Thursday, September 11, 2008

Outrageous Claims Against Local Ecclesiastical Authority

There are some statements out there which reveal a systematic attempt to discredit and defame the apostolic successors of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno: Bishop Pavao Zanic and Bishop Ratko Peric . It exists on the websites of certain Medjugorje promoters and is taken as fact by ordinary people, innocently and legitimately trying to find information about the phenomenon and the Church's position.

These things, which amount to subjective ambiguities, are not backed by facts and are loaded with surmises. They are then propogated by some who copy and paste them into discussion lists, blogs, comment boxes, forums and more, without fully analyzing the information for objectivity. The facts are sometimes skewed to suit the author's errant conclusions.

We will examine some of these subjective ambiguities in light of objective facts and let you draw your own conclusions. [Edit 7-29-2009: Check back over the coming days and weeks and hopefully, I'll be analyzing some ridiculous claims about the bishop found on the web which do not square with facts.]

Individual claims will be examined in separate posts and a link-list of those will be edited into this post at the bottom as they are written, and added to the sidebar.

This is a good time to review the Catechism of the Catholic Church on rash judgment, detraction, and calumny.
2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty:
    - of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

    - of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279

    - of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
    Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.280

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

This is also a good time to discuss the issue of obedience and and reverence for authority.

Fr. John A. Hardon gives us a good definition of obedience in the Modern Catholic Dictionary:

The moral virtue that inclines the will to comply with the will of another who has the right to command. Material obedience is merely to carry out the physical action commanded; formal obedience is to perform an action precisely because it is commanded by a legitimate superior. The extent of obedience is as wide as the authority of the person who commands. Thus obedience to God is without limit, whereas obedience to human beings is limited by higher laws that must not be transgressed, and by the competency or authority of the one who gives the orders. As a virtue, it is pleasing to God because it means the sacrifice of one's will out of love for God.

In his dictionary, Fr. Hardon also defines reverence in a context that should be considered (emphasis mine in bold):

The virtue that inclines a person to show honor and respect for persons who possess some dignity. There are four forms of reverence:

  1. Familial reverence toward one's parents or those who take the place of parents.
  2. Civil reverence towards persons holding civil authority.
  3. Ecclesiastical reverence toward the Pope, bishops, priests and others in the service of the Church.
  4. Religious reverence toward any person, place, or object related to God.

Obedience to, and reverence for ecclesiastical authority is an important consideration with respect to discernment of apparitions. The 1978 CDF Document on Apparition Discernment refers to it as "docility to ecclesiastical authority" (see A, b, 1).

When these things are seen in people involved with private revelations and apparitions being investigated, it is a sign of pure grace. Often times, the extraordinary level of virtue is not visible until decades later.

This was the case with Padre Pio who suffered with prohibition of celebrating Mass publicly and of hearing confessions for a period of years. He remained firmly obedient to legitimate authority, even when the sanctions against him seemed unfair. Such obedience and reverence for authority is what Christ exemplified when he submitted himself to the authority of Pilate, who would order him put to death. Pope John Paul II stated at Padre Pio's canonization:

    Padre Pio made his journey of demanding spiritual ascesis in communion with the Church. The temporary misunderstandings he had with one or other ecclesial authority did not put a brake on his attitude of filial obedience. Padre Pio was a faithful and courageous son of the Church and in this situation he followed the shining example of the "Poverello" of Assisi

    While obedience and reverence for authority on the part of alleged visionaries and their closest associates are criteria the Church uses for discernment (certainly not in isolation), we would hope that manifestations of such grace would also be exemplified in followers.

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    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Are pilgrimages to Medjugorje permitted or not???

    This is one of the most discussed topics on the subject of Medjugorje: Pilgrimages.

    Keep in mind as you read this, that the 1978 CDF document on apparition discernment used by bishops says (emphasis mine in bold):

    b) Then, if this examination appears favorable, to allow certain public demonstrations of cult and devotion, while continuing to investigate the facts with extreme prudence(which is equivalent to the formula: “for the moment, nothing is opposed to it”).

    With that in mind, you may notice two common threads in each of these communications out of the Bishop's conference and the Vatican.

    With regards to that last part, it is also prudent to consider something that Msgr. Henri Brincard, the Bishop of Puy-en-Velay (accompanying Bishop of the Association of Marian organisations), said in a letter written on behalf of the French Bishops in 2000:

    In conclusion, allow me to make the following reflection:
    "I have no authority to pronounce any ecclesial judgement whatsoever on the events of Medjugorje. I am therefore the first to have to give an example of obedience, notably in respecting the pastoral decisions of my confrere of Mostar and in complying with joy to his wishes.

    "I do not see how I can go to Medjugorje without giving my support, by the very fact of my having come there, to the events who's discernment and assessment rests henceforth with the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Such support would fly in the face of a traditional teaching of the Church, recalled in Lumen Gentium and applicable to all the successors of the Apostles (11): "Individual bishops, in so far as they are set over particular Churches, exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God assigned to them, not over other Churches nor the Church universal."
    And now, for the communications we have to date on pilgrimages, in chronological order.

    FEBRUARY 1987: Franjo Cardinal Kuharic on Pilgrimages

    Franjo Cardinal Kuharic, President of the Yugoslav Bishop's Conference, noted in a 1987 press release in which he announced the new Commission which would eventually produce the Zadar Declaration in 1991, the following:

    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, it is not permitted to organize either pilgrimages or other religious manifestations based on an alleged supernatural character attributed to Medjugorje's events. 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).

    APRIL 1996: Archbishop Tarciscio Bertone on Pilgrimages


    Vatican City, March 23, 1996

    Prot. No. 154/81-01985

    Your Excellency,

    In your letter of February 14, 1996 you inquired what is the present position of the Church regarding the alleged "apparitions in Medjugorje' and whether it is permitted to the Catholic faith to go there for pilgrimage.

    In reference to that, it is my honor to make known to you that, regarding the authenticity of the apparitions in question, the Bishops of the former Yugoslavia confirmed in their Declaration of April 10, 1991 published in Zadar:

    ". . .On the basis of investigation up till now it cannot be established that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.

    However, the numerous gatherings of the faithful from different parts of the world, who are coming to Medjugorje prompted both by motives of belief and certain other motives, require the attention and pastoral care in the first place of the bishop of the diocese and of the other bishops with him so that in Medjugorje, and everything related to it, a healthy devotion toward the Blessed Virgin Mary would be promoted in conformity with the teaching of the Church.

    For that purpose the bishops shall issue separate appropriate liturgical-pastoral directives. Likewise by means of their Commission they shall further follow and investigate the total event in Medjugorje."

    The result from this, in what is precisely said, is that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, are not permitted to be organized either on the parish or on the diocesan level, because that would be in contradiction to what the Bishops of former Yugoslavia affirmed in their fore mentioned Declaration.

    Kindly accept, your Excellency, an expression of my profoundly devoted affection!

    + Tarcisio Bertone

    AUGUST 1996: Vatican Spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls

    Speaking on Aug. 21st 1996 in Rome Vatican Press Office spokesman, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, sought to clarify the status of pilgrimages to Medjugorje. He noted, after citing the 1991 Zadar Declaration,

    "You cannot say people cannot go there until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want ... When one reads what Archbishop Bertone wrote, one could get the impression that from now on everything is forbidden, no possibility" for Catholics to travel to Medjugorje. But, in fact, "nothing has changed, nothing new has been said ... The problem is if you systematically organize pilgrimages, organize them with the bishop and the church, you are giving a canonical sanction to the facts of Medjugorje ... This is different from people going in a group who bring a priest with them in order to go to confession ... I was worried that what Archbishop Bertone said could be interpreted in too restricted a way. Has the church or the Vatican said no (to Catholics visiting Medjugorje)? NO. ... The difference, in the terms of canon law, is that an official pilgrimage, organized by the diocese with the bishop, is a way of giving a juridical sanction to the facts; you are saying this is true."

    MAY 1998: Letter from Abp Bertone to Bishop Aubrey (added emphasis in green)

    Pr. No 154/81-05922
    Citta del Vaticano, Palazzo del S. Uffizio
    May 26, 1998

    To His Excellency Mons. Gilbert Aubry,
    Bishop of Saint-Denis de la Reunion


    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: "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.

    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

    That statement I've highlighted in green, has been severely distorted by promoters of Medjugorje. It has been presented in such a way as to lead readers to believe he has been "stripped of his authority". The bishop made clear in that letter he was speaking for himself because in the succeeding paragraph, he invites the Church to take on the matter for further study. More these kinds of distortions in a later post which will be linked here.

    1987 Press Release by Cardinal Kuharic on New Commission and Pilgrimages

    Several sources on the web have this text such as Catholic Culture and EWTN, but it is contained within a larger collection of communications on the same page (emphasis mine in bold; my comments bracketed in red).

    On January 18, 1987, a press release dated January 9, signed by Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, president of the Yugoslavian Conference of Bishops and by Bishop Zanic of Mostar, made the front page of "Glas Koncila" with the announcement of the formation of a new Commission of inquiry on Medjugorje [it then appeared in “L'Osservatore Romano” on February 14, 1987 -- dk]. Here is the text:

    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. It has expressed its recognition of the Diocesan Commission's work done under the responsibility of the local Ordinary, 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, it is not permitted to organize either pilgrimages or other religious manifestations based on an alleged supernatural character attributed to Medjugorje's events. 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 B.C.Y.

    + Pavao Zanic Bishop of Mostar

    July 25, 1987 Confirmation Homily of Bishop Pavao Zanic in Medjugorje

    Brothers and sisters, today here in Medjugorje the sacrament of confirmation will be administered, and probably you are expecting me to say a few words about those events which are the talk of the entire world. The Church watches all this, and especially what is of interest to her. This is confided to certain individuals and to commissions. As you know, at present, a Commission is mounting an inquiry on the matter. The said Commission has been established by the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference, for the Church cannot endanger her credibility in this 20th Century world. It [the world] keeps an eye on her to catch her off guard, to criticize her and be able to say: this is what you do with everything else in your faith, everything else is like that...this is the way it is with your Christ.

