The Medjugorje Apparitions:

Is It the Virgin Mary?

 

 

The "Virgin" of Medjugorje is portrayed in all her pictures as standing with her hands outstretched and upturned in typical Charismatic stance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirjana Dragicevic

 

Ivanka Ivankovich

Mirjana and Ivanka were the two first to see the "Gospa." They originally claimed that they were up on the hill above the village in order to tend to their sheep. However, later when questioned by Bishop Zanic, who reminded them that telling a lie under oath was perjury and a serious sin, Ivanka quickly changed her story that they were there to have a smoke.


 

 

 

 

 

 

The seers were exposed as not truly being in a state of ecstasy. See the proof in the story in the right column opposite this photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Davies, a highly respected and esteemed writer, author of many books and articles on the Catholic Church since Vatican II, has written a book entitled Medjugorje, A Warning exposing Medjugorje as a fraudulent apparition. His wife, who is Croatian, had been asked to translate the messages into English. After reading them, he told his wife not to bother with them as they were so trite in style and content as to be totally unworthy of Our Lady.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E. Michael Jones, the Editor of the Catholic magazineCulture Wars has done extensive research on the claimed apparitions. He believes that the apparitions may be of demonic origin as the Gospa uses occult New Age terminology in some of the messages. For example, right after the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference's Statement against the Apparitions at Medjugorje, she spoke of "turning negatives into positives," which Jones claims are words right out of a New Age manual.

 I feel obliged to alert our readers about the most widely known of the false apparitions in the world today. My aim is not to anger, insult or impugn the sincerity or the motives of those who genuinely believe in them. My goal is only to bring forward the truth, however unpopular that might be.

Medjugorje is a sordid tale about manipulation, lies, intrigue, deception, false doctrine, money scams, scandals and a lot of dupped people--the whole 26 million of them who visited Medjugorje in search of a genuine spiritual experience but sadly only finding the stones of false doctrine to nourish their starving souls.

In speaking to believers in Medjugorje, I have discovered that not one of them really knew the contents of the messages. When I confronted them with the grossly heretical statements emanating from the mouths of the seers such as this one, "All religions are equal before God," they responded that they had never heard this message before. They claimed to believe because of so many people returning to the practice of the Faith as a result of Medjugorje and because of other similar good fruits. I will present to you some fruits--from personal scandals involving Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, the first spiritual director of the Medjugorje seers, to the general state of disobedience of the local branch of the Franciscan Order to the Vatican--all of which are not particularly edifying later in this article.

I wish to halt this apparition "factory" dead in its tracks, as it continues to spawn an endless number of false apparitions here in the United States: Nancy Fowler and her "apparitions" in Conyers, Georgia; Rosa Lopez of Hollywood, Florida; Theresa Lopez of Denver, Colorado; John Leary in New York State...and countless others. All these so-called seers admit that their revelations started immediately after, and as a consequence, of their visiting the apparition site in Medjugorje. The devil appears to be promoting all these false visionaries in order to bring discredit upon the true Apparitions such as those at Bayside.

Beginning on June 24 and June 26, 1981, six children from the village of Medjugorje, in the now independent state of Bosnia, claimed to have witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Their names are Ivanka Ivankovich (15 years), Mirjana Dragicevic (16), Vicka Ivankovic (16), Ivan Dragivecic (16), Marija Pavlovic (16) and Jakov Colo (10).

Fr. Jozo Zovko, the parish priest of Saint James, the local Catholic Church in Medjugorje, uncritically accepts the authenticity of the apparitions and presents them to his parishioners in this light, without consulting with anyone, not even his Bishop, only a week after they begin. This is very strange on his part, and should arouse our suspicions as to his motives. One is led to surmise that Fr. Zovko, being an ardent Charismatic, saw here a golden opportunity of filling his church and then transforming it into a huge Charismatic shrine. In fact, the Charismatics appear to use the apparitions as the divine seal of approval for their movement. The Apparitions were foretold by members of the Charismatic Renewal in at least two instances: 1)During the Charismatic Renewal Leaders session in Rome in May 1981, Sister Briege McKenna, herself a Charismatic, claimed she had a vision of a young Franciscan by the name of Fr. Tomaslav Vlasic, who also happened to be present. She saw Fr. Vlasic seated in the middle of a crowd, and from his seat flowed streams of living water. Fr. Emiliano Tardif, another Charismatic there, told Fr. Vlasic, as a prophecy "straight from God": "Fear not, I am sending you My Mother."

