Medjugorje

I once incurred the wrath of an older priest, an enthusiast of the alleged "apparitions" at Medjugorje.  After needling me about various things through the evening, he stated proudly that he had been to Medjugorje six times.  I really shouldn’t have but I responded, "Then you have been there half a dozen times more than Mary?"  Although I was a little irritated with that priest, my snappy comment reflected my persisting view.

I read now in a CNS story:

Bosnian bishop urges Medjugorje visionaries to stop claims

By Simon Caldwell
Catholic News Service

LONDON (CNS) — The bishop whose diocese includes the Bosnian village of Medjugorje has urged six alleged Marian visionaries to stop claiming that Mary has been visiting them for 25 years.

Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, Bosnia-Herzegovina, said the church "has not accepted, either as supernatural or as Marian, any of the apparitions" said to have been witnessed by a group of people from Medjugorje.

"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," he said. He then called on the alleged visionaries and "those persons behind the messages to demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish."


The bishop made his comments June 15 during a homily at a confirmation Mass in Medjugorje’s St. James Church. The diocese published the homily in English and Italian July 3.

But Bishop Peric said in his homily that "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 either authentic or established as truthful."

He said in February that Pope Benedict XVI expressed similar doubts when they discussed Medjugorje during the Bosnian bishops’ visit to the Vatican.

Bishop Peric told the congregation that because the church did not accept the claims of the visionaries it was illicit for priests to "express their private views contrary to the official position" during Mass, in acts of popular piety or in the Catholic media.

He said Catholics were forbidden from making pilgrimages to Medjugorje if by such visits "they presuppose the authenticity of the apparitions or if by undertaking them attempt to certify these apparitions."

He also warned his audience of a schism emerging in the region between the church and more than a dozen Franciscan brothers and priests who have been expelled by the generalate of the Order of Friars Minor in Rome because of their disobedience to the pope.

He said that the expelled Franciscans "have not only been illegally active in these parishes, but they have also administered the sacraments profanely … or they have assisted at invalid marriages."

Throughout the 1980s, Franciscan Father Jozo Zovko acted as "spiritual adviser" to the visionaries.


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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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26 Responses to Medjugorje

  1. Florestan says:

    Father, do you see any possibilities of proceeding even further “extinguishing” Medjugorje, as it is mostly a popular piety? Would the Holy See, local bishops or the Franciscan Order General be successful in taking more firm action?
    C’mon, look into the crystal ball…

  2. I do not know what the Holy See will do in this case. You can, however, look at what the Holy See has done in other cases.

  3. pilgrim says:

    Dear Fr John,

    Catholic News Service will have picked up Simon Caldwell’s article from the UK Catholic Herald, long seen as an opponent to Medjugorje and not adverse to twisting facts to present a distorted viewpoint. But poor old Simon the Spinner, outed many times for his readiness not to allow the facts get in the way of his own predjudices on Medjugorje, continues with his campaign here in England. Another lonely Englishman, King Canute, conducted a similar and pointless exercise against the tide.

    I have no problem with anyone that chooses not to believe in the claimed apparitions of Medjugorje. What disturbs me is to see Catholic writers abusing their journalistic profession and themselves by deliberate and persistent distortion when they have full knowledge of the facts.

    Peace – I mean it!

  4. Juan says:

    At Fatima, the people and the church leaders obviously did not respond to prevent WWII.

    What will you all who don’t believe in Medjugorje and the like say as greater chastisements unfold? That we didn’t need the warnings from Medjugorje? As many people get worse and worse quickly, are you going to say that we still don’t need the special intervention of Medjugorje?

    How should the Church respond to NUCLEAR terrors? Through special interventions like Medjugorje or maybe some kind of Vatican diplomacy getting into things? Think about it Father.

  5. Diane says:

    After needling me about various things through the evening, he stated proudly that he had been to Medjugorje six times. I really shouldn’t have but I responded, “Then you have been there half a dozen times more than Mary?”

