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Vatican's Perspective on Medjugorje by Fr. Ivan Sesar

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Vatican Criteria for Judging Medjugorje
By Fr. Tomislav Pervan, OFM
Former Pastor of Medjugorje (1982-1988), former Provincial of the Franciscans (OFM) in Hercegovina (1994-2001).

For the past twenty-five years, Medjugorje has been an actuality on the world scene. Today, it has its zealous advocates; however, it also has its fierce opponents. Opposing front lines in the battle are not likely to sue for peace any time soon. Advocates are tireless in their visits to Medjugorje all the while believing the authentic voice of Heaven is the starting point, namely, the appearance of the Gospa – Our Lady. Meanwhile, the opponents are fierce in their opposition and seek out elements of contention surrounding the entire set of events.

In the meantime, the ever-increasing daily flow of pilgrims to this place does not allow us to be indifferent. Facts and numbers speak for themselves. The number of pilgrims is ever increasing. They come from all corners of the earth, are of all colours of skin, and from all nations and nationalities. While other places of pilgrimage mark a decrease in pilgrims and pilgrimages despite being advertised widely, the number of pilgrims and faithful of all languages and locales constantly increases. As a phenomenon, Medjugorje does not have an active propaganda machine: individuals spread its fame by word-of-mouth, witness, and personal experience.

On the one hand, the priests who work in Medjugorje feel they are over-burdened in their daily work and that they are stretched to their physical limits. They are faced with innumerable calls for personal counseling, endless confessions, and constant evangelization. On the other hand, they are also faced with the suspicion that they are teetering at the edge of heterodoxy. The constant criticism is hurled at them that they are fostering something that is contrary to the Church, namely, the non-existent apparitions and the like. We, on the other hand, cannot fail to speak, fail to give witness about that which we have heard or seen, or that which we experience daily by way of our senses. (Cf. Acts 4:20) Hence, we invite all to come and see. So many bishops and priests had their doubts; however, after many hours of hearing confessions, they changed their minds and the doubts vanished.

The voice of conscience forces upon us the obligation to be of assistance to those who are in misery and who come here. We wish to be in harmony with the Church to the very end, and not to sin against the Church’s teachings or practice. Meanwhile, the accusations and reproaches hurt. Quite frequently, questions are raised that ask: What need did we have of all of this? Were we not able to be as every other parish, that is, carry out the well-entrenched pastoral patterns within the usual norms of the Church and Gospels? Who was it that cooked this stew, such that, to this very day, the river of pilgrims has not dried up, but, to the contrary, continues to grow greater and more dynamic?

For this reason, and as a friend and participant of these events from their beginnings in 1981, I give consideration to what must be done to change the present situations to escape the entrenched position of persistent denial, constant disputation, or, in fact, indifference and silence on the part of the Church’s media all of this while the flow of thousands of pilgrims to this place continues. It is obvious that all the denials, disputations, and silence find no acceptance on the part of the faithful. Meanwhile, Church circles continue to be deaf, and the prohibition against this activity on the part the faithful persists on the part of the media.

It is the inner voice of conscience and the experience of faith that motivate the faithful. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit Himself is the initiator of all these events. I am further convinced that, after twenty-five years have passed, the principle of the locus theologicus (the theological position), according to the notion of the sensus fidelium (understanding on the part of the faithful) and the consensus fidelium (unanimity of the faithful), applies as offered for acceptance by the documents of Vatican II and post-Vatican II, and by statements of Popes following the Council. Things we read about in the Acts of the Apostles are happening here. I am convinced that the Church is being gathered in this place from the four winds and every corner of the earth into the one Kingdom as what took place in Jerusalem at Pentecost. In this place, we find mirrored the universal – “Catholic” Church in miniature.

It is in this sense that I believe the instruction of the Congregation for the Faith entitled, The Criteria for Judging and Differentiating Revelations and Apparitions, dated the 27th of February, 1978, and signed by the then Prefect, Francis Cardinal Seper, should serve as the vade mecum (that is, the constant companion, the manual) when considering, passing judgment upon, and making decisions about Medjugorje and the Medjugorje phenomenon. The text has lost nothing of its immediacy and value to this very day. It can be fully applied to the events of Medjugorje with all its implications. It can examine the events of Medjugorje from the positive or negative side with all the arguments presented pro and con.

The Congregation for the Faith in its instructions reduces to three levels, or degrees, the norms that relate to reactions to alleged apparitions.

