CRAIG QUESTIONS MEDJUGORJE
I am writing this belief statement to all who believe in the apparitions of Mary at Medjugorje. I would like your help. I am not a "hater" of Medjugorje, nor one who has a list of objections to Medjugorje derived from reading books against it. There is much good that I can see in the basic message of Medjugorje: faith, penance, fasting, prayer, and peace. What Catholic can object to such a program? At the same time, I have been puzzled by reading many statements in the messages or statements made by the visionaries, which seem to contradict the Catholic faith. I will make a list of these statements (which are similar), state my problem with them, state the replies I have been given, and finally state my remaining questions. Perhaps someone can help me make sense of, what seems to me, statements which are contrary to Catholic Faith.
Below are the problematic statements. I found these statements written in books by those who believe and support the apparitions at Medjugorje:
1. (Question to Vicka) "There are millions of people on earth who are not Christian--what does the Blessed Mother want of them?"
(Vicka:) "To pray. All people on earth are born with knowledge of God in their hearts. Everyone has his own way to pray. The Blessed Mother is the mother of all people on earth. She has a mother’s love for them all, and her messages, which are from God, are for everyone.
(Question:) "Then it doesn’t matter what name or person they call God?"
(Vicka:) There is only one God. It is man who makes divisions."
(Page 51, Queen of the Cosmos by Connell)
2. (Question to Vicka) "Is the Blessed Mother calling all people on earth to be Catholic?"
(Vicka:) "No! The Blessed Mother says all religions are dear to her and her Son. She says it is we on earth who have made division."
(Page 119, The Visions of the Children, Connell)
3. (Interview with Marjana by Father Tomislav Vlasic)
Mirjana: "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."
(Father:) "What, then, is the role of Jesus Christ, if the Moslem religion is a good religion?"
(Mirjana:) "We did not discuss that." (The role of our Lord Jesus Christ) "She merely explained, and deplored, the lack of religious unity, ‘especially in the villages.’ She said that everybody’s religion should be respected, and of course one’s own." (Page 124, The Apparitions of Our Lady at Medjugorje, Kraljevic)
4. (Interview with Ivanka by Father Svetozar Kraljevic)
(Ivanka:) "The Madonna said that religions are separated in the earth, but the people of all religions are accepted by my Son.
(Father S.:) Does that mean that all people go to heaven?
(Ivanka:) It depends on what they deserve.
(Father:) Yes, but many have never heard about Jesus.
(Ivanka:) Jesus knows all about that; I don’t. The Madonna said, basically, religions are similar..." (Ibid, 149)
5. (A statement from the apparition:)
"God presides over all religions as a king controls his subjects, through his priests and ministers."
6. (A statement from the Apparition:)
"Tell this priest, tell everyone, that it is you who are divided on earth. The Muslims and the Orthodox, for the same reason as the Catholics, are EQUAL before my Son and me. You are all my children. Certainly, all religions are not equal, but all men are equal before God... Those who are not Catholic are no less creatures made in the image of God, and destined to rejoin someday the House of the Father." (Page 85-86, The Final Harvest, Weible)
7. (A statement from the Apparition:)
"My Son and I do not cut the cake where faiths are concerned. You have put the walls, the division between yourselves..." (Ibid, 110)
These are the statements. My difficulties stem first of all from some Bible verses. "For all the gods of the Gentiles are devils..." (Psalm 95:5, Vulgate Translation)
"They offer sacrifice to demons, to no-gods, to gods they knew not..." (Deut. 32:17)
"No; but I say that what the Gentiles sacrifice, ‘they sacrifice to devils and not to God’; and I would not have you become associates of devils. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils; you cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord and of the table of devils." (1 Cor. 10:20-21)
"Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers...shall possess the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10)
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornicators, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts.... Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things, shall not obtain the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:19-21)
"But the fearful and unbelieving, the homosexuals and murderers, whoremongers and sorcerers, idolaters and all liars, shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Apoc. 21:8)
It is through Jesus alone that we can find salvation.
"Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).
The Church has summarized this teaching in the dogma, "Outside of the Church there is no salvation." The following is a dogmatic, ex-cathedra statement from Pope Eugene IV, Feb 4, 1441: "The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches, that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgiving, their other works of Christian piety, and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his alms giving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church." (Denz. 714)
Pope Pius IX condemned the following propositions as errors:
1. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation."
2. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.
3. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true."
The above errors are collectively know as indifferentism, meaning that it doesn’t matter which religion one adopts, since one can be saved, according to this error, outside the Catholic Church. Incidentally, such an error is a hallmark of both Freemasonry and the New Age.
Going back over the statements of the visionaries, I repeatedly find expressions of Indifferentism.
In statement #1, Mary asks people merely to pray in their own way, and it doesn’t matter what name they call God. Indeed? Many call "Kali," God, a Hindu goddess with corpses of children for earrings, a garland of severed hands about the waist, and blood dripping from her tongue. No wonder the Bible says that "all the gods of the Gentiles are devils," and "there is no other name" by which we can be saved other than the name of Jesus.
In statement #2, we are told that Mary is not calling all people to become Catholic, because all religions are already dear to Jesus and to her (which of course makes it a matter of indifference which religion one adopts). But is Voodoo dear to Jesus? Is Brazilian Macumba demonism dear to Our Lady? How about Tantrik Hinduism in which one practices necrophilia? Really? Are we really being told to respect religions, where cannibalism is ritually practiced and that these religions are dear to God?
In statement #3, the theme that "God is one, but we have divided unnecessarily" is again reiterated. Its import does not seem to miss Father Vlasic, who asks about the role of Jesus, but is met with a mere stress on the need for "unity." But if we on earth are all calling on the "same God"--and creating false divisions--then the clear implication is that we need to unify, to join together into a single religion--or a One World Religion.
In statement #4, the same theme is again stressed, with the addition startling statement from Mary the "basically, religions are similar." If the Church proclaims Jesus, the Way of Salvation, while the pagans worship devils for gods, as the Psalmist proclaims, in what way are religions "basically similar" other than the mere act of some kind of "worship?" Hardly a significant similarity!
In statement #5, we are told that God "presides" over all religions as a king rules over his subjects, presumably through the religious leaders--priests or ministers. This statement, if true, would directly imply the need for a world religion, since all religions are already ordained and ruled by God. But are they? Does God really rule over all religions? Are all these religions really pleasing to God and equal in His eyes? Is He simultaneously directing the Jews who rejected and continue to reject Jesus not only as their Messiah but also as their God who became man? Does He direct Voodoo priests who lead people to become possessed by the "loki" or spirits. Does He direct the Wiccans who worship the "Horned God," or the Hindus who worship Shiva, the Destroyer?
It seems to me when ones looks closely enough at this supposed statement from the Blessed Mother that it not only contradicts the Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition but it is actually blasphemy?
In statement #6, we are told that while all religions are not equal (of course not--no religion can be equal to the one given to us by God, Himself for our salvation), the followers of all are equal before God, and destined to rejoin the Father in His House. The most obvious error here is that in order to "rejoin" anyone or anything it means that you once had to be a part of it in the first place. This statement implies that we were all once a part of God and are all destined to be "rejoined" to Him. This again is heresy. But further how can those who practice human sacrifice to Kali (a commandment found in her "scriptures," the Kalika Purana, and practiced by devotees in India) be equal to a practicing Catholic? Is not one in a state of mortal sin and the other in the state of grace? Certainly God loves all, but the very lack of equality--some are on the way to Heaven, some to Hell (quite a difference!)--Has traditionally been the motivation behind the missionary movement. Why urgently convert anyone, if all are "destined" to rejoin God? Does this statement not imply an eventual Universalism, a condemned heresy that claims everyone will one day be saved?
Finally, in statement #7, if Jesus and Mary do not "cut the cake" regarding religions, then all religions in their eyes already blend together into one larger religion (a cake, in the clear sense of the analogy). According to this statement the divisions are simply man-made "slices" out of the one religion to which we all belong, no matter what "slice" we chose to taste--Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, Voodoo, Muslim, Shinto, Wiccan, or the thousands of others. Such is the clear implication of the analogy. But then why baptize anybody? They already eat from the same "cake" in the eyes of Jesus and Mary, according to this message. The message, like others given above, simply undermines the other, Catholic elements spoken on other occasions at Medjugorje.
