Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cardinal Ruini speaks about Medjugorje Commission; and, "Apparitions" are Scheduled in the Holy Land in August

Rome Reports has a video report in which Cardinal Ruini makes a statement about the Medjugorje Commission's work.  Cutting to the chase, he says their work should wrap up soon, but that they need to yet work a little longer. I hope it comes before the "Virgin Mary will appear in Bethlehem" (see story at bottom).

An Italian journalist and Medjugorje apologist, Saverio Gaeto, author of numerous promotional books including, "Medjugorje. È tutto vero" (Medjugorje. It' all true.) was also interviewed.  I think he is fairly straightforward in this report and doesn't say anything that hasn't been communicated previously by officials, but we will examine how some of this is being sensationalized.

I hope Rome Reports will also interview Italian Medjugorje researcher, Marco Corvaglia, the author of "Medjugorje. È tutto falso" (Medjugorje: It's all false).  Marco runs a multi-lingual website on the phenomenon that looks closer at everything from scientific studies to the words and behaviors of the visionaries and closest associates.  He's also taken a look at bias in how news of Medjugorje is popularly reported. His website, Medjugorje without a Mask has been mentioned by Vatican Radio.   The website has detailed citations to support it's presentation of the facts.

Back to the video report.  Since I get an international audience at this blog, text (transcript) for the video below can be found here.

As the reporter points out, it is not the job of the Commission to discuss it's findings with the public; rather, their analysis will go to the CDF.  Here is what he says in the video report (emphasis mine in bold; my comments bracketed in red).

“There is still some time left before they finish. But there won't be a public declaration, because it's not the commission's duty to say anything to the public.[Exactly, that is 101 and was explained when the Commission kicked-off, so, no surprise here] The role of the commission is to give a reasonable explanation to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which will not be published officially, [Ditto. Previously communicated] however it will likely be leaked [I guess we should anticipate unethical and immoral behavior on the part of those who would give away things that are not theirs to give away]. But, the motivation for the commission is to form an opinion and pass it along to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They will then evaluate it and decide whether to get the Pope involved.”  [Nothing unusual here. Pope sets up a Commission under the CDF. As with anything that goes to CDF, the Holy Father trusts them to bring to him those things that warrant his knowledge, discernment, or direct intervention. Business as usual].

Some promoter sites have sensationalized all of this, such as the online tabloid, Medjugorje Today:

I once felt sorry for people who stumbled upon these sites with the way they sensationalize things.  I'm beginning to feel sorry for the people who write this stuff.  They are setting themselves up for more surprises.

If you follow the plain text of what Church officials have said since the Commission was announced (as opposed to sensationalist hype), there should be no surprises in anything said.  In fact, surprises come when additional statements come forth that don't fit a particular narrative previously presented.  Here is Catholic News Agency reporting in 2010:

Speaking in Italian, he [Vatican spokesman, Fr. Lombardi] 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.” 

I keep pointing back to one official statement in March of 2010 that was grossly distorted for reasons we can only leave to the discernment of readers.  For new readers, let us look back at the words of the then Apostolic Nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico, when he first discussed the Commission with the people of that nation.   Since liberties were taken with the words of Archbishop D'Errico on certain pro-Medjugorje websites and that was propagated exponentially on the web, I offer a translation of the pertinent paragraph by Fr. Philip Pavic, OFM, who served as a translator in Medjugorje for the better part of a decade.  The Croatian he translated for me comes from the website of the BiH Bishops' Conference (full translation found here, along with comparisons of fudged text).  The Archbishop said:
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.

Now, I see two ways the Holy Father can pronounce a clear message:  1) With a statement made with his own voice or pen; 2) Through an office of the Holy See - in this case, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  He can pronounce a clear message by giving a nod to that which is presented to him by the CDF, and the statement they wish to release.

Edit: Fr. George David Byers at Holy Souls Hermitage also comments on how this news is being reported.


In other news, it was announced through Medjugorje Today that "The Virgin Mary will appear in Bethlehem."  Even authentic visionary, Bernadette of Lourdes, refrained from referring to her apparition as Mary, under any official church title.  She referred to her simply as, "the lady." This, folks, is called humility.  It's what authentic visionaries, and followers of authentic apparitions, display.

