Official Facts on Medjugorje

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Official Documents on Medjugorje and FAQS

This blog is a resource which is a work in progress, being built with intent to collect documents from the Vatican, the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, and the Franciscan Order. It's purpose is also to answer some frequently asked questions (FAQ's) in light of those documents.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ecclesial Disciplinary Actions against Fra Jozo Zovko, OFM

This is a list of disciplinary actions taken against Fra Jozo Zovko, OFM through early 2009.  It was compiled by Mark Waterinckx of Belgium.  Mark had gone to Medjugorje at least 24 times and had raised many thousands of dollars.  He knew Fr. Jozo Zovko personally through his promotional activities in Medjugorje before discovering sobering realities about the phenomena and the players.  He has since worked actively to expose these things.

For serious researchers and academics, I would encourage you to contact the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno using the reference numbers below for documents and further clarification on any particular event listed.  Conclusions made in this document belong to Mark Waterinckx.  The work is placed here for the sake of the chronology and document numbers.

Below Mark's document, are other items related to Fr. Jozo's faculties.

The Papal War against Medjugorje: Jozo Zovko exiled

1° Suspension: On 23-8-1989 (letter nr. 622/89) Jozo has been suspended by Mostar-bishop Zanic, because of serious accusations.

Jozo refuses to obey and appeals to the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples in Rome.

This Congregation confirms on 15-2-1990 (letter nr. 5673/89) the suspension of Jozo by Mgr. Zanic, and asks that Jozo should be exiled to a convent, far from Medjugorje.

Jozo refuses.

On 25-7-1991 (letter nr. 377/91) the Franciscan provincial of Hercegovina proposes to the bishop of Mostar to transfer Jozo to the convent of Siroki Brijeg, only 30 km from Medjugorje.

The bishops responds on 30-7-1991 (letter nr. 557/91), refusing this proposal.

On 2-9-1991 (letter nr. 649/91) bishop Zanic complains that Jozo, notwithstanding his suspension, continues to administer the Sacraments in Siroki Brijeg.

When Mgr. Peric is installed as the new bishop of Mostar in August 1993, Jozo is still committing insubordination.

On 11-11-1993 the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples writes to the Minister-General of the Franciscan order that Jozo and 3 other Franciscans are suspended, but that they continue practicing their priestly functions in the vicinity of Medjugorje.

On 29-12-1993 the Franciscan Province informs bishop Peric by letter nr. 380/93 that Jozo is appointed as the parish administrator in Siroki Brijeg.

On 4-2-1994 the bishop by letter nr.69/94 expresses his consternation about this.

On 12-6-1994 the bishop makes a canonical visit to Siroki Brijeg. Jozo confirms him that, notwithstanding his suspension, he still hears confessions.

2° Suspension: On 14-6-1994 the bishop notifies by letter nr. 423/1994, that Jozo is automatically suspended according to canon 1378 par. 2.

On 15-6-1994 the bishop also notifies Jozo’s superior of this by letter nr. 423/1994-ad.

Jozo did not pay any attention to this letter and continues to be disobedient.

During his ad limina-visit to Rome, the bishop by letter nr. 1203/98 of 6-11-1998, informs the Holy See of this situation.

Without mentioning the irregular status of Jozo, in 2002 the Provincial writes that ’those who accept Medjugorje, consider Jozo as a devote priest, and that he, on invitation, gives spiritual retreats on the island of Jakljan and in Medjugorje.’

3° Suspension: On 26-6-2004 in a long letter nr. 843/2004, bishop Peric suspends Jozo for the third time because of his persistent disobedience. He invites him to the bishop’s office in Mostar in order to regularize his priestly status. In the diocesan Curia the bishop wants to show him all documents related to his illegal pastoral activities as well as to his ‘moral’ life. This decree has been officially published in the diocesan bulletin Vrhbosna, 3/2004 p. 293-298.

Jozo again refuses to obey.

And what happens now? On 9-2-2009, the personal assistant of Jozo in Siroki Brijeg, Vesna Cuzic, informs all Medjugorje-groups, that Jozo, for reasons of ‘health, rest and convalescence, and for renovation of buildings on the island of Badija-Croatia (how ‘logical’: renovating buildings while he is supposed to take a rest…), Jozo will not be available for pilgrims for the rest of the year 2009.