    I can tell you that during these six years I prayed, studied and kept silent. Many others also prayed, and I am grateful to them for that. In each Mass I celebrated, I had a thought for Medjugorje; in every rosary that I recited daily, I prayed to the Madonna for God's and the Holy Spirit's enlightenment. This helped me to gain a strong and firm conviction about everything I have heard, read and experienced. Here people are praying and fasting a lot, inspired as they are, of course, by the belief that these events are indeed supernatural; and to preach untruth to the faithful about God, Jesus and the Madonna is worthy of the depths of Hell.

    Through all my prayers, my work and research, I have sought one goal only: the discovery of truth. For that purpose, in 1982, I established a Commission of four members which later was expanded to fifteen, thanks to some bishops and father provincials. The larger body included people from nine theological faculties, seven dioceses and four provinces, as well as two highly qualified. psychiatrists. Consulting their colleagues in their respective fields, all these people worked for three full years. The Holy See was informed about their work and the events.

    Today, the Commission set by the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference is studying the same problems. In the meantime, there were some who were in a hurry and wanted to go ahead, before the Church's verdict. They proclaimed the existence of miracles and supernatural happenings; from the altar they preached private revelations, a breach to Church regulations as long as those revelations have not been recognized as authentic. For this reason, various Church authorities kept warning against organizing pilgrimages and to wait for the Church's verdict.
    On March 24, 1984, the Commission on the Medjugorje events also issued a warning. Unfortunately all this remained fruitless. Then, in the month of October of the same year, the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference issued an order prohibiting official pilgrimages to Medjugorje; and an official pilgrimage was defined as any group organized to come to Medjugorje. This did not help either. Later, on May 13, 1985, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a special letter to the Italian Bishops' Conference asking the bishops to discourage organized pilgrimages... as well as all forms of propaganda. This did not bring any results either. Finally, when the second Commission was set up, His Eminence Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, and the Ordinary of Mostar, declared on behalf of the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference in their January 9, 1987 press release: "For that reason, it is not permitted either to organize pilgrimages or to arrange other manifestations motivated by the supernatural character which might be attributed to the Medjugorje events." This was said by the highest authority in the Church, and this should not be overlooked as if nothing had been said.

    At the outset, when the first news was announced about the extraordinary happenings in this parish, the Chancery Office of Mostar intently followed the news and collected everything that might be of help in the search for truth. The Bishop gave all latitude to the pastoral personnel and the children, he even defended them from the attacks of the news media and civil authorities. We taped all interviews, we gathered chronicles and diaries, letters, documents, and all this has been studied by the Commission composed of theology professors and physicians. The three-year research produced the following result: two members of the Commission voted in favor of the supernaturality and authenticity of the Medjugorje events. One member abstained from voting, another wrote that there was something supernatural at the beginning only, while eleven members of the Commission voted against the supernatural character of those events, and thus, that there were no apparitions.

    I am deeply convinced that all the members of the Commission worked conscientiously and examined everything that might be of help in finding the truth. The Church cannot risk her credibility, and often in similar cases she carefully probed these kinds of events and banned crowds from gathering where it had been established that the events were not of supernatural origin.

    The Madonna, they say, started to appear on the Podbrdo of the Mountain Crnica, but when the militia forbade going there, she came into houses, into forests, fields, vineyards and tobacco fields; she appeared in the church, on the altar, in the sacristy, in the choir loft, on the roof, on the church steeple, on the roads, on the way to Cerno, in a car, on buses, in classrooms, in several places in Mostar and Sarajevo, in monasteries in Zagreb, Varazdin, Switzerland and Italy, once again on the Podbrdo, atop Krizevac, in the parish, in the rectory, etc. It is certain that not even half of the places where the alleged apparitions have taken place have been mentioned, so much so that an earnest man--who venerates the Madonna--asked himself: "My Madonna, what are they doing to you?"

    In this diocese, by divine decree, I am the shepherd, teacher of faith, and judge in the matters of faith. Since Medjugorje's events have created tension and division within the Church (some believe in it, some do not), and have evaded Church control, since the recommendations and decisions of the said authorities such as the Commission, the Congregation, and the Bishops' Conference have been ineffective, I, the Ordinary of Mostar, responsible before God for the discipline in the diocese, repeat and sanction former decisions of the ecclesiastical authorities. I do forbid the priests who organize pilgrimages or come here ascribing a supernatural character to these events, to celebrate Mass in the territory of my diocese, and this until the Commission of the Bishops' Conference ends its inquiry.

    I turn to you, Immaculate Virgin and Mother, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, Mother of this congregation which is looking for you, prays to you and loves you. I am turning to you, as your servant and Bishop of Mostar, and before the entire world I proclaim my deep and unshakable faith in all the privileges that God has endowed you with, by which you are the first and the most distinguished creature. I also affirm my deep and unshakable faith in your intercession with almighty God for all the needs of your children in this valley of tears. I assert my deep and unshakable faith in your love toward us sinners, and that love you confirmed with your apparitions and assistance. I myself have led pilgrimages to Lourdes. Exactly through the virtue of that faith, I your servant, Bishop of Mostar, before the great multitudes which called on you, find and accept your great sign which became sure and clear after these six years. I am not in need of a special sign, but it is necessary to those who believed in the truth.

    That sign to me is that for six years you steadfastly remained silent to all rumors about the sign: it will be, they said, on the hillside of apparitions, visible and permanent; it is going to be realized soon; it will be before long, in a while; be patient for a while, so they were saying in 1981... Then again: it will be realized on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, for Christmas, for the New Year. etc. Thank you, Madonna, because with your long silence of six years you have demonstrated that you have not spoken here, nor appeared, nor given any message or secret nor promised a special sign. Blessed Virgin, Mother of Christ and of us, intercede for peace in this restless region of the Church, in the diocese of Mostar, intercede especially for this place, for this parish, where innumerable times your blessed name was mentioned in words which were not yours. Make them stop fabricating messages in your name. Accept, Blessed Virgin, satisfaction through the sincere prayers of the devout souls who have no part in fanaticism and disobedience to the Church. Let us all reach the real truth. Dear Madonna, humble and obedient servant of God, let the faithful of Medjugorje follow with their firm steps the shepherd of the local Church so that all of us might together glorify and praise you in truth and love.

    + Pavao Zanic, Bishop Mostar, July 24, 1987

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    The Zadar Declaration (1991)

    Emphasis mine in bold [notes in red and enclosed in brackets]

    The Third Commission (1987 - 1990)

    In January 1987, upon the suggestion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Franjo Kuharić, president of the Bishops’ Conference, and bishop Žanić made a joint communiqué in which they announced the formation of the third Commission and in which they asked the faithful not to organize pilgrimages motivated “from above” which would ascribe to the events of Medjugorje (O. P., p. 196). The Commission was comprised of 11 priests (6 religious, 5 diocesan), 4 physicians and psychologists and one religious sister as secretary.

    The Commission held 23 meetings in Zagreb at the Secretariat of the Bishops’ Conference. The first meeting was in April 1987 and the twenty-third in September 1990.

    A characteristic of the third Commission was to work on the findings and results of the previous Commissions and ex novo. Everything was done under oath and no statements for the public were made. The results of their four-year long efforts were presented to the members of the Bishops’ Conference in Zagreb in 1990. Discussions at the Bishops’ Conference on the “apparitions” were held on four occasions: 25 April, 9 October and 27 November 1990, and the Declaration on Medjugorje was accepted through a vote held in Zadar on 10 April 1991: 19 bishops voted for the Declaration while 1 abstained.

    The Declaration states: “During the regular session of the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia, held in Zadar from April 9-11, 1991, the following was accepted:


    From the very beginning, the Bishops have been following the events of Medjugorje through the local Bishop, the Bishops’ Commission and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia for Medjugorje.

    On the bas[is] of studies made so far, it cannot be affirmed [non constat de supernaturalitate - see footnote2] that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations.

    Yet the gathering of the faithful from various parts of the world to Medjugorje, inspired by reasons of faith or other motives, require the pastoral attention and care, first of all, of the local Bishop and then of the other bishops with him, so that in Medjugorje and all connected with it, a healthy devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary according to the teachings of the Church may be promoted. The Bishops will also provide special liturgical and pastoral directives corresponding to this aim. At the same time, they will continue to study all the events of Medjugorje through the commissions.

    Zadar, 10 April 1991
    The Bishops of Yugoslavia”

    A few notes worth considering:
    • The non constat de supernaturalitate status clearly leaves open the room for further data to be considered, while at the same time also making clear, that nothing examined up to the time of this commission indicated anything of supernatural origin.
    • Since this did not receive an absolute negative judgment (constat de non supernaturalitate), the declaration comprehends that visitors will need pastoral care.
    • The declaration did not give permission for a cult following of "Our Lady of Medjugorje" to develop3, something which by right, belongs to the competent authority, in this case the Bishop's Conference of Yugoslavia. Rather, the pastoral care, in part, was intended to enable a healthy devotion to Our Lady according to the teachings of the Church (Encyclical Marialis Cultis).

    1) Source: Međugorje: Secrets, messages, vocations, prayers, confessions, commissions, Bishop Ratko Peric, Diocese of Mostar-Duvno (address given in Maynooth, Ireland in 2004.

    2) See post: Apparitions: Types of Decisions the Church can Hand Down

    3) From the post: Who discerns apparitions and private revelations?, we see that the cult following is only permitted after the local Ordinary discerns that there is nothing contrary to established positive and negative criteria. There is plenty of evidence that the cult following was discouraged not only by the local Bishop, but by the Bishops Conference. In 1987, YBC President, Cardinal Kuharic declared, "it is not permitted to organize either pilgrimages or other religious manifestations based on an alleged supernatural character attributed to Medjugorje's events" In 1990, one year before the Zadar Declaration, Bishop Zanic listed 29 serious problems with Medjugorje. Bishop Zanic worked hard to discourage a cult following which is seen in a series of documented communications compiled by EWTN.

    4) Subsequent clarifications on pilgrimages have been made by the Holy See (link forthcoming).

    HOME: Medjugorje Documents Online and FAQ's


    What is the Official Status of Medjugorje (as of this post)

    The Church's current position is that of the 1991 Zadar Declaration in which it was stated (my note in red, bracketed):

    On the bas[is] of studies made so far, it cannot be affirmed Non constat de supernaturalitate (not established as supernatural). that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations.

