A well-placed source in Bosnia-Hercegovina has told Spirit Daily that during last month's anniversary of the Virgin's first apparitions, the famous site of Medjugorje was visited by five officials sent from the Vatican. The mission was to evaluate the current situation, and according to this source the group included a cardinal.

Others have set the number of visitors at three or "several." And while there is no indication whatsoever at this point that the Vatican is ready to move on official approval of Medjugorje, it raises the question of whether John Paul II is pushing for protection of certain major apparitions sites before the end of his pontificate. Two weeks ago the Church approved apparitions reported to have begun at Kibeho, Africa, the same year as the onset of Medjugorje. 

The latest visit was by members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of 
the Sacraments.
According to our chief source, a glitch occurred when the Vatican officials were asked to leave a house in which they were staying at Medjugorje when the owners accused them of being "spies." Fortunately, another home quickly took in the officials -- one of whom indicated that he was favorably disposed toward the apparitions and that a formal investigation may be reactivated. However, a second source with contacts in Rome indicated that the visit cannot be construed as an opening or reopening of an official investigation and "is just the latest in a continuing series of confidential visits by personnel from various dicasteries within the Church that are charged with investigating claims of supernatural occurences." 

We will report any official statement. Right now we can only consider the matter an intriguing development.

The history of Church investigations is a checkered one. In 1986 then-Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar, who had jurisdiction over Medjugorje, issued a negative report on the apparitions. That had come during tensions with Franciscans, who run the Medjugorje parish and with whom the diocese was quibbling over control of certain parishes in Hercegovina. Although initially favorable to the apparitions, animosity with the Franciscans heightened and Bishop Zanic soon declared negatively on the apparitions. While the local bishop usually has almost total say over an apparition, the Vatican rejected Zanic's negative conclusion and took away his authority on the matter, handing it to a national conference of bishops which issued a statement on April 10, 1991, saying that the inquiry was continuing and that as yet there was no proof of supernaturality. This inquiry was then interrupted, however, by a civil war.

By 1995 40,000 priests had visited Medjugorje, along with hundreds of bishops and cardinals. At one point last week, there were 150 priests concelebrating evening Mass, including a Caribbean bishop. 

The tension between the secular diocese and the Franciscans continues. During our recent pilgrimage we were told that 14 Franciscan in the region had been dismissed by Bishop Ratko Peric, the new prelate who had been an assistant to Bishop Zanic and is equally at odds with Franciscans. In recent months he has sought to argue his case against Medjugorje at the Vatican. At the same time, the new Franciscan pastor of St. James parish has sought reconciliation with the bishop, who showed cordiality while conducting a recent confirmation Mass at Medjugorje.

see Vatican's latest directive on Medjugorje

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