"On that account - whereas I consider it impossible to respond to all of the questions put by your Excellency - I am anxious above all to make clear that it is not the practice of the Holy See to assume, in the first instance, a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena. This Dicastery, therefore, in what concerns the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, limits itself simply to what has already been established by the Bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Zadar Declaration of 10 April 1991: “... On the basis of the investigations conducted to this point, it is not possible to affirm that it is a case of apparitions or of supernatural revelations".”
On July 21, 1998, the Most Rev. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar, wrote regarding visits to unauthentic apparitions:
"Regarding 'pilgrimages to Medjugorje of a private nature', the Congregation maintains that they are allowed 'under the condition that they are not considered an authentication of events still going on, which demand further investigations by the Church'. Hence, nothing new here. Official or church pilgrimages are not allowed, nor are 'private' visits allowed that have the intent of proving that the so-called 'apparitions' and alleged 'messages' are authentic! Therefore the official position of the local Bishop is the same official position of the Bishops' Conference of 1991.
And both priests and the faithful as Catholics should adhere to this position!
On June 15, 2006, the Bishop of Medjugorje stated in his homily:
III. – "Apparitions". First of all, the fact that a person makes a humble Confession and receives Holy Communion in this parish church and that this person feels spiritually well due to God’s forgiveness, each and every believer will recognize and give due praise to God for this, who is the source of all graces. At the same time, this person will take care not to proceed from this state of grace towards an illogical and inconsistent conclusion: “I made a Confession. I feel good and now I am converted. Therefore the Madonna is appearing in Medjugorje!” This type of believer and penitent is nonetheless obliged to go to confession, receive the other sacraments, observe the Commandments, whether any private apparitions are recognized or not.
Secondly, I would be an irresponsible minister of the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ, if today I were not to publicly advise, from this place and on this occasion as well, to all those interested throughout the world, that in this local Church of Mostar-Duvno, there exists something similar to a schism. A number of priests that have been expelled from the Franciscan OFM Order by the Generalate of the Order, due to their disobedience to the Holy Father, for years now have been forcefully keeping a few parish churches and rectories along with church inventory. They have not only been illegally active in these parishes, but they have also administered the sacraments profanely, while others invalidly, such as Confession and Confirmation, or they have assisted at invalid marriages. This type of anti-ecclesial behaviour is shocking to all of us. At the same time, this scandal of sacrilegiously administering the sacraments, especially of the Most Holy Body of Christ, must shock all the faithful as well who invalidly confess their sins to these priests and participate in sacrilegious liturgies. We pray to the Lord that this scandal and schism be uprooted as soon as possible from our midst.
Thirdly, I am truly grateful to the Holy Father the Pope, to John Paul II of blessed memory and to the reigning Benedict XVI, who have always respected the judgements of the bishops of Mostar-Duvno, of the previous as well as the current bishop, regarding the so-called “apparitions” and “messages” of Medjugorje, all the while recognizing the Holy Father’s right to give a final decision on these events. The judgements of the bishops, after all the canonical investigations made thus far, can be summarized in these following points:
1 - Medjugorje is a catholic parish in which liturgical and pastoral activities are carried out, just as in all the other parishes of this diocese of Mostar-Duvno. No-one except the official Church authorities is then authorized to attribute the formal title of “shrine” to this place.
2 - On the basis of Church investigations of the events of Medjugorje, it cannot be determined that these events involve supernatural apparitions or revelations. This means that till now the Church has not accepted, neither as supernatural nor as Marian, any of the apparitions.
3 - Priests who canonically administer this parish of Medjugorje or those who come as visitors, are not authorised to express their private views contrary to the official position of the Church on the so-called “apparitions” and “messages”, during celebrations of the sacraments, neither during other common acts of piety, nor in the Catholic media.
4 - The Catholic faithful are not only free from any obligation to believe in the authenticity of the “apparitions” but they must also know that church pilgrimages are not allowed, whether official or private, individual or group, or from other parishes, if they presuppose the authenticity of the “apparitions” or if by undertaking them attempt to certify these “apparitions”.
