Why are some people angry about Medjugorje?


Let me introduce you to Mr. Mark Waterinckx, a Belgian who has become known as a critic of the alleged Medjugorje apparitions.

He started out as a great supporter of them, and he was close to the people involved. From 1984 to 1989, his confessor was Fr. Jozo Zovko, who was at times pastor of St. James Church and a spiritual advisor to the visionaries. Mark wrote for Medjugorje magazines, and went to the place 24 times. But things changed.

The other day, Mark summed up the state of the case from his point of view. His article describes the non-believers, the believers, and the fanatics. He tells some history about how the bishops tried to restrain Medjugorje, but were prevented from doing so by the war. He also places the new wave of criticism toward Medjugorje in the context of Pope Benedict's efforts to clean up cases of corruption.

[NB: The headers within the article were added by me for the sake of clarity.]

Now, after that little survey, written with Mark's characteristic bluntness, it's not surprising that he drew fire from some supporters, just as this hit piece.

Such a reaction may be understandable: if some guy took a tough stand against your favorite apparition, why wouldn't you be puzzled at his anger?

Well, there's a reason for it.

Mark Waterinckx was the first man from Belgium to make contact with Medjugorje and has made 24 pilgrimages there since 1984. He has raised thousands and thousands of dollars for Medjugorje. In the summer of 1989 he had become friends with [Fr.] Jozo Zovko [OFM] in Tihalijna Mark Waterinckx (right) and Fr. Jozo Zovko, then his confessor, in 1984when an American woman came to him and told him that Zovko had sexually assaulted her. Waterinckx went to Zovko the next day, and Zovko denied everything but was pale and in a terrible state. The incident precipitated a crisis of faith for Waterinckx, who had a conversion experience at San Damiano, which he now doubts. After praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, Waterinckx decided to walk barefoot to Tihalijna to try to get to the bottom of the matter. When he arrived in Tihalijna, Zovko had regained his composure; he laughed at Waterinckx in spite of the fact that he had severe burns on his feet. Since that time, Zovko has pretended that he doesn't know Waterinckx.

Waterinckx now claims to know 12 women who Zovko has molested including a woman whose father still conducts pilgrimages to Medjugorje, One or two months after his first encounter with the American woman, Waterinckx, seeing that nothing was being done, went to see Leonardo Orec, then curate at Medjugorje. Orec seemed unconcerned about the whole thing. "If you don't do something," Waterinckx told Orec, "I'll go to the provincial in Mostar." Eventually Waterinckx had to write to Herman Schalueck, the Franciscan general, and it was he who finally brought about Zovko's suspension a few months later on August 23, 1989. Rene Laurentin mentioned the suspension in one of his books in '89 adding that the severity of the actions must have indicated that it happened for a good reason. In spite of being suspended, Zovko continued living at Tihalijna. Zrinko Cuvalo, one [of] the Franciscans who was in Medjugorje on day one of the apparitions, was sent to keep an eye on him, but since Cuvalo had a drinking problem the eye was probably not all that observant. Zovko was disciplined a second time in 1994, this time under Bishop Peric for pertinacious disobedience.

Waterinckx had had a number of negative experiences which shook his faith beginning in 1986, but the events of 1989, particularly those associated with Jozo Zovko's behavior were so devastating that Waterinckx decided that he had to warn people. However, when he tried to warn people in articles he had written, he suddenly found that his access to the Medjugorje publications which were previously so eager to print what he wrote had been cut off. It was a pattern which would repeat itself over and over again. Only "positive" articles got published. As a result, people were kept in the dark until the truth suddenly overwhelmed their defenses, at which point they became alienated from the Church and disillusioned. Vain credulity was quickly replaced by a general skepticism on the part of people who were having difficulty coping with changes they didn't understand in the first place.

The evidence against Zovko was particularly damning, not only because he had, in effect, created the apparitions by bringing them into the church and thereby conferring on them what seemed to be Church approval, but also because the Blessed Mother herself, at least according to the testimony of Marija Pavlovic on October 21, 1981, had said, "Jozo Zovko is a saint." By March of 1994, Marija had had enough experience with the Franciscans to convince her that Franciscans like Zovko and Vlasic were no saints, but apparently not enough to get her to admit that she wasn't seeing the Gospa. "We must not like only persons like Father Jozo," Marija said in March 1994, "or the seers themselves, since they can become a disillusion [sic] to you. They are not saints." Marija had by then forgotten that she, speaking for the Blessed Mother, had said the exact opposite 13 years before. By the time her caveat of 1994 was made public, Marija Pavlovic had been caught twice in lies involving the two Franciscans who had taken control of the apparitions over the summer of 1981, but by then the Herzegovina Franciscans had shown that they were not interested in the truth -- Father Barbaric had no difficulty inviting the twice-suspended Zovko to attend the International Youth Festival in August of 1997 -- and the pilgrims were too befuddled to know the difference.

