[Update: For information on the subsequent laicization of Fr. Vlasic, see this post from July 2009. –RC]
Slowly, the corruptions surrounding the Medjugorje case are being dealt with.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has investigated charges and imposed sanctions against Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, OFM. Perhaps you’ve never heard of him.
Here’s the background. In 1981, Fr. Vlasic, a friar and parish priest in Yugoslavia, was distressed at having fathered a child by a Franciscan sister and having sent the mother away from Herzegovina to live and work in Germany. Struggling with his conflicting duties, he attended a Charismatic conference in Rome. There he was given a consoling “prophecy” of a Marian visitation. When he got home to Herzegovina and found that a bunch of teenagers was claiming an apparition, he stepped into the role of their spiritual advisor, got himself assigned to their parish, and shortly became an international religious celebrity.
Undeterred by his earlier co-ed religious experience, he felt inspired to try another one in 1987: together with a German laywoman, he founded a would-be religious community in Italy for young men and women all living together, called “Queen of Peace, we are totally yours”. He claimed that our Lady had approved the idea, and he kept it going even after the bishops of the place had rejected it and the Medjugorje seer who supported him confessed publicly that the heavenly endorsement was a falsehood.
Coming forward to 2008, it seems he’s been continuing the group all these years, as the CDF’s sanctions order Fr. Vlasic to have no contact with it or its members. Complaints to the CDF have accused him of “the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders and charges contra sextum.”
Perhaps it is the last point, charges of violating the sixth commandment, that caused CDF to take up the case, as particularly grave offenses against the sixth commandment — involving the abuse of minors or involving the misuse of the sacrament of penance — are reserved to CDF for judgment.
In perhaps the easiest matter to adjudicate, Fr. Vlasic has apparently incurred the penalty of interdict because of his refusal to return to the Franciscans and reside with them.
Moreover, CDF indicates there is a “suspicion of heresy and schism, as well as scandalous acts contra sextum, aggravated by mystical motivations” — so CDF has forbidden him to hear confessions, to preach, to conduct financial business; and has ordered him to undergo some theological training and be evaluated on his teaching.
At the request of CDF, the diocese of Mostar has published the Congregation’s statement on the case, and it follows here.
The Canonical status of Rev. Father Tomislav Vlašić, OFM
The Bishop, 2008-08-31
The CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH with its letter prot. 144/1985-27164 of 30 May 2008, has authorized me as the local Bishop of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno to inform the diocesan community of the canonical status of Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, the founder of the association “Kraljice mira potpuno Tvoji – po Mariji k Isusu” – (Queen of Peace, totally Yours – Through Mary to Jesus).
The letter signed by the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Angelo Amato, states the following:
“Within the context of the phenomenon Medjugorje, this Dicastery is studying the case of Father Tomislav VLASIC OFM, originally from that region and the founder of the association ‘Kraljice mira potpuno Tvoji – po Mariji k Isusu’.
On 25 January 2008, through a properly issued Decree, this Dicastery imposed severe cautionary and disciplinary measures on Fr. Vlasic.
The non-groundless news that reached this Congregation reveals that the religious priest in question did not respond, even partially, to the demands of ecclesiastical obedience required by the very delicate situation he finds himself in, justifying himself by citing his zealous activity in the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno and surrounding territories, in initiating religious activities, buildings, etc.
Since Fr. Vlasic has fallen into a censure of interdict latae sententiae reserved to this Dicastery, I kindly ask Your Excellency, for the good of the faithful, to inform the community of the canonical status of Fr. Vlasic and at the same time to report on the situation in question…”.
This regards the fact that the same Congregation of the Holy See applied ecclesiastical sanctions against Rev. Father Tomislav Vlašić, through a Decree of the Congregation (prot. 144/1985) of 25 January 2008, signed by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect, and by Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation along with the “Concordat cum originali” of 30 January 2008, verified by Msgr. John Kennedy, Official of the Congregation.
The Decree was handed over to Rev. Fr. Tomislav Vlašić in the General Curia of the OFM in Rome on 16 February 2008 and the notification was co-signed by the Minister General of the Franciscan Minor Order, Father José R. Carballo, the Ordinary of Fr. Vlašić.
The Decree of the Congregation mentions that Rev. Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, a cleric of the Franciscan Minor Order – the founder of the association ‘Kraljice mira potpuno Tvoji – po Mariji k Isusu’ and who is involved in the “phenomenon Medjugorje” – has been reported to the Congregation “for the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders and charges contra sextum.”
Having studied the case, the Congregation during its special Congress decreed the following sanctions against Rev. Fr. Tomislav Vlasic:
“1. Mandatory residence in one of the houses of the Order in the region of Lombardy (Italy) to be determined by the Minister General of the Order and to be realized within thirty days from the time of the legitimate notification of this decree;
2. All contacts with the “Kraljice Mira…” community and with its members are prohibited;
3. Any actions involving juridical contracts and administrative organizations, whether canonical or civil, effected without the written permission ad actum of the Minister General of the Order and under his responsibility are prohibited;
4. A mandatory course of theological-spiritual formation, with a final evaluation along with a prior recognitio of this Congregation, and a solemn professio fidei;
5. The following are also prohibited: activities involving the ‘care of souls’, preaching, public appearances, while the faculty to hear confessions is also revoked up until the conclusion of the terms described in the previous number, barring an evaluation of the case.
An additional sanction of a latae sententiae interdict (can. 1332) reserved to the Apostolic See is adjoined in the case of the violation of the mandatory residence (n. 1) and the other prohibited acts mentioned in n. 3 and n. 5.
Fr. Vlasic is forewarned that in the case of stubbornness a juridical penal process will begin with the aim of still harsher sanctions, not excluding dismissal, having in mind the suspicion of heresy and schism, as well as scandalous acts contra sextum, aggravated by mystical motivations.
Fr. Vlasic remains under the direct jurisdiction of the Minister General of the Order of Minor Franciscans, who shall see to his vigilance through the local Superior or another Delegate”.
All the priests, religious and faithful in the Dioceses of Mostar-Duvno and Trebnje-Mrkan, as well as all those concerned “in the pertinent territories”, are hereby informed on the current canonical status of Rev. Father Tomislav Vlašić.
With the sentiments of my highest consideration,
+ Ratko Perić, Bishop
Fr. Ante Luburić, Chancellor
[Update: I’ve edited my words above to correctly state the sequence of events: Fr. Vlasic was transferred to Medjugorje after the apparition claims began. –RC]