In a way, the bulk of the messages of the "Gospa" can be likened to the story of the little boy who was sent to Sunday School by his mother; but instead of going to the church, the boy went fishing at a nearby creek. When he finally got home, his mother asked the boy what the Sunday School teacher had discussed during the lesson. Not wanting his mother to find out about his missing class, the boy replied, "she talked about sin." "What did she say about sin?" the mother queried. "Well,'' the boy replied carefully, " she said that she was against it!"
For the most part, the messages, like the little boy's Sunday school teacher, seem to be "against sin," hackneyed truisms, with very few pearls of deep wisdom or transparent beauty to be found among them, little of true spiritual utility. The renowned Catholic author Michael Davies, whose wife happens to be Croatian and actually made some of the first translations of the messages from Croatian to English, characterizes these translated messages thus: They were incredibly trite, being of the order of being kind to ittens, and helping old ladies cross the street. (74)
At first glance, it would appear that the "Gospa" is merely a figment of the over active but pious imagination of the adolescent visionaries themselves. When one delves deeper into the corpus of the Gospa's" messages, however, it becomes apparent that something is amiss, both spiritually and in a doctrinal sense.The "Gospa" apparently believes that the Medjugorje apparitions are the greatest in history:The parish is on the move and I wish to keep on giving you messages as it has never been in history, from the beginning of the world. (April 4th, 1985)
This is a common type of error that occurs throughout the history of false doctrines and false religions: the concept of a new revelation, greater than anything, which has gone before it. To say that any message or revelation after the death of the last of the Apostles is something that has "never been in history, since the beginning of the world," is the rankest of heresies, since this would imply that such revelations different or superior to what is contained in the Deposit of Faith. The fullness and completion of God's revelation to mankind was realized through the incarnation of His Son, and ended with the death of the Apostle John, and was entrusted by God for all time to His Church; it cannot be supplemented, improved upon, or abrogated by anyone or anything:
"But though we, or an Angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you beside that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema."
As we said before, so I say now again: If anyone preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. (Galatians 1:9-10)Throughout the ages there have been so-called "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their 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, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain sects, which base themselves on such revelations. (73)
The implementation of the Catholic Catechism was apparently not on the "Gospa's" mind since, buried within the voluminous corpus of messages can be found statements that would "surpass or correct" Divine Revelation. Perhaps one of the best known is this declaration, attributed by Mirjana to the "Gospa": "Tell this priest, tell everyone, that it is you who are divided on earth. The Muslims and the Orthodox, for the same reason as Catholics, are all equal before my Son and me. You are all my children. Certainly all religions are not equal, but all men are equal before God, as St. Paul says. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved, but it is necessary to respect the commandments of God in following one's conscience.
"One should carefully dissect this statement: the "Gospa" reproaches "you who are divided on earth." This spirit, if indeed the Mother of God, should, rather than reproaching a priest, know that division is an unfortunate consequence of the world's failure to receive the truth preached unfailingly by the Church, beginning with the Lord Himself. Although all Catholics are called upon to heed the words of Jesus Christ, who prayed that "they might all be one" (St. John 17), the same Lord also acknowledged that the truth that He tirelessly preached would become a point of contention for all humanity:
Think ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you no, but separation. For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three shall be divided: the father against the son, and the son against his father, the mother against the daughter and the daughter against the mother, the mother in law against the daughter in law, and the daughter in law against the mother in law. ( St. Luke 12: 52)
Does the "Gospa" believe, like most adherents of the New Age, Freemasonry, etc., that the problems of the world's religions are all caused by division, and does "she" opine that what the world needs is some fuzzy "unity" under a World Church, like the World Council of Churches, or the Parliament of the World's Religions, in which the truths of Divine Revelation would take a back seat to what the Second Vatican Council itself refers to as a "false irenicism"? Interestingly enough, the lone member of the Yugoslavian Episcopal Conference to vote to approve the authenticity of the apparitions at Medjugorje, Franz Franic, Archbishop of Split, expressed these sentiments: I see a new Church being born beneath our eyes; the Church of the Holy Spirit … the role of Medjugorje, seen above all, I believe, in this coming together with the brothers of other religions, with the Muslims and even the Marxist brothers…
"The Muslims and the Orthodox, for the same reason as Catholics, are all equal before my Son and me."
It is true that all men are created equal, in the sense that they all share an intrinsic dignity and worth as children of a common Creator. But why does the "Gospa" add: "…for the same reason as Catholics"? "She" seems to imply that there is a fundamental equality between the religions, not merely between human beings, and that there is no real distinction between members of the Church and non-members. One wonders if the "Gospa" has ever read this inspired passage by St. Peter addressed to the (worldwide) Catholic Church:But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, that you may declare his virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into his admirable light.
