New Vatican Initiative on Medjugorje?

by Jimmy Akin

in Uncategorized

RuiniThere are new reports that the Holy See is preparing a commission to investigate the reported Marian phenomena at Medjugorje.

We’ll see.

There have been such reports before. Three years ago, for example, it was reported that . . .

Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, announced a commission would be formed to review the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje and pastoral provisions for the thousands of pilgrims who visit the town each year.

“The commission members have not been named yet,” Cardinal Puljic told Catholic News Service in a July 24 telephone interview. “I am awaiting suggestions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” on theologians to appoint.

“But this commission will be under the (Bosnian) bishops’ conference” as is the usual practice with alleged apparitions, he said.

The cardinal said he did not expect the commission to be established until sometime in September because of the summer holidays.

Such an announcement would seem to have a high degree of reliability, but as far as I know, nothing came of it. (I could be wrong on this point and would love to find out the details if so.)

Assuming the plan was to do something back then, what might have held it up?

Well, last year there were reports that the CDF was preparing a new document for the evaluation of apparitions. But the sourcing was very thin. On the other hand, Medjugorje is such a massive phenomenon that before re-examining it the Holy See might want to re-look at the criteria for judging apparitions, which (so far as we know) were last dealt with in a 1978 document.

So if they got the document done then it might explain why, last October, Cardinal Puljic told Reuters that they were awaiting some kind of action from the Holy See on Medjugorge:

We are now awaiting a new directive on this issue,” said Puljic, the Sarajevo archbishop who survived the city’s long wartime siege in the 1990s. “I don’t think we must wait for a long time, I think it will be this year, but that is not clear… I am going to Rome in November and we must discuss this.”

Then, when he did go to Rome the next month, he apparently denied the existence of a new document or that the would be a commission created by the Holy See to investigate Medjugorje. Also

Nevertheless, he reiterated, “for the moment, everything is under the jurisdiction of the local bishops.”

“Still, at any given moment, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could establish an International Commission in order to study the case of Medjugorje,” the cardinal remarked.

So we fast forward two months to January 2010 and Cardinal Schonborn, after his controversial visit to Medjugorje (for which he apologized to the local bishop for not following protocol), is talking as if there is a commission:

KATH.NET: In the past few days, you visited Pope Benedict XVI. Did you tell him about your positive experiences of Medjugorje? Did he express any opinion about it?

Cardinal Schönborn: It’s not customary to talk about audiences. But I can naturally say this much: that Medjugorje was a topic in Rome during those days, due to the public awareness of my pilgrimage. I reported about my impressions in Rome. And I am very confident that the Commission, which the Holy Father is setting up to examine the events of Medjugorje, is very good and will work very conscious of its responsibility, and that the result will certainly be good. And I am confident that it will proceed with great prudence and great sensitivity to a phenomenon that has attracted about 30 million pilgrims and brings very many good fruits, but certainly also some open questions.

Jump ahead another two months, to now, and the Italian paper Panorama is reporting:

Benedict XVI wants a clear understanding about the apparitions of the Madonna of Medjugorje. That’s why he has decided to form a commission of inquiry, led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, associated with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

And then it’s reported that Bishop Ratko Peric of the diocese of Mostar, where Medjugorje is located, has been called to Rome, possibly about Medjugorje.

Maybe more about this commission will be known in the coming days because Dr. Ratko Peri?, the bishop of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno and apostolic administrator of Trebinsko-Mrkan has been invited to Rome.

Well . . . we’ll have to see, won’t we?

We’ve seen this kind of reporting before, and thus far it hasn’t materialized . . . but maybe it will.

If so, should we expect—as Cardinal Schonborn seems to—that the results of such a commission would be positive toward the reported phenomena?

I wouldn’t be quick to assume that. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be quick to assume the opposite.

Rather than pre-judging the matter based on what one’s own personal opinion of the phenomena is, I think people on both sides of the issue should be prepared for a judgment—if one comes—that is contrary to their opinion.

Your thoughts?

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Leo March 8, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Thanks Jimmy.
Whatever the outcome of any new investigation, I find this general reminder about the status of ‘private revelation’ helpful. [My emphasis]

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

There will be no further Revelation

“The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”.

Paul March 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Jimmy, I suspect that either I am misreading you here, or you are misreading the passage from Panorama you quote in the post at your NCReg blog. I think they are saying, not that Cardinal Ruini is personally associated with CDF, but that the commission of inquiry he is chairing is associated with CDF.

RC March 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Thanks for covering this, Jimmy.
As a bonus, here’s a new article from Bishop Perić reviewing ten cases of messages that are incoherent or doctrinally problematic:
The visionaries are downright funny at times. For example, when Vicka has a vision of Heaven, she says no one there is fat, and sort of obsesses about the point. Since I have a devotion to St. Thomas Aquinas, I personally find that hard to believe.

Tim J. March 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm

“Since I have a devotion to St. Thomas Aquinas, I personally find that hard to believe.”
G.K. Chesterton would be surprised, too, I think.

Maureen March 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Well, nobody in Heaven but Mary and Jesus (and possibly Enoch et al) has a body in Heaven. So it would be a bit hard to be fat, unless Mary ate a lot of her own Jewish mother cooking! (Which, now that I think about it, is actually fairly likely. A lot of Jewish older ladies get a bit stout, in an energetic and attractive way.)
Now… whether anybody’s glorified body is stout, particularly after the general resurrection and running around in the heavenly Jerusalem on the new earth, I don’t know. But if martyrs’ wounds are glorified, it’s certainly possible for Aquinas and Chesterton to have glorified tubbiness. It would indeed be a case of having more there to love. :)

RC March 8, 2010 at 8:01 pm

That point — that no one in Heaven except Jesus, Mary, and maybe Enoch or Elijah has his body — relates to one of the doctrinal deviations involved.
The “messages” of Medjugorje said that people in Heaven and Hell have their bodies now, as if the resurrection of the body had already happened. No wonder CDF wanted Tomislav Vlasic to take a remedial course on the Nicene Creed.

Nick March 8, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Here’s a strange message from Medjugorje on Mary’s role in the Church:
September 4, 1982
“Jesus prefers that you address yourselves directly to Him rather than through an intermediary. In the meantime, if you wish to give yourselves completely to God and if you wish that I be your protector, then confide to me all your intentions, your fasts, and your sacrifices so that I can dispose of them according to the will of God.”

Nick March 8, 2010 at 11:53 pm

In case you’re wondering what an atypical discussion on Medjugorje’s fruits is, here is a sample:
But this might not be the case for everyone!

Patrick Coffin March 9, 2010 at 2:23 pm

As someone from Corpus Christi might say, “Howdy y’all. Tune in to “Catholic Answers Live” on March 24, with guest Patrick Madrid. We’re covering this announcement….and the all the main points of the neverending Medjugorje saga. Thanks for posting on it, Jimmy. I have to gently disagree with your assessment of the outcome, though. Both the late Bishop Zanic and now Bishop Peric have practically begged the Holy See to put a bow on this phenomenon once and for all. After two episcopal judgments and the findings of three national Bishops’ Commissions (which have fallen on mainly deaf ears) the faithful around the world *really* need to hear from Rome in a definitive way. Not that the zealots will lose their zeal….but still.
“No definitive teaching” from the CDF on this is highly unlikely, owing to the global division that has already shown itself. No one is saying that it is, but this is far from a US-based enthusiasm. A great many countries have some contingent of Medj zealots who routinely disregard the directives of the local Ordinary. Such a state of confusion and fractiousness in the Church can’t go on forever. God forbid.
We’ll be discussing this and other fact-based dimensions of Medjugorje on March 24. Check out the radio link at or Channel 160 on Sirius. That toll free number is 888-318-7884!

pilgrim March 10, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Jimmy said: “It may well just be rumor, but there are increasing reports in the press that the Vatican will initiate a new initiative on Medjugorje.”
Fresh initiative could be restructuring the diocese of Mostar-Duvno and creating a new bishopric for the parish of Medjugorje. Following the exodus of tens of thousands of Catholics from Bosnia & Herzegovina and not returning after the war, a rethink on diocesan boundaries is up for discussion. Shifting Medjugorje could solve a lot of problems for the current bishop of Mostar and the Holy See. Perhaps the bishop’s visit to Rome last weekend had nothing to do with talk of a new commission?

Inocencio March 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I was very happy and thankful to read that the Vatican confirmed the establishment of the commission.
VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2010 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today published the following communique:
“An international investigative commission on Medjugorje has been constituted, under the presidency of Cardinal Camillo Ruini and dependent upon the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Said commission – made up of cardinals, bishops, specialists and experts – will work privately, submitting the results of its work to the authority of the dicastery”.

St. Patrick pray for us!
Take care and God bless,

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