Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another "slap from Vienna" as Cardinal Schonborn hosts Medjugorje "seers" at his cathedral

What is going on with Cardinal Schonborn?  He is not helping the cause for Medjugorje.  If anything, he is pushing the kind of ecclesial buttons that will force the Holy See into responding sooner than later.

In my last post I explained how Cardinal Schonborn is giving Medjugorje "seers" a platform at the Vienna cathedral - something which is out of harmony with tradition in the church on alleged apparitions.  It also causes confusion and disunity when the bishop of another diocese (and another country) allows promotion of a phenomenon in his cathedral which is prohibited in the diocese of origin, and forbidden on Church property anywhere within Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

By this action, Cardinal Schonborn, no matter how well intentioned, offers a "slap" from Vienna not only to the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, but to the entire Bishop's Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 
In a matter of minutes [event is now over, but screen shots and video links are embedded in this post], Mary TV will televise the event from St. Stephens Cathedral, including the "apparition" which Ivan and Maria are scheduled to have at Standard Apparition Time (SAT) of 6:40 p.m. (advertised here as 12:40 p.m.).  See here a FreezePage snapshot taken a few minute ago of the advertisement.

[Edit on Sept 27, 2010: English language viewers: can view the event which is uploaded now to MaryTV, and broken down into four parts (scroll when you get there) .... German language viewers can see edited clips at  Cardinal Schonborn speaks here], the Rosary and "vision" are here, and testimonial of Ivan and Maria from the St. Stephen sanctuary here, and the homily is here (Cardinal Schonborn did not appear to be at the Mass)]

Further, Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno is not some "spirit of Vatican II bishop", but a man of considerable orthodoxy, and a very good teacher of the faith. He has been vilified by the "Medjugorje Movement" to the point that there is a vein of contempt for him among devotees. Each time a brother bishop pulls a stunt like this in Vienna, it only deepens that contempt people have for this apostolic successor. The concerns he has raised consistently, as well as those of his predecessor are reasonable and he should be treated with more respect.

It says in the above:

September 23
(Padre Pio's Feast Day)

Medjugorje visionaries Ivan and Marija will be streamed live in English from Cardinal Schoenborn's Cathedral, St. Stephens in Vienna. (Kathnet will be streaming in German.)

10:00 AM EDT: (4:00 PM Vienna time) Testimonies from Sr. Elvira and the Cenacolo Community

11:00 AM EDT: Testimonies from Ivan and Marija

12:00 Noon EDT: Rosary

12:40 PM EDT: Apparition to Ivan and Marija

1:00 PM EDT: Mass

2:00 PM EDT: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

3:00 PM EDT: Adoration ends


  • At around 10:40 a.m. my time, Mother Elvira, foundress of Cenacolo Community, just addressed the crowd, using a short prayer with a title for the Blessed Virgin Mary which not approved by the Church when she said, "Mother of Medjugorje, pray for us".

  • 11:20 a.m. my time, Ivan Dragicevic and Maria Pavlovic-Lunetti give their testimony from the sanctuary of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna about how "Our Lady" appears to them.
  • Things are going on according to schedule (not the printed schedule, but the "apparition" schedule.  I was trying to figure out why they would start the Rosary at Noon when it is well known that the "seers" of Medjugorje usually break mid-Rosary to have their "vision" at "Standard Apparition Time" (SAT) of 6:40 p.m. local time where ever they are.  It is now 12:12 here where I am, so I think we can pretty much plan on seeing the "apparition" right on cue at 12:40 p.m. if they delay things for another 5-10 minutes.

  • 12:22 Rosary underway.  I can't help but think how distracting these events are to the Rosary itself.  Are people truly meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary when a "seer" falls into "ecstasy" in the middle of it? Or, are they focused on the apparent vision which seems to be taking place.  Not to worry... the camera which is currently trained on a picture of the BVM (same one at top of post), will soon shift to the faces of Ivan and Maria as they have their "vision" in St. Stephen's cathedral.  Cardinal Schonborn has not been seen ... .yet.  A photo-op must be in here somewhere.  Wait for it...

  • The Rosary stops at around 12:40 my time so Ivan and Maria can have their vision. I think it was just about over.  Ivan nodding his head and smiling at 12:41. Maria now moving her lips. Ivan nods again.  Ivan moving lips.  Ivan smiling as Maria has a somber look on her face.  People gawking all around.  Ivan continues with big smiles as Maria holds a nearly distressed look on her face at 12:43 my time.  Ivan nodding again.  Camera pans away to people watching.  Deafening silence.  Camera pans back to Ivan and Maria.  Ivan and Maria's lips moving simultaenously. It all ends at 12:47 with the Sign of the Cross at 12:47.

