Croatian bishop’s strong homily on Medjugorje

Croatian bishop’s strong homily on Medjugorje

I wouldn’t call myself a Medjugorje aficionado. I know many people who have gone to the Croatian village that has purportedly been the site of Marian apparitions since 1981, including some in my own family, and who have reported amazing experiences including miraculous events. Yet, I have never felt a desire to go nor do I find an especial attachment to the messages or other phenomena. In fact, I have been distinctly uncomfortable with some of the peripheral subjects promoted by some as parts of the apparition such as the once-banned “Poem of the Man-God” books and the obviously heterodox “Three Days Darkness” idea.

The most damaging of all has been the opposition of the local bishop to the apparitions, which some Medjugorje fans claim is just jealously on the bishop’s part against the Franciscans who run the local parish. And in response the fans claim that Pope John Paul II and other Vatican officials, including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, have provided sotto voce unofficial support. Sorry, but unless someone can produce firsthand testimony or documentary evidence of such support, I’m not buying it.

And so we come to the text of a homily of Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar given on June 15 about the situation in Medjugorje. Peric, like his predecessor Bishop Zanic, is a firm opponent of what’s going on in Medjugorje. In fact, he speaks of a schism in his diocese, caused by disobedience Franciscans promoting the phenomena to the point that they’ve been expelled from the Order of Friars Minor. He says that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have always respected the judgment of the local bishops on these matters. And then he outlines the results of canonical investigations in what’s going on in Medjugorje:

The bishop speaks

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
28 comments
  • I am a Medjugorje revert.  I was so very, very far away from my faith before I went to Medjugorje, and I am eternally grateful for the graces I received there.  Our Holy Father JPII wrote beautiful personal letters to his friends in Poland about Medjugorje.  Are these not authentic?  There are scandals among some people who have been attached to Medjugorje.  There are plenty of scandals among people in our Church in general.  That does not make me walk away.  There is lack of obedience to Bishops in many dioceses, but the people truly attached to Christ stay and pray.  The last statement I know of is by Mons. Gilbert Aubrey, Bishop of St. Denis de la Reunion in 1998.  “The letter states that Bishop Peric’s position on Medjugorje is his personal opinion, which he is entitled to as local Bishop, but his opinion does not relfect the official position of the Church.”  It was also stated among other things that Catholics may go as pilgrims to Medjugorje.  Has this proclamation been rescinded?  Some of the strongest, most faith-filled and loyal Catholics I know have been strongly blessed in Medjugorje, including many priests.  At the anniversary this month it is said that there were over 200,000 pilgrims there and close to 600 priests, adoring the Lord in beautiful Adoration Hours, participating in Holy Mass, after Holy Mass, after Holy Mass, praying countless Rosaries.  I wish that was the case in every Church in our country!

  • A couple of things. First, has anyone actually seen these personal letters by JP2 to his friends in Poland? This is what i mean by documentary evidence. Sometimes stories get passed from one person to another, but no one has ever seen the original items in question.

    Second, Bishop Aubrey has even less authority to speak on the matter than Bishop Peric. As the ordinary of the diocese in which Medjugorje sits, the Church has always held that this bishop is the first to offer an authoritative ruling on apparitions. Insofar as there is any “official position” of the Church on the matter, it is that of Bishops Zanic and Peric.

    Third, if you go to the first link in the post and read the various comments and appended documents you will see that official pilgrimages were never allowed and in fact certain Vatican officials, including then-archbishop Bertone of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said they were forbidden.

    Yes, we are told that by the fruits you will know them, but as I said it is also true that God can bring good out of evil.

  • It took Jesus three years to convey the entire message of the Gospel.  It’s taken the “Gospa” twenty-five years to tell us to fast and pray?

    Who speaks for Christ?  The Bishop.  Always has, always will.  Unless the faithful want to believe that Apostolic succession does not apply to the Bishop of Mostar, then it would probably be helpful to remembet the Scriptural words of our Blessed Mother:  “Do whatever He tells you”.

