“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

September 14, 2010

A reader asks, "What's the deal with Medjugorje?"


Hello Patrick,

Am I correct in believing that the apparitions at Medjugorie and the messages to the visionaries have never been officially approved/endorsed by the Church? Is approval in the works — likely to be given soon? Or is there a major problem with the whole Medjugorie phenomenon? Thank you for your answer.

David

MY RESPONSE (slightly altered):

Hi, David.

That's correct. The alleged apparitions at Medjugorje have not been approved by the universal Church, though they have been repeatedly disapproved by the local bishops of the diocese within which Medjugorje is situated.

A Vatican commission was established recently to further evaluate the phenomena there, but so far no definitive decision has been rendered, at least not publicly.

It's hard to predict how soon or far off a decision might be in coming. It seems to me that the best thing we can do in the meantime is to pray, especially the rosary, do penance, frequent the sacraments, and strive by God's grace to live good and virtuous Christian lives. These are, of course, the essence of Our Lady's messages in approved apparitions, such as Fatima and Lourdes.

In due time, the Lord will guide the Church to formally pronounce its decision on whether the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje are either authentic or false. In the meantime, let's be at peace about it and let Him reveal the truth about this according to the timing of His loving providence.

God bless you,

Patrick Madrid

P.S. www.medjugorje.net has lots of positive information on Medjugorje, and this other website contains fascinating information that is critical of it: http://en.louisbelanger.com.




12 comments:

  1. Be very careful about linking to the medjugorje.com organization, by so called "Caritas of Birmingham": see http://www.medjugorje.ws/en/articles/caritas-of-birmingham/

    The problem with this organization and their website is that it is widely considered by many in Medjugorje movement and also by Medjugorje critics as dubious cult (see e.g. http://www.medjugorje.ws/en/articles/gravely-disturbing-testimonies-caritas-of-birmingham/ ), which is just exploiting Medjugorje movement and luring very large amounts of money from it's people, which are used for further propaganda and self promotion of this dubious organization.

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  2. Good response. One I totally agree with.

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  3. The Church has only ever expressed support for Medjugorje!
    The Church has never disapproved or condemned Medjugorje; and any indication otherwise, direct or indirect, is simply a misstatement.
    The Vatican has even actively decided to “protect” Medjugorje from the local Bishop and his negative, personally-biased perspective on Medjugorje. As recent as April, 2008, it became public that the situation of the authenticity of Medjugorje had officially shifted into the hands of the Vatican. The Vatican itself confirms that the local Bishop no longer has any jurisdiction in these matters. And the new Vatican inquiry commission under Card. Ruini continues this positive and active involvement of the Church in regard to Medjugorje.
    Generally speaking on the question of who is best to trust on Medjugorje, I would recommend trusting the saints and respected Church leaders. On this point, Bl. Mother Teresa, Ven. John Paul II, Cardinal Shonborn, and even Card. Ratzinger (P. Benedict XVI) have all expressed personal support (and even actual devotion) to Our Lady of Medjugorje.
    So, what is the Church’s official stand on Medjugorje, and what has been its stand for 30 years consistently: the faithful are welcome to have private devotion to and make private pilgrimages to Medjugorje. They are also permitted to meditate on and spread the (reported) heavenly messages from Medjugorje. This is the only position of the Church to date; this is the best position to personally remain with; and this is the only position to recommend to others, especially if one is speaking on behalf of the Church.

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  4. A simple answer... very well spoken. Thank you. I like what you said about being at peace. We must trust that God will reveal His truth in His time. God bless!

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  5. I wonder if the moderator would be so kind as to allow me to post a link to my blog piece on Medjugorje, entitled: "Discerning the Spirits: A Fresh and Balanced Look at Medjugorje". It is extremely long, but it worth the read for those who have time. If you have read a lot about Medjugorje before, you will find some new insights here.

    Here is the link: http://wademichaelstonge.blogspot.com/2010/08/apologetics-discerning-spirits-fresh.html

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  6. Diana wrote: [i]“The Church has only ever expressed support for Medjugorje!”[/i]

    Louis Bélanger answers: Your [i]interpretation[/i] is not based on facts and with the help of valid references.

