Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Medjugorje Apologia - Answering Common Misconceptions

Answering Common Misconceptions

Dedicated to the Two Hearts

by  Davide A. Bianchini

Davide has done extensive and invaluable research on Medjugorje.  Because it is so well done, it is worthy of being shared to ensure it is never lost and that as many people as possible can see and read it. 

It is with this intention and not to take any credit for myself that I am sharing his work.   

I have simply copied and pasted his work, which you can see here: http://www.medjugorje-apologia.com/common_misconceptions_defense.html

2019 Special Update
Pope Francis has approved pilgrimages to Medjugorje in 2019

As a result, much of the information on this page is over-shadowed by this monumental development. Nonetheless, we still include this page to address lingering objections that people still make to this day against Medjugorje.


1. The local Franciscan priests are the "mastermind" behind Medjugorje.
2. Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa didn't support Medjugorje. Those are just fabrications.
3. The children said the apparitions would occur for "only three more days".
4. The messages have continued for years with no end in sight (unlike Lourdes or Fatima).
5. The Lady said that all faiths are equal.
6. The messages detract from the Catholic Faith
7. She said her birthday is August 5th. But the Church celebrates it on Sept. 8th.
8. But the Blessed Virgin would never admonish a bishop.
9. But one of the laicized priests, Ivica Vego, married a nun.
10. But Fr. Vlasic was also laicized, and he was the children's spiritual director!
11. The children and Franciscans were disobedient to the bishop.
12. But the local bishop condemned Medjugorje. Therefore, we should be obedient.
13. But even the 1991 Yugoslavian Bishop's Conference was against Medjugorje.
14. The children went to the hill to smoke cigarettes!
15. The children told lies!
16. But Marija even admitted to lying!
17. The children lost their vocation!
18. But the lady endorsed a visionary who was condemned by the Vatican! (Maria Valtorta)
19. The visionaries live in big houses and drive expensive cars!
20.The Lady told the children they are already saved. This is Protestant theology.
21. Fruits are not really a factor in determining authenticity. False apparitions sometimes have good fruits.
22. The messages are simple and boring.
23. Why is Medjugorje so important? Why not just believe in approved apparitions such as Fatima and Lourdes?
24. The Church is supposed to come out with a decision soon. What if she condemns Medjugorje?

Answering Common Misconceptions

This page is primarily dedicated to us in the West (Europe, America, etc.), who have largely been shaped by a distrusting and even cynical culture, especially when it comes to the supernatural--to the point of creating excessively rigid and arbitrary standards to disbelieve. Peoples of other countries do not suffer from this ailment. They tend to be more trusting, more innocent. While we are taught from the very first days of our childhood to distrust; "do not talk to strangers"; "do not look people in the eyes when passing by". Whether we admit it or not, the seeds of distrust, doubt, and even paranoia have been deeply rooted within us. In this sense, we have become our own worst skeptics. And so, we present to our readers this page; to address the many misconceptions and questions that feed upon our skepticism of the supernatural.

1. The local Franciscan priests are the "mastermind" behind  Medjugorje. 
The genesis of this claim dates back to the first days of the apparitions, when the Communist regime saw Medjugorje as a threat to its government, and thus initiated a media campaign to undermine the apparitions. 1a They printed cartoons which depicted the six visionaries manipulated by evil Franciscans, or the Virgin armed with a machine gun 1 (the Communist government had full control over the media in the region, and imprisoned the only two journalists who spoke favorably about Medjugorje 2). Suffice to say, those who continue to level these claims today, are, as Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar stated when he scolded the local bishop for his opposition to the apparitions; "bringing out accusations that have been refuted a hundred times over". In reality, the apparitions started with the children before the priests ever heard of Medjugorje, and were sustained by the children long after the priests were gone. The three priests who were closest to the children (Fr. Jozo, Fr. Vlasic, and Fr. Barbaric) were there acting in their office as spiritual director, guiding the children and also protecting them from harm from the Communist persecution. In the eyes of a secularist, it is easy to see how spiritual direction can appear like "manipulation".

2. Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa didn't support Medjugorje. Those are just fabrications.
Those who put forth this claim have likely not reviewed the evidence on the matter, which includes not only testimonies from eyes witnesses, but also documents written in their own handwriting as well. Due to the compelling nature of this evidence, we have included it on a separate page; "Position of the Church". There can be no doubt that both of these mystics (who were arguably more qualified at discerning supernaturality than anyone else living at the time) believed in and supported the apparitions at Medjugorje.

3. The children said the apparitions would occur for "only three more days".
The Church teaches us that even true visionaries can draw false interpretations of their own visions. Such is this situation in question. During the first days of the apparitions, the children were still very ignorant about apparitions in the Catholic Church, and so Fr. Jozo had lent them a book to read about Lourdes. They read about how the Blessed Virgin appeared to Bernadette only eighteen times, and thus assumed that all apparitions occur in the same way. 3 This faulty assumption is what prompted Mirjana to conclude that the apparitions in Medjugorje would only occur for three more days. As she stated; "That's what happened in Lourdes, so that is what will happen here". This human error does not impugn the authenticity of Medjugorje. In fact, it is a natural occurrence in most (if not all) approved apparitions, for the visionaries to interpret minor inaccuracies based on their own human understanding. This is the nature of private revelation, which is not free from error as public revelation is.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1978 norms for judging alleged apparitions [link]

"taking into account, however, the possibility that the subject may add something by their own activity—even if this is done unconsciously—of some purely human elements to an authentic supernatural revelation"

4. The messages have continued for years with no end in sight (unlike Lourdes or Fatima).
There have been approved apparitions that have occurred for nearly half a century, or more. For example, the apparitions in Laus France occurred for 54 years. St. Brigid of Sweden received apparitions for more than a quarter-century. And St. Hildegard received visions for nearly 70 years. 4 According to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (herein termed the CDF), the "length of apparitions" is not a factor in determining the authenticity of alleged apparitions. The Church does not set arbitrary standards for judging alleged apparitions, but instead has specific criteria that it follows (see 1978 CDF Norms for Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations). Jakov, one of the visionaries, has been asked this question many times. His response has always been the same; "Instead of asking 'why'; 'why have they been occurring for so long', we instead should be saying something else; we should be saying 'thank you', and giving thanks to Our Lord for allowing Our Blessed Mother to be with us for so long."

Mirjana: "Why have the apparitions been lasting so long?"
Our Lady: "Because so many people are taking so long to convert. There have never been so many unbelievers."

"Today is the day that I was going to stop giving messages because certain people do not accept them. The parish has responded and I wish to continue to give messages to a degree, such as has never before been witnessed in the world, since the beginning of history. Try to remain in my heart. Do not remain outside of it." - April 4th, 1985

5. The Lady said that all faiths are equal.
There are two points to consider here: 1) A possible faulty English translation of the original Croation (translated by Juan Gonazales, Jr, Ph.D.), which took a narrower interpretation. 2) Context. We have included a passage below which helps illustrate the proper context of the alleged statement. Upon reading the complete text, it becomes evident that the Lady did not say all faiths are equal. She was rather correcting a mistaken notion of the children that everyone who is not Catholic is damned. This hard-lined view was found not only among Feeneyites and some traditionalists, but also in isolated pockets of the world where Catholicism was the dominant religion (Medjugorje). We might also point out to the reader that Mother Teresa has made similar statements. It was not her objective to convert others, but to love. It is in loving that the greatest number of conversions occur.

"Tell this priest, tell everyone, that it is you who are divided on earth. The Muslims and the Orthodox, for the same reason as Catholics, are equal before my Son and me. You are all my children. Certainly, all religions are not equal, but all men are equal before God, as St. Paul says. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved, but it is necessary to respect the commandments of God in following one's conscience. Those who are not Catholics, are no less creatures made in the image of God, and destined to rejoin someday, the House of the Father. Salvation is available to everyone, without exception. Only those who refuse God deliberately, are condemned. To him, who has been given little, little will be asked for. To whomever has been given much (to Catholics) , very much will be required. It is God alone, in His infinite justice, Who determines the degree of responsibility and pronounces judgment."

"All religions are similar before God. God rules over them just like a sovereign over his kingdom. In the world, all religions are not the same because people have not complied with the commandments of God. They reject and disparage them."

6. The messages detract from the Catholic Faith
Those who would make this claim have likely not read the messages in their entirety. It should suffice to include a short list of excerpts from the messages, to illustrate their fidelity to the Catholic faith (see below).

"Let Holy Mass be your life. Understand that the Church is God's palace, the place in which I gather you and want to show you the way to God. Come and pray! Neither look at others, nor slander them. Rather let your life be a testimony on the way of holiness. Churches deserve respect and are set apart as holy because God, who became man, dwells in them day and night."

“Pray for priests. My Son gave them to you as a gift.”

"I urge you to ask everyone to pray the rosary. With the rosary you will overcome all the troubles which Satan is trying to inflict on the Catholic Church. Let all priests pray the rosary. Give time to the rosary."

The Blessed Virgin kisses an image of the Pope and says: "It is your father, the spiritual father of all."