    The local bishop has the proper authority to discern the validity of these apparitions.  The Holy See is not in the business of rejecting OR approving apparitions.  That is left up to the local bishop.  If the bishop says, “cease and desist”, then these people need to cease and desist.  The Bible is littered with the consequences of disobedience – all the way back to Adam and Eve.  Anyone who says that the issue of obedience to the bishop is minor is treading down a dangerous path…

  • Additionally, given that we are not required to believe ANY apparition (even Fatima), why would anyone risk a fall from grace by participating in the character assassination of the local bishop?  It’s a lousy wager, since, as far as I can tell, disobedience to the bishop trumps obedience to private revelation on the continuum of sin.

  • Mary, if I remember correctly, told one seer to become a nun and she chose not to.  Who would do that, if it were authentic?

  • Dom, the thing with Bishop Aubry is not that *he* decided that the Bishop of Mostar was only expressing his personal opinion, but that he was citing a letter from the CDF (http://medjugorje.org/newletter.htm) to that effect. The standard defense of Medjugorje is that while ordinarily the local bishop has the authority in these matters, in this case the Holy See has reserved the decision to a commission of bishops (http://medjugorje.org/faq.htm#no16).

    This is all old information, of course, and all from a Medjugorje web site. Actually verifying these claims and documents will take more resources than I have. But still, I don’t consider your current posting to be an effective rebuttal of the standard Medjugorje defense.

  • But still, I don’t consider your current posting to be an effective rebuttal of the standard Medjugorje defense.

    Good, because it’s not intended as a rebuttal. It’s merely informative with a few of my musings added on.

  • “If this was taking place in Los Angeles, would we defer to the opinion of Cardinal Roger Mahony?”

    Yes, we would.

    And for the same reason as we would for the Bishop of Mostar with respect to Medjugorje.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a definitive source of Church teaching on private revelations (65-67). History has known no shortage of those who claimed to hear voices. Some were more inspired than others, and there is a reason for the discerning role of the Church.

    St John of the Cross said that such visions should be presumed to be of diabolical origin, until proven otherwise. Anybody care to dump on him?

  • Thanks, DN, how true that is. In my humble opinion it is time for Rome to speak to the people once again. Hopefully they will again say the Church takes its time in these matters, and in the meantime the faithful can still go to Medjguorje as a place of prayer and conversion.

    Medjugorje is a very, very powerful place of grace, of prayer, of conversion and is the source of many, many vocations.  I believe that Our Lady is appearing there, for many reasons.  I have been there on many occasions and I see love and reverence of the Eucharist, oftentimes hundreds and hundreds of people in crowded, hot, uncomfortable conditions humbly kneeling in adoration before our Lord.  I have witnessed the natives of Medjugorje and neighboring villages faithfully setting aside time in their day to be at Holy Mass and Adoration.  I have witness their simple kindness and generosity to the pilgrims who come to their village, even the very old, smiling and giving up their seats in their own church for others.  If Medjugorje is put to the test, and if Our Lady is truly appearing there as I believe she is, then it will continue to flower as great place of devotion, of prayer and of peace, even if her “alleged” messages are silenced.  I personally am most greatful for the tremendous impact that this place has had on my life and on the lives of so many I know.

  • I am getting tired of “Saint” Michael Davies having all the answers. Give me a break!  He is not the authority we should be looking to by a long shot.  Perhaps he should do a similar study of all that is going on in our Church today.  Would you still be quoting him and encouraging all to read this laundry.  Let Rome speak. In the meantime, let us keep eyes on Christ with the help of our most sure guide, Mother Mary.

  • “Medjugorje is a very, very powerful place of grace, of prayer, of conversion and is the source of many, many vocations.”

    …and living proof that you can talk to someone until you’re blue in the face (in this case, the local bishop whose rightful authority on the matter continues to be ignored), but if people don’t want to listen, it doesn’t matter what you tell them.

