I am writing concerning purported visions at Medjugorje. Ivan (one of the visionaries) is arriving yet again tomorrow (20 February) and, as usual, all the Medjugorje supporters are absolutely over the moon.
What concerns me is that numerous bishops are now supporting the Medjugorje phenomenon, even though much concern has been expressed as to the validity of the Medjugorje apparitions. I know the Vatican is now investigating Medjugorje. Why then, are bishops/archbishops here where I live actively supporting Medjugorje (which is still unapproved by the Church)? Hasn't the Church forbidden public pilgrimages etc? Then why are numerous bishops/archbishops promoting Ivan's visit in their dioceses?
I look forward to your reply, as I am rather confused. It would be better, I think, to err on the side of caution until the Church makes a definitive pronouncement of the Medjugorje issue.
I used to be an avid Medjugorje supporter (even before my conversion to the Catholic Faith). Now, I realise Medjugorje is rife with problems and, as far as I'm concerned, it's much better to adhere to public revelation approved by the Church than be carried away by dubious private revelations. Why, then, would bishops be carried away by this and "jump on the Medjugorje bandwagon"? I look forward to your reply. –John
Your approach to these things is the most prudent. I applaud that you are cautious and skeptical. That is the position we all should take with any unapproved apparition. In the case of Medjugorje this is even more so.
I see little evidence that Medjugorje is genuine. The Church does not make a decision about an apparition until after they have stopped. Could this be why Medjugorje never stops?
The visionaries in all approved apparitions I know about live holy lives. The visionaries of Medjugorje seem to live decidedly ordinary lives and perhaps even extravagant lives.
I have personally met Ivan, by the way, but in my opinion, Medjugorje is false. I do not, however, make the decision.
As to the current standing of Medjugorje, here are the letters of Bishop Zanic. Since the phenomenon of Medjugorje went global the Yugoslav Bishop's Conference investigated and issued the following declaration in April 1991:
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.[Emphasis added]
However, the numerous gatherings of the faithful from different parts of the world, who come to Medjugorje, prompted both by motives of belief and various other motives, require the attention and pastoral care in the first place of the diocesan bishop and with him of the other bishops also, so that in Medjugorje and in everything connected with it a healthy devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may be promoted in accordance with the teaching of the Church.
For this purpose the bishops will issue specially suitable liturgical-pastoral directives. Likewise, through their Commission they will continue to keep up with and investigate the entire event in Medjugorje.
How can this be any clearer?
For more information on this see the EWTN document, Medjugorje.
The current decision as to whether or not Medjugorje pilgrimages may be supported by the Church (e.g., by Bishops and Priests) the answer is given by Archbishop Bertone of the Sacred Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith:
Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentication of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church.
The conclusion of Colin B. Donovan in the EWTN article is the most prudent:
What the Church has forbidden.From the statements given to date by ecclesiastical authorities it is clear that no one holding an office in the Church (bishop, pastor, rector, chaplain or other) may by virtue of that office lend official sanction to activities which tend to assert the supernaturality of Medjugorje, that is, to contradict the decisions made by competent local authority. Those statements speak only of pilgrimages organized under official auspices; however, common sense tells us that a conference or other activity sponsored by a diocese, parish or other Catholic institution would also be prohibited.
What the Church permits. As the already cited statements note, Catholics may go to Medjugorje. Such pilgrimages may even include priests acting as chaplains, as opposed to officially sponsoring them. Also, the Church has not suppressed discussion of Medjugorje, therefore, it is allowed. Common sense, however, says that Catholics on both sides of the Medjugorje issue should exercise prudence and charity in speaking of others who believe differently. Medjugorje is not a litmus test of orthodoxy, though every Catholic will have a moral obligation to accept the judgement of Rome, in the manner Pope Benedict explained, should it ever be rendered.
At this time, Medjugorje should not be promoted by any Bishop or priest. Conferences and speaking engagements authorized by Church officials is inappropriate (this includes having those conferences or speaking engagements on Parish property).
The more disobedience, imprudence, and vitriol we see with the issue of Medjugorje the more we must suspect that it is false.
Regardless of one's view of Medjugorje we must always remember that we are never required to believe in any private revelation. When the Church does approve a private revelation it only affirms its authenticity and its value as a possible "aid" to our faith if we choose to avail ourselves of its devotion. But, belief and devotion are optional. The Church teaches that no private revelation is required for orthodoxy, for our salvation, or even for our spiritual growth.
As recently as 2006 the local bishop has asked the Medjugorje visionaries to stop making their claims. See the Catholic News Service article, Bosnian bishop urges Medjugorje visionaries to stop claims. Would our Blessed Mother tell her children to disobey the bishop?
Even if the Church eventually approves the apparition, which I personally doubt but will accept any decision that is made, disobedience is never justified. As to why Bishops seem to disobey on this subject? Well, we can never underestimate the power of the devil's influence and of self-delusion.
"The more we see failure in obedience, the stronger should be our suspicion of temptation." -- St. Teresa of Avila
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/QUO_VADIS_PAPA_FRANCISCO_02-MEDJUGORJE.doc NORMS REGARDING THE MANNER OF PROCEEDING IN THE DISCERNMENT OF PRESUMED APPARITIONS OR REVELATIONS PAUL VI/CDF FEBRUARY 25, 1978 & DECEMBER 14, 2011