Medjugorje… What You May Not Know

Posted November 4, 2017 2:03 pm by Mark

Medjugorje… What You May Not Know

The six seers of Medjugorje when they were children

 

AFTER having followed the Medjugorje apparitions for years, and researched and studied the background story, one thing has become clear: there are a lot of people who reject the supernatural character of this apparition site based on the dubious words of a few. A perfect storm of politics, lies, sloppy journalism, manipulation, and a Catholic media mostly cynical of all-things-mystical has fuelled, for years, a narrative that the six visionaries, and a gang of Franciscan thugs, has managed to dupe the world, including the canonized Saint, John Paul II.
 
Strangely, it doesn’t matter to some critics that the fruits of Medjugorje—millions of conversions, thousands of apostolates and religious vocations, and hundreds of documented miracles—are the most extraordinary that the Church has ever seen since, perhaps, Pentecost. To read the testimonies of people who have actually been there (as opposed to nearly every critic who usually hasn’t) is like reading the Acts of the Apostles on steroids (here is mine: A Miracle of Mercy.) The most vocal critics of Medjugorje dismiss these fruits as irrelevant (more evidence in our times of Rationalism, and the Death of Mystery). [1]cf. Michael Voris and Medjugorje by Daniel O’Connor jQuery(“#footnote_plugin_tooltip_7915_1”).tooltip({ tip: “#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_7915_1”, tipClass: “footnote_tooltip”, effect: “fade”, fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: “top right”, relative: true, offset: [10, 10] }); However, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith does not. It specifically refers to the importance that such a phenomenon… 
…bear fruits by which the Church herself might later discern the true nature of the facts… —”Norms Regarding the Manner of Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations” n. 2, vatican.va
These evident fruits should move all the faithful, from the bottom to the top, to approach Medjugorje in a spirit of humility and gratitude, irregardless of its official status. At the same time, the Vatican continues to investigate and discern what has and is happening there. It is not my place to say this or that apparition is true or false. But what I can do, as a matter of justice, is counter the misinformation that is out there so that the faithful may, at the very least, remain open—as the Vatican is—to the possibility that Medjugorje is a profound grace given to the world at this hour. 
Dear children, my real, living presence among you should make you happy because this is the great love of my Son. He is sending me among you so that, with a motherly love, I may grant you safety! —Our Lady of Medjugorje to Mirjana, July 2, 2016

 

STRANGE TWISTS…

In truth, the apparitions of Medjugorje were initially accepted by the local Bishop of Mostar, the diocese where Medjugorje resides. Speaking of the integrity of the seers, he stated:
No one has forced them or influenced them in any manner. These are six normal children; they are not lying; they express themselves from the depth of their hearts. Are we dealing here with a personal vision or a supernatural occurrence? It is hard to say. However, it is certain that they are not lying. —statement to the press, July 25, 1981; “Medjugorje Deception or Miracle?”; ewtn.com
This favorable position was confirmed by the police who conducted the first initial psychological examinations of the seers to determine if they were hallucinating or simply trying to cause trouble. Dr. Dzudza Mulija, of the psychiatric hospital in Mostar, said to the seers after examining them:
It is the people who brought you here that are insane. You are absolutely normal. —cf. “Specific Tests Administered to the Medjugorje Visionaries and Their Results”, medjugorje.com
His conclusions were later confirmed by ecclesial psychological examinations, [2]Fr. Slavko Barabic published a methodical analysis of the visionaries in De Apparizioni di Medjugorje in 1982. jQuery(“#footnote_plugin_tooltip_7915_2”).tooltip({ tip: “#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_7915_2”, tipClass: “footnote_tooltip”, effect: “fade”, fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: “top right”, relative: true, offset: [10, 10] }); and then again by several teams of international scientists in the ensuing years. In fact, after submitting the seers to a battery of tests while they were in ecstasy during apparitions—from poking and prodding, to blasting them with noise and monitoring brain patterns—Dr. Henri Joyeux and his team of doctors from France concluded:

The ecstasies are not pathological, nor is there any element of deceit. No scientific discipline seems able to describe these phenomena. The apparitions at Medjugorje cannot be explained scientifically. In one word, these young people are healthy, and there is no sign of epilepsy, nor is it a sleep, dream, or trance state. It is neither a case of pathological hallucination nor hallucination in the hearing or sight facilities…. —8:201-204; “Science Tests the Visionaries”, cf. divinemysteries.info

More recently, in 2006, Dr. Joyeux again examined some of the seers during ecstasy and sent the results to Pope Benedict XIV.
After twenty years, our conclusion has not changed. We were not wrong. Our scientific conclusion is clear: the Medjugorje events must be taken seriously. —Dr. Henri Joyeux, “Specific Tests Administered to the Medjugorje Visionaries and Their Results”, medjugorje.com
However, as Antonio Gaspari, an editorial coordinator for Zenit News Agency notes, shortly after Bishop Zanic’s endorsement…
…for reasons still not entirely clear, Bishop Zanic almost immediately changed his attitude, becoming the main critic and opponent of the Medjugorje apparitions. — “Medjugorje Deception or Miracle?”; ewtn.com
Some speculate that it was pressure from the Communist government. Others point to exploding tensions between the diocese and the Franciscans, under whose care the Medjugorje parish, and thus seers, had been.
 
