Medjugorje: The Church's Position
Medjugorje: The Church's Position
Thus you will know them by their fruits." (Cf. 7:15-20)
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Medjugorje is a small hamlet in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and has become famous due to the claim of six young people that the Blessed Virgin has been appearing to them since June 24, 1981. Our Lady has told the visionaries that God sent her to our world to help us convert our hearts and lives back to Him. Our Lady's call is one of Peace, Love, Faith, Conversion, Prayer, and Fasting.
Never before in history has any series of apparitions lasted this long. Never before in history have the respective visionaries been studied and tested as these six young people have been. And many would argue, never before in history has any series of apparitions yielded the good fruit that Medjugorje has.
This writing will neither address the history of the apparitions, nor the nature and content of Our Lady of Medjugorje's messages, nor the many reported conversions, healings and other mystical events occurring there. It will address the Church's current position with respect to such apparitions, and due to the space limitation will only scratch the surface of the many favorable comments by Pope John Paul II, various cardinals, archbishops, bishops and others.
It will present the definitive document published by the Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith as to the Vatican's current position with respect to Medjugorje --- Evidence prima facie.
You will recall that the Roman Catholic Church classifies private revelation within three categories, which are listed below. These are not matters of dogmatic definition, as no private revelation is ever part of dogma. These are categories established over time by the curial commissions established to review such matters. Typically, the local Ordinary convenes a commission of theologians to make an exhaustive study of alleged apparitions/locutions in question, and makes a determination by classifying the mystical occurrences within one of the following three categories. As we shall see below, in the case of Medjugorje, The Vatican has taken such authority away from the bishop overseeing Medjugorje, and it has authorized the Yugoslavian Episcopal Conference (1) to establish a Commission to address the matter:
Constat de supernaturalitate -- It is certain that the events are of supernatural origin.
Non-constat de supernaturalitate -- It is not certain that the events are of supernatural origin, or the supernatural origin has not been established. In this classification, the events in question are still open to eventual recognition as being authentic. (The apparitions of Medjugorje continue to fall within this category as of this writing.)
Constat de non supernaturalitate -- It is certain that the events are not of supernatural origin.
The following are only a few relevant excerpts from Medjugorje, What Does the Church Say? written by Sr. Emmanuel and Denis Nolan (2) :
After having given his support to the testimony of the six visionaries at the beginning of the apparitions ("It is certain that the children have not been talked into anything --- Everything indicates that the children are not lying." Glas Koncila, August 16, 1981), Bishop Zanic, the Bishop of Mostar, changed his mind and denied their authenticity. (3) Entrusted by Rome with the Commission of Inquiry as local bishop, he submitted a negative judgment to Cardinal Ratzinger in 1986. This judgment was printed in the newspapers and many Christians, even among the clergy, have not received further information.
But Cardinal Ratzinger [Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and representing the Pope] rejected these negative conclusions. And -- an event without precedent in the history of apparitions -- the local bishop (Msgr. Zanic) was relieved of the dossier. This fact was not widely reported. Rome dissolved Bishop Zanic's commission and then put the matter in the hands of the Yugoslavian Episcopal Conference. A new commission was consequently appointed under the presidency of Bishop Komarica (of Banja Luka, Bosnia-Hercegovina).
In 1984 - 85, Professor Joyeux, of world renown, conducted scientific tests on the visionaries during ecstasy. His research, presented with Fr. Rene Laurentin in Scientific and Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje, (Dublin, Veritas, 1987) discarded definitively the thesis of deceit on the part of the visionaries, as well as that of their psychological diequilibrium.
As with every other place of apparition, neither condemned nor recognized by the church, private pilgrimages (organized by laity regardless of size) are permitted, and official diocesan pilgrimages (organized by bishops or priests) are not permitted. Bishops and priests are, of course, permitted to participate in private pilgrimages.
According to the number of consecrated hosts distributed each day, Medjugorje is one of the foremost places of pilgrimage in the world. By 1991 Medjugorje had received more than 18 million pilgrims. Parish records state that over 50,000 priests, including more than a hundred bishops, have visited the place, many with the Pope's encouragement [n.b. these statistics are 12 years old!].
