Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Homily Excerpt of Bishop Peric in Medjugorje for 2010 Confirmations

Photo: Marijan Sivric, Slobodna Dalmacija

On Saturday, May 29, 2010, Bishop Ratko Peric, was in Medjugorje where he administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 84 young people.  What follows below is the final segment of Bishop Peric's homily as it pertains to the alleged apparitions, after he discussed Confirmation. 

First, I would like to provide some background. 

The New Commission
It is important to remind readers that the new international commission is currently looking into the phenomena, and it will forward it's findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).  The CDF will then decide if it wants to respond, and if so, how? Will it maintain the current status which remains that of the 1991 Zadar Declaration: "On the basis of studies made so far, it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations" (this is considered a non constat de supernaturalitate).  Or, will it change the status to a constat de non supernaturalitate (established as not supernatural). 

Can an apparition be approved while ongoing?
There is much confusion over whether the a decision can be made while the alleged apparitions are ongoing.  It makes sense that such phenomena could not be given a constat de supernaturalitate while they persist (established as supernatural).  The Holy See would lose credibility to affirm a phenomenon one day only to have something happen later as it continues,that would negate supernaturality.  For this reason, an apparition would never be approved while ongoing. 

Can an apparition be condemned while ongoing?
If the Church sees things that are opposed to supernaturality while an alleged apparition is ongoing, She can not only condemn it as not supernatural, but has a duty to offer such clarification for the good of the faithful.  The recent condemnation of the apparitions associated with Holy Love Ministries in Ohio is a good example of this.  Soon after the apparitions were condemned, they went spastic, issuing at "decree" against the bishop!

The Current Position of the Church on Medjugorje
The local Church - that is, the two consecutive local bishops (Bishops Ratko Peric, and Zanic before him), as well as two previous commissions - one in 1986 (Mostar), the other in 1991 (Zadar), have maintained an official position of non constat de supernaturalitateBishop Peric changed his personal position to include the constat de non supernaturalitate, based on continuing analysis of all that is involved.

The CDF, through the findings of the new commission, will need to overturn the official position of the local Church and previous commissions for any kind of approval.  For this, it must go through each of the objections raised by the local bishops and commissions, and prove that errors in judgment, content, etc. were made.

The 2010 Confirmation Homily Excerpt
Here, in this excerpt of the homily from Medjugorje, His Excellency, Bishop Ratko Peric, reminds the Franciscans of the current official position of the Church (emphases mine in bold). 

The homily in Croatian at the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno is entitled:  "Međugorje: Crkveni Red" or, "Medjugorje: Ecclesiastical Order!"

Finally a word to the Franciscan fathers. I wish to thank you for your pastoral work in this parish. As a religious Congregation you are a gift to God’s Church. Therefore the Church expects you as a religious Order to uphold ecclesiastical order in this parish and this diocese. No competent Church authority has authorized or entrusted any of you, or anyone else, to preach during Mass or generally in the church on the “apparitions” which have not been approved. Furthermore, on the basis of expert investigations and the statements of the local Bishops and Bishops's Conference made thus far, what has been confirmed is that they do not concern supernatural apparitions or revelations. If in the future, the Holy Father the Pope decides to take a different position from the one sustained up till now, we shall then uphold the decision of the Church, firmly believing that the Church of God is “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). Hence, all that I have responsibly said from this place up till now, I still stand by today and expect that it be ecclesiastically respected!

May the Holy Spirit help us all!
You might ask:  Why would the bishop use the occasion of Confirmation of young people to discuss the phenomena? 

The bishop is responsible for nearly 100 parishes in the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, and in the ancient diocese of Trebinje-Mrkan for which he is the apostolic administrator.  It is not unusual that he would speak about a local situation while he is there on his visit, as opposed to making a separate visit. 

Also, that he must repeat these things year after year, is an indicator that not everyone is following basic protocol for phenomena with a status of non constat de supernaturalitate.  It is important to not lend credibility to an alleged apparition ahead of a final decision by the Church by using a parish pulpit or altar. The reason is obvious:  If something negates supernaturality later, her credibility is affected.  This is very basic.  People cannot presume supernaturality ahead of the Church and act on that presumption. However, when it comes to Medjugorje, many people - priests and bishops included - have lost sight of this.   It is possible that we may see a change in the pastoral directives also coming out of this new commission,which will support it's position.  Even if it maintains the current non constat, then it is likely that we will see a tightening of those directives.

Is anything opposed to authenticity?
It's worth pondering the words of Archbishop Allessandro D'Errico, Papal Nuncio to Bosnia & Herzegovina, as he explained the creation of the new commission back in March.  Using the Croatian text that appears on the Bosnia & Herzegovina Bishop's Conference site,  we have the translation of Fr. Philip Pavic, OFM (scroll here), who served as a confessor and pilgrim assistant from 1987 - 2000.

From personal experience, every time I met the Holy Father he had great interest in the question of Medjugorje, a question to which he was directed from the very beginning that he became prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It deals with a question for which he feels responsible as the supreme head of the Church to pronounce a clear message.

The Holy Father personally knows it very well and he has told me that several times - he is well acquainted with the whole phenomenon. He knows about the great good that is being done in this region by the priests, the Franciscan friars, and the laity. And on the other hand he asks himself how come there is information in such opposition to this phenomenon.
Hence, the Holy Father recognizes that there are things which oppose authenticity.  The new commission is not likely to dismiss the critical questions raised (see examples in the links below). Emotions and feelings cannot be a basis for discernment.

In the end, the thing that people on all sides of the issue should pray for is not approval or disapproval, but for the Holy Spirit to guide the new commission and the CDF to the truth.  Our part then becomes a matter of trust in the Holy Spirit and humble acceptance and a willingness to be open in what Holy Mother Church may teach us through all of this.

Related Links:

Edits made at 11:25am:
  • Clarified it was the apparitions associated to Holy Love Ministries which was condemned as not supernatural.
  • Added link to letter containing Bishop Peric's personal position. It's important to point out that then Abp Bertone noted that the bishop's personal opinion is not the position of the Church.  The official position of the Church remains the 1991 Zadar Declaration, which Bishop Peric himself points out.  Cardinal Bertone goes on to say that Bishop Peric is entitled to his personal opinion. 
  • A few other grammatical tweaks were made for simplification.
  • Clarified the first sentence of the second paragraph, under the section discussing the current position of the Church.  The wording was such that it would have led people to believe the commission will make decisions.  It is the CDF that will make decisions, consulting the commission. 

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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!