THE Ruini Commission, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to study the apparitions of Medjugorje, has ruled overwhelmingly that the first seven apparitions were “supernatural”, according to Vatican Insider. Pope Francis called the Commission’s report “very, very good.” While expressing his personal skepticism of the idea of daily apparitions (I’ll address this below), he openly praised the conversions and fruits that continue to flow from Medjugorje as being an undeniable work of God—not a “magic wand.” cf. usnews.com Indeed, I’ve been getting letters from all over the world this week from people telling me about the most dramatic conversions they experienced when they visited Medjugorje, or how it is simply an “oasis of peace.” Just this past week, someone wrote to say that a priest who accompanied her group was instantly healed of alcoholism there. There are literally thousands upon thousands of stories like this. see cf. Medjugorje, Triumph of the Heart! Revised Edition, Sr. Emmanuel; the book reads like the Acts of the Apostle on steroids I continue to defend Medjugorje for this very reason: it is achieving the purposes of Christ’s mission, and in spades. Really, who cares if the apparitions are ever approved so long as these fruits blossom?
The late Bishop Stanley Ott of Baton Rouge, LA asked St. John Paul II:
“Holy Father, what do you think of Medjugorje?” The Holy Father kept eating his soup and responded: “Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Only good things are happening at Medjugorje. People are praying there. People are going to Confession. People are adoring the Eucharist, and people are turning to God. And, only good things seem to be happening at Medjugorje.” —related by Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, medjugorje.ws
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:18)
After 36 years, that hasn’t changed. But you see, the skeptics say, “Satan can produce good fruit too!” They’re basing this on St. Paul’s admonition:
…such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, who masquerade as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 For 11:13-15)
Actually, St. Paul is contradicting their argument. For he also says that you will know a tree by its fruit: “Their end will correspond to their deeds.” The conversions, healings, and vocations we’ve seen from Medjugorje over the past three decades have overwhelmingly shown themselves to be authentic as many of them, too, are bearing the authentic light of Christ wherever they go. And those who know the seers attest to their humility, integrity, devotion and holiness. Satan can work lying “signs and wonders”. But good fruits? No. The worms will eventually come out.
Ironically, Jesus himself points to the fruits of His mission as evidence of His authenticity:
Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me. (Luke 7:22-23)
Medjugorje’s claims are no less overwhelming, with over 400 medically documented healings, over 600 documented vocations to the priesthood, and thousands of worldwide apostolates. But many do take offense at these, as skeptics still insist the tree is rotten. Which really raises a valid question as to what spirit they are now operating under. Doubts and reservations? Fair game. Actively trying to destroy and discredit one of the greatest hotbeds of conversions and vocations? That is contrary to what the Church and even the Bishop of Mostar has asked for:
We repeat the absolute need to continue deepening the reflection, as well as prayer, in the face of whatever alleged supernatural phenomenon, until there is a definitive pronouncement. —Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, head of Vatican press office, Catholic World News, June 19th, 1996
According to Medjugorje’s most vocal opponents, all of this is nothing but a demonic deception, a great schism in the making. They sincerely believe that the millions of converts, hundreds if not thousands of priests who received their calling there, and the countless others who have been healed in one way or another… will suddenly throw their Catholic faith in the garbage and break away from the Church if the Pope makes a negative ruling, or if “Our Lady” tells them to (as if they are dumb, emotional, undiscerning apparition-chasers who can’t function spiritually without Medjugorje). In truth, the rumour is that the Pope is expected to make Medjugorje into an official Marian Shrine to ensure the solid pastoral care of pilgrims.
The devotion of Medjugorje is allowed. It’s not prohibited, and need not be done in secret… Today, dioceses and other institutions can organize official pilgrimages. It’s no longer a problem… The decree of the former episcopal conference of what used to be Yugoslavia, which, before the Balkan war, advised against pilgrimages in Medjugorje organized by bishops, is no longer relevant. —Aleitia, Dec. 7th, 2017
On the other hand, if you want to see where the devil has really been working in Medjugorje—read this.
But in defence of those who fear Medjugorje, many of them are victims of the smear campaign that I discussed in Medjugorje… What You May Not Know. As a result, they will rehash the several “smoking guns” that “prove” Medjugorje is false. So the following dissects these objections into two Sections: the first deals with crucial insights on discerning private revelation; the second deals with specific misinterpretations, misinformation, and outright falsehoods being spread about this century’s most famous apparition site.
I recommend that everyone at least read the shorter Section I, which really diffuses a lot of the petty and silly grievances skeptics have brought forward.
THE SMOKING GUN MENTALITY
There has emerged in our hyper-rationalist era a kind of “smoking gun” mentality where skeptics look for the slightest weakness, one negative fruit, one questionable message, one wrong facial expression, a character flaw… as “proof”, therefore, that the apparitions of Medjugorje or elsewhere are false. Here are three general “smoking guns” that some critics claim will invalidate an entire phenomenon:
I. The seer must be holy
On the contrary, just as God appeared in a burning bush to Moses after he had murdered an Egyptian, so too, apparitions, locutions, visions, etc. come to those whom God chooses—not those who are most worthy.
…union with God by charity is not requisite in order to have the gift of prophecy, and thus it was at times bestowed even upon sinners… —POPE BENEDICT XIV, Heroic Virtue, Vol. III, p. 160
As such, the Church recognizes that the instrument God chooses is fallible. And though they expect that the revelations given to that soul will also bear the fruit of increasing holiness, perfection is not a prerequisite for “proof.” But even holiness is no guarantee. St. Hannibal, who was the spiritual director for Melanie Calvat of La Salette and Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, wrote:
Being taught by the teachings of several mystics, I have always deemed that the teachings and locutions of even holy persons, especially women, may contain deceptions. Poulain attributes errors even to saints the Church venerates on the altars. How many contradictions we see between Saint Brigitte, Mary of Agreda, Catherine Emmerich, etc. We cannot consider the revelations and the locutions as words of Scripture. Some of them must be omitted, and others explained in a right, prudent meaning. —St. Hannibal Maria di Francia, letter to Bishop Liviero of Città di Castello, 1925 (emphasis mine)
I am truthfully astonished at how brutal some critics are on alleged seers—as if they are punching bags, not people. They have absolutely no clue how much visionaries suffer persecution, are often abandoned by their bishops, members of their community and even family. As St. John of the Cross said:
…these humble souls, far from desiring to be anyone’s teacher, are ready to take a road different from the one they are following, if told to do so. —St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night, Book One, Chapter 3, n. 7
II. The messages must be flawless
On the contrary, Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, a mystical theologian whose work has been commended by the Vatican, notes:
It may come as a shock to some that nearly all mystical literature contains grammatical errors (form) and, on occasion, doctrinal errors (substance). —Newsletter, Missionaries of the Holy Trinity, January-May 2014
The reason, says Cardinal Ratzinger, is we are dealing with humans, not angels:
…neither should [the images of a revelation] be thought of as if for a moment the veil of the other world were drawn back, with heaven appearing in its pure essence, as one day we hope to see it in our definitive union with God. Rather the images are, in a manner of speaking, a synthesis of the impulse coming from on high and the capacity to receive this impulse in the visionaries, that is, the children. —Message of Fatima, vatican.va
Theological background, education, vocabulary, intelligence, imagination… are all filters through which revelations pass—filters, notes Rev. Iannuzzi, which can involuntarily alter the message or its meaning.