In September, 1991, during a conference in Vienna, Cardinal Ratzinger declared that no definitive position had been taken by the Church as yet. "We are open. The Commission proceeds with its work. One must continue to wait and pray." On August 28, 1991, at a theological conference in Aigen, Austria, Cardinal Ratzinger stated that the Bishops of Yugoslavia had said, "We want to be concerned that this place, which has become a place of prayer and faith, remain and come to be even more in the most interior unity with the entire Church, " (Gebetsaktion, #22, 1992, p.4).
Bishop Ratko Peric, the new Bishop of Mostar, came to Medjugorje on the 6th of June, 1993, to confirm 150 children there. In his homily, he recalled the most important points made by the Commission on the 11th of April, 1991, on the subject of Medjugorje, namely:
- Medjugorje is officially accepted as a place of prayer and worship.
- A liturgical and pastoral team is responsible for ensuring the rightful status of the Virgin in the offices of the Parish.
- The Commission has declared a 'non constat de supernaturalitate'."
This Latin phrase signifies that at the present stage of investigation, it is not yet possible to declare the supernatural reality of the phenomena, but that such a possibility remains open for the future.
With the responsibility and authority as President of the Bishops' conference, Cardinal Kuharic said with regard to the Declaration of Zadar: "After three years of study conducted by the appropriate Commission, we Bishops have accepted Medjugorje as a place of prayer, as a sanctuary --- With regard to the supernatural factor of the apparitions, we have said that for now we cannot affirm that it exists --- We therefore leave this aspect for further investigation. The Church is in no hurry,". (Glas Koncila, August, 1993)
On August 21, 1996, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, spokesman for the Holy See, instructed the Catholic News Service; "You cannot say people cannot go [to Medjugorje] until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want." "In addition," clarified a CNS report issued later that day, "when Catholic faithful go anywhere, they are entitled to spiritual care, so the church does not forbid priests to accompany lay-organized trips to Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Navarro-Valls insisted 'nothing has changed' regarding the Vatican's position on Medjugorje --- 'Has the church or the Vatican said no (to Catholics visiting Medjugorje)? No!'" (CNS News Release, August 21, 1996).
On May 14, 1989, Bishop Sylvester Treinen (USA) testified before 7,000 people at the University of Notre Dame that during his "ad limina" visit earlier that year he had spoken privately with the Holy Father. He told him, "I've just come from Medjugorje, there are wonderful things going on there!" The Pope replied: "Yes, it is good for pilgrims to go to Medjugorje and do penance. It is good!"
More than 100 conferences inspired by Our Lady's call from Medjugorje took place in America in 1993, with the number increasing each year. Bishop Nicholas D'Antonio opened the 1991 National Conference on Medjugorje at the University of Notre Dame by declaring, "We have more conversions from Medjugorje than any place in the world! --- I don't recall in history anything comparable to the Medjugorje events!"
And among the great figures in the Church the Holy Father has many times expressed his faith in Medjugorje. Cardinal Tomasek has made public the Holy Father's remark in his presence, "If he were not Pope he would like to go to Medjugorje to help at the work with the pilgrims." the Holy Father has invited numerous priests and bishops to go there. He has received several of the Medjugorje visionaries, among them Mirjana Dragicevic. Upon her first visit to Rome he spoke for 20 minutes with her in private. The visionary states that she will reveal nothing about this conversation for the time being, apart from these words of the Holy Father: "If I were not the Pope, I would be in Medjugorje already."
To Father Jozo Zovko, parish priest to the visionaries, on a visit to Rome, June 17, 1992: Pope John Paul II stated, "I give you my blessing. Take courage, I am with you. Tell Medjugorje I am with you. Protect Medjugorje!"
