(Translated from the German-language Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost. Thanks to reader budapestinensis for spotting a translation error on my part. The corrected word is marked in red below.)
(UPDATE 2/9: A Dutch translation of the interview is now available on-line at In Caelo et In Terra.)
(UPDATE 2/18: Translations into other languages are welcome. Bienvenidos, lectores de Panorama Católico internacional.)
(UPDATE 2/22: Fr. Hauke has responded to critics from the Medjugorje movement.)
The Medjugorje phenomenon and the discernment of spirits: a conversation with dogmatic theologian Manfred Hauke
For years there has been discussion of the phenomenon of the alleged “Marian apparitions” that took their origin in Medjugorje: Does the Mother of God really appear to the seers who originated in Medjugorje? Or are the experiences parapsychological fruits of the seers’ unconscious? Are they a deceptive manipulation or even a trick of evil forces? According to reports, there are plans at the Vatican to have the Medjugorje phenomenon conclusively investigated by a commission. Regina Einig asked the chairman of the German Society for Mariology (Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Mariologie), professor of dogmatics and patristics at Lugano, Manfred Hauke, about the subject.
Wherein can we find the theological meaning of Marian apparitions?
Appearances of the Mother of God belong to the charism of prophecy, in which the mysterious working of the Spirit of God comes to expression. St. Paul emphasizes: “Do not quench the Spirit! Do not despise prophetic utterances!” (1 Thess. 5:19-20). The book of Proverbs already emphasizes: “Without prophecy, the people become demoralized” (Prov. 29:18). According to Thomas Aquinas, prophetic revelations after the Apostolic era are not given in order to spread a new teaching of faith, but serve to guide human action. Theology speaks here of “private revelations”, inasmuch as the content conveyed does not belong to general and public revelation, which closed with the Apostolic era. “Private”, then, means a reference to an individual person, a group or even the whole Church in a particular historical situation. “Private revelations”, or (better) prophetic revelations help us to recognize the “signs of the times” (Lk. 12:56) and act accordingly. Following Pope Benedict XIV, the recognition of a private revelation by the responsible bishop is not the basis of any duty to believe, in the strict sense (fides divina), but it states that one can approach the apparitions with a purely human faith (fides humana) based on reasoning. So no Catholic is obliged to believe that the Mother of God appeared in Lourdes and Fatima; but the Church states that the reports of the apparitions are worthy of belief and a Catholic may believe in them and cultivate a corresponding spirituality. Yes, the Church has even set several memorial days in the liturgical calendar and issued corresponding Mass formulas. Prophetic revelations are not the normal case of Christian life, but an exception: “Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe” (Jn. 20:29). The Catechism of the Catholic Church stresses with St. John of the Cross: In Jesus Christ, the eternal divine Word, God the Father has shared everything with us (cf. Hebr. 1:1-12). “Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty” (CCC 65).
Is there really a possibility of apparitions that convey to a person something that does not originate in his own psyche?
According to one widespread theory, which goes back to Karl Rahner primarily, all apparitions are “imaginative visions”. According to that theory, the content of the “apparition” has a psychogenic origin, even if it can be made possible by a divine impulse. That is, God does not work in this world immediately, but only through created secondary causes (especially through the human psyche). In other words: whether someone experiences a vision of a “ship’s goblin”, or of his own stepmother, or of the Virgin Mary depends on the subjective psychological disposition, perhaps on unconscious mental processes, and not on objective circumstances that encounter the person from outside himself. In such a theory the question of authenticity or inauthenticity of Marian apparitions is no longer germane, in the last analysis. Against this, I would stress that to exclude the unmediated intervention of God in this world is intellectually not tenable, because then the original creation out of nothing, which goes back to God alone, would be impossible. Besides this, there are unequivocally witnessed phenomena, in which the content of what was seen comes from an extra-mental experience: for example, in the Marian apparitions at Knock in Ireland in 1879, 15 people saw Mary with other saints, and an altar, in pouring rain; the place where the saints stood remained dry despite the pouring rain. Such an event is not explicable by Rahner’s subjectivistic proposal. We must always consider the subjective factor: even in genuine revelations errors can intrude, when human imagination adds something or when a statement is interpreted wrongly. And there is naturally the phenomenon of fantasies of a morbid origin, or the possibility of deception. If both are excluded, standing in the center of the interpretation of apparitions is the evaluation of its extra-mental origin: the intervention of God and heavenly personages, or instead evil forces.
What forms of visions or apparitions can be distinguished?
“Apparition” means, in its theological definition, the intervention of a heavenly being, experienced by the external senses or by the faculty of imagination. The concept “vision”, in contrast, places emphasis on the subjective components, and therefore on the perception of an event which is by nature not visible. Among them, there can be “bodily visions”, if the approaching object is perceived with the visual sense; “imaginative” visions (which only manifest themselves in the faculty of imagination), or “intellectual” visions (which show themselves in thought without conveying a sensory impression).
Does the Medjugorje phenomenon fit, in your view, in the line of the great Marian apparition sites such as Lourdes, Fatima, or Guadalupe?
Medjugorje has, in common with the apparition sites you mentioned, which have been recognized by the Church, a formidable stream of pilgrims, who pray there, seek conversion, or renew their faith. I myself was impressed on a visit to Medjugorje in 1985 with the numerous confessions; in one of them, someone told me: “My last confession was before the Second World War.” Also a fair number of religious vocations is connected with the pilgrimage, the believing community, and the life of prayer that can be experienced in those places.
On the other side, there are obvious differences. Among those are the number of visionary phenomena and the miracles recognized by the Church as worthy of belief. In Guadalupe there were four appearances of Mary (December 9-12, 1531), which were made credible by one of the greatest miracles in Church history, namely the impression of the image of Mary on the mantel of the seer. In the following ten years eight million Indios converted. The authenticity of the apparitions was recognized in 1566 after a canonical process and the seer was canonized in 2002. In Lourdes eighteen Marian appearances were counted, which took place within a half year (Feb. 11 – July 16, 1858). The messages connected with them concentrated on prayer and penance. They were made credible from the beginning by miracles, which stood up to a thoroughly critical medical and ecclesiastical examination. The bishop’s recognition (1862) is connected with the personal credibility of the seer, Bernadette Soubirous, who entered a convent after her encounter with the Mother of God and was canonized in 1933. The events of Fatima comprise six appearances of Mary (May to October 1917), which were preceded by three apparitions of angels (1916) and were extended through apparitions to the seer Lucia in Pontevedra (1925-26) and Tuy (1929-30). The miracle of the sun in Fatima (October 13, 1917) happened in front of about 50,000 people. The Marian apparitions of 1917 were recognized as worthy of belief in 1930, and the messages to Lucia at Pontevedra and Tuy in 1939. Two of the seers of 1917 (Francisco and Jacinta, who died as children) were beatified in 2000, while the inaugural process for the recently deceased Sister Lucia began in 2008. So Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Fatima are distinguished by a very limited number of Marian appearances, by a clearly outlined message, through the holiness, recognized by the Church, of the seers. and by the impressive confirmation on the grounds of obvious miracles.
In contrast to those, the Medjugorje phenomenon presents itself differently: the number of alleged appearances must reach over 40,000; the messages connected with them are especially numerous and raise some critical questions; regarding the credibility of the seers, there is a shadow in a few cases from the phenomenon of a provable lie; a miracle recognized by the Church does not exist; the miraculous signs predicted by the seers as confirmations of Medjugorje, have not been observed yet. The Portuguese Cardinal Saraiva-Martins, for years prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, was recently asked about the parallels between Medjugorje and Fatima. He gave the opinion: While the shepherd children of Fatima showed themselves to be humble and chose silence, these virtues are not obvious in Medjugorje; while Sister Lucia entered the cloister, no one in Medjugorje has chosen consecrated life [one of the seers instead married an American beauty queen; this is of course no sin, but it is also no especial sign of a supernatural influence through Marian apparitions]; Sister Lucia put down the secrets entrusted to her by Mary in writing, while the visionaries of Medjugorje keep them for themselves. “No, I see nothing in common between Fatima and Medjugorje” (www.papanews.it, January 15, 2010).
Many people regard Medjugorje as the beginning of their conversion. Is there a theological logic of “good fruits”, which allows for conclusions of an experience of grace or the authenticity of the phenomenon?
Good fruits alone are still no confirmation for the supernatural origin of a visionary phenomenon. In medicine placebo therapy also sometimes brings good results, but they aren’t to be credited to the medicine as such. And even at a place, at which trickery happens or even the devil acts, it is possible that divine grace acts and people convert and find God. In the criteria for the supernatural credibility of Marian apparitions the fruits are to be connected with the examination of the phenomenon itself and its confirmation through miracles. In Medjugorje there are, in addition, not only good fruits, but also a whole number of negative consequences that are connected with the phenomenon of the apparitions. One of those is the encouragement given to two Franciscan friars, who were urged by the seer Vicka in the name of the “Gospa” to set themselves against the canonically legitimate directives of the local bishop regarding their pastoral activity. At the repeated exhortations of the “Gospa” to disobedience (13 times), the ordinary at the time, Bishop Zanic, who had been originally inclined favorably to the Medjugorje phenomenon, reacted with very understandable rejection.
In his reaction to Cardinal Schönborn’s visit Bishop Peric draws attention to further fruits that are connected with the same exhortation to disobedience: at present there are in the Mostar-Duvno diocese nine ex-Franciscans who were suspended from ministry, but are carrying on in usurped parishes as legal priests; certain Franciscans invited an Old-Catholic deacon in 2001, who presented himself as an “Archbishop” and “confirmed” over 700 young people in the usurped parishes, which a deacon can never validly do; two of the recalcitrant friars invited an Old-Catholic bishop from Switzerland with the request to consecrate them as bishops, which the Old-Catholic bishop, however, declined. Two friars, who were closely connected with the beginning of the Medjugorje phenomenon, were disciplined by the Church: Jozo Zovko (the pastor during the first months of the apparition, June-August 1981) was forbidden by his superiors to have any contact with Medjugorje; Tomislav Vlasic, who worked in Medjugorje from 1981-1988, was released from his priestly duties by the Holy See in 2008. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave the reason, among other things, of offenses against the sixth commandment, exacerbated by alleged “mystical motivations”. The friar had in fact, at the direction of the “Gospa” and the seer Marija Pavlovic, conducted a “mystical marriage” with a lady from Germany in the framework of a mixed religious community. This unusual connection between personal tendencies and mysticism has a longer back-story: in 1976, and therefore before his involvement in Medjugorje, the friar impregnated a religious sister in a mixed “Franciscan community”, sent her with pious exhortations to Germany and denied his paternity. This case became known to Bishop Zanic and Cardinal Ratzinger in 1984. Vlasic himself brought the “word of wisdom” spoken to him at a charismatic conference in Rome (May 6, 1981) with him to Medjugorje: “Fear not, I will send you my Mother.” An Irish Charismatic woman [Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C. –RC] asserted that from Vlasic streams of living water would flow. The influence of such a figure on the beginning period of the Medjugorje phenomenon poses a great number of critical questions. Grave moral accusations are also placed against Zovko, the pastor in the early months, and long-time spiritual confidant of the group of seers (E.M. Jones, The Medjugorje Deception, 2001).
