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.