During the annual meeting of the Medjugorje-Guides in March 2009, the provincial, Fr. Ivan Sesar, made known that Jozo had ‘requested for a sabbatical year…’

But rumors say that recently Jozo has been seen for several days in Rome, and that after the severe punishment and exile of Fr. Tomislav Vlasic by the Vatican in 2008, a new commission is now occupying themselves with the ‘Jozo case’.

Jozo’s superiors, who until now, had always supported Jozo’s disobedience, now seem to feel uneasy and therefore exiled Jozo to the small island of Badija, near the island Korcula, thus obeying the demand of 1990 of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples.

And indeed, in the Croatian Magazine “Nacional” of 24-2-2009 (p. 68-72) appeared a long article, titled: ”Papal War against Medjugorje” [Google Translated link - DK]. Subtitle: ”The exile of Jozo”.

Furthermore: “Jozo was moved from Siroki Brijeg and left behind on the island Badija for as long as the Papal Commission concerning Medjugorje is pursuing her investigation".

At last Jozo has been banned to a convent, far from Medjugorje, “ordered by Rome and against his own will".

But, as is always the case, the Medjugorje-media are manipulating the naïve Medjugorje-fans and falsify the real motive for his exile.

Nacionalcontinues : “Jozo was moved to Badija not because of health reasons, as was officially stated, but exiled by the Franciscan Province.”

“After 18 years of resistance and disobedience, Jozo was compelled to obey a decision of the Holy See since February 1990, whereby Rome confirmed the suspension by Mgr. Zanic in 1989."

At the end of 2008, the administration of the Franciscan Province of Hercegovina decided that Jozo at last should accept the punishment by Rome.

To some close friends Jozo said that he was ‘sent to the desert’.

Many ask themselves why, after 18 years, Jozo has finally obeyed to the decision of the Church Administration. The answer is that very soon the Vatican will start a new commission about Jozo and Medjugorje.

And it is well known that the former Card. Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was rather negative about Medjugorje... (see his letter of 22-7-1998).

"Jozo has now decided not to be an obstacle in that process.”

Feast of St Joseph, 19-3-2009

Mark Waterinckx, Belgium


UPDATE:  On January 2, 2010, Bishop Ratko Peric mentions Fr. Jozo Zovko in his statement on the Cardinal Schonborn visit (in point 7).  He explains:

- We had two separate charismatic promoters and “architects” of the “Medjugorje phenomenon”: The prominent and disobedient Tomislav Vlašić, who last year was expelled by the Superior General of the Order of Friars and who at his request, was dispensed of his priestly faculties and obligations by the Holy See, and Fr. Jozo Zovko, who has been denied priestly faculties in this diocese since 2004, who according to newspaper reports, has been withdrawn by his religious superiors from the territory of Herzegovina and is prohibited from any contact with Medjugorje.

A guide in Medjugorje has reportedly told fellow supporters that Zovko is now in Austria.

Fr. Jozo Toured US without faculties:

Note in this first link, that it appears the Archdiocese of Los Angeles contacted the Franciscan province to check on Zokvo's priestly faculties, but did not contact the local bishop.  This is odd because the religious order does not give and take faculties, the bishop does. 

?                      Suspended Medjugorje Priest Gives Retreat in Thousand Oaks (2003)

Let's look closer at the incident at the National Shrine in Washington DC.

On November 14, 2002, Provincial Fr. Slavko Soldo wrote that he was in good standing with the religious order, but says nothing about his faculties:

Fr. Jozo Zovko is a member of our community in good standing. He was the pastor at Medjugorje when the apparition of the Blessed Mother started in 1981. It was time of the communist regime in our country. As pastor of Medjugorje Fr. Jozo was put in prison by the communist court. After he was released from the prison, he continued to spread the message of the blessed Mother Queen of peace.

In our community Fr. Jozo Zovko is known as a charismatic priest who suffered for his faith and continues suffering. He spends long hours in prayer, counseling and preaching. Most of the time he is in the church, often for 10 hours a day.

Those who oppose the apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Medjugorje are constantly after Fr. Jozo, trying to stop his mission, but those who accept the Medjugorje consider him a dedicated priest and are inviting him to lead retreats for them and pray for them in their needs. Among those who are inviting him, are many priests and bishops. Fr. Jozo is tireless in that service. He did ask permission to travel to the United States and it was granted to him. I hope that this will be of help to you.

Peace and all things good!"

