Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Official: Vatican confirms Medjugorje commission

Announcement in the Vatican Bollettino


here is an unofficial translation of the official announcement (updated to the version used from Catholic News Agency)

“Under the auspices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the presidency of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, an international commission of investigation on Medjugorje has been constituted. Said Commission, composed of cardinals, bishops and experts will work in a reserved manner, subjecting the results of their studies to the authority of the Dicastery.”


Catholic News Agency has more:

Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said that no other information was available at this point besides the role of Cardinal Ruini as president. However, he did say that the commission will be formed by “more or less” 20 members.
Responding to a question from a journalist about the possible inclusion of Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar, whose diocese includes Medjugorje, Fr. Lombardi said that he is not in possession of a list of members.
The Vatican spokesman reviewed the history of investigations into the possible Marian apparitions of Medjugorje, noting that they began on a diocesan level. When it was seen that the “phenomenon was broader than the diocese,” it was passed on to the episcopal conference of the former Yugoslavia, which, he noted, no longer exists. [Notice that his explanation is consistent with the explanation given in 1987 by Cardinal Kuharic which is also consistent with a provision in the 1978 Criteria for Discernment of Apparitions, when the phenomena extends beyond the bounds of the diocese.  Also, to say that there was some other hidden reason not offered publicly for this transfer of final discernment (i.e., that the Vatican wanted it "out of the hands of the local bishop") means we would have to assume that Cardinal Kuharic told a non-truth in the official bulletin of the bishop's conference].
The commissions at those levels never came to a conclusion on the question of whether or not the alleged apparitions are supernatural, so the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina have asked the CDF to take over investigations, the Vatican spokesman explained.
As the commission carries out their activities, Fr. Lombardi continued, they will decide whether or not to communicate information regarding their findings. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that it will be a “very discreet” project “given the sensitivity of the subject,” he remarked.

Speaking in Italian, he said to expect that investigations will take “a good while” to reach their completion and emphasized that the results of the commission’s activities will be submitted to the CDF, under whose mandate they are operating. The commission will only offer their technical findings to the Congregation, which in turn will “make decisions on the case.”
For now, the composition of the commission is “reserved,” as is the method they will pursue in their investigations, Fr. Lombardi said in closing.

Associated Press is now in the action, and it raises the diplomatic problem prompted by Cardinal Schonborn's recent visit.  It looks like AP has had several updates since news first broke.

One of the highest-ranking recent pilgrims was Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who visited over New Year's, sparking a minor diplomatic incident since official church pilgrimages to Medjugorje are barred.

Schoenborn stressed that he traveled to the shrine in a private capacity. But he celebrated Mass there, met with the visionaries and granted several interviews afterward in which he called for Medjugorje pilgrims to receive the pastoral care — both physical and spiritual — that they would need there.

He also called the shrine a tree that "bore many fruits," in terms of vocations, conversions and rediscovery of faith.

His comments prompted the local bishop of Mostar, Monsignor Ratko Peric, to write him a letter Jan. 2, sharply criticizing his visit and stressing that his presence there was by no means a formal recognition of the apparitions. The local church has cast doubt on the claims, in part because one of the visionaries says the apparitions have continued monthly for over a quarter century.

Schoenborn met with the pope on Jan. 15 and wrote to Peric saying he regretted "if you have the impression that my pilgrimage to Medjugorje did a disservice to peace. Rest assured this was not my intention."

The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican decided to launch the investigation based on a request from Bosnian bishops. [Note: Again, this is another journalistic source repeating what Fr. Lombardi said.  He did not say that, "the Vatican took the decision from the Bishop's Conference or from the local Bishop", but that it was launched on a request by the BiH Bishops.  This is consistent with a provision in the 1978 Criteria for Discernment of Apparitions in which the competent authority can request intervention.  One has to ask, why are supporters and promoters saying something different than what Fr. Lombardi has offered.  Unless we look upon him as a liar, he should be taken at his word]
The current Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, wrote in 1996 that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje weren't to be organized at parish or diocesan levels since bishops from the former Yugoslavia had affirmed in 1991 that there was no way to confirm that "supernatural apparitions and revelations" had taken place.


Why pray-tell, are Medjugorje visionaries allowed to have speaking engagements and "visions" on Catholic property all around the world, then? 

