New diocesan statement on Medjugorje

In February, Bishop Ratko Peric of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno in Bosnia-Herzegovina issued a new summary of the Medjugorje case. At the end of the report, he lists the Holy See’s statements:

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has intervened four times through two of its Secretaries, while the Prefect, Cardinal Ratzinger, also made an important intervention.
In 1985, Msgr. Alberto Bovone notified the Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Italy not to organize official pilgrimages to Medjugorje.
In 1995, Msgr. Tarcisio Bertone wrote to the bishop of Langres, Msgr. Leon Taverdet, and repeated the same to Msgr. Lucien Daloz of Besan´┐Żon, France, who were interested in knowing the position of the Holy See on Medjugorje.
Finally, in 1998, the same Secretary wrote to Msgr. Gilbert Aubry, bishop of Reunion. All these letters emphasized that pilgrimages, whether private or public, are not allowed if they presuppose the authenticity of the apparitions, since this would be in contradiction to the declaration of the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia.
Ratzinger’s frei erfunden. In 1998, when a certain German gathered various statements which were supposedly made by the Holy Father and the Cardinal Prefect, and forwarded them to the Vatican in the form of a memorandum, the Cardinal responded in writing on 22 July 1998: “The only thing I can say regarding statements on Medjugorje ascribed to the Holy Father and myself is that they are complete invention” – “frei erfunden”.

Écrasez l’infâme!

“Squash the wretched thing!” In this case, the thing needing to be squashed was the self-promotion of a phony mystic who brought her “messages” from Scottsdale to Maryland and tried to start a lay movement around herself. The Vatican has confirmed that Cdl. Keeler had the right to put a stop to Gianna Talone-Sullivan’s prayer meetings. CNS says:

Vatican affirms Baltimore cardinal’s decision against alleged visions
BALTIMORE (CNS) — The Vatican has confirmed Baltimore Cardinal William H. Keeler’s September 2000 decision to prohibit prayer services at a Maryland church in which a woman claimed to receive messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary. Gianna Talone-Sullivan said she received messages from Mary during Thursday evening prayer services at St. Joseph Church in Emmitsburg from 1993 until the archdiocesan ban. In an April 2 letter to Vincentian Father William O’Brien, pastor of St. Joseph, Cardinal Keeler reported the Feb. 15 ruling of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that Baltimore’s archbishop is in a position to conclude the matter with a decree that the alleged apparitions are clearly not miraculous (“constat de non supernaturalitate”). Cardinal Ratzinger said his opinion on the decree was made after careful consideration of the report of a three-member theological Commission of Inquiry appointed by Cardinal Keeler. The commission concluded there was nothing supernatural going on and that there were, in fact, “negative elements” contained in some of the apocalyptic prophecies that Talone-Sullivan made public.

Phony apparitions and locutions were really a scourge of the Church from the ’70s to the ’90s, luring the faithful into various kinds of error and sometimes apocalyptic sectarianism. While they demand great credulity, they are harmful to the virtue of faith, which believes what is revealed by God without seeking constant reassurance from miracles, visions and oracles. A faithless generation demands signs and wonders (cf. Matt 12:39).

Cardinal Keeler’s panel, after interviewing worshippers who attended the services and conducting a 16-month investigation, wrote in its review that with a worldwide “growing addiction to the spectacular, we think that the Church should not promote or encourage persons claiming to have extraordinary channels to God.”
…the panel also noted that Mrs. Talone-Sullivan’s proclamations included “apocalyptic forebodings and the prediction of catastrophic events,” such as the death of all the fish in the world. (AP)

(Thanks, Amy, for mentioning the announcement.)

Holy Fence Post! (Again?)

Remember the crackpots in Australia who thought they saw an image of our Lady in a fence post? Well, it hasn’t taken long for somebody to cash in on this new “apparition”. You can have your very own prayers e-mailed to Australia to be delivered to the site of the “image” for a mere $16.50 each. That’s possible thanks to the folks at, and it looks like the emphasis should be on the .com, as in “commerce”. On the other hand, if you want to give them a voluntary donation of $25 or $100 to “help pay for the administration of this site”, they’ll take that too, though I doubt they’re spending as much as $100 a year to run the thing.
How do I know about all this? Because they spammed a friend o’mine, and they’ll probably spam you too before long. That act by itself qualifies them as notorious public sinners.
Ahem, Catholic Light does not endorse the aforementioned site.

Up popped the Virgin out by a billabong…

Crackpots in Australia are venerating this fence, which if you look at it from a certain angle and squint just right, forms a vague shape kinda like a picture of Our Lady would look if you were squinting at it. Not that Our Lady would really want us to squint at her: I think if she gave us an apparition someplace, the least we could do is to look at her in the ordinary human way. I wonder what the message is? O, moy people! Wot has led yoo astroy? Crikey, you’re in for it!
By the way, the sheila seen here with “Our Lady” is a good example of how not to dress for an apparition.

The news has reached America: Medjugorje promoter Jozo Zovko, OFM, suspended in abuse case

And it only took 13 years for church officials in the U.S. to notice.
Once upon a time in the land of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in a peaceful little town called Medjugorje (where they manufactured hand grenades during the recent war), some teenage would-be seers claimed that Our Lady said — among many other things — that their own parish priest Jozo Zovko, OFM, was already a saint.
An endorsement like that is pretty good at boosting your reputation as a writer, speaker, and retreat master. Probably Fr. Zovko’s high point came when Martin Sheen portrayed him in the Medjugorje movie. I know: Sheen’s been involved with as many religious bombs as Osama, so maybe that’s not much of a high point.
Later on, the news about Fr. Zovko was not quite so good: in 1989 his faculties to hear confessions were lifted after several women pilgrims accused him of sexual assault. He persisted in hearing confessions and, it appears, ended up suspended. Medjugorje supporters engaged in some obfuscation and some full-strength denial about it all, but finally in 2002 the news has reached America through official channels: as the WashPost reports, this week the Archdiocese of Washington scotched Fr. Zovko’s plan to speak at the National Shrine after getting official word of the suspension from the Diocese of Mostar.
The denial is pretty thick, though: a priest who recently hosted a Zovko event told the Boston Herald that “he believed Zovko’s suspension only prevented him from public prayer within Bosnia.” I guess when somebody does a really good job of “tickling your ears” (2 Tim. 4:3), it’s hard to give it up.