Fr. Hauke responds to criticism from Medjugorje supporters (updated)


(UPDATE 2/25: See the end of this article for an update on Thomas Müller's remarks.)<

Theologian Fr. Manfred Hauke's recent interview with the Tagespost Catholic newspaper has drawn a lot of attention since it was published on January 15.

The interview on the subject of Marian apparitions and the Medjugorje affair was picked up by news sites in Germany, Austria, the U.S., and Argentina. Recognizing the value of Fr. Hauke's contribution in moving the debate forward, Dutch- and Spanish-speaking sites translated all or part of the interview.

Outrage from offended followers of the Medjugorje visions was swift too: here in America, a Yale graduate student titled his rant "Theologian Manfred Hauke flunks Medjugorje 101". That text was copied to other websites and offered through the Google news service. Since then, the author seems to have felt some shame at his insult and changed the title of the commentary.

Christian Stelzer, a member of the "Oasis of Peace" community which illicitly operates in Medjugorje, countered the interview with a set of rather pat denials [in German] about some of Fr. Hauke's points. He pointed vigorously at the medical studies of the seers, as if they could produce a theological proof, but he did not even address the most critical argument against the messages: that some contain false doctrine.

From Germany, where the interview first appeared, a transitional deacon by the name of Thomas Müller attacked the professor on the news site, which promotes the alleged apparitions, accusing him of "spreading lies and half-truths" and of unscrupulously considering "any means correct". Müller writes:

It is frightening how lightly Prof. Hauke calls for the "love of truth", but spreads complete lies and half-truths himself in this interview, and silences known facts. Through it all, he sets about to mix with Medjugorje negative incidents which have nothing to do with it.

The high point, then, is the indirect conclusion that the fruitfulness of Medjugorje, which has been unique in the world in relation to conversions, vocations, the revival of the sacrament of penance, the rosary, and love for the Eucharist, comes from the work of the Devil and that the messages represent a spiritualistic phenomenon. This is an insult to God, since Hauke is thereby saying that the Devil, in order to deceive the Church, is more fruitful than the Holy Spirit.

[my translation --RC]

Clearly this is a man in high dudgeon, and not above putting words in other people's mouths.

(Here is a machine-generated translation of Müller's denunciation, for those who cannot read the original.)

But, as St. Paul teaches, all things work together for good, for those who love God. These overwrought and reckless offerings have done a service for the Church, by revealing the depth of illusion, of denial, even sometimes prelest, if I may say so, generated by the false mysticism of Medjugorje.

Professor Hauke, in turn, has replied to this criticism with a statement that backs up his assertions. In the face of outrage, he is calling for more objectivity and scholarly prudence. The German original of his response is on, and an English translation follows here:

An Appeal for Objectivity

A response by Prof. Manfred Hauke to Thomas Müller's critique of his interview on Medjugorje

padrehauke.gifFor years there has been a contentious debate about the so-called "Marian apparitions" of the seers who originated from Medjugorje. The current official position of the Church is still the 1991 declaration of the Yugoslav Bishops Conference, which emphasizes: "non constat de supernaturalitate", i.e. it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelation. The local Bishop Ratko Perić goes beyond this affirmation and has emphasized his conviction, according to which it has been established that the pertinent phenomena are not of supernatural origin. Among Catholic Christians, it should be possible to discuss the questions connected with this matter objectively. My interview in the Tagespost, which has been propagated in various languages since then, was a contribution to this very necessary discussion. If it should happen that I have, in the process, repeated any false information, I am ready and willing to correct these errors. Thus far I do not see any reason for corrections.