Some Answers to
Such are my difficulties. Once again, they may be summarized in the word indifferent. The statement from Medjugorje which preach indifferentism are not isolated, but unfortunately, a basic theme in Medjugorje, and may be summarized in the statement "God is one, but we have made divisions," implying that we all worship the same God and hence should join together into one religion, dropping our foolish, man-made divisions. Such teaching is clearly not Catholic.
What reply can be given to my problems? The classic reply is that of Father Laurentin, who has stated that the problem lies in a misunderstanding of the language: when the visionaries are saying "religion," they really mean a particular people who usually profess a certain religion. In other words, Mary is simply calling us to get along and respect each other.
Unfortunately, upon close examination, Father Laurentin’s statement does not fit. Rereading the above statements, we can clearly see a separation between people and religion. In statement #2, for example, Mary is not calling all "people" to become "Catholic"--here, religion and people are separated. And in statement #5, God presides over all religions through his priests--clearly a reference to actual religions, not people. The explanation simply fails.
Another answer involves pointing out the Catholic content of most of the messages--that Mary is calling us to pray, convert, confess, go to Mass, and pray the Rosary. While these concepts are indeed present, such an answer does not address the problem--the apparent non-Catholic content of the other statements given above. If Mary is calling us to Catholic practices in most of the messages, it is even more important to explain the apparent insistence in several messages that ultimately all religions need to unite, because we all worship the same God and are all destined to rejoin God in Heaven. How are we to reconcile these apparently conflicting messages--one Catholic, the other non-Catholic and heretical?
Another attempt I’ve heard in rationalizing the "messages" stresses the ecumenical nature of the apparitions. According to this theory, Mary is showing that pagans who are "invincibly ignorant" can still be saved. But such an interpretation fails to explain some of the explicit statement given above, statements which seem to go beyond such an idea. Is it merely ecumenical to hold that God directs the various religions, so that (by implication) they are teaching what He wants? Is it mere ecumenism to hold that it doesn’t matter what name we call God (Shiva, Kali, Allah or for some, Lucifer)? Is it ecumenism to hold that all religions form one "cake" in the eyes of Jesus and Mary, and that we are artificially slicing that cake into various religions? In short, such an attempt at reconciliation of truth with falsehood--although seemingly charitable--simply fails to address the specific content of the above statements. It ignores the question. Charity is important, but it must be grounded in truth, not well-meaning distortion.
Another response I have heard involves calling attention to the numerous conversions to the Catholic Church which have resulted from belief in the apparitions, implying that Our Lady is bringing souls into the Catholic Faith through this apparition.
The fact is this response doesn’t address the question and seriously ignores important facts. First, not all those involved with Medjugorje convert. Wayne Weible writes, "How wonderful it was to see those of the Jewish faith come to Medjugorje. Some would convert to Christianity; others would return home more devout in their Jewish faith. The same was true of many nonbelievers, Muslims and Protestants." (Page 121, The Final Harvest, Weible)
(One wonders how a "nonbeliever" could return home more devout in his unbelief!) Stressing his point, Weible writes that "Medjugorje was not ecumenical per se; it was not Catholic or Baptist or Lutheran." (Ibid, 122) The indifferentist nature of Medjugorje is apparently not lost on Wayne Weible, or on many visitors. Peggy Tabor Millin, a Methodist who visited Medjugorje, presents a more dramatic example in the book Mary’s Way. She writes, "This event is not Catholic in the sense of that particular denomination. It is catholic in the sense that the word means ‘universal.’ Mary has indicated to the children in Medjugorje that all people are children of God regardless of their chosen religions. It is man who has created the divisions in the world; in God there is no separation. So it is true that the event is not Christian in the strict sense, although it is about Christ Consciousness. This event is not about religion; it is about spiritual growth and empowerment.... The message is necessarily delivered in Christian terminology and reflects Catholic form." (Mary’s Way, Millin, 10-11) Millin describes her experience at Medjugorje: "The Peace descends again as I make my way to the Mary altar on the right side of the church.... Suddenly it is as though some great force within pushes up and out through my heart; my heart feels as though it physically opens and any sorrow that I had hidden away before is forced into the light. I am acutely aware of the Oneness of all being and the incredible healing and all-encompassing Power of the universe.... Gently, I feel myself being pushed away and I hear a voice within saying, ‘Take this and go out into the world.’" (Ibid, 27) Millin does just that, and writes her book, which includes many beautiful photographs of Medjugorje. She concludes, "This book and this message is entitled Mary’s Way, yet I firmly believe, it could just as easily be entitled Jesus’ Way, or Buddha’s Way because the lessons, the curriculum is the same for all. Once the dogma, the doctrine, and the form are stripped away, there is only one way to God." (Ibid, 34)