Conforming to prudence and sacred accuracy, people cannot deal with private revelations as if they were canonical books or decrees of the Holy See… For example, who could ratify in full all the visions of Catherine Emmerich and St. Brigitte, which show evident discrepancies? —St. Hannibal, in a letter to Fr. Peter Bergamaschi who had published all the unedited writings of Benedictine mystic, St. M. Cecilia; Newsletter, Missionaries of the Holy Trinity, January-May 2014
Indeed, these Saints had to be edited from time to time to remove errors. Shocking? No, human. The bottom line:
Such occasional occurrences of flawed prophetic habit should not lead to the condemnation of the entire body of the supernatural knowledge communicated by the prophet, if it is properly discerned to constitute authentic prophecy. Nor, in cases of the examination of such individuals for beatification or canonization, should their cases be dismissed, according to Benedict XIV, as long as the individual [had humbly acknowledged] his error when it is brought to his attention. —Dr. Mark Miravalle, Private Revelation: Discerning With the Church, p. 21
Moreover, neither does the Church isolate one questionable passage from the entire context of the mystic’s writings.
Although in some passages of their writings, the prophets may have written something doctrinally erroneous, a cross-reference of their writings reveals that such doctrinal errors were “unintentional.” —Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, Newsletter, Missionaries of the Holy Trinity, January-May 2014
III. It’s private revelation, so I don’t have to believe it anyway.
This is technically true, but with caveats. Too often, this argument is not a “smoking gun” but smoke and mirrors (see Rationalism, and the Death of Mystery). On the contrary, says Pope Benedict XIV:
He to whom that private revelation is proposed and announced, ought to believe and obey the command or message of God, if it be proposed to him on sufficient evidence… For God speaks to him, at least by means of another, and therefore requires him to believe; hence it is, that he is bound to believe God, Who requires him to do so.—Heroic Virtue, Vol III, p. 394
And Pope St. John XXII exhorts:
We urge you to listen with simplicity of heart and sincerity of mind to the salutary warnings of the Mother of God… The Roman Pontiffs… If they are instituted the guardians and interpreters of divine Revelation, contained in Holy Scripture and Tradition, they also take it as their duty to recommend to the attention of the faithful—when, after responsible examination, they judge it for the common good—the supernatural lights which it has pleased God to dispense freely to certain privileged souls, not for proposing new doctrines, but to guide us in our conduct. —Blessed POPE JOHN XXIII, Papal Radio Message, February 18th, 1959; L’Osservatore Romano.
Thus, can you reject private revelation?
Are they to whom a revelation is made, and who are certain it comes from God, bound to give a firm assent thereto? The answer is in the affirmative… —POPE BENEDICT XIV, Heroic Virtue, Vol III, p.390
And this, so long as the revelation is consistent with the Public Revelation of Christ.
It is not [so-called “private” revelations’] role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment.—Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 67
All that said, because private revelation is not part of the definitive Public Revelation of Christ,
One may refuse assent to private revelation without direct injury to Catholic Faith, as long as he does so, “modestly, not without reason, and without contempt.” —POPE BENEDICT XIV, Heroic Virtue, Vol. III, p. 397; Private Revelation: Discerning with the Church, page 38
It is the “not without reason” part that needs to be addressed with regards to Medjugorje…
The following are some of the more specific “smoking guns” levelled against Medjugorje and the seers. Some of them are good questions; but others are fabrications, misquotes, and exaggerations.
In every age the Church has received the charism of prophecy, which must be scrutinized but not scorned. —Cardinal Ratzinger, “Message of Fatima”
1. Unlike other visionaries, none of the seers of Medjugorje have gone into religious life.
The Church does not teach, as a necessary litmus test to the veracity of prophetic claims, that seers must enter religious life. It is certainly a positive fruit. But is the Sacrament of Marriage a bad fruit? To suggest that the seers are less holy or that their testimonies are less believable because they chose married vocations, is a bit insulting to those who know what a narrow and difficult road to sanctity marriage and family life can also be.
On the contrary, I think the seers witness to married life speaks precisely to the hour in which we are living.
…the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council marked a decisive turning-point. With the Council, the hour of the laity truly struck, and many lay faithful, men and women, more clearly understood their Christian vocation, which by its very nature is a vocation to the apostolate… —ST. JOHN PAUL II, Jubilee of the Apostolate of the Laity, n. 3
Those who personally know the seers have attested that they have beautiful, normal families.
2. The Ruini Commission has only endorsed as “supernatural” the first seven apparitions of Medjugorje. The rest must not be authentic then.
Only six of the apparitions at Fatima were approved, even though there was another apparition in 1929, and Sr. Lucia received several visitations throughout her life. At Betania, only one of the apparitions was approved. In Itapiranga, Brazil, the bishop has approved the apparitions to Edson Glauber, which began in 1994, and continue with great frequency today. And at Kibeho in Rwanda, only the first apparitions were approved, even though one of the seers also continues to receive apparitions.
The Church only approves those apparitions which she feels confident are of a supernatural character. This does not mean, however, that any other heavenly communications alleged by the seers are not necessarily authentic, but only that the Church continues to discern them and, may never in fact, rule on them.
As a sidenote—and it is no small thing—Medjugorje has been explicitly mentioned by Our Lady in the approved messages in Itapiranga.
3 . The messages of Medjugorje are just too many and too frequent, unlike other approved apparitions.
As of this writing, Our Lady has allegedly been appearing to the seers for 36 years now. But in Laus, France, the approved apparitions there went on for over fifty years, and numbered in the thousands. It took the Church two centuries to finally approve Venerable Benoite Rencurel’s mystical experiences there. In San Nicolas, Argentina, there were over 70 apparitions. Likewise, as mentioned, the revelations to Sr. Lucia of Fatima continued her whole life, as they are thus far for Glauber and the Kibeho seer.
Rather than put God in a box, perhaps the question we should be asking is why is Heaven constantly giving us messages, and increasingly so in the 20th century? A cursory look at the “signs of the times” in both the Church and the world should answer that question for most souls.
