Faithful Await Vatican Verdict on Medjugorje

Cardinal Arinze, whose new book about Marian veneration will be released this month, tells the Register ‘it’s not so simple’ for Rome to rule on the matter.

By Edward Pentin (National Catholic Register’s Rome correspondent)

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Francis Arinze has said the continued wait for a papal decision on the authenticity of the Medjugorje apparitions shows they are not so easy to verify or disprove, but the important aspect to remember is that the Blessed Virgin Mary is venerated there.

Speaking to the Register March 13, the retired Nigerian cardinal stressed he is no authority on Medjugorje, but drew attention to the lack of unanimity on the authenticity of the apparitions and the lack of a papal decision on a 2010-2014 investigation ordered by Benedict XVI to look into the matter.

“The fact that, since then, we have had nothing officially publicized shows it’s not so simple,” said Cardinal Arinze, whose new book — Marian Veneration: Firm Foundations — will be published later this month. “If it were so clear, why have we not heard anything?”

He said lightheartedly he is “tempted to ask” Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) commission, what they advised the Pope to decide, but has refrained from doing so because the Italian cardinal is “bound to keep his mouth shut and let the Pope decide.”

The commission of specialists undertook a detailed study of reports of the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, which allegedly began in 1981. These visions continue regularly to this day, according to the shrine’s six “seers,” attracting hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year.

The Holy Father implied he was about to make a decision on the commission’s work in the summer of 2015, but the Vatican later denied any pronouncement was imminent.

Cardinal Arinze’s comments follow those of Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose diocese includes Medjugorje. In a Feb. 26 statement, the bishop said he and his predecessor have always been “clear and resolute” in their belief that the Blessed Virgin has never appeared at the famous pilgrimage site.

“These are not true apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Bishop Peric wrote. “The female figure who supposedly appeared in Medjugorje behaves in a manner completely different from the real Virgin, Mother of God, in the apparitions currently recognized as authentic by the Church.”

In his detailed statement, he also cited other examples connected to the apparitions to demonstrate “this is not the Virgin of the Gospels.”

Vatican Caution

The Medjugorje apparitions are currently not officially approved by the Church as being of supernatural origin (constat de supernaturalitate), but neither are they condemned by the Church as being false or invalid (constat de non supernaturalitate). Bishop Peric’s position as the local bishop is taken to be his “personal opinion,” according to a 1998 CDF letter.

The visions are instead considered non constat de supernaturalitate, which allows for personal belief in the authenticity of the apparitions along with personal (not diocesan sponsored) pilgrimages to the apparition site, pending the Pope’s awaited decision.

The Vatican remains cautious; and in 2013, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the CDF, asked the U.S. papal nuncio to instruct U.S. clergy and laity not to participate in any meetings, conferences or public celebrations in which the authenticity of the Medjugorje apparitions are taken for granted.

In his instruction, Cardinal Müller stressed the 1991 finding of the bishops of the former Yugoslavia, who asserted, “On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations.”

Notwithstanding the contentious debate over the visions, more important for Cardinal Arinze are the positive effects Medjugorje has had on the faithful who visit.

“One point that is not doubted is that people who go there actually repent. They actually go to confession, go to Mass — that is, they become better Christians,” he said.

He also pointed out that the Blessed Virgin Mary has not appeared at every shrine dedicated to her and gave as an example the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil. The Mother of God did not appear there, he explained, but fisherman found a statue of her in the ocean and brought it there, after which people visited the shrine and received graces by doing so.

“So it is a shrine, and whether she appeared there or not is a secondary question,” he said. “She doesn’t have to appear there to give grace.”

“The most important thing is that people venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary and that they venerate her in the correct way, that it changes their lives and that they become better Christians,” said Cardinal Arinze, a former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Archbishop Hoser’s Appointment

For this reason, he welcomed Pope Francis’ decision last month to appoint Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Prague, Poland, to be the Holy See’s special envoy to Medjugorje. The Vatican said the archbishop’s task will be of an “exclusively pastoral character,” to acquire a “deeper knowledge” of the pastoral situation there, especially the needs of pilgrims, and to ascertain “possible pastoral initiatives for the future.”

Archbishop Hoser is expected to finish his assignment by the summer.

The prelate’s work also is seen as needed, because of problems that have emerged from Medjugorje in the form of disobedience to Church authority and cases of religious communities being established without diocesan approval.

The Pope’s own views on Medjugorje are unclear, although some believe he appeared to allude to the apparitions when, in a talk to 140 superiors general of male religious orders and congregations last November, he said the real Madonna is not “at the head of a post office,” every day sending “a different letter” that says: ‘My children, do this and then the next day do that.’”