Mostar, November 14, 2002, Fr. Slavko Soldo, provincijal

On November 19th, the following statement was issued by the Basicilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC.  Note that the event was cancelled just two days prior:

Basilica of the National Shrine
Important notice about Father Jozo Zovko, O.F.M.

November 19, 2002

The November 21 Marian Mass and prayer vigil at the Basilica of the National Shrine will continue as scheduled without the participation of Father Jozo Zovko, O.F.M. Father Zovko’s faculties have been revoked and he is under censure from the Bosnian Diocese of Mostar-Duvno. In accord with Canon Law, he may not exercise his priestly ministry here.

The National Shrine and the Archdiocese of Washington, though unaware of the basis for Father Zovko’s censure, or any credible allegations against him, are obliged to adhere to its canonical stipulations.

On November 21st, the Vicar General of the Order discusses Zovko's standing with the religious order, and says nothing about his faculties.

"I Fr. Stefano Ottenbreit, the undersigned, Vicar General of the Order of Friars Minor, testify that Fr. Jozo Zovko is a Member in good standing of the Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Herzegovina of our Order. I, also, declare to whom it may concern that he has never been suspended from our Order."

Signed and sealed with the seal of the Order at our General Curia in Rome on this 21st day of November in the year of the Lord 2002.

In fide, Fr. Stefano Ottenbreit, OFM, Vicar General

Now, there is something interesting missing at pro-Medjugorje sites.  That is, the standing of Fr. Jozo Zovko with the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno.  I copied this from a now defunct website, "Send Your Spirit Medjugorje" some time ago before it went offlineWhomever wrote this letter, raised the appropriate questions regarding the two replies from the Franciscan order.  The site indicated, it never got a response to the questions raised.

November 25, 2002

Fr. Slavko Soldo, OFM,
Provincial of the Herzegovinian
Franciscan Province of the Assumption
Mostar - Fax: 333-526

Although Fr. Jozo is in good standing with you, he is, however, in disobedience to the local bishop, and therefore, the church, as indicated in the letter (Dated November 18, 2002, Prot. 1942/2002) from Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar to Msgr. Michael J. Bransfield, Rector Basilica National Shrine Of Immaculate Conception, Washington, D,C. Fax 001 202 526 8313.

Why did your Franciscan province permit him to be in such disobedience and without priestly faculties for 13 years?
Please reply. Thank you

Further information about Fr. Zovko is learned from
Bishop Ratko Peric on his communication regarding the withdrawal of Papal Household Preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa's appearance at a retreat for priests in 2007.

Bishop Peric writes:

Despite the above mentioned decision, the news of a spiritual retreat for priests directed by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap., Preacher of the Papal Household, to be held in Medjugorje at the beginning of July 2007 appeared on the internet many months ago, yet the organizers of this retreat did not inform the Diocesan Chancery in Mostar according to the norm, prior to the event. In this regard, celebrations of the sacrament of reconciliation are being publicized billing, alongside Fr Cantalamessa, Fr. Jozo Zovko; yet the latter since 2004 has been relieved of all priestly faculties in the territory of the dioceses of Herzegovina (Vrhbosna, 3/2004, pp.293-298).

The Pastoral decision of 23 August 2001 regarding leaders of spiritual retreats and conferences was reaffirmed and expressly emphasized by the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, Msgr. Ratko Perić in his discourse and invitation given during the Chapter elections on 16 April this year at Humac, where he was officially invited to preside at Holy Mass. On that occasion the Diocesan bishop mentioned the following regarding Medjugorje:

“1 – The pastoral obstinacy of the pastors and other associates of Medjugorje is quite evident on the ‘Medjugorje’ internet site which bears the title ‘Marian Shrine’. ‘Medjugorje’ is neither a diocesan nor national or international shrine. This status must be acknowledged while the events remain as they stand.

2 - The obstinacy of the pastors and other associates of Medjugorje is also evident in the their disregard for the circular letter of the Chancery of 2001, which states that priests coming from beyond the areas where the Croatian language is spoken are not to be invited without the express and written permission of the Diocesan Chancery.

3 - The obstinacy of the pastors and other associates of Medjugorje is evident in that a member of your Province, Fr. Jozo Zovko, who has no priestly faculties and who is forbidden from celebrating any priestly functions in this diocese, has been invited this year to preside at the Way of the Cross in Medjugorje and has been in this regard presented as available for confessions”.