In Autumn, 1994, several Centers for Peace were preparing an apostolic tour for Fr. Slavko of Medjugorje in South America, for January/February, 1995. The Archbishop of Asuncion, Paraguay, Msgr. Felipe Santiago Benitez, hesitated. He wasn't sure that he should allow gatherings about Medjugorje in the churches. He therefore requested letters of recommendation about Fr. Slavko from the Provincial of the Franciscans and from the Bishop of Mostar. As he was in Rome in November, 1994, he asked the Pope whether or not it was appropriate to give permission for these meetings in the spirit of Medjugorje to take place - particularly with a priest from Medjugorje. The Holy Father answered him with these words: "Authorize everything that concerns Medjugorje!" ---
Declaration of the Yugoslav Bishops' Conference on Medjugorje
At the ordinary session of the Bishops' Conference of Yugoslavia in Zadar, Croatia, April 9-11, 1991, the following was adopted:
Glas Koncila [Zagreb] May 5, 1991)
"The Bishops, from the very beginning, have been following the events of Medjugorje through the Bishop of the diocese (Mostar), the Commission of the Bishop (Mostar) and the Commission of the Yugoslav Bishops' Conference on Medjugorje.
"On the basis of the investigations so far, it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with the supernatural apparitions and revelations.
"However, the numerous gatherings of great numbers of the faithful from different parts of the world, who are coming to Medjugorje prompted both by motives of belief and various other motives, do require attention and pastoral care - in the first place by the Bishop of the diocese and with him also of the other Bishops, so that both in Medjugorje and in everything connected with it a healthy devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may be promoted in accordance with the teaching of the Church.
"For this purpose the Bishops will issue specially suitable liturgical-pastoral directives. Likewise, through their Commissions they will continue to keep up with and investigate the entire event in Medjugorje."
The Bishops of Yugoslavia
In Zadar, April 10, 1991
NOTE: The phrase "it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with the supernatural apparitions and revelations" That is for the time being, the Bishops' Conference has placed the events of Medjugorje in the second category delineated above i.e. non-constat de supernaturalitate.
The Letter From Rome
For the 17th Anniversary of the apparitions, the Church just gave a beautiful gift to Our Lady! The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent the following letter to Bishop Gilbert Aubry of Saint Denis clarifying its position on Medjugorje. He received it on June 24th. On the 25th, he spread it to the priests and communities of his diocese (circular # C003) so that they can have the latest statement from Rome and, if necessary, inform the faithful with full knowledge of the facts.
The Original letter was written in French. A copy is on file at the Yahoo - Era of Peace web site. See below for the necessary steps to access it, and how to translate it via facilities available on the Internet.
PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI
Pr. No 154/81-06419
Cittá del Vaticano,
Palazzo del S. Officio
May 26, 1998
To His Excellency
Mons. Gilbert Aubry
Bishop of Saint-Denis de la Reunion
Excellency:"On the basis of the investigations so far, it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations." Since the division of Yugoslavia into different independent nations it would now pertain to the members of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Hercegovina to eventually reopen the examination of this case, and to make any new pronouncements that might be called for.
In your letter of January 1, 1998, you submitted to this Dicastery several questions about the position of the Holy See and of the Bishop of Mostar in regard to the so called apparitions of Medjugorje, private pilgrimages and the pastoral care of the faithful who go there.
In regard to this matter, I think it is impossible to reply to each of the questions posed by Your Excellency. The main thing I would like to point out is that the Holy See does not ordinarily take a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena as a court of first instance. As for the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, this Dicastery respects what was decided by the bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Declaration of Zadar, April 10, 1991:
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]
Thus we see the current position of the Vatican with respect to Medjugorje.
That is, it falls into the 2nd category delineated above,
i.e. neither approved nor condemned.
Children of Medjugorje and Co-author of the excerpts above. It is written in French, and is available in the FILES section of the Yahoo - Era Of Peace site at:
The original of the letter above has been provided to us by Mr. Denis Nolan of the
Should you find the need to test the translation yourself, proceed to the file located in the folder entitled: "The Vatican", and follow directions provided there. It takes about 5 minutes to download with a 56k modem. Caution: computer translators are only so accurate. I have tested the French to English translation and it agrees with the English translation provided above.