5 - As the local Bishop, I maintain that regarding the events of Medjugorje, on the basis of the investigations and experience gained thus far, throughout these last 25 years, the Church has not confirmed a single “apparition” as authentically being the Madonna. The fact that during these 25 years there has been talk of tens of thousands of “apparitions” does not contribute any authenticity to these events, which according to the words of our current Pope, who I encountered during an audience on 24 February this year, commented that at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith they always questioned how all these “apparitions” could be considered authentic for the Catholic faithful. They particularly do not seem to be authentic when it is known beforehand that these so-called “apparitions” will occur:
To one of the “seers” on the 18th of March every year, but along with this she will also receive an “apparition” on the 2nd of each month, with “messages” which you can expect, according to the established procedures;
The second will receive an apparition on every day of the year, and if this were not enough, an added special “apparition” on the 25th of each month along with a type of press release, which once again you can foresee and expect;
The third will receive an “apparition” on the 25th of December, on Christmas day, along with a message similar to the ones already mentioned;
The fourth will receive an “apparition” on the 8th of September every year along with a specific message;
The remaining two will receive the same, every day along with “messages” that can be anticipated since they are variations on the same theme. This fact and the flood of so-called apparitions, messages, secrets and signs, do not strengthen the faith, but rather further convince us that in all of this there is nothing neither authentic nor established as truthful.
Therefore I responsibly call upon those who claim themselves to be “seers”, as well as those persons behind the “messages”, to demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish. In this fashion they shall show their necessary adherence to the Church, by neither placing private “apparitions” nor private sayings before the official position of the Church. Our faith is a serious and responsible matter. The Church is also a serious and responsible institution!
Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the greatest possessor of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who through the same Holy Spirit conceived in her body and gave birth to the Second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, who gives us his Most Holy Body for eternal life, may He - who is the Way, the Truth and the Life – help us so that the truth of the Blessed Virgin, his Mother and Mother of the Church, Seat of Wisdom and Mirror of Justice, may shine forth in brightness in this parish and diocese, without even a hint of incredibility, yet all in accord with the constant teachings and practice of the Church. Amen.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1052230/Pope-finally-launches-crackdown-worlds-largest-illicit-Catholic-shrine-suspends-dubious-priest.html, September 3, 2008
Pope finally launches crackdown on world's largest illicit Catholic shrine and suspends 'dubious' priest. “The Pope has begun a crackdown on the world’s largest illicit Catholic shrine – by suspending the priest at the centre of claims that the Virgin Mary has appeared more than 40,000 times.
Benedict XVI has authorised ‘severe cautionary and disciplinary measures’ against Father Tomislav Vlasic, the former ‘spiritual director’ to six children who said Our Lady was appearing to them at Medjugorje in Bosnia.
The Franciscan priest has been suspended after he refused to cooperate into claims of scandalous sexual immorality ‘aggravated by mystical motivations’. He has also been accused of ‘the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism and disobedience towards legitimately issued orders’, and is suspected of heresy and schism.
Father Vlasic was a central figure in promoting the apparitions that allegedly began in 1981 and continue to this day.
In 1984 he boasted to Pope John Paul II that he was the one ‘who through divine providence guides the seers of Medjugorje’ and the visionaries even said that the Virgin had told them he was a living saint.
But the Bosnian cleric later took a back seat when it emerged that he had fathered a child with a nun called Sister Rufina, and that he refused to leave his order to marry her but instead begged her not to expose him.
Father Vlasic then moved to Parma, Italy, where he set up a mixed male and female religious community, called Queen of Peace, which was dedicated to the Medjugorje apparitions.
Medjugorje has grown to become the most visited unauthorised Catholic shrine in the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of pilgrims a year, including many from the UK and Ireland.
But the local bishops are convinced the claims are bogus and in 2006 complained directly to Pope Benedict.
This led to a Vatican investigation which turned the spotlight on the role of Father Vlasic. The priest has now been suspended by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after he refused to cooperate with the inquiry into his conduct, instead ‘justifying himself by citing his zealous activity’ in initiating religious communities and building churches the Medjugorje area. The decree confirming his suspension was signed with the Pope’s approval by Cardinal William Levada, head of CDF, and Father Jose Carballo, the Minister General of the Franciscan Minor Order.
It confines Father Vlasic to a Franciscan monastery in Italy and bans him from contact with the Queen of Peace community, or with his lawyers without permission from his superior.
He is banned from making public appearances, preaching and hearing confessions and he will be required to make a solemn profession of the Catholic faith.
The Vatican has warned Father Vlasic that he will be excommunicated if he violates any of the prohibitions.
The action was taken earlier this year but was made public this week by the Bishop of Mostar, Ratko Peric, at the request of the Vatican, to make local people to be aware of the priest’s status.
Father Vlasic is the second spiritual adviser to the seers to be suspended from his ministry. The other, Father Jozo Zovko, was suspended by Bishop Peric in 2004. It represents a massive blow to millions of Medjugorje followers worldwide who were hoping that the Vatican investigation would legitimise the shrine.