For whatever reason, Bishop Zanic rejected the results of his first Commission and went on to form a new Commission to investigate the apparitions. But, as it turns out, it was apparently now stacked with skeptics. 
Nine of the 14 members of the second (larger) commission were chosen among certain theologians who were known to be skeptical concerning supernatural events. —Antonio Gaspari, “Medjugorje Deception or Miracle?”; ewtn.com
Michael K. Jones (not to be confused with Michael E. Jones, who is arguably Medjugorje’s fiercest opponent) confirms what Gaspari reports. Using the Freedom of Information Act, Jones states on his website that he acquired classified documents from the U.S. State Department’s own investigation into the apparitions by Ambassador David Anderson under President Ronald Reagan’s administration. The classified report, which was forwarded to the Vatican, reveals that Bishop Zanic’s Commission was indeed ‘tainted’, says Jones. 
 
This being the case, it offers one explanation why Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, rejected Zanic’s second Commission and transferred the authority over the apparitions to the regional level of the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference where a new Commission was formed. However, Bishop Zanic issued a press release with a much more benign explanation:
During the inquiry these events under investigation have appeared to go much beyond the limits of the diocese. Therefore, on the basis of the said regulations, it became fitting to continue the work at the level of the Bishops’ Conference, and thus to form a new Commission for that purpose. —appeared on the front page of Glas Koncila, January 18, 1987; ewtn.com
 
…AND STRANGE TURNS
 
Four years later, the new Bishops’ Commission issued the now well-known Declaration of Zadar on April 10, 1991, which stated:
On the basis of the investigations so far, it cannot be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations. —cf. Letter to Bishop Gilbert Aubry from the Secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone; ewtn.com
The decision, in Church-speak, was: non constat de supernaturalitate, which means simply that, “so far”, a firm conclusion on the supernatural nature cannot be affirmed. It is not a condemnation but a suspension of judgment. 
 
But what is perhaps less known is that ‘by mid-1988, the Commission was reported to have terminated its work with a positive judgment on the apparitions.’ 
Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, Archbishop of Zaghreb and President of the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference, in an interview with Croatian public television on December 23, 1990, said that the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference, including himself, “has a positive opinion of Medjugorje events.” —cf. Antonio Gaspari, “Medjugorje Deception or Miracle?”; ewtn.com
But Bishop Zanic most certainly did not. Archbishop Frane Franic, President of the Doctrinal Commission of the Yugoslav Bishops Conference, stated in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, [3]January 15, 1991 jQuery(“#footnote_plugin_tooltip_7915_3”).tooltip({ tip: “#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_7915_3”, tipClass: “footnote_tooltip”, effect: “fade”, fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: “top right”, relative: true, offset: [10, 10] }); that only the ferocious opposition of Bishop Zanic, who refused to budge from his own verdict, had impeded a positive decision on the Medjugorje apparitions. [4]cf. Antonio Gaspari, “Medjugorje Deception or Miracle?”; ewtn.com jQuery(“#footnote_plugin_tooltip_7915_4”).tooltip({ tip: “#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_7915_4”, tipClass: “footnote_tooltip”, effect: “fade”, fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: “top right”, relative: true, offset: [10, 10] });
The bishops used this ambiguous sentence (non constat de supernaturalitate) because they did not want to humiliate Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar who constantly claimed that Our Lady did not appear to the seers. When the Yugoslav Bishops discussed the Medjugorje issue, they told Bishop Zanic that the Church was not giving a final decision on Medjugorje and consequently his opposition was without any foundation. Hearing this, Bishop Zanic began to cry and to shout, and the rest of the bishops then quit any further discussion. —Archbishop Frane Franic in January 6, 1991 issue of Slobodna Dalmacija; cited in “Catholic Media Spreading Fake News on Medjugorje”, March 9th, 2017; patheos.com
Bishop Zanic’s successor has been no more favorable or less vocal, which may be no surprise. According to Mary TV, Bishop Ratko Peric went on record stating before witnesses that he had never met or spoken to any of the visionaries and that he didn’t believe in other apparitions of Our Lady, specifically naming Fatima and Lourdes. 

