Medjugorje – A reasoned article from the Catholic Herald

Over the past 25 years, millions of Catholics have flocked to the Bosnian town of Medjugorje — where, it was commonly asserted, the Blessed Virgin Mary was appearing regularly — for a religious experience.

Despite appeals from the local bishops, public confrontations between the Franciscans who staffed the parish church and Church authorities, the flood of pilgrims has barely stopped, forcing the local bishop to once again proclaim that apparitions of the Virgin Mary are not occurring there, and pleading with the “seers” to stop the hoax they are perpetrating on gullible Catholics.

In addition, the bishop firmly warned any Catholic priests who come to Medjugorje that they are not to preach, teach, or write about the so-called apparitions, and he reminded pilgrims that pilgrimages are not allowed by Church authorities.

During a Confirmation on the Feast of Corpus Christi, Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno devoted the second part of his homily to the alleged apparitions, saying flatly that “I would be an irresponsible minister of the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ, if today I were not to publicly advise, from this place and on this occasion as well, to all those interested throughout the world, that in this local Church of Mostar-Duvno, there exists something similar to a schism”.

There appears in The Catholic Herald a reasoned article from Francis Phillips:
Medjugorje is generating what the Devil loves most: disobedience
By Francis Phillips on Friday, 11 February 2011

Pilgrims gather around a statue of Mary in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNS/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. I have been to Lourdes on several occasions, largely drawn by the personality of St Bernadette herself. Being chosen by Our Lady as her messenger did not make Bernadette holy; it was how she lived her life afterwards, especially during the 13 years she spent at the convent in Nevers: often in pain, unable to take part in the regular life of the community because of her ill-health, lonely, isolated and constantly belittled by the mistress of novices, she nevertheless bore her crosses with exemplary patience.

St Bernadette has been on my mind ever since I got sent a YouTube film recently, advertising Medjugorje. J Edgar Hoover once said that the only certainties in life were death and taxes. I would add a third: controversy over Medjugorje. It seems that Catholics today are divided into two camps: you are either “for” Medjugorje or “against”. This, needless to say, has led to much unseemly in-fighting within the Church.

What annoyed me about the YouTube presentation (apart from the muzak and the hushed and reverential voice of the narrator) was its blatant way of referring to the alleged apparition as “Our Lady”, as if this were a foregone conclusion. It isn’t. I was further nettled by statements seeming to show that the late pope, John Paul II, as well as Mother Teresa, both “believed” in it, as if to demonstrate that the apparitions must be true, simply because of the witness of these two holy heavyweights.

I am not an expert on the subject of these alleged apparitions. But I have read enough of St John of the Cross to know what he means by “spiritual gluttony” in my encounters over the years with adherents of the place. One lady told me excitedly of her rosary turning to gold; another had been overwhelmed by watching the sun dance; a third became very angry very quickly when I expressed a little caution in my response to her assertion that Medjugorje only brought forth good fruits.

My own instinct is to think that Our Lady has not appeared thousands of times to the supposed seers, or given them dozens of different “secrets”. Nor do the seers themselves live lives like St Bernadette. Of course, you don’t have to be a saint to see Our Lady, as I said above; but there seems to be nothing humble, holy or hidden about the later lives of the Medjugorje “seers”.

Actually, what I think as a private person, or what the late pope wrote in a private letter to two friends who had sent him literature about Medjugorje, or indeed what the saintly Mother Teresa is said to have said, is neither here nor there; it is what the Church thinks that matters. What the Church thinks about alleged apparitions is left to the local Ordinary to investigate and pronounce.

Four years after the Lourdes apparitions of 1858, and after a lengthy investigation, the local bishop pronounced them authentic. In the case of Medjugorje, both Bishop Zanic of Mostar and his successor, Bishop Peric, fully investigated the phenomenon and decided that nothing supernatural was taking place. So why are bandwagons of pilgrims still going there? The answer probably lies in Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion by Donal Foley, available from Theotokos Books. Foley has his vociferous detractors, naturally enough, but he has done his homework and reading his book reinforced my own sceptical instincts. In particular, the scandalous behaviour he describes of some of the Franciscans closely associated with the place, seems shocking: Fr Slavko Barbaric, who died in 2000 and who I was told by one of the faithful at the time “has been taken by Our Lady straight to heaven”, had actually had his faculties for hearing confession withdrawn by Bishop Peric several months before his death; Fr Zovko, who was refused permission to celebrate Mass in Washington in 2002, had had his faculties also revoked; worst of all, Fr Tomislav Vlasic, deeply involved in the early years of Medjugorje, was laicised and dismissed from the Franciscan order very recently, in July 2009, for various misdemeanours including some against the Sixth Commandment.