"Who in times past were not a people: but are now the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10)"
All men are equal before God", as St. Paul says. The only problem with this statement is that St. Paul never speaks about some vague natural or humanistic equality. St. Paul does say quite emphatically, however, that all Christians are one by baptism into Christ:
"For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26-27)
"It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved, but it is necessary to respect the commandments of God in following one's conscience." (Gospa)
What is the "Gospa" saying here? While true that mere membership in the Catholic Church in and of itself does not suffice for salvation, the "Gospa" seems to imply that following one's conscience and "respecting God's commandments" is a surer route to salvation than membership in the Church.The holy Roman Church believes, professes and teaches that "no one remaining utside the Catholic Church…can become partakers of eternal life…And no one can be saved, no matter how much alms he has given, even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, unless he remains in the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church." (Council of Florence, Decree for the Jacobites)
If anyone says that without divine grace through Jesus Christ, man can be justified before God by his own works, whether they were done by his natural powers or by the light of the teaching of the [Mosaic] law, let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification)
MIRJANA: "She (the Madonna) emphasized the failings of religious people, especially in small villages-for example, here in Medjugorje, where there is a separation from Serbians and Moslems. This separation is not good. The Madonna always stresses that there is but one God, and that people have enforced unnatural separation. One cannot truly believe, be a true Christian, if he does not respect other religions as well. You do not really believe in God if you make fun of other religions."
Mirjana's statement here is full of half-truths. Although seemingly innocuous by today's pluralistic and indifferent standards, it nevertheless implies heresy. It is true that Christians must love and respect all human beings, regardless of which religion they profess, since all are created in the image of God. Likewise, one should certainly refrain from "making fun of other religions." But the Church has never taught that each and every religious opinion or belief is equally worthy of respect, merely that freedom of conscience and free will are to be respected, and not coerced by exterior means, or by undue psychological pressure.
This in no way implies that Catholics should respect the erroneous beliefs, creeds, or immoral practices of other religions. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared:" The Catholic Church rejects nothing in these (non-Christian) religions, which is holy and true." (Ecclesia catholica nihil eorum, quae in his religionibus vera et sancta sunt reicit.) (75)
This is merely a restatement of something which the Church has always acknowledged; that although the fullness of truth is found only in the Catholic Church, no pagan religion, or schismatic sect is totally without any element of truth or goodness. There are "holy and true" aspects to most of the world's major religions, but their possession of fragmented religious verities does not imply that they possess the fullness of truth, which is the Catholic Church's alone. Nor does this imply that all religions are equally worthy of respect. The erroneous interpretation by some of this declaration (Nostra Aetate) of the Council, as well as of the decree on Ecumenism, (Unitatis Reintegratio) has led to the false but today widely prevalent belief that the Church no longer considers Herself the only true Church, or the only true means of salvation. It is alarming to hear how many apparently orthodox Catholics have fallen for this pluralistic lie.
On the other hand, to believe that all other religions are totally deprived of all elements of truth would be to fall into a modern day Manicheanism, to acknowledge that evil is substantial, rather than a privation of the good. Most non-Christian religions belief in some type of creation; all have moral codes or commandments. This does not imply that all religious beliefs are to be respected. There are many beliefs that Catholics cannot "respect", among these: the Islamic belief that Jesus did not die on the cross, but was replaced by an impostor; the beliefs and practices of the bloodthirsty cult of the Thugees in India; the Mormon plurality of gods; the denial of the divinity of Jesus Christ by the Jehovah's Witnesses; Orthodoxy's rejection of Papal infallibility; the "sola scriptura" and "sola fide" doctrines of Protestantism, etc.
FR. VLASIC: What, then, is the role of Jesus Christ, if the Moslem religion is a good religion?
