Interview with Fr. Ivan Sesar about False Medjugorje Information

By Žarko Ivković, Večernji list

 

Recently, the media published sensational news: that the Vatican began to square the accounts with the phenomenon called Medjugorje, and that the Pope himself called Medjugorje a fraud. In the background of this false information was the case of Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, punished by the Vatican for “spreading of doubtful doctrines, manipulation of consciences, doubtful mysticism, disobedience and fault against the sixth commandment (fornication).” As this is a priest who used to serve in Medjugorje, the authenticity of Our Lady’s apparitions in Medjugorje was once again under suspicion.

 

What does Dr. Fr. Ivan Sesar, Provincial of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province and former Pastor of Medjugorje, say about this?

 - I am surprised by these wrong, and I would even say malevolent, conclusions. It is well-known that the Holy See is observing the events of Medjugorje with special attention, and that it has not pronounced any final judgment yet. The Vatican is not an institution that is squaring the accounts with anyone and with Medjugorje least of all.

 

But the case of Fr. Tomislav, who was punished, is another proof for the skeptics that the phenomenon of Medjugorje has been invented by the Herzegovinian Franciscans?

– It is a pure fiction that the phenomenon of Medjugorje has been invented by the Herzegovinian Franciscans. All those who are well-intentioned and make an effort to find out the truth about the beginnings of the Medjugorje events, will easily find out that the Franciscans, who were serving in Medjugorje at that time, approached these events with much precaution.

 

The journalist Inoslav Bešker pushed even further and asked if precisely Vlašić “invented the apparitions.” What is the truth about the activities of Fr. Tomislav in Medjugorje?

 – This is an equally absurd assertion. It is well-known and easy to prove that Fr. Tomislav was not serving in Medjugorje in June 1981, when the first apparitions began, as the six children said. He did not even know the children. He came to Medjugorje by the will of his superiors in September 1981, after Fr. Jozo Zovko had been arrested. He was working in the parish less than four years, in 1985 he was transferred to Vitina, and in 1988 he left for Italy.

 

Was Fr. Tomislav the spiritual guide of the visionaries? Was he presenting himself falsely, even to the Pope, as the one who “by God’s providence leads the Medjugorje visionaries”?

– This provincial house has never proposed or appointed anyone as the spiritual guide of the visionaries. I think that not a single one of the parish priests of Medjugorje ever had a “mandate” to lead them spiritually. The fact is that some of the Franciscans were hearing confessions of some of the visionaries; they had, and still do have, friendly relationships with them and their families. Who is whose friend or spiritual guide, you have to ask this to the visionaries themselves. These days, we could read in the media that some of the visionaries denied this kind of leadership.

 

Is the punishment that strikes Fr. Tomislav in any relation with his activities in Medjugorje? Mons. Ratko Perić, the Bishop of Mostar, is putting it in this context.

- As much as I understood from the documents that I read, Fr. Tomislav Vlašić has been punished neither because of his former pastoral activities in the parish Medjugorje, nor because of the Medjugorje phenomenon, nor because of his personal attitude towards this phenomenon. When he was transferred from Medjugorje, the bishop did not take away from him any priestly faculties! I do not see the reason to connect this with his activities in Medjugorje or with the phenomenon itself, and even less reasons to interpret this as a negative attitude of the Vatican towards Medjugorje.  

 

What is the position of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province towards the case of Fr. Tomislav Vlašić?

– In 1992, he officially joined the Italian Franciscan Province of Abruzzo, where he is living and working. This means that – since then - this provincial house has no access to his occupations and to what he is doing. According to the rules of our Order, he is not obliged to give an account about his activities to the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province of the Assumption of the BVM, and he has not done it. He is under the authority of the provincial and the provincial government of the province to which he belongs. I have never been officially informed about the details of his activities in Italy.

 

• The Vatican has announced a new commission that will re-examine the phenomenon of Medjugorje. What do you know about it?

– The rumor about a new commission that is supposed to examine the phenomenon of Medjugorje is becoming louder and louder, but our provincial office has not received any officinal written confirmation.

 

• Is this commission going to be under the Pope’s “patronage?”  Has any member been appointed yet?

– As much as I have been informed unofficially, it is supposed to be an international commission to be appointed by the Holy See. As a provincial of the province to which the parish Medjugorje has been entrusted for pastoral care, and as a former pastor of Medjugorje, I declare that we are totally open and ready to collaborate with any commission appointed by the official Church. From the very beginning, the parish Medjugorje has been legally led by the Franciscans who, according to the rules of the Church, are appointed by the local Church authorities. The pastoral staff desires all the events to be in conformity with the rules of the Church and the doctrine of the Church. Medjugorje is not, as some think and say, “a project of some individuals or some groups,” but a graceful gift of Heaven offered to today’s people and humanity.

 

• Is there anything happening “behind the scene”?

– In Medjugorje, there is nothing secret or “behind the scene,” hidden from the public eyes. Everyone, a believer or an unbeliever, can come and see what is happening and why such large crowds of pilgrims from the whole world gather there. The numbers confirm that, in spite of everything, Medjugorje is today one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in the world in the Catholic Church, and an irresistible magnet for many who

seek God.

 

Interview: Provincial of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province and former Pastor of Medjugorje - Večernji list, September 14, 2008. Interview by Žarko Ivković

(See: http://www.vecernji.hr/newsroom/news/bih/3165720/index.do)


The Mariologist Laurentin defends Medjugorje:
“What satanic deceit? Our Lady is really appearing”
.

by Bruno Volpe

VATICAN CITY - Confrontation of opinions: the beauty of dialectics. On the columns of our newspaper, the trustworthy bishop and exorcist, Monsignor Andrea Gemma, has severely fustigated the phenomenon of Medjugorje defining it as “a great deceit”. We wanted to hear also a favorable opinion on the apparitions in that country. Therefore we have interviewed one of the most authoritative living Mariologists, Father Renè Laurentin.