Fr. Vlasic arrived in Medjugorje on June 29th, five days after the apparitions began. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed to the village parish, and since then has become a spokesman for the "Virgin" and the seers of Medjugorje.

"To speak in tongues you had never learned was, and is, a recognized symptom in cases of alleged diabolic possession."(Msgr. Ronald Knox)

Virtually all of the promoters of Medjugorje are Charismatics. The seers themselves lay hands on people in typical Charismatic fashion. When one of the seers asked the "Virgin" whether they should have a Charismatic prayer group at Medjugorje, her reply was, "Not only at Medjugorje but in all the parishes of Yugoslavia." This fact alone discredits these apparitions since it is a Protestant innovation introduced into the Catholic Church to subvert it from within in order to bring about a one world religion, which will no longer be the true Church of Jesus Christ. Incidentally, Pentecostalism as a doctrine was condemned as a form of spiritism by the Catholic Bishops in the United States at a meeting in Baltimore in the mid 1800's. Msgr. Ronald Knox wrote that "to speak in tongues you had never learned was, and is, a recognized symptom in cases of alleged diabolic possession."(Msgr. Ronald Knox, Enthusiasm, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1950, p. 551). To freely expose oneself to such dangers borders on madness.

Modern Pentecostalism is a revival of the ancient heresy of Montanism, a heresy that claimed the Holy Spirit superseded the revelation of Christ and was supplementing the revelation of Christ, such that they were acting under a "new outpouring of the Spirit." Pope St. Zephyrinus (199-217) denied them communion with the Church.

There are quite a number of instances where the most bizarre events occur during the apparitions. For example, at one apparition, the seers witnessed the people treading on the "Virgin's" veil. Is it possible that the Mother of God would actually allow a grotesque scene like this to happen. At another time, the seers themselves were touching "Our Lady", and they were even guiding people in the crowd to touch her. They told the people, "Now you are touching her veil, her hand, her robe." I can only shrug my shoulders in disbelief and say, "Incredible!" Such happenings are scandalous, and truly unbecoming and unworthy of the dignity that should be accorded the Mother of God!

At another time, as Mirjana was waiting for the "Virgin" to appear, she saw a light, and out of the light came the devil disguised in the features and clothing of Mary, but with a dark, hideous face. After a while "Mary" appeared and said: "I am sorry about that", and then she proceeded to tell her that she had to see him to know who he is. Surely the devil can do a better job of camouflaging himself than that, and surely Our Lady would not orchestrate such a strange sequence of events.

Then there was the time when a pilgrim from France, Jean-Louis Martin (who already was having serious doubts about the apparitions) having made a "V" formation with his index and middle fingers extended, his hand made a sudden rushing motion towards the seer's (Vicka) eyes. The seer's head jolted backward as an automatic reaction, clearly showing that she was not in an ecstatic state as they claim to be in during the apparition. The whole incident was captured on film by two different cameras.

Later, a very nervous and embarrassed Vicka tried to explain away her being exposed as not being in a true ecstatic state by claiming that the Child Jesus had fallen out of Our Lady's hands, and at that precise moment she had simply made a rapid gesture to rescue Jesus from falling. Her explanation only compounds her credibility problem.

The messages of Medjugorje are clearly not compatible with the messages of Our Lady of Fatima, Lourdes, LaSalette, or Bayside. They are clearly not Catholic, but rather promote religious indifferentism (the heretical belief that one religion is as good as another). Take for example this statement taken from an interview between Fr. Vlasic and the seer Mirjana(1):

Mirjana: "She (Our Lady) also emphasized the failings of religious people, especially in small villages, for example, here in Medjugorje, where there is separation from Serbians (i.e., Serbian Orthodox) and Moslems. This separation is not good. The Madonna always stresses that there is but one God, and the people have enforced unnatural separation. One cannot truly believe, be a Christian, if he does not respect their religions as well. You do not really believe in God if you make fun of their religions."