    There are three possible decisions the Church can make. This is not a wholly negative judgment, nor is it a positive judgment. It leaves open the possibility for further study.

    The 1991 Zadar Declaration has been cited numerous times in Vatican documents with regards to the current status, such as on those pertaining to pilgrimages and Medjugorje.

    What is Involved in Apparition Discernment?

    The CDF released a document in 1978 which had been available only to bishops1. In that document, criteria was laid out for the discernment of apparitions. It is a process for bishops to follow since they are the first level of ecclesiastical authority with jurisdiction. It has since found it's way into the public domain. Apparitions since 1978 fall under this, as well as those still under investigation prior to 1978.

    There is both positive and negative criteria that bishops and other authorities consider with the help of this document. First, the document offers some notes to put it all into context.

    Preliminary Note: Origin and character of these norms.

    At the time of the Annual Plenary Congregation during November 1974, the Fathers of this Sacred Congregation studied the problems relating to apparitions and supposed revelations, and the consequences which often result from these, and they arrived at the following conclusions:

      1. Today more than formerly, the news of these apparitions is spread more quickly among the faithful thanks to the means of information ("mass media"); in addition, the ease of travel supports more frequent pilgrimages. Also, the ecclesiastical authority was itself brought to reconsider this subject.

      2. Similarly, because of current instruments of knowledge, the contributions of science, and the requirement of a rigorous criticism, it is more difficult, if not impossible, to arrive as speedily as previously at judgements which conclude, as formerly happened, investigations into this matter (“constate de supernaturalitate, non constat de supernaturalitate”); and because of that, it is more difficult for the Ordinary to authorize or prohibit public worship or any other form of devotion of the faithful.

      For these reasons, so that the devotion stirred up among the faithful by facts of this kind can appear as a disposition in full communion with the Church, and bear fruit, and so that the Church itself is able to ultimately distinguish the true nature of the facts, the Fathers consider that it is necessary to promote the following practice in regard to this matter.

      So that the ecclesiastical authority is able to acquire more certainty on such or such an apparition or revelation, it will proceed in the following way:

        a) Initially, to judge the facts according to positive and negative criteria (cf. below, n.1).

        b) Then, if this examination appears favorable, to allow certain public demonstrations of cult and devotion, while continuing to investigate the facts with extreme prudence (which is equivalent to the formula: “for the moment, nothing is opposed to it”).

        c) Finally, after a certain time, and in the light of experience, (starting from a particular study of the spiritual fruits generated by the new devotion), to give a judgement on the authenticity of the supernatural character, if the case requires this.

      I. Criteria of judgement, concerning the probability at least, of the character of the apparitions and supposed revelations.

        A) Positive criteria:

        a) Moral certainty, or at least great probability, as to the existence of the fact, [revelation] acquired at the end of a serious investigation.

        b) Particular circumstances relating to the existence and the nature of the fact:

          1. Personal qualities of the subject—in particular mental balance, honesty and rectitude of moral life, habitual sincerity and docility towards ecclesiastical authority, ability to return to the normal manner of a life of faith, etc.

          2. With regard to the revelations, their conformity with theological doctrines and their spiritual veracity, their exemption from all error.

          3. A healthy devotion and spiritual fruits which endure (in particular, the spirit of prayer, conversions, signs of charity, etc).

        B) Negative criteria:

          a) A glaring error as to the facts.

          b) Doctrinal errors that one would attribute to God himself, or to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Holy Spirit in their manifestations (taking into account, however, the possibility that the subject may add something by their own activity—even if this is done unconsciously—of some purely human elements to an authentic supernatural revelation, these having nevertheless to remain free from any error in the natural order. Cf. St Ignatius, Spiritual Exercises, n. 336).

          c) An obvious pursuit of monetary gain in relation with the fact.

          d) Gravely immoral acts committed by the subject, or his associates, at the time of the facts, or on the occasion of these facts.

          e) Psychic disorders or psychopathic tendencies concerning the subject, which would exert an unquestionable influence on the allegedly supernatural facts, or indeed psychosis, mass hysteria, or other factors of the same kind.

        It is important to consider these criteria, whether they are positive or negative, as indicative standards and not as final arguments, and to study them in their plurality and in relation with the other criteria.


    Who discerns apparitions and private revelations?

    From the 1978 document(unofficial english translation) from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on discernment of apparitions1.

    II. Intervention of the competent local Authority

    1. As, at the time of a presumed supernatural fact, worship or an ordinary form of devotion is born in a quasi spontaneous way among the faithful, the competent ecclesiastical Authority has the serious obligation to inform itself without delay and to carry out a diligent investigation.

    2. At the legitimate request of the faithful (when they are in communion with their pastors and are not driven by a sectarian spirit), the competent ecclesiastical Authority can intervene to authorize and promote various forms of worship and devotion if, assuming the criteria given above having been applied, nothing is opposed to it. But there must be vigilance nevertheless, to ensure that the faithful do not regard this way of acting as an approval by the Church of the supernatural character of the event in question (cf. above, Preliminary Note, c).

    3. By virtue of his doctrinal and pastoral duty, the competent ecclesiastical Authority can intervene immediately of his own authority, and he must do so in serious circumstances, for example, when it is a question of correcting or of preventing abuses in the exercise of worship or devotion, to condemn erroneous doctrines, to avoid the dangers of a false mysticism etc.

    4. In doubtful cases, which do not involve the welfare of the Church, the competent ecclesiastical Authority may refrain from any judgement and any direct action (more especially as it can happen that, at the end of a certain time, the supposedly supernatural event can lapse from memory); but he should not remain less vigilant about the event, in such a way as to be in a position to intervene with swiftness and prudence, if that is necessary.

    III. Other Authorities entitled to intervene

    1. The foremost authority to inquire and to intervene belongs to the local Ordinary.

    2. But the regional or national episcopal Conference may intervene:

      a) If the local Ordinary, after having fulfilled the obligations which fall to him, resorts to them for a study of the event in its entirety.

      b) If the event assumes national or regional importance.

    3. The Apostolic See can intervene, either at the request of Ordinary himself, or at the request of a qualified group of the faithful, or directly by virtue of the immediate right of universal jurisdiction of the Sovereign Pontiff (cf. above, IV).

    (1) 1978 Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith document on apparition discernment (unoffical English translation)

    Apparitions: Types of Decisions the Church can Hand Down

    To fully comprehend the status of an appartion in the eyes of the Church, an understanding of decisions is needed. Links with cited source info can be found at the bottom.

    What kind of decisions can be handed down by the Church? There are three:

    • Constat de supernaturalitate (established as supernatural).
    • Non constat de supernaturalitate (not established as supernatural).
    • Constat de non supernaturalitate (established as not supernatural).

    The first decision at the top of the list, Constat de supernaturalitate, is clearly favorable. There are clear signs of something supernatural, and nothing is found to contradict doctrine1. Also, those receiving the private revelations have been cleared of mental illness or physical conditions which could explain the phenomena. In addition, there is honesty and upright behavior (immorality in the form of lies, deceit, promiscuity, etc., are absent).

    What distinguishes the last two classifications?

    Constat de non supernaturalitate is a negative judgment. Examples of private revelations which have received such a judgment include Bayside and Necedeh. Colin Donovan explains2:

    The judgment that an alleged apparition has been shown to be not supernatural means it is either clearly not miraculous or lacks sufficient signs of the miraculous. Private revelation, for example, which is doctrinally dangerous or which manifests hostility to lawful authority could not come from God. It could even be demonic, especially if there are extraordinary signs accompanying it. The devil gladly mingles truth and lie to deceive the faithful, dazzling them with signs and wonders to give credence to his message. His purpose is to separate them from the Church, either by getting them to believe things contrary to the deposit of the faith or to act contemptuously of Church authority. An attitude of pride and judgment toward the Church is a clear sign of his presence. An alleged revelation may also only be a pious rambling, consistent with faith and morals, but lacking evidence of being anything more than the product of human effort. No fraud need be intended, only an active imagination. Finally, it may be that the doctrine may be sound and there may be phenomena, but insufficient to demonstrate supernaturality. In this latter case, there would seem to be a possibility of revision.

    Non constat de supernaturalitate is not necessarily a neutral judgment. Nor is it likely a final judgment. Rather, nothing has been found which would be considered supernatural. It also seems to leave itself open for further discernment. People need to be careful with claims by promoters and supporters of any private revelation of things like, "healings" and "cures". Before such a proclamation can be made and associated with a person or place, it needs to be studied and verified. Anyone can make such claims, but will it stand up to the level of medical scrutiny worhty of the title, "miraculous"? Similarly, mystical phenomena (dancing sun, things changing in appearance, strange lights, visions, etc.,) must be examined for natural explanations first. If such explanations are ruled out, then there are two others possible sources: Divine and diabolic. Hence, even the presence of mystical phenomena is not proof of divine involvement.


      1) See Catechism of the Catholic Church #65-67
      2) Apparitions/Private Revelations written by theologian Colin Donovan, STL, April 2001 Revision accessed on Sept 10, 2008

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008

    "The Truth Both Frees us and Binds us" by Bishop Ratko Peric (31 May 2004)

    The truth both frees us and binds us

    There are a good number of the faithful throughout the world who strive for the purity of the faith, respecting the Church's magisterium and bearing witness to the spuriousness of the "visions" at Medjugorje. One of them is Michael Davies of London. When I assumed responsibility for the diocese of Mostar, I came to know Mr Davies, who is Welsh, and his wife Maria, who is Croatian. They were friends of my predecessor, the late Bishop Pavao Zanic, who died on 11th November 2000. I must thank Michael for the efforts that he has made to follow and criticise the unbelievable claims made about the events at Medjugorje, a theme that he develops in this book, Medjugorje after 21 Years.

    Why do I as the local bishop not accept the "visions" at Medjugorje as worthy of credence? I begin from the premise that I would truly like to believe that the "visions" are authentic, and that Our Lady truly appeared there. Indeed, not only there. Yet the truth both frees us and binds us! As I followed the events at Medjugorje in recent years, I was driven to the following conclusions.