Father Laurentin, what is your answer to Monsignor Gemma?


“First of all, I send him a warm greeting. Usually, to be true, I don’t like to speak about Medjugorje because I prefer to follow the line of silence chosen by the Church, but in this precise case I cannot be in agreement with Monsignor Gemma. The number of the apparitions of Our Lady is probably excessive, but I do not think that one can speak about a satanic deceit. On the other hand, we note in Medjugorje the most elevated number of conversions to the catholic faith: what would Satan gain in bringing back so many souls to God? Look, in this kind of situations prudence is an obligation, but I am convinced that Medjugorje is a fruit of the Good and not of the Evil”.


Monsignor Gemma has also spoken about impressing economic interests to the advantage of the visionaries and their collaborators…


“This criticism does not seem too convincing to me. Do not forget that in the fringes of every religious shrine there are souvenir stores and wherever a Saint or a Blessed is venerated, hundred of cars are coming, and hotel structures arise to give hospitality to the pilgrims. According to the reasoning of Monsignor Gemma, we would have to say that
Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe and San Giovanni Rotondo are also deceits inspired by Satan in order to make some people rich? And then, it seems to me that even the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, directly connected to the Vatican, organizes travels to Medjugorje. Therefore…”


Monsignor Gemma has also asserted that the Catholic Church has denied the authenticity of the apparitions through the two successive Bishops of Mostar.


“I regret, but I do not agree. The two local bishops count, yes, but relatively. In the present situation, the Holy See has not denied the authenticity of the apparitions, but with usual caution, the Church suspends its judgment and waits for ulterior certitude and deepening”.


The Bishop-exorcist, who knows well the Medjugorje case, has emphasized that the present Pope Benedict XVI, when he was the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has forbidden pilgrimages in that place organized by religious and clergymen.


“You see, the documents signed by the Cardinal Ratzinger do not prevent any religious or clergyman to go to Medjugorje. The prohibition, if it can be defined in these terms, concerns the participation of the bishops to mass pilgrimages”.


You are very close to the positions of the Servant of God John Paul II, aren’t you?


“I wish to emphasize that the Polish Pope said: `I regret to have to guide the Church from the
Vatican and not from Medjugorje.’ That seems to me very significant”.


(http://www.papanews.it/dettaglio_interviste.asp?IdNews=7504#a)


"GIVE ME A HAND"
by John O'Brien
 
When we are in need of someone's help, we often ask, "Can you give me a hand?"  In the annual apparition of Our Lady to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on March 18, 2008, Mary said, "Dear children, today I extend my hands towards you.  Do not be afraid to accept them.  They desire to give you love and peace and to help you in salvation.  Therefore, my children, receive them."  Mirjana commented, "I have never seen Our Lady address us in this manner.  She extended her hands towards us..." 
 
This message brought to mind a scripture verse that was popular years ago in what has come to be known as "The Prayer of Jabez" (1 Chronicles 4:10).  In the prayer, Jabez prays to the Lord, "that Your Hand would be with me."  In reflecting on the meaning of this Scripture and Mary's message, God's hand and Mary's hands are a sign of their presence with us, their help, their protection, and their power.  In Deuteronomy 7:8 it is written: "It was because the LORD loved you and because of His fidelity to the oath He had sworn to your fathers, that He brought you out with His strong hand from the place of slavery..."  And again in Dt 33:3, "But all his holy ones were in His hand; they followed at His feet and He bore them up on His pinions."
 
We all need help in this life, both physical and spiritual.  The Lord and Mary are offering to be our help if we but accept them.  "For I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not, I will help you" (Isaiah 41:13).  Through our faith and prayer, we ask God and Mary to be with us for provision and protection, as evidenced in the prayer given by Jesus Himself, the "Our Father": "Give us this day our daily bread" and "deliver us from evil."
 
In asking for "God's hand," we are also asking for His power to do the works for which He has called us: "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26) and "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12).
 
Therefore, let us pray for a deep faith in God: that He will be with us to guide, protect, provide and empower.  Let us trust in the Virgin Mary's presence and help in our lives.  May we be filled with the Holy Spirit and may God's hand be with us.
 
"So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exult you in due time.  Cast all your worries upon Him because He cares for you"  (1 Peter  5:6-7

 Mirjana speaks to Pilgrims

The following was transcribed from an interview with Mirjana in Medjugorje June 2007.

Mirjana says she has not been to heaven but being with Our Lady is like being in heaven.  Everyone says that the greatest love on earth is love you have for your child. However, Mirjana says, “When I am with Our Lady, my children do not exist for me. There is only one desire for me: that Our Lady would never leave or at the moment that she leaves she will take me with her. My only desire is to do what she desires of me. I feel so cheerful then.” She feels such peace that she does not want it to end.

The moment when Our Lady comes is one of such intense emotions. The room disappears, everything disappears. Everything turns blue like the sky an Our Lady is in the very middle. During that time Mirjana does not feel herself. For two days she was tested by the Institute for Supernatural Happenings in the World from Innsbruck, Austria. Machines were attached to her including a lie detector and she was hypnotized. Experts concluded that she has supernatural, beautiful experiences. They could not tell if was Mary or Jesus or the angels. But the way her body reacted no human could react and still be alive.

After the apparition, she has to be alone in her room for one, two or three hours, praying to God to help her understand that it has to be this way: that Our Lady has to depart and that she has to continue this way. She feels such enormous love for Our Lady and that is why it hurts so much after the apparition is over. It is always very painful but prayer helps her.

Early Experiences

Mirjana is the only one not from Medjugorje. She was born in Sarajevo. Both of her parents were born in Bijakovici. She visited her relatives in the village every summer. In 1981, Communism existed in the country and to them God did not exist especially in regard to apparitions. No one spoke of faith. With Communism they learned to keep their mouths shut. Villagers attended Holy Mass on Sunday and every evening every family prayed the rosary. They did not learn about Fatima and Lourdes until much later, so when Our Lady first appeared, Mirjana simply escaped. So the first meeting was not so glorious.