Medjugorje is often cited as an “oasis of peace” during the civil war at the beginning of the ’90s. Yet there are also uncomfortable facts that disturb the harmonious view. When revenue from the pilgrimage industry went down in 1992, there were press reports in the wake of a violent conflict among three family clans that served pilgrimage businesses. In a “cleansing action” about 140 inhabitants of Medjugorje were killed, while 600 others had to flee. “This was all kept secret from the the outside world, since it naturally could not be brought into accord with belief in the Queen of Peace” (R. Franken, “A Journey to Medjugorje“, 2000, p, 45). Thus there are not only good fruits to the Medjugorje phenomenon.
Do you see the grace of God at work in Medjugorje?
When people convert, pray rightly, receive the sacraments, and renew their Christian life, without a doubt the grace of God is at work. This is valid for every place in the world and certainly also for Medjugorje.
Which criteria play a decisive role from the Church’s point of view for the recognition of the supernatural character of apparitions?
An apparition can only be evaluated as supernatural, when it is ruled out securely that natural influences or the interference of the devil are responsible for it. These things must be investigated: (1) The seers: are they mentally healthy? Are illusion, suggestion, and hallucination ruled out? Are the seers upright and morally straightforward? Do they show a greater zeal in their life of faith than before the visionary event? Are they obedient and humble with respect to the competent representatives of the Church? Mental illness, lying, immoral acts in connection with the visions and lack of humility are extremely negative criteria. Other questions pose themselves: (2) about the content of the phenomena: do they correspond to the Catholic faith? Are any of the utterances ridiculous or unworthy of God? Prophecies must, in order to be proven supernatural, refer to future events that depend on human freedom, or respectively, on the mysterious workings of God. Another positive criterion is the disclosure of secrets of the human heart. Also important are (3) the fruits of the events, in which the goodness of their origin unfolds (cf. Mt. 7: 15-20). Genuine apparitions strengthen the seer in virtue, above all in humility and patience, while false revelations produce pride and disobedience. The decisive criterion (4) is the miracle, which must have an unequivocal connection with the apparition.
Can the devil also work miracles?
A miracle, understood as the unmediated intervention of God in the empirical world, is provable as such, when it surpasses the powers of creatures. Among the clearest examples of these is the resurrection of the dead. It is not simple to distinguish them from the “miracles” of evil spirits, whose power surpasses human ability. As created beings, it is simply impossible for them to bring about a creation out of nothing (which pertains to an infinite power). They also cannot make predictions that depend on the inner freedom of man, because the devil has no power over the innermost part of man. This is made clear in cases of possession: the demons can overpower the body of the possessed person, but when they speak out of him during the crisis invoked by exorcism, the consciousness of the human being is normally “turned off”. God, in contrast, knows how to draw the human will toward Himself from the inside, without forcing it.
For the devil there is no problem, for example, in making statues cry, calling forth ecstasies and stigmata, to manipulate cameras, to make people speak in tongues, or produce marvelous scents. Because of his surpassing knowledge of the natural world he can also, to a limited degree, make assertions about the future, in cases when the influences of the already recognizable factors is extrapolated. He can also reveal hidden things that are unknown to a person (with the exception of secrets of the innermost part of man). A known example for the working of the devil in pseudo-mystical phenomena is, say, in Spain in the 16th century, the life of the religious sister Magdalena of the Cross (1487-1560). From the age of five she had plenty of ecstasies and visions. She tells the story that Saints Dominic and Francis had prepared her for receiving her first Communion. Three months before being granted permission to receive the Eucharist, she is receiving Communion daily “in a mystical manner”, in which every time she emits a scream. At the age of 17 she enters a convent of the Poor Clares in Cordoba. She receives stigmata and clairvoyantly knows how to find hidden objects. At her perpetual profession the nuns are surprised at the lengthy presence of a dove, which is taken to be a sign of the Holy Spirit. Karl I, the king of Spain, has Magdalena bless, among other things, the royal standard and the clothing of his son Philip. Cardinal Cisneros and numerous other princes of the Church are also impressed. Even the Holy Father personally asked the Spanish Poor Clare for her intercession. Only a few reflective contemporaries such as St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. John of Avila remain skeptical. Their doubts are confirmed when the Poor Clares start to wonder about the lax leadership of their superior and elect a successor. The “miracle nun” was then visited with convulsions. When the exorcism undertaken thereafter exposes a demonic presence, the Inquisition undertakes a trial against Magdalena. In it she testifies that in the year 1504 she made a forty-year pact with the devil, which had reached its end in 1544. Her paranormal abilities ceased. After she abjured her errors, she does penance for several years, she can no longer be elected to any offices in the Order, and lives an exemplary life until her death. In other words: the devil can succeed to make fools of the highest princes of the Church for decades long. Such an example warns us to caution in the face of present-day happenings.
How do you evaluate the “messages” of the “Gospa”?
According to the study of a Croatian psychologist and theologian the published “messages” are “mostly… simple texts, exhortations to peace, prayer, penance, and conversion, in which the mind and the environment of the seers are clearly reflected” (I. Zeljko, Marian apparitions…, 2004, p. 315). Among the so-called ten secrets, of which the seers only give hints, they specify as confirmation for the Marian apparitions a permanent and visible sign on the hill of the first apparition. The fulfillment of this sign, announced in 1981, is still outstanding after nearly thirty years, quite in contrast to Guadalupe and Fatima, where an obvious sign appeared in the year of the apparitions itself (the image of the Mother of God on the “tilma”, or respectively, the miracle of the sun). From that penetrating research, the filtering of the “messages” by the seers or by the priests connected with them was named as a problem. The problematic assertions are often only known to critical source research through obscure publications (in part only in Croatian, English, and French), and are withheld from the broader public.
Particularly in the early period of the phenomenon there were several very unusual messages. According to a tape-recording transcript from June 30, 1981, the seers reported, according to the assertion of the “Gospa”, the end of the appearances would be in three days (on July 3), but they then went on. At the sixth apparition (June 29, 1981), the “Gospa” announced the healing of a four-year-old boy, but it never happened. Furthermore, the “Gospa” informed them (May 25, 1984) that her two-thousandth birthday would fall on August 5, 1984. Would the real Mother of God propagate a birthday celebration for herself, that sets itself apart from the date of the liturgical feast (September 8)? If the given date were to be correct historically, then Mary would have been born in the year 16 B.C. Since, because of the historical data known to us (census, astronomical conjunction), the birth of Christ is to be set at 7 B.C., then Mary would be about 9 years old at the birth of Christ. Besides untruths and ridiculous things, some erroneous teachings are also presented alongside them: Fr. Vlasic wrote on May 8, 1982, in the Chronicle he authored, that according to the utterance of the “Gospa” the Saints in Heaven are present there not only with the soul, but also with the body. Here on display is the erroneous teaching, widely spread today, but condemned by the Church, of “resurrection in death”, in which awaiting the future resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ is rendered nugatory. In other words: alongside plenty of catechetical platitudes that are found with notably more substance in the Bible and the Catechism, the messages contain elements that speak clearly against a supernatural origin of the phenomenon.
Devotees and critics of Medjugorje both claim the duration of the phenomenon as an argument for their position. With reason?
The duration of the phenomenon, considered by itself, speaks neither for nor against the authenticity of the apparitions. In 2008 the bishop of Gap and Embrun recognized the supernatural character of the Marian apparitions of Notre-Dame du Laus (southeastern France), which took place from 1664 to 1718, and thus comprised a time-span of 54 years. The seer, 17 years old at the beginning of the events, saw the apparitions daily for four months. Later she had mystical encounters with Christ or with the Mother of God only from time to time. In any case, apart from the four months in 1664, there was no regularity of the visionary phenomenon as at Medjugorje. Where the extraordinary event of visions becomes regular, even a daily normal case, and “monthly messages” of the Mother of God are announced in advance on radio programs, that brings on skepticism. A plethora of messages is typical of spiritistic phenomena, as, for example, the thirteen volumes of the Canadian seer Marie-Paule Giguere, which the French theologian Rene Laurentin, a great promoter of Medjugorje, well-meaningly found worthy (in them the seer, who drew her insights from a crystal ball, presents herself as the reincarnation of the Mother of God, who crushes the Serpent’s head and would be canonized in her own lifetime; one of her sons would become Pope, and another “Teacher of the Nations”; the movement founded by Marie-Paule, in the meantime, was condemned by the Church; cf. J. Boufflet, Faussaires de Dieu, 2000, pp. 562-570). In this earthly pilgrimage, the believer does not live by seeing, but by hearing the Word of God. Only in the joy of Heaven will faith be replaced by sight.
In evaluating a phenomenon so multifaceted as Medjugorje, does the Church balance pastoral aspects and issues of Church law against one another? Or is there in the end a dogmatic resolution above all else?
As long as it is not unambiguously determined from the aspect of Church law, that the “Marian apparitions” connected with Medjugorje are not of a supernatural character (constat de non supernaturalitate), pilgrimage activity is tolerated on the private level. Only public pilgrimages conducted by Church institutions are forbidden. At present the verdict of the Yugoslav bishops’ conference from 1991 is still valid, according to which a supernatural origin is not established (non constat de supernaturalitate). This means that the “proofs” advanced by many devotees of Medjugorje for its credibility (light phenomena, healings, conversions) were not considered convincing. Besides that, Bishop Ratko Peric stated on September 1, 2007: “The Church, from the local level to the highest, from the beginnings to the present day, has repeated clearly and consistently: Non constat de supernaturalitate! This means in practice: no pilgrimages are allowed, because they would presume the supernatural origin of the apparitions; there is no shrine of the Madonna and there are no authentic messages, revelations, or true visions! This is the state of things today. What will be tomorrow? We will leave that in the hands of God and under the protection of our dear Lady.” Thus the bishop. Purely theoretically judgment is open for a future recognition (constat de supernaturalitate) or a final rejection (constat de non supernaturalitate). But until then, what the bishop said in a sermon in Medjugorje on June 6, 2009, and which he has documented on his internet site, remains valid: “The Church has not recognized the “apparitions of Medjugorje” (http://cbismo.com/index.php?mod=vijest&vijest=416; Il fenomeno di Medjugorje, 3a parte, Službeni vjesnik, 2/2009, pp. 190-194).