The seers must be examined to determine if, perhaps, it is a question of self-styled visions. Then, all the messages must be gathered and examined and viewed from the point of view of the degree of education of the seers. The mental and physical state of the seers must be examined thoroughly, as well as their moral integrity. All that is explainable from the purely human point of view must be taken into consideration; however, by the same token, all that cannot be explained in purely human terms and with the aid of the most contemporary psychological or physical sciences, and which, in the end, has no cause within human power, must also be taken into consideration.

Following the first phase, if the matter has not died on its own, has not come to a halt or fallen into oblivion, the principle ad experimentum (for the purpose of experiment) comes into play. At the same time, of course, it must be emphasized that the employment of this principle in no way suggests or recognizes the authenticity of the alleged apparitions. It simply channels events to proper and healthy Church routine: practices regarding prayer, devotions, the sacraments, constant spiritual growth and holiness.

When an appropriate period of the ad experimentum phase has elapsed, and in the light of experiences, especially after a close examination of the spiritual fruits occasioned by the alleged apparitions, and of the devotional practices surrounding them, a competent judgment of the events must be given if circumstances demand it.

As regards the first point, everything can be reduced to a simple conclusion: To the present day, in the entire history of the Church, no Marian apparitions were so intensively and extensively investigated (from 1984 – 2005) on the part of numerous and independent qualified, international experts in the fields of medicine and psychology, or whose investigations and their results were found to correspond to and compliment each other. All of the experts concluded that the subjects investigated were found to be spiritually, psychologically, and physically healthy individuals. They were found not to be hallucinating, subject to confabulation, (auto) suggestion, hysteria, hypnotic or other loss of consciousness, deceit, suggestion or exterior inducement of any sort. Hence, it is irresponsible to publicly proclaim them to be liars or inventors of false visions and messages.

Many experts from the fields of medicine, psychology, and parapsychology have occupied themselves with the Medjugorje seers. They failed to uncover any sort of pathological deviation from the norm in their lives. The scientific experts are capable of reaching the full limit of their tests. However, once they have arrived at that limit, their ability to explain ceases. They are able to discern what does or does not pertain to medicine and pathology and what must be excluded from a medico-psychological perspective. The experts have done so and have left behind a record of their findings. Because of that, and because of intellectual honesty, we, who have regard for the truth, must take their investigations and judgments as to the phenomena of Medjugorje into serious account.

The convergent proofs in favour of the authenticity of the Medjugorje phenomenon are perceptible when one takes into consideration the theological, sociological and scientific experiments carried out upon the seers by French, Italian, and Austrian teams of experts from 1984 through 2005. According to the theologian and Mariologist, R. Laurentin, who has published works of capital value (17 books) on Lourdes, and has thoroughly investigated the apparitions in Medjugorje, the latter give evidence of being more powerful as regards the proof of their authenticity than those in Lourdes, to which the Church gave its formal approval.

According to the teaching of St. Ignatius on discernment of spirits, the causes of those or similar manifestations can be determined to be purely human, divine, or demonic. Effects must always be judged by their cause. In all that took place in Medjugorje, one must ask what the cause was, or where the causal beginnings had their roots. If we take into consideration the first days of the events that took place in Bijakovici in June and July of 1981, the experts who thoroughly examined the seers concluded that the seers had some sort of fundamental and key experience, some initial encounter that put them into the center of something that they could not begin to imagine or foresee, something against their will or inclinations, something they were scarcely able to predict.

Science as such can neither confirm nor deny whether the Gospa is, or is not, appearing, (just as it would not have been able to utilize scientific instruments to register the resurrection of Christ were they to have been present alongside the Roman guards at the tomb of Jesus). All that science can say after twenty-five years is that the seers are physically and psychologically healthy, and that the seers had a deep-seated and far-reaching experience which continues to affect them to this very day, one that it is impossible to deduce from their biographies. All of that is, for the visionaries, a holy treasure. For that reason one must exclude a purely human cause, and, by the same token, one that is demonic, inasmuch as the Devil is unable to yield good fruit that is constant and so long lasting.

Since twenty-five years have elapsed, a review sine ira et studio (without rancor and diligent attention) would be expedient, both in the local Church and the Church at large, as to the fruits which have been given and continue to be given through Mary’s apparitions beyond all ideological suppositions and prejudices. When observed from the purely statistical point of view as a whole, close to some fifty thousand priest have passed through Medjugorje, hundreds of bishops, cardinals, and millions upon millions of the faithful. The Una Sancta et Catholica (the One Holy and Catholic [Church]) in miniature comes to pass here every day. Were there something to be found heretical, schismatic, or contrary to Church teaching, the Church would be obliged to undertake measures against such abuse. That has not resulted up to the present. Therefore, a fifteen-year ad experimentum period since the Zadar Pronouncement in 1991 is a sufficient amount of time so as to allow to conclude that no straying from official Church teaching and practice is taking place in Medjugorje. The Liturgy and devotions celebrated there are fully Christological, Marian, Eucharistic, sacramental, and in full harmony with Church regulations.