Bishop Peric has spoken of other problems, apart from disobedient Franciscans: religious communities established without diocesan permission and ecclesiastical buildings erected without approval. What is going on? A sound Canadian priest once said to me, when I asked him about the “good fruits” of Medjugorje: “The Devil doesn’t mind a few thousand people becoming better Catholics after going there if, as a result, he’s got millions of Catholics being disobedient to the authority of the Church.”

Obedience is the issue. It’s what the Devil hates like poison. You can imagine Screwtape rubbing his hands with glee. St Bernadette was once asked what she feared most; her reply was: “Bad Catholics”.


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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19 Responses to Medjugorje – A reasoned article from the Catholic Herald

  1. Brother Burrito says:

    Excellent post Gertie.

    My gut instinct has always been against Medjugorje. It seems to me to have the same odour as the ‘Loch Ness monster’, i.e., a tourist trap.

    There are some youtube videos showing a ‘miracle of the sun’. These show the sun becoming a black spot when captured on video footage. This is merely an artifact caused by the camera sensor’s chip being overloaded by the brightness of the sun, and returning a ‘black signal’ to the camera’s recording apparatus. Try it yourself, anywhere on the planet-warning, it isn’t good for your camera.

    Mass hysteria explains all the other phenomena. I agree that the ‘seers’ do not appear to have been moved to humble obscurity by their locutions, in contrast to St Bernadette or Sr Lucia


  2. patphillips1 says:

    Humble obscurity? Far from it. Fame and prosperity. Check out this sites:- (this is the bishop of Mostar’s official site – English section)


  3. rebrites says:

    Vulgar McMansions and package tours notwithstanding, (I think the Medjugorje business is a swizz of epic proportion) if I have a vision of Divinity, does that mean I should then become a nun, or a recluse, or somehow quietly fade into genteel poverty for the rest of my life afterward, in order for my revelation to be considered authentic?

    Seriously, I can think of a few people whose revelations pushed them right OUT of their quiet respectability, violating all kinds of norms for “proper religious behavior” — St. Teresa of Avila, for one. Jonah. King David… and look at St. Paul!


  4. Brother Burrito says:

    I suppose it depends on the genuineness of your revelations, and what they suggest you should do with them.

    Obedience to Mother Church, notwithstanding, of course.


  5. Pingback: This and that… « Joyful Papist

  6. john konnor says:

    Medjugorje is a sham…Jesus said we must bear our cross in order to follow him…to bear a cross is a difficult undertaking comprising many times it will be painful…now many of the people who espouse medjugorje talk of the tranquility they feel and the peace..well during Jesus’ passion do you think he felt peace and tranquility?..if our life is to be a continual way of the cross it will be very hard however we have prayer and the saints to comfort us…to refer to prayer for only peace and tranquility is a form of spiritual gluttony…to love God for consolations only is a subversion of catholicism…now the devil delights if the conversions or fruits of medjugorje are based on emotion alone this means the fruit is bad yet on the outside appears good…this is the devil’s’w*y of counterfeiting good fruit for bad…the rind of the fruit looks good because it is all emotion and it is tranquil…however the flesh of the fruit meaning the doctrine and the intellectual judgement is very bad indeed..the fruit is spiritually defective…it is fruit based on human machination it is not fruit fit for the king however it seems good for human consumption….so you can see how medjugorje is a deception… I failed to mention we also have the church her tradition and scripture doctrine and revelation made to the apostles. Which also provide a great deal of solace on our way of the cross…remeber we offer our sacrfices at the mass…with no pain we have to sacrifice…so catholicism based on peace and tranquility is empty…it is bad fruit indeed


  7. john konnor says:

    I meant to say with no pain we have no sacrfice sorry thanks:-)


  8. toadspittle says:

    Very interesting and enlightening comment, John. Makes sense to me.

    What I would also be interested to know is how one distinguishes “true” apparitions from “false” ones. They all tend to look the same to me.

    But I suppose we’d all like to know how to do that.