For pastoral care it is important, to lead the renewal of faith created by the stream of pilgrims to Medjugorje into the roads of the Church, and not let the devotees of the phenomenon fall into the void. Marian devotees would be well advised to concentrate on trustworthy prophetic revelations, approved and well accepted by the whole Church, so that they would deal with, say, Guadalupe, Lourdes, or Fatima. Questionable and unequivocally false phenomena should be presented as such. Therefore it is not sufficient, in my estimation, to pragmatically recognize Medjugorje as a “place of prayer”, without reaching a judgment on the events that lie at its basis. German bishops also reacted against this approach: non-recognition of alleged “apparitions” along with simultaneous recognition of the place as an official “shrine” (for example, with respect to Heroldsbach and Marienfried). If a new investigative commission reaches a recognition that certain characteristics indissolubly connected with the phenomenon of the apparitions speak against their authenticity, then the love of truth demands that this be made known with all clarity and that Catholic Christians be warned expressly against “pilgrimages”. The principle is valid here: “bonum ex integra causa; malum ex quovis defectu” (“Good comes from an undamaged cause; bad from some kind of defect”). If a drink is mixed with rat poison, it’s not sufficient to point out that it contains only two percent strychnine with 98 percent water: the whole drink has to be poured out. If the Church does not, herself, finally lance the boil that is connected with Medjugorje, then anti-Catholic groups will do the job and with pleasure. And then the patience extended to the enthusiasm of Medjugorje could become a boomerang that attacks the Church from inside, if the groups previously connected with the Bosnian “place of pilgrimage”, finally disillusioned, should turn against the Faith and the Church. And that could also explain that the devil takes “good fruits” as part of doing his business in Medjugorje: if he can bring forth a vastly greater harm to the Church in the end. Pastoral love must not be separated from the love of truth.
[A hat tip to kreuz.net, whose story based on this interview led me to look up the original.]
An extremely lucid exposition. You are to be commended for making these insights available to the public. Thank you.
Probably the best article Ive read on the happenings at Medjugorje!
Very interesting. Also what he says about Heroldsbach and Marienfried
Nothing new or newsworthy here. Just another excuse for those who hate Medjugorje to publish more of the same rhetoric. One can find other Mariologists who support the Medjugorje phenomenon. I find it very telling that “Catholic” Light won’t publish interviews with these other Mariologists to provide a balanced perspective for readers.
Who are these Mariologists?
Timothy, you must be a new reader of Catholic Light; otherwise, you might know already that I translated an interview with Fr. René Laurentin and published it on this site in October 2008. He said some interesting things, and I encourage readers to visit the page if they have not had the opportunity to do so.
This new interview with Fr. Hauke is truly valuable, not only for his expert presentation of the principles involved in discernment of apparitions, but also for the specific facts he cites about Medjugorje and other cases. Some of the information he mentions about Medjugorje is news to me, although I have followed the issue for 25 years, and I expect it will be news to most English-speaking readers.
However, I must say that I am personally offended by your scare-quotes [“Catholic” Light], which are an unacceptable insult to my Catholic identity. I have banned you from making further comments.
as stated it is *extremely* difficult to find reliable information about this. I have a Catholic gift/book store nearby that sponsors trips to Medjugore, and i purchased one of the books , sadly i found it ……. extremely unreadable.
In fact, as a convert who owned a new age book and gift store for many years, i dare say i found it … familiar.
i know from experience that many people can find value in places you wouldn’t expect, and yes the Grace of God can find you, even in a new age bookstore….. but i , personally, do not find the situation at Medjugore at all convincing. It sounds VERY much like the spiritism that i was more familiar with in my prior life.
in my opinion the most damning thing that can be said about the apparitions, and the seers is the exhortation to disobedience.
for a good alternative, look at St Pio of Petrelcina, who even when unjustly ordered to cease offering public Mass, when persecuted and mistreated by his own church, he humbly and will full obedience complied.
I am copying this sentence “Appearances of the Mother of God belong to the charism of prophecy.” So the point in a Mother of God’ appearance is the message it has to be transmitted. It is my conviction that a repented sinner can graciously receive an appearance or vision on the Mother of God as an assurance that his/her sin has been forgiven (a capital sin and very embarrassing to confess) and this because there is no confessor who wants to hear his confession because of many fringe pastoral reasons, let’s say it that way. It is also my conviction that a capital sin when commited produces a spiritual force that urges the sinner to commited it again, if the sinner because of the social shame that the sin brings upon him/her denies to sin again a fight is set forth and the Mother of God assures the sinner that her Son is with the sinner.
I am a mexican so I am going to translate this into Spanish because of obvious lack of knowledge of the English language.
Copio esta frase “ Las apariciones de la Madre de Dios pertenecen al carisma de la profesía.”. De modo que el punto en una aparición de la Madre de Dios es el mensaje que habrá que transmitir. Estoy convencido de que un pecador arrepentido puede recibir la gracia de una aparición o visión de la Madre de Dios para asegurarle que su pecado ha sido perdonado ( un pecado capital y muy vergonzoso de confesar) y esto debido a que no hay un confesor que quiera oirlo en confesión debido a la muchas razones de tipo administrativo, digámoslo de esa manera. También estoy convencido de que un pecado capital cuando se comete genera un fuerza espiritual que urge al pecador a cometerlo de nueva cuenta, si el pecador, debido a la vergüenza social que el pecado le acarrea se niega a cometerlo de nuevo se establece una lucha y la Madre de Dios le asegura al pecador que su Hijo está con el pecador.
Thank you Richard! I’ve seen all logic go out the window when it comes to Medjugorje. Facts are facts and they are well presented here. God Bless You for being an advocate of truth and not one of sensibilities or emotions. Timothy’s reaction was very common of those who refuse to accept reasonable facts regarding all of this. Is Timothy’s behavior a fruit of Medjugorje? Is disobedience to the local ordinary a fruit? Maybe I should go to Mass from now on at a local SSPX Chapel because of the fruits of conversion and confession that come out of it! One can’t use that fruits argument when there are facts that support otherwise. Let’s pray for all of those that are having a hard time contemplating the fullness of truth and for those who remain disobedient to local ordinaries.
Hmmm. It’s an interesting article, but I found this amusing:
…because of the historical data known to us (folk tales, astronomical connections), the birth of Christ is to be set at 7 B.C…
I don’t know of a single credible Biblical scholar who says we can fix the birth of Christ in 7 B.C. For an esteemed theologian to dismiss Medjugorje because a message conflicts with “folk tales” and “astronomical connections” is a bit ironic.
[See the comment by budapestinensis below, which points out that the term “folk tales” was a translation error on my part, now corrected. I’m sorry for any confusion! Also, the proper astronomical term is “conjunction”, so I have made that improvement as well.–RC]
Also, I don’t really see the sharp distinction between Medjugorje and Fatima with respect to signs and wonders. The world waited many decades for the revealing of the Fatima secrets…and frankly I think we are still waiting for some of them to be fulfilled, unless we set a low bar for the “conversion of Russia” and “period of peace.” And, though it is often claimed that 50,000 or 70,000 people witnessed Fatima’s miracle of the sun, what I’ve actually seen in terms of primary sources is the testimony of a handful of witnesses, published by Fatima promoters years after the event. I think we could find the same number of testimonies from Medjugorje…or even (the obviously fraudlent) Conyers for that matter, where thousands and thousands used to gather to await messages and stare at the sun.
Personally I think Rahner’s theory about the psychogenic origin of at least most of these events has the most to recommend it. Church approval then doesn’t equate to separating “real” apparitions from psychogenic ones; rather approved apparitions are those that can be harnessed and cultivated for the good of the Church.
For what it’s worth, Wikipedia appears to have a press report from 12 days after the “miracle of the sun”, showing more than a handful of people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Newspaper_fatima.jpg
But nobody is obliged to believe in Fatima, so you have every right to take a skeptical position about it, if you think it’s implausible.
Hi. We don’t need to look further and look for apparitions because the mass itself which has the greatest miracle of all which is the bread becoming God itself even though the bread is still bread (and that takes great faith which is believing without proof to believe that). It’s safer not to believe apparitions nor support it and it’s safer to wait for the Vatican to say it’s worthy of belief.
In response to Rick’s comment on “folk tales”, I would like to point out that the original German has “Volkszählung” meaning “counting of the people”, i.e. CENSUS in idiomatic English, which Mr Chonak might have mistaken for “VolksERzählung”, i.e. “tale of the people (Volk)” or “folk tale”. With that word corrected, the author’s historical argument becomes unobjectionable.
[Thank you for catching this mistake in my translation! I have corrected it in the text above.–RC]
Rick also misses the point that he was talking about how the birthday was altered from the date in which the BVM’s birthday is celebrated liturgically.
The Church does not change liturgical calendars because an unapproved apparition has made a declaration. The date it is celebrated in Medjugorje was changed against ecclesial permission. The bishop, who said “no” to the change, did so not because he was trying to be mean, but because he doesn’t have the authority to change such a thing. But, disobedience in Medjugorje ruled, and that date is treated as if it is acceptable as the BVM’s birthday.
Thanks for the comments.
The translation correction makes Hauke’s point less ironic. Still, it is far from a matter of faith (or even the majority scholarly opinion!) that Christ was born in 7 BC, so dismissing a message simply because it conflicts with this date seems a bit of a stretch.
Of course the Church has authority to set the date for the liturgical celebration of Mary’s Nativity, etc. I don’t know that it is disobedient to have private devotions on another date as well, but I’m not a canon law expert. In any case I’m not justifying disobedience or even really defending Medjugorje — just pointing out some problems for its critics.
Richard, regarding Fatima I don’t doubt that 50,000 or so people were present in the Cova da Iria. I do question whether all or most of them actually claimed to witness the miracle. Large crowds also gathered in Conyers, Georgia, and could have been photographed pointing at the sky during one of Nancy Fowler’s “apparitions.” Some would have even claimed to see prodigies.
I’m not dismissing Fatima. I’m just pointing out that ambiguities remain, and were part of it from the beginning. Fatima has its schisms and disobediences too (eg Father Gruner). It has long-delayed secrets, and some that seem to have been only partially fulfilled. And I don’t know that the evidence of the “Miracle of the Sun” is as overwhelming as is sometimes assumed; I think investigation of the primary sources would reveal conflicting accounts and lead to the conclusion that much of what was experienced was subjective in nature. If someone can show me a complete secular newspaper account describing the Miracle and published within a few days of its occurrence I’d rethink this.
The birthday issue is much bigger than disobedience.
For example, when the Church set up December 25th for the birth of Christ, She knew that there can be no certainty over the exact date of his birth. However, it is when the Church celebrates it liturgically.
It makes no sense for the Blessed Mother to challenge her own birthday through an apparition, then to incite people to follow that date when even the local bishop doesn’t have the ability to change it.
The disobedience is secondary. Primary is that the alleged apparition would even attempt to change it.