“The real Madonna is the one who generates Jesus in our hearts, a mother,” he said. “The superstar Virgin Mary, who seeks the limelight, is not Catholic,” he added. Francis made similar comments, also taken to be in the context of Medjugorje, in June 2015.

Seen in the context of the Pope’s remarks and Archbishop Hoser’s appointment, Bishop Peric’s statement was to be expected, according to Donal Anthony Foley, author of Medjugorje Revisited: 30 Years of Visions or Religious Fraud? More significant for him is that, in his statement, Bishop Peric focused on the first seven days of the alleged visions, and in particular transcripts of the taped conversations with the visionaries during that first week in June 1981.

These transcripts are “the key to understanding Medjugorje,” Foley believes, as they “reveal the serious problems with accepting the visions as genuinely supernatural,” an aspect he highlighted in his book.

Foley hopes that more people will pay attention to them, and he would like the Vatican to publish “an agreed and authentic” multilingual version of the transcripts to help the ordinary faithful “better understand the phenomena of Medjugorje.”

Echoes of Marpingen?

Given these ongoing questions, Foley believes Medjugorje will continue to be popular, but probably not as much as before. He noted the numbers of pilgrims to the shrine, which is particularly loved by Italians, have “dropped since the repeated remarks of Pope Francis on the subject have become better known.”

But like Cardinal Arinze, he values how some pilgrims have experienced “a change of heart, a conversion” there. He believes this is “more due to their use of the sacrament of confession than to the alleged visions,” which he believes are “highly suspect.”

Although he said it was on a smaller scale, he compared Medjugorje to the alleged Marian visions at Marpingen, Germany, which dated from the 1870s and led the area to be once labeled the “German Lourdes.” The place drew large crowds, especially in the 1930s and 1950s, before interest gradually waned. Then-Bishop Reinhard Marx of Trier issued a statement in 2005 denying the events there were of supernatural character.

“The fact that it took nearly a century for interest in Marpingen to finally die down probably indicates that we will have Medjugorje devotees with us for some time to come,” Foley said.

Whatever the truth behind the apparitions, for Cardinal Arinze, the pastoral effects of Medjugorje are “the most important thing.”

“If the effects are good,” he said, “we rejoice.”

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18 Responses to Faithful Await Vatican Verdict on Medjugorje

  1. johnhenrycn says:

    “…for Cardinal Arinze, the pastoral effects of Medjugorje are ‘the most important thing.’ “

    “Pastoral effects” also seem to be “the most important thing”, the pith and core, of Franciscanism – a modern yet primitive concept that says Christ’s clear teachings are no longer “the most important thing”, but something which can and should be interpreted to meet the needs, the mere current desires actually, of 21st century life.


  2. johnhenrycn says:

    The formerly important idea of “pastoral” has been corrupted to mean “whatever floats your boat”, if not in the mind of Pope Francis, certainly in those of his henchmen.


  3. LeoG says:

    “Bishop Peric’s position as the local bishop is taken to be his “personal opinion,” according to a 1998 CDF letter.”.

    And here lyeth the crux of the problem. ‘Our Lady’ would seem to agree. How ridiculous. This Bishop is orthodox and extremely patient, especially given that he is dealing with a bunch of Franciscan renegades who are very well known rebels and don’t even have the respect of their confreres in the surrounding region. Surely our Pope – who so very clearly wanted us to see him very much as Bishop of Rome – should, in his humility (cough…), simply defer to his peer, Msgr Peric, and put an end to the deception and accompanying circus. As Cdl Arinze says, it doesn’t stop it being a shrine and the Medj-heads will continue to believe in any case. But let them.


  4. kathleen says:

    Why is the Vatican taking so long to come up with their “verdict”? It is clearly evident that the Blessed Virgin Mary is not appearing in Medjugorje (seemingly at the click of the fingers to suit the tourists) and the only reason for the ongoing hoax is to line the pockets of the so-called seers and that of the municipality.

    I had a peep at the comments on the NCR site. This one, with my emphasis, sums up the situation pretty well I think:

    “I am not reassured by the “positive effects” experienced by pilgrims to Medjugorje. If the “apparitions” are found not to be genuine, some of these people will suffer a crisis of faith when the lie is exposed.
    I wonder whether it is ever appropriate to allow people to be lied to, even if there are “positive effects.” “Positive effects” based on lies are built on a faulty foundation —they will probably not last.
    I agree that the effects I would be more interested in, are the effects the “apparitions” have had on the seers and their inner circle, who presumably know the truth.”