We do not have a duty or even a right to respect other religions. The Roman Catholic Church is the only true religion. All others are the creation of man. This has always been the teaching of the Catholic Church. What the Church Says Ex Cathedra:

"There is but one universal Church of the faithful outside of which no one at all can be saved." Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215 A. D.  

Ex Cathedra:

"The most Holy Roman Catholic Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church." Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441 A.D.  

Ex Cathedra:

"We declare, say, and define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." ( Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam 1302 A.D)

Seer Vicka Ivankovic: "The Blessed Mother says all religions are dear to her and her Son."

Contrast the above statements to what Medjugorje says:

Question: "Is the Blessed Mother calling all people to be Catholic?  

Seer Vicka Ivankovic: "No. The Blessed Mother says all religions are dear to her and her Son." (Janice T. Connell, The Visions of the Children, The Apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Medjugorje, St. Martin's Press, August 1992).

We certainly should respect and love those who belong to these false religions and exercise Christian charity towards them, but the message didn't say this. It said respect the religions themselves.

The interview continues:

Fr. Vlasic: "What then is the role of Jesus Christ if the Moslem religion is a good religion?"

Mirjana: "We did not discuss that. She merely explained and deplored the lack of religious unity, especially in the villages. She said that everyone's religion should be respected, and of course one's own."

Comment: We did not discuss that! What kind of nonsense is this? If Our Lady would make a statement concerning other religions, she would make sure to clarify it so that it would not lead people into error. So here we are waiting patiently for some sort of an answer that might ease our hearts regarding the heretical statement we have just heard, and what do we hear? "We did not discuss that!"

Seer Mirjana:"God directs all denominations and confessions as a king directs his subjects through his ministers."

What then is the role of Jesus Christ in Medjugorjian theology? We submit to you one of their statements on this question:

"God directs all denominations and confessions as a king directs his subjects through his ministers." What kind of a statement is this? Does this mean that God is directing the Moslems in their "holy wars", the Jews in their rejection of His Son, the Messias; the Protestants in their attacks against everything Catholic, the Zoroastrians in their fire-worshipping? We quote again from the seers: "Diversity of religion is no obstacle." This is outright heresy!

Comment: Then why bother to convert people to the one true Church? If diversity of religion is no obstacle, why would Jesus say that those who refused to be baptized would be damned (St. Mark 16:16)?

Here is another one of their statements concerning salvation:

Fr. Vlasic: "Did the Madonna tell you whether many people go to Hell today?"

Mirjana: "I asked her about that recently, and She said that today most people go to Purgatory, the next greatest number go to Hell, and only a few go directly to Heaven."

This revelation contradicts Sacred Scripture, which states that, "Many are called but few are chosen" (Matt. XX, 16), and "How narrow is the gate and straight is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it" (Matt. VII, 14). The Bayside Message affirms that souls are falling into Hell like raindrops. Venerable Mary of Agreda, in her revelations on the Blessed Virgin Mary called the "City of God" says the same thing, as does virtually every Catholic saint, seer, and mystic.

The seer Ivanka in an interview revealed what the "Gospa" ( Croatian word for "Madonna") of Medjugorje considers to be the most important thing in the world. It is not prayer or penance, as you will see.

Fr. Kraljevic: "What are the messages?"
Ivanka: "Peace, conversion, fasting, penance, prayer."
Fr. Kraljevic: "Which is the most important?"
Ivanka: "Peace."
Fr. Kraljevic: "Why peace?"
Ivanka: "When everyone in the world is at peace, everything is possible."

The messages' style and content betray the intellectual acumen and sophistication of a primary school student.

Comment: The world cries "peace" where there is no peace, "love" where there is no love. Medjugorje sounds like just another added voice to the false peace chorus. What kind of peace does the Gospa mean? "To reconcile ourselves with one another." This is again characteristically vague and ambiguous, showing such lack of clarity in thought and theological precision as to make angels weep. The messages' style and content betray the intellectual acumen and sophistication of a primary school student.To any good Catholic, if asked this same question, he should answer: The salvation of his soul and those he loves, and then the souls of others in general. This is achieved by obeying God's will, and amending our lives.

At Bayside and Fatima, Our Lady asked for the Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart as the necessary condition for peace. At Medjugorje, curiously no mention of the need to do this, simply reconciliation with one another.