"It is intentional that all apparitions are under the auspices of the Catholic Church."

"Dear children!  In the great love of God, I come to you today to lead you on the way of humility and meekness.  The first station on that way, my children, is confession.  Reject your pride and kneel down before my Son."

"The West has made civilization progress, but without God, as if they were their own creators. ...Monthly Confession will be a remedy for the Church in the West. One must convey this message to the West. [...] Whole sections of the Church could be cured, if the believers would go to confession once a month. "

"Do not go to confession through habit, to remain the same after it. No, it is not good. Confession should give an impulse to your faith. It should stimulate you and bring you closer to Jesus. If confession does not mean anything for you, really, you will be converted with great difficulty."

"My children, I wish that the holy mass be for you the gift of the day. Attend it, wish for it to begin. Jesus gives Himself to you during the mass. Thus, look forward to that moment when you are cleansed. Pray very much so that the Holy Spirit will renew your parish. If people attend mass with lukewarmness, they will return to their homes cold, and with an empty heart."

"I would like to guide you spiritually, but I would not know how to help you, if you are not open. It suffices for you to think, for example, where you were with your thoughts yesterday during mass. When you go to mass, your trip from home to church should be a time of preparation for mass. You should also receive Holy Communion with an open and pure heart; purity of heart and openness. Do not leave the church without an appropriate act of thanksgiving. I can help you only if you are accessible to my suggestions; I can not help you if you are not open."

7. She said her birthday is August 5th. But the Church celebrates it on Sept. 8th.

A brief clip of Marija (one of six visionaries)


It may appear like Our Lady is correcting the Church, when in actuality She is not. We have to remember that the Church calendar is a liturgical calendar, not an indication of a historic date. The calendar is not set in stone. It can be revised, altered, feasts shifted, saints added, others dropped, etc.

When asked the same question, Colin B. Donovan (EWTN) responded; "That is a liturgical celebration by the Church, not an assertion of an historical date. The association of Mary with August 5th historically is the apparition of Our Lady of the Snows, a day on which, as promised by a vision, snow fell in Rome to mark the place where the Pope was to build a "temple" to the Blessed Virgin. That "temple" is the Pontifical Basilica of St. Mary Majors (the highest ranked Marian church in the world), the dedication of which is celebrated each August 5th. Could that be the actual day of Mary's birth? Who knows? One could even argue that snow better signifies her Immaculate Conception than her birth."

8. But the Blessed Virgin would never admonish a bishop.
In 1981, bishop Zanic had two local Franciscans priests (Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina) expelled and laicized from the order for reasons concerning the "Hercegovinian Affair". The two priests, believing they were innocent, did not know what to do. Encouraged by a few locals, they asked the children to inquire to the Blessed Virgin about the situation. The Virgin told the children to respond in this way;

"The Gospa wants it said to the bishop that he has made a premature decision. Let him reflect again, and listen well to both parties. He must be just and patient. She says that both priests are not guilty."

This point is critical, because this is the reason that caused the the bishop to change his mind about Medjugorje. As he states; "This support given against the authority of the Church, proves that it is not the Virgin." And again, he states; "That fact convinced me that it did not deal with the Madonna, and that she could not defend the two priest expelled by the Order and released from their vows. That would be to destroy the hierarchy and the Church" So we see clearly, the bishop had set this issue as the pillar of his negative opinion of Medjugorje. And yet, in 1993, the Holy See initiated an investigation into this matter and found that the priests were innocent of the actions taken against them by the bishop; that their laicization had been done illegally and unjustly, and thus reinstated the priests back to good standing. 5 (see also Timeline; 1993)  So we see that the Virgin was indeed correct. Yet despite knowing they were completely innocent, the Virgin still emphasized to the children the importance of obedience and reconciliation (see text below).
          It is also interesting to note, that some of our Orthodox brethren make a similar argument against the apparitions at Guadalupe, where Our Lady asked to have a shrine built in her honor. Their words are almost identical; "The Virgin Mary would never ask to have a shrine built to her. If She was truly the Virgin, She would instead ask to have a shrine built to Her Son."  Here we see how this arbitrary standard is used to criticize an approved Catholic apparition. The premise in both these cases is clearly faulty; appealing to Mary as she was on earth 2,000 years ago, not the now glorified Mary Who is now Queen of Heaven and Mother of the Church. As our mother, She is only concerned about the good of souls. And so every action and word from Her, must be seen in this light. When She was asked about the two Franciscan priests, She responded in truth, against an injustice. And undoubtedly, it was for the good of the souls of these two hot-headed priests, who would have otherwise become embittered against the bishop, and have harbored this resentment for the rest of their lives.

After the locals involved the children in the affair, they composed questions to present to Our Lady

CHILDREN: "The bishop is protesting because you said that Father Ivica Vego and Father Ivan Prusina are not guilty. He has the feeling that you are not the Blessed Virgin because you do not respect the decision of the leaders. Do you want us to explain your point of view?"

OUR LADY'S RESPONSE: "It is necessary to respect the leaders and to obey them, but they also make mistakes. They must do penance for their mistakes and rectify their errors. The bishop and those who influence him in this regard, do harm to the faith. I do not find fault with Father Vego and Father Prusina."

Q: "What do you recommend to our bishop, and to other bishops in order to resolve this problem? How can they resolve it? What must they do to arrive at an understanding and reconciliation?"

A: "It is necessary to pray very much. They must pray. Let them know that without my help, they can do nothing, because I am your Mother. Let them ask for my help, because I want to save all of them. They can be saved only by making peace among them, and by renouncing all forms of jealousy. That is the only way to find a solution."

Q: "What do you recommend to Fathers Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina so that they may be able to approach the bishop and establish a dialogue with him?"

A: "Let them pray for him, and let every misunderstanding be forgotten as if nothing existed. Let them love the bishop and let them pray very much for him. It is in this manner that the problems will be able to be resolved."

Q: What do you ask of the bishop so that he can acknowledge you, and that the question of Herzegovina be resolved?"

A: "I addressed the bishop many messages, but he has not accepted them. Then I sent you to him, but he still did not receive the Queen of Peace because he is tormented by anxiety. He has taken upon himself all the problems of the diocese instead of confiding them to my Son for a solution. Pray, my dear children, so that he will accept me. From my side, I will ask Almighty God for the grace to be able to comfort the bishop."

9. But one of the laicized priests, Ivica Vego, married a nun.
It is true that after being expelled from the Franciscans and released of his vows (including the vow of chastity), Fr. Vego was forced to return to the secular life. During this time, a nun took pity on him, and they eventually married within the Church. This unfortunate consequence of expelling an innocent priest resulted just as Our Lady predicted in 1981 (see transcript below). As She says, if they stop being priests, "things could get even worse". This does not excuse Fr. Vego from marrying a nun however, though he was free to marry. We must remind the reader, however, this priest had only a peripheral involvement in the apparitions, over the course of just a few months. It is thus irrational to assert that the behavior of this priest later in his life can be used to condemn Medjugorje.

OUR LADY, 1981: "if they stop being priests, things could get even worse."

QUESTION: "The bishop is not in the habit of saying: 'Our Lady protects rebel Franciscans and does not listen to the Church. Can Our Lady tell us what she wishes to accomplish by such actions? Could she explain to the bishop that she is on his side and on the side of the Church?

ANSWER: "I want to guard the Church and all those who are responsible. I want to protect all priests, the good and the bad, because Jesus said; 'It is not those who are in good health who are in need of a physician.' But that does not mean that I do not protect the bad priests. Understand that well. They could not be good without my protection! Understand well: I want to protect and put on the right path all priests, because it is necessary that they do my will."

10. But Fr. Vlasic was also laicized, and he was the children's spiritual director!
First, we might point out that Fr. Vlasic was only temporarily stationed in Medjugorje as a replacement to Fr. Jozo (Fr. Jozo was the original priest and spiritual director in Medjugorje, who was imprisoned by the communist police for defending the children). Fr. Vlasic had only been the children's spiritual director for two years after he began plans to found a new Franciscan community in Italy in 1984. Thus, for the past 27 years, Fr. Vlasic has remained in Italy, no longer involved in the children's lives. Critics, however, nonetheless attempt link Fr. Vlasic to Medjugorje, as if they are one in the same ("guilt by proxy" is not grounded in canon law, nor right reason). Furthermore, we should also point out that the laicization of Fr. Vlasic in 2008 was due to the express request of Fr. Vlasic himself, not as a punishment against his own wishes.

Intent on getting the approval of the Blessed Virgin, Fr. Vlasic evidently pressured Marija to give a positive approval to form a new community. 5b However, the Virgin did not give explicit approval. Nevertheless, Fr. Vlasic requested to be transferred to Italy to pursue his intentions of founding the aforementioned community. His request was granted in 1986.

Fr. Vlasic: "Should we found here a community just like that of Saint Francis of Assisi?"
Our Lady: "God has chosen Saint Francis as His elected one. It would be good to imitate his life. In the meantime, we must realize what God orders us to do."