Police forced her to return to Sarajevo immediately. They came to her home every day and turned everything upside down. They took her away and never told her when she would be allowed to return. Every evening she had her apparitions at the same time as the others. Our Lady told her the same things she told the others but never said anything about her particular situation. She suffered a lot because she was alone. After a month she understood: “I am like every other person for Our Lady.” If you have a problem, pray, fast and God will help you. There are no privileged ones. After that she was happy. It was a very difficult time for her, but with prayer she was able to get through it.

Before the apparitions began in 1981, some of the visionaries did not know each other and all were different. Fr. Slavko used to meet with them often to discuss their mission. He said the greatest sign of authenticity to him was that Our Lady chose the six of them, how ordinary they were and how different. Mirjana is very close to Jacov, who lives across the street, visits her 10 times a day and jokes with her. Ivan lives nearby and preaches to her so that she has to remind him that she is a visionary as well.  They all meet at times but they have their own friends.

She Cannot Attend Evening Mass

Mass is the center of her life. She is sorry that she cannot attend the evening Croatian Mass because she creates such a distraction. People crowd around her, ask her for her autograph and even cut her hair as a souvenir. She realized that she has no right to disturb others in Mass. On one occasion she heard a scissors, turned around, and an Italian had some of her hair, for “his pocket.”  She attends the early morning Croatian Mass when only the villagers attend, and to them she is just “Mirjana.” It is the only time she can really participate.

Mirjana’s children grew up with the apparitions. She and her husband try to bring them closer to the faith. She tells them that Our Lady chooses some people not because they are the best at anything, but because at that moment she needed someone so she chose her. Together with them they all have the same responsibility to help people understand God’s love. Once when she gave a talk to Italians, at the end of the talk they all crowded around her and wanted to touch her. Her daughter Veronica, who was five years-old, said, “They did not get the message. They wanted to touch you as if you are important, but Our Lady is the one who is important.”

Young People—Dance With Jesus

To young people she says to be not afraid to follow Jesus. Many young people think that they will have to give up everything in life. They only have to give up what is bad—alcohol and drugs. If they are open to God more, they will be able to dance with Jesus, i.e., dance without drugs and alcohol.

Our Lady gave each visionary a special group of people to pray for. Mirjana was asked to pray for unbelievers. Our Lady calls them, “those who do not know the love of God yet.”  She asks us to especially pray for them because most of the bad things in the world come from unbelievers: abortions, crime, divorces, war. She asks not to judge them, only to pray for them and be an example for them. When you pray for unbelievers, you pray for yourself as well and for your own future and that of your children.

Pope John Paul II Meets Mirjana

Mirjana was in Rome at Vatican at St. Peter’s Basilica. She was with an Italian priest.
The Pope was walking by blessing all the people. He blessed her and, as he passed, the priest said, “Holy Father, this is Mirjana from Medjugorje.” He turned back and blessed her again. Later, the priest received a note for Mirjana to come to Castel Gandolfo the next morning in order to talk with the Pope. Mirjana did not sleep that night. For her the Pope was really something special. She came before him all alone and all she could do was cry. In order to make her feel better, he started speaking in Polish thinking it was similar to Croatian. She could not understand a word. Finally she had the strength to say, “Can we try Italian?”  The Pope told her that if he were not pope he would have been in Medjugorje a long time ago. He asked her to pray for his intentions and told her, “Take good care of Medjugorje for Medjugorje is hope.”

Current Apparitions

Mirjana is the visionary to first receive all ten secrets. In 1982 she received the tenth secret and was told by the Blessed Mother that she would have an apparition once a year in March. She was also told that she would have extraordinary apparitions. These began on August 2, 1987, and have continued on the second day of every month.

In the beginning of her apparitions on the second of each month, she had them in the basement of her home. So many people wanted to come and she did not feel right to that one can or cannot come, so she moved to Apparition Hill. The sick pilgrims could not come there, so she began having her monthly apparition at the Cenacolo. The recovering boys who live there prepare everything with their heart and welcome everyone who wants to come.


Holy Father Benedict XVI Prayed in front of an Image of Our Lady of Medjugorje


The Web portal of Radio
Vatican reports in a text of July 21, 2007, that Pope Benedict XVI, in Lorenzago di Cadore where he stayed until July 27, spent one hour in prayer in front of an image of Our Lady of Medjugorje. Radio Vatican said that it was a very poignant moment.


The Pope went to the small chapel in the forest and prayed in front of the image of Our Lady of Medjugorje. An interesting story is connected with this image: it was brought in the 80’s and was stolen. After some time, the thief brought it back to the small chapel. The Pope prayed the Rosary and spent there about one hour”, says the journalist of Radio
Vatican.


More about it: 21/07/2007 13.58.19, „Attesa per il secondo Angelus di Benedetto XVI da Lorenzago. Ieri sera, al Castello di Mirabello, il concerto dei cori del Cadore in onore del Papa“

(http://www.radiovaticana.org/it1/Articolo.asp?c=145895, http://www.radiovaticana.org/it1/indice.asp?RedaSel=37&CategSel=6)

 
 


A Journey to Freedom

by Denis O’Leary

 In June 1990, I went to Medjugorje. I went…not because I believed in all the events I had been told that were occurring in that special place …but I went as an alcoholic who had never been on a sun-holiday in his life! My reason for going would certainly not have been very honorable!

 When I arrived in Medjugorje, I immediately decided that this was the greatest place on the face of the earth!  To me it was a kind of “paradise”… alcohol was so inexpensive in this simple little village! Little did people that I had traveled with realize that “I was here only for the beer!”  In fact, most of those wonderful friends who had traveled in our little group would not have known that I was an alcoholic. I was one of those secret drinkers who had become expert at covering my disease. The only one that knew was my wife, Veronica.  Even I did not know then!