In any case, I am shocked over the unobjective reactions of certain followers of the Medjugorje movement, who ascribe bad intentions and "lies" to me. To "lie" means to consciously state a falsehood. In my scholarly career of nearly thirty years now I have fought out many battles and have had to bear many criticisms, for example the polemics of a "woman priest" ordained somewhere on the Danube between Linz and Passau, in the magazine Publik-Forum. But even in these circles no one has ascribed a "lie" to me so far, or a presumption "that the end justifies the means". Such reactions are character assassination. Among these, sadly, is the contribution of Deacon Thomas Müller, which appeared in (18 Feb.). Deacon Müller, who has published a master's thesis ("Diplom" in German) on Medjugorje, asserts that I have spread "complete lies and half-truths" in my interview and that I "set about" "to mix with Medjugorje negative incidents that have nothing to do with it." He speaks of "untruths and distortions". Because I, on the basis of the facts presented to me, consider the possibility that the visions come from the workings of the evil one, I am even accused of an "insult to God". These accusations are very grave.

I have been to Medjugorje myself and, in the mid-'80s, believed in the authenticity of the "Marian apparitions" there. Because of a great number of indicators, which have increased with the passage of the years, I have reached the conviction that the visionary experiences of the seers in Medjugorje cannot be due to the working of God. This conviction has been shared in the meantime by numerous Christians who have followed a similar path. In the meantime there is an extensive international literature on the subject pointing in the same direction. This literature, which I was not able to thoroughly cite in my interview, has mostly appeared in the English and French languages. In contrast Müller's thesis, with which I am acquainted, limits itself to the narrow horizon of titles then available in the German language. For example, it omits the important work of the Franciscan Father Ivo Sivrić, born in Medjugorje, who cites a great quantity of sources (over 200 pages), among which are tape-recording transcripts of the seers' statements from the first days of the "apparitions" (La face cachée de Medjugorje, Saint-François-du Lac (Canada), 1988; in English: The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Saint-François-du Lac (Canada), 1989). How can someone write a scholarly work on Medjugorje without reaching back to these critically edited sources? In the face of such facts, the accusation by a master's-level theologian against a theology professor with a post-doctoral habilitation, that he was not working in a scholarly manner, leaves me astonished. I can document all my assertions sufficiently, but to demand a full scholarly apparatus from a newspaper interview is to confuse the literary genre of the newspaper with a journal article in which there is room for footnotes.

Before I go into the individual accusations, I would like to establish that Müller does not address the central problem points I mentioned at all. Among these are the seers' statements preserved in the tape-recording transcripts. Prominently, on June 30, 1981, the last appearance of the "Gospa" was announced to be on July 3 (cf. Sivrić 1989, pp. 346ff., 381; see also the critical discussion in Donal A. Foley, Understanding Medjugorje, Nottingham, 2006, pp. 70-84; Joachim Bouflet, Ces dix jours qui ont fait Medjugorje, Tours, 2007, pp. 147-175). At the sixth "apparition", on June 29, 1981, the "Gospa" announced the healing of four-year-old Daniel Setka, which, however, never happened in fact (cf. Ivan Zeljko, Marienerscheinungen ..., Hamburg, 2004, pp. 69, 155, 310; Bouflet, 2007, pp. 135-138). Müller also does not go into the theological problems of many "messages", and just as little into the differences from Lourdes, Fatima, and Guadalupe, where obvious miracles, recognized by the Church, confirmed the Marian apparitions. If false prophecies and erroneous teachings can be found in the statements attributed to the "Gospa" by the visionaries, those messages cannot come from God. If in the messages just one "horse's foot" is found, which can be traced back unequivocally to an external reality which is provoking the visions, and not to the seers' subjectivity, then those errors stem from the evil one. It is, at basis, similar to a filename in a computer: a single error in typing the filename makes it impossible to access the file. Thomas Müller does not seem to have understood this problem. Furthermore, the fruits of grace connected with pilgrimages cannot in any case neutralize the "rat poison" that is contained in deceptive messages. The fruits of grace experienced in Medjugorje are certainly not to be ascribed to the Devil, but to the goodness of God, who hears the trusting prayers of human beings. These good fruits (next to which there are also negative effects in Medjugorje) cannot by themselves alone prove the supernatural origin of a visionary phenomenon.