This says nothing of the odd ways that it was arrived at through the various publications issued by Medjugorje promoters themselves, like Vlasic and Laurentin.
RE: Of course the Church has authority to set the date for the liturgical celebration of Mary’s Nativity, etc. I don’t know that it is disobedient to have private devotions on another date as well, but I’m not a canon law expert.
The village did not simply celebrate the feast of the Nativity of Mary on another date, nor did they simply claim Mary’s birthday is on another date and therefrom have devotions on that day. Rather, what Medjugorje did was transfer the Nativity of Mary.
Canon 1244 It is only for the supreme ecclesiastical authority to establish, transfer, and suppress feast days and days of penance common to the universal Church, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1246, §2.
Mary is not the supreme ecclesiastical authority. According to Sacred Tradition, she is both the Mother of the Church and a member of the Church, and, as a member of the Church, she is bound to obey the Church just as you and I as members of the Church are bound to obey the Church. It is the reason why Our Lady of Guadelupe had St. Diego ask the bishop for a shrine, why Our Lady of Lourdes had St. Bernadette ask the priests for a shrine, why Our Lady of Fatima had Lucia and Bl. Francisco and Jacinta ask their pastor for a shrine, and why Our Lady of Laus told Bl. Benoite to obey the Church and to ask the vicar-general for a shrine.
§1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.
§2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.
SECTION I. THE SUPREME AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH (Cann. 330 – 367)
Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.
It makes no sense for the Blessed Mother to challenge her own birthday through an apparition, then to incite people to follow that date when even the local bishop doesn’t have the ability to change it.
Diane, frankly I agree with you. The problem is, such oddities and errors are not unknown in approved apparition-events or in the lives of canonized saints: “The revelations of some holy women canonized by the Apostolic See whose saying and writings in rapture and derived from rapture are filled with errors.” Benedict XIV. St. Catherine Laboure had several failed prophecies. St. Catherine of Siena claimed Mary revealed she was not the Immaculate Conception.
A few odd messages or locutions is not enough to keep an apparition from being approved. Now, if Medjugorje propopents are seriously and persistently trying to change the liturgical date of the Nativity, or clinging to celebrating another date, that is another matter.
Now, if Medjugorje propopents are seriously and persistently trying to change the liturgical date of the Nativity, or clinging to celebrating another date, that is another matter.
is 20-something years persistent enough?
The birthday issue is documented thoroughly in an article by Bishop Peric, with excerpts from the “Chronicle of the Apparitions”, at http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/archives/2009/10/medjugorje-cont.html.
I think the so-called August birthday, while erroneous, is not hugely important in itself. It did, however, become important in the history of the Medjugorje phenomenon, as it became the date of annual youth festivals to promote Medjugorje. Since young people in many countries start school before September 8, a September date for our Lady’s birthday would not be convenient for such a festival. One has to ask, therefore, whether the August date may have originated as a case of manipulation of the seers by the friars.
Alternatively, it may have originated in the mind(s) of one or more seers as an innocent confusion about the existing Marian observance on August 5 (Dedication of Saint Mary Major). Of course, that too would be a non-supernatural cause and, as such, would diminish the plausibility of supernatural origin for the apparitions.
Thanks for the translation, Richard, and thanks for reminder of the 10/2008 Laurentin interview.
>>Richard, regarding Fatima I don’t doubt that 50,000 or so people were present in the Cova da Iria. I do question whether all or most of them actually claimed to witness the miracle.
While people have claimed to witness the Miracle of the Sun in Medjugorje and other places, those descriptions pale in comparison to what people witnessed at Fatima. Not only did the sun spin on its axis, it dropped out of the sky zigzagging closer and closer to the earth (the people thought it was the end of the world), then stopped and returned to its place in the heavens. The rain-soaked clothing that the people were wearing were dried in an instant! This account can be found in “A Woman Clothed with the Sun” and was written by Msgr. William C. McGrath.
On the liturgical point: nothing prevents a VOTIVE MASS OF THE NATIVITY OF THE BVM on Aug. 5 IF IT DOES NOT REPLACE THE LITURGICALLY MANDATED SEPT 12.
Also, Aug 5th is the feast of O.L.of Snows, which was the result of Miraculous dreams of a Roman Nobleman AND the Pope AND MIRACLE OF SNOW FALLING ON ONLY A CERTAIN SPOT IN HOT AUGUST in the 5th cent. for the building of St. Mary Major Basilica after the 3rd Ecumenical Council that defined Mary as Mother of God. Maybe Our Lady CHOSE THAT DATE FOR A GOOD REASON, (like her birthday?) and THAT miracle was centuries BEFORE the Sept 12 feastday was ever established!
Hauke mentions Apparitions AS PROPHECY. Yes, indeed.BUT HE FAILS TO NOTE THE ENTERING INTO THE END TIMES THAT OTHER PROPHECIES MENTION; notably, Divine Mercy, have Christ say that THAT revelation WAS TO PREPARE THE CHURCH FOR HIS SECOND COMING WHICH WILL END ALL TIME FOR MERCY AND BRING IN JUDGMENT!
As for Fatima, OBVIOUSLY the papacy DID NOT COMPLY WITH THE BVM’S MESSAGE TO CONSECRATE RUSSIA AS REQUESTED,because we GOT WWII, which such a consecration was supposed to prevent! Fatima Gave the Church HEAVEN’S plan for supernatural peace. But John XXIII HAD HIS OWN PLAN INSTEAD: Vat II, which though a valid Council, HAD THE EFFECT OF DISTRACTING THE CHURCH FROM THE FATIMA PLAN FOR THE CHURCH; indeed, he buried the 3rd Secret which was supposed to be revealed in 1960.The hierarchy, even papacy CAN FAIL TO DISCERN IN A TIMELY WAY (cf, Ruanda!) to the harm of the Church in fact.
ALSO, it has just been PROVEN that Pius XII SAW THE MIRACLE OF THE SUN THAT HAD HAPPENED AT FATIMA IN, in the release of his private correspondance to his family!Tthe anti-Catholic SECULAR press PHOTOS(’17)show a massive crowd looking up at the sun WITHOUT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM SHELTERING THEIR EYES: non one hand raised to protect the eye, NO SQUINTING!
Charges against particular Franciscans have been shown to be PERIPHERAL TO THE ACTUAL SEERS’ EXPERIENCE, and THOROUGH PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATIONS HAVE FOUND ALL THE SEERS TO BE NORMAL; Given the DIABOLICAL DISORIENTATION IN THE CHURCH in the wake of the imprudent application of Vat. II AND THE END TIMES AROUND THE CORNER. WHY WOULDN’T MARY DO SOMETHING NEVER DONE BEFORE?!
Pete, no need to keep capping your words. It’s an annoying distraction.
Re: On the liturgical point: nothing prevents a VOTIVE MASS OF THE NATIVITY OF THE BVM on Aug. 5 IF IT DOES NOT REPLACE THE LITURGICALLY MANDATED SEPT 12.
There is a difference between a Votive Mass – or a Mass offered for a special intention – and transfer of a feast day – or changing a feast day’s date. Medjugorje and the visionaries have done the latter. In light of Canon Law (posted in my previous comment), Medjugorje and the visionaries have committed disobedience.
It doesn’t matter whether or not the apparition told the visionaries to celebrate the Nativity of Mary on a different date. Because regardless of the origin of the message, the visionaries and whole village of Medjugorje are committing disobedience in light of Canon Law. If it was simple a matter of whether or not the apparition told the visionaries to celebrate the Nativity of Mary on a different day, than it would simply be a matter of whether or not the visionaries had heard wrong. But since it is a matter of disobedience on part of the visionaries and Medjugorje, than it is a matter of disobedience against the Church – specifically, against the Pope, who alone holds the authority to transfer feast days.
If, like Garabandal, the visionaries were obedient while the village was disobedient, than the whole issue of disobedience would be Medjugorje’s problem and not the visionaires’ problem. But since the visionaries themselves have taken part in celebrating the Nativity of Mary on a different date, than they, together will all the souls do the same, are disobeying the Church – specifically, the Pope.
This is the disobedience which many skeptics of Medjugorje make known. This is the disobedience which many supporters of Medjugorje don’t know. This is the disobedience which many within the village of Medjugorje don’t want others to know. But as the truth cannot be snuffed out, so the truth will triumph – and so we must yield our hearts to the truth. So now you know the truth of disobedience within Medjugorje: Being a Catholic, it is your duty to subject yourself to the truth, because all truth comes from God, who is Himself the Truth.
Unless I missed it, no one commented on this statement posted by Alvin February 7, 2010 9:21 PM above:
“…because the mass itself which has the greatest miracle of all which is the bread becoming God itself even though the bread is still bread (and that takes great faith which is believing without proof to believe that).”
Well, no. The Church accepts Aquinas’s explanation of transubstantiation: the bread is annihilated (no longer exists) and only the sensory “accidents” remain, suspended–color, taste, feel, sound, and smell. The bread is no longer bread–it is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.
It seems to me this goes to the point that even the most sincere person can be misled or mistaken.
Nice job here, Richard. Thanks to you, I’ve gone from having ears with a bad itch to taking scripture courses down at the Pastoral Center–over the same 25 years you’ve been at this. Listening carefully to the Word of God is more reliable, doncha think?
I have no strong views on this matter really, but I do find the censorship of of an early commentator, Timothy, rather telling. Banned for using quotation marks. Aren’t we a bit touchy?
I think the stupidest argument produced is that the alleged seers haven’t entered consecrated life. Typical of a certain mentality that denies the universal call to holiness of Christians, and thinks marriage a lesser calling.
Vowed religious life does have a superior status; this is a point that has been somewhat lost to view in recent decades, but to affirm it does not imply any rejection of the universal call to holiness. So I don’t think it’s fair to speak of a “stupid” argument.
Religious life is an eschatological witness to the Resurrection, and it is a suitable sign of the transforming grace that comes in an extraordinary heavenly visitation. It’s a sign of virtues such as humility and generosity (self-donation). So it’s no surprise that many past “recipients” of apparitions became consecrated religious, and it may be an anomaly that none of the six alleged seers in the Medjugorje case have become such.
On the other hand, it is fair to note that one of them (Ivan) did spend some time in the Franciscan seminary. He apparently was not successful academically, but he made an attempt.
So I personally never make a big deal about their lay status. It’s not dispositive by itself; it’s just one point in the whole picture. And let’s note that Fr. Hauke doesn’t mention it as if it were dispositive by itself.