11. The children and Franciscans were disobedient to the bishop.
When the bishop ordered the apparitions to cease taking place in the parish church, they complied by moving to a small private room. 6 When the bishop ordered the children to make no further public appearances in the parish, the children stopped publicly speaking about the messages in church, and instead wrote the apparitions on paper. 6 When the bishop ordered the new statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje to be taken down from the altar, they complied by moving it to the small apparitions room. When the bishop banned the three Franciscan priests (Fr. Jozo, Fr. Vlasic, Fr. Rupcic) from celebrating Mass or preaching in the parish, they complied. When the bishop banned all mention of the apparitions in homilies, it was not necessary to comply since the priests never mentioned the apparitions in homilies to begin with. When the bishop ordered the Franciscans to hand over all written material including the diary, they could not comply entirely because the supposed "diary" never existed. When the bishop forbade the children from stepping foot into the church, Fr. Vlasic refused, since the church was the only safe place for the children against the communist police. In short, the children obeyed exceedingly well to the bishop's demands. And Fr. Vlasic, while he did not obey in this one instance, he is also not the children (critics often seem to want to tether the Franciscans to the children, as if they are one in the same). Though they all felt the bishop's actions were unjust, they nonetheless meekly accepted them as necessary trials, just as the Mother of God said;

The Virgin instructs how to respond to the bishop's orders

"Beginning today, the Lord wants to try the parish in a special way, in order to strengthen it in faith... You the members of this parish have a large and heavy cross to bear. But do not be afraid to carry it. My Son is here to help you." - (On the same day the demands from the bishop were announced, April 11, 1985)

"Carry out well your responsibilities and what the Church asks of you to do."

"It is necessary to respect the leaders and to obey them, but they also make mistakes. They must do penance for their mistakes and rectify their errors."

"Obey, and do what the priests and your parents tell you. Go often to holy Mass and receive Communion. Be very attentive..."

12. But the local bishop condemned Medjugorje. Therefore, we should be obedient.
Normally, this would be true, since the local bishop is typically the first authority in judging alleged apparitions within his jurisdiction. However, Medjugorje is unique in that Rome has intervened on a number of occasions, opposing the bishops negative opinion that Medjugorje should be condemned. For a complete analysis on the Church's position on Medjugorje, please see our page entitled; "What is the Position of the Church?".

13. But even the 1991 Yugoslavian Bishop's Conference was against Medjugorje.
Those who make this claim have likely not studied the history on this Commission. The Yugoslavian bishop's conference was more favorable towards Medjugorje than not. The evidence on this account is clear and unambiguous, to the degree that it is unclear how critics could claim otherwise.
Due to the importance of this Commission, we have devoted an entire section on it in our page entitled; "What is the Position of the Church?".

A short clip from the movie "The Madonna of Medjugorje"

14. The children went to the hill to smoke cigarettes!
While it is true that, out of the six children, two of them had went to the hill was to smoke cigarettes, we must also remember that the use of tobacco was commonplace during that time, especially in that region of Bosnia, where tobacco farms were the only source of income for families. And so, the children were exposed to it at a young age. However, it is also important to note, ever since the apparitions first started, the children never smoked again in their lives. Thus, we see from this incident another good fruit (which is what the Church is more concerned about when investigating apparitions). Furthermore, the Church does not require the visionaries to be saints or to have never made any mistakes (the visionaries have always said they were just ordinary children, no better than anyone else). In fact, there have been approved apparitions in which some of the children started off as trouble-makers. In Kibeho, for example, Marie-Claire was known to be a bully to the other children, nominally Catholic, and often teased and chided the idea of apparitions. Yet once Our Lady began appearing to her, she grew out of her childish ways. Although the children of Medjugorje have always been well-mannered, respectful, and level-headed, they nonetheless had to mature in their faith under the instruction of the Lady.

Mirjana: "Why are you appearing to us? We are not better than others."
Our Lady smiles: "I do not necessarily choose the best ones."

Mirjana: "She said Herself that we were ordinary and average, and that She needed us that way."

15. The children told lies!
In all the years of exemplary conduct, one of the children (Ivan), in the midst of a difficult time in his young life, did tell a lie to the commissioner (which the Madonna scolded him for afterwards. As the Virgin gently corrected; "Only prayer will undo Ivan's silly mistake."), it was nonetheless an out-of-character fault which he did not repeat. It was during his time in the seminary (1985), studying to become a priest, but disillusioned at the prospect (The seminary was not what he had expected. But who can blame him? Seminaries during the 1980's were not entirely the most orthodox or faithful). He was asked by the commissioner what he had written down on a piece of paper that was sealed in the archives. Ivan responded that he had written nothing; that he left the paper blank. When they opened the envelope, they found written on the paper a description of a sign. After the incident, Fr. Slavko Barbaric reprimanded Ivan for his behavior, and began to investigate the matter. However, the Madonna again gently corrected; "It wasn't Ivan's fault. I've scolded him enough now. Let him alone."
    We must also remember that the Church does not require visionaries to be immaculate, or even saints. If it did, then it would never have approved the apparitions in La Salette or Kibeho for example. What matters to the Church is evidence of spiritual growth and good fruit as a result from the apparitions. During the first few years of the apparitions, the children were still young and overwhelmed by what was happening. They needed time to mature in their faith, under the guidance of the Virgin. As they said themselves; "we were just ordinary children, no different from everyone else."

The Virgin Instructs the Children as a Mother

"Listen attentively at holy Mass. Be well mannered. Do not chatter during holy Mass."

"Be together, and do not argue, do not be disorderly. My angels, I will make you attentive. I will guide you on a sure way."

"Obey your grandmother and help her because she is old."

"Dear children, do not permit Satan to become the master of your heart, because in that case, you will become the image of Satan, and not mine. I invite you to pray, in order to become witnesses of my presence. Without you, the Lord cannot realize what He wishes. The Lord has given each one a free will, and you can dispose of it."

"Dear children, if you knew how much I love you, your heart would weep over it. If there is someone who asks you for something, give it to him. I also present myself to many hearts, and they do not open up. Pray so that the world may welcome my love.


16. But Marija even admitted to lying!
This claim refers to the situation involving the departure of Fr. Vlasic from Medjugorje, who transferred to Italy in 1986 to found a new community of Franciscans (see also #10; "But Fr. Vlasic was also laicized, and he was the children's spiritual director!"). In 1984, Fr. Vlasic had petitioned the Virgin (through Marija) on whether he should establish the new community. In response, the Lady stated that it was good to imitate the life of St. Francis, and that one must open to the will of God [1]. Fr. Vlasic had convinced himself that this response was an approval by the Virgin, and thus pressured Marija to give a written statement to the fact. Marija refused to comply with his request at first, not understanding how the Virgin's response could be construed as an approval. But Fr. Vlasic continued to pressure Marija, insisting that she had an obligation to the whole world to write the declaration.Torn between obedience to the priest (who at the time was her spiritual director), and fidelity to the visions, Marija chose obedience. Thus, she wrote the statement demanded by Fr. Vlasic. A few years later, she retracted the statement publicly stating; "My first declaration...does not correspond to the truth." [2]
      We might offer three points of consideration regarding this situation; 1) This is the one instance where a critic can appropriately use the word "manipulation" on the part of a Franciscan priest toward the children. Although Fr. Vlasic started off well, helping to protect the children from the Communist persecutions, he allowed his increasingly myiopic preoccupation with his plans to overshadow his otherwise good judgement. 2) Some may still fault Marija for acquiescing to the pressure of Fr. Vlasic. And, if Vlasic was not a priest, we would agree. However, since Fr. Vlasic was not only a priest, but also the child's spiritual director, the degree of her culpability was further diminished, if not entirely removed. 3) Interestingly enough, this situation provides a subtle example of Marija's docility to the Church, through her willingness to place obedience to her spiritual director over her private revelation (The Virgin had taught them of the importance of obedience, and the deep reverence due to priests). Later, after Fr. Vlasic has transferred to Italy and began his plans, she publicly set the record straight for the welfare of the souls involved.

[1] Fr. Vlasic: "Should we found here a community just like that of Saint Francis of Assisi?"
Our Lady: "God has chosen Saint Francis as His elected one. It would be good to imitate his life. In the meantime, we must realize what God orders us to do."