    The Church of Mostar and the Church of former Yugoslavia have already concluded to the absence of clear proof that the Lady of Medjugorje is the Virgin Mary. That conclusion is still valid today, in 2010, while the Fourth Commission is examining the case of Medjugorje and the so-called apparitions are still going on.

    Unfortunately, the scope and significance of the [i]non constat de supernaturalitate[/i] do not seem to be well understood by some Medjugorje devotees. They seem to ignore that a judgement has been made — no evidence of supernaturality — with the help of two Commissions [in Mostar in 1986 and in Zadar in 1991]. That verdict has been reached by the majority of 34 experts and by 19 of the 20 Yugoslavian bishops. [http://www.cbismo.com/index.php?mod=vijest&vijest=101#_ftnref24]

    A priest, Doctor in Canon Law, who wrote his thesis on the 1978 Norms established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) may help us to understand the meaning of the [i]non constat[/i]:

    The verdict of “[i]non constat de supernaturalitate[/i]” can be manipulated by supporters of alleged apparitions, especially in protracted occurrences, to suggest that the diocesan bishop is unable to give an affirmative judgement until the phenomena cease or when a prophecy is fulfilled. Therefore, in order to give greater clarity, the meaning of “[i]non constat de supernaturalitate[/i]” should be understood to mean a negative decision. That is, the phenomenon is not supernatural because no evidence has been found to prove the case. Given the facts of the case brought before the commission of investigation, if it is impossible to give an affirmative judgement, then the case should be closed with a verdict of “[i]non constat de supernaturalitate[/i]”. [Kingham, p. 213] [http://en.louisbelanger.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Kingham_title_and_abstract.htm]

    *

    Diana wrote: "[i]The Vatican has even actively decided to “protect” Medjugorje from the local Bishop and his negative, personally-biased perspective on Medjugorje.[/i]"

    Louis Bélanger answers: Your [i]interpretation[/i] is not based on facts and with the help of valid references.

    We have seen that the [i]non constat[/i] verdict has been reached not only by the Bishop of Mostar, but by 18 of his colleagues, out of 20 from former Yugoslavia --- Archbishop Frane Franic abstained --- and by the majority of 34 experts.

    Moreover, the transfer of the case of Medjugorje to the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia (BCY) has not been made in the manner alleged by Diana.

    On January 18, 1987, a press release dated January 9, signed by Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, president of the BCY and by Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar, made the front page of [i]Glas Koncila[/i] [The Voice of the Council, Zagreb] with the announcement of the formation of a new Commission of inquiry on Medjugorje. Here is the text: [to be followed]

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  7. @Diana [following]

    "In accordance with the canonical regulations which treat the matters of discernment of alleged apparitions and private revelations, the Diocesan Commission formed for that purpose by the Bishop of Mostar, the local Ordinary, investigated the events of Medjugorje.

    "During the inquiry these events under investigation have appeared to go much beyond the limits of the diocese. Therefore, on the basis of the said regulations, it became fitting to continue the work at the level of the Bishops’ Conference, and thus to form a new Commission for that purpose.

    "The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been informed about it. [b]It has expressed its recognition of the Diocesan Commission’s work done under the responsibility of the local Ordinary[/b], [emphasis = LB] and it urged that that work be continued at the level of the National Conference of Bishops.

    Thus the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia will form a Commission to continue the investigation of Medjugorje’s events. While waiting for the results of the Commission’s work and the Church’s verdict, let the Pastors and the faithful honor the practice of the usual prudence in such circumstances.

    For that reason, [b]it is not permitted to organize either pilgrimages or other religious manifestations based on an alleged supernatural character attributed to Medjugorje’s events.[/b] [emphasis = LB] Marian devotion, legitimate and recommended by the Church, must be in accordance with the directives of the Magisterium, and especially the apostolic encyclical Marialis Cultus February 2, 1974 (cf. AAS, 66, 1974, p. 113-168).

    Zagreb, January 9, 1987

    + Franjo Card. Kuharic President of the BCY
    + Pavao Zanic Bishop of Mostar"

    That is the official document concerning the transfer of the case. If Diana has another official document that shows that the “[i]Vatican has even actively decided to “protect” Medjugorje from the local Bishop and his negative, personally-biased perspective on Medjugorje[/i]”, I would be very glad to examine it… The same “wish” applies to her certitude that Cardinal Ratzinger would have “[i]expressed personal support (and even actual devotion) to Our Lady of Medjugorje[/i]”: would Diana be so kind to document that personal interpretation?