Müller's reference to the sensus fidei of the People of God does not bring any solution for judging Medjugorje, because Marian apparitions, according to the declaration of Pope Benedict XIV, do not constitute an object of the divine virtue of Faith. In regard to the position of Pope John Paul II, let it be recalled that he consciously avoided taking a public stand on the matter (cf. Foley, 2006, pp. 175ff.). The remarks mentioned in the work of Slawomir Oder are of a private nature and do not claim the authority of the Petrine office.

In seven points Müller claims to set right my "greatest untruths and distortions". (1) The first point addresses the so-called "little war" in Medjugorje, according to which there are said to have been 140 dead and 600 refugees during conflicts among three family clans in Medjugorje in 1991 and 1992. This information rests not only on press reports, but finds its confirmation in the study by Mart Bax, now emeritus professor of political anthropology at Amsterdam, Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia (Anthropological Studies, Vol 16), Amsterdam, 1995 (cf. also his "Warlords, Priests and the Politics of Ethnic Cleansing: a Case-Study from Rural Bosnia", in Ethnic and Racial Studies 23, 1/2000, pp. 16-36). For his studies, Mart Bax spent several weeks each year in Medjugorje for many years and counts, if I see things aright, as a serious scholar. By itself, that doesn't settle the correctness of every detail in his studies, but for me it seems hard to imagine that the great amount of information on the "little war" which he has presented should be mere invention. Müller's assertion is not correct: "In 2008, this untrue story was deleted from the Wikipedia article because, by the measures indicated, it lacks any veracity." Leaving aside the point that Wikipedia articles do not fulfill the requirements of strict scholarship, the German Wikipedia article before me states something different: "The credibility of this passage of his [Mart Bax's] book was called into question in August 2008 in the Croatian and German press, and the conjecture was expressed that this report was an invention or was based on false information." (, retrieved on Feb. 18, 2010). Here Müller makes a "conjecture" by journalists into a historical fact. Besides that, it seems quite naive to me to deduce the non-existence of a crime from an inquiry of village residents: with that kind of search for truth, one will be able to conclude, for many villages in Sicily, that there has never been a Mafia crime there. Müller says to the contrary, "All the contemporary witnesses testify unanimously that it [the 'little war'] never existed." Does Müller know "all the contemporary witnesses"? If Bax's historical study really can be disproved, I'm ready and willing to accept such a disproof. Besides, for a positive or negative evaluation of the Medjugorje phenomenon the existence of the "little war" is only an incidental factor.

(2) Müller accuses me of two "false statements" about Fr. Jozo Zovko (to be precise, there are three). 1. According to Müller, it is not true that Zovko was "forbidden any contact with Medjugorje by his superiors." Against this stands the fact of a whole row of decrees by the Bishop of Mostar. The last decree is from June 26, 2004. It contains a long list of preceding sanctions and emphasizes that Zovko may not conduct any pastoral activities in the Diocese of Mostar. In November 2009, the Provincialate of the Franciscans of Bosnia-Herzegovina ordered the transfer of Fr. Zovko to Austria. The entire proceeding can be read on the website of the diocese (, and in Italian translation with numerous additional details on twelve pages of the website of the Medjugorje specialist Marco Corvaglia (, cf. the published book Marco Corvaglia, Medjugorje: è tutto falso, Torino, 2007). 2. According to Müller, my reference to "grave moral accusations" against Zovko is "nothing but a evil, slanderous rumor." In the Bishop's document of June 26, 2004, it is stated: "You are not authorized to conduct priestly activity in any form in the territory of the dioceses of Mostar-Duvno and Trebinje-Mrkan; in particular, you do not have the faculty of hearing the confessions of the faithful. As diocesan bishop, I invite you once again, to bring your priestly status into order.... Upon your written request, I can show you here in Mostar the entire documentation at hand which is available in the bishop's office, even in connection with your moral life."[!] 3. Müller additionally writes: "Also, the claim that Fr. Jozo was a spiritual advisor to the seers for years is, on closer examination, not tenable", because he has not been in Medjugorje since 1981. Against this is the fact that the above-cited documents of the bishop refer, for example, to the pastoral activity of Zovko in the parish of Siroki Brijeg, which is located in the diocese of Mostar, about thirty kilometers from Medjugorje. Zovko maintained contact with the seers very well through the intervening years, for example, at the annual meetings in the Mazda Palace in Milan up to the year 2008. For this reason, Fr. Zovko is regularly presented in the Italian-speaking area as the "padre spirituale" (spiritual father) of the seers.