It cannot be asserted that the particular fruits of Medjugorje are those of intensive prayer and administration of the sacraments. To do so would be to create a circulus vitiosus (vicious circle): there are other places in the world where prayer and the sacraments are a fixed practice; however, what is lacking there are the efficacious effects that we note as attributable to Medjugorje. It is clear that prayer and the sacraments bear copious fruits for the entire Church throughout the world; however, from where and why do so many people come precisely to Medjugorje? Why do they come to this remote place where they have a concrete experience of God and grace, are converted, learn to pray, and subsequently carry the fruits of Medjugorje to their homes, give witness to what they have experienced, and become missionaries? It simply is not possible to separate the assertions of the seers regarding the apparitions from the fruits of the apparitions which we see in the Church.

The consensus fidei et fidelium can be seen by the fact that all levels of God’s people, all classes in society and the Church, all peoples, and all races are represented in Medjugorje, and by the fact that Church life is sustained by all of this in the form of witness, divine worship, sincere service, charity, (martyria, liturgia, et diakonia), and, by the fact that all grow in holiness. Medjugorje is a world-wide phenomenon. Its fruits can be seen in all parts of the world. In essence, Medjugorje is a laymen’s movement, a movement of faithful laymen, laden with spirituality, devotion, and sincerity toward the Lord and our Lady. The seers themselves are ordinary lay people and, as such, are able more readily to touch the hearts of plain folks who easily identify with them.

Medjugorje is a peace and pilgrimage movement inasmuch as people come here for the sake of inner peace. It is also a renewal movement within the Church – Ecclesia semper reformanda (the Church ever to be renewed), as well as a humanitarian movement, inasmuch as it has accomplished tremendous charitable and Samaritan works throughout the world (a point made by the present Pope in his encyclical on the God of Love). Lumen Gentium (The Vatican II Document: Light of the Nations) clearly states: “Be they most illustrious, be they simple and more widespread, Charisms are useful and are especially suited to the needs of the Church and must be received with gratitude and consolidation.” (LG 12:2) Meanwhile, Apostolicam Actuositatem (Apostolic Activity) states even more explicitly: “The receipt of Charisms, even those that are humble, give rise to the right and duty for each of the faithful to make use of them in the Church and in the world and for the good of mankind and the growth of the Church in the freedom of the Holy Ghost.” (AA 3:3).

After the past quarter of a century, it can be asserted that Medjugorje is about a prophetic Charism – a prophetic revelation that calls for repentance. These Charisms are able to be found in all similar phenomena within the Church. Prophetic revelations and apparitions are about an imperative under the impetus of the Holy Spirit as to how one is to behave here and now, and what it is that the People of God must do in a specific situation. Accordingly, the Church must not relate to such phenomena indifferently. She is duty-bound to investigate such an imperative with openness and, congruently, to act if she recognizes the Will of God in the said phenomenon. It is obvious that the Ecclesia orans (the praying Church) has recognized God’s Will and Mary’s presence in this instance, of which our dearly departed Pope John Paul II spoke in his homily in Zadar (!) three years prior, on the feast of Mary, the Mother of the Church (Pentecost Monday, 2003). On that occasion, the Pope specifically mentioned the above cited sensus fidei fidelium (the understanding of faith of the faithful).

If, as is the case with ordinary beatifications and canonizations, the process begins with the local Church, and, after an appropriate interval of time, investigation, and conclusions based on the materials offered in favor of beatification or canonization, the matter is transferred to Rome, I think that would be appropriate in this case. After all has been investigated at the local level, the entire case of the Medjugorje phenomenon should be transferred to the appropriate Roman dicastery, especially in light of the fact that it has outgrown the local Church’s boundaries and has become widespread so as to encompass the entire Church. The countless prayer groups throughout the entire world have come into existence because of the events in Medjugorje. They carry the mark of authenticity and veracity. The entire phenomenon is caught-up in the very being of the Church and, as such, carries more weight than does a beatification of one of God’s chosen ones. If, as is the case for beatification, the People of God are asked their approval, why shouldn’t we do so in this case as well, especially in light of Mary’s efficacious presence in specific places (John Paul II, in Zadar!), and in light of the personal experiences and miracles that individuals experienced precisely here in Medjugorje?

