The Apparitions Rumor Net

by Jimmy Akin

in Benedict XVI

A number of years ago, when reported Marian apparitions were getting an enormous amount of attention, a rumor network built up around them that did a couple of things to foster the devotion of those who were regular readers of these reports.

The first thing that the rumor network did was to circulate claims that a particular apparition either had been approved by the Church or that it was on the verge of being approved–when in fact neither of these was true.

The second thing that the rumor network did–in the case of some reported apparitions–was to try to represent high churchmen (particularly John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger) as endorsers of their favored apparition.

"The Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger are really into the Divine Will," a supporter of Luisa Picaretta once told me.

Many similar claims were made regarding the two figures and Medjugorje.

At the time, I was quite skeptical of such claims but–even if they were true, I asserted–if the pope and Cardinal Ratzinger wished to lend their names to such apparitions then they would come out and say so.

Now the bishop of Mostar-Duvno (in whose territory Medjugorje lays) has published an interview in his own diocesan paper in which he discusses Pre-16’s attitude toward Medjugorje. I’m afraid that it may not sit well with some supporters of Medjugorje. Here is an excerpt provided by John Allen:

Some newspapers have written that this Pope visited Medjugorje incognito while he was a cardinal and that he is preparing to recognize Medjugorje as a shrine, etc. Did you touch upon this topic?

We did, and I wrote to and spoke with the Holy Father on it. He only laughed surprisingly. Regarding the events of Medjugorje our position is well known: not a single proof exists that these events concern supernatural apparitions and revelations. Therefore from the church’s perspective no pilgrimages are allowed which would attribute any authenticity to these alleged apparitions.

The Holy Father told me: "We at the Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith] always asked ourselves, how can any believer accept as authentic apparitions that occur every day and for so many years? Are they still occurring every day?"

I responded: "Every day, Holy Father, to one of the [visionaries] in Boston, to another near Milan and still another in Krehin Gradac (Herzegovina), and everything is done under the protocol of ‘apparitions of Medjugorje’. Up till now there have been about 35,000 ‘apparitions’ and there is no end in sight!"

… The numerous absurd messages, insincerities, falsehoods and disobedience associated with the events and "apparitions" of Medjugorje from the very outset, all disprove any claims of authenticity. Much pressure has been made to force the recognition of the authenticity of private revelations, yet not through convincing arguments based upon the truth, but through the self-praise of personal conversions and by statements such as one "feels good". How can this ever be taken as proof of the authenticity of apparitions?

… Finally the Holy Father said: "We at the congregation felt that priests should be of service to those faithful who seek Confession and Holy Communion, leaving out the question of the authenticity of the apparitions."


I myself don’t make any claims regarding whether the bishop is correct in his assessment of B16’s attitude toward Medjugorje. I know that Bishop Peric is viewed negatively and may not be trusted by many Medjugorje supporters, and as I am not a student of the situation, I don’t claim to know who is right. But it is noteworthy that a bishop would say "Pope Benedict told me this" and publish it in his own diocesan newspaper.

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Dan E. April 19, 2006 at 5:28 am

This article reminds me of the “Marian apparition” at Garabandal, Spain. Exactly one year ago today the apparition was disproven with the election of Benedict XVI. His ascendency to the papacy made him the fourth Pope after John XXIII. Supposedly, Mary told a visionary at Garabandal that only three popes were left until “the end of time.”
June 1963, the bells of Garabandal started to ring. The following is a conversation between the visionary, Conchita, and her mother, Aniceta:
Conchita: “The bells are tolling for the dead! It must be for the Pope (John XXIII). Now only three remain.”
Aniceta: “What nonsense are you talking about?”
Conchita: “It is not nonsense. The Virgin told me, ‘After this pope there will be only three more’.”
Aniceta: “Then what? Will it be the end of the world?”
Conchita: “The Virgin did not say ‘the end of the world’ but ‘the end of time’.”
With her aunt Maximina some time later, again the conversation was about the three popes and Conchita repeated once more:
“The Virgin did not say the end of the world, but the end of time.” And again, on 1 November 1966, Conchita told Mother Maria des Nieves, superior of the boarding house in Burgos: “One day I said to the Virgin, ‘at the time of these future events (Warning, Miracle) will that be the end of the world?’” And She answered me: ‘No, the end of time.’”
Also in that same year, Conchita told Mother Maria des Nieves: “After Paul VI there will only be two more popes; then will come the end of time.”
Oops. I guess Mary was wrong. The Garabandal faithful have been spinning this big time since the death of John Paul the Great. I don’t see the local bishop approving this apparition any time soon.