    Firstly, the story dating back to 1981 of the so-called "visions" of the six "seers" of Medjugorje, half of whom still see visions on a daily basis, while the other half only see them once a year, has long since spread beyond the borders of the parish and the diocese both by rumour and by reason of the travels through the world of the "seers" and their supporters.

    There can be no doubt that the "visions" have made converts in the ranks of commercial travellers, who had a "vision" of very tangible benefits for themselves, whence they spread to the ranks of religious enthusiasts, who travel thousands of miles to make their confessions and say the rosary at Medjugorje! The "visions" have not however been recognized by the Church, so no-one is any way bound to believe in them.

    Secondly, some Franciscans in Herzegovina as well as a number of priests throughout the world promote the concept of Medjugorje as the site of "supernatural visions and messages". A number of the faithful moreover persist in visiting Medjugorje, not only so as to bear witness to how "Our Lady appears" despite the Church's cautious stance, but also to bring pressure to bear on the Church authorities, not excluding even the very highest, to recognise the events at Medjugorje as visions worthy of credence.

    I have to ask how the Christ's Church could on the basis of such pilgrimages to a single parish, motivated by a range of emotions from mere curiosity to fanatical zeal, proclaim such "visions" to be supernatural, when three ecclesiastical commissions of inquiry into the events at Medjugorje lawfully constituted on the direction of Bishop Zanic, the local bishop, and the Conference of Bishops [of the former Yugoslavia] in 1991 confirmed that they could find no proof that there had been "supernatural visions and messages"? How could the Church, which is the pillar and support of the truth, recognize such more than questionable "visions" under pressure from such petitioners?

    Thirdly, it is most puzzling why such priests and faithful as really thirst for visions and messages do not drink their fill from the sources of visions that have been recognized as authentic, for example, Lourdes and Fatima, though there are others besides, but instead turn to the unrecognised "visions" at Medjugorje, where "Our Lady" supposedly "appears" sine fine. The Church recognized some of the seers of Lourdes and Fatima as saints or as blessed after their deaths, but the champions of Medjugorje seem to be in competition with one another to see who can go the most times to a place where the Church has not merely declined to recognize the authenticity of the "visions" but has even forbidden private or public pilgrimages if they are based on the authenticity of the unrecognised "visions".

    If indeed some bishops from other parts of the world come and stay at Medjugorje (some twenty kilometres from Mostar) for several days, yet do not even feel the need to make themselves known to their local counterpart, whether during or after the war [between Croatia and Serbia] then such servants of the Church show neither episcopal collegiality nor solicitude for the universal Church (1 Cor. 11, 28) but rather a strange curiosity to see what "visions" there might be to be seen on the stony hillsides of Herzegovina. Yet we bishops and priests constantly pray to God in the Canon of the Mass to confirm his Church in faith and charity on its way through this world.

    Fourthly, the mere fact that many people, though they are believers, hold something to be true does not make it true, perhaps even the contrary. Christ the Lord stood alone, but for his Mother and one disciple, at Gabbatha and on Golgotha. He was the only Truth opposed by the nameless masses, the superior and inferior clergy, and the national and international establishment in Jerusalem.

    When Christ proclaimed that He was the truth, Pilate gave their jesting answer "What is truth?" (John, 18, 38), which is to say, that for them personal advantage, political position and a temporary triumph were more important than any truth, human or divine!

    Though the Truth died on that Good Friday, it rose again on the third day. Truth is not therefore necessarily in the greater number. So all the valid confessions, communions and rosary prayers at Medjugorje, though they confer grace as efficaciously as in other parishes, no more and no less, do not of themselves in any sense demonstrate the truth of the "supernatural apparitions" in that parish.

    Fifthly, the "seers" who see visions on a daily basis and the endless apparitions themselves (33,333 to date, nor it there any risk of my being mistaken, for there is no end to the numbers or the "visions") are more in the nature of a religious show and a spectacle for the world than a true and faithful witness to the peace and unity of the Faith and love for the Church. Who can fail to see that these endlessly multiplying numbers should not be taken seriously? Shall we change our Catholic orthodoxy for fantastical superstition?

    Sixthly, the many "messages" pronounced in the early years by the mouths of the so-called "seers", especially those that praised the disobedience of some Franciscan priests in Mostar, and berated the local bishop who conscientiously abided by Canon law, that belittled the highest decisions of the Church regarding the administration of the diocese, which as such were obviously inspired by worldly considerations and not by heaven, brought far greater disorder and conflict than true peace and order to the Church. This is a very particular chapter in the history of the diocese of Mostar and Duvno.

    Seventhly, our Croatian Franciscans, who accept Medjugorje as a place of "supernatural apparitions" have never, alas, distanced themselves publicly from this bad and untruthful message to the Church in Herzegovina.

    Some Franciscan fathers have performed many invalid confirmations. One of them, who falsely purported to confirm with a mitre on his head in the parish of Capljina in 1997, claimed to come from Medjugorje and openly supported schism in that community by his sacrilegious and invalid confirmations. Now that he has been expelled from the Franciscan order, he has forcibly occupied the parish of Grude, where, two days ago, on the feast of Whitsun, 2004, according to a photograph which appeared in the daily papers, he once again carried out invalid confirmations, but this time without a mitre.

    If the "seers" with their "visions" tolerate such schismatic scandals, without in any way admonishing those involved, and likewise those who support the "seers" and act as their public relations men, without ever distancing themselves from or condemning such local schisms, then in the name of the Mother of God, the Queen of Peace, yea, in the name of the Holy Trinity, one God, might that not be a sign that those involved in propagandizing in support of the supposed credibility of such "visions" do not have the Divine will at the forefront of their thoughts?

    A group of Franciscans (eight living, one deceased) who have been expelled from their Order for their notorious disobedience to the decisions both of their own superiors and of the Holy See with regard to matters of ecclesiastical administration in the diocese, have forcibly taken over a number of parishes in which for some years now they have been administering invalid confessions, and officiating at invalid marriages, some even carrying out invalid confirmations, and generally carrying on in defiance of Canon Law, all in the immediate or general neighbourhood of Medjugorje, as the place where tens of thousands of "visions" have occurred.

    It is indeed astonishing that the "apparition", which has passed on messages to thousands of the curious, even including American President Ronald Reagan, and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and its supporters, have not yet expressed concern, whether about the blasphemy perpetrated against Christ's sacraments, or the damage to the unity of the Church in the diocese of Mostar-Duvno. It is certainly remarkable that people come from all over the world to make their confessions in Medjugorje, but the expelled Franciscans and a few others who are in a state of disobedience to the Holy See, their Order and the local Church authorities, give thousands of invalid absolutions in the very neighbourhood of Medjugorje.

    When this group of Franciscans, who even now wear Franciscan habits even though they have been canonically expelled from the Order of Friars Minor in 2001, blasphemously and sacrilegiously sinned against the sacraments of the Eucharist and of confirmation by summoning an Old Catholic deacon (!) a schismatic not in communion with the Catholic Church, to celebrate an invalid Eucharist and to "confirm" hundreds of candidates in three parishes, Grude, Capljina and Ploce-Tepcici, that deacon falsely held himself out to be a bishop, saying "both the friars and I believe in the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje".

    Alas, we heard not a word and saw not a sign of disapproval of such pronouncements. On the contrary, some still defend the visitation of the uncatholic deacon who proclaimed himself to be a bishop. One of his colleagues, who lived in the same community for some time, tells how this deacon celebrated "mass" in honour of the BVM in a church in Switzerland on the feast of the Assumption, all dressed in black! A requiem for the Mother of God on the day of her Assumption into heaven! What folly! A man who cannot celebrate mass at all, since he is not a priest, so insults Our Lady, who reached a higher state of holiness than any other human being, yet he claims to "believe in the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje", and comes along to "confirm" Catholic children in Herzegovina. Yet that same colleague of his has given written testimony that this "bishop" does not recognize the sacrament of confirmation administered according to the Catholic rite, so he "confirmed" his friend a second time!

    The scandal of disobedience, concerning which we have not heard a word of criticism from the "oasis of peace" at Medjugorje, has grown to such a level that some of the above-mentioned former Franciscans asked an Old Catholic bishop in Switzerland to consecrate one of them as bishop! So that the schism in the diocese should deepen?

    The Holy Father John Paul II, who has never mentioned Medjugorje in any of his allocutions, has frequently summoned the superiors of the OFM to resolve the Herzegovinian question.

    So, for example, on 16th June 2003, the Pope once again asked the members of the General Chapter of the Franciscan Order to carry into effect the decision of his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, going back to 1975:

    "Your missionary activity will prove fruitful in so far as it is fulfilled in harmony with the lawful pastors to whom Our Lord has entrusted responsibility for his flock. Bearing that well in mind, I once again warmly remind you of the efforts that have been made to overcome the difficulties that have long existed in certain areas. It is my heartfelt wish that, with co-operation on every side, that understanding with the diocesan authorities sought by my worthy predecessor, Pope Paul VI, should be fully attained. It has become apparent that such an understanding is a prerequisite for effective evangelisation."

    It would be desirable to have an unambiguous response from the Franciscan side to this exhortation by the Pope.

    For my part, I have never publicized the immorality or the financial scandals associated with Medjugorje. There are other well publicized disorders and evidence that sufficiently disprove the supposedly supernatural nature of the "visions" and lead to the conclusion that it would be better to conclude "constat de non supernaturalitate" rather than "non constat de supernaturalitate".

    This book seeks to describe chronologically, analyse logically, and explain faithfully the many facts connected with the more than questionable "visions" at Medjugorje. May the true Queen of Peace help the author by her intercession with the most Holy Trinity.

    Mostar, on the feast of the BVM, Mother of the Church,

    31st May 2004,

    + Ratko Peric, Bishop

    Note: The book mentioned may be found in it's entirety for free download or viewing online at the site of author Michael Davies, deceased in 2004.