So she talks too much, this “Virgin of the Balkans”? That’s the sardonic opinion of some unabashed skeptics. Have they eyes but do not see, and ears but do not hear? Clearly the voice in the messages of Medjugorje is that of a motherly and strong woman who does not pamper her children, but teaches them, exhorts and pushes them to assume greater responsibility for the future of our planet: ‘A large part of what will happen depends on your prayers’… We must allow God all the time he wills to take for the transfiguration of all time and space before the Holy Face of the One who is, was, and will come again. —Bishop Gilbert Aubry of St. Denis, Reunion Island; Forward to “Medjugorje: the 90’s—The Triumph of the Heart” by Sr. Emmanuel
Heaven would seem to agree. In the approved apparition to Edson Glauber in Brazil, the Archangel St. Michael relayed in 1995:
Pray, asking my powerful protection and I promise to pray to the Lord for each one of you. The most Holy Virgin has come to the world on many occasions during these recent times to call you to repentance and to return to the Lord. However, she has not been heard as she should because of mankind’s ingratitude. Do not reject the messages that the Mother of God herself has been conveying to you for a while now. Pay heed to them and act upon them as soon as possible, for the present times are very urgent and concerning. —spiritdaily.com
Here is why “private revelation” cannot so easily be dismissed as far too many “intellectuals” and “guardians of orthodoxy” tend to do today. To recognize the consequences of not listening to Heaven’s messages, one need look no further than Fatima.
Since we did not heed this appeal of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled, Russia has invaded the world with her errors. And if we have not yet seen the complete fulfillment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little with great strides. If we do not reject the path of sin, hatred, revenge, injustice, violations of the rights of the human person, immorality and violence, etc. And let us not say that it is God who is punishing us in this way; on the contrary it is people themselves who are preparing their own punishment. In his kindness God warns us and calls us to the right path, while respecting the freedom he has given us; hence people are responsible. —visionary Sr. Lucia in a letter to the Holy Father, May 12th, 1982; “The Message of Fatima”, vatican.va
4. The seers are wealthy and in it for the money.
The Church frowns upon anyone who would profit directly from apparitions, visions, etc. Those who personally know the seers refute this claim. The charge comes from people who have never met them. It’s called gossip at best, and at worst, calumny.
I spoke this week with a priest who has an international apostolate for the Divine Mercy. He is close friends with Ivan, one of the six seers. On the contrary, the priest said, Ivan gives away what he receives to the poor. For years, he and his wife (who is a kindergarten teacher) and children shared a house with their in-laws (they’re still there, but the in-laws have since passed on or moved out). When it comes to speaking engagements, I asked an organizer in California what Ivan charged (it was a trick question). He replied, “Nothing. He only asked for a $100 stipend for his interpreter.” Ivan, who still apparently sees the Blessed Mother each evening, spends his days in preparation and prayer for the apparition—and after the apparition—several hours coming back “down to earth.” “It gets harder as time goes by,” said the priest, “to transition back to ‘normal’ after seeing Our Lady like this for so long.” It never gets dull. Any visionary or seer in the world who has been privileged to see Our Lady attests to her unspeakable beauty and presence.
As for the other seers, Our Lady told them from the very beginning that they were to serve. As the influx of pilgrims began to grow in Medjugorje, the seers would open their houses to give a place for people to eat and sleep. Eventually, they ran hospices where, for a reasonable fee, pilgrims could stay and be fed. The priest I spoke with said that, not only will some of the seers bring you your food, but they’ll also take your plate and clean up after you.
It seems odd to me that, if this was a financial money-making scheme that, 36 years later, the seers are “living the high life”—by waiting on tables.
5. The apparitions must be false because it has become a tourist industry there.
I answered this in my writing On Medjugorje only to find recently that the late renowned Mariologist, Fr. René Laurentin, had virtually answered in the same way:
Do not forget that in the fringes of every religious shrine there are souvenir stores and wherever a Saint or a Blessed is venerated, hundred of cars are coming, and hotel structures arise to give hospitality to the pilgrims. According to the reasoning of Monsignor Gemma, we would have to say that Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe and San Giovanni Rotondo are also deceits inspired by Satan in order to make some people rich? And then, it seems to me that even the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, directly connected to the Vatican, organizes travels to Medjugorje. Therefore… —interview; cf. medjugorje.hr
Nor can you get to St. Peter’s Square without passing by strings of souvenir shops, beggars, rip-off artists, and cart after cart of meaningless “holy” trinkets. If that is our standard for judging the authenticity of a holy site, then the Vatican really is the seat of Antichrist.
6. An exorcist called Medjugorje “a great deceit”, therefore, it must be.
That comment came from Monsignor Andrea Gemma. And then the late Chief Exorcist of Rome, Fr. Gabriel Amorth said:
Medjugorje is a fortress against Satan. Satan hates Medjugorje because it is a place of conversion, of prayer, of transformation of life. —cf. “Interview with Fr. Gabriel Amorth”, medjugorje.org
Fr. René Laurentin, also weighed in:
I cannot be in agreement with Monsignor Gemma. The number of the apparitions of Our Lady is probably excessive, but I do not think that one can speak about a satanic deceit. On the other hand, we note in Medjugorje the most elevated number of conversions to the Catholic faith: what would Satan gain in bringing back so many souls to God? Look, in this kind of situations prudence is an obligation, but I am convinced that Medjugorje is a fruit of the Good and not of the Evil. —interview; cf. medjugorje.hr
Which exorcist is right? Jesus said, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.” Matthew 7:18 That’s how you’ll know.
Speaking of exorcists, a priest I know who received his calling to the priesthood while in Medjugorje, has recently become an exorcist. So now, you have a prodigy of Medjugorje casting out evil spirits?
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? (Luke 11:18)
Actually, it has been happening more frequently lately that when Our Lady appears in Medjugorje, demons begin to manifest, as was caught on camera in September, 2017. You can hear the “demonic howls” erupting in the background, confirmed by priests who were there:
Furthermore, an exorcist from the diocese of Milano, Don Ambrogio Villa, reported what Satan said during a recent exorcism:
For us (demons), Medjugorje is our hell on earth! —Spirit Daily, September 18th, 2017
It sure sounded like it.
7. The messages are banal, watery, weak and intellectually vapid.
Medjugorje’s messages focus on how to convert: through prayer of the heart, fasting, returning to Confession, reading the Word of God, and going to Mass, etc. cf. Five Smooth Stones Perhaps they could be summarized in three words, “Pray, pray, pray.” So let me ask: how many Catholics today have a consistent daily prayer life, frequently participate in the Sacraments, and actively participate in the conversion of the world?
Yes, exactly. Hence, Our Mother continues to repeat over and over again the essential message. Sure, it’s not as dramatic and apocalyptic as skeptics seem to want—it’s about as entertaining has having to eat your vegetables. But it’s precisely what Heaven says is needed at this hour.
I went to Medjugorje in 2006 to examine for myself what this place was all about.cf. A Miracle of Mercy One day, I was informed by a friend that the seer Vicka was going to speak from her home. When we arrived to her humble abode, she was standing on the balcony waving and smiling, despite the fact that she was quite ill. Then she began to speak, but not her own thoughts. Rather, she repeated the same message of Our Lady that she had been doing for 26 years. As she did, her countenance changed; she began to bounce with joy, almost unable to contain herself. As a news reporter and public speaker, I was astonished how one could give the same message, day after day after day as she was doing… and still speak as if it were the first time. Her joy was infectious; and her message was truly orthodox and beautiful.
