RU 07/2011 - Medjugorje, right or wrong?
MEDJUGORJE (ru, February 21st, 2011) - On February 17th, RADIO-SILENCE (www.radio-silence.org) organized in Paris a dinner debate on "Medjugorje - true or wrong? ". Supporter of the "true" was the lecturer Mr. Michel de Poncins, president of the radio, on the opposite site was Mr. W. Wuermeling, secretary-general of the same radio. A slide show of 52 photographs, snatched from various Internet sites, plunged the participants into the universe of Medjugorje, ending with a video which showed one of the latest filmed "apparitions”, the one of November 2nd, 2010, showing the main seer Mirjana (apparitions since 1981) in full "vision."
In one word: Medjugorje has only 2500 inhabitants, but 2.2 million visitors - or pilgrims - per year (by comparison: the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris has 13 million visitors per year, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris 8 millions, the Eiffel Tower 6 millions, Lourdes also 6 millions). Medjugorje is situated today in Bosnia and Herzegovina, very near to the long Croatian coast, and is in fact a particular site: 99% of the population are Catholic Croats. It is generally accessed by disembarking in the port of the Roman city Dubrovnik in the Adriatic, opposite to Gargano in Italy (tomb of Padre Pio), and by driving by car towards Sarajevo. Medjugorje is situated halfway to Sarajevo, at 25 km before the city of Mostar with its wonderful ancient bridge. The small town of Medjugorje is dominated by a big church and its surrounding area for large gatherings, and then by the hill Crnica where the first apparitions to the 6 - and later on 10 - seers had taken place as soon as on June 24th, 1981. Nobody has ever seen or heard the Blessed Virgin at Medjugorje except those seers who, they say, are receiving the messages from the Blessed Virgin sometimes in a daily manner. So there is a proliferation of books with thousands of “messages from the Heaven", some of which are strongly in favour of Pope John Paul II. For instance Jelena Vasilj declared that the Holy Virgin told her, at an apparition on September 16th, 1982, that "God gave him the permission to defeat Satan". In general the Holy Virgin is calling in these apparitions to practice the general Catholic virtues: conversion, prayer (in particular the rosary), charity, the sacraments. And the fruits of these calls are visible and considerable: many conversions happen at Medjugorje, particularly under young people from all countries. The city was quickly transformed into a small Lourdes, with its hotels and restaurants, kiosks of medals and rosaries, and you can hear in the streets all kind of languages from the whole world.
As to the position of the local bishop and the ecclesiastical authorities of Rome, the tone was given as early as on April 10th, 1991, by the "declaration of Zadar » of the Conference of the Yugoslavian bishops: "On the basis of research carried out up to now, it is not possible to affirm the supernatural nature of these apparitions or revelations". This position has practically never changed, though some bishops, even cardinals - like Mgr. Schönborn of Austria in January 2010 - have visited Medjugorje privately and were apparently very impressed. The Cardinal Ratzinger had stated that it is not permitted, in the current state, to organize diocesan pilgrimages to Medjugorje, but that the faithful can make private pilgrimages, bu personal piety, as long as the Church does not state anything officially. For this goal Benedict XVI established in 2010 an official inquiry committee, chaired by the cardinal Camillo Ruini and including several Yougoslavian bishops, but also psychologists, doctors, scientifics etc. , which is working since March 2010 without having concluded anything until now.
In the meantime a disturbing fact occurred: the Vatican Congregation of the Faith reduced to the secular state the former parish priest of Medjugorje, in fact the one who was there at the beginning of the "apparitions" and who had made the first publicity about it, Father Tomislav Vlasic, a Franciscan who founded in the wake in Italy an association "Queen of Peace" which is said to have been founded upon the specific order of the Holy Virgin of Medjugorje. Father Vlasic was accused of "dissemination of a doubtful doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspect mysticism, disobedience to orders given in a legitimate way, and violation of the 6th commandment" (he actually had a child from a nun). By contrast, John-Paul II never said anything against Medjugorje, on the contrary: "If I was not Pope, I would be already at Medjugorje to confess," he reportedly stated in 1987.
Face to all this, what shall we think about it? The Church approaches the apparitions always with extreme caution, with the will to seek the truth, and with the usual invitation "to live rather along the Gospel than to run behind the apparitions," as stated recently the secretary of the pontifical commission concerning Medjugorje. He indicated also that the Church never requires from the faithful to believe in the apparitions, even not in those recognized by the Church (Lourdes, Fatima, Laus etc. ). Today there is precisely a trend to run behind all kind of apparitions, instead of practicing a solid basic faith, safe bulwark in the storms of our times and in the persecutions which are getting closer to us. Saint John of the Cross showed us the way by stating: "We must understand that all the visions, feelings and other extra-natural things have less value than the slightest act of humility. » A heated but very respectful exchange of views closed this interesting dinner.
- O.A.M.D.G. -