Second, of those who convert to the Catholic Church, we may further ask: To what exactly have they converted? Granted, some may become well instructed Catholics, but it is a fact that the prayer groups which promote Medjugorje are intent on studying the messages rather than the catechism. We know that one of the greatest problems in the Church today is the deplorable lack of solid instruction. Many become Charismatics, as Michael Brown attests, because Father Jozo of Medjugorje (and other priests) are Charismatics, and Medjugorje was actually "prophesied", before it occurred, at a charismatic conference in Rome. (The Day Will Come, Brown, Pages 110-111) Brown writes, "When the Virgin comes, she prays with hands facing upward, like a charismatic." Does she? The Holy Office condemned the charismatic or Pentecostal phenomenon of speaking in tongues on July 30th, 1856, indicating that such an act was a form of Spiritism--the movement (involving mediumship) that was previously condemned by the Holy Office on June 25, 1840 as "unlawful and heretical deception." The Second Plenary Council of Baltimore (1866) declared, "Some manifestations of Spiritism are to be ascribed to the Satanic." In the Roman Rite of Exorcism speaking in foreign tongues is considered to be one of the signs of demonic possession. Finally, the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church was pushed most heavily by Cardinal Suenens, who joined the Freemasons on June 15th, 1967 (code name "Lesu") (The Broken Cross, by Compton, page 78) and was a well-known Modernist and Liberal heretic who exclaimed, "Vatican II is the French Revolution in the Church." (Open Letter to Confused Catholics, by Marcel Lefebvre, page 100)
Third, the argument from conversions ignores the fact that God can make use of the Devil’s own plans and cause them to backfire. Just because someone is converted by what appears to be true does not necessitate its veracity. Our Lord could certainly utilize a false apparition to bring someone into the Church. I personally know more than one person who was converted by the condemned apparitions at Bayside--complete with rosaries, which turned to gold and miraculous "healings."
The last attempt to address the consequences of the messages involves taking refuge in the fact that the messages possibly have been mistranslated. Yet this explanation is farfetched to say the least, for the messages have been propagated for nearly two decades, and the indifferentism is not isolated, but rather runs like a thread throughout. Over and over again we hear that "God is one, man has made divisions." Wayne Weible even devotes a chapter to this theme in The Final Harvest, which he entitles The Heart of Medjugorje.
While faithful Catholics will tend to downplay the non-Catholic aspects of the messages (and even on "visionary" downplayed it in answering a question about other religions asked by my wife), such attempts do not suffice for the sincere seeker of truth. The above explanations all simply ignore the question, which is, ‘Why would Mary encourage the condemned heresy, Indifferentism? Why would she ask for unity between religions, constantly referring to the current state of separation between religions as man-made, i.e. artificial?
The only answer which I can see--the only answer which does justice to both the Catholic and non-Catholic aspects of the Medjugorje message--is that Medjugorje is not a Catholic apparition, but rather an apparition which places tradition Catholic devotion within the context of the newly-emerging one-world religion while (seemingly) giving that new religion a stamp of approval from Mary Herself. For the "New World Order" is already here, and has its own one world religion, called Diversity. This new religion teaches that, in this New Age, there is room for everybody as long as no one is excluded. Catholics can pray their rosaries, fast a bit, and go to Mass--well and good--but should not decry Moslems, Jews, or anybody else, because that violates "peace." The one sin is to say the "Outside the Church there is no salvation," because that is a hate crime. In other words, Catholics can practice their faith as long as in their belief--on this central point--they have denied the uniqueness of Christ. Medjugorje’s messages--all of them--only make sense within such a context. It is for these Catholic reasons that I maintain my reservations regarding them, and await a true answer to my objections, if one is possible. =
If you believe you can reconcile these messages with Catholic Dogma please write to:
Mr. Craig Heimbichner
1717 Lobelia Lane,
San Jose, CA 95124