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.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.
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.
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).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.
In 1984 bishop Žanić decided to extend the first Commission.
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 http://www.medjugorjenews-nz.org/42.pdf): "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: http://www.birdsongatmidnight.com/SM0905.htm )
- 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.