If the seer is truly seeing Our Lady, the first thing She would do is establish a strong love of Her Rosary, yet what does Ivanka say?

Ivanka: "When I get up in the morning, I pray seven Our Fathers and the Credo. At noon, I pray the Angelus. In the evening, I pray seven Our Fathers and the Credo, and sometimes the Rosary. When we are all home together, we pray an evening prayer."

Comment: And sometimes the Rosary? What kind of a devotee of Our Lady is this who only says the Rosary once in a while?!

We also find Ivanka a victim of the same Medjugorjian indifferentism as Mirjana:

Fr. Kraljevic: "Does that mean that all people go to Heaven?"
Ivanka: "It depends on what they deserve."
Fr. Kraljevic: "Yes, but many have never heard about Jesus."
Ivanka: "Jesus knows about all about that; I don't. The Madonna said religions are basically similar; but many people have separated themselves because of religion, and have become enemies of each other."

The whole apparition appears to be orchestrated to promote today's false ecumenism in the spirit of Vatican II.

Comment: Religions are basically similar?! Again this is sheer heresy. How can the Moslem religion which believes that God revealed himself through Mohammed be similar to the Catholic religion, which believes that God revealed himself through Jesus Christ? Or what about the Buddhists who don't really believe in a personal God? Or the Hindus who believe in many gods? Again, the great evil is that "people have separated themselves." What is the solution offered? Are the separated brethren and infidels urged to join the one true Church to become part of the Mystical Body? No, no! God forbid!They are only to be reconciled with one another.

The whole apparition appears to be orchestrated to promote today's false ecumenism in the spirit of Vatican II.

The Blessed Virgin Mary who appeared at Lourdes, Fatima, LaSalette and Bayside is the Mediatrix of all Graces. Our Lady distributes freely the graces which She has obtained from Her Son. No grace comes to us without first passing through the hands of Mary. This is Catholic doctrine and is the teaching of all the great Marian apostles, from St. Louis de Montfort to St. Maximilian Kolbe, and the teaching of St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII, among others. Yet, the "Virgin" of Medjugorje, when asked by the seers at the request of a priest if people should pray to Jesus or to Mary, responds: "Please pray to Jesus. I am His mother and I intercede for you with Him. But all prayer goes to Jesus. I will help. I will pray, but everything does not depend only on me." And Vicka when asked whether she feels the Virgin is one who gives graces or one who prays to God, replies, "She who prays to God."

Comment To reduce the Mediatrix of all graces, our Co-Redemptrix, the Mother of God, to merely one who prays to God is unthinkable. This is clearly not Catholic but Protestant doctrine. And this is not the only deviation from Catholic doctrine in regards to Our Lady.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, being totally without sin, would never say the Our Father, since it contains the phrase "forgive us our trespasses, " since this would not be fitting, for it would imply that She had sins to be forgiven. Our Lady at Lourdes would remain silent during the Rosary except for the Glory Be's, which She would repeat with Bernadette. The fact that the "Virgin" of Medjugorje regularly recites the Our Father with the seers represents a great theological difficulty, since this appears to be a subtle denial of the perpetual sinlessness of Mary.

Getting back to the Charismatic/Pentecostals, the "Virgin" of Medjugorje gave this message to the local parish through the seer Jelena (not listed as an official seer): "Raise your hands and open your hearts..."

Comment: Who raises their hands in prayer except the Charismatics? This the posture taken by nearly every Charismatic around. It is also interesting to note that the "Virgin" of Medjugorje is portrayed in all her pictures as standing with her hands outstretched and upturned in typical Charismatic stance; as opposed to Our Lady of Grace, with hands extended, showering Her graces upon us.

E. Michael Jones, author of the book Medjugorje, the Untold Story and the Editor of the Catholic magazine, Culture Wars, who has done extensive research on the claimed apparitions, has this to say about Medjugorje's fruits: "Proponents of the apparitions like to talk about its fruits when they become uncomfortable with the behavior of the seers and their Franciscan handlers. Over the ten years since he had become involved in investigating Medjugorje, Jones had come up with his own list of fruits. The death threat (2) he had just received in Reno was the beginning of a long list of bad things that had happened to the world since the Queen of Peace arrived in Yugoslavia in 1981.