VISIONARIES ALLOWED ON CHURCH PROPERTY

Given that this will go on for "a good while" and that the findings may or may not get communicated, we can only hope that the Holy See will look at whether Catholic parishes, shrines, cathedrals, chapels and schools, hosting the visionaries is in harmony with the existing 1991 Zadar Declaration (which remains in effect until a new decision is made). 

If "official pilgrimages cannot be organized at the parish or diocesan level", then how can the parish or diocese allow organized "pilgrimages" to come to the people (visionaries traveling the world and having visions in our parishes and cathedrals).  I would argue that it is not harmony with the Church's teachings on Marian devotion to have visionaries from any unapproved apparitions having visions on Church property.

See this ever changing schedule of Ivan Dragicevic's schedule of apparitions on Church property.



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16 comments:

Tominellay said...

I agree with you, Diane...

I'm glad it's up to the CDF to make decisions on the case.

observer2 said...

Good Vatican diplomacy at work.

The commissions at those levels never came to a conclusion on the question of whether or not the alleged apparitions are supernatural, so the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina have asked the CDF to take over investigations, the Vatican spokesman explained.

This conveniently leaves out all previous "reasoning" given which was that the war interrupted the commission and so therefore there would be no reason for it not to have continued later EXCEPT FOR the unprecedented, and previous to this commission, "interference" by the CDF.

We now have a structure to attempt to keep the misinformation/confusion of facts and interference from "supposed" authorities from continuing.

Hopefully the make up of this formal commission contains no known prejudicial "characters" or else its conclusions will also be tainted. Since it won't make any final decisions for that "long time", it keeps everything in its current "copacetic" delay!

Nick said...

Hi Diane!

I have some questions.

When it says "Said Commission, composed of cardinals, bishops and experts will work in a reserved manner" and "For now, the composition of the commission is 'reserved'," what dose 'reserved' mean?

When it says "The commission will only offer their technical findings to the Congregation," what dose 'technical findings' mean?

mgseamanjr said...

Diane, can you confirm for us whether, as is being reported in various news outlets and in the Croatian press which you say you read, that Fr. Lomardi has also reiterated the position already expressed by Cardinal Bertone, that the views expressed by Bishop Peric on Medjugoje are "merely his personal opinion" and not that of the Catholic Church? (This of course would not be in agreement with the position that you yourself have repeated held that "the Catholic Church has already spoken on the issue." Thanks.

Vincenzo said...

Here's a Reuters article:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE62G3OR20100317?sp=true

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

mgseamanjr said, Diane, can you confirm for us whether, as is being reported in various news outlets and in the Croatian press which you say you read, that Fr. Lomardi has also reiterated the position already expressed by Cardinal Bertone, that the views expressed by Bishop Peric on Medjugoje are "merely his personal opinion" and not that of the Catholic Church? (This of course would not be in agreement with the position that you yourself have repeated held that "the Catholic Church has already spoken on the issue." Thanks.

Well, firstly, I have to ask you to show me where I have said that "the Catholic Church has already spoken on this issue". You must be mistaking me for someone else and are attributing to me an untruth.

Here is my "Medjugorje" label which you can use to go through my posts on the topic. Please let me know which post or comment within a post I ever made such a claim.

With regards to the help you request on the Croatian articles, below are a bunch of links in a google search for Croatian news on "Medjugorje" posted in the last 24 hours. Just click the "translate" link next to the title, or copy the url and put it into a Google translator from Croatian to English.

I'm afraid, that after clicking on more than a dozen of these articles, I was unable to find a single article in the Croatian langauge (in Croatia or BiH) which makes this claim which attributes to Fr. Lombardi this thing about the "bishop's personal opinion". I saw this in the Crown of Stars blog earlier today (perhaps in the now deleted post - title seen here), which almost never cites sources for his "reports". Others don't take note that no links are provided for these "various Croatian sources" then use it as fact without checking to see if the claims are valid.

Look for yourself through some of these stories with an auto-translator.

- Google search list as of March 17, 2010 at 11:10pm


Now, I'm going to invite you to help me and my readers by asking the source who attributed this information to Croatian media, which is not found in the last 24 hours, to provide links to, "the various news outlets and in the Croatian press" which have said this.

I suspect this may be recycled, very old propoganda aimed at discrediting the local bishop, which has been put into the mouth of Fr. Lombardi in a fabrication. a pattern that seems to be consistent among some promoters of Medjugorje.

