Jul. 04 (CWNews.com) - The Catholic bishop
whose diocese includes the town of Medjugorje
has warned that "something similar to a schism"
has arisen at the parish church where
apparitions of the Virgin Mary are alleged to
In a homily delivered in Medjugorje on the
feast of Corpus Christi, Bishop Ratko Peric of
Mostar-Duvno, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that
both he and his predecessor have expressed
severe misgivings about the reported
apparitions. He added that both Pope John Paul
news) and Pope Benedict XVI (bio
news) backed the judgments of the local
In his homily Bishop Peric explained that--
"while recognizing the Holy Father's right to
give a final decision" on the validity of the
reported apparitions-- he doubted their
validity. He recalled that when he discussed the
reports from Medjugorje with Vatican officials,
including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they
shared his incredulity.
particularly do not seem to be authentic," the
bishop observed, "when it is known before that
these so-called 'apparitions' will occur."
Bishop Peric cited the schedule that the
Medjugorje seers have provided, listing the
times and places at which they claim the next
visits by the Mother of God will occur.
Thousands of messages from Mary are now claimed,
and the bishop observed that "the flood of
so-called apparitions, messages, secrets, and
signs do not strengthen the faith, but rather
further convince us that in all of this there is
nothing neither authentic nor established as
The first reported appearances of the Virgin
at Medjugorje occurred just over 25 years ago.
During the 1980s, thousands of Catholic flocked
to the little town, with many reporting profound
spiritual experiences. These pilgrimages were
eventually slowed by the violent bloodshed that
tore through the region in the 1990s and by the
increasingly public skepticism of the hierarchy.
Bishop Peric reminded his people of the
restrictions that he has imposed on activities
in Medjugorje. The parish church is not formally
a "shrine," he said, and should not be
characterized as such. Pilgrimages to the church
are discouraged. Priests there are "not
authorized to express their private views
contrary to the official position of the Church
on the so-called 'apparitions' and 'messages,'
during celebrations of the sacraments, nor
during other common acts of piety, nor in the
The bishops urged the "seers" of Medjugorje
to "demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to
cease with these public manifestations and
messages in this parish."
Some of the Franciscan priests assigned to
the Medjugorje parish, he said, have been
expelled from their order because of their
refusal to accept Church authority. "They have
not only been illegally active in these
parishes, but they have also administered the
sacraments profanely, while others invalidly,"
he said. As Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, he said, he
felt obliged to warn the faithful "who invalidly
confess their sins to these priests and
participate in sacrilegious liturgies."
Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI
By Debbie Thompson & Michael K. Jones