(3) In relation to Fr. Tomislav Vlasić, Müller also accuses me of "half-truths and slander". He states that Vlasić did not work in Medjugorje until 1988, but only until 1984. Against this I would point out that Vlasić only lived in Medjugorje from August 1981 to September 1984, but he stayed there often in the following years, until he transferred his residence to Italy. Evidence for this is available, among other places, at Anyway, Müller himself admits that Vlasić then set on "a strange and lamentable path." About the "mystical marriage" with Agnes Heupel, he says: "but to connect [it] with the Mother of God or the seer Marija Pavlović, is shameless and borders on character assassination, since the seer has repeatedly made clear in response to queries, that she had nothing to do with it." Against this I would point out: Marija Pavlović issued a declaration in the Croatian and Italian languages on July 11, 1988, according to which she retracted her statements of April 21, 1988. She said that her first statement did not correspond to the truth. "I never asked the holy Virgin for her blessing for the undertaking begun by Fr. Tomislav V. and Agnes Heupel. I personally did not have approval to issue any kind of written statement. But Fr. Tomislav V. suggested to me again and again and pressured me again and again, that I as a 'seer' should write the declaration that the world was waiting for." (E.M. Jones, The Medjugorje Deception, South Bend, 1988, p. 144.) In other words, the "seer" is publicly admitting to having lied in the name of the Mother of God.

(4) Additionally, Müller accuses me of "dishonest conflations", on the ground that the suspension of nine Franciscans in the Mostar diocese had nothing to do with Medjugorje. To the contrary, the disobedience toward the Bishop presents a continuation of the disobedience of two Franciscans from 1981 and 1982, who appealed to the repeated statements of the "Gospa" reported to them by Vicka, according to which it was not necessary to carry out the Bishop's directives (cf. the texts from the episcopal archive of Mostar in Michael Davies, Medjugorje after Twenty-One Years, 2002, updated version 2004, pp. 214-218:

(5) What Müller means with the accusation of "mixing up mysticism and charismaticism" is not clear to me. I did not treat the two realities (mystics and charismas) as identical.

(6) Müller asserts that I called for "psychological" investigation of the seers, in order to investigate their mental condition. These investigations have already taken place, he says. To the contrary, my interview expresses no doubts about the psychological health of the seers and also does not call for any corresponding investigation. The reference to psychological health relates to the question from the Tagespost about the criteria for Marian apparitions in general. Müller then mentions the medical investigations of the seers during ecstasies and gives the opinion: "These scientific results are flatly ignored by Hauke." It is correct that my interview does not name the works he mentions, which are very well known to me (cf. my contribution on Medjugorje in Sedes Sapientiae. Mariologisches Jahrbuch 9, 1/2005, pp. 159-174, in particular 166ff.), but they do not suffice for the evaluation of the Medjugorje phenomenon. Those investigations can at best ascertain that the visions are dependent on an extra-mental factor: this factor can be the Mother of God, or also a deceptive spiritual being. For example, there are ecstasies and visions in spiritualism. Besides the extra-mental explanation, the relevant literature on the subject also includes indications of a psychogenic dimension of the ecstasies (cf. the discussion of the works of Joyeux et al., in Foley, Understanding Medjugorje, 145-155; Corvaglia, 2007).

