The Alleged Marian Apparitions
KNOWN AS: Medjugorje Apparitions.
SEERS: Ivanka Ivankovic, Mirjana Dragicevic, Vicka Ivankovic, Ivan Dragicevic, Ivan Ivankovic and Milka Pavlovic.
LOCATION: Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. (According to Msgr. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar-Duvno and Apostolic Administrator of Trebinje-Mrkanj, "They have had "visions" in Mostar, and earlier in Sarajevo, Visoko and Dubrovnik.")
YEARS: June 24, 1981 to present.
STATUS: The following is a list of correspondence that took place regarding Medjugorje:
On December 13, 1981, (Ref # 977), only 6 months after the alleged apparitions, the Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar wrote regarding the attitude toward the events in Medjugorje. The Bishop's Office expressed its desire, and even demanded, that the propaganda stop because of the disobedience of the pastoral personnel and the "visionaries." This was a futile attempt.
On April 12, 1983, (Ref. # 241), the Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar wrote A letter to the parish priest, indicating that instructions are to be followed. Again, the Bishop's Office expressed its desire, and even demanded, that the propaganda stop because of the disobedience of the pastoral personnel and the "visionaries." Once more, this was a futile attempt.
On March 31, 1983, (Ref. # 297), the Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar wrote an invitations for a meeting.
On September 27, 1983, (Ref. # 982), the Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar wrote another invitations for a meeting.
On July 19, 1984, (Ref. # 777), the Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar wrote another invitations for a meeting. The purpose of the three previously mentioned meeting was to allow the Bishop to exercise his pastoral authority by demanding that the propaganda stop because of the disobedience of the pastoral personnel and the "visionaries." These meetings also proved futile.
On October 31, 1984, at a meeting held in the Chancery Office in Mostar, the Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar demanded that Medjugorje's occurrences "be toned down and eliminated little by little."
March 25, 1985 (Ref. # 281), the Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar wrote to Rev. Tomislav Pervan, OFM, parish priest at St. James parish in Medjugorje. This letter makes reference to the priests of the parish contravening the previous instructions of the Bishop.
On January 9, 1987, the Episcopal Conference established a commission to continue the investigation of the events at Medjugorje. At this time, it was determined that while awaiting the results of the commission's investigation and the Church's judgement, pastors and faithful should observe an attitude of prudence customary in such situations. Therefore, it is not permissible to organize pilgrimages and other manifestations motivated by the supernatural character attributed to the events of Medjugorje. Legitimate devotion to Our Lady, recommended by the Church, must conform to the directives of the Magisterium and especially to those contained in the Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus of 2 February 1974 (cf. AAS, 66, 1974, pp. 113-168).
On July 24, 1987, in a sermon delivered at St. James Church in Medjugorje, the Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar stated, "In this diocese, by divine decree, I am the shepherd, teacher of faith, and judge in the matters of faith. Since Medjugorje's events have created tension and division within the Church (some believe in it, some do not), and have evaded Church control, since the recommendations and decisions of the said authorities such as the Commission, the Congregation, and the Bishops' Conference have been ineffective, I, the Ordinary of Mostar, responsible before God for the discipline in the diocese, repeat and sanction former decisions of the ecclesiastical authorities. I do forbid the priests who organize pilgrimages or come here ascribing a supernatural character to these events, to celebrate Mass in the territory of my diocese, and this until the Commission of the Bishops' Conference ends its inquiry.
On July 11, 1988, on the subject of Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, OFM, the long-time advisor to the "seers", Marija Pavlovic provided a letter that was published in the November 1988 Issue of Fidelity. This letter pertains to Fr. Vlasic's attempt to form a co-ed religious community in a house in Italy. The following is quoted from Marija's letter,
2. Now I declare that I have never asked the Madonna for any approval for this undertaking begun by Father Tomislav V. and Agnes Heupel. I have never explicitly petitioned the Madonna concerning whether I should participate in this undertaking and I have never received from the Madonna any instructions regarding this group, except that each one of us should remain free in choosing his own way of life.
3. From the text and testimonies which bear my signature it follows that the Madonna communicated to me that the community and the program of Father Tomislav V. and Agnes Heupel are the way God intended for me and the rest of us. Now I repeat that I have never received from the Madonna, nor have I given to Father Tomislav V., not to any other individual, any such approval or instructions from the Madonna.
