In my quest to accumulate diocesan and other docs on Medjugorje at a blog I set up for this purpose, I am seeing this 1987 homily at a Confirmation Mass in Medjugorje by Bishop Pavao Zanic for the first time (h/t to Vincenzo).
This homily reveals a very Marian bishop, and one who cited legitimate concerns over Medjugorje. This homily came as the last Commission was beginning it's three year investigation which resulted in the 1991 Zadar Declaration.
Before we get into this homily, I want to go back to some important historical points leading up to this homily. Many pro-Medjugorje resources make the false claim that Bishop Zanic was "removed from the case". In a link I provide after the bishop's 1987 homily on "Medjugorje, the Communists and the Bishops" at the blog of Marco Corvaglia, he writes (emphases mine in bold):
In time and following the events one upon another, his insight deepened. And at this point in 1984, to ensure maximum transparency in the judgement, he asked to chair no more the Diocesan Commission of Inquiry, composed of 15 members, appointed on the advice of the entire episcopate of Yugoslavia. This task was assigned to Dr. Mato Zovkić, from Sarajevo.This was precisely the kind of move he needed to make because who in the world, even back then, would believe anyone but the Pope himself, any decision short of full approval?
In January of 1987 when announcing the new Commission, Conference President, Cardinal Kuharic explained it this way (emphases mine in bold; comments brackted in red):
During the inquiry these events under investigation have appeared to go much beyond the limits of the diocese. Therefore, on the basis of the said regulations, it became fitting to continue the work at the level of the Bishops' Conference, and thus to form a new Commission for that purpose. [Note: this is consistent with a provision in the 1978 Criteria for Discernment of Apparitions]
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been informed about it. It has expressed its recognition of the Diocesan Commission's work done under the responsibility of the local Ordinary, and it urged that that work be continued at the level of the National Conference of Bishops [because the events extended beyond the bounds of the diocese as expressed in the first paragraph]
Here is that segment of his excellent homily pertaining to Medjugorje. Emphases mine in bold; comments bracketed in red:
Brothers and sisters, today here in Medjugorje the sacrament of confirmation will be administered, and probably you are expecting me to say a few words about those events which are the talk of the entire world. The Church watches all this, and especially what is of interest to her. This is confided to certain individuals and to commissions. As you know, at present, a Commission is mounting an inquiry on the matter. The said Commission has been established by the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference, for the Church cannot endanger her credibility in this 20th Century world. It [the world] keeps an eye on her to catch her off guard, to criticize her and be able to say: this is what you do with everything else in your faith, everything else is like that...this is the way it is with your Christ.
I can tell you that during these six years I prayed, studied and kept silent. Many others also prayed, and I am grateful to them for that. In each Mass I celebrated, I had a thought for Medjugorje; in every rosary that I recited daily, I prayed to the Madonna for God's and the Holy Spirit's enlightenment. This helped me to gain a strong and firm conviction about everything I have heard, read and experienced. Here people are praying and fasting a lot, inspired as they are, of course, by the belief that these events are indeed supernatural; and to preach untruth to the faithful about God, Jesus and the Madonna is worthy of the depths of Hell.
Through all my prayers, my work and research, I have sought one goal only: the discovery of truth. For that purpose, in 1982, I established a Commission of four members which later was expanded to fifteen, thanks to some bishops and father provincials. The larger body included people from nine theological faculties, seven dioceses and four provinces, as well as two highly qualified. psychiatrists. Consulting their colleagues in their respective fields, all these people worked for three full years. The Holy See was informed about their work and the events.
Today, the Commission set by the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference is studying the same problems. In the meantime, there were some who were in a hurry and wanted to go ahead, before the Church's verdict. They proclaimed the existence of miracles and supernatural happenings; from the altar they preached private revelations, a breach to Church regulations as long as those revelations have not been recognized as authentic [It is interesting to note that any number of parishes, cathedrals and shrines here in the US and in Canada give a platform to these "visionaries" even today, which is a breach of those regulations for ANY apparition which has not been fully approved. The CDF would not approve. If you are in such a parish, please discuss this with your pastor, and if that doesn't help, contact the local bishop and if there is no resolution after a few months, then write to the CDF - charitably and respectfully. These parishes are in essence, bringing organized pilgrimages based on these unapproved phenomena to the people]. For this reason, various Church authorities kept warning against organizing pilgrimages and to wait for the Church's verdict [this is the mind of the Church: Don't promote something as worthy of belief ahead of the Church's ruling].