(7) Lastly, Müller complains that I had ignored the miracles that have happened in Medjugorje, especially the healing in 1984 of the Italian woman Diana Basile, who suffered from multiple sclerosis. I must also reject this accusation. Dr. Mangiapan, director of the International Medical Bureau at Lourdes (1972-1990), expressed his view as follows: since multiple sclerosis can spontaneously disappear, it is very difficult to verify whether a medically inexplicable healing really has taken place (cf. Foley, Understanding Medjugorje, 169). Müller then gives the opinion that it is possible to speak of a "miracle of the sun" if people can look at the sun for a quarter-hour without problems. I am personally convinced of the miracle of the sun in Fatima, which has been proved by a critical historical investigation, and which even led a journalist of a masonic newspaper to write about the "miracle". Before anyone describes the phenomena of light in Medjugorje as "supernatural", one should first study the natural possibilities, which can be very extensive (cf. in this regard the references to literature in various languages in

Müller reproaches me for false statements and insufficient information. I think this accusation is a boomerang. The debate about Medjugorje is not served by slander and character assassination, but only by an objective discussion of all the pertinent elements in the light of the Catholic faith. I would truly wish that Deacon Thomas Müller, who is preparing for his priestly ordination in Cologne, avoid the mistakes which he wrongfully criticizes in my interview.

[This commentary appeared on, Feb. 20, 2010; a few typographical errors have been corrected; the translation has been reviewed and corrected by the author, but any remaining errors are solely my responsibility. Thanks to Prof. Hauke for his permission to publish the statement here. --RC]

UPDATE 2/25: In a constructive step, Deacon Thomas Müller has retracted the offensive expressions and apologized:

I can wholeheartedly support the wish for an objective discussion of the facts regarding the Medjugorje phenomenon and everything that pertains to it or is connected with it. For my part, in order to contribute to objectivity and decrease the tension of the heated atmosphere, I retract the expressions "insult to God" and "lie", which I used rashly in my commentary on Prof. Hauke's interview with the Tagespost, and ask for forgiveness.

Deacon Müller went on to say he did not intend to accuse Prof. Hauke of any intent to deceive, but only of repeating untruths from the writings of Mart Bax and I. Zeljko; and Müller recommended Stelzer's commentary as a rebuttal.


Come, Lord Jesus!

Both sides here are wrong. I'm certain that the Blessed Mother is saddened to see this whole topic dragged through the mud in a battle of egos. Shame on all of you for promoting this tabloid journalism. Both sides are pointing fingers instead of praying for each other and offering to befriend and understand the hurt and sinfulness in each other so that the Gospel can be put into action.

With regards to (4) in Prof Hauke's response, there is also a diocesan communication which further elaborates on the original two Franciscans concerning the decision of the Apostolic Signatura, given by the Chancellor of the Diocese.


At the request of Bishop Peric of Mostar-Duvno, the Chancellor of the diocese, Don Ante Luburic, gave the following update following an article by Rene Laurentin:


We read in Chretiens Magazine No.103, of 15th September 1997, pp34-35, the article entitled "Storm over Medjugorje" by Rene Laurentin.

Father Laurentin recounts some disinformations and certain things which are not true, in this way causing a real 'storm' over Medjugorje.

1. It is not true that the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura had issued a judgement of "six cardinals, among whom the Dean of the Sacred College, which rehabilitated the two victims" (Franciscans). The Dean of the Sacred College did not sign the document and no six cardinals signed it. One sees by this that Rene Laurentin did not have the text of the Signatura to hand, or else that he saw it but only read it superficially.

2. The two Franciscans are not rehabilitated as regards the abuses they commited, but one simply notes the error by omission of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life. Also the interdict passed by Bishop Zanic on Brother Ivan Prusin retains all its validity, and he has no jurisdiction whatever nor canonical mission in the diocese of Mostar-Duvno. We published it in our official bulletin (Vrhbosna, 2/1996, p142). The other Franciscan, Brother Ivica Vego, left the Order and the priesthood in 1988.