That week went so quickly. I would take part in some of the ceremonies but would be so anxious for them to be over and done with…so that I could get my “fix” of alcohol as soon as I possibly could. I was playing a “blinder,” as they say. I had everybody convinced that all was well with me. Nobody knew the real me. Nobody knew my dependence on alcohol. Nobody knew of the dark and very serious sin that was in my soul since I was about nineteen years of age. Nobody knew that I had not made a proper confession for over 27 years! I should say that prior to my traveling to Medjugorje (through the prayers of a beautiful young priest) I had been released from the terrible life of being dependent on many non-prescribed drugs like “hash” and marijuana. But the alcohol was still ruling and slowly destroying my health.

Now as I sat at the table and as I consumed my quota of false courage, I believed that I had everybody fooled in this quiet village. But someone else was not having the wool pulled over her eyes! Little did I know that my every move was being monitored very closely. Little did I know what was lying in store for this foolish sinner.

After returning home, I decided to keep attending the local prayer group meeting that I had been encouraged by a great friend to join.  I was receiving much comfort from these little prayer gatherings. These good people really cared.

In August 1990, I suddenly realized that I had a problem with alcohol. I became so fearful. I asked the young priest to pray with me again. I suppose that I was looking for an instant healing…just as what happened when the priest had prayed with me and that I had been set free from the drugs.  While it did not happen instantly as I had wanted…it happened a month later. It was hard at first. But through the grace of God, I was able to persevere.

In June 1991, I was back in Medjugorje. I was present with about 70,000 people at night on Mount Podbrdo for the anniversary visitation of the Queen of Peace for the young visionaries. I was here now for the right reason. On that very special night in 1991 (through the grace of God), I was privileged in having a most beautiful and blessed experience. Though I did not realize what it meant at the time, I was having a most merciful grace bestowed upon my heart. I was receiving a wonderful gift of courage. I cried myself to sleep that night. Even though the tears were flowing freely, I felt so happy. 

Early the following morning I walked towards St. James Church. I saw a priest approaching from the side of the church. Before I even realized it …I was on my knees before that holy man, and for the first time in 27 years I was confessing to God that dark secret that I had tried to hide from Him for so long. I cried and cried.  As the priest raised his holy hand in the beautiful blessing of absolution, I realized that I was free at last. I was back. God was crazy about me after all. That night in St. James Church, I received what I now describe as my second First Communion. Again I wept for joy as the sacred Host was placed on my tongue. Now I knew what the Real Presence really meant. It was a night that I will never forget.

So what does Medjugorje mean to me? To me it means FREEDOM! I believe that the Mother of God is truly visiting this special place here…day after day. In her wisdom the Church awaits and examines. This has got to be the way. How graced we are to be members of the Holy Catholic Church.

I have been back to Medjugorje on many occasions since. Life is so much different now. Yes…a life that once was so full of darkness and shame is now for me filled with a new hope and with a new purpose. I am still a sinner. I still struggle through life, but I am hopefully (with the help of God and of His Holy Mother) getting a little bit closer to that beautiful destination that He in His Love and in His Divine Mercy has prepared for all of us who (in our own simple and hopefully humble way) show our love for Him! Life is now for living. It is a special gift.

As appeared in the Medjugorje Herald, October 2006
Galway
, Ireland


Fr. Pervan's Perspective:

25 Years of Medjugorje Apparitions

by Dr. Tomislav Pervan, OFM

The following document written by Dr. Pervan, OFM, pastor of Medjugorje from 1982-1988 and Provincial of the Franciscans in Hercegovina from 1994-2001, is so important that we present it in full. It will help answer some of the controversy that has appeared recently in many local Catholic publications.

For the past twenty-five years, Medjugorje has been an actuality on the world scene. Today, it has its zealous advocates; however, it also has its fierce opponents. Opposing front lines in the battle are not likely to sue for peace any time soon. Advocates are tireless in their visits to Medjugorje all the while believing the authentic voice of Heaven is the starting point, namely, the appearance of the Gospa—Our Lady. Meanwhile, the opponents are fierce in their opposition and seek out elements of contention surrounding the entire set of events.

In the meantime, the ever-increasing daily flow of pilgrims to this place does not allow us to be indifferent. Facts and numbers speak for themselves. The number of pilgrims is ever increasing. They come from all corners of the earth, are of all colors of skin, and from all nations and nationalities. While other places of pilgrimage mark a decrease in pilgrims and pilgrimages despite being advertised widely, the number of pilgrims and faithful of all languages and locales constantly increases. As a phenomenon, Medjugorje does not have an active propaganda machine: individuals spread its fame by word-of-mouth, witness, and personal experience.

On the one hand, the priests who work in Medjugorje feel they are over-burdened in their daily work and that they are stretched to their physical limits. They are faced with innumerable calls for personal counseling, endless confessions, and constant evangelization. On the other hand, they are also faced with the suspicion that they are teetering at the edge of heterodoxy. The constant criticism is hurled at them that they are fostering something that is contrary to the Church, namely, the non-existent apparitions and the like. We, on the other hand, cannot fail to speak, fail to give witness about that which we have heard or seen, or that which we experience daily by way of our senses. (Cf. Acts 4:20) Hence, we invite all to come and see. So many bishops and priests had their doubts; however, after many hours of hearing confessions, they changed their minds and the doubts vanished.

The voice of conscience forces upon us the obligation to be of assistance to those who are in misery and who come here. We wish to be in harmony with the Church to the very end, and not to sin against the Church's teachings or practice. Meanwhile, the accusations and reproaches hurt. Quite frequently, questions are raised that ask: What need did we have of all of this? Were we not able to be as every other parish, that is, carry out the well-entrenched pastoral patterns within the usual norms of the Church and Gospels? Who was it that cooked this stew, such that, to this very day, the river of pilgrims has not dried up, but, to the contrary, continues to grow greater and more dynamic?