(source: E.M. Jones, "The Medjugorje Deception", South Bend, IN, 1998, pp. 164-166. I have corrected a few typographical errors.)

That's reason enough, I'd say.


[The author of the hit piece cited above drops in.]

[First, note how he tries to put words into my mouth and distract readers from the point I'm making.] So, what you're essentially saying is that Mark Waterinckx's entire crusade is more or less the result of a feeling of being jilted by Fr Jozo Zovko. [Wow: that's a pretty vile insinuation on Paul's part. God sees it, and so do the readers. Then Paul goes on to complain about the person who wrote about Waterinckx's testimony, so as to distract the reader from the testimony itself.] And unfortunately, you've quoted E Michael Jones, a known story-teller and fabricator, certainly no journalist - one who once wrote a book about the apparitions being the collective subconscious guilty projections of a genocidal race of people. Claims are far from fact. [Although the Franciscan general found the complaints against Zovko persuasive; and although Bp. Peric has offered to show Zovko the documentation he has received about Zovko's "moral life."] And even the worst facts about any personality can never, in themselves, destroy the validity of an apparition. [The CDF's 1978 document on discernment considers the moral lives of the principal persons important. Furthermore, if the entity at Medjugorje endorses a molester as "a saint", that's not good for the entity's supernatural origin.]

[Now, Paul complains vaguely about plots.] Unfortunately for you, Mark and E Michael Jones, many of us already know about deliberately orchestrated campaigns to destroy Medjugorje, such as described in this article http://www.marian-times.com/articles/medjugorje/medjugorje-franciscans.cfm [A lame batch of denials by Denis Nolan, that poor man. It deserves its own critique, so I won't go into it here.]

Jones is already shady enough, and because of his close association with Phil Kronzer, links to anti-semitism, etc, would struggle to garner much credibility.

Bottom line: Mark, if you've got something to say, SHOW US THE PROOF FIRST! And if you want us to read it, TRANSLATE IT! No more hiding behind foreign languages. [Paul doesn't say what evidence he thinks Mark should publish. Be specific, man! Or does he really not want to see it? -- Anyway, it's ironic that Paul complains about foreign languages here, where I have done plenty of translation work to make foreign material accessible to English-speaking readers, so that even Medjugorje supporters have cited my translations, and copied and re-posted them!]

Yes,Mr Chonak, I think that now it has become clear that all the 'leaks' and rumours of the Vatican being about to come down hard against Medjugorje have been shown to be totally baseless, your true agenda is showing itself. Your happiness to cooperate with and assist those who would slander Fr Jozo in the hope this will reflect negatively on Medjugorje is depressing to view.

Although not every detail is correct in M.Jones' book, I must say that every day it becomes clearer that he is right in the essence : Medjugorje is a hoax!
The fruits of this scandal :
Fr. Slavko Barbaric died in disobedience. It was forbidden for him to stay in Medjugorje
Fr. Jozo Zovko has been suspended 3x and is now banned from Medjugorje
ex-Fr. Tomislav Vlasic is even no more franciscan or priest, because laicised by pope B.XVI
These 3 franciscans were the big promoters of Med.
And all 6 'seers' have a luxurious life without working,only by their status as 'seer'
Isn't this clear enough?

I knew a woman who participated in an unauthorized excorcism in medugorje by a now defrocked priest. the effects of this situation linger on. unfortunately the excorcist of our diocese is a promoter of medugorje and our bishop( pray for him) doesn't seem to want to be bothered with it. The spiritual director of the woman has recently left the priesthood to get married without notice or permission. ( pray for him) I wish Medugorje were true but based on what I've experienced through other people who lost their faith I have doubts. ( pray for me )

It does indeed sound like this "SHRINE" has some cleaning up to do. I am sure that the only sincerity is with the pilgrims other than that
every inch of this "holy place" is questionable.

It sounds like the prime motivating forces are greed,money, lack of critical thought,control,
and stupidity.

I pray for light coming from the Holy Spirit. To me the facts about the "seers" are important. However to what extent could they be discredited by human conduct supposedly observed in some priests?

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on March 23, 2010 3:38 AM.

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