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.