As for the suggestion that the messages are weak… I immediately think of Fr. Don Calloway who was once a drug addict and criminal, literally led out of Japan in chains. One day, he picked up a book of those “flaky and unprofound” messages of Medjugorje called The Queen of Peace Visits Medjugorje. As he read them that night, he was overcome with something he had never experienced before.
Although I was in serious despair about my life, as I read the book, I felt as if my heart was being melted. I hung on to each word like it was transmitting life straight to me… I have never ever heard anything so amazing and convincing and so needed in my life. —testimony, from Ministry Values
The next morning, he ran to Mass, and was infused with understanding and faith in what he was seeing unfold during the Consecration. Later that day, he began to pray, and as he did, a lifetime of tears poured from him. He heard Our Lady’s voice and had a profound experience of what he called “pure maternal love.” With that, he turned from his old life, literally filling 30 garbage bags full of pornography and heavy metal music. He entered the priesthood and the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. His most recent books are powerful calls to Our Lady’s army to defeat Satan, such as Champions of the Rosary.
Sorry, how is this a “demonic deception” again? By their fruits…..
8. When the Pope renders a negative ruling, that’s when millions will break away into schism.
Yes, I hear this conspiracy theory, not only from average laymen, but some popular Catholic apologists as well. They ignore the fact that one of the greatest fruits of Medjugorje is people turning again to Christ and His Church with loyalty. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Medjugorje is preparing an army of schismatics. Quite the opposite.
On the other hand, take the phenomenon of “Maria Divine Mercy” who appeared earlier this decade. Her messages were condemned by her bishop (and his decision was not relegated to his “personal opinion” by the Vatican, as happened with the Bishop of Mostar). What were the fruits? Suspicion, division, anti-papalism, fear, and even a “book of truth” that virtually raised itself to canonical status. There you have a case study in a very, very damaging private revelation.
Whenever I encounter people who have been healed, converted, or called to the priesthood through Medjugorje, I always ask them what they’ll do if the Pope declares Medjugorje to be fake. “I cannot deny what happened to me there, but I will obey the Pontiff.” That is the response I’ve received 100% of the time.
Sure, there will always be those fringe people who reject the Magisterium when the Church doesn’t agree with their “spirituality.” We’ve seen this happen with the “Traditionalists”, some participants of the Charismatic Renewal, and yes, even now with those who don’t like Pope Francis’ pontificate and reject his legitimate authority.
As I wrote in Why Did You Quote Medjugorje?, we have to be cautious but not fearful of private revelation. We have the safe refuge of Sacred Tradition. If the seers of Medjugorje preach a different Gospel than that which has been handed on, I’ll not only be the first one out the door, but I’ll hold it open for the rest of you.
9. People are in disobedience by visiting Medjugorje because the local bishop has condemned it.
While the Bishop of Mostar made a negative ruling on the supernatural nature of the apparitions, the Vatican took the unprecedented step of transferring the final authority on the apparitions to the Vatican. Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that the bishop’s conviction…
…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 authentication of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church. —May 26, 1998; ewtn.com
This confirmed a statement from the Vatican issued two years earlier:
You cannot say people cannot go there until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want. When Catholic faithful go anywhere, they are entitled to spiritual care, so the Church does not forbid priests to accompany lay-organized trips to Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” —spokesman for the Holy See, Dr. Navarro Valls; Catholic News Service, August 21, 1996
Not only does the Pope not think that people are in disobedience who go to Medjugorje, but he sent Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser there to gain ‘“deeper knowledge” of the pastoral needs of millions of Catholics drawn there by reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary.’ cf. catholic herald.co.uk It’s hard to imagine that, after four Commissions and all the evidence produced—that if the Vatican felt this was a demonic deception, they would then work to accommodate pilgrims coming there.
Archbishop Hoser’s response? He compared Medjugorje to Lourdes and said… cf. crux.com
…you can say to the whole world that in Medjugorje, there is a light… we need these spots of light in today’s world that is going down into darkness. —Catholic News Agency, April 5th, 2017
Update: As of December 7th, 2017, the Vatican will now permit “official” pilgrimages to Medjugorje. See here.
10. The children asked and did silly things with Our Lady. For example, Jakov asked the Virgin whether Dynamo, the soccer team from Zagreb, would win the title. This gave rise during the apparition (in the supposed presence of Our Lady) to mad laughter on the part of the other seers. Another time, Jakov wished Our Lady “Happy Birthday”.
Jakov is the youngest of all the seers. He asked a question that only a little boy would ask. This is proof that Jakov was an innocent if not naive child—not that Our Lady’s apparitions were false. It’s also proof that the objector has no sense of humor.
Apparitions to children are both good, and in a certain way, problematic. As Cardinal Ratzinger noted in his commentary on the Message of Fatima:
Perhaps this explains why children tend to be the ones to receive these apparitions: their souls are as yet little disturbed, their interior powers of perception are still not impaired. “On the lips of children and of babes you have found praise”, replies Jesus with a phrase of Psalm 8 (v. 3) to the criticism of the High Priests and elders, who had judged the children’s cries of “hosanna” inappropriate (cf. Mt 21:16).
And then he adds:
But neither should [their] visions be thought of as if for a moment the veil of the other world were drawn back, with heaven appearing in its pure essence, as one day we hope to see it in our definitive union with God. Rather the images are, in a manner of speaking, a synthesis of the impulse coming from on high and the capacity to receive this impulse in the visionaries, that is, the children.
But the fact that someone is raising these kinds of “smoking guns” as “proof” that the apparitions are false perhaps explains why Our Lady appears to children, and not Catholic apologists.
11. When asked, “Do you feel the Virgin as she who gives graces or as she who prays to God? Vicka replied: “As she who prays to God.”
The answer is both. Nonetheless, even if Vicka is wrong, her answer may merely reflect her own theological limitations—not an indication of the authenticity of the apparitions.
Although in some passages of their writings, the prophets may have written something doctrinally erroneous, a cross-reference of their writings reveals that such doctrinal errors were “unintentional.” —Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, Newsletter, Missionaries of the Holy Trinity, January-May 2014
In the order of grace, graces proceed from God in the first place. Mary was redeemed and “full of grace” precisely through the merits of Christ’s Cross, an act which stretched through all of time. So, one could say that grace is dispensed from the pierced Heart of Christ our Mediator before the Father, but that Our Lady by virtue of her spiritual motherhood, mediates the graces and merits of her Son to the world. Hence, she is known under the title “Mediatrix.” cf. Catechism, n. 969
12. The Virgin was accustomed to reciting the Our Father with the seers. But how could Our Lady say: “Forgive us our trespasses,” since she has none?
The objector here would also be implying, by default, that, when Jesus taught His followers the “Our Father”, Our Lady would have abstained knowing that she was “full of grace.” This is more than doubtful. Furthermore, even if one is in a state of grace—such as after Confession—we can still pray “forgive us our trespasses” on behalf of all of humanity. This “smoking gun” strikes me as legalism.