The discourse was published in its entirety at the beginning of May this year in the diocesan pastoral monthly (Crkva na kamenu, 5/2007, pp. 33-35).

Fr. Cantalamessa may have thought that necessary permissions were obtained, but took correct actions upon learning he did not have the local Bishop's permission to preach in Medjugorje. Pro-Medjugorje sites often paint the bishop as being mean-spirited for this actions. However, since he has pastoral jurisdiction to ensure that what takes place in Medjugorje is in accordance with Church norms on Marian devotion (which does not include unapproved phenomena), he acted appropriately. Fr. Cantalamessa's appearance would have lent credibility to something not yet deemed worthy of belief by the Church. Further, his appearance with the suspended priest, Fr. Jozo Zovko, OFM would have been scandalous for the Church.

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Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS

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Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS

Michigan, United States

I am a parishioner of Assumption Grotto Parish in Detroit and a secular Carmelite.

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Medjugorje Commission News

?                      It's Official: New Commission on Medjugorje

?                      List of Commission Members (unofficial)

?                      Cardinal Schonborn acknowledges new commission forthcoming; admits there are "certainly some open questions"

Apparition Discernment (General)

?                      1978 Criteria for Discernment of Apparitions (Full)

?                      What is Involved in Apparition Discernment? (1978 Criteria - Part 1)

?                      Who discerns apparitions and private revelations? (1978 Criteria - Part 2)

?                      Apparitions: Types of Decisions the Church can Hand Down

?                      Apparitions - True or False (Fr. Peter Joseph)

Interesting Skeptics...

?                      Cardinal Saraiva Martins: No comparison between Fatima and Medjugorje

?                      Mariologist Rev. Dr. Hauke: Don't let the devotees fall into the void (initial article)

?                      Mariologist Rev. Dr. Hauke: An Appeal for Objectivity (1st response to criticism of initial article)

?                      Mariologist Rev. Dr. Hauke: Medjugorje under the magnifying glass (2nd response to criticism of initial article)

?                      Paranormal Researcher Louis Belanger on Medjugorje

?                      Catholic Apologist Patrick Madrid (Medjugorje Label - Scroll)

Medjugorje FAQ's

?                      What is the Official Status of Medjugorje?

?                      Are pilgrimages to Medjugorje permitted or not???

Vatican Documents (Medjugorje)

?                      Fr. Tomislav Vlasic laicized by Holy See; leaves order

?                      Canonical Sanctions against Fr. Tomislav Vlasic

?                      February 20, 1999: The Decree "Romanis Pontificibus" Definitively Implemented

Ecclesial Disciplinary Notes

?                      Ecclesial Disciplinary Actions against Fra Jozo Zovko, OFM

?                      Canonical Sanctions against Fra Tomislav Vlasic

?                      Severe Restrictions on Tomislav Vlasic, upon granting request for laicization

Diocesan and Bishop's Conference Docs (Medjugorje)

?                      Diocese of Mostar - Duvno Medjugorje Page (Croatian)

?                      Diocese of Mostar - Duvno (Select Docs in English)

?                      Diocese of Mostar - Duvno (Select Docs in Italian)

?                      September 26, 2009 Statement of Bishop Ratko Peric

?                      June 12, 2009: Prot 648/2009 & 649/2009 - Letters from Bp Peric to Pastor and Parochial Vicar at St. James in Medjugorje

?                      Documents at the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno - Medjugorje (various languages)

?                      The Zadar Declaration (1991)

?                      1987 Press Release by Cardinal Kuharic on New Commission and Pilgrimages

Mostar-Duvno Diocesan Docs (Medjugorje)

?                      Diocesan measures against Fr. Slavko Barbaric (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      "The Truth Both Frees us and Binds us" by Bishop Ratko Peric (May 31, 2004)

?                      "Medjugorje: Secrets, Messages, Vocations, Prayers, Confessions, Commissions" by Bishop Peric (Feb 17, 2004)

?                      Fr. Rene Laurentin Disinformations (Oct 24, 1997 statement of Diocesan Chancellor)

?                      "The Truth about Medjugorje" by Bishop Zanic (1990)

Confirmation Homiles at Medjugorje

?                      June 6, 2009 Homily of Bishop Ratko Peric (we cannot behave as if these apparitions are authentic or approved)

