Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Report: Medjugorje Commission report due the end of this month...

UPDATE: Yesterday, Edward Pentin reported, in the National Catholic Register, that Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, stated it is not imminent and that the commission's report must spend some time at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

From Catholic Culture:

A Vatican commission studying the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje will release its findings by the end of this year, a French magazine has reported.

La Vie says that the Vatican commission, established by Pope Benedict XVI and chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, will present its report to the Pontiff by the end of December. The French magazine did not cite any authority for its story, but in February an Italian publication made the same report. That earlier report quoted Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo as saying that “we need to finish this year.”

Read the rest on Medjugorje Commission at Catholic Culture along with links.

When it says the report will be presented to the Pontiff, that doesn't necessarily mean the Holy Father will issue a statement this year.  However, if the report does go to the Holy Father by years end, it will not be long before he speaks.  The question is, would it be more like January or say, in March, or later? The date chosen by the Holy Father always has significance.  I have long suspected, as I'm sure many of you have, that it will come on a Marian feast day of some kind, be that the Mother of God or the Annunciation, or other.  I always thought it would be great to have it on the day that the Church celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary's birthday: September 8th (but I would not want to wait that long if the Pope would reveal his thoughts publicly, sooner).  Many in the Medjugorje movement have been celebrating it on August 5th:

September 8 can be viewed as Our Lady’s ‘official’ birthday celebrated by the Church. But for followers of Our Lady’s messages from Medjugorje there is another date in the calendar put aside for celebrating the Gospa’s birthday – August 5, best considered as Our Lady’s ‘private’ birthday. This was revealed to the visionaries very early on in the history of the Medjugorje apparitions.
• Mention of this date was also made by Fr René Laurentin and published the same year in his book, Is the Virgin Mary Appearing at Medjugorje? He wrote:  
At the end of May 1984, Jelena and Mirjana, with whom I spoke on June 10, had received from the Virgin a call to celebrate August 5 as the 2,000 birthday of her birth. The feast was to be celebrated by two days of fasting and a day of celebration... The three days of fast (they added one) ended in a day of intense prayer in the Church and on the hill (of apparitions). There were many conversions and confessions. One of the priests said to me: “I will remember this day more than my 20 previous years as a confessor.” According to the young people (the visionaries), Mary had said who had heard confessions that day would have great joy... 

Some may not see the significance of such a seemingly innocent thing - that the Blessed Virgin Mary would call for her birthday to be celebrated on a day other than the one celebrated liturgically by the whole Church.  This sets up a conflict for theologians discerning the alleged apparition.  The diocese of Mostar-Duvno, when discussing Tomislav Vlasic in the context of Medjugorje said this:

On 22 August 1984, Fr. Vlašić wrote to Bishop Žanić informing him that the Madonna’s 2000th birthday was to be held that same year on 5 August! No important ecclesiastic person took this news seriously and neither did Bishop Žanić nor the Holy See. However, during 1984, on 4 and 5 August, a large group of people gathered in Medjugorje to “celebrate” the Madonna’s “birthday”.
The bottom line is that the bishop could not authorize a change in dates for something that is on the universal liturgical calendar.  It's hard to fathom that Mary would ask for such a thing.  The Church looks for harmony in Church teaching and liturgical matters out of messages from alleged apparitions. It is clearly lacking in this case. When the people follow, against the Church, in observing a day not recognized by the Church, that is all the more significant.

Regardless of what side of the issue one is on, we should all desire that truth prevail.  There is nothing wrong with hoping for a positive outcome. I personally do not feel this is likely using basic reason.  No apparition has been approved while ongoing, but many have been condemned as not supernatural while ongoing.

The Church does not approve things happening now because tomorrow something could happen that would prove the thing false and ruin her credibility on such things. The fact that a decision is coming, says something with regards to timing and the fact that the alleged apparitions continue.

There is always the chance that the Holy Father could maintain the status quo, but offer further clarification and guidelines on things like pilgrimages.  However, I am doubtful of this only because it seems unlikely to go through several years of commission work just to maintain status quo. Moreover, Pope Benedict XVI is a co-worker of truth, and a man who has proven time and again, he will not avoid doing right by truth even in the face of potential adverse consequences.  We saw this with the Maciel case.

The case of Medjugorje could have a greater impact than that of Maciel, if Pope Benedict says nothing supernatural is happening, only by the sheer volume of supporters.  I think that is why he is so careful in taking his time since the commission began and why we need to patient a little while longer.  For example, if there is no support for authenticity after a long look at details (not just good fruits, but bad fruits, and how specific events stack up against sound theology), the Pope not only needs to speak the truth, but he needs to do so in a way that will keep as many followers as possible within the fold.  For this reason, we must all be patient and pray.  I trust the Holy Father on this.