4. My first declaration, as published in Croatian and Italian, does not correspond to the truth. I personally had no desire to give any sort of written declaration. Father Tomislav V. kept suggesting to me, stressing over and over again, that I as a seer should write the declaration which the world was waiting for.
5. I also have to say that the contents of "My Declaration" as it presented bearing my signature pose some questions. For the time being, I can give this unequivocal answer, which I do before God, the Madonna, and the Church of Jesus Christ: "Anything in my statement which might be construed as the Madonna's approval of the undertaking of Father Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes Heupel is absolutely not in conformity with the truth, and in the same way, the idea that I had a spontaneous desire to write my declaration of April 1988 is also not in conformity with the truth."
In May, 1990, the February, 1990, statement of the Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar, appeared in Fidelity Magazine.
When asked by a priest from Panama as to "the reasons why I do not believe in the 'apparitions.' I told him that I have at least 20 reasons not to believe, of which only one is necessary for those who are sober and well instructed in the faith to come to the conclusion that the apparitions are not of supernatural origin." What follows are some of the reasons:
1. "An ex-Franciscan priest Ivica Vego, due to his disobedience, by an order of the Holy Father the pope, was thrown out of the Franciscan religious order by his General, dispensed from his vows and suspended 'a divinis.' He did not obey this order, and continued to celebrate Mass, distribute the sacraments and pass the time with his mistress. According to the diary of Vicka and the statements of the 'seers', Our Lady claimed 13 times that Vego was innocent and that the bishop was wrong. When his mistress, Sister Leopolda, a nun, became pregnant, both of them left Medjugorje and the religious life and began to live together near Medjugorje where their child was born. Now they have two children."
2. "The Marian theologian Rene Laurentin behaves in the same manner. He came to visit me around Christmas 1983, and I offered him dinner. When he asked me why I did not believe in the apparitions, I told him that according to the diary of Vicka and the words of the other 'seers' this 'Lady' has been speaking against the bishop. Laurentin quickly responded: 'Don't publish that, because there are so many pilgrims and converts here.' I was scandalized by this statement of this well-known Mariologist! Unfortunately this has remained Laurentin's position: to hide the truth and defend falsehoods. He has written around ten books on the topic of Medjugorje, and in almost all of them, the truth and Bishop Zanic are under fire. He knows well what people like to hear. Therefore, it was relatively easy for him to find those who would believe him. 'A veritate quidam auditum avertent, ad fabulas autem convertentur' -- 'They will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths' (2 Tim. 4:4). The 'seers' and defenders of Medjugorje led by Laurentin from the very outset have seen that the modern believer in a communist country very quickly believes in something 'miraculous,' in apparent miraculous healings and apparent messages from 'Our Lady.'"
3. "The main players on which Medjugorje rests are retired Archbishop F. Franic, R. Laurentin, L. Rupcic OFM, Amorth, Rastelli S.J., and some Franciscans and charismatics from all over the world. Many books have been quickly published, as well as articles, brochures, films, and souvenirs. There are tourist agencies, pilgrimages, 600,000 copies of prayerbooks (written by two Franciscans, Vego and Prusina, who were thrown out of their Order) published in many languages, fanatical prayer groups that are inspired by the apparent messages of Our Lady, and finally there is the greatest motivator of all -- money. No one even mentions that which throws doubt on the 'apparitions.' The bishop has been warning everyone, but the 'machinery' has been working overtime."
4. "Fifty miraculous healings have been mentioned, then 150, 200, 300, and so on. Laurentin chose 56 dossiers and sent them to the 'Bureau medical de Lourdes.' Dr. Mangiapan responded in their Bulletin, April '84, that these dossiers have no practical value, and they cannot be used or considered as serious proofs of the apparitions in Medjugorje. Much has been written about the healing of Diane Basile. I sent the dossier to Dr. Mangiapan who studied the case and then took the position 'opinion plus que reservée.' It is a case of multiple sclerosis. More will be written about this later in a book."