For this reason, and as a friend and participant of these events from their beginnings in 1981, I give consideration to what must be done to change the present situations to escape the entrenched position of persistent denial, constant disputation, or, in fact, indifference and silence on the part of the Church's media all of this while the flow of thousands of pilgrims to this place continues. It is obvious that all the denials, disputations, and silence find no acceptance on the part of the faithful. Meanwhile, Church circles continue to be deaf, and the prohibition against this activity on the part the faithful persists on the part of the media.

It is the inner voice of conscience and the experience of faith that motivate the faithful. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit Himself is the initiator of all these events. I am further convinced that, after twenty-five years have passed, the principle of the locus theologicus (the theological position), according to the notion of the sensus fidelium (understanding on the part of the faithful) and the consensus fidelium (unanimity of the faithful), applies as offered for acceptance by the documents of Vatican II and post-Vatican II, and by statements of Popes following the Council. Things we read about in the Acts of the Apostles are happening here. I am convinced that the Church is being gathered in this place from the four winds and every corner of the earth into the one Kingdom as what took place in Jerusalem at Pentecost. In this place, we find mirrored the universal—“Catholic” Church in miniature.
 
It is in this sense that I believe the instruction of the Congregation for the Faith entitled, The Criteria for Judging and Differentiating Revelations and Apparitions, dated the 27th of February, 1978, and signed by the then Prefect, Cardinal Franjo Seper, should serve as the vade mecum (that is, the constant companion, the manual) when considering, passing judgment upon, and making decisions about Medjugorje and the Medjugorje phenomenon. The text has lost nothing of its immediacy and value to this very day. It can be fully applied to the events of Medjugorje with all its implications. It can examine the events of Medjugorje from the positive or negative side with all the arguments presented pro and con.

The Congregation for the Faith in its instructions reduces to three levels, or degrees, the norms that relate to reactions to alleged apparitions.

The seers must be examined to determine if, perhaps, it is a question of self-styled visions. Then, all the messages must be gathered and examined and viewed from the point of view of the degree of education of the seers. The mental and physical state of the seers must be examined thoroughly, as well as their moral integrity. All that is explainable from the purely human point of view must be taken into consideration; however, by the same token, all that cannot be explained in purely human terms and with the aid of the most contemporary psychological or physical sciences, and which, in the end, has no cause within human power, must also be taken into consideration.

Following the first phase, if the matter has not died on its own, has not come to a halt or fallen into oblivion, the principle ad experimentum (for the purpose of experiment) comes into play. At the same time, of course, it must be emphasized that the employment of this principle in no way suggests or recognizes the authenticity of the alleged apparitions. It simply channels events to proper and healthy Church routine: practices regarding prayer, devotions, the sacraments, constant spiritual growth and holiness.

When an appropriate period of the ad experimentum phase has elapsed, and in the light of experiences, especially after a close examination of the spiritual fruits occasioned by the alleged apparitions, and of the devotional practices surrounding them, a competent judgment of the events must be given if circumstances demand it.

As regards the first point, everything can be reduced to a simple conclusion: To the present day, in the entire history of the Church, no Marian apparitions were so intensively and extensively investigated (from 1984-2005) on the part of numerous and independent qualified, international experts in the fields of medicine and psychology, or whose investigations and their results were found to correspond to and compliment each other. All of the experts concluded that the subjects investigated were found to be spiritually, psychologically, and physically healthy individuals. They were found not to be hallucinating, subject to confabulation, (auto) suggestion, hysteria, hypnotic or other loss of consciousness, deceit, suggestion or exterior inducement of any sort. Hence, it is irresponsible to publicly proclaim them to be liars or inventors of false visions and messages.

Many experts from the fields of medicine, psychology, and parapsychology have occupied themselves with the Medjugorje seers. They failed to uncover any sort of pathological deviation from the norm in their lives. The scientific experts are capable of reaching the full limit of their tests. However, once they have arrived at that limit, their ability to explain ceases. They are able to discern what does or does not pertain to medicine and pathology and what must be excluded from a medico-psychological perspective. The experts have done so and have left behind a record of their findings. Because of that, and because of intellectual honesty, we, who have regard for the truth, must take their investigations and judgments as to the phenomena of Medjugorje into serious account.

The convergent proofs in favor of the authenticity of the Medjugorje phenomenon are perceptible when one takes into consideration the theological, sociological and scientific experiments carried out upon the seers by French, Italian, and Austrian teams of experts from 1984 through 2005. According to the theologian and Mariologist, R. Laurentin, who has published works of capital value (17 books) on Lourdes, and has thoroughly investigated the apparitions in Medjugorje, the latter give evidence of being more powerful as regards the proof of their authenticity than those in Lourdes, to which the Church gave its formal approval.

According to the teaching of St. Ignatius on discernment of spirits, the causes of those or similar manifestations can be determined to be purely human, divine, or demonic. Effects must always be judged by their cause. In all that took place in Medjugorje, one must ask what the cause was, or where the causal beginnings had their roots. If we take into consideration the first days of the events that took place in Bijakovici in June and July of 1981, the experts who thoroughly examined the seers concluded that the seers had some sort of fundamental and key experience, some initial encounter that put them into the center of something that they could not begin to imagine or foresee, something against their will or inclinations, something they were scarcely able to predict.

Science as such can neither confirm nor deny whether the Gospa is, or is not, appearing, (just as it would not have been able to utilize scientific instruments to register the resurrection of Christ were they to have been present alongside the Roman guards at the tomb of Jesus). All that science can say after twenty-five years is that the seers are physically and psychologically healthy, and that the seers had a deep-seated and far-reaching experience which continues to affect them to this very day, one that it is impossible to deduce from their biographies. All of that is, for the visionaries, a holy treasure. For that reason one must exclude a purely human cause, and, by the same token, one that is demonic, inasmuch as the Devil is unable to yield good fruit that is constant and so long lasting.