[2] "My first declaration, as published in Croatian and Italian, does not correspond to the truth. I personally had no desire to give any sort of written declaration. Father Tomislav V. kept suggesting to me, stressing over and over again, that I as a seer should write the declaration which the world was waiting for. [...] After seven years of daily apparitions, after having the most intimate experiences of the gentleness and wisdom of the Madonna's advice and the Madonna's answers to my personal questions, I can affirm that the idea of the heavenly plan and the numerous messages given in Medjugorje cannot be construed as supporting the undertaking and program initiated in Italy by Father Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes Heupel." 5b

17. The children lost their vocation!
This claim is based on one of the messages the Virgin once gave to the children; "I would like for all of you to become priests and religious, but only if you desire it. You are free. It is up to you to choose." We might first point out that the Lady encouraged the children in this direction, but left them free to choose. Even though they did make an honest attempt at following the Virgin's counsel, they all eventually married. As a result of this, critics attempt to cast doubt on Medjugorje by pointing to the failure of the children. However, just as we cannot blame the Virgin for the shortcomings of the children, neither can we necessarily blame the children for the shortcomings of seminary and religious institutions of the 1980's. We have to remember the state of these institutions during this time was one of radical upheaval, following the wake of the cultural revolution of the 1960's. It was not uncommon for seminaries to feel more like country clubs--with bars, swimming pools, and smoking lounges--rather than a sanctuary of prayer and recollection. Often times, the most faithful catholics who prayed their rosaries were the ones most ridiculed and persecuted by their peers. Suffice to say, it should be no surprise that the children became discouraged at the prospect of a priestly or religious vocation, though they tried.
     We might also point out that there have been approved apparitions in which the visionaries tried to become a priest or religious, but failed. For example, the visionary of La Salette, Maximino, entered seminary but had difficulties with the studies, not unlike Ivan. He eventually left seminary just like Ivan did.

During the time I spent in the ‘Little Seminary’ in Dubrovnik, I suffered very much, truly, very much, because of my relations with my colleagues and professors." - Ivan

18. But the lady endorsed a visionary who was condemned by the Vatican! (Maria Valtorta)
There are some Medjugorje followers who seem to want to deny any connection between Medjugorje and the writings of an Italian visionary, Maria Valtorta (author of "The Poem of the Man-God"), likely due to the fact that her writings were once included on the Catholic Church's Index of Forbidden Books. To anyone who has not studied the history of this book, it may seem justified to harbor such reserve and caution with regard to it. After all, what more compelling sound-byte is there (in an age where sound-bytes govern our culture and media, rather than thorough scholarship) than; "It was forbidden by the Church. Stay away."? It would not be an exaggeration to say that this one-liner has discouraged thousands, if not millions of people, from reading this book. And yet, any serious scholar of Maria Valtorta will agree that it is only a half-truth, one which does not reflect the Church's true position with regard to this book.
      It cannot be denied that the visionaries of Medjugorje have explicitly stated, on numerous occasions, that Our Lady not only permits the reading of this work, but also encourages people to read it if they want to know Jesus (see evidence below). And yet despite this, some Medjugorje followers continue to refuse to acknowledge the evidence. Well-intentioned though they may be, they nonetheless do a disservice to the apparitions and to Our Lady for their persistent denial of this truth (It should be no surprise that the greatest lies are those mixed with a little truth). Was the Poem listed on the Index of Forbidden books? Yes. But what we fail to hear, is that it was only the first edition that was placed on the Index, and for reasons of a legal stipulation (Canon 1385), which required all private revelations to have an Imprimatur prior to publishing. What critics also fail to mention, is that in 1966, Pope Paul VI not only suppressed Canon 1385, but also abolished the Index of Forbidden Books altogether. What is also glossed over, is the fact that the Holy Office later gave the publishers permission to freely distribute the second edition of the book. Nor do we hear about the fact that Pope Pius XII explicitly gave permission for the book to be published and read. It is also never mentioned that Saint Faustina's diary was also included on the aforementioned Index, as was Alexander Dumas' "Three Musketeers" and " Count of Monte Cristo", or Galileo's writings on celestial bodies. Nor was it mentioned that the same Cardinal that was responsible for all this, was also the one who banned Padre Pio for exercising his priestly faculties.
      All this and much more could be said in defense of this book. But rather than provide a lengthy rebuttal to the many misconceptions surrounding this work (and why the faithful may, in fact, read it in good conscience), it should suffice to refer our readers to a webpage which has already done the work for us; www.maria-valtorta.net. For those who would like to investigate further, we believe that this website provides a good starting point. Here is also a website with links to additional websites of study; www.mariavaltortawebring.com. And finally, we will also provide a link to the publisher's website, which provides 1,000 free pages of the book online, for those who would like to review the work directly; valtorta.org.

Vicka: "They are true. Yes, yes, true. Authentic, yes. You can read these, they are true."
(listen to audio recording here)

Marija: "You can read it." (EWTN Interview, March 4, 1992, Archbishop Hannan Focus program)

Vicka: "Yes. The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta, ten volumes. Our Lady says The Poem of the Man-God is the truth.  Our Lady said if a person wants to know Jesus he should read Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta. That book is the truth." (Interview with Attorney Jan Connell of the Pittsburgh Center for Peace on January 27, 1988, image1, image2)

Marija: "Our Lady says The Poem of the Man-God is the truth."  [cf. R. Laurentin, Dernieres Nouvelles de Medjugorje No 15, OEIL, 1996, p. 19]

see also; www.mariavaltortawebring.com/Pages/014_1988.htm

19. The visionaries live in big houses and drive expensive cars!
The visionaries do not live lavishly, contrary to what some may believe. They live very simple lives dedicated to prayer, to serving the pilgrims, and spreading the message of Medjugorje. They have always firmly rejected donations. Their houses and cars are not atypical for the region--in fact they are quite average. Furthermore, their houses are used primarily to accommodate pilgrims, not for the visionaries themselves. The Lady of Medjugorje was clear about the abuse of money and the temptation for earthly riches;

(relating to the exploitation of some pilgrims.)
"Right now, many are greatly seeking money, not only in the parish, but in the whole world. Woe to those who seek to take everything from those who come, and blessed are those from whom they take everything."

20. The Lady told the children they are already saved. This is Protestant theology.
A biblical scholar will remind us that to properly understand Scripture, one must also understand the context from which the passages come from, as well as other factors that may alter its meaning, such as translation errors. Otherwise, there will be no limit to the number of false interpretations people can make. In much the same way, the exegesis of private revelations must proceed in kind. Regarding the Lady's statement to the children, it is important to understand that She was teaching the children how to pray better, since in the beginning, they were still self-interested in their prayers. She was teaching the children not to become so absorbed in self; to rather direct their prayers outwards, and in this way, they will also obtain grace for themselves. Padre Pio once said that if you want to receive the most graces, then dedicate your life to praying for others. The more one prays for the salvation of souls, the more our own hearts will be converted. St. Therese of Lisieux also said that she never made more progress in the spiritual life, than the day she began devoting all her prayers for others. This is a foundational part of the message of Medjugorje. Our Lady continually reminds of our obligation to pray for poor sinners, who are casting themselves into hell more today than ever before in the history of the world. It is in this context that we must read the passage in question;

"Do not be afraid for yourselves, you are already saved. Pray rather for those who are in sin and who do not believe."

While crying: "There are so many men who live in sin. Here there are likewise among you some people who have offended my heart. Pray and fast for them."

"Pray, pray! How many persons have followed other beliefs or sects and have abandoned Jesus Christ. They create their own gods; they adore idols. How that hurts me! If they could be converted. Like the unbelievers, they are many. That will change only if you help me with your prayers."

21. Fruits are not really a factor in determining authenticity. False apparitions sometimes have good fruits.
According to the Catholic Church, fruits are one of the most important factors in judging alleged apparitions. 7 Furthermore, while it it is true that a small number of conversions have occurred at the sites of condemned apparitions (the Holy Spirit can work even in the midst of falsehood), these numbers are marginal--a handful at most--compared to Medjugorje which is seeing conversions every year by the thousands. The number of conversions occurring in Medjugorje is so great, that it exceeds that of many approved apparitions. In fact, according to EWTN correspondent Antonio Gaspari, "More confessions are heard in Medjugorje than in any other parish of the entire world; more than 150 confessors work without interruption there every day. In the year 1990 (before the outbreak of civil war), 1,900,000 people took Communion (more than at Fatima); 30,000 priests and over 100 bishops have visited the site. Many conversions are reported, even among those who come out of curiosity, or simply to accompany friends or relatives." 8

A hoax does not produce a massive number of conversions, surpassing that of even approved apparitions. Nor does a hoax bring about peace and reconciliation between peoples, or produce numerous miracles and healings. A hoax is by nature a barren tree; it cannot produce good fruit. This is why Church norms place such a strong emphasis on fruits when judging alleged apparitions, because it eliminates every possibility, even that of diabolic origin ("a house divided against itself cannot stand"). In fact, to believe Medjugorje is a hoax or diabolical in origin, requires a greater leap of faith than to believe in the apparitions are authentic.

22. The messages are simple and boring.
We believe that those who have the eyes to see, will see in the messages exactly what they need to hear. On the surface, the words of the messages may seem simple and repetitive. But Our Lady did not come to communicate lofty theological treatises. She came to communicate love. And it is precisely in simplicity and humility that love is best communicated. In our human nature, we have a tendency to complicate things. Our Lady is trying to get us back to the basics again; to teach us how to love, and how to rescue souls in the simplest and easiest way possible. She has effectively given us a formula for converting souls and producing saints, to a degree never before seen in the history. We believe this has been Her mission in Medjugorje, which She never ceases to repeat. However, in order to understand this, one must read the messages in their entirety. It does not suffice to read a few paragraphs. To really grasp the message of Medjugorje, one must start from the beginning, June 24th, 1981, and read, message by message, on a daily basis, so that they will be absorbed and transformative. For this, we recommend the following resource;

Chronological Corpus of the Messages of Medjugorje

23. Why is Medjugorje so important? Why not just believe in approved apparitions such as Fatima and Lourdes?
Every time Our Lady has appeared throughout history, it has been to help guide man back to God from the errors of that particular period in history. This is a basic teaching of the Church on private revelations. Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us of this purpose of private revelation; "It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history." (CCC, 67)
         It is thus, that Medjugorje is more relevant to us today than any other private revelation in the history of Christianity. Medjugorje is THE message of our time. And so, we would do well to listen to what Our Mother has to say to us who are living today.