MIRJANA: We did not discuss that. She merely explained, and deplored, the lack of religious unity, "especially in the villages". She said that everybody's religion should be respected, especially one's own.(76)
One should compare the above "messages" of the "Gospa" with what New Age leader David Spangler has said about the "new spirituality":" … the new spirituality…will have aspects drawn from all the great faith traditions … New Age spirituality at heart is not a set of beliefs, but a way of perceiving and experiencing the world with compassion, honoring its deep connectedness and wholeness. There is no reason such spirituality cannot co-exist with and beneficially inform our religious practices." (77)
It is clear that, if the "Gospa" did indeed make these statements attributed to her by Mirjana, then Medjugorje cannot possibly be an authentic, Catholic phenomenon. To say that others should keep and respect their "own" (how tolerant!) religion, then this flies in the face of the missionary charity which is one of the reasons that Christ founded the Church:Missionary motivation. It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, "For the love of Christ urges us on." Indeed, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #851)
Regarding the "Gospa's" indifference towards the Catholic Church as the one true Church of Christ, the only means of salvation, Pope Pius IX, addressed quite eloquently and authoritatively the notions of indifference and the equality of religions as expressed by the "Gospa", and totally repudiate them, in his allocution Singulari Quadam: It must of course, be held as a matter of faith that outside the apostolic Roman Church, no one may be saved, that the Church is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood.
Pope Pius IX does make clear, in this same allocution that invincible ignorance of the truth may excuse some of guilt and that no one may presume to "set the boundaries of such ignorance." But the "Gospa" goes far beyond this allowance for invincible ignorance:Those who are not Catholics, are no less creatures made in the image of God, and destined to rejoin someday, the House of the Father. Salvation is available to all, without exception.This is pure religious indifference, and is clearly and unambiguously condemned by Pius IX:Another error, equally destructive, has taken hold of some parts of the Catholic world, as we see to our sorrow. It has sunk deep into the minds of those Catholics principally who think there is good hope for the eternal salvation of those who in no wise live in the true Church of Christ … according to Our apostolic office, We want your Episcopal care and vigilance to keep away from men's minds, with all possible effort, that opinion which is as unholy as it is deadly. We mean the opinion that a way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatever.Another shockingly clear and unambiguous statement of the "Gospa" on this subject is the following:Members of all religions 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 applied with the commandments of God. They reject and disparage them. (Oct. 1, 1981)
God permits the existence of false religions, and even of gross immorality, as he endows all human beings at or beyond the age of reason with free will, and, in His Providence, causes all things to "work to the good of those who love Him."(78)
But this in no way implies that God rules or presides over "other religions as a sovereign over his kingdom", since such rule would imply that God ordains and approves of error, which would be opposed to His being the Truth itself.
In this statement, the "Gospa" first reduces religious truth to a moral code, saying that the only difference among religions on earth is the fact that the adherents of some are more faithful to the commandments than others. One can find the very same view articulated in any Masonic handbook or encyclopedia. Furthermore, according to the "Gospa", "God rules over each faith just like a sovereign over his kingdom." This would make God a party to falsehood, blasphemy, and immorality. Is it possible that God would aid and abet the propagation of the black magic which is part of Tibetan Lamaism? Is it possible that God would "rule over" the Masonic initiation ceremonies, or the Mormon-Masonic temple rites? Is God the "sovereign" of the bloody and blasphemous syncretistic cults of the Carribean , such as Voodoo and Santeria? Did God preside like a medieval king at a jousting match over the duel between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal? Does God rule over the procession of Juggernaut, under whose heavy weight scores of frenzied devotees are crushed to death? Does God preside over "sutee" the Hindu custom of burning widows alive on the funeral pyre of their husbands? Is the holy and living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, really the sovereign ruler over Animism, Shamanism, Sikhism, Jainism, Confucianism and Islam? Was God "presiding" over the Aztec holocausts, in which thousands were butchered for the glory of the moon and rain gods?
What the "Gospa" has been quoted as saying here, is clearly heresy of the first magnitude, simply impossible for any Catholic to affirm, yet totally in harmony with ideas expressed by many adherents of the New Age spirituality. For what does the New Age signify if not, the fundamental equality of all religions under the penumbra of "channeled enlightenment"? What the "Gospa" has said is not reconcilable with the teachings of Christianity, of the Church's Magisterium, but it is certainly compatible with New Age, Gnostic, Cabalistic, or Jungian notions of God, as the "Pleroma", "En-Soph", or as "Abraxas", as the totality of all being who in itself contains and reconciles the opposition of dualities, light and darkness, good and evil or, more significantly, Lucifer and Christ.
