Monday, July 14, 2008

New Vatican Commission on Medjugorje?

I have a habit of not posting on the hot-button issue of Medjugorje unless I find something official from the diocese, bishop's conference or the Vatican.

Back in late June, I saw an article entitled, Vatican to Probe Medjugorje Sightings (Balkan Insight). I am of Croatian descent and can read some or at least get the gist of what I'm reading so I peruse the diocesan sites for info when I catch wind of something. I decided not to post on this latest news item until today after finding a press release on the Mostar-Duvno diocesan website about the article that I believe Balkan Insight used.

First, the Balkan Insight article starts out stating, "The Vatican announced it will form a commission to investigate the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Bosnia's southern town of Medjugorje. ". But wait....

Why would we be hearing about a Vatican announcement in a newspaper before hearing from the Vatican itself (even through the diocese or bishop's conference), especially on such a hot-button issue? Fr. Z is basically looking for the same thing, as in, where's the announcement? Apparently, it first broke in Vecernji List, which reads like a tabloid and leans toward's sensationalism. It caught the eye of the diocese of Mostar-Duvno, the home diocese of Medjugorje. Don Ante Luburić, Chancellor, provided this press release:. Here it is with my comments in red and emphases in bold:

The Croatian daily newspaper “Večernji list” on 27 June 2008 published the following sensational headline on its front page: “The Vatican. The highest circles of the Catholic Church have decided to follow the phenomenon of Medjugorje – A new Commission for Medjugorje”, while on page 5 an even more sensational title appeared: “A Commission of the Holy See is being established”, accompanied by the header: “Medjugorje – Cardinal Puljić on the anniversary of the phenomenon of the apparitions of the Madonna”. Regarding this text the following statement is presented:

The text mentions a falsehood that “seventeen years ago the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the former Yugoslavia made a decision on Medjugorje declaring that there are no supernatural apparitions and ordered further enquiries…”.

The truth is that no Commission of the Bishops’ Conference made any decision, nor did the Commission order any further enquiry, but that this decision was made competently by the Bishops’ Conference, which on 10 April 1991 declared in Zadar that: “On the basis of investigations made thus far” – hence on the basis of the investigations and conclusions of the Commission established in 1987 by the Bishops’ Conference of that time – “it cannot be affirmed that these events involve supernatural apparitions or revelations”.

The text of the article begins with the affirmation: “The President of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Cardinal Archbishop of Sarajevo Vinko Puljić, announced the formation of a new commission which will investigate the phenomenon and which will be under the jurisdiction of the Holy See”. [I could not find any new announcement by Cardinal Puljic at the BiH Bishop's Conference website, nor at the Mostar-Duvno site. It could be there, but I couldn't find it. This could be going back to a statement he made in 2006 along these lines.]

This affirmation is then followed by confusing claims and the Cardinal himself in the text that follows refutes the statement in his radio-interview published by “Večernji list”.

The first is that this Commission “will most probably be under the jurisdiction of the Holy See”. Hence it is not clear, but only assumed and anybody’s guess.

Secondly, this Commission “will – if it is established, as is probable – be like an international commission which will override our jurisdiction”.

Thirdly: “It is certain that the international commission will receive, if it is established, different instructions which remain to be seen”.

One may ask what kind of assertions and declarations expressing extremely doubtful statements are these: “Most probably” followed then by “probably”; “if” and then “like”; “it is certain” – “if it is established”; “which remain to be seen”?

A contradiction then appears since this so-called and most probable Commission “will override our jurisdiction” and then: “Yet the local bishop will never be excluded, since he is the most competent person for everything that goes on within a diocese”.

After reading this, even a more than average reader of “Večernji list” will not know: has the formation of a Commission only been pre-announced or is it really being established? Will it finally become a reality and when? Will it be established at all and when? Will it be under the jurisdiction of the Holy See and in which form? Will it override the competency of the Bishops’ Conference of B-H but not the jurisdiction of the local bishop? The only thing that is certain in all of these media announcements, journalistic fabrications and Radio-Medjugorje guesses is that the local bishop of Mostar knows nothing about it at all!

We ask ourselves why do we need such compromising statements and who needs these radio-interviews on the case of Medjugorje for the anniversary of the supposed “apparitions”?

As if we don’t have more important Church issues to deal with in these difficult times and as if there don’t exist more pressing social issues that require our attention in this country, amongst our people and in this region [keep in mind they are still dealing with the long-term effects of a terrible war], than the spreading of unfounded, incoherent news and contradictory statements on the phenomenon which was already in 1991 theologically and authoritatively resolved at the level of the Bishops’ Conference which declared: On the basis of comprehensive investigations on the entire phenomenon of Medjugorje – to this day – there has been no valid proof that these events concern supernatural apparitions or revelations!

Don Ante Luburić, Chancellor
Diocesan Chancery Office
As a sidenote, back in 2001, Cardinal Puljic stated that Medjugorje was becoming a source of division for his region.

Diocese of Mostar-Duvno page on Medjugorje (mostly Croatian with some things translated into English and Italian. I believe there may be more articles at the site, but this is the only list I can find. Why they don't offer more press releases and items in English is beyond me. I have emailed requests)

NOTE ABOUT COMMENTS: Closed. This is a hot-button issue that draws voluminous cookie-cutter responses from people who desire to defend and promote Medjugorje. I have a policy equal to that of my parish to not promote, or permit the promotion of apparitions and private revelations which have not gained Church approval. There is an arsenal of approved, time-tested material available and we could not possible get through it all in our lifetimes if we never watched TV again. May I suggest Lourdes, Fatima, Divine Mercy, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, or others which have been approved?

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!.