5. "The credibility of the 'seers' - Mirjana Dragicevic. One month after the beginning of the 'apparitions' I went to Medjugorje to question the 'seers.' I asked each of them to take an oath on the cross and demanded that they speak the truth. (This conversation and oath were recorded on tape.) The first one was Mirjana: 'We went to look for our sheep when at once...' (The associate pastor interrupted and told me that they actually went out to smoke, which they hid from their parents.) 'Wait a minute, Mirjana, you're under oath. Did you go out to look for your sheep?' She put her hand over her mouth. 'Forgive me, we went out to smoke,' she said. She then showed me the watch on which the 'miracle' occurred because the hands of the watch had gone haywire. I took the watch to a watch expert, who said that the watch had certainly fallen and become disordered. After bringing the watch back to her I told her not to mention that a miracle occurred. Yet, on cassettes taped later on, she went to to speak of how a miracle occurred with the watch and that initially they had gone out to search for their sheep."
"Later on, she claimed that Our Lady said that all faiths are equal. How much can we believe Mirjana?"
6. "Vicka Ivankovic has been the main 'seer' from the beginning and through her the creator of Medjugorje, Rev. Tomislav Vlasic OFM, has launched the main portion of falsehoods regarding Medjugorje. He presented himself to the Pope in a letter May 13, 1984 as follows: 'I am Rev. Tomislav Vlasic, the one, according to Divine Providence, who guides the seers of Medjugorje.' It would have been better for him to withdraw into the 'desert' and remain silent, because his past speaks enough about him. Vicka spoke and wrote much, and in so doing she fell into many contradictions. Prof. Nikola Bulai, a member of the first commission, questioned her and wrote a 60-page study on her. He numbered all the illogicalities and falsehoods of her diary..."
7. "On the 14th of January 1982 Vicka, Marija, and little Jakov came to visit me. Vicka began to speak quite nervously because she was speaking falsehoods. She said, 'Our Lady sent us to you to tell you that you are too harsh with Franciscans...' In what way? 'We don't know!' Two Franciscan chaplains in Mostar, Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina, which the bishop sought to remove from Mostar because of disorder and disobedience towards the faithful of the newly-established cathedral parish in Mostar, defended themselves before their superiors by saying they would not leave Mostar because Our Lady, through Vicka, told them not to leave. This was mentioned to me by a member of the Franciscan Provincial Council."
"I asked Vicka at our meeting: 'Did Our Lady mention anything about the Mostar chaplains, Vego and Prusina?' 'She did not. We don't know them,' responded all three. Our conversation lasted 30 minutes, and I taped all of it. I repeated the question of the chaplains of Mostar several times, and they always responded, 'We don't know them.' Later on, I found from Vicka's diary that they knew the chaplains very well. It was clear to me that they were lying, yet I did not want to mention this to them in order to maintain their confidence during our conversations."
The above are just a few quotes, they being sufficient to demonstrate that Medjugorje is not a heavenly manifestation. The Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar, concluded by saying,
"There are many prayers and pious activities in Medjugorje. Some say that there have been conversions as well. I have received, indeed, many truly touching letters, and I feel sorry for those who will sooner or later be disappointed. But there has also been fanaticism, superstition, and misinformation in the events of Medjugorje. I have also received many rude accusations in the mail which I cannot mention, all in the name of the "Queen of Peace". That which is positive in these events cannot justify the falsehoods and lies that have been spread in order to win the world over for God. Jesus said: "I have come into the world to give witness to the truth" (John 18:37). The Church would easily be able to attract the masses if it dropped the sixth commandment, if divorce were allowed, if it let everyone believe and do what they wanted. But Jesus went on the cross for the truth, and the martyrs gave up their lives for the truth. St. Paul writes to his faithful: "If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed" (Gal 1:9). Today, many prayer groups all over the world pray from Rev. Ivica Vego's prayerbook and meditate over the supposed messages of Our Lady as if these things were more important than the Bible and the teaching Magisterium of the Church. I do believe, despite these events, that Our Lady shall beg the necessary graces for the Church in order for it to live Christ's truth."
"Those who have written about Medjugorje have sold their books well and have made great profits. Unfortunately, those who have written critically haven't fared as well because they have come across an organized boycott."
On November 27-28, 1990, during the meeting at Zagreb, the Bishop's Conference of Yugoslavia stated,
"On the basis of studies that have been made to this moment, it cannot be confirmed that supernatural apparitions and revelations are occurring here."