  5. toadspittle says:

    People see exactly what they want to see. And they believe exactly what suits them.
    No more, no less.
    If they desire immortality, (which they all do, including me,) they then arrange things so they can have it. And who is to say we are wrong to want immortality?
    …Not me ( as long as it includes dogs,)


  6. toadspittle says:

    “If the “apparitions” are found not to be genuine, some of these people will suffer a crisis of faith when the lie is exposed.”
    The lie will never be exposed, because metaphysical “events” are obviously not subject to verification or falsification.
    Medjugorje is no more or less subject to serious “proof,” or disproof, than is Fatima.
    Take it or leave it. That’s all there is to it.

    How will the lie ever be exposed, Kathleen? (i agree it is a lie,)


  7. kathleen says:

    Toad @ 12:22

    More dictatorial Relativism, Toad, subordinating reality to your pampered self? Beware: God will not be mocked!
    Continue down this road – lying to yourself that you can have your cake and eat it, i.e., without needing to seek the Truth, or repentance, to pick up your cross and follow Christ – and you might find that this “immortality” you have so smugly “arranged” for yourself might not end you up where you wanted to be!

    Father George Rutler reminds us: “‘The truth shall set you free’ – (John 8:32). Denial of objective truth is slavery to the ego, Adam’s fantasy that he could be a god. But, as Pope Benedict said:

    “Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labelled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine,’ seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognise anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.

    We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An ‘adult’ faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth”.

    Edit: I’ve just “approved” your comment @ 13:57 that I spotted in pre-moderation.
    In answer to your question about the Medjugorje “apparitions”, I would assume the “lie” could be exposed primararily by the Vatican giving a clear round negative verdict on the matter – something it hasn’t done so far. The “seers” could also eventually admit they’d been faking them all along.


  8. toadspittle says:

    “More dictatorial Relativism, Toad, subordinating reality to your pampered self? “
    What’s “dictatorial”about my comment? More “dictatorial” than Catholicism? “Thou shalt not ask awkward questions.”? How “pampered”? Who’s pampering me? Myself, I suppose. What “reality” am I subordinating? Yours, no doubt.

    “…relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine…”
    I’d say the exact opposite: “Not carried about by any wind of doctrine…” No matter which religious institution it blows out from.

    “Denial of objective truth is slavery to the ego,”
    And naturally the only people with objective truth on earth are – Us.
    …Us being Catholics, Muslims, Lutherans, Atheists, etc.

    And as I asked before, why are you apparently willing to take the current Vatican’s word on
    Medjugorje, when you seem reluctant to take it on anything else?

    Right. Now censor this one, like the last one.


  9. kathleen says:

    More dictatorial Relativism, Toad, subordinating reality to your pampered self? “‘
    What’s “dictatorial”about my comment? More “dictatorial” than Catholicism? …

    Whoa. Toad, take it easy! Why complain, you who daily express here, ‘The Narcissist’s Dilemma: They Can Dish It Out, But…’?
    There is nobody more “dictatorial” than one who mocks all those who are not relatavists like themselves, “idiots” (in their mind) who acknowledge the existence of unchangeable truths! Catholicism is not “dictatorial”; it speaks the Truth revealed to Man by Christ and His Church for “those who have ears to hear”… But those who refuse to heed it can walk out the door; that’s their lookout. No one is forced to accept Christ’s Redemption, tragic and foolish though it would be not to do so.

    “Denial of objective truth is slavery to the ego”

    These were Father Rutler’s insightful words, not mine, but I fully endorse them. You, dear Toad, have done this statement full justice 😉.

    And, by the way, the commission set up by the Vatican to solve the Medjugorje problem, and made up of many (presumably) competent people, was set up long before Pope Francis got to sit on the Chair of Peter. Of course we should accept their final verdict…. when it comes!

    Happy St Patrick’s Day – your namesake if I’m not mistaken. Don’t overdo the vino tinto celebrations though 😀.


  10. toadspittle says:

    Ah. Saint Paddy’s Day. I hadn’t noticed. Not being in the Starts any more.
    Let the saint Trump worshippers drink green beer – and then expel it on the sidewalk.


  11. toadspittle says:

    It’s amusing (isn’t it, JH?) the notion that, “Toad can dish it out, but he can’t take it”?
    Toad is very happy to take everything CP&S can throw at him.
    …Just allow him to respond.
    By the way, Kathleen, I do acknowledge the eternal and invariable truths of logic and mathematics -and also The Categorical Imperative. And also the eternal moral truths of not killing, not lying, and tolerating the differing opinions of others – such as you, Luther, and the Pope. Not that I necessarily agree with any of them.