I believe what I am required to believe—that is the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which was issued four years before Bernadette’s alleged apparitions. —witnessed in a sworn statement attested to by Fr. John Chisholm and Major General (ret.) Liam Prendergast; the remarks were also published in the February 1, 2001, European newspaper, “The Universe”; cf. patheos.com

Bishop Peric went further than the Yugoslav Commission and their Declaration and outright declared the apparitions to be false. But by this time, the Vatican, confronted with the obvious and overwhelmingly positive fruits of Medjugorje, began the first of a series of clear interventions to keep the pilgrimage site open to the faithful and any negative declaration from gaining traction. In a letter of clarification to Bishop Gilbert Aubry, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote:
What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of “Famille Chretienne”, declaring: “My conviction and my position is not only ‘non constat de supernaturalitate,’ but likewise, ‘constat de non supernaturalitate‘ [not supernatural] of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje”, should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion. —May 26, 1998; ewtn.com
And that was that—though it has not stopped the Bishop from continuing to make damning statements. And why, when it’s clear that the Vatican continues to investigate? One answer may be the influence of a dark campaign of lies…
 
 
A CAMPAIGN OF LIES

In my own travels, I met a renowned journalist (who asked to remain anonymous) who shared with me his first-hand knowledge of events that unfolded in the mid-1990s. An American multi-millionaire from California, whom he personally knew, began a tenacious campaign to discredit Medjugorje and other alleged Marian apparitions because his wife, who was devoted to such, had left him (for mental abuse). He vowed to destroy Medjugorje if she didn’t come back, even though he’d been there numerous times and had believed in it himself. He spent millions doing just that—hiring camera crews from England to make documentaries defaming Medjugorje, sending tens of thousands of letters (to places like The Wanderer), even barging into Cardinal Ratzinger’s office! He spread all kinds of trash—stuff we now hear rehashed and rehashed… lies, said the journalist, that apparently influenced the Bishop of Mostar as well. The millionaire caused quite a bit of damage before finally running out of money and finding himself on the wrong side of the law. My source estimated that 90% of the anti-Medjugorje material out there came as a result of this disturbed soul.

At the time, this journalist did not want to identify the millionaire, and perhaps for good reason. The man had already destroyed some pro-Medjugorje ministries through his campaign of lies. Recently, however, I came across a letter from a woman, Ardath Talley, who was married to the late Phillip Kronzer who passed away in 2016. She made a statement that was dated October 19, 1998 that is a mirror image of the journalist’s story to me. 

In recent months my former husband, Phillip J. Kronzer, has been orchestrating a campaign to defame the Marian movement and Medjugorje. This campaign, which employs literature and attack videos, has damaged many innocent people with false and slanderous information. Although, as we know, the Vatican remains very open towards Medjugorje, and the official Church continues to investigate it and recently restated this position, Mr. Kronzer and those who work for or with him have sought to portray the apparitions in a negative light and have circulated rumors and innuendoes that are preposterous. —the full letter can be read here

Perhaps this was taken into account when in 2010 the Vatican struck the fourth Commission to investigate Medjugorje under Cardinal Camillo Ruini. The studies of that Commission, which concluded in 2014, have now been passed on to Pope Francis. But not without one last remarkable turn in the story.

 
VINDICATION
 
The Vatican Insider has leaked the findings of the Ruini Commission, and they are significant. 
The Commission noted a very clear difference between the beginning of the phenomenon and its following development, and therefore decided to issue two distinct votes on the two different phases: the first seven presumed [apparitions] between June 24 and July 3, 1981, and all that happened later. Members and experts came out with 13 votes in favor of recognizing the supernatural nature of the first visions. —May 16th, 2017; lastampa.it
For the first time in 36 years since the apparitions began, a Commission seems to have “officially” accepted the supernatural origin of what began in 1981: that indeed, the Mother of God appeared in Medjugorje. Moreover, the Commission appears to have affirmed the findings of the psychological examinations of the visionaries and upheld the seers’ integrity, which has long been attacked, sometimes ruthlessly, by their detractors. 

The committee argues that the six young seers were psychically normal and were caught by surprise by the apparition, and that nothing of what they had seen was influenced by either the Franciscans of the parish or any other subjects. They showed resistance in telling what happened despite the police [arresting] them and death [threats against] them. The Commission also rejected the hypothesis of a demonic origin of the apparitions. —Ibid.
As for the apparitions after the first seven instances, the members of the Commission apparently have both positive outlooks and negative concerns, or have suspended judgment altogether. So, now the Church awaits the final word on the Ruini report, which will come from Pope Francis himself. 
 
 
PATIENCE, PRUDENCE, OBEDIENCE… AND HUMILITY
 
In closing, it was the Bishop of Mostar who once said:

While waiting for the results of the Commission’s work and the Church’s verdict, let the Pastors and the faithful honor the practice of the usual prudence in such circumstances. —from a press release dated January 9, 1987; signed by Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, president of the Yugoslavian Conference of Bishops and by Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar
That advice is just as valid today as it was then. Likewise, the advice of Gamaliel would also seem applicable: 
If this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God. (Acts 5:38-39)

 

RELATED READING

On Medjugorje

Why Did You Quote Medjugorje?

Medjugorje: “Just the Facts, Ma’am”

That Medjugorje

The New Gideon

Prophecy Properly Understood

On Private Revelation

On Seers and Visionaries

Turn On the Headlights

When the Stones Cry Out

Stoning the Prophets


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1. cf. Michael Voris and Medjugorje by Daniel O’Connor
2. Fr. Slavko Barabic published a methodical analysis of the visionaries in De Apparizioni di Medjugorje in 1982.
3. January 15, 1991
4. cf. Antonio Gaspari, “Medjugorje Deception or Miracle?”; ewtn.com

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