13. Our Lady allegedly said, “All religions are equal before God” and “It is you who are divided on this earth. The Muslims and the Orthodox, like the Catholics, are equal before my Son and before me, for you are all my children.” This is syncretism.
This passage is a misquote. Sadly, it has been repeated by several public Catholic figures and thus caused a lot of confusion. This is actually what was said by Our Lady on Thursday, October 1, 1981 after being asked the question: “Are all religions the same?”:
Members of all faiths are equal before God. God rules over each faith just like a sovereign over his kingdom. In the world, all religions are not the same because all people have not complied with the commandments of God. They reject and disparage them.
She speaks here of two things: “faiths” and then “religions.”
God does not will the divisions in Christendom, but He does “make all things work for good for those who love Him, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 And that includes those who love Him but who are not yet in full communion with the Church. The objection, I assume, is that Our Lady would even acknowledge other “faiths.” However, this is what Jesus had to say:
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:39-40)
Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: “For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.” “Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1271
Regarding other religions, as shown, Our Lady did not say that “all religions are equal before God” but in fact “are not the same.” Indeed, the members, the people, are equal before God in all faiths and religions. To Our Lady, all peoples are her children as she is the “new Eve.” In Genesis, Adam named the first woman Eve…
…because she was the mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:20)
The Vatican approved a prayer from the apparition in Amsterdam, Holland where Our Lady calls herself “Our Lady of All Nations.” The Lord wills “everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4 This too, then, is Our Lady’s desire, and as such, she seeks to mother all peoples.
Here, we must differentiate between spiritual brotherhood and that brotherhood that is common by virtue of our ancestral heritage. It says in the Catechism:
Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for “from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth”. O wondrous vision, which makes us contemplate the human race in the unity of its origin in God. . . in the unity of its nature, composed equally in all men of a material body and a spiritual soul… truly brethren. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 360-361
Jesus is the fulfillment of all religious longing. However, “all religions are not the same” precisely because they do not all follow the will of God, which includes the need for the Sacraments of initiation (baptism, etc.) necessary for salvation, and which inaugurate one into the “family of God.” But God looks at Muslims, Orthodox, and Catholics, not by their religions, but by their hearts, and as such, providence is always guiding them toward the true Faith in ways often unseen:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 847-848
In the presence of the Indian Ocean Regional Episcopal Conference during their ad limina meeting with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II answered their question regarding the message of Medjugorje:
The message insists on peace, on the relations between Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims. There, you find the key to the comprehension of what is happening in the world and of its future. —Revised Medjugorje: the 90’s, The Triumph of the Heart; Sr. Emmanuel; pg. 196
14: Our Lady allegedly said: “In God there are no divisions or religions; it is you in the world who have created divisions.”
This is true. God is one. There are no divisions. And God is not a religion. Religion is the composite of man’s yearnings, rituals, and expression directed toward the Creator. It is spirituality ordered. Moreover, the invitation to come to God is open to everyone. “For God so loved the world… whoever believes in Him may not perish.” When Jesus established His Church, He was not establishing a religion, but His Kingdom. We identify this Kingdom by the terms “Catholic Church” precisely because man has “created divisions.”
Jesus himself, at the hour of his Passion, prayed “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). This unity, which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people, is not something added on, but stands at the very heart of Christ’s mission. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Ut Unum Sint, May 25th, 1995; vatican.va
According to Jesus’ prayer, someday, there will be one flock under one Shepherd. Perhaps you and I will say, “Ah, at last, the world is Catholic,” and we won’t be wrong. But in the Book of Revelation, this is how St. John records it:
“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3).
We will all simply be called “his people.”
15: On September 4, 1982, Our Lady allegedly said, “Jesus prefers that you address yourselves directly to Him rather than through an intermediary. In the meantime, if you wish to give yourselves completely to God and if you wish that I be your protector, then confide to me all your intentions, your fasts, and your sacrifices so that I can dispose of them according to the will of God.”
What is the objection? This teaching is consistent with both the Scriptures and what is known as Marian Consecration. Isn’t this what Jesus said Himself?
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28).
Mary gives herself to us so that we may give ourselves completely to Jesus. In her humility, Mary is pointing constantly to Jesus, as she should. But she also hints at Consecration to her when she says, “If you wish to give yourselves completely to God…” Indeed, this is the heart of St. Louis de Montfort’s teachings: totus tuus —“totally yours”. Montfort’s prayer of Consecration is summarized by her statement:“if you wish that I be your protector, then confide to me all your intentions, your fasts, and your sacrifices so that I can dispose of them according to the will of God.”
16. The seers are disobedient because they keep speaking in churches.
The Bishop of Mostar ordered that the apparitions were not to take place in the local parish or rectory. The seers, then, moved the location of these visitations to their homes or to “Apparition Hill.” Also noteworthy is how the seers were caught between the decades old dispute of who controlled St. James parish there—the Bishop of Mostar or the Franciscans, under whose care the seers were entrusted.
Setting aside the fabricated lies and distortions that were propagated in a serious smear campaign (see Medjugorje… What You May Not Know), those close to the seers that I have spoken with testify to their faithfulness and desire to remain obedient to the Bishop, the Vatican, and Our Lady. It is notable that the seers, despite 36 years of local ecclesial rejection, do not speak out against the clergy, but constantly pray for them. (It is also notable that the fiercest critics of Medjugorje have rarely either been there or met the seers in order to form an objective opinion—before openly assassinating the seer’s characters and pronouncing judgment before the Vatican does.)
The seers have been invited by many clergy throughout the years, including bishops, to speak in dioceses in various countries. However, typical of these allegations of “disobedience” are articles like this. It alleges that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made a “bombshell” announcement ‘that no cleric or faithful may participate in any meetings, conferences, or public celebrations in which the authenticity of the apparitions is taken for granted.’ However, there’s nothing new there, as I explained in #9. It’s when an event takes the apparitions “for granted” that clergy are not to participate or host such an event out of respect for the discernment process still underway.
The question isn’t whether the seers are disobedient, but whether some clergy are.
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn published in his archdiocesan newspaper a journey he took to Medjugorje. He relates the following anecdote, which is a reflection of the spirit of obedience that, those who actually know the seers, can confirm:
On Saturday morning we heard one of the visionaries speak and I must say that everything that he said was very solid. Someone in the audience asked him a question about “Communion in the hand.” His answer was very direct and very simple. “Do what the Church permits you to do. You will always be safe.” —Published in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, October 19, 2006; medjugorje.ws
However, a more recent anecdote came from Pope Francis himself who affirms that the obedience of a seer is one of the criteria considered when examining alleged apparitions. It appeared in an interview with Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello in the book She’s My Mother. Encounters with Mary:
Then-Archbishop Bergoglio opposed the meeting (without expressing his opinion regarding the authenticity of the apparitions) because “one of the visionaries had spoken and explained a bit of everything, and Our Lady was supposed to appear to him at 4:30 PM. That is to say, he knew the Virgin Mary’s schedule. So I said: No, I don’t want this kind of thing here. I said no, not in the church.”—Aleteia.org, October 18th, 2018
What is not known is whether the organizers conveyed this disapproval to the seer. Having been invited to dioceses to speak myself, I occasionally learn about some of the politics and resistance to my ministry by some individuals only afterward (though I have never and would never speak in a church where a bishop gave explicit disapproval that I was aware of). Given the established integrity of the seers to this point and that the seers have been obedient to directives in the past not to have their meetings in some churches, it is plausible that the seer in this case was not told.