This gig should raise some serious eyebrows and I hope the CDF is paying attention.

1) It is being publicly advertised as an official pilgrimage with a Medjugorje visionary being led by Archbishop Andre Leonard of Belgium.  This is a prudential decision on his part, and I can't help making a simple set of observations: Bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and of Croatia, do not: A) host Medjugorje visionaries in their cathedrals, shrines, and parishes; or B) accompany these visionaries on official pilgrimages to Medjugorje or elsewhere; or C) offer anything in words or actions that could be construed as a sanctioning of events associated with Medjugorje.

2) While the number of participants can be limited to those who pay to go on this official pilgrimage, who knows how many people will descend on the Holy Land in an effort to be there for the alleged apparitions.  While this may be a boon for local business, it could be a headache for local Church officials.  Moreover, why should the rich mysteries of our faith typically contemplated in the Holy Land take a back seat to a virtual spectacle in the form of unapproved apparitions?  I hope local Church officials have been notified that visions have been scheduled for the Holy Land.  Here are the details.

Maybe the pilgrimage is not really to the Holy Land, but to Holly Land

Here's just one snippet from the itinerery (underline is mine for emphasis):

In the afternoon, visit of the Clarisses sisters or of the Little Brothers of Jesus. Meeting of a member of the community. Climbing up and down by taxi (or by foot) at Mount Thabor where the Church commemorates since the Byzantine era the Mystery of the Transfiguration. At the end of the day, recitation of the rosary and participation in the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This is madness!  Are we really to believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary would travel with Vicka to Bethlehem so she can become the center of attraction in the Holy Land?   I haven't studied the itinerary close enough to see if Jesus is also scheduled to appear with the lady of Medjugorje, but it would not surprise me if the Church doesn't push the stop button on this before that can happen.  But wait, it's an ecumenical pilgrimage, so that may not be possible:

Medjugorje visionary Vicka Ivankovic-Mijatovic participates in international Holy Land pilgrimage for healing of humanity on August 19-27, and will have three public apparitions in Bethlehem, inside or outside Church of the Nativity. Other apparitions to Vicka will take place at other holy sites. 
The purpose of the ecumenical pilgrimage is the healing of humanity and the human heart through prayer and fasting, aside of sharing and showing solidarity with Christians in The Holy Land. 
The organizers expect people from all over the world to be there. Representatives from more than 10 countries in Europe, North and South America have confirmed their attendance. Many priests and a good number of Bishops and Archbishops have expressed their interest, along with some Cardinals.

You can read the full report at Medjugorje Today and see the embedded promotional videos with more details.

It's interesting to see people travel great distances to fill a cathedral to pray a Rosary with a visionary claiming to see the Blessed Virgin Mary, while nary a handful of people show up when a parish priest or local bishop offer a public Rosary.  In fact, I've been at prayer vigils led by bishops and priests in front of abortion clinics that brought decent, but lower turnouts than expected.    What does this say about faith? Apparently, the Blessed Virgin Mary is more real for some when she is supposedly appearing to someone and she's worth traveling for when she is involved in apparitions.  This Holy Land pilgrimage is an example of that.  How many of those who sign up for this would have gone to the Holy Land without the signs and wonders in the form of alleged apparitions?  A pity, that.

This is all taking place in late August of 2013.  Hopefully, we hear from the CDF before then.  While I cannot lay claim to know the mind of the Church on Medjugorje, it would be unfortunate for people to book such an expensive pilgrimage if, in the end, the Holy See wants an end to these public manifestations of visions - a real possibility.  Mary doesn't need to "appear" in Bethlehem for us to penetrate the mysteries of our faith there.  In fact, such a traveling sideshow has the potential to be a distraction not just for the pilgrims involved, but for others - some of whom may have waited a life time for such a journey to the Holy Land.

Additional Reading:

Note: Post edited to include more quotes from source material at 3:56 PM, same day as post. 

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