In addition to the broken families there were the broken vows, the pregnant nuns (3), the poor people bilked of their money, the division in the Church, the de facto schism (4), leading most recently to illicit confirmations in Capljina, the kidnapping of the local bishop (5), the ethnic cleansing, and, most dramatically, the worst fighting in Europe since World War II. All in all it was an impressive amount of malfeasance coming, as it did, from a group of people whose stated intention was prayer and following the instructions of the Blessed Mother. It was Bishop Pavao Zanic, then ordinary of Mostar, who wrote to Rene Laurentin, then Medjugorje's major promoter, and predicted that one can look forward to a religious war here. Zanic, who predicted war in the mid-80s, was more prescient than Our Lady of Medjugorje, who was saying at the time that she was the Queen of Peace, and had come to bring peace to Yugoslavia and the world. Her promoters were saying that one of the signs of the authenticity of her messages was the fact that ethnic groups were living in peace in Yugoslavia."

If it is not Our Lady that is appearing to the seers, who is it then? I believe that the children did see the devil masquerading as the Virgin Mary. It is interesting to note that the Apparition does not show her feet, which are hidden by clouds. It is widely held that God will not allow the devil to perfectly impersonate Himself, the Virgin Mary or the saints without showing some physical flaw such as hiding his hands or feet.

The continued success and growth of the Medjugorje movement is now in doubt as the tables seem to be turning against it. Some hardcore cult followers have stated that the Franciscans now consider the seers an embarrassment. While Ivan preaches to pilgrims to fast on bread and water, he drives around in a $100,000 Mercedes, and lives in a mansion. He recently married Colleen Murphy, the Miss Massachusetts beauty queen, in Boston. Most of the seers now live abroad, outside Bosnia, and no longer cooperate with each other. They continue to propagate their messages throughout the world at large gatherings for substantial engagement fees.The official Medjugorje message now is received by Marija Pavlovic (who now lives in Italy) and is transmitted by her over the internet to "Sister Emmanuel" (a nun without proper faculties) from the center in Medjugorje, where it is then distributed to the world.

For these and countless other reasons not covered in this article, we feel that Medjugorje does not pass the test of a true Apparition, and hence is to be avoided like the plague by all Catholics. In conclusion we leave you with the words of the last two bishops of the local diocese on their official position regarding Medjugorje:

 Declaration

of Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar on Medjugorje July 25, 1987:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bishop Pavao Zanic

"Medjugorje is the greatest deception, the greatest swindle of the whole history of the Church."

 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.
 Amen!

+ Pavao Zanic, Bishop Mostar, July 24, 1987

The March 25, 1985 official letter of Bishop Zanic to the parish priest, Father Tomislav Pervan, of St. James parish in Medjugorje, issued under the number 281, is definite and vigorous. This letter includes not only the orders and instructions of the Ordinary but also brings out the pastorals which the clergy and the visionaries contravened and the dates of their contraventions. The letter bears the title:  

The Newest Developments in the Events in Medjugorje:
 
Reverend Father Tomislav,

Most certainly the Pastoral personnel of the Medjugorje parish know about the newest developments and the circumstances of the letter of the "visionary" Ivan Dragicevic on the sign that he described on May 9, 1982, during his stay in the seminary in Visoko. With a copy of that letter we are also supplying you with a copy of the Minutes of the last meeting of the Commission on the Events of Medjugorje held in Mostar on March 7, 1985, on the occasion of the opening of Ivan Dragicevic's letter. This letter contains the described sign which would occur in order to confirm the "apparitions" of the Madonna in Medjugorje. Last year, in a conversation with [members of] the investigating Commission, Ivan Dragicevic declared that the sign we speak of will be the Madonna's shrine and that that sign will appear suddenly one morning. Even before this, the Ordinary had come to the firm conclusion that the apparitions of the Madonna in Medjugorje are not a reality. Meanwhile, in 1982, the Bishop's Office had formed the Commission to investigate the events and to study the case thoroughly. Because of it, the Bishop's Office has refrained from making any official statement on the real state of affairs.