  12. johnhenrycn says:

    Just so it’s clear to my many thousands of fans around the world – I did not say: “Toad can dish it out, but he can’t take it.” As is often the case, Toad’s compositional laziness may have left my many thousands (etc.) with the wrong impression of what I truly think of him.


  13. E. says:

    Whoever has not been there should not judge. I have worked around that area and been there over 30 times along 20 years – ” Notwithstanding the contentious debate over the visions, more important for Cardinal Arinze are the positive effects Medjugorje has had on the faithful who visit.” I have been myself healed of an incurable disease, I have seen/taken over 2000 pilgrims return to their day to day live completely renewed. It is a blessing to see people praying for over 6 (six) hours non stop and returning home healed and happy and changed. As to what this Pope says, well…… Medjugorje is heaven on earth. Good Catholics deserve to go there and take away their doubts – it is sheer heaven!


  14. johnhenrycn says:

    “Whoever has not been there should not judge.”

    So much for the Crucifixion. So much for Fatima. So much for the Holocaust.


  15. johnhenrycn says:

    …but it’s far harder to disprove things that never happened. In the case of Medjugorje, we should prefer the pronouncements of the Church, even over eyewitness accounts such as yours. If the Church had said Fatima is mere superstition, I’d have accepted that and moved on, but it didn’t.


  16. ljsedivy says:

    Just because Medjugorje has borne good fruit doesn’t mean it’s true apparition. Personally, I feel that it is a YUUUGE distraction from Fatima…..and see how well that has worked over all these years. People need to focus on Fatima and discover the truth that has not been made public. Many have devoted their lives to putting together what has NOT been told to us. Seems it points to a “bad council” and a “bad mass”. (not to mention the consequences thereof….look to Akita for some of the missing parts of Fatima that were not revealed.)

    Anyone who has a devotion to Medjugorje I urge — STRONGLY urge you — to turn your focus to Fatima. Wear the brown scapular and pray your rosary daily. If you look through the lens of Fatima, I believe you will better understand the crisis in the church today.


  17. Darrin French says:

    YouTube, “Revisit Medjugorje”

    Late Feb 2017, the local Mostar Bishop mentioned his negative opinion regarding the alleged apparitions in Medjugorje. It should be known St. Pope John Paul II the Great had removed all jurisdiction from the Bishop of Mostar and his successors so that he has no authority to make a definitive statement either approving or condemning the alleged apparitions. Thus the Bishop’s statement is purely his opinion and holds no binding on the faithful.

    St JPII’s decision was reaffirmed by Pope Benedict XVI. The Mostar Bishop is permitted to act as any Bishop would within his own diocese with this one exception. Only the Vatican can make a definitive statement regarding the alleged apparitions. Unless and until Pope Francis gives jurisdiction back to the bishop of Mostar, it remains in the jurisdiction of the Vatican alone. We fully accept the final pronouncement from the Holy See what ever that may be. For more information go to and type“Revisit Medjugorje”.

    Medjugorje has quickly become the most controversial alleged Marian site in church history. It ranks in the top four most visited Marian sites on earth attracting over one million pilgrims annually. Jesus spoke of “good fruits” as a means to determine authenticity. The confessionals, Mass attendance, and amount of people returning to the church, and an increase in vocations are unlike anything on planet earth.

    Pope Benedict created a panel, a commission, consisting of theologians, medical doctors, psychologist, priests, scientists, and laypeople to study the alleged apparitions in 2010. The commission completed its findings less than five years later in 2014. These findings have yet to be published. Pope Francis has the document and has yet to pronounce its findings.

    Personally, I have visited Medjugorje on three occasions. Medjugorje helped me to take an active role and participation at Mass. As a result, I attend daily mass, recite a daily rosary with my family, go to confession at least once a month, and attend adoration.We have priests in our diocese who accepted the vocation of Holy Orders as a direct response to Medjugorje.

    The greatest fruit at Medjugorje is not the dancing sun or rosaries changing color, but a conversion, an ineffable love that penetrates deep within ones heart and mind, making the faith alive and most beautiful.

    The Pope too offered his negative insight. Note, a negative comment is not condemnation. The Pope is expressing his personal opinion. If the Pope was so certain, why is he not condemning the site and be done with it ?

    Let’s see what happens on Oct 13th, 2017!


  18. E. says:

    Today, Oct 13. I have been in Fatima as well, wonderful, as in Lourdes, wonderful, in Aparecida, Brazil, the largest Marian shrine in the world, wonderful – Praise be the Lord for the Maid He allowed to be Our Holy Mother!


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