WHEN IT COMES TO FAMOUS APPARITIONS, THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT BEING CATHOLIC IS BEING OBEDIENT TO ROME
In the mail, sometimes, this week for example, we get e-mails saying that we should not be "promoting" Medjugorje, that the Church has ruled against it (which as yet it has not), that it is suspect. We respect all viewpoints. Other times, the same week, as this week, we are asked why we are against the apparitions. This happens because while favorable to them, we report both sides, especially Church pronouncements, favorable or unfavorable, convenient or not (and sometimes are the first to report such). We have supported Medjugorje because in our discernment it's authentic, although we also have given air to skeptical viewpoints (when they have accurate information, and are not tinctured with vitriol; for vitriol always hides part of the truth). The relevant matter is Rome, and we will follow whatever it finally rules on the matter; contrary to misreporting, the authority to do so was taken away from the local bishop nearly thirty years ago by John Paul II and his then chief aide, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, a matter of record. Authority was later also removed from a subsequent national committee of bishops (which ruled that thus far, there is no definitive proof of the supernatural). Rome itself announced the disbanding of that committee, when, under Pope Benedict XVI, it formed its own committee to conduct an exhaustive investigation several years ago, and placed the matter in the hands of Vatican officials because Medjugorje had grown far beyond the bounds of regional competence.
The matter rests entirely with the Pope, who has been handed a report by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, based on the new commission's findings. The Holy Father will make his own pronouncement when and if he so desires -- a pronouncement that will then stand as the Church's discernment, after years of limbo, as far as official recognition or rejection. That's if the Pope says anything straightforward about the authenticity of the apparitions themselves; there is a possibility that he will instead declare Medjugorje a shrine and institute more formal oversight for the pilgrims, without ruling on the supernatural nature itself. Of course, he could also declare it off-limits. Such turmoil likewise swirled around Lourdes and Fatima. Where there are humans, there are controversies.
The Church is often (but not always) loathe to come to a conclusion before the alleged apparitions come to a conclusion, and for all we know that will happen in this case. We doubt so, though.
One can argue the issue of authenticity back and forth, endlessly (and too often, truculently), but the clichic bottom line for now, at least our bottom line, our perception, is that there have been enormous fruits from Medjugorje (literally, millions of conversions and vocations, which we have witnessed for ourselves), and since the key standard in discernment, according to Jesus, is "fruits," we will report upon it unless and until the Church, which since the 1990s has allowed unofficial pilgrimages to Medjugorje (along with priests), rules negatively, in which case we will view it as the Church determines. While seers are not currently allowed to appear in official Church gatherings, under the advisement of Cardinal Müller, who has asked that such appearances halt, until a decision is made, no one knows how the Pope himself views the apparitions nor how, to reiterate, he will act upon the Congregation's (and committee's) recommendations. We can say that Medjugorje has spread farther and faster than any apparition in history, with the possible exceptions, from a proportionate standpoint, of Guadalupe and the Miraculous Medal. Due to modern means of communications, its initial fame has exceeded that of apparitions such as Le Puy in the first century, Lourdes in the nineteenth, and Fatima in the twentieth (see The Last Secret, a history of major Marian apparitions and phenomena). At any rate, testimony and reputed phenomena are reported to us on a weekly basis. For our discernment.
Just this week, too, we note on a website called Mary TV the above photo, as there have been so many intriguing photos.
Says the website: "Mary TV was live-streaming [seer] Ivan Dragicevic's May 24, 2013 apparition on the top of Mount Podbrdo (Apparition Hill) in Medjugorje. My wife, Cathy, was praying in front of her computer in the U.S., connected through the internet, welcoming Our Lady along with everyone gathered on the mountain. She couldn’t see anything on her computer screen because it was late at night and Ivan had said, 'No lights.' She found herself asking Our Lady for a sign – a little light – as a sign that Mary TV was on the right track and really serving her. Just after the apparition, when she went to give an account on Mary TV’s Facebook page, the page opened with this picture that she had never seen before, captioned: 'Mary appears over building in Medjugorje, photo taken by pilgrim.' Our Lady is standing directly over Mary TV’s studios, her feet right where we have two POV cameras streaming 24/7 live to the world Apparition Hill & Cross Mountain."
So many claims to the miraculous -- including hundreds of major physiological healings that have been recorded and submitted to authorities.
We report. You discern. The Church has the final say, and whatever it says should not be taken out of context, as occurred and still occurs with the Mostar bishop's comments and that of the disbanded national commission.
Being honest includes being fair. Meanwhile, being Catholic means adhering to Rome.
[resources: The Last Secret and New: What You Take To Heaven]
[See also: Michael Brown retreat, Boston, April 25]
[see also: Secular report: Archdiocese cancels speech by man claiming visions, Apparition, March 18, 2015 and Bosnia-Hercegovina bishops to meet with nuncio]
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