Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Card. Puljic: Medjugorje Commission to end it's work in late 2012

As Medjugorje's Bishop, Ratko Perić, has fended off insidious allegations recently made against his predecessor - that he was a tool of the communists - we learn that Cardinal Ruini's Medjugorje commission will end it's work by the end of 2012.


The Italian News Agency, ASCA, is reporting that Cardinal Vinko Puljić, the Archbishop of Vrhbosna (Sarajevo), also a commission member, stated that the final report will be presented by Cardinal Ruini to Pope Benedict at year's end so that the Holy Father can render his judgment.  Here's the actual news report, translated:

Cardinal Puljic: Report on Medjugorje ready before the end of 2012
14 February 2012 - 14:57 
(ASCA): Rome, 14 Feb: The commission appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to evaluate the authenticity of the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, is expected to present its concluding report before the end of 2012. "Within the year we want to finish our work and give our opinion to the Pope so that he may express his judgment," said Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Sarajevo and member of the commission, during the press conference announcing the Sant'Egidio community's "Meeting for peace" which is to take place next September. "We cannot talk about what the commission is doing, because we are bound to secrecy", the cardinal explained: "Our work is continuing. But we need to finish it this year."   (asp/mpd)   (Translated by Richard Chonak)

That mirrors what the apostolic nuncio to Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH), Archbishop Allessandro D'Errico, said to the people of that nation on March 17, 2010.  The nuncio, referring repeatedly to Medjugorje as, "a question" had this to say back then:

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.

An interesting side note is that you will find other versions of Archbishop D'Errico's message online, but curiously missing from those translations offered by pro-Medjugorje sites is the word "question", which is in the Croatian taken from the BiH Bishops Conference website at the time.  Supporter translations also make the last line sound like the Pope can't understand how anyone could oppose Medjugorje (by omitting, "on the other hand",  and creating one sentence from two).  Readers can draw their own conclusions about why anyone would want to distort the words of a papal nuncio.

Judgment is coming while visions are ongoing?

You will find many well-intentioned people saying that the alleged apparitions cannot be judged while ongoing, or that they must end before judgment can be made. This is only half-true.  The Church will not approve alleged phenomena, while ongoing, but there are plenty of events which have been condemned as not supernatural, while ongoing.  The most recent example are those affiliated with Holy Love Ministries, where Bishop Lennon of Cleveland condemned them as not supernatural in clear ecclesial terms in November of 2009, and his judgment was made at the request of the Holy See. Anyone doubting it's status can mail the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and if they get a letter referring them to Bishop Lennon's decree, they can rest assured that his judgment, is the judgment of the Church.

Bishop Perić Defends Bishop Pavao Žanić 

Last year, four Croatian, pro-Medjugorje journalists openly accused the late Bishop Žanić of conspiring with the communists against the alleged apparitions in a new book entitled, The Mystery of Medjugorje (only in Croatian at this time).  I was very disappointed to see the renouned Vatican journalist, Andrea Tornielli, citing the book in Italian media, lending credibility to accusations, that when examined closely, are utterly ridiculous.

The claims make no sense from a fact-finding standpoint; andl from a standpoint of reason, it is even worse. I wondered if it might prompt the Holy See to act sooner, given that supporters are willing to descend to such a disappointing level to defend Medjugorje.   I anxiously await the judgment of the Holy Father and hope publishers will think twice before agreeing to translations of this book, especially before the Pope speaks.  I can't fathom the Blessed Virgin Mary approving of people trashing the local bishops, even if she were appearing.   If anything, such behavior of followers does nothing to advance a favorable discernment by the Church.

Medjugorje researcher, Louis Bélanger, now retired from the University of Montreal, took Mr. Tornielli to task on September 19, 2011.  The Vatican journalist responded in his combox on September 20th and what he said there, drew additional questions from Bélanger, also in the combox (start at the very bottom and work your way up).  He challenged Tornielli, thus:

My main point is that you convey the allegation that the Secret Service so heavily influenced Mgr Zanic’s decision that he changed completely his position from January 1982 — does the choice of that date point to a specific historical document? — making him a tool of the communist regime, thus its marionette concerning Medjugorje. As if the Ordinary had no legitimate intimate intellectual, spiritual and pastoral motive for the change of his initial spontaneous and positive assessment of the supernatural quality of the Medjugorje events — completely independent of the regime’s political stratagems.

Tornielli never responded to the challenges by Bélanger.

The Bishop Speaks-Out

On December 31 2011, Bishop Ratko Perić published a stunning rebuke of the book, also citing the same paragraph from Bélanger.  Near the opening of his public statement he writes:

In sum, according to the UDBA report, Tornielli says, it turns out that “Bishop Žanić was ready to accept any document against the Franciscans and against the apparitions, even if it was of suspect origin.” Very grave accusations.

The UDBA was the Yugoslav secret police.

The bishop then offers his analysis of the Croatian book at the heart of the controversy.  He writes:
Since the late bishop Pavao Žanić is mentioned in numerous pages of the book “The Mystery of Medjugorje” (MM), and not in a complimentary way, it is our duty, for the love of truth and out of respect for Bishop Pavao, who was a bishop in Herzegovina for 23 years, to respond to such arbitrary claims and insinuations. 