Furthermore, there is a particular sense of urgency in the messages, more so than in past apparitions (yet it is also balanced with great hope as well, which separates Medjugorje from condemned apparitions that typically only focus on the negative)

"Dear children! You are not aware of the importance of the messages which God is sending you through me. He is giving you great graces and you do not realize it. Pray to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment. If only you knew how many graces God is giving you, you would pray without ceasing."

"These apparitions are the last for humanity." [...] "I have come to call the world to conversion for the last time. Later, I will not appear any more on this earth. [...] "These apparitions are the last in the world."

"One day he [Satan] appeared before the throne of God and asked permission to submit the Church to a period of trial. God gave him permission to try the Church for one century. This century is under the power of the Devil, but when the secrets confided to you come to pass, his power will be destroyed. Even now he is beginning to lose his power and has become aggressive. He is destroying marriages, creating division among priests and is responsible for obsessions and murder You must protect yourselves against these things through fasting and prayer, especially community prayer. Carry blessed objects with you. Put them in your house, and restore the use of holy water."

"A great battle is about to take place. A battle between my Son and Satan. Human souls are at stake. "

"I have prayed; the punishment has been softened. Repeated prayers and fasting reduce punishments from God, but it is not possible to avoid entirely the chastisement. Go on the streets of the city, count those who glorify God and those who offend Him. God can no longer endure that."

"My angel, pray for unbelievers. People will tear their hair, brother will plead with brother, he will curse his past life, lived without God. They will repent, but it will be too late. Now is the time for conversion. I have been exhorting you for the past four years. Pray for them."

"Hurry to be converted. Do not wait for the great sign. For the unbelievers, it will then be too late to be converted. For you who have the faith, this time constitutes a great opportunity for you to be converted, and to deepen your faith. Fast on bread and water before every feast, and prepare yourselves through prayer."

"Dear children! I continually need your prayers. You wonder what all these prayers are for. Look around, dear children, and you will see how much ground sin has gained in this world. Because of that, pray that Jesus conquers."

"The hour has come when the demon is authorized to act with all his force and power The present hour, is the hour of Satan."

"How many people come to church, to the house of God, with respect, a strong faith, and love of God? Very few! Here you have a time of grace and conversion. It is necessary to use it well."

"Be converted! It will be too late when the sign comes. Beforehand, several warnings will be given to the world. Have people hurry to be converted. I need your prayers and your penance. (CP. 131). My heart is burning with love for you. It suffices for you to be converted. To ask questions is unimportant. Be converted. Hurry to proclaim it. Tell everyone that it is my wish, and that I do not cease repeating it. Be converted, be converted. It is not difficult for me to suffer for you. I beg you, be converted. I will pray to my Son to spare you the punishment. Be converted without delay. You do not know the plans of God; you will not be able to know them. You will not know what God will send, not what He will do. I ask you only to be converted. That is what I wish. Be converted! Be ready for everything, but, be converted. That is all I wish to say to you. Renounce everything. All that is part of conversion. Goodbye, and may peace be with you. "

"The sign will come, you must not worry about it. The only thing that I would want to tell you is to be converted. Make that known to all my children as quickly as possible. No pain, no suffering is too great to me in order to save you. I will pray to my Son not to punish the world; but I beseech you, be converted.You cannot imagine what is going to happen nor what the Eternal Father will send to earth. That is why you must be converted! Renounce everything. Do penance. Express my acknowledgement to all my children who have prayed and fasted. I carry all this to my Divine Son in order to obtain an alleviation of His justice against the sins of mankind. (C. 145 - 146). I thank the people who have prayed and fasted. Persevere and help me to convert the world."

"Where are the prayers which you addressed to me? My clothes were sparkling. Behold them soaked with tears. Oh, if you would know how the world today is plunged into sin. It seems to you that the world sins no longer, because here, you live in a peaceful world where there is no confusion or perversity.If you know how lukewarm they are in their faith, how many do not listen to Jesus. Oh, if you knew how much I suffer, you would sin no more. Oh, how I need your prayers. Pray!"

Jelena: "Why are you so beautiful?"
I am beautiful because I love. If you want to be beautiful, love. There is no one in the world who does not desire beauty.

24. The Church is supposed to come out with a decision soon. What if she condemns Medjugorje?

If the Church comes down with a negative ruling against Medjugorje, it is absolutely imperative for the faithful to be obedient to the Church in all respects--for if Medjugorje is indeed authentic, then the humble obedience of its followers will surely hasten a true ruling on the matter in short while. I cannot stress this point enough. The power of obedience moves heaven in ways that nothing else can. When one obeys, the truth cannot be hidden for long. And in actual fact, it is very likely that, should an initial ruling be negative, it would be for no other purpose, whether intentional or not, that Medjugorje be subjected to a supernatural test of obedience from heaven. And what better way to confirm the holiness of Medjugorje than through such a test, just as Padre Pio, Saint Faustina, Mother Teresa, and many other saints were likewise tested by their same Mother?



As a final note, we include below a documentary created by a young woman from Russia who visited Medjugorje. For those who have not yet braved the pilgrimage, we believe this homemade video will help to capture a small glimpse into the Medjugorje experience, which communicates in subtly, in peace, and in silence. Although there exists many documentaries about Medjugorje, what we like about this documentary is that it is not flamboyant or excessively talkative. Rather, it conveys the simple day-to-day sights and sounds of a typical pilgrimage to Medjugorje, and the open hearts of those involved. 

[The video is not available at this time]



1a. Randall Sullivan, The Miracle Detective, Grove Press 2004, p.116 (impartial journalist for Rolling Stone)

1,2. Mary Craig, Spark From Heaven: The Mystery of the Madonna of Medjugorje, Ave Maria Press 1988, p58,61. See also p41, 46, 54-56. (impartial BBC journalist). See also; Mirjana Stanislava Vasilj-Zuccarini, Our Lady's Call from Medjugorje, p71 (local villager and eye witness).

3. Craig, op. cit. p 58.

4. Dr. Mark Miravalle & Wayne Weible, Are the Medjugorje Apparitions Authentic?, New Hope Press 2008, p.19. [link]

5. Apostolic Signatura Tribunal, Case No. 17907/86CA ly.
    [see also; Laurentin, Medjugorje-13 Years Later, The Riehle Foundation, 1994, p43, 42.]

5b. Marija Pavlovic, written statement, Nov. 7, 1988. [link]

6. Craig, op. cit. p 154,155.

7. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Norms for Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations, 1978. [link]

8. Antonio Gaspari (EWTN), Medjugorje: Deception of Miracle? ("Inside the Vatican", Nov. 1996) [link]


Davide A. Bianchini, Contact

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Medjugorje Apologia - Position of the Church

A Factual Analysis of Medjugorje according to the Catholic Church 

Dedicated to the Two Hearts

by  Davide A. Bianchini

Davide has done extensive and invaluable research on Medjugorje.  Because it is so well done, it is worthy of being shared to ensure it is never lost and that as many people as possible can see and read it. 

It is with this intention and not to take any credit for myself that I am sharing his work.   

I have simply copied and pasted his work, which you can see here: http://www.medjugorje-apologia.com/position_of_the_church.html

Before we begin, Davide does not address Archbishop Henryk Hoser's statements regarding Medjugorje. Archbishop Hoser is Pope Francis' representative and spokesman regarding Medjugorje. He was first sent to study Medjugorje by Pope Francis and now, is the official Apostolic Visitor of Medjugorje (again, appointed by Pope Francis).  Archbishop Hoser has lived there for several years now. His statements are very enlightening and I share some of them in several articles that express my research regarding Medjugorje, which you can find here: 

 Installment of the Apostolic Visitor in Medjugorje: "Sign of a Great Respect and Recognition ... The Act Through Which the Church Officially Recognized the Good Fruits of Medjugorje"

Pope's Representative Officiating at Medjugorje's Annual Youth Festival - "Installment of Apostolic Visitor Sign of a Great Respect and Recognition ... The Act Through Which the Church Officially Recognized the Good Fruits of Medjugorje"

Do the Papal Envoy's Words Mean Vatican Approval for Medjugorje is Near?

Medjugorje 2.0: What are We to Believe About Medjugorje? Here are MORE Facts!

2019 Special Update
Pope Francis has approved pilgrimages to Medjogorje in 2019

As a result, much of the information on this page is over-shadowed by this monumental development. Nonetheless, we still include this page to provide further support to the Church's neutral-positive stance on Medjugorje---pre-pope Francis.