    The Truth About Medjugorje by Bishop Pavao Zanic, 1990

    The Truth About Medjugorje
    Msgr. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar

    NOTE: Original english release now available on Diocese of Mostar website. (PDF)

    1. The truth regarding the events in Medjugorje is being sought out by a Commission of the Bishop's Conference of Yugoslavia (kJ). Their work though, is progressing slowly. Therefore with this statement I wish to help the Commission in coming to a decision as soon as possible. Propaganda in favor of Medjugorje is being rushed in order to place the Church and the world before a "fait accompli". This has been the intention of the defenders of Medjugorje from the beginning. It must be admitted that they have succeeded, because the other side is either working too slowly or remaining silent. For these reasons and due to the motivation that I have been given from many from all over the world who realize that the truth has been trampled upon, I have decided to make another statement according to my duty and my conscience, and help the Commission.
    With this statement I wish to awaken the consciences of those who defend Medjugorje. Their path is simple, wide and downhill all the way, while mine is difficult, thorny and uphill. The Church and Our Lady have no need of falsehoods. Jesus says: "The truth will make you free" (Din 8,32). "I am the way and the truth and the life" (Jn 14,6) "For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth, hears my voice" (Jn 18,37). For even a short description of the falsehoods about Medjugorje we would need 200 pages, but for now all I will give is this short summary without a scientific approach. I am somewhat uneasy because of the fact that in some statements my name is in the forefront, yet from the beginning of the "apparitions" I have been in the center of the events due to my episcopal position and duties. I am sorry as well for having to mention some "unpleasant things", but without them the arguments lose their strength. However, the most unpleasant things will be left out.

    2. A characteristic attitude: Marina B., a tourist guide for Atlas travel, brought a priest from Panama to my office in August 1989. His name: Presbitero Rodriguez Teofilo, pastor of Nuestra Senora de Lourdes. With him came Carmen Cecilia Capriles - a journalist, Gerente General of the IATA agency, and Averrida Alberto Navarro, Apartado 1344 zona 7, Panama. Marina presented herself as a tour-guide, translator for English and a convert of Medjugorje. The priest asked me for the reasons why I do not believe in the "apparitions". I told him that I have at least 20 reasons not to believe, of which only one is necessary for those who are sober and well instructed in the faith to come to the conclusion that the apparitions are not of the supernatural. He asked me to please tell him at least one reason. I told him about the case of the ex-franciscan priest Ivica Vego. Due to his disobedience, by an order of the Holy father the Pope, he was thrown out of his franciscan religious order OFM by his General, dispensed from his vows and suspended "a divinis". He did not obey this order and he continued to celebrate Mass, distribute the sacraments and pass the time with his mistress. It is unpleasant to write about this, yet it is necessary in order to see who Our Lady is speaking of. According to the diary of Vicka and the statements of the "seers", Our Lady mentioned 13 times that he is innocent and that the bishop is wrong. When his mistress, sister Leopolda, a nun, became pregnant, both of them left Medjugorje and the religious life and began to live together near Medjugorje where their child was born. Now they have two children. His prayerbook is still sold in Medjugorje and beyond in hundreds of thousands of copies.

    I asked Marina to translate this in English. Marina cannot be blamed for having fallen into a community which is concealing the truth. She spontaneously responded according to the practice in Medjugorje: "Do we have to tell them these ugly things?" I responded by saying that if you had not held back and covered these "ugly events" these people from Panama would have found out earlier and they would not have had to travel to Medjugorje for nothing. It is an injustice and a sin to hide this truth, even though it be unpleasant, it must be said.

    3. The Marian theologian Rene Laurentin behaves in the same manner. He came to visit me around Christmas 1983, and I offered him dinner. He asked me why I did not believe in the apparitions. I told him that according to the diary of Vicka and the words of the other "seers" this 'Lady' has been speaking against the bishop. Laurentin quickly responded: "Don't publish that, because there are many pilgrims and converts there." I was scandalized by this statement of this well known Mariologist! This has remained Laurentin's position: to hide the truth, and defend falsehoods. He has written around ten books on the topic of Medjugorje and in almost all of them, the truth and bishop Zanic are under fire. He knows well what people like to hear. Therefore, it was relatively easy for him to find those who would believe him. "A veritate quidam auditum avertent, ad fabulas autem convertentur" - They will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths (2 Tim 4:4). The "seers" and defenders of Medjugorje led by Laurentin, from the very outset have seen that the modern believer in a communist country very quickly believes in everything "miraculous", in apparent miraculous healings and apparent messages from "Our Lady".

    4. The main players on which Medjugorje rests are retired archbishop F. Franic, R. Laurentin, Lj. Rupcic OFM, Amorth, Rastrelli S.J., and some franciscans and charismatics from all over the world. Many books have been quickly published, as well as articles, brochures, films and souvenirs. On the move are tourist agencies, pilgrimages, prayer books written by two franciscans Vego and Prusina who were thrown out of the OFM Order, published in many languages in 600,000 copies, fanatical prayer groups that are inspired by the apparent messages of Our Lady and the great motivator of all - money. No one even mentions that which throws doubt on the "apparitions". The bishop has been warning everyone, but the 'machinery' has been breaking forward. There have been mentioned 50 miraculous healings, then 150, 200, 300 and so on. Laurentin chose 56 dossiers and sent them to the "Bureau medical de Lourdes". Dr. Mangiapan responded in their bulletin Avril/84, that these dossiers have no practical value, and they cannot be used or considered as serious proofs of the apparitions in Medjugorje. Much has been written about the healing of Diane Basile. I sent the dossier to Dr. Mangiapan who studied the case and then took the position: "opinion plus que reservee". It is a case of sclerosis multiplex. More will be written about this later in a book.

    5. The credibility of the "seers" - Mirjana Dragicevic. One month after the beginning of the "apparitions" I went to Medjugorje to question the "seers". I asked each of them to take an oath on the cross and demanded that they must speak the truth. (This conversation and oath was recorded on tape). The first one was Mirjana: "We went to look for our sheep when at once..." (The associate pastor in the parish interrupted and told me that they actually went out to smoke, which they hid from their parents). "Wait a minute Mirjana, you're under oath. Did you go out to look for your sheep?" She put her hand over her mouth, "forgive me, we went out to smoke." She then showed me the watch on which the "miracle" occurred because the hands of the watch had gone haywire. I took the watch to a watch expert who said that the watch had certainly fallen and become disordered. After bringing the watch back to her I told her not to mention that a miracle occurred. Yet, on cassettes taped later on, she went on to speak of how a miracle occurred with the watch and that initially they had gone out to search for their sheep.

    Later on, she spoke that Our Lady said that all faiths are equal. How much can we believe Mirjana?

    6. Vicka Ivankovic is the main "seer" from the beginning and through her the creator of Medjugorje, Rev. Tomislav Vlasic OFM, has launched the main portion of falsehoods regarding Medjugorje. He presented himself to the Pope in a letter May 13, 1984 as follows: "I am Rev. Tomislav Vlasic, the one according to Divine Providence who guides the seers of Medjugorje." It would have been better for him that he withdrew himself into the 'desert' and that he remained silent, because his past speaks enough about him. Vicka spoke and wrote much, and in so doing she fell into many contradictions. Prof. Nikola Bulat, a member of the first commission, questioned her and wrote a 60 page study on her. He numbered all the illogicalities and falsehoods of her diary. Here I will only mention the bloody handkerchief. Word spread around that there was a certain taxi driver who came across a man who was bloody all over. This man gave this taxi driver a bloodied handkerchief and he told him to: "throw this in the river". The driver went on and then he came across a woman in black. She stopped him and asked him to give her a handkerchief. He gave her his own, but she said: "not that one but the bloody handkerchief." He gave her the handkerchief she wanted and she then said: "If you had thrown it into the river the end of the world would have occurred now." Vicka Ivankovic wrote in her diary that they asked Our Lady if this event was true and she said that it was, and along with this, "that man covered, with blood was my son Jesus, and I (Our Lady) was that woman in black."

    What kind of theology is this? From this it appears that Jesus wants to destroy the world if a handkerchief is thrown into a river and it's Our Lady who saves the world!

    7. On the 14th of January 1982, Vicka, Marija and little Jakov came to visit me. Vicka began to speak quite nervously because she was speaking falsehoods. She said: "Our Lady sent us to you to tell you that you are too harsh with the franciscans..." In what way? "We don't know!" Two franciscan chaplains in Mostar, Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina, which the bishop sought to remove from Mostar because of disorder and disobedience towards the faithful of the newly established cathedral-parish in Mostar, defended themselves before their superiors by saying that they would not leave Mostar because Our Lady through Vicka, told them not to leave. This was mentioned to me by a member of the franciscan Provincial council. I asked Vicka at our meeting: "Did Our Lady mention anything about the Mostar chaplains, Vego and Prusina?" "She did not, we don't know them" responded all three. Our conversation lasted 30 minutes and I taped all of it. I repeated the question of the chaplains of Mostar several times and they always responded: "We don't know them." Later on, I found from Vicka's diary that they knew the chaplains very well. It was clear to me that they were lying, yet I did not want to mention this to them in order to maintain their confidence during our conversations.

    8. On the 4th of April 1982, Vicka and Jakov came to visit me "sent by Our Lady". The chaplains of Mostar, Vego and Prusina were thrown out of the franciscan Order OFM in January of that year by the superiors of their Order. Many followers of Medjugorje and "Our Lady" defended the expelled chaplains. During our conversation Vicka very excitedly began: "The last time we were with you we didn't tell you everything and for this reason Our Lady scolded us. We spoke of many things and therefore we forgot..." "What did you forget?" "Our Lady told us to tell you that those chaplains Vego and Prusina are priests and therefore they can celebrate Mass just as other priests." "Wait a minute. Did Our Lady tell you this before our last meeting?" "Yes, that's why she sent us to you. Last time I spoke of many other things and I forgot to mention this." During that previous meeting I asked her directly several times if Our Lady mentioned anything about the two chaplains. It was clear to me that Vicka was lying and this was proof enough for me not to trust her statements. Marija and Jakov also participated in this lie.