12. Earlier this year, Italian Bishop Andrea Gemma denounced the Medjugorje claims as the ‘work of the Demon’ and predicted that ‘soon the Vatican will intervene with something explosive to unmask once and for all who is behind this deceit’.
The phenomenon began on 25 June 1981 when six children – Mirjana Dragicevic, Marija Pavlovic, Vicka Ivankovic, Ivan Dragicevic, Ivanka Ivankovic and Jakov Colo – told a priest they had seen the Virgin on a hillside near their town.
Three Church commissions failed to find evidence to support their claims and the bishops of the former Yugoslavia finally declared that ‘it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations’.
In 1985 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict – banned pilgrimages to the site, but this has been widely ignored.
Instead the seers have grown wealthy as a result of their claims – and so has their town, which has boomed as a result of the ‘Madonna gold rush’.
Some today own smart executive houses with immaculate gardens, double garages and security gates, and one has a tennis court.
They also own expensive cars and have married – one of them, Ivan Dragicevic, to an American former beauty queen.”
On June 6, 2009, during the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Parish of Medjugorje, the Bishop of Mostar stated:
"Finally, a word or two on our local situation. From the 17th to the 24th of January this year I was in Rome and had the opportunity to first of all greet the Holy Father during his General Audience and ask for his blessing for our entire Church in Herzegovina. I also visited the superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and thanked them in particular for informing the bishops of the region of Toscana, in Italy, who had asked the Congregation during their 'ad limina' visit what position to take regarding the phenomenon of Medjugorje. The then Secretary of the Congregation, Archbishop Angelo Amato recommended that the bishops convey to the priests and faithful of their dioceses the homily that was given here in Medjugorje during the rite of Confirmation, on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ in the year 2006, which they then did. Cardinal William Levada, the current Prefect of the Congregation then told me: "We advise this to everyone who asks us about Medjugorje". During my visit I could see that the competent Congregation as well as the Secretariat of State are closely following our local events in Herzegovina and we are most grateful to Pope Benedict XVI and the Apostolic See for their charity and concern."
"I therefore stand by everything I said and dutifully demanded from this very place three years ago: from the Franciscan fathers who are the pastoral ministers of this parish, from the parishioners and other faithful, as well as from the so-called seers; that the presumed daily apparitions, known as the "phenomenon of Medjugorje", have not been declared as authentic by the Church.Not even after the investigations of various commissions nor after 28 years of media hype. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we cannot behave as if these "apparitions" are authentic and approved. If as Catholics, loyal sons and daughters of the Church, we wish to live according to Church norms and teachings, glorifying the Holy Trinity, venerating the B. V. Mary ever Virgin, the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of God who was Assumed in heaven and wish to confess all that the Church teaches us in the Creed, then we need not search for alternative "apparitions" and "messages" whose character the Church has not acknowledged as supernatural!
Based on what has been said, the Catholic Church has proclaimed,
1. The supernaturality is not proven (meaning there is nothing heavenly about Medjugorje.)
2. The non-supernaturality is proven (meaning what appears to be supernatural is the result of human manipulation for the purpose of fame and wealth.)
3. As previously said, official or church pilgrimages are not allowed, nor are 'private' visits allowed that have the intent of proving that the so-called 'apparitions' and alleged 'messages' are authentic!
4. The fruits of the alleged 'apparitions' of Medjugorje have been those of great confusion and division, and not only in the local Church. Such IS NOT, AND CANNOT BE of God!
5. The alleged "seers" have been proven to lie over and over during the investigations of the commissions appointed by the Catholic Church. Such IS NOT, AND CANNOT BE of God!
6. As mentioned above, one of the "seers" claimed that Our Lady said that all faiths are equal. Such IS NOT, AND CANNOT BE of God! SUCH A DOCTRINE IS NOT CATHOLIC!
Regarding the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states,
846 "How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it." [C.C.C. # 846]
The above is sufficient to prove that the faithful would achieve greater spiritual growth by attending authentic approved Shrines such as those at Lourdes or Fatima.
Medjugorje apparition claims are divisive, bishop warns http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=45105 July 4, 2006 (CWNews.com) - The Catholic bishop whose diocese includes the town of Medjugorje has warned that "something similar to a schism" has arisen at the parish church where apparitions of the Virgin Mary are alleged to take place. In a homily delivered in Medjugorje on the feast of Corpus Christi, Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that both he and his predecessor have expressed severe misgivings about the reported apparitions.
