CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 June 2017

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Apparitions of little value at Medjugorje

HONG KONG (SE): Talk of the daily appearances of Our Lady at the famed parish of St. James in Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been a source of intrigue since sightings were first reported in 1981.
 
It has also been the subject of on-again-off-again Vatican investigations since the mid-1980s and while no official report has ever been released there have been rumours that there is considerable dissatisfaction with the manner in which the pilgrim site has been developed.
 
An official commission was set up by the Vatican in 2010 under the charge of Camillo Cardinal Ruini, which is believed to have drawn a distinguishing line between the original events that took place in the last days of June and early July 1981 and the ongoing reports of subsequent apparitions.
 
Comments from those involved in the investigation seem to indicate that the commission believes that the original apparitions are probably authentic, but the subsequent ones are definitely not.
 
There have also been doubts cast over the constructiveness of the spirituality that has been developed at the site itself.
 
On his return flight to Rome after celebrating the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima in Portugal on May 13, Pope Francis told reporters that since the commission on Medjugorje has handed the results of its inquiry to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he has personally intervened and asked the congregation to report directly to himself.
 
He also dispatched the Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser to Medjugorje in February to make an assessment of the pastoral situation on the ground. The archbishop made his visit and is due to hand his report to the pope in the near future.
 
In his indirect manner, Pope Francis seemed to back up the theory that although the original apparitions may have been authentic, he does not give credence to reports of subsequent sightings.
 
“I prefer the Madonna as Mother, our Mother, and not a woman who’s the head of a telegraphic office, who everyday sends a message at a certain hour. This is not the mother of Jesus. And these presumed apparitions don’t have a lot of value. This I say as a personal opinion,” the pope said during his in-flight press conference.
 
Reports say that Our Lady has had a regular 5.00pm time slot, appearing every day for the past 36 years and that 47,000 reported sightings are now registered with the diocesan chancery.
 
“A commission of good theologians, bishops, cardinals. Good, good, good. The Ruini report is very, very good,” Pope Francis said, indicating that he is positive about the spiritual fruit and the conversions.
 
He stressed he appreciates that people do go there and convert, people do meet God and do change their lives. But about the current apparitions, he remains negative.
 
The pope indicated that he does not buy that they can be a supernatural event or be authentic, however he did insist that the spiritual fact and the pastoral fact need to be separated.
 
One of the stumbling blocks associated with the ongoing apparitions is the deep conflict that has continued between the Franciscans, who have custody of the parish in which the original apparitions occurred, and the local bishop.
 
Those who experienced the original apparitions also lay claim to secrets being revealed, but doubt has been cast over these as well, as they are rather uncharacteristically apocalyptic in their flavour and considered of little value. The investigating commission has decided not to go into the erratic behaviour of the original witnesses.
 
But Bishop Ratko Peri, from Mostar-Duvno, the diocese in which Medjugorje is located, is not buying any of it, even casting doubts on the original seven apparitions.
 
He wrote on his website that although he is open to the possibility of authenticity, he believes that those who witnessed them decided to prolong the story for reasons of their own and their descriptions of Our Lady’s behaviour are simply un-ladylike.
 
He speaks of the strange way they say she laughs and how they give her orders which she carries out even against her will, even allowing people to touch her and tread on her veil.
 
“Considering everything that this chancery has so far researched and studied, including the first seven days of the alleged apparitions, it can peacefully be affirmed: The Madonna has not appeared in Medjugorje!” the bishop wrote.
 
Bishop Pavao Zanic, who was the bishop in the 1980s, noted that he believed that the continued promoting of the ongoing apparitions was about big business, big money and big disobedience to the Church.
 
Nevertheless, it may be some time before any further light is shed on the matter, as it is believed that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has doubts over some aspects of Cardinal Ruini’s report, which is why Pope Francis has asked it to report directly to him.

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