    I once asked the late Dominican Father Frederick Jelly, a world-renowned Mariologist, what he thought of Medjugorge. He would only say: “I wish people got just as excited over the Eucharist.”

    That’ll be the day.

  • Just two comments, David.  The first is Fr. Jelly would see his wish fullfilled in Medjugorje where the focus is on the Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration, a great love and excitement over the Eucharist because that, of course, is exactly where Our Lady leads us.  Medjugorje is exactly about “to Jesus through Mary.”  And through this a great devotion in the home parishes of these people to Eucharistic adoration~~my own parish having Perpetual Eucharistic adoration begun by someone who was touched in Medjugorje.

    Regarding your second point, a quote from then Archbishop Bertone: “What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of “Famille Chretienne”, declaring: “My conviction and my position is not only ‘non constat de supernaturalitate,’ but likewise, ‘constat de non supernaturalitate’ of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje”, should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion.

    Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentification of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church.

    I hope that I have replied satisfactorily at least to the principal questions that you have presented to this Dicastery and I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my devoted sentiments.

    Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone
    (Secretary to the “Congregatio”, presided over by Cardinal Ratzinger)

  • “The first is Fr. Jelly would see his wish fullfilled in Medjugorje where the focus is on the Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration…”

    …which doesn’t explain why he’d say what he did. As to any authorative statement from any prelate other than the local bishop, could you explain what makes his the authority and that of the Bishop of Mostar “his personal opinion”? Does one have the authority to overrule the other, just because of his mailing address or who his boss is? Can you explain how, if the “authenticity” of the visions is being downplayed, why the local bishop must repeat what has already been stated once before by him, and earlier by his predecessor?

  • I’ve heard nothing against Jesus and everything for Jesus in Medjgugorje, which brings this verse to mind:

    “Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” 50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” 

    And from Fr. Rene Laurentin: His last words on the subject, “Where hostility abounds, grace is even stronger” (From Eco di Bonaria, no. 12).

  • Maryschild:

    Nothing you have written—and I do mean absolutely nothing—overrules or mitigates in any way, the statements from the Bishop of Mostar, who has the authority to determine the authenticity of alleged apparitions within his realm. I challenge you to demonstrate any authorative decree (as opposed to a private statement attributed to a curial official or even a pope) from any higher authority which rules otherwise.

    As to Fr Laurentin’s comments on hostility, could they apply to, say, a poker game gone awry?

  • With respect to Chris K’s analysis of the Holy See’s supposed intervention:

    His first paragraph proves nothing, except that those who are the beneficiaries of hearsay stand by that which they hear.

    The remainder of his analysis raises more questions than answers. Why should any community of the faithful, or any religious order within his realm, listen to any decree of the Bishop of Mostar, so long as their work remains under the banner of Medjugorge? If a commission or bishops conference (the latter having no juridical authority) has control of all matters Medjugorge, when was the apostolic visitation that investigated matters leading to this conclusion? Where was the due process? How in the world can any man function as successor to the Apostles for the Diocese of Mostar, if he must second-guess his every move?

    Assuming these questions can be answered, it does nothing to authenticate the visions, nor will it ever. You can count on one hand the number of appearances at Fatima. They took years to investigate. As of ten years ago (last time I looked), there were over ten thousand messages to the “visionaries” at Medjugorge.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • “David … ‘supposed’? Are you living on some other planet?”

    Just when I thought I might have crossed a line…

    I can assure you that I am on this planet, and in this Church. And it is here where I placed the burden on a variance from the norm with my challenger, where it firmly belonged. A demonstration of grounds for that variance was more than called for.

    “Where was the due process?”

    “Just read the history of all that went before the CDF’s intervention.”

    Where would I or anyone read of it? You cite the date of a news magazine article; no papal decree, or even a website. Just a series of anecdotes of the variety that I would be more likely to read in a magazine promoting the apparitions. From where else would I get the impression that there had been an authorative outside intervention? From those who have the most to gain from it?

