error in the facts, though I don’t think facts are what Jones is genuinely concerned with and there is nothing that stains the visions or the visionaries. However, I do it for the sake of the souls of the ignorant innocent he would otherwise dupe.

Jones calls the Franciscans “rabidly nationalistic”. First, the Franciscans themselves are nothing but peaceful and existed in peaceful communities for centuries. The “rabidness” came in the form of a new breed of secular Bishops, originating from Austria, who brought seriously bad attitudes into the region to the point where I, personally, can hardly recognize them as members of the clergy. The Franciscans tolerated them at length, which probably egged the bullying on even further. When the first proposal was made to take away parishes, the Franciscans, in conciliatory fashion, in fact made the first offer, even though they were able to show that they had full rights to retain their parishes.

I can put it no other way than to say that these Bishops came with a plan to divest the Franciscans of their parishes and duped the Holy See into agreeing with it. Once agreed, they took far more than they were entitled to and picked the bones clean. That is it in a nutshell.

It was not the Franciscans, but their parishioners, who revolted against the secular Bishops and I, personally, feel complete empathy with them if my readings of the events are correct. I mean, we hear the story of how Bishop Peric refused to allow refuge to Franciscans whose monastery was destroyed in the war and had nowhere to live temporarily.
5. The Catholic Church did end up condemning Medjugorje in 1991, but St. James Church continued to attract pilgrims.

This is probably the single most damaging misrepresentation of the truth surrounding the Medjugorje apparitions, and has sent thousands if not millions of unconverted souls back to lives of sin, instead of onto their new lives as converted souls. I have taken Jones to task about spreading this outright lie and have not received any sign of retraction to date.

I repeat: Medjugorje was not condemned in the Zadar Declaration of 1991.

6. St. James Church has undergone dramatic transformation as well. What used to be the muddy area surrounding it is now paved and decorated with statues. What used to be pasture and farmland behind it has now become a gravel parking lot, whose focal point is a hideous tent-like pavilion behind the church, which dwarfs the church itself, much as the apparitions and what they stand for have come to dwarf the Catholic parish which spawned them.

I included this to show how objectivity has gone completely out the window with Jones and many writers like him. My original notes regarding this passage read “Jones even has a beef with the decorators at Medjugorje! haha.” I think I’ll leave that as it is. And the only “dwarfing” done was to the ego of the Bishop of Mostar and to the objectivity of its detractors. The rest of the parish fairly blossoms with the beauty of the presence of the Madonna. There is no ugliness at Medjugorje. All the ugliness comes from people like Jones.

7. The connection between Surmanci and Medjugorje, both from the point of view of place and time, seems too obvious to ignore, although Craig goes on to do just that in Spark from Heaven, which ends up being one more instance of promotional literature— a bit ambivalent, better written perhaps, but in the end another piece of advertisement for the ultimate benefit of the airlines, the travel agents, the Franciscans and the “seers.”

This is a prime example of the work of the Indiana Jones’s, who have attempted to establish links with whatever mystery and intrigue they can find. Jones is trying to tell the world that there is a good chance that the vision experience at Medjugorje is simpy a ghost who represents a collective repressed guilty conscience. It is eminently ignorable. Most believers say the atrocities at Surmanci are yet another reason why Mary has chosen Medjugorje. She comes as a salve of forgiveness and peace for so much human wrongdoing.

8. But the “seers” are far from being declared saints by the same Church which declared them liars.

Jones’s rabid reporting reaches another level. Not only has he spread lies by saying the Church condemned Medjugorje. He now says the Church has declared them liars. Certainly it has done no such thing. The Bishop of Mostar came to this conclusion all by himself and the Church rejected his final pronouncement.

9. So the questions remain. What exactly did they see on that day in June in 1981? Or did they see anything at all? In late October 1989, Ivan Dragicevic, the Medjugorje “seer,” was a long way from home. He was in San Francisco in fact, and having survived the biggest earthquake in recent memory on the day of his arrival, he was standing in the back yard of a Croatian Emigre by the name of Joe Tolaich, having a cigarette. Joe Tolaich was part of the Croatian Diaspora living in the bay area. He had grown up in Metkovic, a few kilometers down the Neredva from Medjugorje and had in fact been one of the first people to arrive in Medjugorje as pilgrims during the summer of 1981. Joe’s attitude toward the Blessed Mother had a distinctly practical bent. Faced with the prospect of having a seer who had daily contact with the Blessed Mother in his own home, Joe asked Ivan if the Virgin Mary might divulge, during one of her visits, her favorite six numbers, so that Joe could put them to good use in the state lottery. Perhaps Joe had become skeptical because of Ivan’s lifestyle. Whatever the reason, he never got an answer to his question, which prompted him to ask Ivan on that evening while he was having a cigarette in his back yard, whether Ivan was really seeing the blessed Mother. Ivan’s answer was something less than reassuring to the pious. “Joe,” Ivan replied after taking a drag on his cigarette, “I’m seeing something.”

Very fanciful prose and we don’t have the full transcript of the conversation with Ivan. Unfortunately, we are well used to detractors taking statements out of context. Jones himself has already tarnished his credibility by telling lies in previous sections. Nevertheless, I will leave his comments there for others to read and decide for themselves. From here on, we see Jones’s conspiracy theories which cover the eventuality that Ivan is indeed seeing something, even though Jones has everywhere else already been giving evidence that it is a hoax and that Ivan is not seeing anything at all. Well, OK, let’s assume that at least the part about “seeing something” can be believed. We need Jones to establish a starting point for his opinions because at the moment he loses all credibility simply digging around for anything at all that will disprove the apparitions – hardly credible reporting, and the reason is that Jones is not a reporter, he is a story-teller.

Continued in part II