Since twenty-five years have elapsed, a review sine ira et studio (without rancor and [with] diligent attention) would be expedient, both in the local Church and the Church at large, as to the fruits which have been given and continue to be given through Mary's apparitions beyond all ideological suppositions and prejudices. When observed from the purely statistical point of view as a whole, close to some fifty thousand priest have passed through Medjugorje, hundreds of bishops, cardinals, and millions upon millions of the faithful. The Una Sancta et Catholica (the One Holy and Catholic [Church]) in miniature comes to pass here every day. Were there something to be found heretical, schismatic, or contrary to Church teaching, the Church would be obliged to undertake measures against such abuse. That has not resulted up to the present. Therefore, a fifteen-year ad experimentum period since the Zadar Pronouncement in 1991 is a sufficient amount of time so as to allow to conclude that no straying from official Church teaching and practice is taking place in Medjugorje. The Liturgy and devotions celebrated there are fully Christological, Marian, Eucharistic, sacramental, and in full harmony with Church regulations.

It cannot be asserted that the particular fruits of Medjugorje are those of intensive prayer and administration of the sacraments. To do so would be to create a circulus vitiosus (vicious circle): there are other places in the world where prayer and the sacraments are a fixed practice; however, what is lacking there are the efficacious effects that we note as attributable to Medjugorje. It is clear that prayer and the sacraments bear copious fruits for the entire Church throughout the world; however, from where and why do so many people come precisely to Medjugorje? Why do they come to this remote place where they have a concrete experience of God and grace, are converted, learn to pray, and subsequently carry the fruits of Medjugorje to their homes, give witness to what they have experienced, and become missionaries? It simply is not possible to separate the assertions of the seers regarding the apparitions from the fruits of the apparitions which we see in the Church.

The consensus fidei et fidelium can be seen by the fact that all levels of God's people, all classes in society and the Church, all peoples, and all races are represented in Medjugorje, and by the fact that Church life is sustained by all of this in the form of witness, divine worship, sincere service, charity, (martyria, liturgia, et diakonia), and, by the fact that all grow in holiness. Medjugorje is a world-wide phenomenon. Its fruits can be seen in all parts of the world. In essence, Medjugorje is a laymen's movement, a movement of faithful laymen, laden with spirituality, devotion, and sincerity toward the Lord and our Lady. The seers themselves are ordinary lay people and, as such, are able more readily to touch the hearts of plain folks who easily identify with them.

Medjugorje is a peace and pilgrimage movement inasmuch as people come here for the sake of inner peace. It is also a renewal movement within the Church—Ecclesia semper reformanda (the Church ever to be renewed), as well as a humanitarian movement, inasmuch as it has accomplished tremendous charitable and Samaritan works throughout the world (a point made by the present Pope in his encyclical on the God of Love). Lumen Gentium (The Vatican II Document: Light of the Nations) clearly states: "Be they most illustrious, be they simple and more widespread, Charisms are useful and are especially suited to the needs of the Church and must be received with gratitude and consolidation." (LG 12:2) Meanwhile, Apostolicam Actuositatem (Apostolic Activity) states even more explicitly: "The receipt of Charisms, even those that are humble, give rise to the right and duty for each of the faithful to make use of them in the Church and in the world and for the good of mankind and the growth of the Church in the freedom of the Holy Ghost." (AA 3:3).

After the past quarter of a century, it can be asserted that Medjugorje is about a prophetic Charism—a prophetic revelation that calls for repentance. These Charisms are able to be found in all similar phenomena within the Church. Prophetic revelations and apparitions are about an imperative under the impetus of the Holy Spirit as to how one is to behave here and now, and what it is that the People of God must do in a specific situation. Accordingly, the Church must not relate to such phenomena indifferently. She is duty-bound to investigate such an imperative with openness and, congruently, to act if she recognizes the Will of God in the said phenomenon. It is obvious that the Ecclesia orans (the praying Church) has recognized God's Will and Mary's presence in this instance, of which our dearly departed Pope spoke in his homily in Zadar (!) three years prior, on the feast of Mary, the Mother of the Church (Pentecost Monday, 2003). On that occasion, the Pope specifically mentioned the above cited sensus fidei fidelium (the understanding of faith of the faithful).

If, as is the case with ordinary beatifications and canonizations, the process begins with the local Church, and, after an appropriate interval of time, investigation, and conclusions based on the materials offered in favor of beatification or canonization, the matter is transferred to Rome, I think that would be appropriate in this case. After all has been investigated at the local level, the entire case of the Medjugorje phenomenon should be transferred to the appropriate Roman dicastery, especially in light of the fact that it has outgrown the local Church's boundaries and has become widespread so as to encompass the entire Church. The countless prayer groups throughout the entire world have come into existence because of the events in Medjugorje. They carry the mark of authenticity and veracity. The entire phenomenon is caught-up in the very being of the Church and, as such, carries more weight than does a beatification of one of God's chosen ones. If, as is the case for beatification, the People of God are asked their approval, why shouldn't we do so in this case as well, especially in light of Mary's efficacious presence in specific places (John Paul II, in Zadar!), and in light of the personal experiences and miracles that individuals experienced precisely here in Medjugorje?

Throughout the entire history of Salvation, God has established communication with his creatures through apparitions. This form of communication is especially suitable for man's physico-spiritual structure: it immerses man's senses, especially his sight and hearing. The Medjugorje phenomenon can be explained in this manner or that manner; however, intellectual honesty demands that the entire affair engage us in light of revelation, mysticism, supernatural experiences and so many other similar experiences in other cases, and, for that matter, in other faiths.

If God has truly spoken throughout history, why should we be exempted from such a manner of communication wherein the Holy Ghost makes use of apparitions for the sake of the many needs of the contemporary world? The greater the misery in the world, so much the greater is the need for God's voice and communication. Hence, we might well conclude as did Paul: Do not extinguish the spirit. Do not disdain prophetic communications. Investigate all and hold on to what is good! (1 Thess. 5:19-21).