Pete writes: “As for Fatima, OBVIOUSLY the papacy DID NOT COMPLY WITH THE BVM’S MESSAGE TO CONSECRATE RUSSIA AS REQUESTED,because we GOT WWII, which such a consecration was supposed to prevent! Fatima Gave the Church HEAVEN’S plan for supernatural peace. But John XXIII HAD HIS OWN PLAN INSTEAD: Vat II, which though a valid Council, HAD THE EFFECT OF DISTRACTING THE CHURCH FROM THE FATIMA PLAN FOR THE CHURCH; indeed, he buried the 3rd Secret which was supposed to be revealed in 1960.”
Pete is apparently influenced by Fr. Gruner and some other Fatima interpreters, who think the popes during the last 40 years or so have been lying about a mysterious part of the “3rd secret,” which they presume has some predictions about how the Church hierarchy would fall into widespread error because of Vatican II. They apparently also interpret Our Lady’s promise of a “conversion of Russia” as some massive spiritual phenomenon that would have all Russians speaking in tongues and evangelizing the world. More modestly, it might have something to do with the freedom granted after communism to the Orthodox Church, which the encyclical Dominus Jesus refers to as a “sister church,” and with the current very hopeful movements towards reconciliation of the Orthodox with Rome.
Consecrated life is special and set apart. It is obvious that it is because it requires more sacrifice and dedication to the Lord. I’m married and would find it very difficult to receive these messages and be able to give back to the Lord what he deserves. I have a husband and children to take care of. I would not be honoring the duties of my vocation if I should give more to the Lord than my vocation allows. That is why when lay people get too involved in these apparitions and start to act like consecrated people, they often end up with broken marriages and children who’ve left the faith altogether. It’s the same reason priests aren’t allowed to marry. We have limitations and God, in his infinite mercy, has set up the Church to recognize and honor them.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
916 The state of consecrated life is thus one way of experiencing a “more intimate” consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.
932 In the Church, which is like the sacrament—the sign and instrument—of God’s own life, the consecrated life is seen as a special sign of the mystery of redemption. To follow and imitate Christ more nearly and to manifest more clearly his self-emptying is to be more deeply present to one’s contemporaries, in the heart of Christ. For those who are on this “narrower” path encourage their brethren by their example, and bear striking witness “that the world cannot be transfigured and offered to God without the spirit of the Beatitudes.”
945 Already destined for him through Baptism, the person who surrenders himself to the God he loves above all else thereby consecrates himself more intimately to God’s service and to the good of the whole Church.
I do fully agree with the very courageous interview of Prof. Hauke.
The attacks on him and on Mgr. Peric from the side of some Med.sites are scandalous.
Tomislav Vlasic had the support of the ‘Gospa’ and now he is even no more priest, because laicised by the pope himself.
Slavko Barbaric had the support of the ‘Gospa’ and he died in disobedience in Med. This place was forbidden ground for him by his bishop.
Jozo Zovko had the support of the ‘Gospa’ and he is banned from Medjugorje by Rome.
Jesus predicted “When I return, will I find anyone with faith?” In my opinion, Medjugorje is just one more trick of Satan to lead Catholics away from the truth and to promote disunity.
I agree, Brother Rolf.
See also http://danpatrascu.eu/?p=809 for more facts about Medjugorje.
nteresting, Thank you!
While I totally want to agree with the Church, I would humbly say, that also by being married we serve God, we give Him what is His due by feeding our children, by loving our husbands/wives etc.
We encounter God in our neighbors and sometimes the ultimate sacrifice is to pray while working,while tending the needs of others in the family etc. instead of going away from the world -it seems to me that today many young families have quite a burden to drag while (some) religious and priests go on living conveniently and with lots of free time…
It is nevertheless clear, that the sign of the life to come is more manifest in the celibate state -as the Church says.
Sorry I am not an english-speaker so sorry if this is hard to understand what I write!
A thought occurred to me as I was pondering all of the many things going on in the Church. Was it Leo XIII who had the dream about Satan having free rein on earth for 100 years?
Could much of what we have been experiencing in the Church be a fruit of that unleashing? I’m thinking of the sex abuse scandal, rejection on Humanae Vitae, spurious apparitions by the dozen, Maciel, liturgical craziness, etc.
Think of all that we have endured in the 20th century. Many of these phenomena have fooled even the Pope, Cardinals, and very learned, respected people in the Church.
That century is over–now it seems that the mopping up process is beginning.
How grateful should we feel that all of us still in the Church and loyal to the Church have made it through this trial. We have been abundantly blessed to have been given the grace to not be pulled away by any of these things–at least not permanently. A time to rejoice even in the midst of all this chaos.
I remember one of the sayings from Medjugorje being that ALL religions, including Roman Catholicism, were the inventions of men.
That is all the proof I need to tell me it is a bogus site.
“A few odd messages or locutions is not enough to keep an apparition from being approved.”
Well, actually, canonization of a Saint isn’t direct approval of their private revelations, only approval of the way they handled them and their lives at the time (e.g. we have to recall that the Immaculate Conception was declared dogma sometime after all but the most modern Saints), so it’s not much of a comparison… Weird sayings don’t inherently disprove an apparition, no, but unlike Saints where they can never be more than a side issue, they do call it directly into question just as surely as the miraculous with proper indications of divine and not demonic origin points to validity, and heretical claims pretty much nix the thing instantly (contrary to some opinions I’ve read elsewhere that the Church can’t condemn it either till it’s complete, it’s quite easy to say that something that has directly produced error/falsehood can’t be right even if it later produces some non-error/truth).
Finally, in 1998, the succeeding Bishop, Peric, issued an absolute and unequivocal condemnation of the messages. In that condemnation, Bishop Peric stated that
“I am changing the form of the words of this condemnation
from: ‘The supernaturality has not been proven
TO: the non-supernaturality of these events has been proven.”
The Great Apostasy by Dave Hughes
It had been proven that the Medjugorje motormouth is not Mary the Mother of God.
RbM, can you trace those words to a published statement by Bishop Perić in 1998? The article by Dave Hughes doesn’t give a URL for those words. I don’t want to present a quote as reliable unless we can identify a published source for it.
Bishop Perić has indicated his personal conviction that the non-supernaturality has been proven, in this 2004 statement:
but that article does not speak of a “condemnation”, and is not an official act: i.e., a decree.
On the other hand, a final judgment is coming closer: Pope Benedict is going to appoint a commission to examine the case.
I was quoting Dave Huges in my post.
The present article in question here states:
“Besides that, Bishop Ratko Peric stated on September 1, 2007: “The Church, from the local level to the highest, from the beginnings to the present day, has repeated clearly and consistently: Non constat de supernaturalitate! This means in practice: no pilgrimages are allowed, because they would presume the supernatural origin of the apparitions; there is no shrine of the Madonna and there are no authentic messages, revelations, or true visions!
THE BISHOP SAID WHAT HE HAS SAID.
On the other hand, a final judgment is coming closer: Pope Benedict is going to appoint a commission to examine the case.
ISN’T WHAT YOU ARE SAYING ALREADY BEEN SAID IN THIS ARTILCE UNDER QUESTION WITH THE FOLLOWING:
“This is the state of things today. What will be tomorrow? We will leave that in the hands of God and under the protection of our dear Lady.” Thus the bishop. Purely theoretically judgment is open for a future recognition (constat de supernaturalitate) or a final rejection (constat de non supernaturalitate). But until then, what the bishop said in a sermon in Medjugorje on June 6, 2009, and which he has documented on his internet site, remains valid: “The Church has not recognized the “apparitions of Medjugorje”
WHAT IS YOUR SOURCE FOR THE IDEA THAT THE VATICAN IS ‘APPOINTING A COMMISION’ TO STUDY THE CASE.
THIS IS SETTLED – MARY AIN’T THERE.
Most people don’t know about the new commission idea yet, RbM. It’s only been discussed on the net since January, but it’s been stated by both pro- and anti-Medjugorje sources.
Here’s what Cdl. Schönborn, a Medjugorje supporter, said:
And here’s a piece from the website “Petrus” that mentions it:
(By the way, RbM, do you realize that when you type in FULL CAPITALS, you are “shouting”? Don’t do that. If you want to participate in the comments, be polite, OK?)
All I need to know about Medjugorje I learned from it’s greatest American promoter, Wayne Weible:
“How wonderful it was to see those of the Jewish faith come to Medjugorje. Some would convert to Christianity; others would return home more devout in their Jewish faith. The same was true of many nonbelievers, Muslims and Protestants.” (Page 121, The Final Harvest, Weible).
The Blessed Mother sending people home from Medjugorje more devout in their rejection of her Divine Son and His One, True Church…Oh, please. Can we just stop the nonsense already?
Please forgive the CAPS. I did not know that it was impolite. I was just trying to distinguish between quotes.
Is this what you are refering to?
“All that has happened, while Pope Benedict XVI, who has had the opportunity to deal with Medjugorje since he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is said to have decided (but there has been no official confirmation of the matter yet) to entrust to Cardinal Camillo Ruini the coordination of a Commission to definitively ascertain the truth on the authenticity, or lack thereof, of the apparitions in this small country of the former Yugoslavia.”
I think the important thing to see here is what is in parenthesis:
(but there has been no official confirmation of the matter yet)
There is nothing anywhere that says anything about a new commission that is going to be set up.
These people are acting like a bunch of charismaniac warlocks.
‘Even in the devotion to, or in the reception of
the Eucharist: the faithful are only truly
united to Christ and to his Mystical Body, the
Church, through the Bishops. Cut off from the
Bishops not even devotion to the Eucharist
itself can unite the faithful to the Mystical
Body of Christ.’ [Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de
Eucharistia 2003, Chap 4, part 39]
There is a definite untruth in this article, and I would presume that it is in the original by Manfred Hauke himself, and not just an error in the translation.
In the section where he is speaking of the “Canadian seer Marie-Paule Giguere” as “..the seer, who drew her insights from a crystal ball…”
This is absolutely untrue.
I was for 12 years, up until just prior to the Vatican declaration against this movement, a very involved member of this movement, having read and studied Marie Paule Giguere’s writings intimately, and never once did I read or hear spoken such an assertion concerning her using a “crystal ball” . I read the entire 13 volumes written by Marie Paule Giguere that Manfred Hauke mentions in this article, and I can say with absolute certainty that there is no mention of any crystal ball in them.
And, oviously, such a fact would have raised countless red flags from within the movement and its associated religious Communities of Priests and Nuns, and from within the Catholic Church in Quebec, given that this was not only a Catholic movement, but also a Catholic religious Community, with some 50 Priests and perhaps a 100 nuns, in fact, the first Priest in this Community, founded by Marie Paule Giguere, was ordained by Pope John Paul II himself in 1986.
And when the movement and religious congregation founded by Marie Paule Giguere was condemned by the Canadian Bishops “Doctrinal Note”, and later the declaration by the Vatican itself, never was there a mention in either of the doctrinal note or Vatican declaration of its foundress using a “crystal ball”.