    Oooooooooohhhh Fr. Z!!! – I just spit my coffee out *wipes screen*

    I’ve got the full homily here as many news services left out a tidbit or two.

    It will be interesting to see what happens.

    Does the website coming from Medjugorje remove the word “shrine”?

    Does it stop publishing messages obtained through disobedience?

    Scroll down in their website here to the confirmation coverage.

    There is no mention of the second part of the homily.

    Selective coverage is very deceptive. They don’t need to stop if they don’t report it.

  6. Catholic Lady says:

    “I once incurred the wrath of an older priest, an enthusiast of the alleged “apparitions” at Medjugorje. ”

    I remember that and also thought of him when I read that article. I also was taken aback at the time that he should be so certain that this was valid in spite of what the Church said. I have met many people who feel the same – and feeling is the clue I think. They go there and get caught up in some sort of emotional experience that makes it seem real to them. One such couple live where I once lived in Southern Arizona. They took their own funds, built a chapel on a hill and a statue of the blessed mother that can be seen for many miles around. Many followers go there. I don’t know what it will take to convince them not to do otherwise.

  7. There really isn’t anything wrong with building a Marian shrine and allowing people to visit it and pray there, so long as no claims to special or private revelation are being made.

    For example, if you decided to build a very nice Lourdes Grotto and, it being so nice, people started to pay visits to the Grotto and pray before the statue of Mary, there is no harm in that.

    If, however, you thought Mary was appearing to you on the cream cheese you put on your bagel each morning for breakfast, and you created a shrine with a special statue you commissioned at “her request” of Our Lady of the Bagel, and then started publishing her “messages”, that would be a problem, particularly if the local bishop told you not to.

  8. Juan: “What will you all who don’t believe in Medjugorje and the like say as greater chastisements unfold?”

    How ’bout this. When those chastisements start up, get back to me and I will give you my response.

  9. Andrew says:

    I don’t know of a single instance in the life of any saint who would have insisted on having his own way against the wishes of the ecclesiastical authority.

    The truly Marian way is this: “you don’t like it? you don’t want me to do this? FIAT.

  10. Catholic Lady says:

    “There really isn’t anything wrong with building a Marian shrine and allowing people to visit it and pray there, so long as no claims to special or private revelation are being made”

    It is a beautiful chapel on a hillside in the Huachuca Mountains –

    The statue of our lady is 31 feet tall and points to a celtic cross which is 75 feet tall.

    But here is the part that bothers me about it

    They claim that there are written and verbal documention of unexplained healings of body and heart. These claims have not been investigated by the Church or claimed to be miracles however.
    They claim to have many testimonies and pictures on file of unexplained phenomena on this hillside site.

    They claim there are messages being given to a locutionist in the Shrine..to a person called Pat who initially got these messages through inner locutions and later mostly audible while she is in a spiritual state called ectasy.

    Upon occasion she has stated what she sees can be vivid, especially if it is a vision of something she is told to relate back to the community. In most cases she sees a being in a translucent body form, sometimes accompanied with beautiful colors or lights.

    It is their discernment that they are permitted by Our Lord Jesus Christ and come from Him, His Mother and upon occasion other permitted heavenly beings.

    Since they did not ask the church for any formal recognition, they have issued a letter confirming their position, as “It is a Private Matter”.

  11. Diane says:

    Fr. Z,

    You give an excellent example of a legit and illegit shrine. Not all news outlets covered the entire homily.

    What did the bishop say about the “shrine” in Medjugorje in this homily?

    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.

    Are people promoting a shrine dedicated to the “Gospa” which was not authorized? This comes from the website out of Medjugorje?:

    Spreading of Information from the Shrine and Copyright

    As we have already underlined on several occasions, the Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje and the Information Centre “Mir” Medjugorje are the only official voice and source of authentic information from Medjugorje.