    9. Towards the end of January 1983, Rev. Grafenauer, a jesuit priest, came to me with the intention of searching out the phenomenon of Medjugorje. He listened to 20 cassettes and after having listened to them he said that he would not go to Medjugorje because he concluded that Our Lady is not there. Upon my insistence he went to Medjugorje and after a few days he came back as a "convert" of Rev. Vlasic. He brought some documents, threw them on the table and said: "Here's what Our Lady wishes to tell you!" I understood this as a plot to overthrow the bishop with the help of Our Lady. The documents he brought were a compilation of Vicka's diary, the parish chronicle and hand written documents. For this reason it is difficult to establish where they were first written. Vicka and those who defend Medjugorje hid this from the bishop for more than a year. Here are a few quotes:

    Dec 19, 1981. "Our Lady said that the bishop is to blame for the disorder in Herzegovina. She also said that Rev. Ivica Vego is not to blame, yet that the bishop has all authority. Our Lady said that he (Vego) remain in Mostar and not leave.

    January 3, 1982. All the "seers" together asked Our Lady about Rev. Ivica Vego. Our Lady answered: "Ivica is innocent. If they throw him out of the franciscan Order, may he remain courageous... Ivica is innocent." Our Lady repeated this three times.

    January 11, 1982. We asked again about the two chaplains of Mostar and Our Lady repeated twice that which she mentioned earlier regarding them. Note: January 14, 1982 Vicka was at the Chancery office with the bishop and at that meeting she mentioned that she did not know Vego.

    January 20, 1982. The children asked what Rev. Ivica Vego and Rev. Ivan Prusina were to do now that they were thrown out of the Order. Our Lady answered: "They are innocent. The bishop was harsh in his decision. They can stay."

    April 15, 1982. Vicka asked Our Lady a question. "Could you generally tell me everything about Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina?" Our Lady smiled at the first and then she said: "They are innocent." She repeated twice that: "The bishop has made a mistake... let them remain in Mostar... they can say mass sometimes but may they be careful to stay away from attention until things calm down. They have no faults..."

    April 16, 1982. Yesterday while we were with Our Lady we asked her if we could pray an Our Father for them (Vego and Prusina). She answered immediately: "Yes you can", and she prayed with them. When we finished the prayer she smiled and said to me: "Those two are constantly on your mind." I answered: "You're right". April 26, 1982. Our Lady: "The bishop has no real love of God in his heart. Regarding the bishop, may Ivica and Ivan remain calm. What the bishop is doing is contrary to the will of God, yet he can do as he pleases, but one day justice as you have never seen shall be revealed."

    10. Vicka never denied that Our Lady said these things or that she wrote these things down in her diary. The assurance and authenticity of this can be best confirmed by a cassette taped by Rev. Grafenauer during his talks with Vicka and Marija. He left taped copies of the cassette in the parish of Medjugorje, with the bishop and he left one with the Bishop's Conference in Zagreb. The cassette should be heard!

    A conversation with Vicka: "The bishop has the duty to judge whether or not this is Our Lady..." said Rev. Grafenauer.
    Vicka: He can judge as he wants, but I know it's Our Lady.

    Graf: The Church says that those who are confident in themselves, that this itself is a sign that Our Lady is not in question here.
    Vicka: Let those who are doubtful remain doubtful, I'm not.
    Graf: This is not a good sign... you once told the bishop that he should listen more to Our Lady than to the Pope.
    Vicka: Yes I did.
    Graf: This means that the bishop should listen to you more than to the Pope.
    Vicka: No, not me.
    Graf: But the bishop doesn't know what the phenomenon is and perhaps it is not Our Lady.
    Vicka: Yes it is Our Lady.
    Graf: You told the bishop that he is to blame and that those two (Vego and Prusina) are innocent and that they can perform their priestly duties.
    Vicka: Yes I did.
    Graf: Can they hear confession? Did Our Lady mention this?
    Vicka: Yes.
    Graf: If Our Lady said this and the Pope says that they cannot...
    Vicka: The Pope can say what he wants, I'm telling it as it is!
    Graf: See, this is how one can come to the conclusion that this is not Our Lady... when the Pope says no, they cannot celebrate Mass, and they cannot hear confessions, and then on the other hand, Our Lady says they can do both, this cannot be!
    Vicka: I know what is right (What Our Lady said).
    Graf: This cannot be true. I would put my hand into fire to testify that this is not Our Lady speaking. When a person has a greater gift there also exists a greater danger that the devil could be at work upon this person.
    What a degrading humiliation of Our Lady! From these statements she is destroying obedience in the Church, obedience to the bishop, to the heads of the OFM Order, and to the Holy father. She is defending Vego!

    11. The apparition in Cerno. Cerno is a village not far away from Medjugorje. The eighth day after the beginning of the apparitions in Medjugorje there was an "apparition" near Cerno. The "seers" told Rev. Jozo Zovko, the pastor of Medjugorje at the time, of this happening the evening of the event. They mentioned that Our Lady said four or five times that she would appear three more days, that is, on July 1, 2, and 3rd. This was taped on cassette and publicized by Rev. Ivo Sivric OFM. The cassette was reproduced. A few years later Rev. Janko Bubalo published a book titled: A thousand meetings with Our Lady. This is a book of conversations with Vicka. Vicka does not mention this event, therefore Rev. Bubalo asked whether or not Our Lady said "only three more days". Vicka responded that she does not remember!

    It is evident that Vicka is speaking falsehoods and that Our Lady cannot say that which Vicka is saying. Vicka is fabricating these statements. Should this remain unknown to the rest of the world? Evil (such as speaking falsehoods about Our Lady) must not be done in order to obtain a good (such as pilgrimages, prayers, etc.)

    12. "Seer" Marija Pavlovic. Here is a written account of the taped conversation between Rev. Grafenauer and Marija:
    Graf: Did Our Lady say that the bishop is to blame?
    Marija: Yes.
    Graf: Did she say that Vego and Prusina were not to blame?
    Marija: Yes.
    Graf: When Our Lady says that the bishop is to blame this immediately appears suspicious and we could conclude that this is not Our Lady speaking. The seers are apparently spreading word around that the bishop is to blame.
    Marija: Our Lady told us this.
    Archbishop F. Franic, Laurentin and many others know all this, yet they remain silent. What kind of theology can accept these statements by Our Lady through the declarations of the "seers" that their Teacher, Pastor and Liturgist - the bishop, who has legally received his duty from Christ through the Church, has no love of God in his heart, that he is declared a sinner throughout the world, that he should convert and that prayers will be said in Medjugorje for this intention? There were even statements made that Jesus himself would pray for the bishop so that the bishop would believe and then take better action in favor of the events in Medjugorje. To say that the bishop is to wait for Our Lady's judgment is an absurdity. It is an offense against Our Lady the Mother of the Church. God knows that I am not without sin, and that Our Lady could criticize me, yet God alone is the judge. I have never been reprimanded or warned by the Holy See for my episcopal service.

    13. The creator of Medjugorje, Rev. Tomislav Vlasic, amongst other things has published and distributed in many languages a seventeen page booklet titled: A calling in the Marian year, Milano, March 25 1988. This regards the founding of a prayer group for young men and women (from Medjugorje) who would live together (Parma, Italy - something which has been unheard of in the history of the Church!) They would be the ones who would save the world. Our Lady apparently gave Rev. Vlasic and Agnes Heupel (a German woman supposedly healed in Medjugorje) the inspiration to establish and to lead this community together in a manner similar to saints Francis and Clare, as described by Vlasic. In order for this action to succeed, Rev. Vlasic asked Marija to add "her witnessing" on three pages. She is a member of this community and on April 21, 1988 she wrote: "Sento il bisogno..." - I feel the need... As can be concluded, Our Lady has given a set program to this community of the "Queen of Peace" and she leads this community through Rev. Vlasic and Agnes who give messages to the community. "I have been in the community for a month and a half. I have apparitions and Our Lady leads me in the mystery of suffering which is the foundation of this community. I must write down everything and publish this once Our Lady tells me to. I have understood God's plan which he began through Mary in the parish of Medjugorje." This quote is taken from pages 15 and 16 of Rev. T. Vlasic's text. The defenders of Medjugorje quickly understood that this community of young men and women living, sleeping, working and praying together in the same house would eventually destroy themselves and Medjugorje. Therefore, they sent their Provincial, Rev. Jozo Vasilj to Parma. He went together with the bishop of Parma, Msgr. B. Cochi and Rev. T. Vlasic to the Congregation in Rome. They were told there that the Church cannot allow such a community to exist and then Rev. T. Vlasic was ordered to dissolve the community and to return to Herzegovina. Vlasic did not obey immediately, yet he returned later. This is what was explained to me by Rev. Jozo Vasilj regarding the community.

    14. The same Marija Pavlovic made another public declaration on the 11th of July 1988. On a single sheet of paper, distributed in the same manner as the earlier statement, she mentioned: "I feel a moral obligation to declare before God, Our Lady (the Madonna), and the Church... from the text of A calling... it appears as if I gave Our Lady's answer to the question put forward by Rev. T. Vlasic, etc. I now declare that I never sought from Our Lady (the Madonna) a confirmation of the work of Rev. Vlasic and Agnes Heupel... my first declaration... does not correspond to the truth. Rev. Vlasic suggested to me a few times (N.B.) that I as one of the "seers" should write a declaration which the world expects... Everything I said does not correspond to the truth. This I declare before the Blessed Sacrament." Marija Pavlovic.

    15. Marija does not deny that she gave her first statement. Rev. T. Vlasic sought statements from her many times and this obviously turns out to be manipulating with one of the "seers". So we can conclude that Marija has consciously spoken falsehoods on the first or second occasion. She has lied and this she attributes to Our Lady. It is evident that she (Marija) is a toy in Rev. Vlasic's hands. This was clear to me even earlier yet up till now, I didn't have material proof to back this up. Rev. T. Vlasic has manipulated with all the "seers" in the same fashion. Under this type of manipulation Marija saw how Our Lady cried when someone mentioned the bishop at a prayer meeting: "From Our Lady's eye flowed forth a great tear. The tear ran down her face and disappeared into a cloud under her feet. Our Lady began to cry and she ascended to heaven crying" (Aug. 22, 1984). An obvious fabrication by Rev. T. Vlasic intended to frighten the bishop.

    Why don't the defenders of Medjugorje mention these two statements of Marija? Must these "ugly" things be hidden from the world because there are many "conversions" in Medjugorje? (Laurentin). Laurentin writes in his book Dernieres Nouvelles 3, on page 27, that a certain monsignor asked Marija to pray for a message from Our Lady for his priests. Marija answered: "Our Lady said that they should read Laurentin's book and spread it around"!