"Yet, the gathering of faithful from various parts of the world to Medjugorje, motivated by reasons of faith, requires the pastoral attention and care of the bishops. Therefore, in the spirit of church communion, our bishops' conference is willing to assist the diocesan bishop in organizing the pastoral activity in Medjugorje so that a proper liturgical and sacramental life may be promoted, and so that manifestations and contents which are not in accord with the spirit of the church may be prevented and hindered
In October, 1993, the Most Rev. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar stated,
"But after a few months, when he heard the small fibs and large lies, insincerities, inexactitudes, and all sorts of fabricated stories from those who claimed that the Gospa was appearing to them, he became totally convinced that it was not a matter of supernatural apparitions of the Gospa. Then he started to bring out the truth and to expose the falsehoods. The greatest satisfaction of his ten years of hard work was when the bishops of Yugoslavia at their spring meeting at Zadar on April 10, 1991, dutifully declared: 'On the basis of studies it cannot be affirmed that supernatural apparitions and revelations are occurring.' This is an exceptionally clear ecclesiastical ruling, and is a rebuttal of the claims of all those who claim to have seen the Gospa everywhere and at any time since the year of 1981."
"The verdict of the Bishops' Conference is for me an authoritative instruction, responsive, and binding unless another kind of verdict is brought. But until now there has been no other (ecclesiastical) judgment. In the same declaration the bishops said that a healthy devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary necessarily must be in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church and set about publishing proper liturgical-pastoral directives to that effect."
"The Church recommends prayer, fasting, penance, reconciliation, and conversion to each of its members. I do not want to forbid anyone to go wherever he wants to pray to God. But I cannot approve that from the altar of the church in Medjugorje the priests themselves advertise 'pilgrimages to the place of apparitions,' despite the fact that they have simply not been recognized as supernatural by the church. If, after serious, solid, and professional investigation, our Bishops' Conference had the courage to declare that Medjugorje's apparitions are not supernatural, in spite of massive stories and convictions to the contrary, then that is a sign that the Church, even in the 20th century, 'upholds the truth and keeps it safe' (1 Tim. 3:15). I affirm this unequivocally and I answer it publicly to all those who have written either anonymous or signed letters to me with contrary advice...."
On October 11, 1994, at the synod on the subject of "The Consecrated Life and its Role in the Church and in the World," the Most Rev. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar appealled to the Holy See for help regarding "confusion and division" in the diocese.
Bishop Peric stated the following in the presence of the Holy Father. "The episcopal declaration states: 'On the basis of investigations to date, it is impossible to confirm that we are dealing with apparitions and supernatural revelations.' The alleged 'apparitions' create great confusion and division, and not only in the local Church. We are therefore waiting for the Holy See to exert its powers to restore and strengthen the unity of this particular Church."
On March 23, 1996, the Most Rev. Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote a letter to Most Rev. Leon Taverdet, bishop of Langres.
"Vatican City, March 23, 1996, Prot. No. 154/81-01985"
"Your Excellency, "
"In your letter of February 14, 1996 you inquired what is the present position of the Church regarding the alleged "apparitions in Medjugorje" and whether it is permitted to the Catholic faith to go there for pilgrimage. "
"In reference to that it is my honor to make known to you that, regarding the authenticity of the apparitions in question, the Bishops of the former Yugoslavia confirmed in their Declaration of April 10, 1991 published in Zadar: '. . .On the basis of investigation up till now it cannot be established that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations. However, the numerous gatherings of the faithful from different parts of the world, who are coming to Medjugorje prompted both by motives of belief and certain other motives, require the attention and pastoral care in the first place of the bishop of the diocese and of the other bishops with him so that in Medjugorje and everything related to it a healthy devotion toward the Blessed Virgin Mary would be promoted in conformity with the teaching of the Church."
"For that purpose the bishops shall issue separate appropriate liturgical-pastoral directives. Likewise by means of their Commission they shall further follow and investigate the total event in Medjugorje."
The result from this in what is precisely said is that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, are not permitted to be organized either on the parish or on the diocesan level, because that would be in contradiction to what the Bishops of former Yugoslavia affirmed in their forementioned Declaration."