I know, personally, many followers of Medjugorje and most of them know my position which I share with the local bishop of Mostar.  I will say this much about those people: They are some of the most faithful Catholics I have met in many respects.  Most of them go to daily Mass, or when they can; they pray the Rosary daily; they spend time in Adoration (and are responsible to some extent for many Adoration chapels around the US); they value Confession and use it frequently; and, they love the Church, her teachings, and the Holy Father.  I believe most will accept the judgment of Pope Benedict XVI.  But, I am aware of some who have expressed online that their belief in the "Gospa of Medjugorje" comes before anything the Pope has to say, if it is not positive.  Sadly, if even 1% reject a possible negative decision, or a fraction of 1%, that is a big number given the millions with an attachment or following to Medjugorje.

Attachment is a key word here.  My father gave me some cogent advice as a child when he was duped by private revelations that would later prove false.  Don't become attached to any such phenomena until the Church gives a definitive judgment. It's okay to be hopeful, but very cautious. Becoming attached sets us up to reject the judgment of the Church and that is why the Angel of Darkness will tolerate people engaging in pious practices, vocations and the like.  In the end, Satan hopes people reject the Church's judgment, ultimately putting them in a position to interiorly join him in saying, "non serviam." Discernment isn't just about good fruits, it's about the full package, most especially those connected to actual events.  One can find all over the web contrasting views of events, some by well known theologians.  In the end, the Holy Father is the final arbiter and the theologian who matters most.

So, pray.  Pray that we all accept the judgment of the Holy Father.  Despite my disbelief about authenticity, I am willing to open myself to any and all new information and thoughts Pope Benedict XVI may offer on Medjugorje.

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Rick Mc said...


I found your perspective on the upcoming report and subsequent (expected) statement by Pope Benedict XVI to be very thoughtful, balanced, and healthy.

I had a wonderful, enriching experience in Medjugorje, but I agree with your statement that "attachment is key". I remain cautiously hopeful.

In the end, I trust the Holy Father and the Holy Church in its wisdom.

Blessings to you...


Frank Rega said...

Here are the three options: 1) constat de supernaturalitate (established as supernatural), 2) constat de non supernaturalitate (established as not supernatural); or 3) non constat de supernaturalitate (not established as supernatural).
Number 3 will be the verdict. But followers of Medjugorge will be happy that it was not number 2. They will say that it has not been condemned as at Bayside in NY. Thus, all will continue as before at Medjugorje.

Anonymous said...

It is a mystery to me why they have waited so very long to do this.

As for Our Lady allegedly correcting the long established date of Her birth by the Church, that is all anyone should need to know that the whole thing is a farce. Our Lady would never contradict Her Son's Church.


Jane | @janelebak said...

I did wonder about the birthday thing. I can't believe it's just always really annoyed Mary that the Church Militant celebrated her birthday on the wrong day, and that she was just so irritated with us that it wasn't enough to celebrate with the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant, and that the birthday cards of millions of angels wasn't enough to make up for the fact that we still on Earth got it wrong by a whole month.

Anonymous said...

oh, really? Didn't the Holy Father just contradict the Churches tradition about what year that Jesus was born. Mary's birthday celetbrated by the church is not based on revelation but conjecture which is not infallible.

Brad said...

Holy Father did no such thing, but nice try.

Matthew Roth said...

Considering the massive amount of disobedience over the years, I believe that a declaration of not supernatural could be in the works.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that the Church has not condemned the false apparitions of Medjugorje a long time ago. There is an abundance of error, scandal, disobedience, lies and absurdities associated with the visionaries, messages and manipulative clergy in this matter. Please Google "The Truth About Medjugorje" by Bishop Zanic.

Daniel Humm said...

Did it not turn out when the Norms were published that there are not three options but only two options? Looking at them on the Vatican website and a preface has the first two options that Frank mentions are the only two mentioned.

If the third option is possible, it seems that it would only be in that they are not making a decision. Yet they seem determined to make a decision, so it would likely be from the first two. But with visions still being promulgated, it seems highly unlikely that they would rule positively since who knows what would be said next.

I've expected that the ruling of the local bishop would be confirmed, and the only reason it was raised to a higher level is to get better cooperation for the other bishops in the world. Conferences are held with visions proclaimed outside the original diocese, and I expect the majority of pilgrims are outsiders. Not too much more the local bishop could have done to stop it, so it needs to be a universal message.

Liam Ronan said...

I pray that the Holy Father has the courage to call a spade a spade in this matter of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje. I feel there has been much mischief afoot since the beginning and that the thrust of it profoundly overshadows the significance and message of Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of the Rosary. May His Holiness not 'flee from the wolves'!

RC said...

Daniel raises a fair point: since the 1978 Norms only mention two of the three traditional options for a judgment, does that mean that the Holy See was expressing an intention to use only those two in the future?