    We appeal to all of you to spread the information from the Shrine, and we encourage all the friends of Medjugorje to use the materials they find on this web page. When you use these materials, (texts, photos and others) it is obligatory to mention the source, i.e. © Information Centre “Mir” Medjugorje, http://www.medjugorje.hr. We kindly ask you to do so.

    We thank you for all that you are doing to spread Our Lady’s message of peace!

    I think Kevin Knight at New Advent summed it up well when he called this homily a A New Litmus Test for Medjugorje

    Will the words shrine cease?

    Will the release and spread of messages cease?

    Based on the selective coverage we see on the site coming out of Medjugorje on the confirmation, I think it gives us a clue. Scroll down in this link, to where you see Bishop Peric confirming a young man. Read their coverage, and it only covers the first half of the homily on confirmation, but no mention of the second, critical part of the homily is made. Full homily available here

    Apologist, Jimmy Akin, points out:

    In his pontificate, B16 has been quietly (or not so quietly) dealing with issues that appeared to drift during the pontificate of John Paul II. He reined in the Franciscans in Assisi; he reined in the Neocatechumenal Way; he dealt with the Fr. Maciel matter. I’m wondering if the discussion he had with Bishop Peric included an initiative to clarify where the Church is regarding the subject of Medjugorje.

    Bishop Peric seems to have been energized since his February ad limina visit. I too speculate along the same lines as Jimmy.

  12. Diane says:

    Catholic Lady, you spark my memory about the so-called miracles of Medjugorje.

    Look at this document out of Lourdes – a sheet listing Church approved miracles, still ongoing!!!

    There are claims of hundreds of miracles coming out of Medjgorje. In 1990, Bishop Zanic in his document, “The Truth About Medjugorje”, says:

    (21)…..The majority of the pious public has naively fallen victim to the great propaganda, the talk of the apparitions and of healings. These people themselves have become the greatest propaganda for the events. They do not even stop to think that the truth has been hidden by deliberate falsehoods. They are unaware that not even one miraculous healing has occurred that could have been verified by competent experts and institutions such as the Bureau Medical de Lourdes. If I recall, there had already been claims of 400 miracles.

    This is not very scholarly, or responsible, of any supposed expert or mariologist, if in any books they have written they speak of “miracles” if they have not been confirmed.

    I know many conversions have taken place, but I believe those are the result of the Sacraments, and quite frankly, the Blessed Mother using this place to her advantage, even though she is likely not appearing there (just my personal opinion).

  13. Diane says:

    Need to make a correction.

    The bishop’s statement, above, is limited as follows. I forgot to put a closing tag on the italics.

    (21)…..The majority of the pious public has naively fallen victim to the great propaganda, the talk of the apparitions and of healings. These people themselves have become the greatest propaganda for the events. They do not even stop to think that the truth has been hidden by deliberate falsehoods. They are unaware that not even one miraculous healing has occurred that could have been verified by competent experts and institutions such as the Bureau Medical de Lourdes.

  14. Catholic Lady says:

    “I know many conversions have taken place, but I believe those are the result of the Sacraments”

    And of faith and prayer. As for Our Lady utilizing that place or the shrine I mention, I am uncertain. Certainly all these shrines encourage praying the rosary and for that reason, I am sure Our Lady hears those prayers but I believe she hears them in my living rom as well.

  15. Mike says:

    I can only speak from my own experience. Medjugorje was a signifcant factor in my wife returning to the Catholic faith in 1993 (after a 20 year laspe) and in my converting to the Catholic faith in 1997. I can’t say the alleged apparitions mattered so much to me, it was rather the example of people in the village living out a True Catholic Faith in their daily lives. We have tried to follow Medjugorje’s recomendations: daily prayer/Rosary, fasting, reading Scripture, Eucharist and monthly confession.

  16. Catholic Lady says:

    Mike – you wrote

    “daily prayer/Rosary, fasting, reading Scripture, Eucharist and monthly confession.”