?                      June 9, 2007 Homily of Bishop Ratko Peric (

?                      June 15, 2006 Homily of Bishop Ratko Peric (call to obedience, prohibitions)

?                      April 24, 2005 Homily of Bishop Peric (cites May 1998 letter from Cdl Ratzinger which calls a "fabrication" statements attributed to him and Holy Father on Medjugorje)

?                      July 15, 1987 Homily of Bishop Pavao Zanic

Close Associates to the Alleged Visionaries

?                      The case of Fr. Slavko Barbaric

?                      Fr. Tomislav Vlasic and his role (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      Fr. Jozo Zovko's trail of disobedience (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      List of disciplinary actions taken by Holy See and Diocesan Bishop against Fr. Jozo Zovko with protocol numbers (Semper Fi)

Attacks on Local Bishop of Medjugorje

?                      Outrageous Claims Against Local Ecclesiastical Authority

?                      What did Abp Bertone really say about Bishop Peric?

?                      Medjugorje, the communists, and the bishop (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      The Gospa and Instigation to Insubordination (Marco Corvaglia)

The Franciscan Conflict in Herzegovina

?                      Excellent Historical Perspective on "rift" between local Franciscans and Bishops

?                      February 20, 1999: The Decree Romanis Pontificibus Definitively Implemented

?                      The Gospa and Instigation to Insubordination (Marco Corvaglia)

Scientific Experiments

?                      Caught on video: "I thought the infant Jesus was slipping" (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      Medjugorje - Science Mortified - Part 1 (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      Medjugorje - Science Mortified - Part 2 (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      Medjugorje - Science Mortified - Part 3 (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      Visionaries evading tests (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      Received from Dr. Giorgio Gagliardi Scientific coordinator of the third research committee on Medjugorje (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      Medjugorje: "New Age" Science? (Marco Corvaglia)

Select Articles

?                      Medjugorje: What mushrooms teach about objectivity

?                      Curious translation problems with presentation of Papal Nuncio's interview

?                      Pope Benedict XVI and the Bishop of Mostar about Medjugorje (Marco Corvaglia)

?                      French Bishop's Statement by Msgr. Henri Brincard (2000)

?                      Medjugorje and the Flow of Grace (Catholic Culture)

?                      Medjugorje: Filial reverence, or lack thereof...?

Other Ecclesiastic Communications

?                      CDF advises Bishops of Tuscany to share 2006 homily of Bishop Peric with priests of the diocese

Medjugorje and "The Maciel Effect"

by Patrick Madrid

 April 6, 2010

Many adherents of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje to whom I have spoken personally have invoked the (also alleged) fondness and support of Pope John Paul II for it. "The Pope was in favor of Medjugorje," they reason, "and given what a good and holy pontiff he was, it's highly unlikely that Medjugorje could be anything other than an authentic Marian apparition. And, conversely, it's an even stronger reason for believing in Medjugorje."

This is a form of what's known as an a fortiori argument. For example, one might say, "If I think that Medjugorje is true, that's all well and good. But if even the pope thinks it's true, then the possibility that it is true is much stronger, much more likely."

Variations of this type of argument can be seen on sundry pro-Medjugorje websites, in which such-and-such a bishop or cardinal is touted as believing that the alleged apparitions are authentic, or such-and-such a theologian is extolled because he has declared that Medjugorje "has the ring of truth," etc., etc.

Strictly speaking, there is nothing wrong at all with arguing for something along these lines. We make use of valid arguments like this all the time ("Grandma always said that eating apples would keep you healthy, but if even expert scientists confirm that belief, how much more so should we take Grandma's advice seriously," etc.). The problem, though, at least for those who follow Medjugorje, is that their commonly employed argument, based on the widely held belief that Pope John Paul II strongly favored Medjugorje, skates dangerously close to the edge of the logical fallacy of weak induction. I'll explain what I mean.

As those who follow this blog know, I am an open-minded skeptic when it comes to Medjugorje. I see too many problematic aspects of the alleged apparitions — some, seriously problematic, such as the incitements to disobedience from whoever or whatever is dispensing the messages (for more on that, read my comments beneath this post) — to be convinced that it is an authentic Marian apparition. I realize, of course, and freely admit, that I may in fact be wrong in my skepticism. I simply may not have properly understood or interpreted the data.

