Concerning Medjugorje

On the 24th of June in 1981, six kids went up on Probrado Hill in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, to sneak a smoke. While there, they saw a beautiful young girl who introduced herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary “Queen of Peace.”. Ever since, gullible Catholics and Catholic wannabes have been traveling to the site, which conveniently is located near a Catholic monastery, to visit the place Catholic Mary visits and, presumably, to enhance their own personal sense of holiness.

It is interesting to me that people continue to swarm to this site, given that no Church authority has validated the so-called apparitions as authentic. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Ecclesiastical Evaluation. The initial, informal, response of the Bishop Zanic of Mostar, in whose diocese Medjugorje is found, is said to have been favorable. However, it is alleged that comments attributed to the vision that was critical of the secular clergy and himself convinced him the visions could not be authentic. He nonetheless established a commission in 1982, comprised of theologians, scientific experts and religious superiors to investigate the Medjugorje events. Its three year study produced a vote from two members of the commission in favor of supernaturality, one that it was authentic initially but no longer so, one abstention and eleven votes that nothing supernatural was occurring there. Letter of Bishop Zanic

Since the Medjugorje events had exceeded the scope of a local event, Cardinal Kuharic, President of the Yugoslavian Bishops Conference, announced in January 1987 that a national commission would be established to continue investigating. This decision had been communicated to the Holy See, which stated that it accepted the judgment of the diocesan commission under the authority of the local bishop but urged, as well, that the work be continued at the national level. The Bishops' Conference's instructions to the faithful were that pilgrimages should not be organized to Medjugorje on the basis of its being supernatural and that the Marian devotion of Catholics should be in accordance with Church teaching.

In April 1991 the following declaration was made by the Bishops' Conference of the former Yugoslavia:

The bishops, from the very beginning, have been following the events of Medjugorje through the Bishop of the diocese [Mostar], the Bishop's Commission and the Commission of the Bishops Conference of Yugoslavia on Medjugorje.

On the basis of the investigations so far it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations. -- Colin B. Donovan, STL, (C) 1996/2006 Eternal Word Television Network, Inc/Colin B. Donovan, STL [emphasis in the original]

Well, Mother Church may not have placed her stamp of approval on the claims of authenticity of the Medjugorje apparitions, but this has apparently meant little to Catholics and others who want to believe that their Mary chose to hang out there. One self-declared Catholic theologian presented arguments in support of the validity of the apparitions:

1. Approved by the 'sensus fidelium' (mind of the faithful)

The claims of private revelation to the visionaries of Medjugorje is different from many of the other claims. These apparitions have continued for many years. Very many dioceses and parishes have sent pilgrims to Medjugorje. Very many Bishops and Priests support and approve of these pilgrimages. The 'sensus fidelium,' i.e. the mind of the faithful, has clearly given approval to this apparition.

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called 'private' revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. (CCC, n. 67)

7. The opposition of the local Bishop is not definitive.

The approval or disapproval of the local Bishop, concerning a claim to private revelation, is not infallible. In fact, even the Holy See does not and cannot rule infallibly on claims of private revelation. Nor has the Holy See ruled against Medjugorje using the fallible temporal authority of the Church.

Summary

Despite the opposition of a relatively small number of Catholics, and of the local Bishop, the apparitions and messages of Medjugorje have been widely accepted by the faithful. In my humble and pious opinion as a faithful Roman Catholic theologian, the claims of private revelation to the visionaries of Medjugorje are reliable and trustworthy--Ronald L. Conte Jr., Claims of Private Revelation: True or False?, © 2005 by author {Emphasis in original]

So much for submission to the Pope, etc. What follows is an extract from an article that appears on a website operated by what appear to be Catholic conservatives. I have not personally researched the information presented in this article, other than to do a most revealing Google search for “Father Ken Roberts,” so I post it here as unevaluated but provocative:

It's never a Christian thing to gloat over the misfortunes of others, and in the case of Father Ken Roberts we do not wish him any harm. We hope that his problems can be straightened out. What we cannot understand, however, is how no one checked him out before making him into another Bishop Sheen.

He was ordained in 1966 and within a few years had problems with pedophilia when he molested a young boy. After this he was sent to a Garland, Texas parish where he had problems again within a year and was removed. He was sent to St. Louis for psychiatric treatment. In 1989 he got into trouble with a young boy in Peoria, Illinois. In St. Louis he got into problems again and the St. Louis diocese had to make a payoff to a young boy in 1994. In 1995 Bishop Grahmann forced Ken Roberts into medical retirement and restricted his faculties after the diocese had to pay off a $30,000 out-of-court settlement from the Dallas Diocese. He was told to end all public ministry, including Mass and sacraments. He has been without faculties since 1995 and for periods of time before that, and yet he has continued to take pilgrimages of young boys to Medjugorje where he hears confessions and celebrates Mass at St. James Parish in Medjugorje without faculties. Most of the Franciscans at Medjugorje have not had faculties since 1979.--Unattributed, The “Fruits” At Medjugorje © 2006 Sword of Truth

Wow! If even a little of what is claimed in the above, and in the rest of the article, which I encourage all to read, it does appear that Medjugorje has become a playground and private hunting preserve for deviate and/or sexually-active priests, monks and nuns. I urge Catholic parents who are thinking about sending their kids to on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje to do a little research, some thinking and a lot of praying before buying airline tickets.

The editor of the conservative Catholic E-Zine, Sword of Truth, posted an editorial response to those who believe the Medjugorje apparitions to be authentic. His article begins:

When you ask about Medjugorje, it reminds us of a good friend of ours who we asked why he goes every year to an apparition that has been condemned by the Church. He said that he felt so much holiness there that it could not be false. He said that hundreds of people prayed rosaries in candlelight processions all night long. There were priests to hear confessions all day. There were images of the “virgin” that came out in his photographs at the site of the visions. There were rosaries that turned to gold. There were cures of the body and of the soul. He said, “I would rather believe in God than man.” Of course, what he means, without knowing it, is that he would rather believe the seer than the Church. That apparition is Bayside, New York.

What Bayside is to the ultra right wing Traditionalists, Medjugorje is to the ultra left wing Charismatics, the pluralists. Bayside gives to the Traditionalists support “from Heaven” of their divisions from the Church. Medjugorje gives to the Charismatics support “from Heaven” for their divisions from the teaching of the Church that “Where the Holy Spirit is, there is the Catholic Church. Where the Holy Spirit is not, there is not the Catholic Church.” The Holy Spirit cannot be found outside the Church, and yet, that is how the Catholic Charismatic Movement started, outside the Church. This is where they got their “spirit”. What's interesting is that those who believe in Medjugorje, do not believe in Bayside; and those who believe in Bayside, do not believe in Medjugorje. But the reasons they give for believing are the same - fruits.—Rick Salbato, Medjugorje: Editor's Reply, Sword of Truth, Vol. 2 No. 11, © 1999V

In his editorial, Salbato examines not only the Medjugorje fantasies but also a number of other so-called apparitions and the Catholic Charismatic movement. It most assuredly is worthwhile reading.

What do I think concerning Medjugorje? I consider this and all other claimed visitations by spiritual beings to be fantasies brought about by ignorance and excess piety and/or the venal machinations of evil men and women.

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