It’s a matter of justice to find out all the facts before concluding who did not listen to the Archbishop, which they should have. If the seer knew, he or she should have declined the invitation.
On a side note, Pope Francis goes on to say in that interview:
God performs miracles in Medjugorje. In the midst of the craziness of human beings, God continues to work miracles… I think there’s grace in Medjugorje. There’s no denying it. There are people who have conversions. But there’s also a lack of discernment… —Aleteia.org, October 18th, 2018
One can only speculate what Pope Francis sees as “a lack of discernement.” One area, if not precisely what he’s referring to, is the pastoral care of pilgrims who come to Medjugorje. In this regard, in May of 2018, Pope Francis placed Archbishop Henrik Hoser as his envoy to oversee this pastoral initiative.
17. Medjugorje has heavy overtones of Charismaticism, a movement which infiltrated the Church from Protestantism in the late 1960’s.
This is a common objection from usually “traditionalist” Catholics who do not recognize the legitimacy of the Charismatic Renewal in the Church (which had its beginnings before the Blessed Sacrament at a Catholic University—not Protestantism. See Charismatic? Part I). The truth is, all the popes from Paul VI on have acknowledged the Renewal as an authentic movement intended for the whole body of Christ. Isn’t it ironic that those who claim that the seers are disobedient to the Church often, in the same turn, reject the Magisterium’s clear pronunciations on the Charismatic Renewal?
How could this ‘spiritual renewal’ not be a chance for the Church and the world? And how, in this case, could one not take all the means to ensure that it remains so…? —POPE PAUL VI, International Conference on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, May 19, 1975, Rome, Italy, www.ewtn.com
I am convinced that this movement is a very important component in the total renewal of the Church, in this spiritual renewal of the Church. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, special audience with Cardinal Suenens and the Council Members of the International Charismatic Renewal Office, December 11th, 1979, http://www.archdpdx.org/ccr/popes.html
The emergence of the Renewal following the Second Vatican Council was a particular gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church…. At the end of this Second Millennium, the Church needs more than ever to turn in confidence and hope to the Holy Spirit… —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Council of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office, May 14th, 1992
In a speech that leaves no ambiguity over whether or not the Renewal is meant to have a role among the entire Church, the late pope said:
The institutional and charismatic aspects are co-essential as it were to the Church’s constitution. They contribute, although differently, to the life, renewal and sanctification of God’s People. —Speech to the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, www.vatican.va
And while still a Cardinal, Pope Benedict said:
I am really a friend of movements—Communione e Liberazione, Focolare, and the Charismatic Renewal. I think this is a sign of the Springtime and of the presence of the Holy Spirit. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Interview with Raymond Arroyo, EWTN, The World Over, September 5th, 2003
But once again, the uber-rational mind in our day has rejected the charisms of the Holy Spirit because they can be, frankly, messy—even if they are mentioned in the Catechism.
Whatever their character—sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues—charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2003
18. Vicka flinched during an apparition.
According to the seers (and confirmed by a multitude of tests by scientific teams from several countries over several years), during the apparitions, everything around them disappears and they see nothing but Our Lady.
However, there is a video circulating in which, during an apparition, someone suddenly jabs their hand into Vicka’s face to which she appears to slightly flinch. Aha! Say the skeptics. They are faking it!
Harassed with questions, Vicka explained that during this apparition she had a moment of emotion, because the Virgin held the Infant Jesus in her arms and she was afraid that he was falling. —Fr. René Laurentin, Dernières nouvelles de Medjugorje, No 3, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1985, p. 32
Vicka’s reply is just as strange as the conclusion of the skeptics in this “Flinchgate.” And here are several reasons why. From the beginning of the phenomenon to 2006, the seers have been intensely studied by both the atheistic Communists and teams of scientists, and all have reported that the children are not lying, manufacturing or hallucinating during the apparitions.
The ecstasies are not pathological, nor is there any element of deceit. No scientific discipline seems able to describe these phenomena. The apparitions at Medjugorje cannot be explained scientifically. In one word, these young people are healthy, and there is no sign of epilepsy, nor is it a sleep, dream, or trance state. It is neither a case of pathological hallucination nor hallucination in the hearing or sight facilities…. —8:201-204; “Science Tests the Visionaries”, cf. divinemysteries.info
But suddenly, all these studies, which also used aggressive testing under strict conditions, are now invalid because Vicka reacted this one time? As professor of theology/philosophy Daniel O’Connor explains:
St. Teresa of Avila makes it clear that the suspension of the senses “may be incomplete, thereby allowing the ecstatic to dictate the revelations received.” Further, the miniscule amount which [Vicka] flinched and the aggressive nature of the hand’s movement indicate to me validity far moreso than invalidity. — “Michael Voris and Medjugorje“ by Daniel O’Connor
Perhaps this is the main point: the Ruini Commission has examined all the facts and has had access to all of the above, including such videos. And yet, they ruled 13-2 that the first seven apparitions are “supernatural” and that…
…the six young seers were psychically normal and were caught by surprise by the apparition, and that nothing of what they had seen was influenced by either the Franciscans of the parish or any other subjects. They showed resistance in telling what happened despite the police [arresting] them and death [threats against] them. The Commission also rejected the hypothesis of a demonic origin of the apparitions. —May 16th, 2017; lastampa.it
The skeptics insist that her answer is too bizarre to be believable and that she fabricated it, and thus, this discredits her. Well, keep in mind that at the time of this video, the seers were under immense pressure from Communist authorities, if not the Church itself. Was Vicka afraid that her flinch might discredit or endanger the seers who were already in grave danger from the authorities, and so “fabricated” an answer on the spot? Possibly, or not. Keeping in mind Benedict XIV’s maxim that “union with God by charity is not requisite in order to have the gift of prophecy, and thus it was at times bestowed even upon sinners…,” POPE BENEDICT XIV, Heroic Virtue, Vol. III, p. 160 the real question is whether Vicka is fabricating stories today. Those who know her attest to her growth in virtue and integrity since those first days, which is the real sign that the Vatican looks for—not perfection.
And yet, perhaps it is oddities like this, or the existence of “ten secrets” to be revealed in the future, that have given pause to the Commission on later apparitions. Here is where we continue to trust in the guidance of the Magisterium and remain, as they are, open to all possibilities.
It’s also all the more reason, then, to remain prudent when it comes to any private revelation, but not fearful. For we have Sacred Tradition to ultimately filter what is true, and what is not… and fruits to tell us when a tree is good, or when it is rotten.
19. I don’t have to go to Medjugorje, nor does anyone else.
In biting condescension, a well-known Catholic apologist recently called those who go on pilgrimage to Medjugorje “naive truth-hungry Catholics.” It’s precisely this kind of arrogance that is divisive—not the messages or fruits of Medjugorje. Besides, this apologist now has St. John Paul II in his crosshairs as well. In 1987, John Paul II had a private conversation with the seer Mirjana Soldo to whom he said:churchinhistory.org
If I were not Pope I would already be in Medjugorje confessing. —medjugorje.ws
Ah, that poor, naive pope.
Do people need to go to Medjugorje? It’s not for that apologist nor I to say. But clearly, God seems to think many people do. For it is there that some of the most remarkable conversions have been happening to people who otherwise, in their own parishes, have remained asleep. The characterization that everyone who goes to Medjugorje is a naive, emotionally-driven, deceived soul is, of course, ludicrous. Many atheists and critics have gone there completely skeptical—and found Christ instead. And hundreds if not thousands of priests heard their calling, often quite supernaturally, while on pilgrimage there. Why? First, because God willed it there, obviously. And second, to highlight the presence of Our Lady in what may be the “last apparition” on earth. see The Last Apparitions on Earth
When I have appeared for the final time to the last visionary of Medjugorje, I will no longer come in apparition to earth again, because it will no longer be necessary. —Our Lady of Medjugorje, Final Harvest, Wayne Weibel, pg. 170
On this universal level, if victory comes it will be brought by Mary. Christ will conquer through her because He wants the Church’s victories now and in the future to be linked to her… —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 221
20. Our Lady apparently let the villagers touch her dress, which became dirty. This proves the apparition is false as she would never do that.
This event occurred on August 2nd, 1981 on the feast day of Our Lady of the Angels, which is connected with St. Francis of Assisi. One of the visionaries, Mirjana Soldo, retells the event in her autobiography My Heart Will Triumph:
…Marija reported that Our Lady said, “All of you together go to the meadow at Gumno [which means “threshing floor”]. A great struggle is about to unfold—a struggle between my Son and Satan. Human souls are at stake.” …Some of the people had asked us if they could touch Our Lady, and when we presented their request, she said that whoever wanted to could approach her. One by one, we took their hands and guided them to touch Our Lady’s dress. The experience was strange for us visionaries— it was difficult to comprehend that only we could see Our Lady. From our perspective, guiding people to touch her was like leading the blind. Their reactions were lovely, especially the children. It seemed that most felt something. A few reported a sensation like “electricity” and others were overcome with emotion. But as more people touched Our Lady, I noticed black spots forming on her dress, and the spots congealed into a large, coal-colored stain. I cried at the sight of it. “Her dress!” yelled Marija, also crying. The stains, said Our Lady, represented sins that had never been confessed. She suddenly vanished. After praying for a while, we stood in the darkness and told the people what we saw. They were nearly as upset as we were. Someone suggested that everyone there should go to confession, and the next day repentant villagers inundated the priests. —My Heart Will Triumph (pp. 345-346), Mirjana Soldo; (Sean Bloomfield & Musa Miljenko); Catholic Shop, Kindle Edition.
Jesus constantly told parables to teach people. In the end, His very body became a parable of both His infinite love and the nature of sin. If Christ allowed humans, not only to touch, but to beat, scourge, and pierce His pure and holy flesh, then it is not a stretch that Our Lady would allow the villagers to touch her dress so as also to tell a parable: sin, especially unconfessed sin, blackens the soul of a person and indeed the entire Body of Christ.
“Mary figured profoundly in the history of salvation and in a certain way unites and mirrors within herself the central truths of the faith.” Among all believers she is like a “mirror” in which are reflected in the most profound and limpid way “the mighty works of God.” —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 25
That day, Our Lady was permitted to reflect in a profound way, not the perfection, but the unconfessed sins of the Church. And according to seers all over the world, we make her cry too. And what were the fruits of that profound encounter on August 2nd? The next day, there were lines to the confessionals.
And what of Our Lady? Well, no doubt when she returned to Heaven, she had to borrow an angel’s cloak while St. Francis of Assisi washed her dress. (Yes, that was a joke.)
As a personal sidenote, I was in a room where Our Lady seemed to touch a woman whom I was praying with. You can read that encounter here.
21. Our Lady allegedly declared two priests to be innocent after the Bishop laicized them.
Apparently, when two Franciscan priests were suspended by Bishop Zanic, the seer Vicka allegedly communicated: “Our Lady wants it said to the bishop that he has made a premature decision. Let him reflect again, and listen well to both parties. He must be just and patient. She says that both priests are not guilty.” This criticism, allegedly from Our Lady, is said to have changed Bishop Zanic’s position: “Our Lady does not criticize the bishop.” However, in 1993, the Apostolic Signatura Tribunal determined that the bishop’s declaration of ‘ad statem laicalem’ against the priests was “unjust and illegal”. cf. churchinhistory.org; Apostolic Signatura Tribunal, March 27, 1993, case No. 17907/86CA
If anything, this was proof that Our Lady really was speaking.
22. Our Lady apparently endorsed the reading of The Poem of the Man-God, which had been on the Index of Forbidden books.
The Index was abolished in 1966. On the Index was also included the condemnation of Galileo’s theory (which the Church has now apologized for) as well as the Diary of St. Faustina (which the Church and popes now quote from on Divine Mercy Sunday, etc.). But what about The Poem of the Man-God?
In 1993, Bishop Boland of Birmingham, AL wrote the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for clarification on the “Poem” on behalf of an inquirer. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger responded that a disclaimer had to be published in future volumes. Bishop Boland’s letter to his inquirer stated:
In the light of the recent recurrance [sic] of interest in the work, the Congregation has come to the conclusion that a further clarification to the “Notes” previously issued is now in order. Thus it has directed a particular request to the Italian Bishops’ Conference to contact the publishing house which is concerned with the distribution of the writings in Italy in order to see to it that in any future reissue of the work “it might be clearly indicated from the very first page that the ‘visions’ and ‘dictations’ referred to in it are simply the literary forms used by the author to narrate in her own way the life of Jesus. They cannot be considered supernatural in origin.” —(decree: Prot.N. 144/58 i, dated April 17, 1993); cf. ewtn.com
This is all to say then that it is not forbidden to read The Poem of the Man-God (I have never read it). But whether it is prudent or not is another thing. Given the Vatican’s original condemnation, serious discernment is necessary. But then, like Faustina’s Diary, there is a convoluted back-story on this as well (see here) that details both the support of a pope and clergy and the resistance from others within the Curia. There are apparently also some inexplicable details written in the volumes about the Holy Land and Christ’s journey—inexplicable since Valtorta was bedridden for 28 years during when she authored them.
