Medjugorje: Not Approved by the Church

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema!" (Gal. 1:9)

The past few decades have witnessed a proliferation of supposed apparitions of Our Lady. These claims of supernatural events have captured the interest of very many Catholics and have been the source of innumerable pilgrimages. Because of the deceitful artifices of the Evil One, who has so much influence today, it is extremely essential for the faithful to be wary of all such claims and to use the clear guides that the Church has given us to discern if events such as those occurring at Garabandal, Conyers, Bayside, and so on are from God or not. These guides are two: alignment of the apparitions with Church doctrine and the approbation of the Church. If either of these two principles is negated, we are committing a serious error if we give credence to the apparition, for this is a crystal clear sign that it is false and therefore from the Devil.

It is the purpose of this paper to show that, using these two guides, it is certain that the most popular of the recent averred Marian appearances, those at Medjugorje, are in every respect false and repudiated by the Church.

Medjugorje: Warned Against by the Hierarchy

It is the duty of the local bishop of the diocese in which supposed supernatural events take place to study and confirm or deny the legitimacy of the claims being made. The bishop in the diocese to which Medjugorje belongs, Msgr. Zanic of Mostar, remitted this duty by forming a diocesan commission to do an impartial inquiry into the events that had been taking place since 1981. After a few years of thorough and intense investigative study, which the Church always exercises to determine an unmistakable decision in these matters, the Bishop issued a statement in 1986 giving the results of the study. In the statement, Msgr. Zanic proclaimed that these apparitions are not made by the most Holy Virgin Mary and he forbade the pilgrimages set up from the beginning without ecclesiastical approval by the pastor of Mostar.

In a resulting interview given by Fr. Deleclos of the Libre Belgique, Msgr. Zanic was asked: "Are you, as a matter of principle, against apparitions?" The Bishop replied: "Quite the contrary! I myself have been eight times to Lourdes and I have organized pilgrimages. I have done much for the devotion to the Most Holy Virgin. I was even in Banneux, in Beauraign (Belgium), and Syracuse (Italy), three places where the apparitions of Mary had been stated as authentic."

"However, you are not convinced of this in Medjugorje?" Reply: "I should really be glad to have a Lourdes in my diocese. It would be something grandiose. But I cannot before God, before my conscience and before the Church proclaim these apparitions are authentic and supernatural. I am certainly a sinner and unworthy to be a bishop, yet I believe it would be the worst of all the sins of my life to let this falseness pass for truth, knowing that it is a lie." Despite these words of the Bishop, which the faithful should accept as a decision from God, people continued to flock to Medjugorje and the priest did not desist from organizing pilgrimages as ordered.

Another committee on the national level, composed of 20 bishops, was organized to decide on the "apparitions". This committee also spent several years in patiently studying the matter and finally in November 1990 issued a statement which concluded that there is no proof that Marian apparitions have occurred at Medjugorje. This statement was approved nearly unanimously, with 19 bishops in favor and one abstaining. A Vatican doctrinal official said the bishops' statement against defining the apparitions as supernatural should be accepted by the faithful around the world. (See CWNews report below for recent statements by the Church's hierarchy).

Regardless of these testimonies by the most competent authorities in the Church, many refuse to heed the Church's decision and persist in going to Medjugorje. One wonders what authority would be sufficient to convince these travelers of the truth of the Church's clear and emphatic declaration. It is also disturbing to consider that, if the "apparitions" are not from God, from whence do they originate?

Medjugorje: Condemned by Tradition

In her autobiography, Saint Teresa writes, "I only regard a revelation as true if it is in no way contrary to Holy Scripture and to the laws of the Church, which we are obliged to follow." The soul favored with extraordinary graces "feels capable of confounding all the demons in order to uphold the smallest of the truths taught by the Church!" If a revelation "departed ever so little from Holy Scripture, I would see in it a snare of the Devil... in such a case, it is not necessary to look for any other signs nor even to examine what manner of spirit it is. This mark alone so clearly unveils the wiles of the evil spirit that, were all the world to assure me that it is the spirit of God, I still would not believe it."

