At the end of February 1998 Msgr. Patrick Power, the auxiliary bishop of Canberra, Australia, visited Medjugorje. This is what he said on that occasion:
"I am priest already for thirty three years and a bishop for twelve years. My mother was really a wonderful woman and very devoted to the Virgin Mary. My father had a special devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. I was born February 11, right on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. I myself have been in Lourdes but I have experienced something special here. In January 1993, I participated in a prayer program in Canberra in which Fr. Slavko Barbaric and Ivan the visionary also took part. I was deeply touched by what I heard and saw. The message that Ivan spoke and the manner in which he did it impressed me very much. He spoke about peace, prayer, conversion, penance, fasting and deep faith. Those are messages that I have heard so many times and I also have spoken about them before, but the simplicity in which it was all expressed was for me exceptionally important. I remember how my mother experienced all that. It was for her an indescribable experience. In May 1993 I was in Rome. After that I came to Dubrovnik with Bishop Zelimir Puljic, the bishop of Dubrovnik, since I had three days free. We are friends already since 1972 when we met during our studies in Rome (1972-1975). So then in May 1993 I took advantage of the opportunity and came to Medjugorje "incognito". There was still war. There were not many pilgrims. However, many things impressed me. I was already a bishop then, but I did not come here as a bishop. I remained a private person. I celebrated mass. This is the second time that I come to Medjugorje. This time I came with a group from Australia and with my sister and her three children. I have not come with any special expectations, but this really is a time of great grace. I want to be sincere. This time I came because of my family. When I came back home after my first visit I also wrote an article about my experiences. It was very good. Even though I am here for the sake of my family, I have to admit that Our Lady has prepared many graces also for me. I have found a profound peace, especially after I heard Vicka's testimony. I felt that same peace that I felt in 1993 when I heard about the messages the first time. This all helps me again to decide for my vocation as a priest and for my ministry as a bishop. Medjugorje is PEACE. I have felt internal peace and I have witnessed about it to everyone in the group that I came with. When I see what is happening in our group, how people are returning to faith, prayer, confession, then I have to recommend many to come here. The experience of confession is exceptionally important and the evening prayer program and the meetings with the visionaries. Not only I, but also Bishop Kennedy who has been here several times, recommend to the faithful to come to Medjugorje. I wish to say: Thank you. Thanks to the faithful and the priests who work here. Your testimony of faith, love, prayer and hospitality for us pilgrims is very important."
Archbishop Krieger from Brazil visited the parish of Medjugorje from February 25 - 28, 1998. At the evening mass on February 27, he preached to the assembly of the faithful. We here present his entire sermon:
"I am Bishop Murillo Krieger, archbishop of the city of Maringo in Brazil. Eight years have pass since I was in Medjugorje. For me it is a great joy to be here together with you, because Medjugorje has always remained in my heart. Since I am here with you, certainly you would like to know everything that an archbishop thinks about Medjugorje.
I see Medjugorje as a gift and a responsibility. Medjugorje is a gift and a grace. Our Lady gives to everyone who comes here the possibility to find the same love and tenderness that she revealed in Cana of Galilee. Our Lady has come close to us and asks of us to "Do all that He tells you." And the servants in Cana of Galilee did everything asked of them and they filled up the jars with water. Thus it was possible for Jesus to work his first miracle in Cana. If our hearts had been open and ready to walk in the way of Christ, everything that the Lord wanted to do through Medjugorje would have already been done. Is it really that hard to give our hearts to Jesus Christ?
Medjugorje is a great responsibility. I understood that immediately, from the first moment I set foot on the soil of Medjugorje. That was in May 1985 immediately after my episcopal consecration. Observing and listening to the visionaries I came to the conclusion that they need our prayers so they may be able to be faithful to their mission. From that moment I decided to dedicate to them the first five mysteries of my daily Rosary. That is my small gift. I thereby offer my support and help because they have an important mission which is obvious in the presentation of Medjugorje regarding the parish and the Church in the world. I am grateful to the visionaries for their being disposed and open to the grace of God. I am grateful also to the Franciscans for their dedication and perseverance in this pastoral work. I am grateful to you in the parish of Medjugorje because you have responded in great numbers to Our Lady's call. You cannot even imagine how important is the role of this parish for the Church and the world. May the Lord bless all of you. May Our Lady, Queen of Peace with her intercession accompany you, your friends and brothers and sisters in Medjugorje."