(1) According to the letter from the Archbishop Bertrone of the Congregation For the Doctrine of Faith dated May 26, 1998 (presented herein) the Yugoslavian Episcopal Conference is now called the: Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
(2) Medjugorje, What does the Church Say?, written by Sr. Emmanuel and Denis Nolan; NIHIL OBSTAT Most Rev. Sylvester W. Treinen, Retired Bishop of Boise, March 1, 1995; Queenship Publishing Company P.O. Box 42028 Santa Barbara, CA 93140-2028
(3) On March 22, 1995, Archbishop Frane Franic, Ordinary at the time of the Metropolitan See that in 1981 included Medjugorje, informed Sr. Emmanuel and Denis Nolan that at a meeting of the BYC (Bishops/ Conference of Yugoslavia) held soon after Bishop Zanic had changed his mind, he explained before the Bishops' Conference why he had done so. "Through one of the children Our Lady sent me an admonition, and the Blessed Mother would never admonish a bishop!" The Conference granted Bishop Zanic's request, and Archbishop Franic's response, "But in the Book of the Apocalypse [Revelation] the Holy Spirit admonishes seven Bishops," was not recorded in the minutes of their meeting.
Diocesan and Parish records confirm that in 1981, Vicka Ivankovic, one of the visionaries in Medjugorje, relayed to the Bishop - in regard to his treatment of two Franciscan priests, Fr. Vego and Fr. Prusian - who had appealed their case to Our Lady through the visionaries: "The Gospa wants it said to the bishop that he has made a premature decision. Let him reflect again, and listen well to both parties he must be just and patient. She says that both priests are not guilty, " (Parish Chronicle, p43). (The bishop had severly disciplined the priests for having administered the sacraments to Catholics who had chosen to attend Mass in their Franciscan chapel in Mostar instead of the church in Mostar he had taken from the Franciscans and given to the secular clergy as part of his Cathedral parish.) "This support given against the authority of the Church," Bishop Zanic declared at that time, "proves that it is not the Virgin!"
On March 27, 1993 - more than 10 years later - the highest Tribunal of the Holy See (the Apostolic Signatura Tribunal) rendered the Church's verdict: in case No. 17907/86CA Bishop Zanic had acted prematurely. His expulsion of the priests and his declaration of "ad statem laicalem" against them was declared unjust and illegal, (Mir i Dobro, No. 2, 1993)
Medjugorje, What does the Church Say?, written by Sr. Emmanuel and Denis Nolan; NIHIL OBSTAT Most Rev. Sylvester W. Treinen, Retired Bishop of Boise, March 1, 1995; Queenship Publishing Company P.O. Box 42028 Santa Barbara, CA 93140-2028
Children of Medjugorje
The Medjugorje Web
At the Yahoo Era Of Peace web site:
#69............JPII: "Examine the Signs of the Times - Remain Faithful"
#46............Medjugorje: Our Lady's Plan Begins to Unfold
#230..........Exploring Mother Mary's Final Wish - Fr. Valenta
#192......... A Sorrowful and Concerned Mother
#185..........270 Mother of the Purification
#214..........302 I Am the Beginning of the New Times
#218..........Garabandal: The Church's Position
#225..........Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
#86............Prophecy Delayed - Our Prayers Bear Fruit
#50............Your Prayer Intentions Sent to Marian Shrines
#45............Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary
At the Call To Holiness web site:
The Original Prayer to St. Michael
Prayers of Consecration & the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Thank You For Having Responded to My Call
After The Warning
The Statues of Our Lady Are Crying For Our Help
To the Priests, Our Lady's Beloved Sons, by Rev. Stefano Gobbi.
Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by Rev. Peter Arnoudt. (One of the most profound books you will ever read !!! A steal at US$14.00 !!)
Queen of the Cosmos, by Jan Connell.
Call of the Ages, by Dr. Thomas Petrisko.
Medjugorje, The Message, by Wayne Weible.
The Thunder of Justice, by Pat & Maureen Flynn.
The Dogma and the Triumph, by Dr. Mark Miravalle.
Check out the FILES, LINKS and MESSAGES at:
Provided by the Grace of God
By Ben J. Verdina
NOTE: We respectfully recognize and accept the final authority regarding apparitions, locutions and prophecies presently being reported around the world rests with the Holy See of Rome and the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church to whose judgment we humbly and obediently submit.
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