    **

    Diana wrote: [i]Generally speaking on the question of who is best to trust on Medjugorje, I would recommend trusting the saints and respected Church leaders.[/i]

    Louis Bélanger responds: Diana’s personal recommendation is not in accordance with the 1978 Norms which specify:

    "[b]On the Authority Competent to Intervene[/b]

    - The office of monitoring or intervening belongs in the first instance to the local Ordinary.

    - The regional or national episcopal conference may intervene:

    - If the local Ordinary, after discharging his responsibility, has recourse to the conference for a safer adjudication of the matter;
    - If the matter pertains clearly to the national or regional context, [b]provided that the local Ordinary gives his previous consent.[/b] [emphasis = LB]
    - The Apostolic See may intervene, whether at the request of the Ordinary himself, or that of a qualified group of the faithful, or even directly by reason of the universal jurisdiction of the supreme Pontiff (cf. infra, section IV). [to be followed]

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  8. @Diana [following - end]

    [b]On the Intervention of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith[/b]

    -The intervention of the Sacred Congregation may be requested by the Ordinary, after he has fulfilled his responsibility, or by a qualified group of faithful. In the latter case care must be taken that recourse to the Sacred Congregation not be made for suspect reasons (such as to compel the Ordinary to change his legitimate decisions, to give legitimacy to some sectarian group, etc.).

    - It is appropriate for the Sacred Congregation to intervene in some more serious cases on its own initiative particularly if the matter affects a portion of the Church, [b]always in consultation with the Ordinary[/b] [emphasis = LB] and, if the case warrants, also with the episcopal conference.

    - It will be the responsibility of the Sacred Congregation to reach a judgement concerning the local Ordinary's mode of action and to approve it, or insofar as possible and appropriate, to institute, whether directly or through a special commission, a new examination of the matter distinct from the study carried out by the Ordinary."

    In other words, the 1978 Norms have made already clear who is best to trust on Medjugorje: the competent authority…

    In the meantime, the case is still under discussion between the faithful who are allowed to share their own interpretations of the phenomena, according to their [i]sensus fidelium[/i] and their disposition of reliable information.

    The Medjugorje devotees are encouraged by some critics to meditate upon the following directive signed by Cardinal Franjo Kuharic together with Bishop Pavao Zanic in 1987, echoed by the Secretary of the CDF in 1996, 1998, and still effective in 2010: [http://medjugorjedocuments.blogspot.com/search?q=Aubry]

    "[i]For that reason, [b]it is not permitted to organize either pilgrimages or other religious manifestations based on an alleged supernatural character attributed to Medjugorje's events[/b][/i]." [emphasis = LB]

    In other words, the “religious manifestations based on an alleged supernatural character attributed to Medjugorje's events” are meant for the purported apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the purported visionaries of the Gospa.

    In short, when Diana, or Cardinal Schönborn, or any other Medjugorje devotee or propagandist speak of the Virgin Mary appearing in Medjugorje, they simply do not respect the said directive since 1987.

    And behaving according to that directive “is the only position of the Church to date; this is the best position to personally remain with; and this is the only position to recommend to others, especially if one is speaking on behalf of the Church.”

    Truthfully and cordially,

    Louis Bélanger

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  9. @ Diana [first of a three-segment-comment]

    Diana wrote: [i]“The Church has only ever expressed support for Medjugorje!”[/i]

    Louis Bélanger answers: Your [i]interpretation[/i] is not based on facts and with the help of valid references.

    The Church of Mostar and the Church of former Yugoslavia have already concluded to the absence of clear proof that the Lady of Medjugorje is the Virgin Mary. That conclusion is still valid today, in 2010, while the Fourth Commission is examining the case of Medjugorje and the so-called apparitions are still going on.