Throughout the entire history of Salvation, God has established communication with his creatures through apparitions. This form of communication is especially suitable for man’s physico-spiritual structure: it immerses man’s senses, especially his sight and hearing. The Medjugorje phenomenon can be explained in this manner or that manner; however, intellectual honesty demands that the entire affair engage us in light of revelation, mysticism, supernatural experiences and so many other similar experiences in other cases, and, for that matter, in other faiths.

If God has truly spoken throughout history, why should we be exempted from such a manner of communication wherein the Holy Ghost makes use of apparitions for the sake of the many needs of the contemporary world? The greater the misery in the world, so much the greater is the need for God’s voice and communication. Hence, we might well conclude as did Paul: Do not extinguish the spirit. Do not disdain prophetic communications. Investigate all and hold on to what is good! (1 Thess. 5:19-21).

Medjugorje, July 13, 2006


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Lord, you pour out blessings and lovingkindness on me before I can even ask. And you offer more than I could even conceive of asking. -King David, Psalm 21

2 Vatican Perspective on Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:41 am

Our-Lady-Of-Victory

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The Holy Roman Catholic Church must wait for the apparitions to end before She can make a judgment on the apparitions in Medjugorje. When an allegedly supernatural event has occurred, it is the responsibility of the local bishop to conduct an investigation. Canonically, the bishop is entrusted with the role of “oversight” of the diocese. This role of “oversight” is based on the bishop’s responsibility both for public worship and for the religious teaching which occurs in the diocese. The Church did not decide on Lourdes or Fatima until long after the apparitions ended.

The Bishop of Lourdes made the decision to recognize Lourdes.

The Bishop of Ourém, Fatima made the decision to recognize the apparitions of Fatima.

In the case of Medjugorje, when the local Bishop no longer supported the apparitions, the case was referred to the Conference of Yugoslav Bishops. The Conference of Yugoslav Bishops stated that they did not have sufficient proof to make a decision but that they would wait to make a pronouncement. The Vatican then decided to reserve the decision for themselves. It is the first time in history that the Vatican has reserved the decision about an apparition of Our Lady, to itself. This past year, 2007, the Vatican requested that the Bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina constitute a new commission to investigate what has been happening in Medjugorje. All of the documents are being collected again by the Franciscans here in Medjugorje.

The Vatican has still said, however, that they will maintain a direct interest in what the decision is. The Church therefore, is protecting Medjugorje before She comes out with a final decision. Again, She cannot make a statement until the apparitions have ended; and there is some proof that the secrets have been revealed, which will be, as we know from the messages, during the life time of the visionaries.

In 1981: the Bishop of Mostar, Monsignor Zanic, at first believed; but later he was convinced that the Franciscan priests in Medjugorje invented the apparitions. This doubt resulted in a deep rift that continues to exist.

1986: Monsignor Zanic provided Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) with a negative report on the apparitions. After launching his own investigation, Cardinal Ratzinger removed the dossier from the hands of Msgr. Zanic and handed over the investigation to a new Commission formed of Yugoslavian bishops. Monsignor Komarica, from Banja Luka, was the leader of this investigation

April 1991: the Commission officially accepted Medjugorje as a place of prayer, which gave it the status as a place of worship and private pilgrimage.
The work of the Commission was interrupted by the Bosnian-Serbian war and Bishop Ratko Peric took over as Bishop of Mostar, following in the foot steps of his predecessor, Bishop Zanic.

May 1998: Bishop Gilbert Aubry asked the Vatican what pastoral care could be given to the faithful regarding Medjugorje. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a letter stating again that private pilgrimages were permitted, whereas official ones were not.

A CLARIFICATION FROM THE VATICAN ON MEDJUGORJE

In his letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, Bishop Gilbert Aubry (La Réunion) expressed crucial questions about Medjugorje after reading a declaration from Bishop Peric in a French Magazine (Famille Chrétienne, 1997), stating that there was nothing supernatural in Medjugorje, adding his own stamp to give this statement full authority. This statement, widely spread, has been codified as an official Vatican document. Here is in its fullness the response of the Vatican sent to Bishop Aubry:

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

(Pr. No 154/81-06419)
May 26, 1998
To His Excellency Mons. Gilbert Aubry,
Bishop of Saint-Denis de la Reunion
Excellency:

