LAURENTIN VISITS BISHOP PERIC
On March 19th this year, bishop Ratko Peric along with his secretary received Rev. Rene Laurentin upon his request. Laurentin is a well-known French Mariologist, yet in our country he is better known as a propagator of Medjugorje "apparitions", "miracles" and other phenomena. Laurentin has written numerous books and brochures on the topic (something every year), in which he propagates the authenticity of the "apparitions" and "messages" of Medjugorje to such an extent that he himself has recognized that he has lost quite a bit of the scientific prestige he enjoyed earlier as a serious mariologist. The Bishop mentioned to Laurentin that he used to avail himself of his books on mariology while he taught the subject at the Theological School of Sarajevo, yet now he has some sharp criticism regarding his writings on the Medjugorje "apparitions".
In an open and honest exchange of thoughts, the Bishop turned Laurentin's attention to many of his imprecise and incorrect findings related to the events of Medjugorje. Here we present only a few of those touched upon during the meeting:
- In defending the "seer" Ivan, after his departure from the High School of Dubrovnik as a Franciscan minor seminarian, resulting from his failure in school (1983), Laurentin wrote in Glas Koncila (5/1984, 7) that Ivan experienced a "shock" due to the accentuated warnings of the Bishop and due to the suspicious questioning and the ridicule of his colleagues. When the superiors and the Bishop reacted by stating that this was simply not true, Laurentin, instead of publicly apologizing, made an unusual justification that his French text was not translated well, that he was not referring to the Bishop of Dubrovnik but to the Bishop of Mostar, and he even sent bishop Pernek (the late Bishop of Dubrovnik) an "original" text which was different from the one sent to Glas Koncila.1 What is at hand is a morally inadmissible deed.
- It is also morally inadmissible that in one of his books of 1985, Laurentin wrote that one of the members of the Diocesan Commission for Medjugorje, Rev. Nikola Bulat Lic. theol., a priest of the Archdiocese of Split (now deceased), "is one of those who is fighting for the early resignation of archbishop Franic so that bishop Zanic could replace him".2 In 1986 Rev. Bulat said that this is "objectively slanderous", "because I never sought this nor do I know of anyone else who would seek this. Twice I asked Laurentin to correct this, yet to my knowledge he hasn't done this up till now".3 Laurentin now says that he heard this from someone! The Bishop told him that the truth cannot be based upon hearsay but on sources!
- Laurentin appears naive in believing and writing that in December of 1984, the "seer" Vicka, who was earlier asked about the existence of a personal diary told him: "There is no secret diary with anything written against the Bishop".4 Bishop Peric then showed Laurentin Vicka's "diary" which contains many references against bishop Zanic, such as: "The Madonna said that bishop Zanic is the one most to blame for this entire disorder!"5
- A particularly frivolous point comes forth in one of Laurentin's books of 1985 where one reads that a pilgrim to Medjugorje sent a message to Laurentin saying that the Madonna was very pleased with his writings on Medjugorje. The "Madonna" of Medjugorje stated precisely the following: "Let priests read Laurentin's book and propagate it!"6 These are no longer "messages" of the Madonna, but an abuse of her name towards commercial ends which certainly do not provide "good favours" to the Blessed Virgin Mary! Despite all the polite distancing, it is also frivolous that Rev. Laurentin mentions this in his book at all!
- It is particularly sad and comical to see how R. Laurentin is getting involved in and yet how little he knows of the disobedience of some local Franciscans towards the Pope regarding the handing-over of eight parishes to the local Bishop according to the Papal Decree of 1975. In his fervour for Medjugorje and his naiveté towards the Franciscans, he wrote in 1985: "From Medjugorje, the Franciscans have come so far as to write to their General and Cardinal Ratzinger in order to ask how to proceed. I believe this to be a true miracle of Medjugorje!"7 If according to Laurentin, the "miracles" of Medjugorje are so notorious then nobody is revealing the phenomena of Medjugorje better than he is! He is informed that the Franciscan General Curia in Rome suspended the novitiate of the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina last year due to their unbelievable disobedience! And this comes twelve years after he proclaimed their writing to Rome "a true miracle of Medjugorje!"
- Laurentin incorrectly wrote in 1997, that bishop Peric told Fra Jozo Zovko that he was "excommunicated".8 Fra Jozo Zovko had his canonical faculties to hear confession lifted, yet despite this, he himself fell into an "ipso facto" suspension by continuing to hear confessions.
- Laurentin also incorrectly wrote in 1997 that the Holy Father, upon returning from Sarajevo last year, authorized "a part of his retinue" to visit Medjugorje.9 Curious journalists and ambassadors do not comprise the Pope's retinue. Nor did the Pope authorize to go on such a pilgrimage!
During the two hour discussion, held in the spirit of a careful and documented settling of numerous Medjugorje falsehoods, the Bishop asked the 81 year old Laurentin to start writing his retractions on Medjugorje, so that the real truth on this controversial issue could shine forth. By discontinuing writings on the "phenomenon of Medjugorje" in his current fashion, he would be doing this Church a great service. Rev. Laurentin, the controversial supporter of the "apparitions" of Medjugorje and the accompanying events, said that a new book would be published in June this year and that he shall try to take note of the corrections. Next year he will consider putting an end to his writings regarding Medjugorje.
At the end of the meeting, the Bishop and the publicist Laurentin exchanged some of their books. (KIUM).
Mostar, 20 March 1998
Rev. Zeljko Majic
1The Documents at the Diocesan Curia of Mostar.
2R. Laurentin, Medjugorje a l'heure de la desinformation, Autopsie des fausses nouvelles, Supplement nº 2, O.E.I.L. 1985, p. 14: "L'expert choisi est un de ceux qui militent pour une démission anticipée de Monseigneur Franic et son remplacement par Monseigneur Zanic."
3N. Bulat, Neopouzdanost izvora o dogadajima u Medugorju, dactilographe, 1986, p. 24, Diocesan Curia of Mostar.
4R. Laurentin, op. cit., p. 40: "En décembre, Vicka déjà interrogée sur ce point, m'avait confirmé:
-Il n'existe aucun diaire secret où il y ait des paroles contre l'éveque."
5V. Ivankovic, Agenda 1983, Diary from 19 December 1981 to 29 September 1982: "Gospa je rekla, da je za ove nerede najkrivlji biskup Zanic (19 Dec. 1981).
6R. Laurentin, Ancora su Medjugorje, Ed. Queriniana, Ottobre 1985, p. 57: "Da parte di Medjugorje, i francescani sono arrivati fino a scrivere al loro generale e al cardinale Ratzinger per chiedere come si potrebbe procedere. Questo fatto io lo ritengo un very miracolo di Medjugorje."
7R. Laurentin, 16 anées d'apparitions, 2e ed., F.-X. de Guibert, Octobre 1997, p. 36: "Il (l'éveque) leur notifie que le Père Jozo serait excommunié latae sintentiae (sic), c'est à dire ipso facto".
8R. Laurentin, Tempete sur Medjugorje, in: Chretiens Magazine nº 103, p. 35: "Le Pape n'a pas insisté, mais durant son voyage à Sarajevo, il a autorisé une partie de sa suite à le quitter pendat une journée pour aller faire publiquement pèlerinage à Medjugorje."