In order to know the Church's true position on Medjugorje, it is necessary to begin at the highest authority in Rome, rather than with the local bishop. Normally, it is the local bishop who is the first authority for judging alleged apparitions within his diocese. However, since the Holy See has intervened on a number of occasions, we must give precedence and respect to the ecclesial hierarchy. Thus, we shall proceed in the following manner, in order of authority;

  1. The Pope
  2. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
  3. 1991 Zadar Declaration of the Episcopal Conference
  4. Local Ordinary (Bishop Zanic, Bishop Peric)
  5. Other notable figures (Mother Teresa, Fr. Gabrielle Amorth, Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar, Padre Pio, etc.)


1. The Pope
The pope is the highest authority in the Catholic Church, having universal jurisdiction by virtue of his office as Vicar of Christ. He "has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered." (Catechism, 882). What is more, his authority is especially suited for matters of private revelation, fitting squarely under the umbrella of "faith and morals". As Pope Leo X stated; "When it is a question of prophetic revelations, the Pope is the sole judge!" There is no man on earth who is singularly protected by the Holy Spirit as is the pope. And this fact has been demonstrated numerous times through history to such a degree that we can say, without exaggeration, that if it wasn't for the popes, the Catholic Church would have collapsed long ago during the first century of its infancy.
      With that said, however, we might note that Pope John Paul II made no official statement about Medjugorje in the form; "I hereby solemnly declare Medjugorje worthy of belief". Yet we can also say that he has done everything but. He has expressed, on numerous occasions, both verbally and in his own pen, his personal support for the apparitions (see below). In fact, whenever a bishop would inquire about Medjugorje to the pope, he would invariably give his staple response; "If I was not pope, I would already be there!". We list below just a few of the many statements the pope to various bishops, as well as letters in his own pen.

1988: "Pray for me in Medjugorje. [...] Medjugorje is the spiritual heart of the world." (Pope John Paul II to bishop Maurillo Kreiger)

Aug. 1989: "Let them go [to Medjugorje]. They are going there to pray. When you get there, you pray for me." (Pope John Paul II to Archbishop Patrick Flores, Message de Paix, Montreal, 11/12/89).

1994: "Our Lady of Medjugorje will save America!" (to Bishop Hnilica, National Conference, Notre Dame)

May 14th, 1989: "Yes, it is good for pilgrims to go to Medjugorje and do penance. It is good!" (Pope John Paul II to Bishop Sylvester Treinen, USA)

Aug. 1, 1989: "Today the world has lost the supernatural. Many people sought it and found it in Medjugorje through prayer, fasting, and through confession." (Pope John Paul II to Bishop Paolo Hnilica)

April 29, 1990: "Medjugorje is a great center of spirituality." (NCR, Pope John Paul II to Bishop Murilo Krieger)

Feb. 1991: "There are bishops, like in Yugoslavia for example, who are against this. But it is important to look at the great number of people who are answering her invitations, the amount of conversions... All this is underlined in the Gospel... All these facts have to be seriously investigated." (to Archbishop Kwangju, L`Homme Nouveau, 3. February 1991.)

Nov. 11, 1990: (with regard to the liberation of Poland from Communism) "No, this is not my merit. This is the work of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as She had predicted in Fatima and in Medjugorje." (Pope John Paul II to Msgr. Angelo Kim, President of the Korean Bishops' Conference)

Aug. 1988: "The pope spoke very favorably about the happenings at Medjugorje...To say nothing os happening there is to deny the living, prayerful witness of hundreds of thousands who have gone there." (Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer, Pastoral Letter of August 5, 1988)

August 24, 2002: "I grant from the heart a particular blessing to Father Jozo Zovko, O.F.M., and I invoke a new outpouring of graces and heavenly favors, and the continuous protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary". (signed letter to Fr. Jozo, link)

2019: Pope Francis approves pilgrimages to Medjugorje---making it an official place of pilgrimage and allowing parish-organized pilgrmages to the site. This is a major development in the Church's stance on Medjguorje, just one step short of official approval. The laity can now freely visit and promote the messages without fear of being marginazlied as fringe or fanatics.


written statements by pope John Paul II: link
additional quotations: link1, link2, link3
reference material: "Medjugorje and the Church", Denis Nolan, Queenship Publishing Co., 1995, p. 23-30

We again note, however, that these are private statements, not formal declarations. Therefore, it is arguable whether they should have absolute authority. In a spirit of fidelity and obedience, perhaps they should. But from a purely legal standpoint, perhaps not. For those who remain unconvinced, we will thus defer to the next highest authority in the Church; the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

2. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
With the favorable support of pope John Paul II in the back of our minds, let us now turn to the second highest authority, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (hereafter termed the "CDF"). Given its supreme authority, what it says must trump all other statements of lesser authority (including those from the local bishop), if there is a disagreement. Secondly, we also give precedence to more recent statements, if they may appear to conflict with past statements, as the CDF may refine its position over time.

1991: Cardinal Ratzinger (prefect of the CDF) quotes the Yugoslavian Bishops as stating the following;

"We want to be concerned that this place, which has become a place of prayer and faith, remain and come to be even more in the most interior unity with the entire Church."  1

In the same year, the Cardinal stated;

"We are open. The Commission proceeds with its work. One must continue to wait and pray." 1b

As we see above, we have a few cautiously optimistic statements from the head of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger. These statements were made during the investigation of the 1991 Yugoslavian Bishops Conference, while awaiting a final decision (more on the 1991 Bishops Conference in section 3).

1998: The secretary of the CDF, Cardinal Bertone, states in a letter to Bishop Aubry on the status of Medjugorje, making three important points (complete text);

"...it is not the practice of the Holy See to assume...a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena. This Dicastery, therefore...limits itself simply to what has already been established by the Bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Zadar Declaration of 10 April 1991".

"What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of FamilleChretienne, declaring: "My conviction and my position is not only 'non constat de supernaturalitate', but likewise, 'constat de non supernaturalitate' of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje", should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion."

"Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentication of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church"

From this letter by Cardinal Bertone, we can conclude three things regarding the position of the Church;

1.    Most importantly, this letter defers authority to the 1991 Zadar Declaration, made by the former Yugoslavian Bishops Conference. Therefore, if we want to better understand the Church's position, we must look to the findings of this Bishops Conference (next section below). This is the key to understanding the Church's position on Medjugorje.

2.   The CDF has taken an unprecedented position by stating that the bishop's negative convictions of Medjugorje is merely "his personal opinion". If we are to be honest with ourselves about the implications of this statement, we must then dismiss anything the bishop says on the matter as not holding any authority, since it is based on his personal opinions (as opposed to an official pronouncement). This includes his many writings against Medjugorje, the numerous articles, his appearances on public television condemning the apparitions, the commentary on his diocese website, and so forth. None of this can be given any more authority than if a layperson were saying the same.

3.    The letter concludes by permitting private pilgrimages under the condition that the pilgrimages are not seen as official recognition by the Church as an approved apparition site (According to the CDF's 1978 norms for judging alleged apparitions, this is standard protocol for any alleged apparition that has favorably passed the initial investigative phase, while further verification continues. As the norms clearly state; "if this examination appears favorable, to allow certain public demonstrations of cult and devotion, while continuing to investigate the facts with extreme prudence (which is equivalent to the formula: “for the moment, nothing is opposed to it')". It cannot be stated any more plainly than this. By the mere fact that the Church allows "public demonstrations of cult devotions" (i.e., pilgrimages), we can then say with certainty two things; 1) the "examination" of Medjugorje "appears favorable", 2) "for the moment, nothing is opposed to" Medjugorje. This is straight from the norms.

2008: Cardinal Bertone, secretary of the CDF, re-iterates the previous statement of the CDF with the following;

“Bishop Peric’s statement expresses a personal opinion of his own. It is not a definitive official judgment on the part of the Church. The Church defers to the Zadar statement issued on 10th April 1991 by the bishops of the former Yugoslavia and the statement leaves the door open to further investigations of the affair. So the process of verification needs to move forward”  2

Again, we see Rome stating the unusual clarification regarding the bishops personal convictions, and expressing the Church's openness and desire to move forward with verification (which it did in 2010 by convening a new Commission).


3. 1991 Zadar Declaration from the Yugoslavian Episcopal Conference
As we have seen above, the CDF has deferred authority to the 1991 Yugoslavian Bishops Conference (and tacitly distanced itself from the local bishop's negative opinions). Therefore, everything we need to know about the Church's position on Medjugorje can be found here, in light of JPII's favor. Most importantly, since the Bishops Conference is of higher authority than the local bishop, its findings take precedence over that of the local bishop's. Therefore, if there is any conflict between the two, we must ignore the local bishop in deference to the Bishops Commission. So let us know examine key findings of the Bishops Conference.