In your letter of January 1, 1998, you submitted to this Dicastery several questions about the position of the Holy See and of the Bishop of Mostar in regard to the so called apparitions of Medjugorje, private pilgrimages and the pastoral care of the faithful who go there. In regard to this matter, I think it is impossible to reply to each of the questions posed by Your Excellency. The main thing I would like to point out is that the Holy See does not ordinarily take a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena as a court of first instance. As for the credibility of the “apparitions” in question, this Dicastery respects what was decided by the Bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Declaration of Zadar, April 10, 1991: “On the basis of the investigation so far, it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.” Since the division of Yugoslavia into different independent nations it would now pertain to the members of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Hercegovina to eventually reopen the examination of this case, and to make any new pronouncements that might be called for. What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of “Famille Chretienne”, 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 to pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authenitcation of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church. I hope that I have replied satisfactorily at least to the principal questions that you have presented to this Dicastery and I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my devoted sentiments.

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone
(Secretary to the “Congregation” presided over by Cardinal Ratzinger)


To summarize:

1 -The declarations of the Bishop of Mostar only reflect his personal opinion. Consequently, they are not an official and definitive judgment requiring assent and obedience.
2 - One is directed to the declaration of Zadar, which leaves the door open to future investigations. In the meanwhile private pilgrimages with pastoral accompaniment for the faithful are permitted.
3 - All pilgrims may go to Medjugorje in complete obedience to the Church.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn comments:

“The letter of Archbishop Bertone to the Bishop of Le Reunion sufficiently makes clear what has always been the official position of the hierarchy during recent years concerning Medjugorje: namely, that it knowingly leaves the matter undecided. The supernatural character is not established; such were the words used by the former conference of bishops of Yugoslavia in Zadar in 1991. It really is a matter of wording, which knowingly leaves the matter pending. It has not been said that the supernatural character is substantially established. Furthermore, it has not been denied or discounted that the phenomena may be of a supernatural nature. There is no doubt that the Magisterium of the Church does not make a definite declaration while the extraordinary phenomena are going on in the form of apparitions or other means. Indeed, it is the mission of the shepherds to promote what is growing, to encourage the fruits which are appearing, to protect them -if need be- from the dangers which are obviously everywhere. As with Lourdes and other apparition sites, it is also necessary to see to it that the original gift is not stifled by unfortunate developments. Medjugorje is not invulnerable. That is why it is and will be so important that Bishops also publicly take under their protection the pastoral pronouncement of Medjugorje so that the obvious fruits that are in that place might be protected from any possible unfortunate developments. I believe that the words of Mary at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you,” make up the substance of what She says throughout the centuries. Mary helps us to hear Jesus. She desires with her whole heart and with all her strength that we do what He tells us. This is what I wish for all the communities of prayer which were formed from Medjugorje; this is what I wish for our diocese and for the entire Church.Perhaps personally, I have not yet gone to Medjugorje; but in a way I have gone there through the people I know or those I have met who, themselves, have gone to Medjugorje. And I see good fruits in their lives. I should be lying if I denied that these fruits exist. These fruits are tangible, evident. And in our diocese and in many other places, I observe graces of conversion, graces of a life of supernatural faith, of vocations, of healings, of a rediscovering of the Sacraments, of Confession. These are all things which do not mislead. This is the reason why I can only say that it is these fruits which enable me, as bishop, to pass a moral judgment. And if as Jesus said, we must judge the tree by its fruits, I am obliged to say that the tree is good.”

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, who gave the Holy Father and his Papal Household their 1998 Lenten Retreat, and who was the main author of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, gave the preceding testimony in Lourdes on July 18, 1998. The Cardinal’s testimony was published in “Mejdugorje Gebetsakion”, #50, and “Stella Maris”, #343, pp. 19, 20. (This English translation is published with the Cardinal’s permission.)

1998: Returning from a mission in Romania, Sister Emmanuel had the opportunity to attend a breakfast with Cardinal Shonborn in Vienna. There Cardinal Schonborn recounted an interesting meeting he had with Cardinal Ratzinger. Sister reports: “During the late 90s, as Cardinal Schonborn was visiting Cardinal Ratzinger in Rome, he told Cardinal Ratzinger: “If one day you close down Medjugorje, I’ll have to close down my Seminary in Vienna because the great majority of my seminarians received their calling through Medjugorje.” Cardinal Ratzinger replied immediately: “We have no plan to close down Medjugorje!”January 12, 1999: Archbishop Bertone instructed the leaders of the Beatitudes Community that the Church needs their community present in Medjugorje in order to help serve the needs of pilgrims. On that occasion the Secretary for the Congregation of the faith stated: “For the moment one should consider Medjugorje as a Sanctuary, a Marian Shrine, in the same way as Czestochowa.”