Medjugorje, July 13, 2006
Fr Tomislav Pervan OFM

Former Pastor of Medjugorje (1982-1988)
Former Provincial of the Franciscans (OFM) in Hercegovina (1994-2001)

A New Commission for Medjugorje


According to the Catholic News Service of
July 24, 2006 and other news papers like Croatian Vecernji List of July 16, 2006, Cardinal Vinko Puljic 
of Sarajevo announced that a new commisision for Medjugorje will be formed in September.  The members of this International commission are not yet known. This announcement came after a Bosnia and Herzegovina Bishops meeting held in Banja Luka, July 12-14 2006.  The primary goal of the new commission will be to decide whether or not Medjugorje may be officially recognized as a Marian Shrine. From there, other aspects of Medjugorje will be earnestly analyzed.  


Are Pilgrims still going to Medjugorje?

Often people ask if Medjugorje is still active and if pilgrims are still going there. In response we present the following statistics for the year 2005.

1,299,100 Holy Communions were distributed. Fifteen bishops from 12 countries came to Medjugorje.  29,673 priests have concelebrated. Groups of pilgrims came from 57 countries from all the continents: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, Philippines, Finland, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Croatia, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Japan, South African Republic, Canada, China, Korea, La Reunion, Latvia, Leetonia, Lebanon, Luxemburg, Hungary, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, USA, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro, Scotland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tahiti, Ukraine, Vietnam.

Information Centre "Mir" Medjugorje
www.medjugorje.hr


ARCHBISHOP HANNAN RECALLS DAYS OF KATRINA

from www.spiritdaily.com

Archbishop Emeritus Philip M. Hannan -- widely known as the "pope of New
Orleans" after a tenure of 23 years in that city and the prelate who
gave the eulogy at President John F. Kennedy's funeral in 1963 --
Tuesday called Hurricane Katrina "a Divine chastisement," recounted his
four days in a dark building, and described the startling devastation,
including a rectory that left behind only two shreds of vestments, its
pastor missing.

Archbishop Hannan, who led the archdiocese from 1965 to 1988, and now
heads a Catholic television organization, Focus Worldwide TV, remained
in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, during the storm to protect his
offices and has since been visiting the poor, sick, and displaced, along
with devastated churches.

"I was in the building to make sure there were no looters," says the
archbishop, now 92. "There was no electricity or water, so I spent four
miserable days, but everything is okay now."

Hannan, who before assuming the
New Orleans episcopate served as an
auxiliary bishop in his hometown of
Washington, D.C. and was a personal
friend and counselor to the Kennedys, is currently staying at
St. Joseph
Abbey in
Covington -- just north of the flood zone that was New
Orleans


"There was nothing but devastation," the archbishop told Spirit Daily.
"Hardly any people. Just authorities. The real difficulty was that in
the building it was extremely hot and I slept on the floor. It wasn't
very conducive to sleep. When I was convinced the looting in this area
had stopped, I went to the other side of town and began to visit the
hospitals and  talk to the people who were hurt and visit the parishes
that were badly hurt. We did lose one priest. We're pretty sure he
drowned. It was at St. Nicholas of Myra in the extreme east end of
Orleans Parish, just opposite the straits where
Lake Ponchartrain enters
the Gulf. There was an area of eight or nine miles of just piles of
debris from houses. It was a frightful mess. There were only three
people who stayed through the storm in that whole stretch who survived.
I went there myself and visited almost all the churches that were badly
damaged, and there was not even a stick left of the rectory at St. Nic.
Father Arthur J. Ginart, an old-timer who had told friends he had lived
through other ones and that they were never as bad as pronounced, had
refused to leave -- rejecting pleas right up to the last moment. He was
now gone. No body found.

"I went to check up on him and found that the surge of water right
behind his church had been 31-feet-high," says Archbishop Hannan. "The
winds were so strong that parts of the road were blown away: the top
layer of asphalt."

Part of Father Ginart's mobile home was found nearby with a few of his
personal effects, according to news accounts. There was also a statue of
Mary, and perhaps two of those. A picture of Jesus hung on a frame,
although it was not certain if that had been placed there after.

The entire area was basically rubble, and yet there in the midst of
destruction, surveying what once had been his archdiocese, was
Archbishop Hannan -- in his nineties and yet still working full-time and
appearing on television with an acuity of mind that astonishes friends,
acquaintances, and relatives -- who held for breath in the first week
after Katrina when the archbishop could not be located due to the downed
telephone system.

"Everyone thought that projections for what could happen to
New Orleans
were exaggerations," said the archbishop, who has returned to work with
his staff and is ready to resume operation of WLAE-TV, a local PBS
station that broadcasts his show and of which he has served as
president. "This is something that they really believed would never
happen."

But happen it did -- a category-four hurricane that busted the levees
around the Crescent City, the "city of saints" -- and Hannan found
himself holed up alone in his offices with crackers and bottled water
but no plumbing, phone service, or electricity, having refused pleas
from friends to evacuate.

Peering out the windows, there were virtually no people in this suburb
known as
Metairie -- which is on a ridge that kept it from flooding.
When police passed, the archbishop wandered out to ask them how it was
going.

During those four days, he says, there was plenty of time for prayers,
and most of his went for the poor. "There are no set prayers for a
hurricane," says the prelate. "There are prayers for storms, but this
was the worst in the history of the nation. I prayed asking the Good
Lord to take care of those in charge of security and to protect and
inspire everyone in authority to be mindful of the demands and great
needs of people."

Archbishop Hannan does not blame the police, who he says were
"outgunned," and says the mayor is "a good man and straight man. He
urged all of the people who had no place to go to go to the Superdome.
They did not handle it well because they believed that FEMA would
immediately send 600 trucks or buses to transport these people to places
where they could be  taken care of. FEMA made a mess of the whole thing.
It was a tremendous disgrace. They were not prepared. The mayor relied
on FEMA but FEMA was very poor and was not organized and simply did not
arrive here."

"I think the president did exactly what he should have done, but FEMA
failed him," adds the archbishop. "They did not have a set plan that was
particularized and they made these general statements -- they'll send
buses down."