    My challenge was a reasonable one, and I stand by it—and with the position that it changes little, inasmuch as a neutral position does not imply a favorable one.

  • “Would you just give a little, on the positive side, if you knew that after all these years, with tons of messages and repeated watching and examining – scientifically objective types – of the visionaries, nothing has been found against faith and morals and that the psychological and related testing has shown no fraud or induced trance, etc. in the visionaries?”

    I dunno, but if I ever meet Saint John of the Cross, I’ll ask him.

  • “There just are too many conversions which doesn’t make the evil one very happy!”

    There were also conversions described in the parable of the sower. Did they all take root?

  • MaryJane:

    I’m hardly alone in “parsing.” Your questions are accusatory in nature, and are completely out of line. I don’t owe you an explanation for my spiritual life. This is not about me.

    May I suggest you stick to the issue, and leave personalities alone?

  • Just one last comment from me.  For those of you playing devil’s advocate, which is important in these situations, if indeed the evil one is the “power” behind the manifestations, all I can say is he is getting hammered in a very strong way by the many true conversions, vocations, Adoration Chapels, confessions from the heart,  prayer and daily Holy Mass attendance that have resulted from his “master plan.”  Isn’t God great!  Isn’t He powerful and awesome, that even such “trickery” by the evil one, if that is indeed the case, can not only be overcome but can be used to produce such abundant good fruit.  As the saying goes, if life brings you lemons, make lemonade!  God is the Master lemonade maker!!  As for myself, I went, I saw, I believe.  Amen.

  • My, my, my – over 50 comments and lots of bickering. Glad I stayed out of it.

    Followed Medjugorje for years. Finally was blessed to go there – twice.  Received MAJOR miracles ther and after, like you cannot even imagine.Followed it for years.

    Started reading Michael Davies. Got disenchanted. Got sceptical. Stopped believing in the apparitionsns.gave away all my medjugorje books. Got lukewarm. Stopped praying. Minimalism crept in.

    Pope died. Saw how people just did not get it – it’s all about Jesus.

    Started reexamining the Medjugorje messages.  Started to believe in Medjugorje again.  The connection, I have no idea but it all came back for me.

    Going back for my third pilgrimage this year.

    “Peace, peace, and only peace.”

    “Pray, pray, pray”

    “Make Holy Mass your life.”

    Good advice from Our Lady, Queen of Peace.

  • These can be looked up ~~ Holy Father John Paul II’s correspondence to his friends in Poland:

    The letters, dated March 30, 1991, May 28, 1992, December 8, 1992, and February 25, 1994, and addressed to Zofia and Marek (“Z. M.”) Skwarniccy, make several references to Medjugorje (in Polish, “Medziugorje”) by name.

  • Diane –

    First off, are you sure you want to open up another can of apparition worms (Garabandal) ??

    I never said I lost my faith, just that I became lukewarm.

    My devotion to the Blessed Mother lead me to a deeper devotion and love for Jesus, and a true appreciation and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. As you said, She leads us to Jesus. that WAS my experience.

    However after losing interest in medjugorje I did NOT lose interest in Jesus. Quite the opposite.

    However i would say that I was not “on fire” as I had been in the past.

    I have completed the Consecration in the past. I have also consecrated my entire family to Our Lady many times.

    My spirituality is NOT based on an apparition. It is based on the one, true, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ.

    Making assumptions about one’s spirituality can be dangerous and an occasion of sin (pride).

  • “And you appear to not wish to wait with the Church either on Garabandal.”

    Why does anyone have to wait? Is the burden on the skeptic, or the seer? As to Garabandal, the local bishop there ruled in the negative some years ago. Not that that matters…

  • Attn: Chris Wong, Maryschild, and others who cite the (then-)Abp Bertone letter to Bp Aubrey…

    All the letter says is that Bishop Peric has not changed the official position of the Church from “non constat” to “constat de non”.  It does not mean that whatever the Ordinary says henceforth may be discounted!

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