Vicar Says Medjugorje Will Not Be Judged Until Long After Apparitions

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The Vicar General of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Hercegovina says there will be no official determination on the famous apparitions at Medjugorje until long after they have ended. In a recent interview with Spirit Daily, the vicar, Father Mato Zovkic, said there are no current plans to reopen an investigation into the apparitions that stalled when a previous investigative body halted due to the Bosnian conflicts in the 1990s. He said it could take "10 or 15 years" after the conclusion of apparitions for the Church to reach a final determination on authenticity. 

"There is no need for a new commission as long as the seers claim Our Lady continues coming to them," said Father Zovkic. "Nothing new is happening [since the previous investigation]. The usual procedure in Catholic history in past similar cases was when the experience is stopped, after ten or 15 years, a new commission is nominated and they research what the seers say then about the experience."

That may mean such action, if it ever arrives, will come after the unfolding of "secrets" the seers say they have been given by the Virgin Mary. At least one of the visionaries has said that the Virgin will continue to appear up to and even during the onset of such events. Each has been or will be given ten secrets. Although it is commonly said that apparitions are never judged until completion, such has not always been the case, especially in recent times, when mystical claims associated with approved apparitions have continued after ecclesiastic rulings at places like Betania in Venezuela.

We called the Sarajevo diocese last month after a report came from CW News in Rome that Cardinal Vinko Puljic -- president of the Bosnia-Hercegovina bishops conference, which has jurisdiction over Medjugorje -- was negative toward the apparitions. CW News claimed that Cardinal Puljic had publicly complained at the Synod of Bishops that Medjugorje had created division between the secular diocese and Franciscans (due to a controversy back in the 1980s with two Franciscans) and referred to "pseudo-charisms." This raised alarm because Cardinal Puljic has the potential for an important say in the authenticity of the apparitions -- if the jurisdiction remains with Bosnian bishops. There are only four members of the conference: Cardinal Puljic; his auxiliary bishop; the Bishop of Banja-Luka; and Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar -- who oversees the actual diocese to which Medjugorje belongs and who has been strongly opposed to Medjugorje. 

Usually a determination on authenticity is in the hands of that local bishop but in this case the authority of the local bishop was removed by the Vatican and given over to a national commission after the previous bishop attempted to rule negatively on the apparitions. The Vatican -- which could also take the matter out of the hands of the Bosnian bishops conference -- is itself monitoring Medjugorje and sent observers there last June.

Perplexing is the fact that in the official text of Cardinal Puljic's synod remarks is no mention of Medjugorje. That has raised questions of whether they were inaccurately reported or the Cardinal -- who Father Zovkic said is indeed negative toward Medjugorje at the present time -- made the remarks as a departure from his prepared text. If and when an investigation is reopened, said Father Zovkic, it will focus on the lives of the seers and what they have to say years after the experiences end. He said the Cardinal expects "saintliness" and would use the seers in the Sacred Heart and Miraculous Medal revelations, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and Saint Catherine Laboure, as points of comparison.

"The lives of the seers are very important -- how do they behave later on, what do they say about their experiences, and then a final conclusion can be made," said the vicar general. "As far as I know the Cardinal did pay a private visit once or twice since he was nominated bishop, but never did he conduct an official ceremony in Medjugorje, because according to ecclesiastical rules, the local bishop should give previous permission. So the Cardinal does not go before he is asked." 

Father Zovkic added that if the Cardinal referred to trouble with Franciscans in the region, he was not referring to the present pastor or priests at Saint James Parish at Medjugorje, where there have been diligent efforts to reconcile with the Mostar Bishop. Father Zovkic noted that the local Franciscans welcomed the Mostar Bishop for Confirmation rites last spring and have allowed the diocese to review financial records indicating how money collected from pilgrims has been spent.


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