On March 1, 1998 the Archbishop for the Unites States Armed Forces visited the parish of Medjugorje. Here is what he said on that occasion:
"I am Edwin O'Brien, the archbishop responsible for the entire armed forces of the United States of America. That is the responsibility for every American in all branches of the military, for military hospitals and for all members of the diplomatic corps. I began this ministry in September, 1997. Recently I became an archbishop. My assignment is to visit American military personnel there where they are serving. I have been in the Pacific and now I'm in Europe (Italy, Germany, England, Belgium and Bosnia-Hercegovina). For Christmas I visited Sarajevo and I was very disappointed that I did not succeed then in coming to Medjugorje. I had to answer: No! I did not have the opportunity. I was living in Rome from 1985 to 1990, but I did not come. When I was in Sarajevo I asked my superiors if I can visit Medjugorje. Today I am here. The fact that I celebrated Holy Mass in the parish church of St. James is for me a great privilege. I have heard many good things about Medjugorje.. I was in Medjugorje very briefly. Now I am already planning my second visit to Medjugorje. I would like to go on Podbrdo, the place of the apparitions, but I don't have time and that bothers me. I am happy that I have celebrated Holy Mass here today. I prayed before Our Lady's statue. I hope that Our Lady understands me. I have decided to come another time to have more time to be here. I will do everything that the other pilgrims also do. I will try my best for my next visit to be this summer. Till then let us remain united in prayer for peace in the world."
This written testimony was sent to us October 9, 1997 by Mr. Marcello Pierucci, Via Castiglione 154, Bologna, Italy.
"During the Eucharistic Congress that was held recently in Bologna, I hosted Archbishop Msgr. Maria Rizzi, former apostolic nuncio in Bulgaria, and now stationed in Rome where he works on the cause for beatification of servants of God. During a supper in the presence of my wife Anna and Msgr. Novello Pedezzini, Archbishop Rizzi narrated the following:
'I found myself in the private chapel of the Holy Father at morning mass. At the end of Holy Mass the Holy Father approached us and personally greeted all those present. Near me was Msgr. Robert Cavallero from the Shrine of Our Lady of Chiavari. When the Pope got close to us with the intention of greeting us, Msgr Cavallero said: Holy Father I am just now coming from Medjugorje.
The Pope said; Monsignor, do you believe?
The Monsignor answered: Yes, Holy Father!
After that Bishop Cavallero asked the Pope: And You, Holy Father, do You believe?
Then after that question the Pope stopped for a moment in silence and then said at intervals: I believe. . .I believe. . .I believe. . .'
The next evening at my request Archbishop Rizzi repeated this testimony in the presence of Msgr Novello Pedezzini and the bishop of Prato, Msgr. Gastone Simoni."
I confirm the authenticity of this testimony with my own signature.