Anonymous April 19, 2006 at 6:44 am

I am shocked that anyone still entertains the prospect of Medjugorje being legitimate.
These hoax “visionaries” have put heinous blasphemies and orders of disobedience in the mouth of their “vision.” What a disgrace and an affront to the Blessed Mother.
My favorite story is one where Vicka, one of the “visionaries,” was in “ecstasy.” Someone jumped out of the crowd and waved his hand in front of her face so that she jumped. Of course, were she really in ecstasy, she would have been undisturbed. One of the Franciscans took her into another room, then they reappeared several minutes later claiming “Mary had dropped the child Jesus.” What?
This “Gospa” also purportedly approves of those priests fathering children by nuns at the site and saying invalid Masses.
This place continues to put out some of the most deceptive, misleading falsehood about the faith ona daily basis. The visionaries are liars and cannot keep their own stories straight; the “vision” asked them to enter religious life and they all went and married.
I am more shocked that Rome has not formally CONDEMNED this nonsense.
The following does a fine job of exposing the hoax:

Alan Phipps April 19, 2006 at 7:20 am

“The Virgin did not say ‘the end of the world’ but ‘the end of time’.”
As with many things, Garabandal apologists explain this by saying that the Virgin said “el fin de los tiempos”, which can also be translated as, “the end of the epoch” or “present age”, which may not refer to the end of all time. They say that this epoch will end with JPII, and a new one begins with BXVI.

Scott W. April 19, 2006 at 9:09 am

If I’m not mistaken (and I will certainly accept correction), the bishop of a diocese where apparations are reported is the first authority in determining its authenticity. So if he says no, that generally would lay the matter to rest.

Paul Druce April 19, 2006 at 10:08 am

“I am more shocked that Rome has not formally CONDEMNED this nonsense.”
If I remember correctly, it’s been condemned by every single bishop of that diocese and one or two national conferences of bishops. Rome’s probably thinking that a formal condemnation from the CDF would not only be overkill but set a bad precedent.

Jamie Beu April 19, 2006 at 12:35 pm

Can anyone point to published claims or prophecies of Medugorje that have been refuted?
The reason I ask is because my wife and I went to Medugorje on our honeymoon, and we did not see anything except piety and peace.
Thank you.

J. R. Stoodley April 19, 2006 at 12:50 pm

Wherever people pray there will be piety and peace. This is especially true if they are praying to God, but you will find piety and peace in Hindu or Buddhist temples too.
While piety and peace are good fruits to look for, so is orthodoxy and consistency. I am no expert but it seems that Medugorje has neither.
I generally go by the rule that if the visionary is a saint or blessed, I believe it, since it means the person lived a life of heroic virtue and is in heaven. It’s hard to believe they were insane or lying in that case. The exception is when the person had a secretary who could have embellished things, so then I don’t trust the details.
If the Church has not condemned it or anything like that, I am open to it but will not pay much attention.
If the Church generally disapproves and/or the visionaries give evidence of lieing or immorality (for instance as children they apparently were told they should become priests and nuns but instead they did not and got married, showing either they rejected their vocation or the vision was a fake) then I don’t worry about it any more than the issue of the Loch Ness monster.
Granted, by this method I would have rejected Sister Faustina’s Divine Mercy stuff (and everyone by all means ask for the graces promised next Sunday when you recieve the Eucharist) but it is much safer to follow the guidance of the Church. If St. Faustina had really said what the Vatican thought for some time she had said, then that would be proof enought that she was lying or insane. I doubt such cases were the original copy of what is said is not what is examined is rare, if not non-existant after that mistake.

