Pope Said To Have Visited Medjugorje And In Book Called Apparitions Of Mary Around The World 'Signs Of The Times'
As we have mentioned previously, there was a reliable report in the 1990s that Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, visited the famous apparition site of Medjugorje incognito. This was detailed to us by the superior of an order of nuns in the Midwest who was visiting there at the time, and is plausible in this sense: it was Cardinal Ratzinger's Congregation that was specifically charged with evaluating such apparitions and it was Cardinal Ratzinger who, in 1986, perhaps at the behest of John Paul II, stopped a local bishop from condemning Medjugorje.
This occurred starting in 1985 when Mostar Bishop Pavao Zanic (and an underling, Monsignor Ratko Peric, who later became bishop) organized a commission that then set about declaiming the apparitions, which were taking place in a Franciscan parish. Bishop Zanic was in the heat of an intense dispute with the Franciscans, and this spilled onto the apparitions, which had already gained international attention.
Though it was reported that Bishop Zanic returned at the end of April in 1986 "visibly chastened" after a visit with Cardinal Ratzinger, he continued on his mission to eradicate the apparitions and soon after sent papers from his commission to the prominent Cardinal. "Three weeks later, in May, Cardinal Ratzinger dissolved Bishop Zanic's Commission, and ordered the Yugoslav Bishops' Conference to set up a new one," noted author and journalist Mary Craig (in a report called Spark From Heaven). "He gave no reasons for this action, unprecedented in the history of the Vatican, which has always left such investigations to the local bishop."
So it was that the Vatican took away the bishop's authority to reject Medjugorje, preserving the apparitions for future judgment.
In September of 1991 Cardinal Ratzinger announced that the Vatican was "open" to Medjugorje and on August 28, 1991, speaking in Austria, expressed the hope that "that this place, which has become a place of prayer and faith, remain and come to be even more in the most interior unity with the entire Church."
Thus, it appears that Pope Benedict XVI, like John Paul II, will protect Medjugorje, unless he since has taken an about-face.
In recent years, Vatican bishops have been spotted at the apparition site but have operated in a clandestine fashion. The matter is now in the hands of the national bishops' commission, with no ruling expected before the claimed apparitions end.
In The Ratzinger Report (which we will be making available soon), the new Pope called the proliferation of apparitions a "sign of the times."
"The apparitions that the Church has officially approved -- especially Lourdes and Fatima -- have their precise place in the development of the life of the Church in the last century," the future Pope noted. "They show, among other things, that revelation -- still unique, concluded, and therefore unsurpassable -- is not yet a dead thing but something alive and vital. Moreover -- prescinding Medjugorje, on which I cannot express a judgment since the case is still being examined by the Congregation -- one of the signs of our times is that the announcements of 'Marian apparitions' are multiplying all over the world."
The Pope specifically mentioned Africa -- where apparitions at a place called Kibeho would soon be approved.
And he emphasized that the Congregation looked at spiritual fruits despite questions, in some cases, about the actual supernaturality.
On the other hand, as prefect of the Congregation, Pope Benedict XVI personally authorized an official Notice in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, on October 6, 1995, against a Greek Orthodox woman from Switzerland who claimed locutions from Jesus and the future pontiff did not intervene as he had at Medjugorje when bishops in other parts of the world rejected other supernatural claims.
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