Overview and Findings of the 1991 Commission

1. First, we must understand that the Zadar Declaration is a formal church document, and as such is written in a church language that was not yet parsed for the public. Thus, in order to properly understand the words of this declaration, we will begin by examining the public statements of the members of the commission (especially by he president of the commission). These statements will help provide the proper context to reading the Zadar Declariation correctly. Furthemore, we must also remember that the Church uses very specific terminology when judging apparitions. Tthe bishops had to classify Medjugorje in one of three ways, either; 1) it is confirmed supernatural, 2) is it not yet confirmed supernatural, or 3) It is confirmed not supernatural. The bishops voted against the third classification by a vote of 19 to 1, deliberating primarily between positive approval and neutrality. Ultimately (and after overwhelming pressure from Bishop Zanic), they chose the second classification, since they could not yet confirm supernatural origin, but recognized Medjugorje as a place of prayer and pilgrimage.

The following statement by the President of the commission, Cardinal Kuharic, represents the most clear and concise summary of the Zadar Declaration;

"The Church is not in a hurry. We, the bishops, after three years of examination by the Commission, have declared Medjugorje a place of prayer and a Marian sanctuary. This means that we are not opposed to people coming on pilgrimage to Medjugorje to venerate the Mother of God there, in conformity with the teaching and faith of the universal Church. As to the supernaturality of the apparitions, we have declared: Up to this moment, we cannot affirm it. We leave it for later. The Church is not in a hurry." 3

Since the above statement was spoken to the public, the words he chose were such that a simple layman can understand. This effectively orients us to a proper reading of the formal written declaration which we will examine below (which is more an internal church document than a public statement). The Cardinal (who again we note was the President of the commission, and thus had all authority to speak for the commission) wanted to make it clear that we understood this. Whenever he was asked about the position of the Commission, he has always had positive words to say. For example;

"We (the Bishops Conference) "have a positive opinion of the Medjugorje events." 4

2. Bishop Komarica, a member of the commission, came to Medjugorje to celebrate a mass of pilgrimage. He declared publicly:

"I came not only in my own name but in the name of all the Yugoslav bishops, including Msgr. Zanic. Other bishops will come..." [...] "the commission recognizes these good fruits." 5

3. On May 31st, 1991, the Commission issues a pastoral report on liturgical guidelines and how to best serve the pilgrims in Medjugorje. 6

4. On June 17th, 1991, the Commission forms a "Pastoral and Liturgical Conference" to assist the Franciscans in safeguarding Catholic and Marian devotion in Medjugorje. 6

5. Archbishop Frane Franic, a member of the Commission, stated the following;

"The Queen of Peace of Medjugorje has done more in six years of apparitions than we Bishops in forty years of pastoral work." 7

"The bishops do not wish to humiliate Monsignor, Zanic, [...] And when it was brought to his attention.. that his opposition was unfounded, he began to cry and shout, and the bishops finally stopped arguing." 8

6. Now that we better know the mind of the members of the commission, particularly the statement by its President, Cardinal Kuharic, we, as laymen, can now properly read and understand the actual Zadar Declaration itself;

"On the basis of studies made so far, it cannot yet be confirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations. Yet the gathering of faithful from various parts of the world to Medjugorje, inspired by reasons of faith or other motives, require the pastoral attention and care, first of all, of the local Bishop and then of the other Bishops with him, so that in Medjugorje and all connected with it, a healthy devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary according to the teachings of the Church may be promoted. The Bishops will also provide special liturgical and pastoral directives corresponding to this aim. At the same time, they will continue to study all the events of Medjugorje through the Commissions."

Here again we see the bishops classifying Medjugorje into the second category (non constat de supernaturalitate; "it cannot yet be confirmed supernatural"), and urging the local bishop to care for the pastoral needs of the pilgrims while further investigation continues. Many critics misinterpret the declaration as a negative judgement, when almost the opposite is true. By even the simple fact that the Church allows private pilgrimages to Medjugorje, according to the CDF's 1978 norms for judging alleged apparitions, communicates that the investigation was more favorable than negative. This is plainly written in the norms; "if this examination appears favorable, to allow certain public demonstrations of cult and devotion, while continuing to investigate the facts with extreme prudence (which is equivalent to the formula: “for the moment, nothing is opposed to it')".


Thus we now know the Church's current position on Medjugorje, that is, at the very least, one of cautious optimism. First, we have the unprecedented support of pope John Paul II, who clearly favored the apparitions even though lower authorities had not yet judged them (this is unprecented in church history). Then we have the hopeful statements by the CDF, the censuring of the local bishop, and the defering of judgement to the regional bishop's conference. Next we have the allowing of pilgrimages, which the norms state is equivalent to saying "for the moment nothing is opposed to it". And finally, we have the 1991 Bishops Conference, which as we noted previously was favorable to the apparitions, despite its inability to confirm supernatural origin. Therefore, we can say with certainty that the faithful are free to believe in Medjugorje, promote Medjugorje, and make pilgrimages to Medjugojre, while the process of verifcation continues. The Church apears hopeful, while still is reserving judgement until a final verdict is reached. This is the definitive and conclusive position of the Church at this moment in time, if there could be said to be one.

4. The Local Ordinary (bishop)
Since the CDF has stated that the opinions of local bishop do not carry any authority, we do not believe it is necessary to examine his views on the matter, other than re-iterating his official position, which he issued in a Positio on Oct. 30th, 1984, declaring; "moral certitude that the Medjugorje events are a case of collective hallucination". (we might point out that the idea of "collective hallucination" is no longer accepted by the scientific community as credible). Anyone who has studied the history of the apparitions, and have read the statements of the local bishop, will agree that bishop Zanic aggresively opposed the apparitions, and did everything in his power to eliminate them, rather than maintain objectivity for the sake of the investigative process (please read our History of Events for more details).


5. Other Notable Figures
It is also interesting to note, that those who are arguably most qualified at discerning supernatural phenomenon, have also positively discerned Medjugorje to be authentic. Among the many notable figures, are; Mother Teresa, Fr. Gabrielle Amorth (the chief exorcist in Rome), Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Padre Pio.

Mother Teresa

written in a letter: "We are all praying one Hail Mary before Holy Mass to Our Lady of Medjugorje." 9

spoken to an eye witness, Dr. Mark Miravalle (theologian and professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville):
"On August 14, 1994, I was in Calcutta, presenting talks on the fifth Marian Dogma of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate to six different sections of Missionaries of Charity groups at Mother Teresa's direct request (including two of which Mother herself attended). When I first entered her presence and walked over to the place we would sit and begin talking, I saw a calendar with the image of Our Lady of Medjugorje on its cover hanging on the wall next to us. After a few minutes of enthusiastic conversation with Mother regarding other Marian issues, I pointed up to the calendar and asked her, "Mother, do you believe in Medjugorje?" She responded by putting her finger up to her lips as if to gesture "shhh" or let us speak quietly of this, and answered, "I asked Our Lady of Medjugorje to come to my first home for the dying in Calcutta, and she did!" I did not have the courage to further question the future saint, "How did she come, Mother? – in the form of an apparition? a healing?" She simply left the subject with a serene smile on her face." 10


Father Gabriele Amorth (Chief Exorcist of Rome)

Interview: "I always understood Medjugorje as a continuation of Fatima. According to Our Lady’s words in Fatima, if we had prayed and fasted, there would not have been World War II. We have not listened to her and therefore there was a war. Also here in Medjugorje, Our Lady often calls to prayer for peace. In her apparitions, Our Lady always presents herself under another name to show the goal of her apparitions. At Lourdes, she presented herself as the Immaculate Conception, in Fatima as the Queen of the Holy Rosary. Here in Medjugorje, Our Lady presented herself as the Queen of Peace. We all remember the words “Mir, mir, mir” (peace, peace, peace) that were written in the sky at the very beginning of the apparitions. We see clearly that humanity is running the risk of war, and Our Lady insists on prayer and on Christian life to attain peace." 11


Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar
(regarded by pope Benedict XVI as one of the greatest theologians of our time)

Reply to bishop Zanic's "unofficial" condemnation: "My Lord, what a sorry document you have sent throughout the world! I have been deeply pained to see the episcopal office degraded in this manner. Instead of biding your time, as you were recommended to do by higher authority, you fulminate and hurl thunderbolts like Jupiter. While you denigrate renowned people who are innocent , deserving of your respect and protection, you bring out accusations that have been refuted a hundred times over."  12


Padre Pio
(to pilgrims from the Mostar diocese, before the apparitions began)