  9. john konnor says:

    Well anyone who has decided to follow the spirtual life …after a certain period will know that owing to our fallen nature we are more prone to cling to our lower appetites sense and touch and concupiscence …the intellect is the highest of the faculties and everything we perceive must pass through the cognitive intellect before we can assign it to an action of the will…so due to our fallen nature we cling inordinately to delights and things not suited to the spiritual jouirney…as Jesus said the spirit is willing yet the flesh is weak…that is why a wise spiritual director is important…in this case we have the local bishop in good standing who has the authority to make a judgement…if we are true followers of Christ we will honour the bishop just as Jesus honoured his father in his passion…not my will but yours father he said…so too we owe pravtical obedience..if the bishop is wrong we still do not err since we gain great virtue by mortifying our will…with any apparition a wise advisor will tell the recipient of the vision to ignore it…it is a test of obediencea…if God wishes to speak it will happen none the less…however obedience to a spiritual elder will gain the greatest crown…since the adherents will in the process obey the traditions of the church since the apostles are the rightful holders to bind and to loose…take care


  10. john konnor says:

    …As well it is written that the devil is able to disguise every virtue but not obedience since this is the sin which caused his fall…the rebellious angels cannot serve mere creatures…their nature is fractured in this respect and so they are unable to exhibit any form of obedience to a mere creature…when lucifer was shpown the Christ to come as true God and man he rebelled owing to his pride he clung to his beauty and his inordinate self love… We see no obedience to rightful authority in medjugorjemmm


  11. toadspittle says:

    Many thanks, once again, John.

    It’s high time we had a bit of plain, good old, common sense on CP&S!

    Hardly anyone on here had the foggiest clue what anyone else was talking about, until now.

    Your posts are a breath of fresh air – veritable good deeds shining in a naughty world!

    We all agree (on that, at least), I think. Maybe, anyway.


  12. john konnor says:

    well thanks toad …i know i may sound opinionated and cocksure of myself and that could be misconstrued as being prideful…but i do believe i am making sense here….. i was just wondering why does my avatar look like an angry physics professor …just wondering thanks again for letting me post take care


  13. toadspittle says:

    …Your avatar is, like many other aspects of life – given free will – in your own hands, John.
    You can, within reason, and a very small area, be whatever you want to be.
    Existentialism, really.

    (Only don’t ask Toad how to do it. He has no clue. No good at machinery. Can’t even understand wheelbarrows.)


  14. john konnor says:

    bodies in heaven possess the aspect such that their form perfectly actualizes their potency …this means that in this way they are not subject to change(immutable)….from this we can continue…medjugorje and its visions can be refuted with some simple theology …and a bit of applied logic… try to set emotion aside for a scripture reveals…The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it? ……Aug. 2, 1981: That evening during the apparition, those present followed one another in order to touch “the veil, the head, the hand, the dress” of the apparition. “At the end the Virgin seemed dirty, full of stains.” (Bubalo, p.73-74)
    heresy-The soul is not defiled by inferior things, by their own power, as though they acted on the soul: on the contrary, the soul, by its own action, defiles itself, through cleaving to them inordinately, against the light of reason and of the Divine law.-thomas aquinas summa theologica….. since Mary is in heaven with a glorified body anything earthly could not defile her in any way… since she is glorified and impassable in heaven….. her nature is eternally configured it cannot be changed since she is one with God in heaven… anything attached to God cannot be altered in any way… God is immutable and so the things of heaven are since they are like him… this is also an apparition it is hard to believe that it has any temporal character namely that it is made of solid matter that can be touched….now it is “impossible” that the sins of humans can have any effect on the celestial body of Mary who is glorified and impassable in heaven…however the seers stated it was the people’s “sins” that sullied the Virgin’s veil… God will bring good out of bad… but the fallout from medjugorje will be tremendous after the vatican concurs with the local bishop that the visions are not from heaven….any good at this place stems from the sacraments of the church and any sincere prayer that has been made through people owing to their belief and faith in God …their only fault being invincible ignorance ortheir failure to properly research this place and placing some of their faith at the whims of either liars or seers who themselves are victims of some more veiled and sinister collusion….pray for me…as i will continue to pray for us all…God bless


  15. toadspittle says:

    There is much in what you say, John.
    (I think we are all agreed.)


  16. john konnor says:

    …What a world of wonder we live in…when all our human ministrations are confounded by the ethereal caul of wisdom…the creator’s’footprint encumbered in the congeniality and humility of a rainbow’s’ shimmer reflected in some toad spittle…


  17. Pastorious says:

    Well said, john. This leaves an inexplicable eerie feeling, especially the haunting phrase “the congeniality and humility of a rainbow’s shimmer”.


  18. GEOFF KIERNAN says:

    John Konnor: Just came across this…. It is high praise indeed when it comes from Mr Toadspit. I look forward to future missive from yourself since it seems your have won the respect of the Toad.
    (not the only reason)
    And Toad, it gives me an insight that there is more to you than meets the eye… God Bless you both. I just need to be assured now that John Konnor and the Toad are NOT one and the same person


  19. Toad says:

    You do Toad too much honour, Geoff.
    We are separate individuals, not an Unholy Duality.


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