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th) April 19, 2006 at 4:05 pm

>Wherever people pray there will be piety and peace. This is especially true if they are praying to God, but you will find piety and peace in Hindu or Buddhist temples too.
I reply: I agree. A lot of people I know went to Medugorje and recieved many blessing from God. I don’t doubt that for a second…..that having been said I don’t for a second believe the BVM appeared at Medugorje either. God can & will respond to authentic Faith & Piety. But that by itself is not a real proof now is it?

Jared Weber April 19, 2006 at 5:55 pm

JR Stoodley:
What in particular are you referring to with St. Faustina as far as her being insane?

bill912 April 19, 2006 at 6:21 pm

Jared, JRS wrote: “IF St. Faustina had REALLY said what the Vatican THOUGHT for some time she had said…” He didn’t say he thought she was insane.
I’m with you, JRS; if the Church approves an apparition, so do I; if the Church condemns an apparition, so do I; if the Church has not ruled on an appariton, I keep silent and ignore it.

J. R. Stoodley April 19, 2006 at 7:51 pm

Jared Weber,
I honestly don’t know what the specific concern is. Apparently though, St. Faustina had very little education (4th grade level if I am not mistaken) and thus wrote in a very simple way. Some Polish guy or other evidently “revised” or rewrote her diary in better Polish to make it more fit for publication. It is this version that was translated into Italian, read by Vatican people, and condemned. When Cardinal Wojtyla read the original Polish version though, he did not find whatever the Vatican objected to in them. He therefore petitioned Rome to lift the ban on her writings, and they were lifted shortly before Wojtyla was elected Pope himself (luckily, or else it would look suspicious that her writings were only approved when her apologizer, who was also working on her beatification despite the ban, was elected Pope himself).
Of course she was then Beatified and Canonized by the same Pope, and Divine Mercy Sunday universalized.
Your attitude is safe enough, but I’m a bit stricter. If the private relelation is approved but the visionary not beatified or cannonized, that means the Church finds nothing objectionable about the message or good evidence that the visionary is a fake. However, it is only with the declaration by the Church of heroic virtue on the part of the visionary that I find it almost unthinkable that they were insane or lying. It is then that I put trust in the apparition.

Jared Weber April 19, 2006 at 9:20 pm

Okay, but what specifically is objectionable in her writings? I’m not trying to defend her writings. I honestly don’t know to what you are referring. Everything that I’ve read has seemed pretty straight-forward, but I admit I haven’t read that much.
I’m just curious to get a full perspective on the issue.

Jared again April 19, 2006 at 9:24 pm

Sorry, that came out a bit incoherently. What I meant to ask was: Just out of curiosity, what did certain parties believe that St. Faustina believed that would make one believe that she was cuckoo?

J. R. Stoodley April 19, 2006 at 9:29 pm

As I tryed to say in the first sentence of my last post, but a typo obscured my meaning a litte, I don’t know what the objection WAS. There is certainly no objection any more, nor was there ever any objection to anything really in her original writings. The problem was something that was added or distorted in, depending on who you ask, either the rewritten Polish addition of Divine Mercy in My Soul or in the Italian translation of that.
There is nothing at all wrong with the actual writtings of St. Faustina, which I am sure are what are translated into English today.

J. R. Stoodley April 19, 2006 at 9:30 pm

Sorry, you posted your last comment while I was writting mine.

Jared again April 19, 2006 at 9:49 pm

Okeedokee. Sorry for sounding thick-headed.