However, several times through letters, the Bishop's Office expressed its desire, and even demanded, that the propaganda stop because of the disobedience of the pastoral personnel and the "visionaries." This was a futile attempt. I present the documents which have been sent to you, and the subject of each one of them: - December 13, 1981, (N 977): attitude toward the events in Medjugorje; - April 12, 1983, (N 241): letter to the parish priest, instructions to be followed; Invitations for meetings: - March 31, 1983, (N 297); - September 27, 1983, (N 982); - July 19, 1984, (N 777);


 Following a two-day session, the Commission on the events of Medjugorje declared that the pastoral personnel and the seers in Medjugorje are requested to abstain from any public statement or declaration to the press about the contents of the visions and the alleged miraculous cures. At our meeting, held in the Chancery Office in Mostar on October 31, 1984, I demanded that Medjugorje's occurrences "be toned down and eliminated little by little." In the meantime, matters remain as they were, and a great disgrace is expected to befall the Church.


Now, without any delay, after all this, I demand from you that you remove the "visionaries" from public display and put an end to their "visions" in the parish church. They have had "visions" in Mostar, and earlier in Sarajevo, Visoko and Dubrovnik. Let them now have them at their homes: people say that they had them at their homes during 1981. In ten days the new statue of the Gospa in front of the main altar ought to be discreetly removed late one evening and replaced by the old one. You must stop talking about apparitions and also cease publicizing messages. The devotions that grew out of the "apparitions" and their messages must be eliminated, sales of souvenirs and printed material which propagate the "apparitions" must also stop. The faithful can go to the sacrament of reconciliation and attend Mass. I do not allow the other priests, especially Fathers Jozo Zovko, Tomislav Vlasic and Ljudevit Rupcic, to celebrate Mass for the faithful or to preach. The "visionaries" must give you whatever they wrote, especially what pertains to the so called "Biography of the Madonna." No excuse that that's a secret can justify them from not handing over that material to you. Since there was so much public talk about their Diaries and their other writings, and since all this had a great influence on the events of Medjugorje, thus all these documents and [written]) materials fall under the supervision of the Ordinary and become subject to the investigation of the phenomenon of Medjugorje.
We do hope that you will execute what we demand from you in this letter. With greetings and a prayerful wish for God's blessing.

Msgr. Pavao Zanic,
Bishop of Mostar-Duvno and Apostolic Administrator of Trebinje-Mrkanj.


The letter above was never published in the Yugoslavian Catholic press, but the Catholic public is familiar with it because the majority of its content was presented in the parish church in Medjugorje. The statue of the Gospa which was sculpted according to the descriptions and specifications of the visionaries was removed from the front of the main altar and replaced by the old one. The Bishop affirms his complete certainty that Our Lady did not appear in Medjugorje, and the Commission's communiqués continually underline the theological and disciplinary difficulties posed by the events and the messages of Medjugorje.

At their May 30 and 31, 1985 meeting in Mostar, the members of the Commission questioned Fathers Jozo Zovko and Zrinko Cuvalo, as well as two nuns, Marcelina Susac and Vladimira Vucic, who were in Medjugorje at the time of the first "apparitions." They also had a short conversation with Father Tomislav Pervan, as well as with Father Slavko Barbaric. The Commission concluded its short communiqué with the following declaration:


The Commission has also heard the reports of its members on various topics assigned to them: comparison between the concept of conversion in the Gospel and that contained in the Medjugorje messages, disciplinary difficulties in connection with the two former Mostar's chaplains who are appealing to Medjugorje's messages, insufficient documentation for alleged miraculous cures. Despite all these orders from the Bishop, the Franciscans of Medjugorje went all over Europe, to Ireland, to Great Britain, to Canada, and to the United States to give lectures and even to speak on the radio and appear on television about the events in Medjugorje. Moreover, neither Father Vlasic nor Fathers Rupcic and Barbaric obeyed Bishop Zanic's directives. In short, everything remains exactly as before, except that the statue which supposedly represents the Madonna was removed from the church, the "visions" were moved from the church to the rectory, then again to the church, but this time to the choir loft, and that the propaganda has been intensified! Thus, with regard to the essentials of the situation, the paths continue to diverge.

Since October 30, 1984, when Bishop Zanic sent his position on the events of Medjugorje to Rome and the European Bishops' Conferences, he has not modified his stand. From then on, often on the opposite side of the fence, through his interventions he has always aimed at shutting down belief in the apparitions of the Gospa in Medjugorje as well as at halting the pilgrimages that they inspire. His meeting with the heads of the parish in October, 1984, followed by a letter containing precise orders to Father Pervan, the parish priest, well illustrate the actions he undertook in order to be logical and true to his conviction as the Bishop responsible for the diocese concerned.

The Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference in Zadar in April 1991 issued a statement that nothing supernatural occurred at Medjugorje, but tempered their negative verdict by adding that the pilgrims still flocking there should be taken care of. The propagandists of the supposed apparitions used this little opening of the door to claim that a final decision had not been reached, that the site was established as a shrine, and so pilgrimages were allowed to continue. Rome was finally obliged to intervene and state that, in effect, no, Medjugorje had not been recognized as a shrine.

Bishop Pavao Zanic's successor, Bishop Ratko Peric, wrote this statement on October 2, 1997, concerning his position vis-a-vis the Medjugorje apparitions:

On the basis of the serious study of the case by 30 of our [experts], and on the basis of my episcopal experience of five years in the Diocese, and on the scandalous disobedience that surrounds the phenomenon, and on the lies that are at times put into the mouth of the "Madonna," and on the unusual repetition of "messages" for over 16 years, and on the strange way that the "spiritual directors" of the so-called "visionaries" accompany them through the world making propaganda off them, and on the practice that the "Madonna" appears at the "fiat"(let her come!) of the "visionaries," my conviction and position is not "non constat de supernaturalitate" (the supernaturality has not been proven) but has changed to the other formula "constat de non supernaturalitate" (the non-supernaturality is proven) of the apparitions or revelations of Medjugorje."

 

 

(1)Interview excerpts are taken from the book "The Apparitions of Our Lady at Medjugorje" by Svetzar Kralsevic O.F.M

(2)While conducting his investigation into Medjugorje, Michael Jones received a telephone call at his hotel room in Reno, Nevada, telling him that if he went back to Medjugorje the Franciscans there were going to have him killed.

(3)A nun in Zagreb by the name of Sister Rufina wrote to Bishop Zanic from Germany where she had gone into hiding, pleading with him that the father of her child (whom she asserted to be none other than Fr. Tomislav Vlasic) help financially support the chiild. When the Bishop confronted Fr. Vlasic he did not deny the nun's claim that he fathered her child.

Another ex-Franciscan priest Fr. Ivica Vega, who also was involved in promoting the Apparitions in Medjugorje,was expelled by the Pope for seducing a nun, yet continued to celebrate Mass and administer the Sacraments in defiance of the Vatican's orders. What is even more scandalous is that the Gospa's message through the Medjugorje seers backed the suspended priest against Bishop Zanic. This is theologically impossible and was the final straw that turned the Bishop against the Apparitions. Fr. Vega later married his mistress, Sister Leopolda, and has had five children, and presently resides in Italy.

Fr. Jozo Zovko, the original pastor of St. James in Medjugorje, was expelled from Medjugorje for molesting some of the young pilgrims in the village. He now is employed as a fundraiser for orphans at a Medjugorje center.

(4)The Franciscan Order in Bosnia has been ordered by the Vatican to turn over the control of 54 parish churches in the province to the Bishop of Mostar, the local Bishop. So far only 4 have been handed over, and even 2 of these 4 still remain under Franciscan control. The Franciscans have opened a seminary in Zagreb, a convent and a new Pavilion chuch behind St. James Church in Medjugorje without any permission from the Bishop.

(5)On April 2, 1995, Bishop Peric was kidnapped by a mob sympathetic to the Medjugorje Franciscans demanding that he give the local Franciscans permission to operate their illicit church. When the Bishop refused, they beat him up and kept him prisoner for ten hours. It took the intervention of the Mayor of Mostar aided by UN troops to finally get him released.

Frank Albas
Editor
Roses From Heaven

 

SOURCES:

Apparitions a Medjugorje? La Contre-Reforme catholique au XX siecle by Frere Michel de la Sainte-Trinite

The Ghosts of Surmanci: Queen of Peace, Ethnic Cleansing, Ruined Lives Culture Wars E. Michael Jones

Visions on Demand video, available from Fidelity Press ($19.95) 206 Marquette Ave, South Bend, IN 46617.

Medjugorje: Another View, Robin's Home Page


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