Jul 29, 2009


Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina (former Yugoslavia), the site of reported apparitions by the Blessed Virgin Mary for almost 30 years, is not an approved apparition site like Lourdes, Guadalupe, Loretto or Fatima, but it has been the source of thousands of vocations and conversions.

However, the site is not without scandal, which sadly gets magnified by those who then falsely report on the scandal (truthful reported is always appreciated).

The latest scandal involves the long awaited laicization of former priest Tomislav Vlašić for adultery and leading the faithful astray. Vlašić arrived in Medjugorje after the apparitions had started, and was never quite "at the center" of the apparitions, as was Father Jozo Zovko. He also pressured the seers to say the Virgin "approved" of his ministry. They never did, and "one of the seers signed a statement complaining about his attempts to manipulate the situation."

Simon Caldwell of the London Daily Mail falsely reported hat "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, issued a ban on pilgrimages to the site but this has been widely ignored." This was repeated by Catholic Exchange. This is not true, "it is well known that the Vatican twice has stated through its press office that unofficial pilgrimages are accepted, and that it is even advisable for priests to accompany visitors while the Church tries to discern the matter."

In 1996 Vatican Press Office spokesman, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, sought to clarify the status of pilgrimages to Medjugorje by stating:

"You cannot say people cannot go there until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want ... When one reads what Archbishop Bertone wrote, one could get the impression that from now on everything is forbidden, no possibility" for Catholics to travel to Medjugorje. But, in fact, "nothing has changed, nothing new has been said ... The problem is if you systematically organize pilgrimages, organize them with the bishop and the church, you are giving a canonical sanction to the facts of Medjugorje ... This is different from people going in a group who bring a priest with them in order to go to confession ... I was worried that what Archbishop Bertone said could be interpreted in too restricted a way. Has the church or the Vatican said no (to Catholics visiting Medjugorje)? NO. ... The difference, in the terms of canon law, is that an official pilgrimage, organized by the diocese with the bishop, is a way of giving a juridical sanction to the facts; you are saying this is true."

As EWTN has added: "While this statement does not address the prudence of going to Medjugorje as a place of alleged apparition, which rests on its credibility according to the norms of reason, it does lay to rest the question of whether it is disobedient in the mind of the Church to do so."

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