Let us compare the teachings of the Church and Scripture with the "revelations" of Medjugorje:
What the Church Says1
"There is but one universal Church of the faithful outside of which no one at all can be saved."
Pope Innocent III2

"We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff."
Pope Boniface VIII3

"The most Holy Roman Catholic Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church ... can have eternal life."
Pope Eugene IV4

"That they may be one, as thou Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that (as a consequence) the world may believe that Thou hast sent me."
John 17:21

"Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism."
Ephesians 4:3-5
What Medjugorje Says
"God presides over all religions as a king controls his subjects, through his priests and ministers."
Svetozar Krljevic O.F.M.5

"The Madonna always stresses that there is but one God and that people have enforced unnatural separation. One cannot truly believe, be a true Christian, if he does not respect other religions as well."
"Seer" Ivanka Ivankovic6

"The Madonna said that religions are separated in the earth, but the people of all religions are accepted by her Son."
"Seer" Ivanka Ivankovic6

Question: "Is the Blessed Mother calling all people to be Catholic?"
"No. The Blessed Mother says all religions are dear to her and her Son."
"Seer" Vicka Ivankovic7

"The Blessed Mother has said: 'Tell everyone that it is you who are divided on earth. The Moslems and the Orthodox for the same reason as Catholics, are equal before my Son and me."

We have a choice when seeing the differences between the doctrines of the Church and the statements made by the children at Medjugorje. We can either conclude that the Church and Holy Scripture are wrong in their infallible teachings or that the apparitions at Medjugorje are false, for there can be no compromise: neither can God inspire or direct falsities nor can something be both true and not true at the same time.

Medjugorje: False apparition

It is clear from the evidence given above that, using the guides that Church gives us for discerning true supernatural messages, there can be no mistake that the apparitions at Medjugorje are completely false.

Some proponents of Medjugorje claim that the apparitions have borne the "good fruits" of conversions, increased sacramental confessions, recitation of the Rosary, Marian devotion, and a host of other very Catholic manifestations. We must consider that the Devil is willing to suffer these effects as long as he can keep his dark mantle over Catholic doctrine, which itself is necessary to make any such fruits efficacious and will assuredly lead souls to Hell, as the rejection of a single doctrine is sufficient to place one in the state of mortal sin. Consider again what St. Teresa, the great Doctor of the Church, said about the marks of a favored soul and a true revelation.

As the events at Medjugorje cannot be from God, they must be from His Great Enemy. We have a duty to inform others in order that they may not be led astray and may focus on the great crises of our age. Please take the time to educate others on the position of the Church regarding the false apparitions of Medjugorje.8

Cardinal Ottavianni (Osservatore Romano, Feb. 14, 1951):
“Let no one call us enemies of the supernatural, therefore, if we set ourselves now to the task of warning the faithful against unchecked statements concerning certain supposed supernatural happenings ... which might jeopardize the recognition of a true miracle and bring it into discredit. Our Lord Himself has put us on our guard against “false prophets”: who “will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24). For this reason the Church has the right and duty to judge the truth and nature of facts and revelations .... And it is the duty of all good children of the Church to submit to this judgment.”

Fr Peter Joseph, Chancellor of the Maronite Diocese of Australia - doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome:
"It is forbidden, as well as sinful, to propagate private revelations which have received a negative judgement from the local Bishop, the conference of Bishops, or the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith".
"Everyone is free to have an opinion, but all have to submit to the judgement of the Church with practical obedience. What I mean is: you are still free to disagree (the Bishop is not infallible in this matter), but you owe him practical obedience, that is, you may not act against the decree; you may not propagate a revelation that the Bishop has judged negatively, or continue to say publicly that you regard it as genuine. Remember, a Church commission may give a negative verdict for reasons which it cannot state publicly, e.g., it may have found out things against the character of the seer, but will not say so publicly, even though this would justify the decision and help people to accept it.
If a so-called message is judged not authentic for doctrinal reasons, then you are not free to defend such messages, because then you will be defending error".

