Waiting for a Medjugorje Decision: 12 things to know and share

by Jimmy Akin

in +PopeFrancis, Apologetics, Mary, The Church, The Pope

medjugorje-2012We are now in the period of waiting before the Holy See announces a decision regarding the reported apparitions at Medjugorje.

In recent days, several developments have emerged which people have examined to see what they might reveal about that decision.

One set of stories claims to know the decision reached by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Here are 12 things to know and share . . .


1) What are the basic facts about Medjugorje?

Medjugorje is a town located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, part of the former Yugoslavia.

In 1981, several young people there began reported receiving apparitions of the Virgin Mary. This led to the development of a global movement around the reported apparitions, which are reported to be still-ongoing today.


Over the course of time, the bishops in whose territory Medjugorje lies have made various pronouncements in which they have not supported the authenticity of the apparitions. These can be found online here.

In addition, in 1991, the then-Yugoslavian bishops conference issued a report which concluded:

On the base of studies made so far, it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations.

This represents a negative judgment on the authenticity of the apparitions.

The report can be read, along with additional background, here.

In 2010, the Holy See formed a commission under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to study the subject.

That commission completed its work and turned over its findings to the CDF for evaluation.

Following the CDF determination, Pope Francis will then make the final determination of what, if anything, is to be done.


2) What are the new developments that have been reported in recent days?

There are several. They include:

  • A response by Pope Francis to a question put to him during a recent trip to the former Yugoslavia.
  • Remarks made by Pope Francis in one of his a daily homily.
  • Remarks that Pope Francis is alleged to have made in private, as reported in a new book.
  • Reports in the Italian press that the CDF has reached its decision on Medjugorje.

The last of these claims to deal with an official action, so we will look at it first.


3) What is being reported about the CDF and its decision on Medjugorje?

According to Catholic World News:

The CDF reportedly held a feria quarta meeting on June 24, at which the prelates discussed the findings of a special papal commission that had investigated the Medjugorje phenomenon. According to several Italian journalists—notably Vatican-watch Gianluca Barile—the CDF agreed with that commission’s finding that there is no evidence of supernatural activity at Medjugorje. . . .

The CDF, according to the Italian media reports, has essentially supported the judgment rendered in 1991 by the bishops of what was then Yugoslavia. The CDF will reportedly recommend that pastors should not sponsor or support events that presume the reality of the visions claimed by the Medjugorje “seers.”

However, the CDF will reportedly urge recognition of Medjugorje as a special “place of prayer,” in light of the numerous reports of intense spiritual experiences enjoyed by visitors there. Pilgrimages to Medjugorje will not be forbidden, provided that they do not center on the alleged apparitions.


4) How likely are these reports to be accurate?

It is difficult to say. The Vatican is a leaky place, as illustrated both by the VatiLeaks scandal and the recent leaking of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’.

It is certainly possible that Barile and his colleagues in the Italian press got ahold of a genuine and accurate leak from someone with knowledge of the CDF decision.

If so, they got ahold of the information remarkably fast, because the CDF supposedly made the decision on June 24th, and the Italian press was reporting on it within 24 hours.

It could be true.

On the other hand, the Italian media reports a lot of stuff that is inaccurate.

Also, there have been numerous false reports about Medjugorje over the years, including premature reports of a Medjugorje decision that were later retracted.

We may get further clarification on this issue if the Holy See Press Office chooses to comment.

If they do, it will be necessary to read their statement(s) very carefully to see what is and is not being said.

UPDATE: Vatican Insider claims that the CDF has not made a decision on Medjugorje and won’t wor some time. We still have no word from the Vatican Press Office, so we have conflicting accounts in the Italian press.




5) What is Pope Francis alleged to have said in private regarding the subject?

According to Te Deum Laudamus:

A pro-Medjugorje website in Brazil is reporting that Pope Francis, while in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, made some rather blunt comments concerning Medjugorje, and about activities of the alleged visionaries.  The title of the post says a lot:  “Pope Francis says those who say they see Our ​​Lady have psychological problems and that the seers of Medjugorje lie to the people.”  . . .

The website discusses information revealed in a book by Father Alexander Awi Mello, who interviewed the Holy Father during his trip to Brazil.  The book, She’s my Mother: Encounters of Pope Francis with Mary” is published by Edições Loyola.

You can read the rest at Te Deum Laudamus, but basically the Pope is reported to have made skeptical remarks concerning the reported apparitions themselves without denying that there has been good connected with Medjugorje as well.


6) How accurate is this likely to be?

There is no way to know, but I wouldn’t suggest putting a lot of weight on this one.

There are too many reports of a pope saying something to someone privately (or even publicly) about Medjugorje that have turned out to be false.

It could be true, but the track record for this kind of report is not good.


7) What did the pope say in his recent daily homily?

