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Polish archbishop says Vatican will recognize Medjugorje visions

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Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — A Polish archbishop who inspected Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Medjugorje shrine for the pope predicted the Vatican will soon recognize its Marian apparitions.

Pilgrims pray in front of a statue of Mary in 2011 on Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga, Poland, who inspected the shrine for Pope Francis, predicts the Vatican will soon recognize its Marian apparitions. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has passed all documentation to the Secretariat of State, everything suggests the apparitions will be accepted before the year ends,” said Archbishop Henryk Hoser.

“It’s difficult to believe the six visionaries have been lying for 36 years,” the archbishop said. “What they say is coherent, and none is mentally disturbed, while the apparitions’ faithfulness to church doctrine is also a powerful argument for their authenticity.”

The archbishop spoke as he completed a report from his spring mission to the hilltop shrine, which has not been officially recognized by the church despite 2.5 million pilgrims annually.

He told Poland’s Catholic Information Agency, KAI, he had found an “exceptional atmosphere” of “spiritual creativeness” at Medjugorje, characterized by “prayer, silence, meditation, Eucharist, adoration, fasting and reconciliation.”

He added that the shrine was seeing “huge dynamic growth,” in contrast to older sanctuaries in Portugal, France and Poland and had succeeded in remaining “a true place for pilgrims” while “eliminating tourist elements.”

“Everything is moving in a good direction. My mission wasn’t aimed at closing Medjugorje down, but at evaluating whether pastoral work is being properly organized there in line with church teaching,” Archbishop Hoser said.

“My conclusions are that it is, and my impression is highly positive,” he told KAI.

Six teenagers claim to have seen the Virgin Mary June 24, 1981, near Medjugorje. Since then, they have reported more than 42,000 apparitions at the site, which was largely untouched by the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

 

Local bishop doesn’t agree

In April, the then-prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, told KAI ageny it still could “take a long time” for the Vatican to rule on the apparitions, despite Archbishop Hoser’s pastoral visitation.

Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, the local ordinary, has consistently dismissed the Medjugorje apparitions as false, like his predecessor, Bishop Pavao Zanic, and appealed to bishops abroad not to support pilgrimages there.

However, in March, Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, defended the shrine as “Europe’s largest confessional,” and said he counted on the Vatican to appreciate its evangelical potential in generating “conversions and acts of grace.”

Pope Francis told reporters traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal, in May that the most important fact about Medjugorje is “the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact” that thousands of pilgrims go to Medjugorje and are converted. “For this there is no magic wand; this spiritual-pastoral fact cannot be denied.”

The spiritual fruits of the pilgrimages, he said, are the reason why in February he appointed Archbishop Hoser to study the best ways to provide pastoral care to townspeople and the pilgrims.

Speaking to reporters May 13, Pope Francis gave no indication of when a final pronouncement about the alleged apparitions would be made. However, the said that a commission set up by then-Pope Benedict XVI had spent years investigating the phenomenon and tended to believe the apparitions in that first week of the summer of 1981 may have been real, but the continued reports of apparitions are questionable.

Furthermore, Pope Francis told the press, “personally, I am more ‘mischievous.’ I prefer Our Lady to be a mother, our mother, and not a telegraph operator who sends out a message every day at a certain time; this is not the mother of Jesus.”

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Bosnian bishop says again: Mary has not appeared in Medjugorje

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — “The Virgin Mary has not appeared in Medjugorje,” said Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, the diocese in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which includes Medjugorje.

A statue of Mary is seen outside St. James Church in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this file photo.  (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A statue of Mary is seen outside St. James Church in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Two weeks after the Vatican announced Pope Francis was sending a Polish archbishop to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and the thousands of pilgrims who flock to Medjugorje each year, Bishop Peric posted his statement Feb. 26 on his diocesan website.

Three of the six young people who originally claimed to have seen Mary in Medjugorje in June 1981 say she continues to appear to them each day; the other three say Mary appears to them once a year now.

Bishop Peric noted that a diocesan commission studied the alleged apparitions in 1982-1984 and again in 1984-1986 with more members; and the then-Yugoslavian bishops’ conference studied them from 1987 to 1990. All three commissions concluded that it could not be affirmed that a supernatural event was occurring in the town.

The six young people continued to claim to see Mary and receive messages from her and tens of thousands of pilgrims visited the town, and the alleged visionaries, each year. Pope Benedict XVI established a commission that worked from 2010 to 2014; and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began looking at that commission’s report in 2014.

Many observers believe Pope Francis appointed his envoy in February to study the pastoral needs of the town and the pilgrims in preparation for releasing a judgment on the alleged apparitions.

The position of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno “for this entire period has been clear and resolute: these are not real apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Bishop Peric wrote in his statement, which was posted in Croatian and Italian.

Some people, he said, believe the apparitions were real at least at the beginning, perhaps for the first week, but that the young people continued to claim to see and hear Mary “for other reasons, most of which are not religious.”

Bishop Peric said a study of the transcripts of interviews with the six alleged visionaries from that first week give several motives for suspicion if not total doubt about the supernatural nature of events.

First, he said, the Mary of Medjugorje usually speaks only when spoken to, “she laughs in a strange way, in response to certain questions she disappears and then returns, and she obeyed the ‘seers’ and the pastor who made her come down from the hill into the church even against her will. She does not know with certainty how long she will appear, she allows some of those present to step on her veil lying on the ground, to touch her clothes and her body. This is not the Gospel Mary.”

The seventh time Mary allegedly appeared, June 30, 1981, five of the youngsters were in a nearby town called Cerno and claimed to have seen Mary there. Bishop Peric said that in the recorded interviews all five reported that the apparitions would continue only three more days, July 1-3, 1981.

“Then she changed her mind and still ‘appears,’” the bishop wrote.

“Taking into account all that was examined and studied by this diocesan curia, including the study of the first seven days of the presumed apparitions, one calmly can affirm: The Virgin Mary has not appeared in Medjugorje. This is the truth that we uphold, and we believe in the word of Jesus who said the truth will set you free.”

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