Here’s a background item on the Medjugorje case, a May 2008 interview with Bishop Andrea Gemma from Gianluca Barile’s website Petrus. It was reported in the press at the time, and some quotations did appear, but I never came across the full text until recently.
Medjugorje: the accusation of the bishop-exorcist Mons. Gemma: “The apparitions of the Madonna? Completely false: the seers lie under the inspiration of Satan to profit economically”
by Gianluca Barile
VATICAN CITY – A mixture of economic and diabolical interests, with the alleged seers and their collaborators directly involved in profits related to the increased flow of pilgrimages and visits in the area, and the Evil One well content to sow discord between the faithful most convinced of the validity of the apparitions of Medjugorje and the Church, sceptical as ever in the face of what she has declared more than once, through the words of two successive bishops of Mostar during that time, “a great deception”. Monsignor Andrea Gemma, former bishop of Isernia-Venafro [served 1990-2006], among the greatest exorcists living, does not mince his words: instead of the Virgin, so far only rivers of money have appeared at Medjugorje, a grave accusation that sums up not only the courage but also the moral and spiritual capacity of the prelate who agreed to respond to questions from “Petrus” on such a prickly event.
So, Excellency, how do you define Medjugorje?
“It is an absolutely diabolical event, around which numerous underworld interests revolve. The Holy Church, which alone can make a pronouncement, through the words of the Bishop of Mostar, has already said publicly and officially that the Madonna never appeared in Medjugorje and that this whole production is the work of the Devil.”
You speak of “underworld interests”. Of what kind?
“I’m referring to ‘the Devil’s dung’, to money, what else? At Medjugorje everything happens for the sake of money: pilgrimages, overnight stays, the sales of trinkets. In this way, abusing the good faith of the poor people who go there with the idea of meeting the Madonna, the false seers have set themselves up financially, they have married and live a wealthy life, to say the least. Just think: one of them, directly from America, with a direct economic profit, organizes tens of pilgrimages every year. These people don’t seem to be really disinterested persons to me. Rather, with all the people vulnerable to this noisy swindle, they evidently have a great material interest in getting people to believe that they see and speak with the Virgin Mary.”
Monsignor Gemma, is there no appeal from your verdict?
“Could it be otherwise? These people claim to be in contact with the Madonna, but in reality are inspired solely and exclusively by Satan, are creating chaos and confusion among the faithful for the sake of absolutely deplorable interests and advantages. Think, then, of the disobedience they have fed in the bosom of the Church: their spiritual guide, a Franciscan friar expelled from the Order and suspended a divinis, continues to invalidly administer the sacraments. [NB: The interview took place in 2008, before the laicization of Tomislav Vlasic.] And numerous priests from all over the world, despite the express prohibition of the Holy See, continue to organize and participate in pilgrimages with Medjugorje as their destination. It’s a shame! This is why I speak of a mixture between personal and diabolical interests: the false seers and their helpers are pocketing money, and the Devil creates discord between the faithful and the Church; the more fanatical faithful, in fact, aren’t listening to the Church, which – I repeat – has, from the beginning, warned about the mendacity of the Medjugorje apparitions.”
And if the alleged seers were really seeing the Madonna?
“In reality they would be seeing Satan under false pretenses. Because Satan has great interest in splitting the Church, setting the two currents of the ‘pro’ and the ‘contra’ Medjugorje against each other. Moreover, it wouldn’t be the first time: St. Paul himself asserts that the Devil can appear as an Angel of Light and can, so to speak, camouflage himself. He did that, for example, with St. Gemma Galgani. But beyond his disguises, the Evil One has already intervened and I can assure you that it is he inspiring the false seers since the beginning with the promise of easy money.”
You’re not exactly fond of those seers…
“Please! It’s enough to see how they act: they’re disobedient to the Church, they should have withdrawn to private life and instead they keep on making propaganda for their lies, for the sake of money, and thus playing the Devil’s game! My thoughts go immediately to St. Bernadette, the seer of Lourdes: that sweet creature wanted to shed her life and took up the habit of a Sister to serve the Lord. Instead, the impostors of Medjugorje continue to live comfortably in the world without showing any kind of love either for God or for the Church.”
The supporters of Medjugorje emphasize that the Holy See has never expressed any position on the matter.
“That’s another lie! As I pointed out before, the Vatican has forbidden pilgrimages by priests to the place and has spoken through the words of the two successive bishops of Mostar, Monsignors Zanic and Peric, with whom I have spoken personally, and who have always manifested their doubts to me. You see, even for Fatima and Lourdes, the Holy See didn’t express any position directly on those Marian apparitions. So why would they have to make an exception in this case? The truth is that when the Bishop of Mostar speaks, the Church of Christ speaks, and is it to him, who speaks with the authority conferred to him by the Vatican, that we need to listen. Thus, the Holy See has already expressed itself with the words of the Bishop of Mostar, making evident that Medjugorje is a diabolical trick. But I will share a secret with you. You’ll see that soon the Vatican will intervene with something explosive, to unmask once and for all who is behind this swindle.”
The same supporters note that at Medjugorje every year they report a record of conversions and miracles…
“It’s artificial. And who is counting all these conversions? You see, if someone has a conversion, it’s because he had a certain predisposition, because he thinks to look inside himself, because he receives the gift of the Spirit. The place in which this conversion happens is completely relative. Let’s think of St. Paul: he converted on the road, and now what should we do, all go out to the road and wait to be converted? As regards the miracles, I’ll tell a personal anecdote. I owe the miraculous healing of a person in my family to the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompei, but that doesn’t imply that the Madonna ever appeared to me at Pompei. So, just from believing, or from being healed inside or outside, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Mary is letting people see her.”
To the best of your knowledge, what opinion does the Holy Father Benedict XVI have of Medjugorje?
“I’ll limit myself to underscore what he did as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to send out official notes adverse to Medjugorje, such as the one which forbade priests and religious from going on pilgrimages in that country. Do you …”
Yet it is said that John Paul II was convinced of the goodness of the apparitions.
“An unproven legend, considering that his opinions were personal and did not in any way represent an act of the Magisterium.”
[Thanks to Gianluca Barile. Translation (c) Richard Chonak, 2011, all rights reserved.]