He added that both Pope John Paul II (bio - news) and Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) backed the judgments of the local bishops.
In his homily Bishop Peric explained that-- "while recognizing the Holy Father's right to give a final decision" on the validity of the reported apparitions-- he doubted their validity. He recalled that when he discussed the reports from Medjugorje with Vatican officials, including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they shared his incredulity.
"They particularly do not seem to be authentic," the bishop observed, "when it is known before that these so-called 'apparitions' will occur." Bishop Peric cited the schedule that the Medjugorje seers have provided, listing the times and places at which they claim the next visits by the Mother of God will occur. Thousands of messages from Mary are now claimed, and the bishop observed that "the flood of so-called apparitions, messages, secrets, and signs do not strengthen the faith, but rather further convince us that in all of this there is nothing neither authentic nor established as truthful."
The first reported appearances of the Virgin at Medjugorje occurred just over 25 years ago. During the 1980s, thousands of Catholic flocked to the little town, with many reporting profound spiritual experiences. These pilgrimages were eventually slowed by the violent bloodshed that tore through the region in the 1990s and by the increasingly public skepticism of the hierarchy.
Bishop Peric reminded his people of the restrictions that he has imposed on activities in Medjugorje. The parish church is not formally a "shrine," he said, and should not be characterized as such. Pilgrimages to the church are discouraged. Priests there are "not authorized to express their private views contrary to the official position of the Church on the so-called 'apparitions' and 'messages,' during celebrations of the sacraments, nor during other common acts of piety, nor in the Catholic media."
The bishops urged the "seers" of Medjugorje to "demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish."
Some of the Franciscan priests assigned to the Medjugorje parish, he said, have been expelled from their order because of their refusal to accept Church authority. "They have not only been illegally active in these parishes, but they have also administered the sacraments profanely, while others invalidly," he said. As Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, he said, he felt obliged to warn the faithful "who invalidly confess their sins to these priests and participate in sacrilegious liturgies."
Vatican denounces group's claim of seeing the Virgin Mary more than 40,000 times as 'work of the devil' http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1023492/Vatican-denounces-groups-claim-seeing-Virgin-Mary-40-000-times-work-devil.html
UK Daily Mail, June 1, 2008
The Vatican has denounced a group who claim to have seen the Virgin Mary more than 40,000 times in the past 27 years.
The six Bosnian 'seers' attract five million pilgrims a year to their home town of Medjugorje, providing a lucrative trade for local businesses. Hundreds of thousands travel there each year from Britain alone.
But now one of the most respected voices in the Roman Catholic Church has accused the visionaries of perpetuating a 'diabolical deceit'.
Andrea Gemma, 77, a bishop and once the Vatican's top exorcist, told a magazine in Italy: 'In Medjugorje everything happens in function of money: Pilgrimages, lodging houses, sale of trinkets.
'This whole sham is the work of the Devil. It is a scandal.' He said the Vatican would soon crack down on the group.
The Medjugorje phenomenon began on June 25, 1981, when six children told a priest they had seen the Virgin on a hillside near their town.
A church investigation dismissed the vision, and the Vatican banned pilgrimages to the site in 1985. But many Catholics ignored the ban.
Today, the seers own smart houses with security gates and tennis courts and expensive cars. One is married to a former U.S. beauty queen.
Catholic officials in the U.S. have recently banned the group from speaking on church property during their world tours, on which they allegedly take the Virgin with them.
Medjugorje "work of the devil": Ex Vatican exorcist
June 3, 2008
Former Vatican exorcist Bishop Andrea Gemma has denounced alleged visions of Our Lady in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje as the "work of the devil" and a "diabolical deceit".
The UK Daily Mail reports that the Vatican has rejected claims made by the six Bosnian 'seers' that they have seen the Virgin Mary more than 40,000 times over the past 27 years
Bishop Andrea Gemma, 77, once the Vatican's top exorcist, told a magazine in Italy: "In Medjugorje everything happens in function of money: Pilgrimages, lodging houses, sale of trinkets.
"This whole sham is the work of the Devil. It is a scandal."
He predicted that the Vatican would soon crack down on the group.
The Medjugorje phenomenon began on June 25, 1981, when six children told a priest they had seen the Virgin on a hillside near their town. Some of the children also claim to have received ten secrets from Our Lady.
A church investigation dismissed the vision, and the Vatican banned pilgrimages to the site in 1985. But many Catholics ignored the ban.
Today, the seers own smart houses with security gates and tennis courts and expensive cars. One is married to a former US beauty queen.