    It is a terrible sin to attribute one's own lies to Our Lady. When the world learns of this, who will believe them anymore? They have been discredited. No one can destroy this material evidence. It will be reproduced and spread by word of mouth. I know well that there are many who disregard such material. They accept the events of Medjugorje irrationally, with great emotion and with personal interests. They are blind, but these documents will remain a part of the history of the Church and of Mariology.

    16. The "seer" Ivan Dragicevic. Regarding the "great sign", Vicka mentions this 13 times in the diaries, 14 times it is mentioned in the Parish chronicle, 52 times on the cassettes, and innumerous times in talks with the bishop. In the spring of 1982, I asked the "seers" to write everything they knew about the sign without making the "secret" public. The way I suggested they do it was to write down information on paper in duplicate. Then this would be sealed in an envelope and a copy would remain with them, and one with the bishop. When the "sign" occurs, then we would open the envelopes and see whether or not the "sign" was predicted. Rev. Tomislav Vlasic, pastor of Medjugorje at the time, told the "seers" to say that Our Lady said not to write anything down for nobody, and so they didn't. Ivan Dragicevic was in the franciscan minor seminary at Visoko, Bosna at that time and he wasn't informed of this on time. Two members of the first Commission, Dr. M. Zovkic and Dr. Z. Puljic (now bishop of Dubrovnik), went to visit Ivan in Visoko. They gave him a sheet of paper which was somewhat greenish in color with questions typed out on it. Ivan wrote down the content of the "sign", dated the document and signed it in their presence without a word or any sign of fear. A few years later, Laurentin wrote that Ivan told him personally that he wrote absolutely nothing down on that sheet of paper and that he tricked the two members of the Commission. On March 7, 1985, three members of the Commission went to ask Ivan if what Laurentin writes is true. Ivan said it was true and that they could freely go ahead and open the envelope in the chancery office because in it they will only find a white sheet of paper. They came back to Mostar where the Commission was having a meeting and before all the members, they opened the envelope. In the envelope on a greenish sheet of paper they found written the content of the sign: Our Lady said that she would leave a sign. The content of this sign I reveal to your trust. The sign is that there will be a great shrine in Medjugorje in honor of my apparitions, a shrine to my image. When will this occur? The sign will occur in June.

    Dated: May 9, 1982. Seer: Ivan Dragicevic.
    After having heard this lie, the members of the first Commission wanted to end all further work, yet they stayed on. Within a few days of this event Rev. Slavko Barbaric OFM, took the "seers" somewhere and instructed them all, including Ivan, to write a declaration that Ivan did not disclose the sign!
    Ivan sent messages from Our Lady to the bishop. On April 24, 1984 Our Lady said the following regarding the bishop: "My son Jesus is praying for him so that he (the bishop) would believe and therefore take better action in favor of Medjugorje." She added: "How would he react if my son were to appear on earth? Would he then believe?"
    Regarding the Commission, Our Lady says only the following: "Pray, pray, pray! Think over and live the messages I have given and you will see why I have come." Ivan Dragicevic, Medjugorje.

    17. "Tell the bishop that I seek a quick conversion from him towards the happenings in Medjugorje before it's too late. May he accept these events with plenty of love, understanding and great responsibility. I want him to avoid creating conflicts between priests and to stop publicizing their negative behaviors. The Holy father has given all bishops the duty to fulfill certain tasks in their respective dioceses. Among these, bishops are to solve problems and arguments. The bishop is the spiritual father of all the parishes in Herzegovina. For this reason I seek his conversion towards these events. I am sending my second-last warning. If what I seek does not come about, my judgment and the judgment of my Son await the bishop. This means that he has not found the way to my Son Jesus." Our Lady told me to give you this message.

    With greetings.
    Bijakovici June 21, 1983.
    Rev. Tomislav Vlasic brought this document to me, which he more than likely wrote himself in a moment of exaltation.
    18. Ivan kept his own diary of the apparitions for a couple of years. This has not been revealed as Vicka's has not, nor the writings of the others. These are original fonts of the events, yet they are full of naive statements, clear falsehoods and absurdities. They are good proof of the fact that the "seers" do not see Our Lady or receive messages from her. These messages were written by someone else and they were given to Ivan for him to sign as his own. When Rev. Grafenauer brought excerpts from Vicka's diary to me, I later on asked Vicka to bring her diary to me. She wrote to me on May 7, 1983: "I have found out that excerpts from my diary are being distributed..." This was a very important point which the Commission accepted as good argument that the diary was written by Vicka herself or that she considered it her own. Later on, Rev. T. Vlasic, also came to this conclusion, and therefore in 1984, he declared before the Commission and myself, that Vicka did not write that letter to me but rather, that a franciscan did (probably Vlasic himself) and that he gave it to her to sign! There are many similar examples of manipulation, but none have such clear cut evidence as this.

    19. Secrets and secrecy. From the beginning of the "apparitions", the "seers", (obviously having been instructed in order to escape being controlled) have said that "Our Lady" speaks differently to each of them. When the "secrets" were fabricated, each was to have his/her own (60 in total) and no one was to reveal them to anyone. Mirjana and Ivanka received a letter from Our Lady which nobody was to read. In the beginning there were no moments of ecstasy nor avoiding the community. They spoke publicly and were spoken to. They only avoided the Commission. After having admitted that they were consulted, they asked "Our Lady" if they could write down the content of the "great sign" on paper and seal it in an envelope. "Our Lady" responded: NO! Ivan though, wrote down the sign and later on he said (which has been taped as well) that "Our Lady" did not scold him for doing this. The secrets were to be given to a priest (a franciscan). Why were they not given to the Commission, the bishop, or to the Pope? In the first months they often said that the "great sign" would come: very soon, quickly, and so on... When the first year ended, they changed their tone. Vicka wrote "Our Lady's life" for a year and a half, and this is a great secret which shall be published "when Our Lady permits." The Commission asked for this diary about Our Lady, yet "Our Lady" did not comply with their demand. Can the Commission just see the diary without taking it or opening it? No it cannot! This turns out to be a plot to make fools out of all those who are naive enough to wait for this sign until the end of the world. I have already declared earlier and now I repeat the same declaration that if Our Lady leaves a sign which the "seers" are speaking of, I'll make a pilgrimage from Mostar to Medjugorje (30 km) on my knees and beg the franciscans and the "seers" for forgiveness.

    20. Slander against the bishop. "The bishop also believed in the beginning". This is not true! While the communists were persecuting the franciscans, the "seers" and pilgrims, I defended all of them and therefore I did not change my mind "because of threats by the Republic commission or because the diocesan priests sought this from me." This is simply fabricated slander by many. While I was publicly defending the imprisoned franciscans, Rev. Jozo Zovko said during the investigations that the bishop is a 'wolf' and a 'hypocrite'. These are the exact words written down in his sentence. Zovko's lawyer, Vukovic, asked through a colleague what I had done to Zovko to deserve such heavy accusations. Rev. T. Vlasic often put "Our Lady's" words into the mouths of the "seers", such as "Our Lady's" affirmation that satan (in this case the bishop) is out to destroy her plan. He wrote this more clearly in a letter to friends in the Vatican. I complained about this accusation that he has called the bishop satan, in front of Vlasic and his Provincial. He did not deny my objection but rather, he justified his words by saying that he wrote this while under the influence of extreme emotion. A person can say something while under emotion, but this cannot be written down and translated into foreign languages.

    21. By their fruits. The most common argument of the defenders of Medjugorje is that the fruits of the events in Medjugorje prove that Our Lady is appearing there. Those who know a bit more than the pilgrims who come to Medjugorje say: the fruits of the staunchest defenders of Medjugorje show that they themselves do not believe in the apparitions. If all the "ugly things" could be made public then surely the answer would be clearly negative to everyone. Yet, Laurentin, Rupcic, Vlasic, Barbaric and others meticulously hide the truth. If the defenders of Medjugorje come across someone who is skeptical of the apparitions, they quickly isolate this person, accuse him of something or declare him mad (J.L. Martin). The majority of the pious public has naively fallen victim of the great propaganda, the talk of the apparitions and healings. These people themselves have become the greatest propaganda for the events. They do not even stop to think that the truth has been hidden by deliberate falsehoods. They do not know that not one miraculous healing has occurred that could have been verified by competent experts and institutions such as the "Bureau medical de Lourdes". No one knows of any healed from Herzegovina. Everyone knows that little Daniel, old Jozo Vasilj, Venka Brajcic and others cited in the first books about Medjugorje were not healed.

    22. Promises of healings are characteristic of the events. When they don't occur as promised, then they are denied because they were never taped or written down on paper. There have been many promises that have ended tragically. What interests us is whether or not "Our Lady" is giving these promises, or whether or not they are thought up by the "seers". The tragic end of Marko Blazevic as described by the retired archbishop of Belgrade, Msgr. Turk, says much regarding "promises" of healing. The archbishop writes May 22, 1984, that he was received as a patient of the Cardiology clinic at the Belgrade hospital. The archbishop received the bed that was previously occupied by Marko Blazevic of Buna, near Mostar, who was to go in for an operation. Mr. Blazevic told the archbishop and many other patients, doctors and hospital staff that Our Lady had promised, through the "seers", that the operation would succeed. A nun who assisted in the operating room, wrote to me later that Blazevic's wife and his daughter spoke to her with a fanatical type of faith in "Our Lady's promise". A certain doctor was also convinced in this promise. The patient did not wake up after the operation. During the operation, a group of patients prayed fervently outside the doors of the operating room. Many spoke of this incident which left many very disappointed and ashamed before people of other faiths and atheists. Rev. T. Vlasic, in his typical fashion of hiding the truth, succeeding in convincing the daughter of the late Mr. Blazevic, to go to the bishop to tell him that Our Lady only told them to pray, not that she promised them that the operation would succeed!!! I told her not to make a liar out of her late father or liars of the others to whom he spoke to.