"Kindly accept, your Excellency, an expression of my profoundly devoted affection! "
"+ Tarcisio Bertone"
On June 19, 1996, the director of the Holy See Press Office, (Vatican) with regard to news of recent days concerning pilgrimages to Medjugorje, answered journalists' questions by affirming what has already been said on the previous date above.
OP/MEDJUGORJE/NAVARRO-VALLS VIS 960619 (220)
This extract from an interview with Mgr. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar, by Yves Chiron was published in Présent, 25 January 1997. The interviewer was particularly anxious to obtain clarification from the Bishop concerning the claim by propagandists for Medjugorje that superior authorities in the Church will overturn the verdict --non constat de supernaturalitate (that there is no evidence of any supernatural happenings at Medjugorje).
Chiron: "The last official Church document concerning the events at Medjugorje is the declaration published at Zadar on 10 April 1991, by the members of the Episcopal Conference of Yugoslavia. This declaration stated in particular: "On the basis of studies conducted so far it cannot be affirmed that supernatural apparitions and revelations are occurring. 'It is almost six years since this judgement was published, is it still valid?'"
Bishop Peric: 'The judgement of the Church is the same and it is still valid. There is no fact, argument, affirmation or miracle which proves that there is a case of "apparitions or supernatural revelations.'"
On May 16, 1997, Rev. Ante Luburic, Chancellor, Diocese of Mostar, made a statement regarding Medjugorje, a place of religious disorder, disobedience, and anti- ecclesiastical activity. Quoting parts of the statement,
"More than ten Franciscan priests do not have canonical faculties to hear confessions in the Diocese of Herzegovina. Some due to their own fault, while others, due to the fault of their Religious community which is not fulfilling the Papal Decree."
"More than forty Franciscans have not received the necessary faculties to work pastorally in Herzegovina, yet they don't even bother with the decisions of the legal Church authorities. Some of them are currently in Medjugorje."
"Many Religious communities are living and working in the parish of Medjugorje without the permission of Church authorities, such as: 'Beatitudes,' 'Kralijice, mira, potpuno tvoji,' 'Cenacolo,' 'Oasi di pace,' and 'Franjevke pomocnice svecnika.' Hence, Medjugorje has become a place of Religious disorder, disobedience and anti-ecclesiastical activity."
"In Medjugorje, the periodical 'Glad mira' and 'Press Bulletin' are published without the necessary permission from Church authorities. These same periodicals proclaim the 'authenticity of the apparitions' and speak of the 'shrine' even through no responsible Church statement has ever claimed 'authenticity' nor proclaimed any 'shrine.'"
"Hence, these are some of the "fruits" of those who are using Medjugorje to 'sell shady peace' to the world, and who have hardened themselves in their disobedience towards the Holy See and the Franciscan charism."
On October 2, 1997, writing to Thierry Boutet, the editor of Famille Chrétienne, Most Rev. Peric, Bishop of Mostar states,
"I am answering your letter of September 29, 1997 received by fax from the Nunciature of Sarajevo."
"4. On the basis of the serious study of the case by 30 of our 'studiosi', on my episcopal experience of five years in the Diocese, on the scandalous disobedience that surrounds the phenomenon, on the lies that are at times put into the mouth of the 'Madonna', on the unusual repetition of 'messages' of over 16 years, on the strange way that the 'spiritual directors' of the so-called 'visionaries' accompany them through the world making propaganda of them, on the practice that the 'Madonna' appears at the 'fiat' of the 'visionaries', my conviction and position is not only non constat de supernaturalitate [the supernaturality is not proven] but also the other formula constat de non supernaturalitate [ the non-supernaturality is proven] of the apparitions or revelations of Medjugorje.
On May 26, 1998, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to Bishop Gilbert Aubry, Bishop of Saint-Denis on Reunion Island:
"On that account - whereas I consider it impossible to respond to all of the questions put by your Excellency - I am anxious above all to make clear that it is not the practice of the Holy See to assume, in the first instance, a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena. This Dicastery, therefore, in what concerns the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, limits itself simply to what has already been established by the Bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Zadar Declaration of 10 April 1991: "... On the basis of the investigations conducted to this point, it is not possible to affirm that it is a case of apparitions or of supernatural revelations"."
On July 21, 1998, the Most Rev. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar, wrote regarding visits to unauthentic apparitions:
"Regarding 'pilgrimages to Medjugorje of a private nature', the Congregation maintains that they are allowed 'under the condition that they are not considered an authentication of events still going on, which demand further investigations by the Church'. Hence, nothing new here. Official or church pilgrimages are not allowed, nor are 'private' visits allowed that have the intent of proving that the so-called 'apparitions' and alleged 'messages' are authentic! Therefore the official position of the local Bishop is the same official position of the Bishops' Conference of 1991.
And both priests and the faithful as Catholics should adhere to this position!
On June 15, 2006, the Bishop of Medjugorje stated in his homily:
III. – “Apparitions”. First of all, the fact that a person makes a humble Confession and receives Holy Communion in this parish church and that this person feels spiritually well due to God’s forgiveness, each and every believer will recognize and give due praise to God for this, who is the source of all graces. At the same time, this person will take care not to proceed from this state of grace towards an illogical and inconsistent conclusion: “I made a Confession. I feel good and now I am converted. Therefore the Madonna is appearing in Medjugorje!” This type of believer and penitent is nonetheless obliged to go to confession, receive the other sacraments, observe the Commandments, whether any private apparitions are recognized or not.
Secondly, I would be an irresponsible minister of the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ, if today I were not to publicly advise, from this place and on this occasion as well, to all those interested throughout the world, that in this local Church of Mostar-Duvno, there exists something similar to a schism. A number of priests that have been expelled from the Franciscan OFM Order by the Generalate of the Order, due to their disobedience to the Holy Father, for years now have been forcefully keeping a few parish churches and rectories along with church inventory. They have not only been illegally active in these parishes, but they have also administered the sacraments profanely, while others invalidly, such as Confession and Confirmation, or they have assisted at invalid marriages. This type of anti-ecclesial behaviour is shocking to all of us. At the same time, this scandal of sacrilegiously administering the sacraments, especially of the Most Holy Body of Christ, must shock all the faithful as well who invalidly confess their sins to these priests and participate in sacrilegious liturgies. We pray to the Lord that this scandal and schism be uprooted as soon as possible from our midst.
Thirdly, I am truly grateful to the Holy Father the Pope, to John Paul II of blessed memory and to the reigning Benedict XVI, who have always respected the judgements of the bishops of Mostar-Duvno, of the previous as well as the current bishop, regarding the so-called “apparitions” and “messages” of Medjugorje, all the while recognizing the Holy Father’s right to give a final decision on these events. The judgements of the bishops, after all the canonical investigations made thus far, can be summarized in these following points:
1 - Medjugorje is a catholic parish in which liturgical and pastoral activities are carried out, just as in all the other parishes of this diocese of Mostar-Duvno. No-one except the official Church authorities is then authorized to attribute the formal title of “shrine” to this place.
2 - On the basis of Church investigations of the events of Medjugorje, it cannot be determined that these events involve supernatural apparitions or revelations. This means that till now the Church has not accepted, neither as supernatural nor as Marian, any of the apparitions.
3 - Priests who canonically administer this parish of Medjugorje or those who come as visitors, are not authorised to express their private views contrary to the official position of the Church on the so-called “apparitions” and “messages”, during celebrations of the sacraments, neither during other common acts of piety, nor in the Catholic media.
4 - The Catholic faithful are not only free from any obligation to believe in the authenticity of the “apparitions” but they must also know that church pilgrimages are not allowed, whether official or private, individual or group, or from other parishes, if they presuppose the authenticity of the “apparitions” or if by undertaking them attempt to certify these “apparitions”.
5 - As the local Bishop, I maintain that regarding the events of Medjugorje, on the basis of the investigations and experience gained thus far, throughout these last 25 years, the Church has not confirmed a single “apparition” as authentically being the Madonna. The fact that during these 25 years there has been talk of tens of thousands of “apparitions” does not contribute any authenticity to these events, which according to the words of our current Pope, who I encountered during an audience on 24 February this year, commented that at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith they always questioned how all these “apparitions” could be considered authentic for the Catholic faithful. They particularly do not seem to be authentic when it is known beforehand that these so-called “apparitions” will occur:
To one of the “seers” on the 18th of March every year, but along with this she will also receive an “apparition” on the 2nd of each month, with “messages” which you can expect, according to the established procedures;
The second will receive an apparition on every day of the year, and if this were not enough, an added special “apparition” on the 25th of each month along with a type of press release, which once again you can foresee and expect;
The third will receive an “apparition” on the 25th of December, on Christmas day, along with a message similar to the ones already mentioned;
The fourth will receive an “apparition” on the 8th of September every year along with a specific message;
The remaining two will receive the same, every day along with “messages” that can be anticipated since they are variations on the same theme. This fact and the flood of so-called apparitions, messages, secrets and signs, do not strengthen the faith, but rather further convince us that in all of this there is nothing neither authentic nor established as truthful.
Therefore I responsibly call upon those who claim themselves to be “seers”, as well as those persons behind the “messages”, to demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish. In this fashion they shall show their necessary adherence to the Church, by neither placing private “apparitions” nor private sayings before the official position of the Church. Our faith is a serious and responsible matter. The Church is also a serious and responsible institution!
Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the greatest possessor of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who through the same Holy Spirit conceived in her body and gave birth to the Second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, who gives us his Most Holy Body for eternal life, may He - who is the Way, the Truth and the Life – help us so that the truth of the Blessed Virgin, his Mother and Mother of the Church, Seat of Wisdom and Mirror of Justice, may shine forth in brightness in this parish and diocese, without even a hint of incredibility, yet all in accord with the constant teachings and practice of the Church. Amen.
September 3, 2008. [Source: dailymail.co.uk]
Pope finally launches crackdown on world's largest illicit Catholic shrine and suspends 'dubious' priest.
“The Pope has begun a crackdown on the world’s largest illicit Catholic shrine – by suspending the priest at the centre of claims that the Virgin Mary has appeared more than 40,000 times.
Benedict XVI has authorised ‘severe cautionary and disciplinary measures’ against Father Tomislav Vlasic, the former ‘spiritual director’ to six children who said Our Lady was appearing to them at Medjugorje in Bosnia.
The Franciscan priest has been suspended after he refused to cooperate into claims of scandalous sexual immorality ‘aggravated by mystical motivations’.
He has also been accused of ‘the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism and disobedience towards legitimately issued orders’, and is suspected of heresy and schism.
Father Vlasic was a central figure in promoting the apparitions that allegedly began in 1981 and continue to this day.
In 1984 he boasted to Pope John Paul II that he was the one ‘who through divine providence guides the seers of Medjugorje’ and the visionaries even said that the Virgin had told them he was a living saint.
But the Bosnian cleric later took a back seat when it emerged that he had fathered a child with a nun called Sister Rufina, and that he refused to leave his order to marry her but instead begged her not to expose him.
Father Vlasic then moved to Parma, Italy, where he set up a mixed male and female religious community, called Queen of Peace, which was dedicated to the Medjugorje apparitions.
Medjugorje has grown to become the most visited unauthorised Catholic shrine in the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of pilgrims a year, including many from the UK and Ireland.
But the local bishops are convinced the claims are bogus and in 2006 complained directly to Pope Benedict.
This led to a Vatican investigation which turned the spotlight on the role of Father Vlasic. The priest has now been suspended by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after he refused to cooperate with the inquiry into his conduct, instead ‘justifying himself by citing his zealous activity’ in initiating religious communities and building churches the Medjugorje area.
The decree confirming his suspension was signed with the Pope’s approval by Cardinal William Levada, head of CDF, and Father Jose Carballo, the Minister General of the Franciscan Minor Order.
It confines Father Vlasic to a Francisan monastery in Italy and bans him from contact with the Queen of Peace community, or with his lawyers without permission from his superior.
He is banned from making public appearances, preaching and hearing confessions and he will be required to make a solemn profession of the Catholic faith.
The Vatican has warned Father Vlasic that he will be excommunicated if he violates any of the prohibitions.
The action was taken earlier this year but was made public this week by the Bishop of Mostar, Ratko Peric, at the request of the Vatican, to make local people to be aware of the priest’s status.
Father Vlasic is the second spiritual adviser to the seers to be suspended from his ministry. The other, Father Jozo Zovko, was suspended by Bishop Peric in 2004.
