And it only took 13 years for church officials in the U.S. to notice.
Once upon a time in the land of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in a peaceful little town called Medjugorje (where they manufactured hand grenades during the recent war), some teenage would-be seers claimed that Our Lady said — among many other things — that their own parish priest Jozo Zovko, OFM, was already a saint.
An endorsement like that is pretty good at boosting your reputation as a writer, speaker, and retreat master. Probably Fr. Zovko’s high point came when Martin Sheen portrayed him in the Medjugorje movie. I know: Sheen’s been involved with as many religious bombs as Osama, so maybe that’s not much of a high point.
Later on, the news about Fr. Zovko was not quite so good: in 1989 his faculties to hear confessions were lifted after several women pilgrims accused him of sexual assault. He persisted in hearing confessions and, it appears, ended up suspended. Medjugorje supporters engaged in some obfuscation and some full-strength denial about it all, but finally in 2002 the news has reached America through official channels: as the WashPost reports, this week the Archdiocese of Washington scotched Fr. Zovko’s plan to speak at the National Shrine after getting official word of the suspension from the Diocese of Mostar.
The denial is pretty thick, though: a priest who recently hosted a Zovko event told the Boston Herald that “he believed Zovko’s suspension only prevented him from public prayer within Bosnia.” I guess when somebody does a really good job of “tickling your ears” (2 Tim. 4:3), it’s hard to give it up.