As I have said before, if I am wrong about this, and if the Medjugorje phenomena are truly the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then I will rejoice to have my error corrected. I mean that sincerely. But that's beside the point for the purpose of this post.

What I am driving at, as the title of this article suggests, is that those who attempt to bolster their own faith in Medjugorje, and that of others, by using the argument about Pope John Paul II accepting its authenticity (take note that many now seek to press Pope Benedict XVI into service using this same tactic, as well) are setting themselves up for a serious difficulty.

It is a well known fact that Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, was a stalwart supporter of Fr. Marcial Maciel, the disgraced, recently deceased founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order and its lay arm, Regnum Christi. I can only assume that John Paul was truly ignorant of the many frauds Fr. Maciel had perpetrated for decades. How it is that the pope did not know the truth about that dastardly man is beyond me, but I'm not focusing on that question here. It's sufficient to remind ourselves that the charism of papal infallibility does not extend to the pope's private, personal opinions about people and things.

As we now know, Pope John Paul II was utterly wrong about Fr. Maciel. He had completely misjudged him. Like a whole lot of other people, including a few popes who came before him, John Paul was conned by a consummate con-man. His approval of the vaunted Mexican priest was in complete error. The gestures of honor and confidence with which he generously betokened Fr. Maciel over many years were completely undeserved. His famous comment that Maciel was "an efficacious guide to youth" could not have been more hideously incorrect.

We know that now. We know now the sordid details of many bad things which Fr. Maciel perpetrated over his lifetime. Since his demise, they have continued to belch forth from the grave like a sulfurous semi-dormant volcano that will emit its noxious fumes for a long time to come.

Please note: I am not equating Medjugorje with Fr. Maciel. I am not suggesting any kind of similarity whatsoever between the two. Nor am I in any way impugning or disrespecting or trying to besmirch the memory of Pope John Paul II. I believe he was a good and holy man who was deceived by a duplicitous, wicked man.

And that's what I hope all Medjugorje supporters who tout the alleged approval of Pope John Paul II will see and understand.

All the stories I have heard from Medjugorje supporters about how Pope John Paul II favored or even personally believed in its authenticity have all been apocryphal. I am not aware of the Holy Father ever publicly commenting, one way or the other, whether verbally or in writing, on Medjugorje.

Sure, there are numerous instances of private comments alleged to have been made by JPII about Medjugorje, but none that I am aware of which have been verified with documentation, such as video or audio recordings. Peruse these comments, and you'll see they are all third-hand. He said he said he said, etc.

But even that is not the main point here. Let's say for the sake of discussion that every single last one of those alleged remarks made by John Paul II really did come from his lips. Let's assume that not only did he say those things, but that he was also convinced that Medjugorje is authentic. And, a fortiori, if even Pope John Paul II himself was a fervent believer in Medjugorje, how much more should we regard it to be true. Right?

Wrong. That's a bad argument to be using in this case. Why? Because even saintly popes can be seriously wrong in their personal opinions.

We might think of this as the "Maciel Effect," which applies to Medjugorje and can be expressed in the form of the following argument:

"If even a good and holy pope can be deceived and be utterly wrong in his sincere personal opinion about the character of Fr. Maciel, then how much more so is it possible that you could be sincerely wrong in your personal opinions about Medjugorje?"

Remember: Pope John Paul II was convinced that Fr. Maciel was a holy priest, an exemplary and faithful Catholic, and "an efficacious guide to youth."

He could not have been more wrong about that.

March 31, 2010

A look at the unprecedented Medjugorje commission


I was one of several American Catholics interviewed recently for this Our Sunday Visitor newspaper article on the vexing subject of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje.

Those who've read my previous comments about that on this blog or who have heard me discuss it on my radio show already know where I'm coming from. I consider myself an open-minded skeptic who is not only willing to be wrong about Medjugorje (though I don't think I am), but I sincerely do hope I am wrong and that it is an authentic Marian apparition. Good golly, do I ever hope I’m wrong about this.

    Vatican panel to weigh authenticity of alleged Marian apparitions
    in Bosnia-Herzegovina

     by Emily Stimpson

For many, it was an announcement that seemed long overdue.

On March 17, the Vatican announced the formation of a commission to investigate the authenticity of the Marian apparitions centered in Medjugorje. The commission, requested by the bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, will take place under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and will begin work almost immediately. Its findings will be subject to the final authority of the CDF.

The announcement was, in many ways, unprecedented.