It represents a massive blow to millions of Medjugorje followers worldwide who were hoping that the Vatican investigation would legitimise the shrine.
Earlier this year, Italian Bishop Andrea Gemma denounced the Medjugorje claims as the ‘work of the Demon’ and predicted that ‘soon the Vatican will intervene with something explosive to unmask once and for all who is behind this deceit’.
The phenomenon began on 25 June 1981 when six children – Mirjana Dragicevic, Marija Pavlovic, Vicka Ivankovic, Ivan Dragicevic, Ivanka Ivankovic and Jakov Colo – told a priest they had seen the Virgin on a hillside near their town.
Three Church commissions failed to find evidence to support their claims and the bishops of the former Yugoslavia finally declared that ‘it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations’.
In 1985 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict – banned pilgrimages to the site, but this has been widely ignored.
Instead the seers have grown wealthy as a result of their claims – and so has their town, which has boomed as a result of the ‘Madonna gold rush’.
Some today own smart executive houses with immaculate gardens, double garages and security gates, and one has a tennis court.
They also own expensive cars and have married – one of them, Ivan Dragicevic, to an American former beauty queen.”
On June 6, 2009, during the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Parish of Medjugorje, the Bishop of Mostar stated:
"Finally, a word or two on our local situation. From the 17th to the 24th of January this year I was in Rome and had the opportunity to first of all greet the Holy Father during his General Audience and ask for his blessing for our entire Church in Herzegovina. I also visited the superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and thanked them in particular for informing the bishops of the region of Toscana, in Italy, who had asked the Congregation during their “ad limina” visit what position to take regarding the phenomenon of Medjugorje. The then Secretary of the Congregation, Archbishop Angelo Amato recommended that the bishops convey to the priests and faithful of their dioceses the homily that was given here in Medjugorje during the rite of Confirmation, on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ in the year 2006, which they then did. Cardinal William Levada, the current Prefect of the Congregation then told me: “We advise this to everyone who asks us about Medjugorje”. During my visit I could see that the competent Congregation as well as the Secretariat of State are closely following our local events in Herzegovina and we are most grateful to Pope Benedict XVI and the Apostolic See for their charity and concern."
"I therefore stand by everything I said and dutifully demanded from this very place three years ago: from the Franciscan fathers who are the pastoral ministers of this parish, from the parishioners and other faithful, as well as from the so-called seers; that the presumed daily apparitions, known as the “phenomenon of Medjugorje”, have not been declared as authentic by the Church. Not even after the investigations of various commissions nor after 28 years of media hype. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we cannot behave as if these “apparitions” are authentic and approved. If as Catholics, loyal sons and daughters of the Church, we wish to live according to Church norms and teachings, glorifying the Holy Trinity, venerating the B. V. Mary ever Virgin, the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of God who was Assumed in heaven and wish to confess all that the Church teaches us in the Creed, then we need not search for alternative “apparitions” and “messages” whose character the Church has not acknowledged as supernatural!
Based on what has been said, the Catholic Church has proclaimed,
1. The supernaturality is not proven (meaning there is nothing heavenly about Medjugorje.)
2. The non-supernaturality is proven (meaning what appears to be supernatural is the result of human manipulation for the purpose of fame and wealth.)
3. As previously said, official or church pilgrimages are not allowed, nor are 'private' visits allowed that have the intent of proving that the so-called 'apparitions' and alleged 'messages' are authentic!
4. The fruits of the alleged 'apparitions' of Medjugorje have been those of great confusion and division, and not only in the local Church. Such IS NOT, AND CANNOT BE of God!
5. The alleged "seers" have been proven to lie over and over during the investigations of the commissions appointed by the Catholic Church. Such IS NOT, AND CANNOT BE of God!
6. As mentioned above, one of the "seers" claimed that Our Lady said that all faiths are equal. Such IS NOT, AND CANNOT BE of God! SUCH A DOCTRINE IS NOT CATHOLIC!
Regarding the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation, the Catechism of the Catholic Chuch states,
846 "How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it." [C.C.C. # 846]The above is sufficient to prove that the faithful would achieve greater spiritual growth by attending authentic approved Shrines such as those at Lourdes or Fatima.