The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

What happened at Medjugorje?

On the feast of Mary’s birth — which the apparition in Medjugorje claims actually occurred in August, not September — a writer at First Things offers his thoughts:

At Medjugorje, for almost thirty years, many have seen a demonstration of Hercegovinian militancy, and even of heresy. Once the local bishop rejected the visionaries, priests sent to the area by the regular ecclesiastical authorities were beaten up, prayer was held in local churches without the presence of clergy, and, some allege, the Medjugorje group was on the road to schism from the Roman church.

Serbs have loudly denounced Medjugorje as a Croatian conspiracy, while Bosnian Muslims have tended to remain subdued about it, at least in public. Local Muslims are mostly silent, especially after a war that took so many lives. But many admit they perceived in Medjugorje a Croatian ultranationalist production.


More could be said about the matter, but Benedict XVI appears to have made up his mind about Medjugorje. And many Croats, as well as Muslims and other Bosnians, are likely to quietly welcome his action.

You’ll want to read the whole thing.

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posted September 8, 2009 at 6:39 pm

What really happened at Medjugorje? I can tell you this much – I ended up there, most unlikely that I would, but I did, in September 1990. I arrived wanting to experience Mary but never even remotely considering returning to the Roman Catholic Church.Well, we see how this has worked out.I am not saying that to condone or decry. I am the last person to be an apologist for Medjugorje and what it stands for. I am however living testimony to something happening.Thanks be to God.

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posted September 8, 2009 at 11:17 pm

A very good friend, a Passionist priest who was on the verge of losing his faith went on a trip to Medjugorje and ended up staying there for almost 6 months. During that time, he witnessed several miracles first hand. He returned a changed person and priest who was very devoted not only to Mary, but much more to her son and our Lord. He recently has died and while his life was ending, I had the opportunity to visit with him. He said that nothing he has related was in the slightest way untrue or distorted. He went skeptical and came home changed. Over the years in between, he went to many conferences and met with many who had similar experiences. Something of value is going on there, but I will bow to the Church and Pope Benedict and follow their lead in this area. However, the church also had issues with Padre Pio.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 10:44 am

We need to always keep in mind, it seems to me, that while good fruits can be a sign of authenticity, the magisterial charism of the bishop is preminent. Also, God hears our prayers wherever we might be when we offer them up…so conversions and miraculous events ALONE (apart from the bishop's discernment of spirits)do not authenticate an alleged supernatural phenomenon.

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posted September 9, 2009 at 2:51 pm

What's going to happen to all the people who credit Medj. as the saving of their faith if the Vatican rules it to be unworthy of belief? Will they stay or will they rebel and be like the Bayside folks on a grand scale?

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posted September 9, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Dante … The issue of authenticity of the events at Medjugorje have been removed from the Bishop and now reside within the purview of the Vatican.Dymphna … All those people are going to submit to the Vatican ruling and not loose their faith. However, it wouldn't be the first time the Vatican made a mistake. Look at the story of Saint Faustina whose diary was banned by the Vatican for some time.I strongly suspect the Vatican is preparing Medjugorje for official shrine status.

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posted September 10, 2009 at 11:04 am

Timothy,Thanks for the clarification but the truth of it still holds: the charism of discernment rests with the episcopacy (local in the diocesan bishop or universal in the pope). And should the Vatican declare it false or at least inauthentic, I think the majority of Medjuroje-ites will do what you seem to indicate in your post: simply declare that the Vatican has been wrong before about such things and then carry on as usual.Catholic News Services reported as follows: "Bishop Peric discussed Medjugorje with Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year during a visit to the Vatican. In a summary of the discussion published in his diocesan newspaper, Bishop Peric said he had reviewed the history of the apparitions with the pope, who already was aware of the main facts from his time as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. "The Holy Father told me: We at the congregation always asked ourselves how can any believer accept as authentic apparitions that occur every day and for so many years?" Bishop Peric said. Bishop Peric noted that Yugoslavian bishops in 1991 issued a statement that "it cannot be confirmed that supernatural apparitions or revelations are occurring" at Medjugorje. Bishop Peric said he told the pope that his own opinion was even stronger — not only that a supernatural element cannot be proven, but that "it is certain that these events do not concern supernatural apparitions." For the full report go to

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posted September 10, 2009 at 3:58 pm

The Church takes one of two positions regarding apparitions. She either makes a judgment before the apparitions have ended (likely due to doctrinal concerns)or waits until the apparitions have ended and then either determines whether they can be legitimated or leaves their legitimacy undetermined.Now, in the case of Medjugorje, neither has happened. In fact, the opinions of the local ordinary are simply his personal opinions and judgment regarding Medjugorje is left to Rome. Now many people have denied this fact but if you would like to be informed about the truth of where the power to make a judgment about Medjugorje in particular lies, take a look at the following letter from Cardinal Bertone on behalf of the CDF to an inquiring Bishop regarding Medjugorje.'s+comments+on+Medjugorje.-a0156002634The important remark: "What Bishop Peric declared in his letter to the Secretary General of Famille Chretienne, declaring: "My conviction and my position is not only 'non constat de supernaturalitate,' but likewise, 'constat de non supernaturalitate' of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje," should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which IS AND REMAINS HIS PERSONAL OPINION" [emphasis added]

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posted September 11, 2009 at 10:46 am

Thanks for the link, Ben. I read it and so now understand that as far as the Vatican is concerned the last official findings still stand:"As for the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, this Dicastery respects what was decided by the bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Declaration of Zadar, April 10, 1991: "On the basis of the investigations so far, it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations." Since the division of Yugoslavia into different independent nations it would now pertain topertain to the episcopal conferecne of Bosnia-Hercegovina to eventually reopen the examination of this case, and to make any new pronouncements that might be called for…"This is a typical historico-magisterial reply (see the Vatican on non-approved Garabandal for instance)in which the verdict of not-supernatural stands while the inquirers remain open to developements (positive or negative) concerning the alleged events.

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posted December 15, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Actually, Dante has taken the above quotation out of context. It lies before the following quote in Cardinal Bertone’s Letter. Here is how he ends his letter:
“What Bishop Peric declared in his letter to the Secretary General of Famille Chretienne, declaring: “My conviction and my position is not only ‘non constat de supernaturalitate,’ but likewise, ‘constat de non supernaturalitate’ of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje,” should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion [emphasis mine].
Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentification of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church.
I hope that I have replied satisfactorily at least to the principal questions that you have presented to this Dicastery and I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my devoted sentiments. ”

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posted April 20, 2013 at 11:45 pm

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