Franciscan University of Steubenville theology professor and mariologist Deacon Mark Miravalle noted it’s typically the local bishop or ecclesial conference that establishes these types of investigatory commissions.

It is possible for that call to come from the Vatican “if it’s not pleased with what takes place at the local level” or, if the Vatican “thinks things have not gone ideally, for the CDF to step in and take a more active role.”

But, Miravalle continued, it’s usually the local bishop who has the final say on the commission’s findings, not the CDF.

Fruits of visions

The announcement is unprecedented, but, in many ways, so is what’s taking place at Medjugorje.

It all began in 1981, when six Croatian teenagers, who lived in the small village in Bosnia-Herzegovina, reported that the Virgin Mary had appeared and given them a message to share with others. Nearly 30 years on, some of the visionaries still claim to see the Blessed Mother daily. The rest say she now appears to them only yearly.

For those inclined to accept the apparitions as true, the number of years Mary has appeared to the visionaries — 29 — as well as the number of messages received — upward of 30,000 — are signs that God is at work in Medjugorje.

“In 30 years you have no notable contradictions between the seers, and no observation — to my knowledge — that any of the messages are in any way off the beaten track in terms of faith and morals,” said Father Johann Roten, director of the University of Dayton’s Marian Library — International Marian Research Institute.

Father Roten pointed out that scientifically and medically the apparitions are among the most studied in Church history.

In addition to the messages themselves — which consist primarily of calls for repentance, conversion and peace — proponents also point to the tremendous fruits that the messages have born in the Church.

To date, more than 30 million men and women have visited Medjugorje, with countless conversions and vocations to the priesthood and religious life resulting from those visits.

“There seems to be an undeniable explosion of supernatural graces in Medjugorje,” Miravalle said.

‘Not good’ fruits

But there also seems to be an undeniable storm of contro-versy surrounding Medjugorje.

“The good fruits of Medjugorje are undeniable,” said Patrick Madrid, director of the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College. “But we can’t disregard the fruits that aren’t good.”

Madrid, who calls himself “a skeptic, not a critic,” of Medjugorje, points to accounts of scandal surrounding several key figures as an example of those “not good” fruits.

He likewise finds fault in the very thing that so many proponents find good: the messages.

“From very early on, you see an incitement to disobedience in the messages,” Madrid said. “If this really is the Mother of God urging disobedience to the bishops, that seems at odds with her messages to people like St. Faustina, where she urged obedience even in the wake of disbelief and disapproval.”

Both proponents and skeptics have ample evidence to which they can point and ample arguments with which to respond to those who disagree with them. At this point, it can feel difficult, if not impossible, for faithful Catholics in the middle to know who’s right.

Up until now, however, the Church hierarchy has been almost as divided on the question as Catholics themselves. Both of Medjugorje’s local bishops took firm positions against the apparitions, while other bishops, such as Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, have caused a stir by making pilgrimages to the apparition site. . . . (continue reading)

March 23, 2010

Unsuspecting Medjugorje devotees misled by deceptive translation?

That's the opinion of Medjugorje-watcher Diane Korzeniewski, who offers a line-by-line analysis of the original message of Archbishop Allessandro D'Errico, apostolic nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina, comparing it with a faulty translation of that message which was posted on a pro-Medjugorje website.

It takes only two sentences, mistranslated to include words not said by Archbishop Allessandro D'Errico when the Papal Nuncio addressed the people of Bosnia & Herzegovina with regards to the new Medjugorje commission, to change the meaning of what he was saying.

His Excellency would be disappointed to learn how a pair of sentences, made into one, came across to English speaking readers as a result of the fabrication that was made. . . .  

January 13, 2010

Medjugorje Fact-Sheet: Is the Devil in the Details?


Given the turmoil, uncertainty, and speculation that has been engendered by Cardinal Schönborn's recent high-profile visit to Medjugorje, I, like many who have been following the story closely, am waiting and watching to see what this new development might portend for the Church's eventual decision on whether the Medjugorje phenomenon is an authentic Marian apparition or not.

The Catholic Church will, I presume, eventually issue some kind of definitive decision on this question, but in the meantime, before that happens, I believe it is wise to consider all the available relevant information and evidence, those which lend support to Medjugorje and those which do not.

As St. Paul said, "Test everything; hold fast to what is good" (1 Thess. 5:21).