Jeff April 21, 2006 at 7:50 am

Sometimes, too, what happens in these cases is that purported visionaries are SUPPOSED to have said or done this or that and it turns out later not to have been the case. The stories get spread and repeated among the opponents of the apparition and repeated until they become “fact”.
I’m not saying that either Garabandal or Medjugoje are true; I’m rather skeptical myself. But then I’m very skeptical about all claimed miracles; it’s in my nature, I guess.
But people I have admired a great deal such as Fr. Rene Laurentin and Fr. Gilsdorf have been strong believers in Garabandal and Medjugorje. And I think that, though there may be some weird fringe stuff that goes on, on the whole the “fruits” of these two apparitions have been powerful, long-lasting, and good. This is “proof” of nothing, but it is “evidence” in favor even if it’s not conclusive.
So, I remain cautious and skeptical about these apparitions, but also cautious and skeptical about the hyper-skeptics…

ELLY October 27, 2007 at 8:45 pm

I heard in prayer that an EARTHQUAKE is coming to SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA in the summer of 2008. THE SUMMER of 2008 will be difficult and there will be apostasy. Come and learn more about the coming future.

simone August 10, 2008 at 3:21 am

The end of this ‘Era’ or ‘Epoch’ technically is on 12/21/12 at 11:11 (winter solstice) We will have ‘precessed’ through all the astrological signs… a 36,000 year galactic cycle. (look up ‘precession’) You can confirm this on NASA’s website.. as well as galactic alignment, solar flare maximum, and a possible pole shift, and all kinds of other interesting Astronomical stuff in 2012. Although all the talk is about the Mayan Calendar, for Catholics, we should recognize that on that day, Revelations chapter 12 will be fulfilled, with the sign of the Virgin giving birth. There is a dark ‘rift’ zone in the milky way which will appear as a female birth canal with the sign of Virgo above… the sun will be in the center of the rift on that date… so it will appear as Virgo giving birth to a sun (son). Read Revelation chapters 12 and 21 and 11:11. The Gregorian Calendar is specifically pointing to this date to match Revelations chapters 12 and 21. This will signal the end of the ‘Age of Pisces’ (Jesus) and usher in the ‘age of Aquarius’ (the Water Bearer / Holy Spirit). Luke 22:10 “And He said to them, “When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters.” This will be the New Era of Peace prophesied at Fatima (1000 years of peace in Revelations). And let us not forget the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on St. Juan Diego’s Tilma which is the same image of the prophesy of Revelations 12, which spiritually connects us to the Ancient Mayans. The cross in the sky that is referred to in St. Faustina’s Diary with the 3 days of darkness also is referring to this date, since there will be an alignment of the galaxy with the ecliptic which will appear as a great cross in the heavens. The three days of darkness (no sun for 3 days over most of the earth) all will occur… look it up, see for yourself. These are approved Apparitions/ Saints. Why are so few Catholics talking about what will be the greatest event in human history after the birth of Jesus Christ? Read the signs of the times and prepare your hearts! We should be bursting with joy, that God’s Will is being fulfilled in these times. Revelations = Revealing / Unveiling / Illumination / Awakening!

bill912 August 10, 2008 at 4:27 am

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”–Matt. 24:36.
“Take heed that no one leads you astray.”–Matt. 24:4.

Greg February 28, 2009 at 3:09 am

I usually don’t comment but Dan E’s response needs a bit of clarification with regard to the Garabandal event.
At Garabandal, during the apparition in question, Mary told Conchita Gonzalez (one of the visionaries)and/or all four at the time that “after Pope John, there will be three more popes, and then it will be the end of time.” Some have interpreted this to mean that John Paul II would be the last pope (which he was not, so this interpretation can be dismissed). Others interpreted it as the “end times” or the ending of our present era. Historically, this remains to be seen by hindsight. And some have simply believed that Our Lady was referring to the length of time that God would allow for the messages to be spread throughout the world. The ‘time’ after the death of John Paul II will be the fulfillment of this ‘time’ before the prophecied events occur. How long this ‘time’ period will be is not certain. However, we do know that it cannot occur until “Communism comes again” in the world, creating a grave tribulation for the Church.

bill912 February 28, 2009 at 3:57 am

Even 3 years later, Dan E is proven right.

Greg March 1, 2009 at 6:37 pm

I don’t see how, since Dan E’s opinion was based on a faulty interpretation of what was actually said.

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