    Unfortunately, the scope and significance of the [i]non constat de supernaturalitate[/i] do not seem to be well understood by some Medjugorje devotees. They seem to ignore that a judgement has been made — no evidence of supernaturality — with the help of two Commissions [in Mostar in 1986 and in Zadar in 1991]. That verdict has been reached by the majority of 34 experts and by 19 of the 20 Yugoslavian bishops. [http://www.cbismo.com/index.php?mod=vijest&vijest=101#_ftnref24]

    A priest, Doctor in Canon Law, who wrote his thesis on the 1978 Norms established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) may help us to understand the meaning of the [i]non constat[/i]:

    The verdict of “[i]non constat de supernaturalitate[/i]” can be manipulated by supporters of alleged apparitions, especially in protracted occurrences, to suggest that the diocesan bishop is unable to give an affirmative judgement until the phenomena cease or when a prophecy is fulfilled. Therefore, in order to give greater clarity, the meaning of “[i]non constat de supernaturalitate[/i]” should be understood to mean a negative decision. That is, the phenomenon is not supernatural because no evidence has been found to prove the case. Given the facts of the case brought before the commission of investigation, if it is impossible to give an affirmative judgement, then the case should be closed with a verdict of “[i]non constat de supernaturalitate[/i]”. [Kingham, p. 213] [http://en.louisbelanger.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Kingham_title_and_abstract.htm]

    *

    Diana wrote: "[i]The Vatican has even actively decided to “protect” Medjugorje from the local Bishop and his negative, personally-biased perspective on Medjugorje.[/i]"

    Louis Bélanger answers: Your [i]interpretation[/i] is not based on facts and with the help of valid references.

    We have seen that the [i]non constat[/i] verdict has been reached not only by the Bishop of Mostar, but by 18 of his colleagues, out of 20 from former Yugoslavia --- Archbishop Frane Franic abstained --- and by the majority of 34 experts.

    Moreover, the transfer of the case of Medjugorje to the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia (BCY) has not been made in the manner alleged by Diana.

    On January 18, 1987, a press release dated January 9, signed by Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, president of the BCY and by Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar, made the front page of [i]Glas Koncila[/i] [The Voice of the Council, Zagreb] with the announcement of the formation of a new Commission of inquiry on Medjugorje. Here is the text: [to be followed]

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  10. Regarding the comment posted earlier by Marek about Caritas of Birmingham, may it be pointed out that the so-called allegations were ruled not true by a Shelby County court (http://www.caritasofbirmingham.com/persecutions-of-caritas.html), that these allegations which are now nearing 10+ years old have never been proven true, that after these allegations were made, the organization Caritas continued to grow and expand. Besides this, what does such a comment do to help the cause of Medjugorje? I think that there is spiritual jealousy involved here, and people need to keep their personal opinions exactly that, personal. If you want to help Medjugorje, pray and live the messages. - Ray

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  11. Obiously Ray, you know nothing about what happened at the Shelby County court. Serious charges of plaintiffs - dozen of former long residents of Caritas - were not "ruled not true" by the court. Case ended already in 2005 with confidential mediation, which conditions were never made public. The mediation effectively silenced the plaintiffs, since they could not speak anymore against "Caritas" and Colafrancesco since then.

    Regarding that (see http://www.medjugorje.ws/en/articles/mediation-may-end-dispute-at-caritas-of-birmingham/
    ):
    "Suzette Malveaux, a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, said many cases are settled confidentially without a public airing of the complaints, and some argue that the public has an interest in some of those cases, she said. If Colafranceso settles with the plaintiffs in mediation, the public may never learn all of the details in the complaints against him, she said."

    "Some are angry at how secretive these procedures are," Malveaux said. "They're frustrated because we don't have a public track record in cases where the defendant could be hurting people in a large way."

    It is crazy to beleive that Medjugorje priests (http://www.medjugorje.ws/en/articles/father-svetozar-kraljevic-medjugorje-priests-caritas-of-birmingham-alabama/), EWTN
    (http://www.medjugorje.ws/en/articles/position-ewtn-mother-angelica-caritas-of-birmingham/
    ), Denis Nolan (
    http://www.medjugorje.ws/en/articles/denis-nolan-letter-friend-of-medjugorje-terry-colafrancesco-caritas-of-birmingham/

    ) and many others involved in Medjugorje movement would warn regarding Caritas because of jealousy.

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