Therefore, in my opinion, such a untruth and erroneous mis-statement calls into question the other alleged “facts” that the author professes. While I do agree in principal with the author in regards to many of his conclusions concerning the alleged events at Medjugorje, I do have to question the other statements that he presents as “facts”, given the untrue statement he made concerning the alleged “crystal ball” of Marie Paule Giguere.
Thanks for your comment, G.D. The original German does indeed use the word “Kristallkugel”. I have no information of my own about the source of Fr. Hauke’s statement, so I’ll leave it to historical investigators to ascertain whether that detail about Marie-Paule Giguere is accurate.
On the other hand, it is not surprising that the Canadian Bishops’ document does not mention a crystal ball. It is, after all, a doctrinal note, and if the bishops were able to make their decision based on Army of Mary publications, then it was not necessary or desirable for them to discuss personal details about Giguere’s life.
[UPDATE (2/20): Fr. Hauke happened to read G.D.’s comment above and, by e-mail, has provided a source for this particular point. The “crystal ball” is mentioned in Bouflet’s Faussaires de Dieu (Paris, 2000), p. 566. Bouflet cites the last volume of Giguère’s Vie d’Amour (volume XIII, p. 85) and the words “Maintenant, tu verras toutes choses dans la boule de cristal.” (“Now you will see all things in the crystal ball.”)]
Finally, in 1998, the succeeding Bishop, Peric, issued an absolute and unequivocal condemnation of the messages. In that condemnation, Bishop Peric stated that
“I am changing the form of the words of this condemnation
from: ‘The supernaturality has not been proven
TO: the non-supernaturality of these events has been proven.”
The Great Apostasy by Dave Hughes
And, Richard asked, asked:
RbM, can you trace those words to a published statement by Bishop Perić in 1998? The article by Dave Hughes doesn’t give a URL for those words. I don’t want to present a quote as reliable unless we can identify a published source for it.
ME: I think I can sort this one out.
On October 2, 1997 (Prot.: 1267/97), Bishop Peric in his letter to the Secretary General of “Famille Chretienne”, stated:
4. On the basis of the serious study of the case by 30 of our ‘studiosi’, on my episcopal experience of five years in the Diocese, on the scandalous disobedience that surrounds the phenomenon, on the lies that are at times put into the mouth of the “Madonna”, on the unusual repetition of “messages” of over 16 years, on the strange way that the “spiritual directors” of the so-called “visionaries” accompany them through the world making propaganda of them, on the practice that the “Madonna” appears at the “fiat” of the “visionaries”,
“…my conviction and position is not only non constat de supernaturalitate [the supernaturality is not proven] but also the other formula constat de non supernaturalitate [the non-supernaturality is proven] of the apparitions or revelations of Medjugorje.
In a subsequent paragraph, Bishop Peric also states:
5) Nevertheless I am open to a study that the Holy See would undertake, as the supreme court of the Catholic Church, to speak the supreme and definitive judgment on the case, and that as soon as possible, for the good of souls and for the honor of the Church and of Our Lady.
In that last paragraph, the local bishop makes clear that what he is expressing is his personal opinion, and he defers back to the Church on a definitive decision.
However, even his personal opinion, as Ordinary of the place is weighty.
Cardinal Bertone, in 1998 (Pr. No 154/81-05922) reiterated what Bishop Peric said:
What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of “Famille Chretienne”, declaring: “My conviction and my position is not only ‘non constat de supernaturalitate,’ but likewise, ‘constat de non supernaturalitate’ of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje”, should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion.
There is a lot disinformation in this piece by Medjugorje promoter, Denis Nolan who says about the above:
The bishop’s judgment on the authenticity of the apparitions in Medjugorje is the same as yours or mine: it’s his personal opinion.
Hmmmm…. here’s a dandy….a short while later, he states:
How can he know they are a “complete invention”? The Holy See never made a statement to this effect or anything close. But it is the bishop’s belief that they are a “complete invention” that drives his thinking and portrayal of the facts on the ground. To the ordinary orthodox Catholic what a bishop says in his diocese is the law of the land. The faithful are called to obedience. But it’s the Bishop of Mostar who is being disobedient to the Holy See by continuing to publicly defame Medjugorje! And he has admitted to never having spoken with any of the visionaries and has stated (before witnesses) that he doesn’t believe in any apparition – specifically naming Fatima and Lourdes….(This fact is documented. See p. 183 in my book)!
It’s ironic how he accuses the bishop of not citing sources, yet he goes on to make many accusations against the bishop with inuendo.
This is a brilliant, absolutely illuminating article. Hopefully, the faithful will be guided accordingly.
Hello Richard and Father Hauke,
As a fllow up to my original comment and also your replies I researched and found the quote concerning the “crystal ball” as referenced in 13th volume of “Vie d’Amour” -the biography of Marie Paule Giguere, pg 85.
When we read the quote in its entirity (I will not reproduce it here because of its length), and in context with a further explanation of the crystal ball, which is found a few pages before (cf. page 80), we discover that the crystal ball she referred to is not a real, or physical crystal ball -she was speaking strictly in a mystical sense, of a mystical reality that she was “shown” in a mystical vision.
We a see a very similar mystical reality in the life of another wife, mother and mystic named Blessed Anna Maria Taigi and her “mystical globe” wherin Blessed Anna saw past, present and future happenings from 1790 until her death in 1837, that is uninterruptedly for 47 years.
For more info on the mystical globe of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi see:
In a similar mystical grace that Blessed Anna Maria saw past, present and future events in her “mystical globe”, we thus also see Marie Paule Giguere given a vision of a crystal ball as cited in your article quote- “Now you will see all things in the crystal ball.”
The point is that here in the USA (and abroad?)the idea of one seeing into a crystal ball has an association to witchcraft and sorcery, therefore I wanted to clarify that the “crystal ball” in the autobiography of Marie Paule Giguere was not a crystal ball in a physical sense, as used in sorcery or witchcraft, but was a mystical reality allegedly given to her, which in trying to translate from a mystical reality to the physical, sought to define it as a “crystal ball”.
In closing to Father Hauke:
In regards to the topic of the article itself, that is, the discernment of the alleged events at Medjugorje, I sincerely appreciate the facts that you presented, and I likewise have come to the same conclusion as you concerning their authenticity.
May you be blessed for your courage in bringing forth this important information.
Sincerely in Christ,
While unsubstantiated assertions can lead to questions whose certifiable answers are definitive, it is not true that an assertion a truth makes.
Therefore, since a semblence of reasoning appears here present, albeit not leading to conclusions absolutely proven “certain” using infallible logic, can someone supply the proof that any of the alleged messages from heaven associated with Medjugorje are definitively contrary to the teaching of the Church on faith or morals?
While there are aspersions and assertions, although seemingly eloquent, no such proofs are found in the article. Please disabuse me of my ignorance should something be provable in this regard. Since I do not want to be deceived, nor likely does anyone else, why is it true that there are not presented such certain proofs?
Furthermore, while concerns are expressed and judgments are made regarding the personal conduct of the alleged apparition recipients (i.e. “lie”), and those who may be determined to be significantly associated with the phenomenon, does there exist proof that there is certifiable proof that there is fraud on moral, pyschological, and physiological grounds? I have not heard any valid arguments yet – but I have heard several unsubstantiated allegations which if not provably true must be reprehensible to God.
As far as the demands for miracles and signs, is there someone who knows which of those allegedly to have occurred have been specifically investigated by the Church? By the commission? Have all of these been proven illegitimate or false claims?
What is the likely possiblility that of the Millions of pilgrims who have visited Medjugorje over the last 29 years, including all the priests and theologians, none have been able to condemn the alleged phenomenon as certifiably not authentic or worthy of human credence? Indeed, if not even Fr. Hauke is capable, either there exists great evil or perhaps there might be another explanation.
If the Church has not in 29 years excercised its right and duty to condemn unequivocally the alleged apparitions and the associated, given assertions such as those made by Fr. Hauke, has someone abrogated a responsiblity? If there is anyone who has the verifiable proof that there exists definitive invalidating fraud or there are alleged messages absolutely contrary to the teaching of the Church on faith or morals please advise all of us and the Church as soon as possible.
[Thanks for your questions, John. If you are not acquainted with the skeptical “case” against the Medjugorje phenomenon yet, I recommend you examine some past articles from the Mostar diocesan website, which describe some of the specific problematic aspects. Some are available there in English translation, and I have translated some others for this weblog:
(1) “Context of the Medjugorje phenomenon, part 1” (among other things, this describes a “grave theological error” in a message presented in 1982);
(2) “Questionable games surrounding the ‘Great Sign'” (this describes how Ivan apparently lied to the diocesan commission and to BIshop Zanic when they investigated predictions of a “great sign” to appear at Medjugorje).
Also, about your general approach, it is not correct to ask for “certifiable” or “definitive” proof against a claimed apparition, as if the skeptic had to meet a high standard of evidence. The burden of proof is not on the skeptic, but on those who claim authenticity. A claimed mystical phenomenon is not assumed supernatural until proven otherwise. –RC]
I am so sorry to read this article and most comments! I was an athiest, did not believe in God during my entire life, living a very sinful lifestyle, not looking for any type of religion, when I noticed a coworker wearing an odd (to me) necklace. I asked her what it was, she told me it was a medal from Medjugorje, and I had no idea what that was, so she explained what was happening in former Yugoslavia. Inexplicably, surprisingly, I immediately believed her, and knew that God existed! From that moment on, my life changed completely. I was given a strong gift of faith, knew I had to go to confession (I had been brought up in a luke-warm Catholic family but never believed in God, leaving the Church asap after high school). After arguing internally about confession (I had no idea of what to do and was afraid) I turned on the TV and a priest was there talking about how to go to confession if you haven’t been in 25 yrs or more! I knew I could do what he said, and found a RC church up the street, I had not previously realized was there. Also, I “happened” to get there during that 1/2 hour window of opportunity allotted for confession these days. The weight of the world came off my shoulders!!
I experienced amazing gifts and graces, without knowing what they were about – miraculous intervention of the Mother of God, bringing me to her Son Jesus. I went to Medjugorje a few months later, without any funds to do so, but was provided with an unexpected raise and bonus.
It “happened” to be during Holy Week, which I did not know about, nor understand the relevence.
Our Lady allowed me to experience things I had never heard of, and I thought all Catholics experienced these things. I was brought to an amazing “Adoration of the Eucharist” which was breathtaking, with Fr. Slavko giving meditations while he was prostrate on his face, in complete awe and adoration! When we left the Church, hundreds of us saw a full moon in a clear sky with a ring around it, as though the moon had been sliced and stretched into the ring around it with spokes and sparkling stars in between. It looked like a giant monstrance. This and so much more happened, it would fill a book.