I'm going to say it again ...... people have no idea what a great shepherd the Diocese of Mostar had in Bishop Zanic. The cross he carried is clear and it is a cross now carried by Bishop Peric.[Watch how this develops - the disobedience involved....] On March 24, 1984, the Commission on the Medjugorje events also issued a warning. Unfortunately all this remained fruitless. Then, in the month of October of the same year, the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference issued an order prohibiting official pilgrimages to Medjugorje; and an official pilgrimage was defined as any group organized to come to Medjugorje. This did not help either. [keep in mind he is referring to organized pilgrimages, not private] Later, on May 13, 1985, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a special letter to the Italian Bishops' Conference asking the bishops to discourage organized pilgrimages... as well as all forms of propaganda. This did not bring any results either [disobedience]. Finally, when the second Commission was set up, His Eminence Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, and the Ordinary of Mostar, declared on behalf of the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference in their January 9, 1987 press release [link to full statement povided earlier in this post]: "For that reason, it is not permitted either to organize pilgrimages or to arrange other manifestations motivated by the supernatural character which might be attributed to the Medjugorje events." This was said by the highest authority in the Church, and this should not be overlooked as if nothing had been said [but organized pilgrimages continued, until clarification was offered - see later documents in the post "are pilgrimages allowed or not???"]
At the outset, when the first news was announced about the extraordinary happenings in this parish, the Chancery Office of Mostar intently followed the news and collected everything that might be of help in the search for truth. The Bishop gave all latitude to the pastoral personnel and the children, he even defended them from the attacks of the news media and civil authorities. We taped all interviews, we gathered chronicles and diaries, letters, documents, and all this has been studied by the Commission composed of theology professors and physicians. The three-year research produced the following result: two members of the Commission voted in favor of the supernaturality and authenticity of the Medjugorje events. One member abstained from voting, another wrote that there was something supernatural at the beginning only, while eleven members of the Commission voted against the supernatural character of those events, and thus, that there were no apparitions. [This works like the election of the Pope. Those who bicker with the decision, are actually bickering over a decision of the Holy Spirit. The decision becomes the decision of the Church and the 1991 Zadar Declaration carried the final result, which is still current]
I am deeply convinced that all the members of the Commission worked conscientiously and examined everything that might be of help in finding the truth. The Church cannot risk her credibility, and often in similar cases she carefully probed these kinds of events and banned crowds from gathering where it had been established that the events were not of supernatural origin. [The decision here was non constat de supernateralitate so this is likely what he is referring to].
The Madonna, they say, started to appear on the Podbrdo of the Mountain Crnica, but when the militia forbade going there, she came into houses, into forests, fields, vineyards and tobacco fields; she appeared in the church, on the altar, in the sacristy, in the choir loft, on the roof, on the church steeple, on the roads, on the way to Cerno, in a car, on buses, in classrooms, in several places in Mostar and Sarajevo, in monasteries in Zagreb, Varazdin, Switzerland and Italy, once again on the Podbrdo, atop Krizevac, in the parish, in the rectory, etc. [hello?!?!?] It is certain that not even half of the places where the alleged apparitions have taken place have been mentioned, so much so that an earnest man--who venerates the Madonna--asked himself: "My Madonna, what are they doing to you?" [This is exactly waht this earnest woman who venerates teh Madonna asked herself many times, and why she is persistent in pointing to these worthy documents]
In this diocese, by divine decree, I am the shepherd, teacher of faith, and judge in the matters of faith [Amen - and what a great shepherd he was, even if some couldn't see it!]. Since Medjugorje's events have created tension and division within the Church (some believe in it, some do not), and have evaded Church control [disobedience], since the recommendations and decisions of the said authorities such as the Commission, the Congregation, and the Bishops' Conference have been ineffective [some see this rebellion as a positive fruit, but it is actually a negative fruit], I, the Ordinary of Mostar, responsible before God for the discipline in the diocese, repeat and sanction former decisions of the ecclesiastical authorities. I do forbid the priests who organize pilgrimages or come here ascribing a supernatural character to these events, to celebrate Mass in the territory of my diocese, and this until the Commission of the Bishops' Conference ends its inquiry [But still - they came. Why listen to the bishop when you can listen to the "gospa"].