According to the account on the Vatican web site:

“On this path”, Francis continued, there are also “those who always need newness from the Christian identity: they have forgotten that they were chosen, anointed, that they have the guarantee of the Spirit, and they search: ‘Where are the prophets who tell us today the letter that Our Lady will send us at 4:00 in the afternoon?’, for example, no? They live by this”. But “this is not the Christian identity. The last word of God is called ‘Jesus’ and nothing more”.

Some commentators have seen the dismissive reference to receiving a letter from Our Lady at 4:00 in the afternoon as indicating a dismissive attitude toward the claim of Medjugorje seers to receive messages from the Blessed Virgin on a frequent, even daily, basis at set times.

Thus Medjugorje.com states:

Our Lady usually appears for Her daily apparitions every evening in Medjugorje at 6:40 p.m. or at 5:40 p.m. Daylight Savings Time. Our Lady may appear to certain visionaries at a different time if they are traveling or for certain situations. When Ivan has his prayer groups on Monday and Friday nights, Our Lady appears to him at 10:00 p.m.


8) How significant is this as an indicator of Pope Francis’s attitude toward Medjugorje?

This is not the first time that Pope Francis has made remarks of this nature in his daily homilies.

According to the account on the Vatican web site, he said the following in a daily homily from November 14, 2013:

“Jesus tells us something quite interesting in this regard: this spirit of curiosity, which is worldly, leads us into confusion”. In the Gospel he says: “the days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Lo, there! or ‘Lo, here!’ … It is curiosity that leads us to listen to these things,” he said. “They tell us: the Lord is here, he is there, and there! But I know a visionary, a visionary who receives messages from Our Lady”. To which the Pope added: “Look, Our Lady is a Mother and she loves us all. But she is not a post woman who sends messages every day”.

In reality, Pope Francis said, “these novelties draw us away from the Gospel, from wisdom, from the glory of God, from the beauty of God”. And he added: “Jesus says that the kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention”; rather, it comes through wisdom. “The kingdom of God is in your midst”, he said, and “the kingdom of God is this work, this action of the Holy Spirit who gives us wisdom, who gives us peace.”

Pope Francis thus seems to have a skeptical attitude toward claims of unusually frequent and predictable Marian apparitions (“messages every day,” “at 4:00 in the afternoon”).

He does not mention Medjugorje in this connection, but it is by far the most prominent Marian phenomenon reporting frequent and predictable apparitions.

At least on the face of things, this suggests a certain skepticism toward the Medjugorje reports.

That’s not to say that, when the final decision is made, Pope Francis will definitely reject the Medjugorje claims. If the CDF came to him with what it considered strong evidence in favor of them, he might accept that finding.

However, it does suggest that he might well approve a finding from the CDF against the reports of apparitions at Medjugorje.


9) What did the Pope say in the interview he gave when he visited the former Yugoslavia?

There has been a question about this because of a translation issue.

In Italian, Pope Francis began his remarks with the words “Sul problema di Medjugorje . . .”

Some commenters (at least in English) seized on the word problema as an indication that Pope Francis takes a negative attitude toward Medjugorje—that he views it as a “problem.”

When I heard this claim, I was immediately skeptical, because the word problema does not necessarily carry a negative connotation. It can, in fact, simply mean “issue.”


Saying, “Sul problema di Medjugorje . . .” need mean no more than “On the issue of Medjugorje . . . .”

This is, in fact, the interpretation offered in the Vatican web site’s English translation, which is now out.


10) What does the Vatican’s English translation say?

It reads as follows:

[Journalist] Silvije Tomašević:

Good evening, Your Holiness. As one might expect, many Croats came as pilgrims to Sarajevo, and want to know if Your Holiness is coming to Croatia… But since we are in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is also great interest concerning a declaration on the phenomenon of Medjugorje…

Pope Francis:

In regard to the issue of Medjugorje, Pope Benedict XVI at the time convened a committee presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini; there were other Cardinals, theologians and specialists on the committee as well. They did an investigation and Cardinal Ruini came to me and gave me the study they did, after many years of labour, I don’t know, maybe three of four years, more or less. They did a fine job, a fine job indeed. Cardinal Müller (Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) told me that he would be having a feria quarta (a meeting dedicated to this specific question) at the right time; I think it was done on the last Wednesday of the month. But I am not sure… We are close to coming to a decision. And then the results will be communicated. For the moment, all that is being done is to give guidelines to the bishops, but along the lines that will be taken. Thank you!

[Father Lombardi (i.e., the Vatican press spokesman) notes that the proposed feria quarta has not yet, in fact, taken place.]


11) What does this tell us about what the decision is likely to be?

Pope Francis was deliberately circumspect on the issue and answered by primarily talking about the mechanics of the process rather than what its result will be.

He also was not closely familiar with the present state of the matter, as he was mistaken about whether the meeting of the CDF had taken place.

However, the very end of his comments may be significant. According to the Vatican’s English translation, he said:

For the moment, all that is being done is to give guidelines to the bishops, but along the lines that will be taken.

If this translation is accurate, it would seem to signal the general nature of what the decision is likely to be.