Medjugorje, October 9, 1997 Marcello Pierucci [signature]
At the beginning of November 1997 together with a group of pilgrims from Mexico Bishop Lazaro Perez also visited Medjugorje. He is the bishop of the Mexican diocese of De Autlan Jalisco. In a short conversation with us he spoke about his experiences, first of all in his own country and of his impressions about Medjugorje. We here present his impressions about pilgrimage to Medjugorje:
"Medjugorje is very well known in Mexico. I heard of Medjugorje for the first time about fifteen years ago when Medjugorje first began to be spoken of a little. I have to be honest and say that when we bishops hear news about apparitions and similar phenomena we are cautious in our statements. Usually it happens that in the first instance we say that it is impossible, we want to immediately oppose it. We are always afraid to confirm news about apparitions immediately since we are afraid that this view of belief will be fragile and grow into fanaticism. That was my personal conviction at the very beginning. After that I went to Italy in 1985. I met with a married couple that had been on a visit to Medjugorje. From then on I began to be take more and more interest. Well, I usually said that it cannot be the truth. I held that after the apparitions in Guadalupe there could not be any more talk about other apparitions because Mary from Guadalupe was Queen of Mexico. But all the more and more they began to talk about Mary's mission here, about her talking through the children. I was concerned so that some kind of religious fanaticism would not be created. My great interest began from that moment when completely by accident I came across the book of theologian Rene Laurentin in which he writes about apparitions in the whole world. I read the book with great interest just from the fact that the author was a priest and my former professor in Rome where I heard his lectures on Mariology. I thought that he was indeed a serious and well known theologian and that it was not a matter of fanaticism. For that reason I continued reading with still greater interest. In that book I found a very touching sentence in which Fr. Laurentin says: '. . .we are passing through a period during which ecclesiastical gardens have been become infertile and it was time that Our Lady come to renew them and give them a new freshness. . .' I came to the conclusion that the problems that exist in the Church are not solved and perhaps the pastors in the Church are responsible for that. I felt that I was one of them. We need more holy priests and pastors who are disposed to live according to Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd and the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. All these events opened the doors to atheism, secularism, a consumer society, which together make a culture of values that are contrary to the teaching of the gospel. Reading the experiences of Fr. Laurentin I said: 'Certainly this is not some imagination, he is speaking the truth.' On one occasion I was conversing with a friend who was a theologian. He counseled me not to go to Medjugorje and said that he would not risk his theological honor. Fr. Laurentin told me that this type of theologian talks a lot about Mary, but does not genuinely love her. They use Mariology for teaching, but they do not have a felt relationship with Mary. All of this helped awaken in me a great interest in Our Lady although I feel that Our Lady held a significant place throughout my entire life . In the coat of arms of our diocese we have a star that represents Our Lady. I wanted that Our Lady's symbol by all means be put into the coat of arms of our diocese. After reading Laurentin's book my interest for these events grew all the more. In addition to that, I met with many pilgrims who had been to Medjugorje. Upon their return to Mexico they were religiously richer and more ready to live a life of doing good in the spirit of the gospel. All that shows the fruits of Medjugorje, even if the official Church still continues to look with caution at this phenomenon. I think that above all one has to pay great attention to the fruits of Medjugorje. At this moment I am here with 108 pilgrims from Mexico and already I can say that I have observed many good fruits.
I will invite my faithful to come to Medjugorje. Its too bad that it is so far away from Mexico. We have a well known religious culture, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary holds a special place. As the Second Vatican Council says, I think that Mary both prays and intercedes together with Christ and that is what I have experienced here in Medjugorje. This morning we talked with a visionary, Vicka. She presented to us Our Lady's messages on conversion, fasting, prayer, forgiveness and holy confession, about all these values that are gradually being lost today. I personally believe the following: If Our Lady through Christ is endeavoring to quicken these values then that ought to be the fundamental duty of a priest, especially of us bishops. We have to tell our faithful that this world has a way of salvation because Christ is our way. Christ is our Savior and here we see that the Mother of Christ calls us to this: to enliven the values that lead to salvation. They are prayer, reconciliation, conversion, and fasting in such a way that we can be closer to the cross of Christ. In today's time as also then in the time of St. Paul, the cross becomes a sign of scandal and not only for unbelievers. Sad to say, the cross has become a scandal also for Christians. Everyone would like an easy life, people are afraid of trials, they try to remove the presence of the cross from sight. Therefore I think Our Lady wants to give us great advice: Renew all the removed Christian values, and especially prayer and you will experience conversion. All of us have to reconcile with God and the Church through the sacrament of holy confession so that if we sincerely reconcile with God we can more easily follow the way of Christ. To follow Christ not just in any way, but to be ready to take our cross and witness the faith of Christ
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