CDF tips its hand about Medjugorje


Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna has been a supporter of Medjugorje for some time, recently hosting Marija Pavlovic Lunetti, one of the alleged seers, for a event in his cathedral and being photographed with her. It's not surprising, then, when stories appeared on the net to say that he was going to make a visit to the town "from December 8th to January 4th." At least that's what Medjugorje supporters were happy to report.

Would he really spend a month there? That does sound odd, for a sitting bishop. Maybe something has been lost in translation, and the trip is going to take place some time between those dates.

But what looked like favorable publicity for Medjugorje has turned into an embarrassment for the Cardinal. His travel and the boasting of apparition supporters about it told the world that the Cardinal was showing support for the "seers", even on the territory of another bishop.

Now, this sort of public interference in another country's and another bishop's local controversy is, well, highly irregular, and Cardinal Schönborn has been forced to make a statement. Catholic News Agency writes:

Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nov 16, 2009 / 02:55 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Christoph Schönborn will visit Medjugorje, the small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina where six young people have allegedly been witnesses of apparitions from the Virgin Mary. But according to the Archdiocese of Vienna, the trip is "completely private" and does not imply a statement from the cardinal on the veracity of the apparitions.

"It was supposed to be a completely private visit, it was not supposed to go out to the internet," Fr. Johannes Fürnkranz, personal secretary to the Archbishop of Vienna, explained to CNA.

Really? It wasn't supposed to be known to Internet readers (i.e., to the public)? What quaint and old-fashioned expectations Fr. Fürnkranz has!

The cardinal's visit will take place between December 8th and January 4th.

"The cardinal's visit was supposed to be absolutely personal and not public, but since it has been leaked, I can only confirm that it will take place. There is no statement whatsoever involved (in the visit)," Fr. Fürnkranz told CNA.

On the face of things, the Cardinal's secretary is indicating that Cdl. Schönborn is not changing his plans. and nothing unusual is happening. On the other hand, the statements that this visit was supposed to be "completely private", not even known to the public, and certainly not a "statement" of any kind, are an admission that His Eminence is violating protocol -- and markedly so because of the public statements of the local bishop against the apparition claims:

The local Church authorities, including Bishop Ratko Peric, whose diocese encompasses Medjugorje, have declared that the alleged apparitions are not to be published or promoted.

Bishop Peric has reaffirmed the official statement of his predecessor, Bishop Pavao Zanic, who in July 1987 wrote to the pastor of Medjugorje:

"I demand from you that you remove the 'visionaries' from public display and put an end to their 'visions' in the parish church. They have had 'visions' in Mostar, and earlier in Sarajevo, Visoko and Dubrovnik. Let them now have them at their homes: people say that they had them at their homes during 1981... You must stop talking about apparitions and also cease publicizing messages. The devotions that grew out of the 'apparitions' and their messages must be eliminated, sales of souvenirs and printed material which propagate the 'apparitions' must also stop."

In June 2009, Bishop Peric addressed the parish in Medjugorje and insisted that "the presumed daily apparitions, known as the 'phenomenon of Medjugorje,' have not been declared as authentic by the Church. Not even after the investigations of various commissions nor after 28 years of media hype. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we cannot behave as if these 'apparitions' are authentic and approved."

Nevertheless, 22 years later, the popularity of Medjugorje as a Marian destination for pilgrims remains.

But even if Cardinal Schönborn doesn't accept the bishop's position, there is someone whom he should (and of course will) respect: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Any remaining doubts about CDF's position should be fading, if this leak to the press -- probably a planned and wanted leak -- is correct.

The official's key statements (which I've emphasized) use some very firm language:

Speaking on background, an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told CNA that the Roman dicastery remains behind the bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"The local bishops have the ultimate authority on this matter, and their arguments against the alleged apparitions are doctrinally solid," the official said.

Asked if Medjugorje should not be judged by its fruits of many conversions and vocations to the Church, the official responded: "It is not the duty of this Dicastery to make a pastoral assessment, but a doctrinal one. But regarding the argument, it can equally be argued that God can write straight with crooked lines, just as it has been proven in several previous occasions with patently false apparitions."

It's understandable that a CDF official has been thinking about the issue. Cardinal Puljic, the chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina bishops, has already said that CDF will soon make a statement, and he is traveling to Rome this month. At the bottom line, Cdl. Schönborn's interference may help the critics, as an illustration of how very much CDF's intervention is needed.