Being that this it was Fr. Lombardi who was allegedly being quoted, I would have thought for sure that it would have been found in an English langauge version of the press conference, but out of hundreds of articles from reputable news sources, no one seem to have heard Fr. Lombardi say this.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Nick,

"Reserved" means they want to keep the names confidential and discrete.

Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue from all angles, if the names of commission members were known? They deserve the opportunity to work discretely, and unhindered by people with varying interests and influences.

Technical findings to me would be the nuts and bolts. It sounds like they are interested in the facts surrounding the events, and an understanding of what they "find".

I could be wrong about this, so others are free to offer opinions or understandings on this.

For example: Medjugorje promoters claim that Tomislav Vlasic has been "out of the picture" and distanced from Medjugorje, so they may not see any of his activities as useful in the investigation.

However, the local bishop focused on his activities at the St. James in the early days as recorded by historians and chroniclers of Medjugorje (generally, supportive sources).

We have a clear difference of opinion.

Someone has to judge the information to discern whether the role of Tomislav Vlasic is relevant or not.

The Commission will report it's finding on this issue, and many others, after doing some research and engaging in theological discussions.

"Technical findings" to me, does not seem to be concerned with the pastoral end of it.

Nick said...

Thanks Diane!

I saw a video on the CDF a while back where it said the members meet twice a month to discuss stuff, so the new commission might take a while to come to its conclusion.

TNP said...

"Nevertheless, it can be assumed that it will be a “very discreet” project “given the sensitivity of the subject,” he remarked."

Very discreet? We'll see about that.

observer2 said...

Naming some names?
http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=5773

Vatican journalist names members of Medjugorje commission
March 18, 2010

Following the Vatican's official confirmation that a commission has been established to investigate the reported Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, journalist Andrea Tornielli of the Italian daily Il Giornale has named several members of that commission.

The formal Vatican announcement indicated only that the investigatory commission would be chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former vicar of the Rome diocese; no other names were given. But Tornielli-- whose reports on internal Vatican affairs have been consistently accurate-- says that the other members include Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo; Archbishop Josip Boznic of Zagreb; Cardinal Julian Herranz, the former president of the Pontifical Commission for Legislative Texts; and Father Tony Anatrella, a French psychologist and Marian expert. The commission will also include lay members, the Giornale reporter says.


Conspicuously absent from the list of commission members, Tornielli points out, is Bishop Ratko Peric of the Mostar diocese where Medjugorje is located. Bishop Peric's stand on Medjugorje is already well known; he has indicated that he does not consider the reported apparitions authentic.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Observer2:

You emboldened the point about Bishop Perics name missing from the list.

Let me ask you this....

If you are a believer in authenticity, will you accept the ultimate judgment of the Church if the commission comes to the same conclusion as Peric, and this is accepted by the CDF?

Also, you still need to give me links to those Croatian sources which attributed those comments to Fr Lombardi about Peric that I could not find.... Not in any language.

observer2 said...

Diane, I go by Church directives of the moment - I try not to twist them or conjecture as to what some other authorities outside of those directives ought to do about them if they find them disagreeable.

I have no other links other than what you yourself have mentioned.

Being compliant with your targeted questioning, with all due respect, you should be selected for the "devil's advocate" position for the causes of saints!! ... or perhaps a drill sergeant of angels!!

Nick said...

When the Holy See forms a commission, it dose not need to include the local Bishop or the visionaries. All it has to do is get the relevant information from past commissions, investigations, interventions, etc. So regardless of what anyone says negatively, the judgment of the Church is true. Whatever the Church binds is bound in Heaven and whatever the Church loosens is loosened in Heaven: This is made clear in Scripture and Tradition, as well as in numerous apparitions where Jesus and Mary tell visionaries to obey the Church even if the Church makes a judgment contrary to God's Will (see, for example, the diaries of Saints Margaret Mary and Faustina).

SunnaB16 said...

Let`s hope we don`t have to wait for another 28+ years for the two vilified bishops to have their good names restored.

Would Cardinal Ruini last that long?

Anonymous said...

This is the time to pray to the Holy Spirit for His intercession and His guidance. May the Holy Spirit guide the commission into the truth of Medjugorje.

MariaR.

Elizabeth said...

I am praying for the commission and for the faithful whose lives have been impacted by Medjugorje. May the Holy Spirit give wisdom for the commission's work!