Most important is that the faithful are always obedient to the Magisterium, whether they agree or not with its decisions (including Medjugorje). As was the case with Faustina’s diary and the censure of St. Pio, we know that the Church can get these things wrong—sometimes terribly wrong. But obedience is always what God expects from us, and we leave the rest to Him.
23. Fr. Tom Vlasic was the seers’ spiritual director and was “endorsed” by Our Lady, even though he is no longer a priest in good standing.
Author Denis Nolan writes:
Regardless of media reports to the contrary, none of the visionaries of Medjugorje ever considered him to be their spiritual director and he was never pastor of St. James parish, (a fact confirmed by the current Bishop of Mostar who writes on his website, “[Fr. Tomislav Vlašić] was officially assigned as associate pastor in Medjugorje”)… It appears he decided to go on a different path in the mid 80’s, having been heavily influenced by a German woman who had come to Medjugorje, Agnes Heupel, who claimed to be a visionary, and with whom he formed his own community in 1987. During this time he tried forcing one of the visionaries of Medjugorje, Marija Pavlovic, to publicly state that Our Lady supported his “spiritual marriage” with Agnes Heupel and the new way of life of his community. To the contrary, Marija’s conscience forced her to write a public statement on July 11, 1988, disavowing any connection with him or with his community: “I repeat that I never received from the Gospa, nor gave Fr. Tomislav or anyone else, a confirmation of the program of Fr. Tomislav and Agnes Heupel.” Though Fr. Vlasic would later build a house outside of Medjugorje behind the hill of Crnica, between the village of Surmanc and Bijakovici, he, himself, kept distant from Medjugorje and was never involved in any activities of the parish. —cf. “Regarding Recent News Reports Concerning Fr. Tomislav Vlasic”, The Spirit of Medjugorje
Sadly, Vlašić and Heupel have apparently launched into the “new age” movement. This, of course, is in sharp contrast to the seers who have remained faithful Catholics in every respect. Let that speak for itself if this is the case.
In a statement linked on Wikipedia, Marija Pavlovic’s statement further reads:
…before God, before the Madonna and the Church of Jesus Christ. Everything that can be understood as a confirmation or approval of this Work of Fr. Tomislav and Agnes Heupel, on the part of the Madonna through me, absolutely does not correspond to the truth and furthermore the idea that I had a spontaneous desire to write down this testimony is also not true. —Ante Luburić (31 August 2008). “Fra Tomislav Vlašić “within the context of the Medjugorje phenomenon””; Diocese of Mostar.
Another perspective on this comes from Wayne Wieble, a former journalist who was converted through Medjugorje. His writings have impacted thousands of people all over the world, especially in the early years of the apparitions. He is one of the closest friends of the seer Marija (and knows them all well). He said that Fr. Tomislav was indeed a spiritual advisor of sorts, but there is no document suggesting that he was “the” spiritual director. The seers have said as much, he said.
Wayne also said that there is no solid proof one way or another that Fr. Tomislav fathered a child, as a rumor goes. He also disputes the allegation that Our Lady gave any kind of message regarding Fr. Tomislav suggesting he was a “holy” or “saintly” priest. Rather, it is well know that Our Lady did say that Fr. Jozo, while he was in prison, was a “holy” priest. She also mentioned Fr. Slavko after his death as well.
The bottom line is that detractors of Medjugorje are trying to pin weak or sinful characters who were involved in one way or another with the seers as a means to completely discredit the entire phenomenon—as if the faults of others are, therefore, theirs too. If that is the case, then we should discredit Jesus and the Gospels for having had Judas as a companion for three years.
24. Pope Francis said that “this is not the Mother of Jesus.”
Asked by journalists about the alleged appearance of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje, Catholic News Agency reports Pope Francis saying:
I personally am more suspicious, I prefer the Madonna as Mother, our Mother, and not a woman who’s the head of an office, who every day sends a message at a certain hour. This is not the Mother of Jesus. And these presumed apparitions don’t have a lot of value… He clarified that this is his “personal opinion,” but added that the Madonna does not function by saying, “Come tomorrow at this time, and I will give a message to those people.” —Catholic News Agency, May 13th, 2017
The first obvious thing to note is that his comments are not an official decision by Pope Francis on the authenticity of the apparitions, but an expression of his “personal opinion.” One is free to disagree then. Indeed, his words are no doubt in contrast to St. John Paul II who also expressed his personal opinion, but in the positive. But let’s take Pope Francis’ words at face value since his perspective is still important.
He says that the Madonna does not function by saying, “Come tomorrow at this time, and I will give a message”. However, that’s precisely what happened with the approved apparition in Fatima. The three Portuguese seers told the authorities that Our Lady was going to appear on October 13th “at high noon.” So tens of thousands gathered, including skeptics who no doubt said the very same thing as Francis—this is not how Our Lady functions. But as history records, Our Lady did appear along with St. Joseph and the Christ Child, and the “miracle of the sun,” as well as other miracles, took place (see Debunking the Sun Miracle Skeptics).
As noted in #3 and #4, Our Lady is appearing, sometimes on a daily basis, to other seers throughout the world at this time, several who have explicit approval of their bishop on some level. So while it is the personal opinion of Pope Francis that this is not the function of a Mother to appear so frequently, apparently Heaven disagrees.
These fruits are tangible, evident. And in our diocese and in many other places, I observe graces of conversion, graces of a life of supernatural faith, of vocations, of healings, of a rediscovering of the sacraments, of confession. These are all things which do not mislead. This is the reason why I can only say that it is these fruits which enable me, as bishop, to pass a moral judgment. And if as Jesus said, we must judge the tree by its fruits, I am obliged to say that the tree is good.” —Cardinal Schönborn, Vienna, Medjugorje Gebetsakion, #50; Stella Maris, #343, pp. 19, 20
We are all praying one Hail Mary before Holy Mass to Our Lady of Medjugorje. —a handwritten letter to Denis Nolan from St. Teresa of Calcutta , April 8th, 1992
For the rest, nobody is forcing us to believe, but let us at least respect it… I think that it is a blessed place and a grace of God; who goes to Medjugorje returns transformed, changed, he reflects himself in that source of grace that is Christ. —Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, interview with Bruno Volpe, March 8th, 2009, www.pontifex.roma.it
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|2.||↑||see cf. Medjugorje, Triumph of the Heart! Revised Edition, Sr. Emmanuel; the book reads like the Acts of the Apostle on steroids|
|5.||↑||cf. Five Smooth Stones|
|6.||↑||cf. A Miracle of Mercy|
|7.||↑||cf. catholic herald.co.uk|
|9.||↑||cf. Catechism, n. 969|
|11.||↑||1 Timothy 2:4|
|12.||↑||POPE BENEDICT XIV, Heroic Virtue, Vol. III, p. 160|
|14.||↑||see The Last Apparitions on Earth|
|15.||↑||cf. churchinhistory.org; Apostolic Signatura Tribunal, March 27, 1993, case No. 17907/86CA|