December 1, 2002: in a catechesis given in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Cardinal Schönborn said the following about Medjugorje:

“I do not wish to express an opinion on Medjugorje from the point of view of a judgment of the Church. There is, however, one thing I can observe, over and over again, namely, that this is a place where an intensive mission-station of heaven obviously exists, where thousands upon thousands of people find prayer, confession, conversion, reconciliation, healing and deeper faith.”

October 2005: Letters between Marek and Zofia Skwarnicki and the late Holy Father John Paul II were published in Marek’s recent book: John Paul II : Greetings and Blessings – Private Letters from the Pope, published in October 2005 by Bertelsman Media, Poland. July 12-14, 2006: New Commission to be formed on Medjugorje.

An article was published in Vecernji List, a Croatian Newspaper stating that a new commission headed by the Vatican’s Doctrine for the Congregation of the Faith will be formed on Medjugorje. The new commission will consist of international members without a bias for or against Medjugorje.

John Paul the Great and Medjugorje
By Father Tim Deeter

During the War I went to Medjugorje five times and several time I stopped in Rome. One time I was able to go to a private Mass with the Holy Father and I told his secretary, at that time His Eminence Stanisław Cardinal Dziwisz, who is now the Archbishop Cardinal of Krakow; I said, “I would like to show the Holy Father some photographs of the destruction in Herzegovina, Croatia and what the people are

doing.” So I had photographs of the stacks, the high piles of food and medicines and supplies being brought by people all over the world and I thought the Holy Father would be very interested.

So after the Mass, there were about 35 of us, we all made a circle in the library of the Holy Father.

And he came around and greeted each one of us and gave us a little rosary. And so he came around and the secretary, Msgr. Dziwisz, said, “when I nod to you, just step forward show the Holy Father the photographs.” So the Holy Father is going along and he comes to me and Msgr. Dziwisz nodded very solemnly. So I stepped forward and I said, “Holy Father, I want to show you some pictures of what is happening to the Catholic Church in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina and he was very interested and I turned page by page through this album of photographs. It was a small one like the kind you get at the pharmacy when they develop your photos. But I forgot to take out a picture of St. James Church. I didn’t want to show anything of Medjugorje because I knew it was a little political time bomb. So I flipped to the next picture and there was St. James Church! And before I could turn the page quickly, Holy Father went, “Ah, Medjugorje!” Then he said to me, “Have you been there?” I said, “Yes Holy Father, several times.” And he said, “And what do you think?” And so I gave the usual, “Well, there is a lot of good that is being accomplished, a lot of conversions, a lot of confessions, a lot of vocations…” And he said, “No. No, no, no. What do you think about Our Lady appearing there? Do you think Our Lady is appearing in Medjugorje?” There were several people there. The whole room was full of

people. It was a public thing. And I didn’t know what to say. I thought, ‘if I say ‘yes’ maybe he’ll excommunicate me! If I say ‘no Our Lady’s not appearing’ maybe he’ll excommunicate me!’ So I looked at Msgr. Dziwisz and he nodded to me and I said, “Yes. I think Our Lady is appearing there.” And the Holy Father said, “SO DO I!” Just like that, “SO DO I!” And then he said, “Are you going there?” And I said, “Yes Holy Father, I’m going to Medjugorje after I leave Rome.” He said, “Good. Go there and pray to the Madonna of Medjugorje for me, for my intentions.” I said, “I will on one condition.” And he looked as if to say, ‘conditions for the Supreme Pontiff?’ I said, “That you give me and my parish a special blessing for the sacrifices they are making for Medjugorje.” He said, “I do so with all of my heart.” Then he gave me his blessing.

After the audience, then Msgr. Dziwisz grabbed me and he took me to the sacristy and he said, “I want to show you something.” And there on the dressing table of the Holy Father was a copy of the little newsletter ‘Echo of Medjugorje’ in Italian. He said, “The Holy Father reads a paragraph from this every day before he starts his prayers before Mass.” So anyone who says the Pope didn’t believe in Medjugorje…and when they say, “This is all hearsay.” I say, “He said it to me.” So, it’s just a matter of time.


_________________
Lord, you pour out blessings and lovingkindness on me before I can even ask. And you offer more than I could even conceive of asking. -King David, Psalm 21

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