Here is a shot of Ivan smiling and the serious look on the face of Maria.
  • At 12:48 the musicians begin playing the official "anthem" of Medjugorje.
  • Now they prepare for Holy Mass. 
As we wait for Mass to start, I have to ask:  Am I really suppose to believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary, a model of humility and obedience, would appear to "seers" in the Vienna Cathedral, when the bishop whom the 1991 Zadar Declaration states has authority for the pastoral care and attention "in Medjugorje and all connected with it" has prohibited such things on Church property?  Does it require a Cardinal in the Vatican to explain that if the "seers" are not permitted to have such public events in their home diocese, or in their home country, they ought not be given such publicty on Church property in any diocese? 

Are the "seers" disobedient for having "visions" in public?  If the same bishop has prohibited the release of "messages", then how does the world continue to get them if not by an act of disobedience? In 2006 the local bishop called these "visionaries" and those "behind the messages" to obedience.  In 2007, Archbishop Angelo Amato, then Secretary of the CDF, invited the bishops of Tuscany, Italy, to share with priests of the diocese that same 2006 homily (see fax in the link).  Archbishop Amato is now on the Medjugorje commission, and was also the one who authorized Bishop Peric to share the canonical status of Tomislav Vlasic who was being investigated by the Holy See "in the context of Medjugorje" (words of Abp Amato).  Vlasic then requested laicization.  In late 2009, Bishop Peric released a series of statements, which included more prohibitions (see "Part 3")

So, would the Blessed Virgin Mary appear to disobedient "seers" in the Cathedral of a Cardinal who is out of step with how unapproved apparitions are traditionally handled, and who disregards the matter of collegiality?  That this event would happen on the Feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina is even more offensive, given his solid obedience, even in the face of persecution from within the Church.  He never wavered on that. 

Mass is underway.  More in a moment...

  • Cardinal Schonborn, if he is there, is not seen.  While I cannot warm up to tie-dyed chasubles and do not feel that guitars meet the appropriate standard for liturgical instruments for holy Mass, it was otherwise reverently celebrated.  The homily focused on St. Pio. 

  • Not only did this create a form of scandal among people in a packed cathedral, but for who knows how many millions watching it on (English) and on which broadcast it in German. 

  • At 2:42 Ivan is talking about his "apparition" which just took place earlier (this is about 8:42 local time in Vienna).  I did not catch the first part of what he said.  He is now talking about how "Our Lady blessed objects" and how she "blessed all of you priests".  I'm confused because the schedule shows this as a period of Adoration.  I was away for a time and was unsure if the monstrance was brought out yet or not.  If this is happening during Adoration, it ought not be.  I'm sure there will be a complete printout online of all that he said. 

  • OK - Adoration apparently has not yet begun.  Maria is asking people to stay for Adoration, "Our program is not yet done". Maria spoke only for a moment. 

Here comes Cardinal Schonborn to the podium.    He thanks Maria and Ivan for coming again.  He thanks them for their service.  He asks God to pay them back a hundred-fold for what they are doing tirelessly. 

Three things he wants to say (this part I cannot type fast enough to keep up with so we will look for a transcript for later).  Here's what I was able to capture...

  • He is talking about the depth of prayer which shows what Our Lady says at the end of her message "thanks for responding to my call". 

  • He is speaking about the "miracle of tears" and I did not catch who it was he was talking about from some centuries ago.  If someone heard it, drop in a comment.

  • The third thing I was able to catch part of because of how he told the story, pausing in between.  He now speaks of something he calls amusing. He's heard from so many witnesses from Medjugorje.  He says he took a train after his visit to Medjugorje and he felt a wink from Our Lady on the train to pray the Rosary and Breviary.  A very voluminous lady - he clarified as "fat" - sat next to him, and he was annoyed, saying "not virtuous".  She began to talk to him and he didn't like it.  She asked him where he is a parish priest.  He responded, that he wanted to read.  She asked him again.  Annoyed again, he replied that he was the Archbishop of Vienna.  She then apologized for disturbing him.  Then she explained that her husband was in Medjugorje, he climbed up the hill and after coming back down was never so friendly as he is now with her.  And she said, she wants to go to Medjugorje also now.  Cardinal Schonborn then said, "perhaps she will also be so friendly".  
Is it just me?  I don't find that amusing at all. We all suffer from human fallen nature and can experience such things, but they are better left for the privacy of a confessional.  I mean, what if this woman is watching the broadcast?  Good grief!

I'm signing off on this blogpost as they enter Adoration after which this all concludes. 

How long will it take for Cardinal Schonborn to get another private audience with Pope Benedict XVI?  While there are indeed good fruits coming from Medjugorje, which most would attribute to the unapproved apparition, rather than a return to the Sacraments, there are also many bad fruits.  Let's keep in mind that many fine men converted and heard the call to the priesthood through the Legionaries of Christ.  Yet, lurking in the background, were the abuses of the founder.  Maciel was a fraud.  One lesson we learn from the Legionaries - something to consider with regards to Medjugorje.  Good fruits can happen even where there is sinful activity and fraud. Where sin increases, grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20-21)

Further reading:

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