In addition to the bemused reaction to His Eminence's visit there from the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno (within which territory Medjugorje is situated), a few other high-level Churchmen have been speaking up about the matter, including Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, who is disinclined to accept the claims that the Medjugorje phenomenon is base on authentic Marian apparitions.


Regardless of whether one believes Medjugorje is a true Marian apparition, disbelieves it, or is simply skeptical toward the whole thing but remains open to all credible evidence, pro or con (this is my personal position, by the way), it seems clear that these recent statements from such well-informed bishops are certainly worth pondering.

Consider this, too:

Under the heading: "Medjugorje, Secrets, Messages, Vocations, Prayers, Confessions, Commissions," Bishop Ratko Peric, in 2007, provided an exhaustive chronology and outline of salient facts surrounding the alleged apparitions. For anyone who is serious about wanting to know all the details pertaining to Medjugorje, this "Fact Sheet" is a must read, regardless of where you currently stand on this issue.

January 8, 2010

Yesterday, on the "Open Line" radio program . . .

We had two hours worth of calls on a good variety of issues, including a few on Medjugorje, Guadalupe, and Marian apparitions in general, the sinlessness of Mary, priestly celibacy, the tetragrammaton YHWH, the Novus Ordo Missae, Calvinists and baptismal regeneration, whether the devil spies on you when you're praying, indulgences, and more. Click to listen to the show.

 November 16, 2009

A Caller to My "Open Line" Radio Show Asks Me About the "Good Fruits" of Medjugorje

A call came in recently from a woman who wanted to remind me about all the "good fruits" associated with the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje. You know, the thousands of confessions and conversions, rosaries and other prayers prayed, and even numerous priestly vocations which are attributed to men having made a pilgrimage there.

Well . . . I don't deny that there are good "fruits" associated with Medjugorje, but even so, I am strongly disinclined to believe that it is the site of authentic Marian apparitions. And, as I explained to the caller, I personally do not agree that the "good fruit" argument constitutes proof of its authenticity.

The Medjugorje issue comes up from time to time on my "Open Line" show, and the fact that I am skeptical about this alleged apparition seems to perplex and, at times, irritate some of my listeners. I surely do not mean to irritate them! But I feel obliged to give my honest opinion when callers ask me about it. Take a listen.

June 25, 2009

Medjugorje Apparition Claims Are Divisive, Bishop Warns


The Catholic bishop whose diocese includes the town of Medjugorje has warned that "something similar to a schism" has arisen at the parish church where apparitions of the Virgin Mary are alleged to take place.

In a homily delivered in Medjugorje on the feast of Corpus Christi, Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that both he and his predecessor have expressed severe misgivings about the reported apparitions. He added that both Pope John Paul II (bio - news) and Pope Benedict XVI (bio -news) backed the judgments of the local bishops.

In his homily Bishop Peric explained that-- "while recognizing the Holy Father's right to give a final decision" on the validity of the reported apparitions-- he doubted their validity. He recalled that when he discussed the reports from Medjugorje with Vatican officials, including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they shared his incredulity.

"They particularly do not seem to be authentic," the bishop observed, "when it is known before that these so-called 'apparitions' will occur." Bishop Peric cited the schedule that the Medjugorje seers have provided, listing the times and places at which they claim the next visits by the Mother of God will occur. Thousands of messages from Mary are now claimed, and the bishop observed that "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."

The first reported appearances of the Virgin at Medjugorje occurred just over 25 years ago. During the 1980s, thousands of Catholic flocked to the little town, with many reporting profound spiritual experiences. These pilgrimages were eventually slowed by the violent bloodshed that tore through the region in the 1990s and by the increasingly public skepticism of the hierarchy.

Bishop Peric reminded his people of the restrictions that he has imposed on activities in Medjugorje. The parish church is not formally a "shrine," he said, and should not be characterized as such. Pilgrimages to the church are discouraged. Priests there are "not authorized 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, nor during other common acts of piety, nor in the Catholic media."

The bishops urged the "seers" of Medjugorje to "demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish."

Some of the Franciscan priests assigned to the Medjugorje parish, he said, have been expelled from their order because of their refusal to accept Church authority. "They have not only been illegally active in these parishes, but they have also administered the sacraments profanely, while others invalidly," he said. As Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, he said, he felt obliged to warn the faithful "who invalidly confess their sins to these priests and participate in sacrilegious liturgies."