3. It is somewhat strange that the Reverend Father Laurentin should write that the Holy Father asked Cardinal Kuharic, the Vice-President of the Republic of Croatia, and even President Tudjman, to go to Medjugorje, when not one of the organisers (the Nuncio Bishop Monterisi, Father R Tucci, SJ,) even raised the subject with the 'responsible local' of Mostar, notably at the time of the preparation of the Holy Father's journey to Sarajevo.

4. It is an invention of Reverend Father Laurentin that the Holy Father, during his journey to Sarajevo, "authorised a part of his retinue to leave him during the journey in order to go publicly on pilgrimage to Medjugorje: eleven persons, bishops and ambassadors, along with Vatican correspondents". (311) In reality, the Ambassador of Croatia to the Holy See, Mr Ive Livljanic, organised in his own capacity the journey of a group of ambassadors, bringing them from Rome to Medjugorje: these persons had nothing to do with authorisation by, nor with the retinue of, the Holy Father. Apart from this disinformation, one sees all sorts of things attributed to the Holy Father and to his "entourage", things which have no foundation in realityl

5. Finally, one must say that no pilgrimage, no cult, no shrine at Medjugorje has been recognised, neither at the diocesan level, nor by the Episcopal Conference, nor by the Holy See. These affirmations might be the inventions or the pious desires of Rene Laurentin but in no way the affirmations of the responsible Church leaders: if they have not recognised the "supernatural apparitions", how could they officially recognise the cult and pilgrimages?

Mostar, 24th October 1997

Don Ante Luburic, Chancellor of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno.

(311. In D.N, No16, 2nd edition, October 1997, Rene Laurentin speaks no longer of eleven persons but of some thirty persons! "While the Pope stayed in Sarajevo, this delegation of some thirty persons was able to make the pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin which the Pope had had to forego." (p.50)


I would also like to state for the record, that my desire to discuss this issue stems from a great love for the Mother of God, for the Church and for the embattled bishops of Mostar, who are in good standing with the Holy See.

At a luncheon held a few weeks back, following the consecration of Archbishop Petar Rajic at the Cathedral in Mostar, Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone made this comment about Bishop Peric:

With sincere sentiments of gratitude, we pray to the Good Lord that this Church of Mostar, harmoniously inserted in the communion of the Churches of Bosnia-Herzegovina and in full communion with the See of Peter, may grow ever more in unity and holiness. The more it is faithful to its Catholic identity and to the apostolic tradition, of which the bishop is guarantor, the more it will grow in its own internal unity, and will know how to contribute to building up concord among the diverse religious, ethnic, and cultural elements of the complex society in which Providence has called it to live and to work in conformity with the mandate of the Gospel.

Thanks, Richard, for providing the forum for discussing these issues. Having friends caught up in both Medjugorje and Legionaries/Regnum Christi, I find it helpful to learn about these issues and pass the information on to others when possible.

I have grave concern for all those caught up in these groups since they both clearly seem to not be of God. We can only pray that as the lies and deceit continue to come to light, people will choose to remain in the Church and not follow these spurious manifestations.

It puzzles me that a supposedly reputable theologian would continually reference works by extreme radical traditionalists like e. michael jones and michael davies. As they say in the computer world GIGO - "garbage in, garbage out." Right Richard?

Here is a message from Medjugorje that I think contains some doctrinal errors:

September 4, 1982: "Jesus prefers that you address yourselves directly to Him rather than through an intermediary. In the meantime, if you wish to give yourselves completely to God and if you wish that I be your protector, then confide to me all your intentions, your fasts, and your sacrifices so that I can dispose of them according to the will of God."

I sent the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith an e-mail asking them if this message is heretical. I pray for a speedy reply.

On the Medjugorje Forum, I asked some supporters of Medjugorje for documented evidence of good fruits - such as obedience to the Church. I was given a link to the Medjugorje website, and after I left the forum posters provided information on various books on Medjugorje and a secular historian posted too. Here are screenshots of the thread I made:

In addition, this is the thread that I made on the Medjugorje Forum, which as of this writing is still up:


If you enjoy e. michael jones research on Medjugorje, you will really appreciate his insights on how the Jews are running the world, the Church etc. The Catholic University of America did not appreciate his research however, as they cancelled his lectures there because of his anti-semitism.