    Sounds like a recipe for success and one we should all follow -

  17. Diane says:

    I agree with Catholic Lady. I wrote about that in this thread:

    What leads people to Medjugorje?

    People should not have to travel half way around the world to get things that should be happening right in their own backyard.

    Medjugorje is a testimony to the fact that all of those things mentioned by Mike work!

  18. Donal Foley says:

    Dear Fr Zuhlsdorf,

    I noticed that you have some information about Medjugorje on your wdtprs blog, and I was wondering if you would be interested in a review copy of my new book on Medjugorje, Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion? for review/discussion on the site, or in another suitable publication.

    The book takes the position that the alleged visions are not genuine. You can see more details including reviews and extracts, at:

    http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/books/medjbook/medjbook.html

    Please let me know.
    God bless,
    Donal Foley

  19. Donal Foley says:

    p.s. I’m using this form, beacuse I couldn’t see an email address!

  20. Donal: If you send something, you can send it c/o The Wanderer. However, I cannot promise I will read it.

  21. Donal Foley says:

    Fr John,

    Thanks – do you have a phone number for the Wanderer?
    It’s required for shipping purposes – I couldn’t see
    one on the web site.

    God Bless,
    Donal

  22. Donal Foley says:

    Fr John,

    I have found an old copy of the Wanderer, and so now have the phone number – sorry to trouble you.

    Donal

  23. Juan says:

    Fr.: “How ’bout this. When those chastisements start up, get back to me and I will give you my response.”

    Alright.. Of course a total breakdown is kind of too late. Mirjana said it’s too late to change any of the other secrets besides the 7th one that was changed. What kind of sense is it for people to discern when it’s too late? ..The ecclesiastical authority comes first? The ecclesiastical authority decides whether it’s true or not. They do this by the fruits. How can there be fruits when there is not following?

    Alot of people don’t take the Lord and Our Lady seriously.

  24. Juan says:

    Fr.: “How ’bout this. When those chastisements start up, get back to me and I will give you my response.”

    Alright.. Of course a total breakdown is kind of too late. Mirjana said it’s too late to change any of the other secrets besides the 7th one that was changed. What kind of sense is it for people to discern when it’s too late? ..The ecclesiastical authority comes first? The ecclesiastical authority decides whether it’s true or not. They do this by the fruits. How can there be fruits when there is not following?

    Alot of people don’t take the Lord and Our Lady seriously. I say this when people try to stop the following.

  25. Juan says:

    Last thing I’ll say. ..The very idea that the ecclesiastical authority can order Our Lord and Our Lady around and that should be well and fine is a blasphemous notion. It’s the most Outrageous notion that I’ve ever heard in such a conservative circle.

    In it, it’s actually granted that Our Lady may be coming down because of the will of the Lord to save our hides and give Peace to the world. And some ecclesiastical authority can come upon whim and wave their hands and tell Her to go away. ..They forget that the chastisements are not going to only fall upon the world but the church will be purified as well. As it is, the people themselves probably determine whether she goes or stays. And Praised Be!

  26. Joseph says:

    Jaun wrote: “The very idea that the ecclesiastical authority can order Our Lord and Our Lady around and that should be
    well and fine is a blasphemous notion. It’s the most Outrageous notion that I’ve ever heard in such a conservative circle.”

    In reply,

    “Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam; et portae inferni no praevalebunt adversum eam. Tibi dabo
    claves regni caelorum; et quodcumque ligaveris super terram, erit ligatum in caelis, et quodcumque solveris super terram,
    erit solutum in caelis”
    —The Gosepl of Matthew 16:18-19

    The only one who can, by the words of Christ himself, determine whether your alleged apparitions are true or false,
    occurring as they do on earth, is THE ecclesiastical authority, the Holy Father, successor of Peter. If your lord and lady
    are denying or defying the words of the LORD, you’d be well advised to ask what beast is behind these apparations. Who would
    ever desire to lead a soul to deny the words of Christ and defy the authority HE established?