It is not enough for the Medjugorje propagandists to explain away this "message" by resorting to arguments about God's providence or His inscrutability; God simply would not ever preside over error, or tempt men to sin by false religion or worship:Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted by God: for God is not a tempter of evils, and he tempteth no man. (St. James 1:13)
The religious indifference of the "Gospa" seems to be the most well publicized of the false doctrines emanating from the Medjugorje phenomenon; but there are others as well. "She" seems to have contradicted the Church on a number of other important points. Concerning the resurrection of the body, the "Gospa" says:The body, drawn from the earth, decomposes after death. It never comes back to life. Man receives a transfigured body. (July 24, 1982)
The "Gospa" has made here another statement which is, from a dogmatic standpoint, categorically opposed to the teaching of the Church. What is "transfigured" if not the individual's original body? If this were true, then how is our resurrection like Christ's, whose original body, glorified, was reunited with his human soul at the resurrection? It is a dogma of faith that the dead will arise with the same bodies they had on earth:…He [Christ] will come at the end of the world; he will judge the living and the dead; and he will reward all, both the lost and the elect, according to their works. And all these will rise with their own bodies which they now have…(Fourth Lateran Council) (79)
In another "message", the "Gospa" denies the Omnipotence of God:"Without you [the seers] God cannot bring to reality that which He desires. God has given a free will to everyone, and it's in your control." (Jan. 30, 1986)
This message, of course, contradicts what all believers in the one true God have known since the beginning of time, that God is absolutely and unqualifiedly omniscient. Without a doubt, God chooses to have His creatures cooperate with Him as instrumental causes to bring about His will, but He does not depend on any creature to "realize what He desires": The holy, Catholic, apostolic Roman Church believes and professes that there is one true and living God, the creator and lord of heaven and earth. He is all powerful, eternal, unmeasurable and incomprehensible, and limitless in intellect and will and every perfection …(Vatican Council I, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith)In the "Gospa's message" below, "she" makes a statement which is theologically impossible, impugning, by way of implication, the Divine Nature: I do not dispose all graces… God has placed his complete trust in me. (Aug. 31, 1982)"
God has placed his complete trust in me…" Terms like "trust" "faith", and "confidence" can only be predicated of creatures, not of God, who knows all things past, present and future in Himself. He has no need for "trust" "faith" and "confidence" since He knows and disposes all things, past, present and future. It would be possibly to say, "God has entrusted to me…" but not "God trusts" or "God has confidence in…" or "God believes…"In another "message" from the "Gospa", there is language which is at least suggestive of the ancient heresy of Sabellius, or modalism:Consider how the Almighty is still suffering today on account of your sins. (March 29, 1984)
Suffering, like ignorance or non-omnipotence, cannot be predicated of the Divine Nature. Christ's human nature suffered, and so, of course it is correct to say, as does the New Testament, and many times the true Mother of God in many apparitions: "my Son suffers," or to say, "the Son of God suffered" or "the Lord Jesus suffered" or "the God-man, Jesus Christ suffered," it is a heresy to attribute suffering to the Almighty Divinity. In 382 A.D. the Council of Rome declared:If anyone says that in the sufferings on the cross it was God who felt the pain, and that it was not felt by the body and soul with which Christ the Son of God had clothed himself-the servants for which he had assumed, in the words of scripture (Phil. 2:7): such a person is in error. (80)
What are the partisans of Medjugorje to say in the face of all of this? One contradiction in matters of doctrine is enough to conclude that the revelation is not supernatural (from God):With regard to dogma, if one sure point alone be contradicted, as has happened many times in supernatural communications, it is sufficient to allow us to affirm that the speaker is not one of God's envoys (81)
Some of the "Gospa's" errors are mere expressions of ignorance. In response to a government worker asking if she could touch the "Gospa", "she" replied:There have always been incredulous Judases who don't believe, but she can approach.Anyone even passingly familiar with St. John's Gospel knows that it was St. Thomas, not Judas Iscariot, who was incredulous and insisted upon not believing until he touched the risen Lord's wounds. The following series of events is even more surreal; on September 8, 1981, the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, the youngest of the "visionaries", Jakov Colo, wished the "Gospa" a happy birthday, and had the pleasure of shaking the "Gospa's" hand! The "Gospa" reportedly declared:"For me it is a beautiful day." Aside from the obvious morbidity of this phenomenon, the "Gospa" shaking hands and all, the incident puts fanatical devotees of Medjugorje on the spot, since the "Gospa herself" subsequently declared that (in opposition to the Church's liturgical calendar) that"her" 2000th birthday should be celebrated on August 5th, 1984, and on that date declared:Never in my life have I cried with sorrow, as I cried this evening with joy. Thank you!Since the "Gospa" had already accepted birthday congratulations on September 8th, one could hardly be blamed for being curious as to which is the real date. It should be quite obvious that such nonsense is not worthy of the Divine Majesty, and that the true Gospa from heaven, would never engage in such idle chatter, which is more in keeping with the contemporary cult of celebrity and not with the supreme dignity and humility that one associate's with the true Mother of God.