A former military chaplain, Archbishop Hannan believes that only the
military has the organization to handle such a disaster and was thrilled
to see the 82nd Airborne enter
New Orleans -- the very regiment he had
once served during World War Two.

"Of course, I got along great with them, and they took care of the
cathedral immediately without anyone having to say anything to them,"
says Hannan. "The major general told me you have to take care of what
stands as a symbol of the city, and there is no doubt that the cathedral
is the symbol of the whole city."

Miraculously, a statue of Jesus still stands at that august cathedral,
missing only two fingers, which were later recovered and formally
presented to Hannan -- such an active and recognizable figure in
New
Orleans
that many still think he is the bishop. "The Protestants were
very impressed that the trees fell but did not knock down the statue,"
says Hannan, who appeared on network TV at the cathedral.

Born and raised in
Washington D.C., Archbishop Hannan started the
television station during his reign in the archdiocese "in order to
spread the Word of God through the airwaves," says a biography. A local
high school has been named for him (badly damaged in the storm), and his
group, which includes former news anchorwoman Mary Lou McCall and Char
Vance, a well-known speaker on the Catholic conference circuit, produces
Catholic videos in addition to widely-seen programming. They depend on
donations.

New Orleans will return, says the archbishop, because, as a port, it
must return. But the archbishop urges that the lesson of the storm not
be lost -- and insists that it was a clear message from God.

"I've been speaking at local parishes, and here's what I kept telling
the people," he says. "I say, look, we are responsible not only for our
individual actions to God, but in addition to that we are also citizens
of a nation and in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, it
says that a nation has a destiny and we are responsible whether we cause
it or not for the course of morality in that nation. We are responsible
as citizens for the sexual attitude, disregard of family rights, drug
addiction, the killing of 45 million unborn babies, the scandalous
behavior of some priests -- so we have to understand that certainly the
Lord has a right to chastisement. If you ask me if the Lord knew of
this, this was the greatest storm in the history of the nation. He is
the creator. He certainly permitted this. It would be as silly as asking
if Henry Ford knew how a car worked."

According to Hannan, people who experienced it "are beginning to react
according to that concept of morality." He says that when he preached on
the topic last Sunday in the devastated area of Mandeville, where 1,000
attended Mass, "people loudly applauded. They want to be told the
truth."

"We have reached a depth of immorality that we have never reached
before," he says. "And the chastisement was Katrina as well as Rita.

"I keep telling people, you have got to talk about this chastisement,
you've got to let not only your children and grandchildren, but other
people know about it -- the others who have not gone through it, how
much of a penance it was. To come back to your home and find it
destroyed is an enormous shock, not only to the father and the mother,
but to the children. Because this is the worst storm in our history, it
should become part of our heritage. We should tell our descendants just
how terrible it was so they will understand that it was a chastisement
and should improve our morality."

Archbishop Hannan says he was asked by the sheriff to speak to police
about the connection of immorality to such events, "how this thing was
so strong that it is the movement of God and that they should behave
accordingly."

"The politicians really have mentioned God a lot," he told Spirit Daily.
"They didn't mention chastisement, but said we had to ask God to help us
and we have to do better. What's paramount for the recovery is a
tremendous sense of charity and being helpful towards our neighbors."

Focus Worldwide, the television syndication, is up and running and
electricity should be restored to the local station by next week, says
Archbishop Hannan. But let us not forget the dark moments.

"I think it's up to us to preach very strongly and candidly and directly
to say that this was a chastisement from God," says the archbishop. "God
gave us our rights and therefore He gives us our duties too. We have got
to pay attention to this chastisement. The Old Testament and the New.
God has told us from the very beginning that we are responsible. To me
it's inescapable if you read any Scripture at all."

"Everyone I know, priests and bishops, believe that too," he says. "This
storm was so disruptive, so destructive, that if you believe there is a
Creator, He certainly knew or permitted it to happen. He certainly
knew."

From the Vatican:
The Truth about Medjugorje

CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI Pr. No 154/81 05922 Citta del Vaticano, Palazzo del S. Uffizio 

May 26, 1998 

To His Excellency Mons. Gilbert Aubry, 
Bishop of Saint Denis de la Reunion 

Excellency, 

In your letter of January 1, 1998, you submitted to this Dicastery several questions about the position of the Holy See and of the Bishop of Mostar in regard to the so called apparitions of Medjugorje, private pilgrimages and the pastoral care of the faithful who go there. 

In regard to this matter, I think it is impossible to reply to each of the questions posed by Your Excellency. The main thing I would like to point out is that the Holy See does not ordinarily take a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena as a court of first instance. As for the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, this Dicastery respects what was decided by the bishops of the formerYugoslaviain the Declaration of Zadar, April 10,1991: "On the basis of the investigations so far, it cannot be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations." Since the division of Yugoslavia into different independent nations, it would now pertain to the mernbers of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia Hercegovina to eventually reopen the examination of this case, and to make any new pronouncements that might be called for. 

What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of "Famine Chretienne," declaring: "My conviction and my position is not only 'non constat de supematuralitate,' but likewise, 'constat de non supematuralitate' of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje," should be considered the expression of the persona! conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion. 

Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentification of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church. 

I hope that I have replied satisfactorily at least to the principal questions that you have presented to this Dicastery, and I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my devoted sentiments. 

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone (Secretary to the "Congregatio," presided over by Cardinal Ratzinger) 

This is the summary of the letter:

1. The declarationsof the Bishop of Mostar only reflect his personal opinion. Consequently, they are not an official and definitive judgement from the Church. 

2. One is directed to the declaration of Zadar, which leaves the door open to future investigations. In the meanwhile, private pilgrimages with pastoral accompaniment for the faithful are permitted. 

3. A new commission could eventually be named. 

4. In the meanwhile, anll Catholics may go as pilgrims to Medjugorje. 

We can't but be thankful for this long awaited explanation. 
[Feel free to copy and distribute this important message]

last update 2/28/07