As for Davies, he has some fascinating theories on how Vatican II and the Novus Ordo was really the work of freemasons. Enlightening stuff, really!

Of course Cdl. Schonborn is the true fanatic ...

So, Buster, if Jones told you that 2+2=4 would you say he must be wrong because he is an anti-semite?? The truth of the message is not dependent on the total integrity of the messenger.

I think it is fair to say that both of these researchers are fond of conspiracy theories and their interpretation of "facts" and "history" are highly suspect. How can you separate the "wheat" from the "chaff" in their warped view of the Church and theology?

If you are comfortable with the "rad trad" retelling of Medjugorje - that is great. However, don't pretend to be shedding "light" on anything with such jaundiced and compromised sources. Secondly, a theologian such as Hauke should not rely on such poisoned well of second-hand information, but should speak with the visionaries directly himself.


Let's look closer at exactly what Fr. Hauke referenced Jones on from the Medjugorje Deception. Here's the point.

Grave moral accusations are also placed against Zovko, the pastor in the early months, and long-time spiritual confidant of the group of seers

See what actually makes up the web page on Fr. Jozo Zovko at the blog of Marco Corvaglia, (complete with names, dates, protocol numbers, from diocese, religious order, and Holy See)

What did Fr. Rene Laurentin say about the 1989 sanctions?

On page 15 of the book "Dernières Nouvelles de Medjugorje", Fr. Laurentin aknowledged that if the reasons for such severe sanctions were not made public, then they had to be serious.

Now, I might point out, that in the case of Tomislav Vlasic (who later requested to be laicized and was granted a dismissal), the reasons eventually were made clear. In January of 2008, the Holy See put into effect, the sanctions. In May of 2008, the bishop received permission from the Holy See to inform the public of his canonical status. It was finally late August of 2008 when it was revealed to the public, that, in his case the sanctions were:

“for the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspect [changed from suspected - dk] mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders and charges contra sextum.”

Source at Diocese of Mostar Duvno

Contra sextum? A delicate way of saying, against the Sixth Commandment.


Fr. Hauke made it clear what sources he was referencing - and these two are clearly radical traditionalists. If that meets your standards of theological discourse - then great. But I think the general public deserves better. For my money, I trust the integrity of a theologian and Mariologist of high esteem like Dr. Mark Miravalle - who has served members of the episcopal hierarchy with preliminary investigations for reported apparitions. Dr. Miravalle who wrote the following:

When the Church examines the apparitions, it examines three areas:

1. The message contents. Is the message in conformity to the faith and teachings of the Catholic Church? It was the object of my doctorate dissertation to prove that there is not one single message of Medjugorje that in any way conflicts with the official teaching of the Church’s Magisterium. Look at the message and you will see the three words that are used more than any others: Peace, Love and Pray. The message is a sound, orthodox, catholic message with openness to all peoples.

2. The second criteria the Church examines is what is called “Phenomena”. This would include things like the reported ecstasy of the visionaries. The Medjugorje visionaries have been tested by two medical teams: one from the University of Montpellier, France, and one from Milan, Italy. The conclusions of those teams were that the visionaries are communicating with a being outside their own time-space limitations, and the commissions ruled out any concept of hallucination.

3. The Church examines the spiritual fruits based on the words of Jesus, “You know the tree by its fruits”. The Church looks for lasting spiritual fruits, not an occasional conversion, but a return to the Church after 40 or 50 years being outside of the Church. Look at the confessions lines! How many bishops and priests and religious have pilgrimaged to this place! A convicted return to the prayer and sacramental life of the Church, and this, like no other apparition in the present era, has been manifested in Medjugorje. The confession lines, Mass attendance, Rosaries are ubiquities. That is a rock solid Scripture based testimony to the fact that indeed it is Jesus who sends his Mother to Medjugorje. As one author said, “If Satan is behind Medjugorje, he has made the greatest mistake of his existence”.

