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 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...


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