I turn to you, Immaculate Virgin and Mother, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, Mother of this congregation which is looking for you, prays to you and loves you. I am turning to you, as your servant and Bishop of Mostar, and before the entire world I proclaim my deep and unshakable faith in all the privileges that God has endowed you with, by which you are the first and the most distinguished creature. I also affirm my deep and unshakable faith in your intercession with almighty God for all the needs of your children in this valley of tears. I assert my deep and unshakable faith in your love toward us sinners, and that love you confirmed with your apparitions and assistance. I myself have led pilgrimages to Lourdes. Exactly through the virtue of that faith, I your servant, Bishop of Mostar, before the great multitudes which called on you, find and accept your great sign which became sure and clear after these six years. I am not in need of a special sign, but it is necessary to those who believed in the truth. [watch what comes next...]
That sign to me is that for six years you steadfastly remained silent to all rumors about the sign: it will be, they said, on the hillside of apparitions, visible and permanent; it is going to be realized soon; it will be before long, in a while; be patient for a while, so they were saying in 1981... Then again: it will be realized on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, for Christmas, for the New Year. etc. Thank you, Madonna, because with your long silence of six years you have demonstrated that you have not spoken here, nor appeared, nor given any message or secret nor promised a special sign [!!!]. Blessed Virgin, Mother of Christ and of us, intercede for peace in this restless region of the Church, in the diocese of Mostar, intercede especially for this place, for this parish, where innumerable times your blessed name was mentioned in words which were not yours. Make them stop fabricating messages in your name [think about the sacrilege being committed, if this is not authentic - and we have priests promoting it in their parishes before the Church declares on authenticity!]. Accept, Blessed Virgin, satisfaction through the sincere prayers of the devout souls who have no part in fanaticism and disobedience to the Church [he's not faulting those who come there in good faith, unaware of the disobedience and deception]. Let us all reach the real truth [It's not - let us reach the real fruits, but the real truth]. Dear Madonna, humble and obedient servant of God, let the faithful of Medjugorje follow with their firm steps the shepherd of the local Church so that all of us might together glorify and praise you in truth and love.
+ Pavao Zanic, Bishop Mostar, July 24, 1987
Now that he ended that on the Great Sign (or lack thereof), it may be a good time to read an even more indepth look at the Questionable Games Surrounding the Great Sign by Bishop Ratko Peric (December 2009)
CALUMNIOUS ACCUSATIONS AGAINST BISHOP ZANIC
There are calumnious accusations found online which suggest that Bishop Pavao Zanic was motivated by fear of the Communists. Italian author/researcher Marco Corvaglia digs into this subject and has a video taped interview with Bishop Zanic (he speaks Italian, but it is summarized in text below the video). It is an excellent read.
Go read: Medjugorje, the Communists, and the Bishop
- Diocese of Mostar-Duvno - Medjugorje page of documents in English
- Međugorje: Secrets, messages, vocations, prayers, confessions, commissions (Bishop Ratko Peric, updated in 2007 from his talk in Split in 2002 and Maynooth, Ireland in 2004)
- The Truth both Frees and Binds us (Bishop Ratko Peric, May 31st, 2004)
- The Truth about Medjugorje (Bishop Pavao Zanic - 1990)
- Types of decisions on apparitions that can be handed down
- What is the Official Status of Medjugorje?
- Are pilgrimages permitted to Medjugorje or not?
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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!