So, as the Church examines a reported message, and these criteria came out in 1978, Medjugorje scores the highest conceivable scores on all these three levels from a theological and scientific perspective.

One has to wonder if Dr Miravalle has consulted the local bishop with regards to the messages.

What does Dr Miravalle think about the fact that the entity claimed it would appear 3 more times, but has continued to appear more than 40,000 more times?

What does the doctor think about the threatening message for the bishop alleged to the entity, thus:

17. "Tell the bishop that I seek a quick conversion from him towards the happenings in Medjugorje before it's too late. May he accept these events with plenty of love, understanding and great responsibility. I want him to avoid creating conflicts between priests and to stop publicizing their negative behaviors. The Holy father has given all bishops the duty to fulfill certain tasks in their respective dioceses. Among these, bishops are to solve problems and arguments. The bishop is the spiritual father of all the parishes in Herzegovina. For this reason I seek his conversion towards these events. I am sending my second-last warning. If what I seek does not come about, my judgment and the judgment of my Son await the bishop. This means that he has not found the way to my Son Jesus." Our Lady told me to give you this message.

Source: The Truth About Medjugorje, Bishop Pavao Zanic, 1990


Dr. Miravalle's Doctrinal dissertation was entitled, The Message of Medjugorje: A Postconcilar Formulation of Lourdes and Fatima, May 31, 1984, and successfully defended at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome, and which presented the thesis of the complete conformity of the Medjugorje message with the teachings of the Gospels and the Church Fathers in its foundational elements, and with the Second Vatican Council, its postconciliar teachings, along with the approved messages of Lourdes and Fatima in its developmental themes. His credentials are impeccable ...


Dr. Miravalle has asserted (in a dissertation defended at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome) the complete conformity of the Medjugorje message with Church teaching in its foundational elements. Are you suggesting a lack of due diligence on his part? Do you seriously believe the Church would have allowed Medjugorje to continue for nearly 30 years if there were serious theological errors as you contend?

Why do you insist on looking at this important phenomenon with one eye closed (and calling this "light"? You are merely an echo of the anti-medjugorje radicalists in Europe ...

[This doesn't answer my question. --RC]

I tried to post this in twice before from my iPhone and don't think it went anywhere (errors).


It is not an attack on Dr. Miravalle's credentials or diligence to ask if certain things were considered in his dissertatino or not. These are legitimate answers.

If he did include these things, which he may have addressed, I'd like to know what he had to say.

In any event, I'm very interested in getting a copy of his dissertation. I would like to read it, and I would like to see upon what sources it is based. Are there critical sources? To what extent did he quote the two bishops of Mostar? Where did he get those quotes, if he used them? Did he reference The Hidden Side of Medjugorje by Fr. Ivo Sivric, and edited by Louis Belanger? It contains over 200 pages of notes, transcripts, etc., many of which come directly from diocesan records to which he was given access.

It just seems odd that anyone can make a claim that in all of the 40,000+ messages, none has anything contrary to the faith, or even, to reason (in light of just the few examples we posted above). There are others.

Is the dissertation online, or is it available for purchase?

Meant to say above: these are legitimate questions

...zas opposed to saying these are legitimate answers

I'd also like to know if Dr. Miravalle examined the manner in which the messages get from visionary to public?

Are the messages filtered in any way?

[Let's not open up the comment box to all the possible arguments for and against. It would probably be good at some point to read or re-read Dr. Miravalle's work in the light of information gained in recent years, but that deserves its own essay on your blog perhaps or on this one. --RC]

"Catholic Answers Live" radio show will be covering Medjugorje on March 24, 2010. We welcome calls from both sides of the Medjugorje question, and pray that the Holy Father will soon act to put an end to the confusion, vitriol, and the painfully real threat to Church unity.

All this fractious division, all this misspent energy -- over an unapproved apparition. How the devil must be grinning.

Patrick Coffin
Catholic Answers Live

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on February 21, 2010 12:33 PM.

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