Pope Francis refers first to what is being done “for the moment” and notes that this consists of “giv[ing] guidelines to the bishops.”

This appears to be a reference to a series of recent communiqués from the CDF to various bishops instructing them not to allow gatherings which presuppose the veracity of the Medjugorje apparitions.

These communiqués have been supportive of the 1991 Yugoslavian bishops’ conclusion and have included restrictions on having Medjugorje seers make appearances in parishes.



The significant thing is that Pope Francis appears to refer to these directives and then seems to indicate that they are “along the lines that will be taken.”

If this translation is accurate, it suggests that the eventual decision is likely to be at least a general reaffirmation of the position that has been taken in the recent CDF communiqués.


12) What should we do at this point?

Wait. Pray. Consider reports like these serenely and carefully, and be prepared to give open-minded and supportive consideration to the Holy See’s eventual decision—whatever it may be.

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Erick June 25, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Jimmy, I haven’t read the article yet, but every time I see a new entry beside Pope Fransis weekly summary I get excited. Am I wrong followers?

Erick June 25, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Upon reflection Jimmy is right. Francis should be followed and his teachings should be spread, for some, maybe through this blog. Thank you Jimmy for your insights inspired by the Holy Spirit and thank you for including the teachings by the Vicar on earth.

Erick June 25, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Upon reflection Jimmy is right. Francis should be followed and his teachings should be spread, for some, maybe through this blog. Thank you Jimmy for your insights inspired by the Holy Spirit and thank you for including the teachings by the Vicar on earth.

Maurice O.Omollo July 7, 2015 at 7:32 am

The Biblical accounts of Revelation 12,reminds us that whenever there is always a manifestation of good intentions in our lives,what immediately follows is a feeling or a manifestation of negative intention as well,but simply a fulfillment of the Law of polarity and thus the reasons we all need to pray for God’s wisdom and discernment ,and this is why every man needs God for spiritual direction.
Jesus is the only way,truth and life to the Father just as stated by the Pope,but the most unfortunate thing is that many only know about the historical Jesus,but have never had a personal encounter with this Jesus,something that subjects us to deception of all kinds.
Mary’s role have always remain to be teaching people how to pray,how to know and love Jesus and maybe,this why it can be alluded that Jesus having fulfilled salvation mission with his death in Calvary at the cross,Mary gets out or disappear from the scene.
She goes to live with John,the disciple who was very close and loved with Jesus than all-a very good friend of Jesus.This could be alluded to be she is ever in our lives teaching and showing us Jesus and how to love him more.
My wife was a pentecostal believer before our marriage and currently undergoing through her Catholic catechism classes,and often in encounter with the Virgin Mary in most of her mental images in her prayer life,teaching her about the Catholic Church,our marriage family and about her faith in Jesus.
Initially,virgin Mary used to appear in her images as in the usual pictures we may know of,but nowadays,she often appear to her in the form of paternal mother,who is still a pentecostal believer but always teaching her about catholic faith-which simply affirms that virgin Mary is ever present in our daily lives.
Reciting rosary while holy mass is on at the same time,wearing more than one rosary at the same time,spreading novena / messages leaf lets and other very many devotions demanded by some of these groups claiming that mother Mary prompted the to do so,might be tedious,slavery and just as his Holiness Father states it,all these curiosity leads us to confusions and finally to deception since Jesus does not need the intercession of anybody in his own sacrifice if his only close disciples were unable to keep watch with him prior to his agony in the Garden of Eden.
The Pope says something beautiful,”The kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention:rather it comes through WISDOM.”
It maybe alluded that the many Rosaries,i.e Liberation,chaplet of divine mercy,seven sorrows,perpetual help,St.Joseph chaplet,etc prayers were divinely prompted through revelations for very noble and specific intentions and should not lead us to confusion and religious slavery,and which eventually may lead us to worship them as gods.
I have always been prompted on various occasions and intentions to reflect on some of these devotional prayers,e.g The way of the cross reflections,the Chaplet of the Seven sorrows,the Rosary of praise and Liberation,etc,but the common thing in doing all these is that they all lead / point us to Jesus,show us to our further healing,deliverance,and conversion,thus increasing Jesus in our lives,our our society,conversion and salvation.
Religious slavery and confusion might only have to do with the external man,thus confined thinking with inflexible reasoning leading to being judgmental due to curiosity which Pope Francis says is worldly,thus limiting our creative prowess of claiming God’s kingdom within us.
But if they all have to do much with the internal man,where conversion is genuine,becomes eminent and real,love,peace and unity prevail within us and our surrounding environs of our society,then we may conclude these to be true sign posts to our conversion / salvation as enshrined in John 17.21-22.
The above may also show us how much faster we are side-tracking from Testimonies / witnessing God’s word in our lives to myths as stated by St.Paul(1Tim1.4-7;2Tim4.3-5)
The word of God states in the book of Revelation,”….they never loved their lives …and overcame him by the their testimonies and the blood of the lamb”

Best wishes for an inspired week full of God’s blessings,

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