    23. The franciscan and diocesan clergy. The relations between the franciscan and diocesan clergy regarding pastoral duties in the parishes of Herzegovina were established by a Decision of the Holy See in 1899 by the suggestions of the franciscans themselves and then bishop Paskal Buconjic OFM. According to this Decision the parishes were to be divided equally into two groups of 50% of the faithful between the clergy. Since there were no diocesan clergy at the time, the parishes that rightfully belonged to them were in 1923 left to the franciscans "ad nutum S. Sedis". Bishop Cule, the first diocesan bishop of Mostar, in 1948 was sentenced to 11 years and 6 months in jail. He served eight and a half years of this sentence before being released. After his jail term the number of diocesan clergy began to rise. In 1968, the Holy See ordered the franciscans to hand over five parishes to the diocesan clergy. They barely gave two parishes. In 1975 after many years of talks and consultations a Decree of the Holy See was issued regarding the division of parishes in Herzegovina. The franciscans publicly and collectively denounced this Decree even though they administer over 80 % of the faithful in the diocese of Mostar. In 1976, due to disobedience, the hierarchy of the franciscan Province along with then Provincial Silic, lost their authority and since then, the Province has been without its independence, and the General of the Order rules directly over the Province "ad instar". Another penalty was that in 1979, the franciscans from Herzegovina were not allowed to participate in the election of the General. The first point mentioned by the new General of the Order to his brothers in Herzegovina was: 'the development or creation of obedience to, and cooperation with the bishop in Herzegovina'. Disobedience prevails today as before, and "Our Lady" from the beginning has been defending disobedient franciscans. Vicka writes in her diary of the apparitions, that Our Lady said that the bishop is to blame for all the disorder in Herzegovina. (See no. 9). This is repeated many times. The franciscans themselves are divided. The franciscan opposition that defends Medjugorje succeeded in toppling their own "ad instar" superiors that developed good relations with the bishop, and they installed a group that defends Medjugorje. The new Provincial "ad instar", Rev. Jozo Vasilj, did not succeed in creating peace and order amongst his brothers so he escaped to the missions in Zaire and won't come back! (Fruits?!) He has been replaced by the Vice Provincial and the General has called for obedience from all or else the Province shall be abolished. "It is time that everyone take their own personal responsibility before judicial sanctions are made or the Province is abolished." (Acta Ordinis F.M. fasc. 1/89). The Province will not receive its own hierarchy until the Decree is completed. Three visitors of the OFM Order who came to the Province in 1988, said that there is not one franciscan in the Province who is in favor of completing the Decree. This opinion is exaggerated yet still important.

    24. This is only a portion of the "good fruits" of the events. The pilgrims, though, only know that the bishop "hates the franciscans". There are a good number of franciscans in the Province who cooperate well with the bishop and these franciscans do not believe in the apparitions either. Some of them have never set foot in Medjugorje.

    A number of good franciscans have begged me to write something so that together, we could start a battle against the lies of Medjugorje because they believe that "God will punish us franciscans severely because we have spread lies and falsehoods throughout the world and made money on them".

    Of the one hundred diocesan priests in the dioceses of Herzegovina, not one believes in the apparitions. Of the 42 bishops of Yugoslavia (ordinaries, auxiliaries and retired), only one has been outspoken in declaring his belief and has defended the events. Of the 15 members of the first Commission, which was formed by the bishop of Mostar with the help of there(?) bishops and provincials from Yugoslavia, 11 of the members said that there is nothing supernatural in the events of Medjugorje, 2 (franciscans) claimed that the apparitions are authentic, 1 member said that there was something "in nucleo" (in the beginning) and 1 abstained. That which the Commission worked on for three years, the Holy See (contrary to what has been spread by the defenders of Medjugorje) never asked for, or saw, or gave a judgment of. Neither did the Holy See abandon the bishop.

    25. From the beginning of the events I warned the franciscans that they must wait for the judgment of the Church, so that together we can search for the truth. The leaders of the events though, had as their aim to bring the masses as soon as possible to Medjugorje, obtain a lot of money for propaganda and use Our Lady for their battle against the bishop. They fabricated miracles regarding the sun. Many pilgrims damaged their eyes from staring into the sun. They cited 50, 150, 200 and 300 healings and they spoke of all sorts of things seeing that the faithful believed everything they said, especially when archbishop F. Franic and Laurentin were there to back them up. The faithful in Medjugorje look upon the events as they are instructed, as is the case in all other places of apparitions be they true or false. The marveling and excitement here has been regarded at times as leading to great blindness and fanaticism.

    26. The Italians know well the "story" of Gigliole Ebe Giorgini, the foundress of the false order of "Pia Opera di Gesu Misericordioso". Separated and remarried civilly, she spent time doing quackery. She gathered young women for their order and she received and earned great amounts of money. She had two priests in her service and many houses. She led a double life and had false stigmata which she made herself. Her "sisters" followed her fanatically and they called her Mamma Ebe. She had male vocations as well, but some who left her later on, declared that she led an immoral life. She had many jewels and gold, two yachts, 32 furs, etc. Many in the Church objected to her way of life, while others fanatically defended her, citing good fruits. She even received praise from two bishops. Twice during the night police raided her room in the mother house and they found her in bed with one of her seminarians. A scandal broke out and she was sentenced twice to many years in prison along with a franciscan who was her confessor. The press wrote for years about this scandal. An illicit film was made as well, yet her followers fanatically and blindly defended her even when the order fell apart. According to them, she was a saint who attracted many vocations and this was argument enough for many that from the "fruits" she was obviously inspired by God! Religious blindness is extremely hard to cure. Fanaticism brought the beginning of the heresies in the church, today it's the foundation of sects.

    The Protestant pastor Rev. Jim Jones developed a great charitable organization in southern Chicago and he gathered great sums of money and many fanatical followers of his sect. In order to be freer in their work, about 1000 of them, went to Guyana, South America where they established "Jonestown" as their new home. They established a dictatorship and fanatical obedience to their "Messiah". Much was written about terrible things that went on, about the immorality of Jones and how some tried to escape the community but were caught and killed. Then they were without money. Rumors spread that the American army would intervene, so Jones ordered them to retreat to the jungle. Seeing no way out, he called on everyone to give up their lives in order to travel to eternity. Over 900 of them came with cups to a huge pot in order to drink poison and then fell dead. What gave them the strength to commit suicide? Fanaticism! Yet when the Christian faithful hear of apparitions and miracles they easily accept these events as facts without being at all critical of the events. They are then caught up in their blindness and fanaticism. Whatever is spoken is believed automatically, such as, that ordinary rosaries in Medjugorje turn to gold! And people actually believe this!

    27. This blindness towards the events in Medjugorje has also caught some priests and bishops. Many priests from Italy, (such as Amorth, Rostral and others), easily could have heard that the bishop, the Commission, the bishops of Yugoslavia, a portion of the franciscans and all the diocesan priests do not believe in the events. Yet, they avoided the truth, even though I received everyone who inquired about the events and gave them my time. I'm particularly surprised by the lack of collegiality by some bishops. Nobody has to accept my judgment, but everyone is obligated by conscience to study well the events of Medjugorje before taking a portion, especially if that person has a position of authority in the Church, as bishops do.

    "What have they done to you Our Lady!" For nine years they have been dragging you along as a tourist attraction. They have been speaking with you whenever it pleased them, as if you were a bank teller. They have fabricated messages, and they say that you come and appear there, but beyond their own arguments they have nothing to prove that what they say is true. The whole world is in expectation of a "great sign" and the naive still wait and believe. Unfortunately this false sensation will bring great disgrace and scandal upon the Church. Those who lead the events are not converting even though the threat of the abolition of the Province by the General hangs over them.

    This is only a small compilation of that which I would like to write about. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to expand further, with precise documentation and publish a book on these events.

    28. There are many prayers and pious activities in Medjugorje. Some say that there have been conversions as well. I have received indeed many truly touching letters, and I feel sorry for those who will sooner or later be disappointed. But there has also been fanaticism, superstition and misinformation in the events of Medjugorje. I have also received many rude accusations in the mail which I cannot mention, all in the name of the "Queen of Peace". That which is positive in these events cannot justify the falsehoods and lies that have been spread in order to win the world over for God. Jesus said: "I have come into the world to witness to the truth." The Church would easily be able to attract the masses if it dropped the sixth commandment, if divorce were allowed, if it let everyone believe and do what they wanted. But, Jesus went on the cross for the truth, and the martyrs gave up their lives for the truth. St. Paul writes to his faithful: "If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed." (Gal 1,9). Today, many prayer groups all over the world pray from Rev. Ivica Vego's prayer book and meditate over the supposed messages of Our Lady as it these things were more important than the Bible and the teaching Magisterium of the Church. I do believe despite these events, that Our Lady shall beg the necessary graces for the Church in order for it to live Christ's truth.

    I know that there will probably be many sincerely pious souls that will misunderstand me and consider me an enemy of Our Lady. I have been to Lourdes many times and to other shrines that have been tied in with apparitions that the Church has recognized. What I am doing is defending the truth, defending the Church, and I pray to God that I be able to give up my life for this.

    29. Those who have written favorably about Medjugorje have sold their books well and have made great profits. Unfortunately, those who have written critically about these events have not fared so well. Their work has come against such organized resistance from the promoters of these so-called apparitions that they have, in fact come against a boycott.

    Msgr. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar, 1990

    For the other side of this story, I suggest the following publications:

    Dr. IVO SIVRIC, OFM (a franciscan born in Medjugorje now living in St. Louis, USA), La face cachée de Medjugorje, tome I, 1988, p.400 (French edition), Editions Psilog, C.P. 300, Saint-Francois-du-Lac, Quebec, Canada J0C 1M0. Tel. (514) 568-3036.

    IDEM, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, volume I, 1989, Ed. Psilog, Saint-Francois-Du-Lac, Quebec (English version)

    E. MICHAEL JONES, Medjugorje: The Untold Story, Fidelity Press, 206 Marquette Ave., South Bend, IN 46617, USA. 1988, pp. 133.

    Idem, Medjugorje: The Untold Story II, Fidelity Press, South Bend 1989, pp. 144.

    P. A. GRAMAGLIA, L'Equivoco di Medjugorje, Apparizioni mariane o fenomeni di medianita? Claudiana, Torino, 1987, pp.172

    Msgr. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar