A well-organized thinker lands on the skeptical side

Wade St. Onge has been reading about the alleged Medjugorje apparition for some time, and has written a seven-part series about the case for his theology blog.
He reviews commonly posed arguments for and against the phenomenon and makes distinctions among the stronger and weaker elements in each case. St. Onge does not always put emphasis where I would, but is trying to be balanced. For readers not familiar with the controversy, I think his article will be a good introduction to the subject.

Cardinal Schönborn confirms new commission on Medjugorje

For his birthday today, 65-year-old Cardinal Schönborn has given an interview to a friendly local church-news outlet. Kath.net is also friendly to the alleged Medjugorje apparitions, and in fact sells videos of the Cardinal’s recent “pilgrimage” there. In the interview, he confirmed a bit of news from a Petrus article that appeared here on January 12: that Pope Benedict will soon create a new commission to evaluate the controversial site of alleged apparitions.
My translation:

KATH.NET: In the past few days, you visited Pope Benedict XVI. Did you tell him about your positive experiences of Medjugorje? Did he express any opinion about it?

Cardinal Schönborn: It’s not customary to talk about audiences. But I can naturally say this much: that Medjugorje was a topic in Rome during those days, due to the public awareness of my pilgrimage. I reported about my impressions in Rome. And I am very confident that the Commission, which the Holy Father is setting up to examine the events of Medjugorje, is very good and will work very conscious of its responsibility, and that the result will certainly be good. And I am confident that it will proceed with great prudence and great sensitivity to a phenomenon that has attracted about 30 million pilgrims and brings very many good fruits, but certainly also some open questions.

As a skeptic about the phenomenon, I didn’t appreciate his recent highly publicized visit there, but I am glad to see the Cardinal acknowledge that there are some, ahem, questions to be examined.

Vatican Radio: Schönborn apologizes

The German-language service of Vatican Radio has an article on Cardinal Schönborn’s private audience with the Holy Father last Friday, and the letter he faxed to Bishop Perić the same day.
My translation:

Schönborn: Apology for Uproar about Medjugorje Visit


After his controversial pilgrimage to Medjugorje Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has apologized to the local bishop of the place, Ratko Perić. In a letter published in excerpts on the official home page of the Mostar diocese, the Vienna cardinal emphasizes that he had no intention of “harming peace.” Schönborn had visited the village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the end of the old year and argued for “an integration of the Medjugorje phenomenon into normal pastoral practice“. He had declared his visit to the ecclesiastically unrecognized site of Marian pilgrimages a private trip. However, he provided for considerable visibility to it in media publicity. The letter of apology is dated January 15, the day on which Schönborn was in Rome for a private audience with Pope Benedict. With his letter, Schönborn answered a letter from Perić, who had sharply criticized the visit of the cardinal to Medjugorje and emphasized that the visit implied no recognition of the “apparitions”. Furthermore he recalled that the so-called seers of Medjugorje had repeatedly manipulated the alleged Marian apparitions. With Schönborn’s letter the discussions are now considered closed, said a spokesman for the Mostar-Duvno diocese this Tuesday. — Since 1981, Marian apparitions are said to be taking place in Medjugorje. They are not recognized either by the local diocese or by the Vatican.

Cdl. Schönborn’s conciliatory letter to Bishop Peric

After meeting with the Pope on Friday, Cdl. Schönborn faxed a conciliatory letter from Rome to Bishop Peric in Mostar; it is available on the Mostar diocesan website. Now that there is some communication between the two prelates, I hope it will serve to bring some good and some common understanding from the recent unfortunate events around the Cardinal’s visit.