There was a stripping and cleansing that I had never encountered, while I was there, and I was aware of my sinfulness as never before. I was also shown so much love and affection from Heaven as I was being purified. All this lead to my return to my previous world with an entirely new outlook and excitement to let everyone know there is a God and He loves us. Some of the people who were fallen away Catholics went to confession after many years, and began to go to daily Mass – they were so amazed by my conversion knowing who I was before and after.
My family – none of whom had been baptized – thought I had lost my mind. It has been a slow, sure process of prayer, fasting and faith. One of my granddaughters, 15, is about to be baptized! I am still praying for the others and I know that God will bring them all in!
This is just one story – there are thousands to the millions, of people who have been there and experienced, not only in their lives, but in touching those around them as well. The devil is certainly doing some strange things, bringing people to God, his arch-enemy! Quite amazing and uncharacteristic for the evil one to lead people to God.
I am a daily communicant, who also goes to adoration as often as possible, and is obedient to the magisterium in all things. Our Lady is appearing in many places to warn us of what is in store for us in this godless world, trying to get us to change our hearts, turning to God in faith and trust. If this is evil, then I have to wonder which side you all are on!
Our Lady of Medjugorje, pray for us!
God have mercy on us!
[Welcome, “former atheist”! There are many people whose discovery of God may start out in odd circumstances: maybe through the influence of a questionable apparition story, or maybe through the preaching of a non-Catholic minister, or through the ministry of some dubious priest. Where we start out is not so important as where we end up. I trust that by now you know the Church is bigger than Medjugorje, and if the time should come that you have to let the latter go, you’ll be able to do that with as much serenity as possible. –RC]
Firstly, my discovery of God did not start out in “odd circumstances”. Throughout salvation history, there have been prophets delivering messages from heaven to the people for their conversion and protection. Those who listened & obeyed were upheld. Those who did not were destroyed in some way. God is merciful but His patience must be wearing very thin, since most of mankind has turned away from Him. He has sent Our Lady to be the messenger this time – because she is Our loving Mother, it is an appropriate role for Her, since she is our greatest intercessor. The “odd circumstance” is that no one is listening.
Secondly, it does not fit into a “questionable apparition story” category since the fruit for my own conversion story was so extremely abundant, as well as multifaceted. In addition, I could send you to numerous people who have had completely different experiences, but equally fruitful – and that would be a drop in the bucket. Evil does not bear such good fruit – it would be impossible since the devil is filled with hatred and soon reveals himself.
Thirdly, of course the Church is bigger than Medjugorje. I discovered this immediately, as Our Lady led me directly to Jesus and the Sacraments of the Church. The confessions there are beyond belief! And the conversions are lasting, many leading to vocations.
The importance of the Church does not detract from the fact that Our Lady is working in a very powerful way at places of Apparition, in order to bring her lost children to Jesus. This alone merits an importance above and beyond any other form of evangelization that exists. The alarming rate of loss of faith and our Church losing so many faithful to other religions has been counteracted by Our Lady’s efforts. The Church and Our Lady do not cancel each other out – that would be impossible.
I will never turn away from Our Lady’s presence in Medjugorje and other places of apparition. How could I? She is my Mother and has saved my life and so many other lives! I want for people who are lost to hear Her message and perhaps be “found”. My conversion was not only for me – it has been inspiring for so many others and is uplifting to those who are beginning to become discouraged. It has all been so positive, that to hear all these negative theories, rumors, opinions, and gossip is beyond my understanding. I never would have “ended up” a faithful Catholic if I had not “started out” by hearing my Mother’s voice calling me to Herself in Medjugorje.
Fourthly, I am extremely serene, but I am not letting go of Truth. How foolish would that be? Heaven is speaking, not to hear Themselves speak, but to help us. Unfortunately many do not have the ears to hear and the eyes to see beyond the material world. This is a “heart” issue, not mental gymnastics in order to “prove” something. When I heard of the happenings in Medjugorje and opened my mind to the possibility, it gave God an opening to pour His Graces into my heart. I did not set out to prove it false or true, I just reacted to the grace of Faith that I received and allowed God to lead the way. I would not want to face God knowing that I tried to shut off His graces from pouring into a very parched world! God bless you….
[You write: it does not fit into a “questionable apparition story” category since the fruit for my own conversion story was so extremely abundant, However, there are many people who have had graces in their lives through encounters with complete phonies: for example, the Legion founder Marcial Marcel or the phony stigmatist Gino Burresi. There just is no logical relation between (A) “it does not fit into a ‘questionable apparition story'” and (B) “the fruit for my own conversion story was so extremely abundant”. B is not a proof of A. The good things God has done in your life are not proof of the authenticity of events that started in 1981. You weren’t there then. Now, the Church believes in using the faculty of reason that God gave us. As St. Paul wrote: “Test everything.” We can’t dismiss reason as “mental gymnastics” and think that our discernment is on safe ground. Since you’ve made your case at length, let’s leave the discussion there.–RC]
While I may be an ordinary doubter like other doubters who are not just the unreasoning incredulous, I fear that since there is no provable certainty in this doubt I may just be like the Pharisees and Scribes whom our Lord warned that if our righteousness did not exceed theirs, we would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven – not to speak of self-righteousness.
That is why I cannot presume “true” something that is not certainly so. For instance, consider that after citations of concerns seem to discredit Fr. Vlasic, a statement of his is trusted enough to be invoked (granted there are possible translation errors). He is quoted to validate as false what the seers said about the posed “Theological” question. If Vlasic cannot be trusted why should he be employed in attempt to discredit?
Has anyone ever asked for clarification from Vlasic’s source – the seers directly? This seems essential before condemning someone of heresy, that is, on the hearsay testimony of another, along with the interpretation of yet others. It is conceivable to me that the seers who said “whatever”, may have just been reporting what they observed, seeing saints corporally, corresponding, at least in part, to what Karl Rahner implied. Anyway, it seems possible that an apparition of a saint can have a corporal form as viewed by someone here by the working of God. That to me will not mean that that saint also can be assumed to be in possession of their glorified body in heaven prior to the resurrection of the dead. It just means that’s how they see them. If it were the alleged “Gospa” who said that, who can say with certainty she was not speaking of the eschatological condition in heaven post resurrection of the body?
The point here is that if defenses and explanations are sought and answered to clear up misunderstandings and ambiguities caused by translation errors or by faults and errors of those constructing a record or stating or promulgating the questionable details, after a complete investigation involving direct sources (not just hearsay intermediaries), will there remain the proposed error?
Proving authenticity should not be reduced to a “he said,” “she said” resolution of personal squabbles between clerics but actually deal with the alleged apparitions.
Furthermore, the aggregation of an ensemble of “concerns” does not a truth make. They remain concerns until proof makes them demonstrable invalidating issues. Much misunderstanding can come from erroneous information but the truth unites not divides. It seems to me heresy and apostasy can be positively identified for what they are and invalid or inconclusive proofs (let alone obfuscations) are not helpful or productive.
If it were I or Fr. Hauke or Mr. Chonak whom God privileged with an authentic private revelation consisting of heavenly apparitions, it is hoped that the wisdom of years of age, learning, or the grace of God would help us stand for the truth because it is my belief: no doubt some would doubt and accuse us of falsehood and judge us evil. Also, are the alleged visionaries given any leeway in being human beings? I mean, does the Church say they must immediately always and everywhere become perfect saints because of the alleged mystical phenomena? I do not think many hold that view.
Do the alleged seers go to confession? Do they apologize when they have faltered and faulted? Do they obstinately persist in error or sin? I think that if evidence of going to confession, apologizing, and acknowledging error and sin is not ubiquitously and persistently present, serious concerns regarding fraud will obviously be at issue and would need to be thoroughly investigated (even in the absence of demonstrably proving falsehood and error with respect to the teaching of the Church on faith or morals).
Since the Church unambiguously condemns not absolutely the alleged, nor provides demonstrable invalidating proof, nor anyone else to date: Please, someone, just one proof of falsehood (not just a sequence of unsubstantiated assertions or accusations nor links to a sea of questionable refutable assertions inviting an overly inundating need for rebuttal).
In good conscience, I do not want to persist in my incredulity which is not yet proven valid. I do not want to falsely accuse anyone. I do not want to make false judgments regarding the truth; nor judge anyone. I don’t want to be a “Pharisee”.
RC – you said “B is not a fruit of A” in rsponse to -former athiest-.
The end of the paragraph would appear to be B’s proper completion. Try this on for A proper comparison…
A: “It does not fit into a questionable apparition story” =
B: “The fruit of my conversion story was so extremely abundant….Evil does not bear such good fruit – it would be impossible since the devil is filled with hatred and soon reveals himself.”
You need to use the statement in it’s entirety in order to see the logical connection from A to B.
[This argument has two problems. (1) The argument says that “evil does not bear such good fruit”. But in fact some people’s conversions and vocations do come out of evil situations, including cases of false mysticism. So conversions and vocations are simply not proof of authenticity. Of course, the graces happen due to the very great generosity of God, who is merciful despite the false aspects of the situation. (2) The argument from “good fruits” neglects to face the fact of “bad fruits” of Medjugorje, such as the case of then-Fr. Vlasic and Mrs. Heupel; such as the rise in Croatian nationalism, which fed the war, such as the families broken up through fanaticism; such as the messages encouraging de facto schism in the Mostar diocese. –RC]
It doesn’t make any less proof than does your and Fr. Hauke’s opinions.
I enjoyed reading this testimony. It has been my experience that those who have encountered conversion thru apparitions have a deeper faith.
Also, John makes some very good arguments against this entire article and responses.
Objectors use every means to gain their ends
A reaction to the interview held with Professor M. Hauke, Lugano, published under the title “Don’t let the devotees fall into the void”, by Thomas Müller, dip theo. & dip chem., deacon
It is quite alarming with what easiness Professor Hauke, demands „Love for Truth“ whereas he himself is propagating clear lies and half-truths and conceals well known facts in this interview. In addition to this he tries to bring in negative incidents which have nothing to do with Medjugorje. At the height of this is the indirect statement, that the worldwide fruitfulness of the past 28 years, unique in reference to conversions, vocations, revival of the sacrament of penance, the rosary prayer and love towards the Eucharist descends all from actions of the devil and that the messages are a spiritist phenomenon. This is an offence towards God because with this Hauke claims that the devil, wanting to deceive the Church is more fruitful than the Holy Spirit. His point of of view contradicts clearly with the revelation of the Holy Scripture. Our Lord Jesus Christ was exposed to a similar accusation by the Jerusalem scribes when they said about him: “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. (Marc, 3: 22-26)
But precisely in Medjugorje it is easy to notice that faith and love are thriving like no other Christian sanctuary worldwide despite all difficulties. For over 28 years Medjugorje has been spiritually fruitful as no other sanctuary worldwide.