"The Blessed Virgin will soon be visiting your homeland." 13


Bishops who have visited Medjugorje 14

Cardinal Timothy Manning, Los Angeles, California (USA)
Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, Kampala (Uganda)
Cardinal Jean Margeot, Port Louis (Mauritius)
Cardinal Ruiz Bernardino Echeverria, Quito (Ecuador)
Cardinal Giuseppe Uhac, Congreagation for Evangelization of Peoples (Vatican)
Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, Archbishop of Zagreb (Croatia)
Archbishop Girolamo Prigione, Apostolic Delegate (Mexico)
Archbishop Frane Franic, (retired), Split (Croatia)
Archbishop Gorny Kazimierz, Krakow (Polarta)
Archbishop Patrick Flores, San Antonio, Texas (USA)
Archbishop Philip Hannan, New Orleans, Louisijma (USA)
Archbishop Giuseppe Casale, Foggia (Italy)
Archbishop Donat Chiasson, Moncton (Canada)
Archbishop Sablan Apuron, Guam, (Oceania)
Archbishop George H. Pearce, Suva (Fiji Islands)
Archbishop Pantin Anthony, Trinidad (W. Indies)
Archbishop Joachim Johannes Degenhardt, Paderborn (Germany)
Archbishop Edwardo G. Amaral, Maceio (Brazil)
Archbishop Jose Hipolito De Morais, Lorena (Brazil)
Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, Pontifical Council (Rome)
Archbishop Jean Chabbert, Perpignan (France)
Archbishop Gabriel Gonsum Ganaka, Jos, Plateau State (Nigeria)
Archbishop Francisco Spanedda, Oristano (Italy)
Archbishop Franc Perko, Belgrade (Yugoslavia)
Archbishop S. Fumio Hamao, Pres., Bishops Conf. of Japan
Archbishop Fabio B. Tirado, Manizalesa (Columbia)
Archbishop Andre Fernand Anguile, (Gabon)
Archbishop Jan Sokol, Trnava, Bratislava (Slovakia)
Bishop Damian Kyaruzi, Bukoba, (Tanzania)
Bishop John E. M. Terra, Brasilia (Brazil)
Bishop Jimenez Lazaro Perez, Halisco, (Mexico)
Bishop Giulio Calabrese, Papal Nuncio (Argentina)
Bishop Antonius Hofmann, Passau (Germany
Bishop Christian Werner, Eca, Vienna (Austria)
Bishop Enrico Masseroni, Mondpvi (Italy)
Bishop Tonino Bello, Molfetta (Italy)
Bishop Nicholas D'Antonio, New Orleans, LA (USA)
Bishop Carl A. Fisher, Los Angeles, California (USA)
Bishop Michael Pfeifer, San Angelo, Texas (USA)
Bishop Francis A. Quinn, Sacramento, California (USA)
Bishop Sylvester William Treinen, (retired) Boise, Idaho (USA)
Bishop Stanley Ott, Baton Route, Louisiana (USA)
Bishop George Patrick Ziemann, Santa Rosa, Californhk(USA)
Bishop Henry Joseph Kennedy, Armidale, New S.W. (Australia)
Bishop Thomas O'Connell, Los Angeles, Calif (USA)
Bishop J. Carboni, Macerata (Italy)
Bishop Jose Gabriel Diaz Cueva, Guayaquil (Ecuador)
Bishop L. Graziano y Antionelli, San Miguel (El Salvador)
Bishop Seamus Hegarty, Derry (Ireland)
Bishop Paolo Hnilica S.J., Rome (Italy)
Bishop Murilo Krieger, Ponta Grossa (Brazil)
Bishop Myles McKeon, Bunbury (Australia)
Bishop Thomas McMahon, Brentwood (England)
Bishop Gratian Mundadan, Bijnor (India)
Bishop John Baptist Odama, Nebbi (Uganda)
Bishop M. Quedraogo, Quahigouya (Burkina Faso)
Bishop Mukombe Timothee Pirigisha, Bukavu (Zaire)
Bishop Matthias Chimole, Lilongwe (Malawi)
Bishop Antonio R. Tobias, San Fernando (Philippines)
Bishop Daniel Tomasella, Marilia (Brazil)
Bishop Severiano Potani, Solwezi (Zambia)
Bishop Hilario Chavez Joya, Casas Grande (Mexico)
Bishop Santana Hermin Negron, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Bishop Mazzardo Angelico Melotto, Solola (Guatemala)
Bishop Mauriche Chequet, Ottawa (Canada)
Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise, San Luis (Argentina)
Bishop Manuel Menendez, San Martin (Argentina)
Bishop Lahaen Petrus Frans, Sakania (Zaire)
Bishop Aloysio Jose Leal Penna, Bauru (Brazil)
Bishop Paolo Afonso, (Brazil)
Bishop George Henry Speltz, St. Cloud, Minnesota (USA)\
Bishop Janos Penzes, Subotica (Yugoslavia)
Bishop Vitalis Djebarus, Bali, (Indonesia)
Bishop Patrick Quenon, Manila (Philigmnes)
Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, Las Cruces, New Mexico (USA)
Bishop Armando Ochoa, El Paso, Texas (USA)
Bishop Raymond Mpezele, Livingston (Zambia)
Bishop Jean-Louis Jobidon, (retired), Mzuzu (Malawi)
Bishop Bonaventura da Gangi (Italy)
Bishop Francis Paul McHugh, Ontario (Canada)
Bishop Thomas Connolly, Baker, Oregon (USA)
Bishop Homero Leite Meira, Irece (Brazil)
Bishop Paetau Luis Maria Estrada, Izabal (Guatemala)
Bishop Serafino Faustino Spreafico, Grajau (Brazil)
Bishop Andre Richard, Bathurst (Canada)
Bishop John Mone, Glasgow (Scotland)
Bishop Donald William Montrose, Stockton, California (USA)
Bishop Domingos Gasbriel Wisniewski, Apucarana (Brazil)
Bishop Daniel Nunez, Chiriqui (Panama)
Bishop John Jobst, Broome (W. Australia)
Bishop Joseph Devine, Motherwell (Scotland)
Bishop Nicola De Angelis,Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
Bishop Pearse Lacey, Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
Bishop Gilbert Aubry, St. Denis, Le Reunion (France)
Bishop Roman Danylak, Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
Bishop Basil Filevich, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Canada)
Bishop Sebastian, Olinda (Brazil)
Bishop P. Arokiaswamy, India
Bishop Agostinho Kist, Diamantino (Brazil)
Bishop Lorenzo Castellani, Rome (Italy)
Bishop Barraza Isidoro Quinones, Mazatlan (Mexico)
Bishop Guiseppi Varelanga, Salerno (Italy)
Bishop M. Wiwchar, Byzantine Eparchy of Chisago (USA)
Bishop Francesco Mirabella, Palermo (Italy)
Bishop Ruben Hector Di Monte, Avellaneda, (Argentina)
Bishop Georges Lagrange, Gap (France)
Bishop Pierre R. DuMaine, San Jose, CaUfornhh(USA)
Bishop Augustine Harris, emeritus of Middlesborough, (England)
Bishop Zbigniew J. Kraszewski, Warsaw-Praga (Poland)
Bishop Carvalheria Marcelo Pinto, Guarabire (Brazil)
Bishop Mario Zanchin, Fidenza (Italy)
Bishop Ramirez Carlos Talavera, Coatzacoalcos -Veracruz (Mexico
Bishop Moged Elhachem, Be El' Ahhahmar (non)
Bishop Frederick Dranuba, Arua (Uganda)
Bishop Deogratias Byabazaire, Hoima (Uganda)
Bishop Joseph Oyanga, Lira (Uganda)
Bishop Adalbert Ndzana, Mbalmayo (Cameroon)
Bishop Wim Ellis, Curacao, Neth. Antilles (Caribbean)
Bishop Stanislaus Szyrokoradiuk, Kiev (Ukraine)
Bishop Johannes Dyba, Fulda (Germany)
Bishop Dominic Su, Sibu (Borneo)
Bishop Bernard Joseph Flanagan, Worcester (USA)
Bishop Timothy Joseph Harrington, Worce^r (USA)
Bishop Franjo Komarica, Banja Luka (Bosnia Hercegevina)
Bishop Kazimierz Nycz, Krakow (Poland)


1. Gebetsaktion, #22, 1992, p.4.
    [see also; Sr. Emmanuel and Denis Nolan, Medjugorje: What Does the Church Say?, Queenship Publishing Co., 1995, p.4]

1b. Emmanuel Nolan, op. cit., p.4.

2. Cardinal Bertone, The Last Secret of Fatima, p.94

3. Declaration printed in Vecernji List, August 1993, Latest News 13, page 41. [see also; Glas Koncila, August, 1993]

4. Interview on Croatian public television, Dec. 23, 1990] [link] [link]

5. Emmanuel Nolan, op. cit., p.3.

6. Emmanuel Nolan, op. cit. p. 3, 6, 7.

7. Press Bulletin, Information Center MIR, Svetiste Kraljice mira, July 30, 1997 [link]

8. Interview with the Italian daily (Corriere della Sera), January 15, 1991] [link]

9. In response to a letter of inquiry from Denis Nolan, April 8th, 1992.

10. Dr. Mark Miravalle & Wayne Weible, Are the Medjugorje Apparitions Authentic?, New Hope Press 2008, p.19. [link]

11. Don Gabriele Amorth (founder of the Association of Exorcists), July 2002 interview with Fr. Dario Dodig. [link]

12. Kevin Delvin, The Medjugorje Story, RAD Background Report/72.

13. Mary Craig, Spark From Heaven: The Mystery of the Madonna of Medjugorje, Ave Maria Press 1988, p78. (impartial BBC journalist)

14. Emmanuel Nolan, op. cit., p.14-16.

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