Thursday, November 7, 2013

More questions on Holy See's position on promotion of Medjugorje

I have a few more thoughts and questions with yesterday's news that the CDF informed the US bishops that, "clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted."

In the many years that I have been blogging on Medjugorje, one of my primary complaints has been the outward promotion of the phenomena as if it were already approved, especially on Church property.  In parish churches, shrines, and even in diocesan cathedrals in some places in the US, in Italy, and abroad, Medjugorje visionaries had been given a platform not enjoyed anywhere in the whole of the former Yugoslavia.  It had always been problematic for me - this sign of disunity, and the lack of collegiality, not just with the bishops of Mostar-Duvno, but with the entire bishops' conferences of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Not even in neighboring Croatia are the Medjugorje visionaries given these kinds of liberties.   Here in the US, some vocation directors have publicly promoted the alleged apparitions as authentic, giving their testimony at public gatherings, sometimes along side one of the visionaries who would have an alleged apparition at what I now call, "Standard Apparition Time."

My concern grew over the years as I watched visits by other bishops to Medjugorje get exploited, and used as a hammer to further erode the respect owed to the bishops over the local Church where all of this began.  Lists were made on pilgrimage and promoter sites, as to which bishops supported Medjugorje by their visit (whether they went there as believers, or out of curiosity, or for some other reason).

Setting aside truly private, casual visits to another diocese, it's a matter of ecclesial etiquette that when a bishop is going to spend time in the diocese of another bishop, he call on him and make his presence known.  Or, to even stop by and visit him.  I've often wondered how many bishops visiting Medjugorje over the years have actually tried to talk to the bishops of Mostar.  Or, were they taken in by calumnious content on pro-Medjugorje websites and portals, and the word of others, leading them to believe the Holy See was against the local bishops?

People should be so blessed to have men like the now deceased Bishop Pavao Žanić,  and his successor, Bishop Ratko Perić, as their local ordinary.  If the language barrier wasn't there and they could read the day to day writings and homilies that come out at, they would see what kind of caring shepherd the people have in that diocese.

As the Church gets closer to answering the question of Medjugorje, I hope brother bishops around the world will re-evaluate any negative impressions they may have about the local bishop and be open to whatever information comes along.  If they formed their first impression on information from sources promoting the apparitions, it will vary from the information found on the diocesan website, which has an English section on Medjugorje. I can't help but think that a collective examination of conscience is in order, regardless of the outcome.  What bishop, if he felt he had evidence to suggest the non-authenticity of an alleged apparition in his own diocese, would not want support from brother bishops, at least by prohibiting promotion of it, and avoiding anything that would give the appearance of Church sanction?

One thing I hope to see restored when the Holy See finally speaks, and I believe that will come soon enough, is the dignity of the office of bishop in Mostar-Duvno, which has been deeply harmed from where I sit.  It may not matter to a humble bishop who few have taken time to get to know; but it matters to me as an ordinary Catholic for whom unity in the Church means a great deal.

The letter we now have from the CDF, very possibly leaked, raises more questions for me.  That letter spoke about "meetings, conferences, and public celebrations where authenticity is taken for granted", but did not mention online promotion.

How does the CDF feel, during this period of investigation:

1) about clerics spreading devotion to "Our Lady of Medjugorje" on personal websites, parish websites, and social media?

2)  about lay faithful spreading devotion to "Our Lady of Medjugorje" on personal websites, parish websites, and social media?

At the end of the day, we should be neither concerned with approval or disapproval.  What is most important is the truth.  My prayer always has been and continues to be, that the Holy See seek the truth and share the truth.  We can't have charity without truth.

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