I strongly suggest taking the time to read what Bishop Peric has to say about these allegations, which have made their way into blogposts and promoter sites, as if fact.  It has served only to deepen divisions.  Go to the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno website to read the detailed analysis by Bishop Perić, which was translated by Richard Chonak.

Further reading

When one googles, "Medjugorje", they are met with dozens of links to pro-Medjugorje sites which basically offer messages and fuel the wave of enthusiasm related to the phenomena.  "Details" they have are often highly subjective (and much hear-say); and, the dominant argument is, "the fruits".  There are only a handful of websites which take a look at the events themselves, objectively, which is what the 1978 criteria for discernment of apparitions begs any bishop or commission to look at first.  Below, I provide some of those.

A baby is always a good fruit, regardless of how he or she comes into being.  But, the event involved may not be a loving relationship between a mother and father who were joined in sacramental marriage. Rather, we know the baby may have come into being through fornication, adultery, rape, in a test tube, and many other ways which are not pure.  The baby is a good fruit, and is pure, but the process involved - the event - was not.   And so it is with any alleged apparition.   At every condemned apparition that I'm aware of, are testimonies of people who were converted, found their vocation, increased their prayer and sacramental life, etc.  These things do not make the thing true; investigation of events and facts is what leads the Church to discern the truth.  Everyone should  pray, not that the events of Medjugorje be approved or condemned, but that the Holy See discerns the truth and makes that known to the people, out of love, charity, and justice.

Document and Event-Based Websites on Medjugorje

I also recommend to you, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, by Fr. Ivo Sivric, OFM (edited by Louis  Bélanger), which is a gold source for many other books which use a document and events-based approach to understand Medjugorje.  Donal Anthony Foley's latest book, I also highly recommend.  My review for this is forthcoming in the near future.

For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

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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!
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Nick said...

Theology of Private Revelation

Timothy said...

Here’s what Benedict had to say to the B+H bishops at their last ad limina in 2006. Perhaps the commision's report will help accomplish the Holy Father's desires for unity in the region.

“It is important first of all that every effort be constantly made to increase the unity of Christ’s flock: between you, the legitimate Pastors, and the Religious, especially those who carry out a pastoral ministry in diocesan territory; between diocesan clergy and consecrated persons; lastly, between all who serve the Christian people, overcoming, if necessary, misunderstandings and difficulties linked to past events.

“The Church everywhere pursues a single goal: to build the Kingdom of God in every land and every heart. The task of keeping the Lord's heritage intact, adhering faithfully to the Church's doctrinal and spiritual patrimony in its entirety, is entrusted to the Successors of the Apostles and to their collaborators in their pastoral ministry.

“Blessed are the peacemakers! These words aptly apply to internal relations among the Church’s members as well as to her external mission. The various ecclesial bodies, in their legitimate parts, are regulated by canonical norms which are an expression of an age-old experience and have received help from on high in their development. It is up to the Bishop, the father of the community entrusted to him by Christ, to discern what serves to build up Christ's Church. 

“In this regard, the Bishop is a “pontefice”, that is, a “builder of bridges” between the different needs of the Ecclesial Community. And this is a particularly important aspect of episcopal ministry at the present time when Bosnia and Herzegovina is resuming their journey of collaboration to build a future of social development and peace.”

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...


Thank you for that contribution.

What the Holy Father says there, reminds me of some things that the papal nuncio said in his homily when Fra Marko Semren, OFM, was named an auxiliary bishop of Banja Luka. Archbishop D'Errico's homily, which included some very good words about St. Bonaventure, is worth reading in it's entirety.

Here it is, translated:

On that same day, I talked about the awesome news, that a Franciscan had been elevated to bishop for the first time since the 1940's. He will undoubtedly take over one of the dioceses at some point in the future. What is interesting to note are the numbers; the changes in demographics.

Here is a link to that post:

Another interesting thing to keep in mind when the Holy Father or the nuncio, speaking for the Holy Father, talks about the region, are those demographics - specifically ethnic Croatian/Catholic. There were over 800,000 in Bosnia-Herzegovina before the war in 1992-5, but it is down to half of that now. Consider how troubling that is to the Holy See that there are only half as many Catholics now in that region. Further, and equally alarming is that sacramental life is down, meaning that younger people are the ones migrating to Croatia, or getting lost in secularism.

Two recent articles at Aid to the Church in Need website give us some clues about the kinds of challenges people have there and why they might want to go to Croatia

One last thing to consider when the Holy Father or Nuncio talks about the region, especially involving the bishop, is that there is the situation between the Franciscans of the Herzegovina Province and the Holy See.

Nick said...


Tanks for the links!


You should try the blog The Sacred Page.

Here's something to get you started (Christian Forums)

Tominellay said...

Thanks for the news of Cardinal Puljic's recent remarks about the commission's work...Keep up your great work, Diane!

Anonymous said...

The word "its" is a possessive pronoun, meaning something belongs to "it." "It's," on the other hand, is a contraction for "it is." Your article title should say that the commission will end "its" work.

Because your blog pops up on top of searches for "Medjugorie" and "approval" (my search terms), you might consider editing all the instances of misspelled "its" to enhance your ethos.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous (Grace)
I have noticed that individuals who are unable to refute a thesis often seize upon some rather insignificant aspect of the work in question to appear superior. If all you can say in regards to this blog is a comment about a typo, then I think perhaps Diane is justified in her questioning of this phenomena.
- Anne