The CNA is demonstrating irresponsible journalism for propagating rumored statements by an alleged unnamed CDF" official." Who is this official? Was he speaking of his personal opinion or that of the Church? Is he even qualified to comment on the apparitions at Medjugorje? I'm certain the Vatican won't be pleased that such statements are being printed as this is more in line with tabloid journalism than true Christian valued journalism. Perhaps the one good thing that may come of this is that the Vatican will reissue it's long-held position on Medjugorje that the final ruling cannot be made until the apparitions cease and that Catholics may continue to go to Medjugorje to worship on a personal pilgrimage.

Actually, I was wondering if Bshp. Peric's recent statements were MADE at the request of the CDF.....If he thought they were going to overturn his decision, why would he be digging himself in deeper at this point?

I mean, seriously, it's not like he wouldn't DISCUSS these things with the CDF!

Besides, has there ever been an APPROVED Marian apparition where Mary defies and threatens the local bishop? The Blessed Mother doesn't BEHAVE like that.

I do feel badly for all the people who wasted large sums of money on Medagorje-- Perhaps they can file suit against those who deceived them?

Medjugorje supporters typically make assurances that if the Church condemns the apparition, they will obey. How's that working out for Holy Love, Bayside, Neseda, etc? Each of those false apparitions still have very large, schismatic followings. Multiply that internationally a hundred-fold, and now you are looking at a very LARGE group of Catholics who will be in de facto schism by continuing their devotion. People wonder why Satan would encourage conversions, and there's your answer - anything that creates a deep division - anything that mocks Jesus' prayer for unity in the Garden of Olives - is well worth the price of losing some souls who might obey the church when the decision comes.

An author from the UK has published a study

of the unsettling aspects of the competitive nature of Medjugorje in the attentions of the faithful, encouraging clique allegiances that distract we members of the Church from our urgent universal call to evangelize the world, as echoed at Fatima and affirmed by the Vatican during the heroic papacy of JPII.

A Table of Contents gives an idea of the actual circumstances behind the "holy hype" of the gullible (whose only fault isn't lack of intellect or zeal, but rather undisciplined guile: a too keen appetite for frequent encounters with the "miraculous" a kind of spiritual greed, if you will, that is insatiable this side of Heaven and an enthusiam that needs to be curbed in much the same way we all learn self-renunciation).

Benign neglect is not working as a strategy -- hoping since its not authentic the fad will peter out over time -- the danger has now become that the advocates for and against are causing scandal by their mutual anathemas, as with the Great Schism, a similarity not without prophetic symbolism, seeing how breathing-with-two-lungs reunion is the major stumbling block to "Renew the face of the Earth."

If the faithful desire to travel there so be it, but the head of the church should not be such hypocrits.

This is what turns people off from the church, have they forgotten why Jesus died on the cross??? Jesus did not come for one person in the vatican nor a few He came for ALL. Stop the hypocracy. Apparitions when and if they happen are for all people not a select few. Why would anyone in the vatican take it that they are above and better than anyone person by authorizing on an apparition. Hypocracy is the word for it. Look at priest child molesters. Whi is sinning there by allowing them to continue in the church. Has anyone forgotten the words of Jesus about little children?

Remember who Cardinal Schonbern is.

He's the same guy that was 'caught' celebrating the infamous "Balloon Mass". He then vehemently defended it.

He has a poor standing among the faithful, so him flying off for a month of 'touristing' in Medjugorie is par for the course.

I've lost most of my respect for him after the "Balloon Mass" and whatever respect I had is now gone with this bit of information.

He's the Roger Mahony of Europe.

Cardinal Schonborn's recent statements, his reception of a "seer" in his cathedral, etc. - all very odd at this time!

The cardinal's actions are right up there with Archbishop Franic's actions in opposition to Bishop Zanic's efforts twenty-five years ago.

I wonder if he has been tipped in advance of an imminent negative definition of the Medjugorje phenomenon, and is trying to derail or delay the announcement...

...pretty weak to call this private...more like grandstanding...

...btw, doubting he'll stay a month: he's an Ordinary, probably has to be in his own diocese at Christmas.

...another thing: he's maybe two hours away from Medjugorje, and yet this will be his first visit...really odd...

The Bishop of Mostar has spoken (in Italian):

Who can translate it?

Leave a comment

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

You write, we post
unless you state otherwise.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on November 17, 2009 2:50 PM.

Live coverage of the US Bishops Conference meeting was the previous entry in this blog.

A prayer request from Pete is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.