But how could this be if the claimed appearances in Medjugorje should be built upon lies and an achievement of the devil? You need a lot of phantasy to imagine that the devil would fight against himself just to deceive the Church. It would be a fight against himself if the devil would be promoting the holy sacrament of confession since with every honest confession the sin, which is an achievement of the devil, is discharged in the repentant sinner. It is not the devil who destroys his work but it is rather the Son of God who appears to destroy the achievement of the devil (compare Jn 1: 3,8).
In the same way Hauke misjudges another word of the Bible where Jesus unmistakenly clearly states that a bad tree cannot bear good fruits (compare Mat 7. 18). Even Hauke confirms that there are good fruits in Medjugorje, although he assigns them to the devil.
The reference to a quite unique example in the history of the Church of the nun Magdalena of the Cross who with her mystical abilities deceived many leading men in Church in the 16th century and was recognised only by very few saints, is not suitable in connection with Medjugorje. The phenomena of Medjugorje experiences wide recognition and appreciation through the sense of faith (sensus fidei) of the whole people of God, including Pope John Paul II, as the postulator of the congregation of beatification (Slawomir Oder) mentions in his newly published book about the life of John Paul II. At this point all critics who claimed the several positive statements of the Pope were only foisted on him should now become silent. John Paul II. was convinced by the authenticity of Medjugorje.
Another point which disappoints me very much is the fact that the scientist Hauke spreads allegations which he quotes from non-scientific literature whilst mostly concealing the source. Such an approach is unworthy of a professor.
Out of love for the truth we should take a closer look at the biggest untruths and contortions in the statements of Professor Hauke and correct them:
1.) Feud or purge in Medjugorje with 140 deaths and 600 displaced persons.
In the course of my researches for my dissertation about Medjugorje I investigated this claim myself. I spoke with several habitants of Medjugorje and with a Franciscan priest of Medjugorje who were on site in the year 1992. I was also at the graveyard in which the dead would have been laid to rest. There are no signs which point to a war. All contemporary witnesses confirm consistently that there has never been such a “feud”.
I myself visited Medjugorje in 1994. Apart from war refugees there were no traces of a war there. If there would have been a murderous feud killing more than 5% of the villagers, traces would have been clearly visible like in many other villages in Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia. But at that time there was not one single house riddled with bullets. German pilgrims who stayed in Medjugorje in the years 1992 and 1993 confirmed the same to me.
I would like to put one last logical argument against the untruth of the bloody distribution battle. In the year 1992 the number of pilgrims from abroad nearly came to a standstill. The front moved within just a few kilometres from Medjugorje and threatened to overrun the village and destroy everything. Therefore there was nothing lucrative to distribute, the only worry which existed was that soon not a stone would be left standing. The villagers had other problems in 1992 than fighting over a pilgrimage business which at this time de facto did not exist and possibly could never exist again since the warfront came only 8 km from Medjugorje to a standstill.
So from where does the tale of the Medjugorje feud originate?
In the year 1995 the Dutchman Mart Bax published this sensational story in his book about Medjugorje and from there it found its way into the Wikipedia article about Medjugorje und circulated on the internet. In the year 2008 this untrue story was deleted from the Wikipedia article because it proved to be lacking any degree of truth.
2.) Wrong statements about Father Jozo Zovko
Regarding Father Jozo Zovko, Professor Hauke is likewise twice off the mark. Firstly it is incorrect that Father Jozo Zovkos superiors have not allowed him to have any contact with Medjugorje as mentioned by Hauke. The Vicar General of the Franciscan congregation clearly confirmed that on the part of the directorship neither restrictions nor suspensions exist. The “serious moral reproaches” mentioned by Hauke are nothing but a nasty defamatory rumour which has been spread around by objectors of Medjugorje for years. Also the claim that Father Jozo had been the spiritual leader of the visionaries for many years is at closer inspection not sustainable. Father Jozo was arrested by the communist state power in August 1981 and was only set free in February 1983 under the condition not to work in Medjugorje anymore. That is the reason why he was assigned to other parishes and monasteries by his congregation.
3.) Half-truth and defamation
The interview concerning Tomislav Vlasic contains further mistakes. Father T. Vlasic was not sent to Medjugorje by his superiors until after the arrest of Father Jozo in September 1981 and lived and worked there until 1984 and not as claimed until 1988. In the year 1985 he went to Vitina and then moved to Italy in 1988 where he admittedly took a strange and lamentable path which culminated in the so called “mystical marriage”. To put this down to the Mother of God or the Visionary Marija Pavlovic is impudent and borders on calumny because the visionary when questioned repeated clearly that she had nothing to do with it.
4.) Dishonest mingling
The conflict between the Franciscans and the local Bishop originates as far back as the 19th century and is therefore over 100 years older than the apparitions of Medjugorje. Within this conflict nine Franciscans were suspended during the past years and punished by the church. But what has this got to do with the visionaries and the appearances of Medjugorje? The attempt to make a connection to this is just as dishonest as to accuse the visionaries of Fatima of the failures of single priests in Portugal in the year 1917.
5.) Mix up of mysticism and charisma
In the beginning Professor Hauke assigns Marian apparitions appropriately to the order of charisma of prophecy. According to Paul a charisma is an additional charisma which is given to build up the Church and contrary to mystical gifts is not primarily for the personal growth in holiness. This means God can also give sinners real charismas without them becoming holy through these. Judas Iskariot was called by Jesus to become an apostle and that was a real charisma, even if he later became a traitor. Further examples accepted by the church are the apparitions of La Salette in the year 1846. Both visionaries thereafter lead an unsettled disorderly life. The visionary Melanie had to leave several congregations and was already suffering under a certain kind of paranoia at the age of 47. The visionary Maximin had to leave the priest seminary and lead a very erratic life.
The visionaries of Medjugorje however are all married and have children. None of the marriages are separated or even divorced; seen from outside one has to admit, that they all lead an exemplary Christian marriage giving a valuable Christian testimony which is not taken for granted these days since nowadays there is a great lack of healthy good catholic families.
The “psychological” examination of the visionaries requested by Hauke have already repeatedly taken place by international experts in and outside Medjugorje. No Marian apparition has not nearly been researched and investigated as intensively as in Medjugorje. The major studies were created by: Professor Dr. H. Joyeaux (1984 & 2005), Dr. L. Frigerio & Dr. G. Mattalina (1985) and Professor Dr. Dr. A. Resch (1998). These researches could all prove that the ecstasies of the visionaries are verifiable on a neurological level and that the visionaries are neither ill nor are they lying. These scientific researches Hauke plainly ignores. Instead he quotes I. Zeljko who without having spoken a word with the visionaries himself, thinks he can construct a psychological profile in order to judge their personality development. Whereby it needs to be mentioned that Zeljko, quoted by Hauke, considers Marian apparitions generally as a purely inner worldly process and labels them as a kind of “self-deceit”, the same with the sun miracle of Fatima.
7.) Are there Miracles missing in Medjugorje?
From the beginning there have been physical healings in Medjugorje. In the meantime the parish has a list of over 400 physical healings. One example is the case of Diana Basile. The Italian who lives near Milano was suffering from multiple sclerosis for many years. Despite the therapies at the University Clinic of Milano, the illness progressed so far that she could neither get up nor move without foreign help and she was also blind in her right eye. On May 23rd 1984 she was brought to Medjugorje in a wheelchair where at the beginning of the evening appearance she experienced a complete healing which lasted over 20 years. The doctors were so surprised that they formed a research commission and investigated the medical history of her illness and her new condition. 25 medical doctors confirmed in writing that this healing could not be achieved due to medical treatment. The Archbishop of Split writes the following about this case: “This healing was certified by 145 medical documents and confirmed by the Bishop Curia of Milano.” But objectors of the appearances repeatedly claim that the healing of D. Basile did not convince the medical commission of Lourdes. In addition to this it is notable that the Bishop of Mostar only sent six of the 142 medical documents to the medical commission in Lourdes who therefore decided not to be able to declare it as a miracle due to the lack of documentation. The General Vicar of the Mostar diocese, Dr. Ante Brajko, confirmed the fact that the Bishop had made this selection with whatever medical expert knowledge, in July 1986. One can therefore say miracles are not seriously being investigated.
The German journalist Stefan Teplan who travelled to Medjugorje in October 1985, “professionally as a reporter”, tells how he and his colleges and hundreds of pilgrims experienced a miracle of the sun: “Without a problem or eye irritation we could look into the sun for as long as about 15 minutes. The sun was spinning around its own centre whilst getting bigger and smaller, the fringe seeming like a glowing fire hoop and much brighter than usually. It looked to me as if it occasionally would race towards me, then it glided further away again and the colour of the bundle of rays, which it seemed to throw around itself changed once more. (…) I did not know, what to make of it, I just thought: (…) One could possibly call the supposed visionaries tricksters and actors. But nobody can manipulate the sun.” There is not much left to add to this statement apart from the fact that Prof. Hauke behaves in a similar way as the people of the time when Jesus lived. The people then experienced the great miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus fed 5000 men with five barley loaves and two fish. Just one day later the same people who eat from this bread came to Jesus and demanded: “Which sign will you give us so that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?” (Compare John 6)
8.) Assessment of Apparitions
I agree with Professor Hauke when he states that four factors are playing a special role and should be fully investigated accordingly:
I.) The visionaries, their psychological condition and love towards truth.
II.) The content of the messages – are they in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the tradition of the Catholic faith.
III.) The fruits of the phenomena in Medjugorje.
IV.) Whatever miracles and signs confirming the appearances.
All this and considerably more I have examined carefully in my dissertation. This work was rated with “very good” by the Theological University in Vallendar and was honoured with the University prize of Koblenz. It has been published as a book under the title “Medjugorje – Ein Charisma und seine Bestätigung durch das Gottesvolk” (“Medjugorje – A Charisma and its confirmation through the People of God”.
Finally the question remains: Is it not adequate enough, as Hauke states, to withdraw to the traditionally well recognized prophetical revelations such as Lourdes and Fatima and to ignore everything else? I do not think so, because contrary to the general revelation of the Holy Scripture, prophetical revelations are tied to specific times. God wants to tell us through Mary in Medjugorje what is important for us today and not in 50 years. Marian apparitions are like heavenly guides that help us under the conditions of the presence so that we can find and take the way of discipleship of Jesus, the way to holiness.
Dipl. Theol. & Dipl. Chem. Deacon Thomas Müller, 42103 Wuppertal
In 30 years of happenings about this topic, in which six “visionaries” are involved with many pretended messages of Our Lady, if the whole thing was a complete deceit it would be very likely to find obvious internal contradictions in the messages, which still I don´t clearly see. From my limited knowledge on this matter, I see, subjectively, a sincere behavior of the visionaries. New facts are happening with high frequency, so the phenomenon is evolving, and I prefer to go along with it, as it evolves. I pray to God for light and discernment to see the truth.