I raised the same question a few years back on my blog. If the only options to be used in the future were constat and non constat ("confirmed", "not confirmed") then it seemed that the Bishops Conference's non constat took on a new significance: that the Medjugorje case had already received the most negative judgment possible.

Since then, I've heard an argument to the contrary: namely, we should assume a hermeneutic of continuity. The SCDF in 1978 didn't state explicitly that it was intending to abolish the use of the stronger constat de non supernaturalitate ("confirmed not supernatural"), and didn't offer any reasons to abolish it, so we shouldn't jump to such a conclusion. With that as a reason, I'm inclined to believe that CDF still has the three options as described in Cdl. Lambertini's writings back in the 1700s.

Susan said...

Very sensible analysis.

My difficulty with Medjugorje has always been a matter of personality. Miriam of Nazareth comes through in a very powerful way in the gospels. This is a strong woman, strong in her faith and just plain strong, who does not go on and on and on. When she has something to say she says it, with arresting force and brevity, and then she shuts up.

The apparitions at Lourdes and Fatima show this same personality trait. She delivers her message in a straightforward way, briefly and powerfully. That does not all by itself mean that the apparitions are genuine, but it is a weighty testimony.

Here we have the contrary: an apparition who seems unable to stop talking. On and on, over a period of many years, not delivering much of substance, but discussing trivial matters such as when exactly her birthday occurs.

This does not prove that the apparition is NOT Mary, but it is suggestive, at least to me.

I am hoping Rome will pronounce definitively on this matter and thus end the seemingly endless division this affair has produced.

Nick said...

"Becoming attached sets us up to reject the judgment of the Church and that is why the Angel of Darkness will tolerate people engaging in pious practices, vocations and the like."

I think it's more a case of pride than diabolic influence. The soul thinks it's so good, it can sin.

Nick said...

RE: "oh, really? Didn't the Holy Father just contradict the Churches tradition about what year that Jesus was born."

You mean how the Pope challenged Christmas traditions of Jesus' year of birth, animals being at His birth, etc.? This is all stuff that's been criticized before by Popes and theologians alike. It's a part of pious traditions and popular piety: which means the Church can get rid of it if she wants. But so far, she hasn't. So tell the Church why she should get rid of it. If Saint Francis could reform the Church, anyone can!

RE: "Mary's birthday celetbrated by the church is not based on revelation but conjecture which is not infallible."

The Nativity of Mary is not a part of Divine Revelation but is an ancient local tradition - often mistaken for Sacred Tradition, especially since some Catholics don't discern between the two - which is celebrated in the Liturgy on September 8th, nine months after the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, just like Christmas is celebrated nine months after Annunciation.

Tominellay said...

Thanks, Diane...
I wonder if a negative decision on Medjugorje will include directives from the CDF with regard to some schismatic activity in the Mostar diocese. It's a very delicate balance there.

Paul said...

You seem to have toned down your vitriol against Medjugorje. Perhaps in the back of your mind, you realise that, in fact, Medjugorje may be sanctioned by Rome eventually. Time to start preparing to not look like too much of a fool. Sorry, too late, you've already said much more against Medjugorje, its priests and visionaries than most other anti-Medjugorje spokespeople. You've parroted every hearsay, half-truth and innuendo ever uttered since Pavao Zanic sent out his letter against the wishes of Rome. You still haven't stopped with your ideas on Mary's birthday. Perhaps it would have been wiser to just close your mouth and let the Vatican talk. Quite an awkward position you are close to finding yourself in. Yet, you actually seem confident that it is the the Medjugorje believers who will have to adjust their thinking and behaviour in response to a nay from Rome. Have you thought about what you, yourself will do if the opposite is true? I will be watching your blog extremely closely in the coming months.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...


The bulk of your comment didn't deserve the dignity of a response, but I went ahead and published it so that people can see more "fruit" of Medjugorje.

A) It is always best when you want to use such a snotty mode of communication to do so with your true, full name. That often has a way of improving communication.

B) There was nothing to tone down. My position has not changed. I do not personally believe in the alleged apparitions of Medjugorje.

If you are going to make an broad, generalized slander such as this:

"You've parroted every hearsay, half-truth and innuendo ever uttered since Pavao Zanic sent out his letter against the wishes of Rome."

... provide specific example of a "hearsay, half-truth, or innuendo"

C) My, "ideas about Mary's birthday?" Just what is that suppose to mean? When do you celebrate Mary's birthday?

D) If you submit another comment to this blog with the tone of an unschooled teenager, don't wait for it to be approved. I'll put it in the trash where it belongs.

The rest of what you wrote truly doesn't deserve the dignity of a response. It's much too childish.

Now, if you want to dialogue about something specific, let's talk. How about coming out from behind that anonymity in which you have cloaked yourself so that you don't have to handle disagreement in a dignified fashion.