CWNews.com Report

Medjugorje apparition claims are divisive, bishop warns

Jul. 04, 2006 (CWNews.com) - The Catholic bishop whose diocese includes the town of Medjugorje has warned that "something similar to a schism" has arisen at the parish church where apparitions of the Virgin Mary are alleged to take place.

In a homily delivered in Medjugorje on the feast of Corpus Christi, Bishop Ratko Perić of Mostar-Duvno, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that both he and his predecessor have expressed severe misgivings about the reported apparitions. He added that both Pope John Paul II (bio - news) and Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) backed the judgments of the local bishops.

In his homily Bishop Perić explained that-- "while recognizing the Holy Father's right to give a final decision" on the validity of the reported apparitions-- he doubted their validity. He recalled that when he discussed the reports from Medjugorje with Vatican officials, including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they shared his incredulity.

"They particularly do not seem to be authentic," the bishop observed, "when it is known before that these so-called 'apparitions' will occur." Bishop Perić cited the schedule that the Medjugorje seers have provided, listing the times and places at which they claim the next visits by the Mother of God will occur. Thousands of messages from Mary are now claimed, and the bishop observed that "the flood of so-called apparitions, messages, secrets, and signs do not strengthen the faith, but rather further convince us that in all of this there is nothing neither authentic nor established as truthful."

The first reported appearances of the Virgin at Medjugorje occurred just over 25 years ago. During the 1980s, thousands of Catholic flocked to the little town, with many reporting profound spiritual experiences. These pilgrimages were eventually slowed by the violent bloodshed that tore through the region in the 1990s and by the increasingly public skepticism of the hierarchy.

Bishop Perić reminded his people of the restrictions that he has imposed on activities in Medjugorje. The parish church is not formally a "shrine," he said, and should not be characterized as such. Pilgrimages to the church are discouraged. Priests there are "not authorized to express their private views contrary to the official position of the Church on the so-called 'apparitions' and 'messages,' during celebrations of the sacraments, nor during other common acts of piety, nor in the Catholic media."

The bishops urged the "seers" of Medjugorje to "demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish."

Some of the Franciscan priests assigned to the Medjugorje parish, he said, have been expelled from their order because of their refusal to accept Church authority. "They have not only been illegally active in these parishes, but they have also administered the sacraments profanely, while others invalidly," he said. As Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, he said, he felt obliged to warn the faithful "who invalidly confess their sins to these priests and participate in sacrilegious liturgies." From Catholic World News – July 2006 (http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=45105).
(Bishop Ratko Perić's homily: http://www.cbismo.hr/DHTMLFiles/Opsirnije.asp?P=25)

Footnotes

  1. Just a few examples are given of the Church's teaching on the doctrine of exclusive salvation. For a more detailed treatment of the subject, please see one or more of the following:
  2. Fourth Lateran Council, 1215 A.D., Ex cathedra. (When the Pope speaks ex cathedra, he is guided by the Holy Ghost and is thus infallible. All doctrine declared in this manner must be believed in order to be saved.)
  3. The Bull Unam Sanctam 1302 A.D., Ex cathedra.
  4. The Bull Cantate Domino 1441 A.D., Ex cathedra.
  5. The Apparitions of Our Lady of Medjugorje, Franciscan Herald Press, 1984.
  6. The Apparitions of Our Lady of Medjugorje, Franciscan Herald Press, 1984.
  7. Janice T. Connell, The Visions of the Children, The Apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Medjugorje, St. Martin's Press, August, 1992.
  8. For more detailed information on Medjugorje, read Medjugorje after 21 years - The Definitive History or visit http://home.earthlink.net/~agless/Medjugorje.htm.

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