JT: Pope Benedict has set up a commission to investigate Marian apparitions at Medjugorje. On today’s Vatican Report, we’ll talk about why the pope wants more clarity on these apparitions, and why it might take a while to reach conclusions. I’m John Thavis, Catholic News Service Rome bureau chief.
CG: And I’m Carol Glatz, CNS Rome correspondent. In 1981, six young people began reporting visions of the Virgin Mary in the tiny village of Medjugorje, formerly in Yugoslavia and now in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Today, three of the visionaries say they are still seeing Mary on a daily basis. That’s an almost 30-year-long running conversation with the mother of Jesus, and is just one of the unique features of Medjugorje.
JT: From the beginning, these apparitions have been controversial. Local bishops have been openly skeptical, and have tried -- not very successfully -- to limit the pilgrimages to Medjugorje. The bishops have also accused the Franciscan pastors in Medjugorje of disobedience in promoting the apparitions. Two years ago, the Vatican suspended one of the Franciscan priests who acted as a spiritual advisor to the visionaries. And a lot of people think the Vatican investigation signals a harder line on what’s been going on there.
CG: But Medjugorje has a lot of supporters, including some Vatican officials. Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn recently paid a very public visit there, which prompted a complaint from the local bishops. According to the priest who worked on the sainthood cause of Pope John Paul II, the late pope believed strongly that Mary was appearing at Medjugorje and once said that he would have liked to travel there himself. He apparently felt he couldn’t do that, because the church has made no formal pronouncements on the authenticity of the apparitions.
JT: Pope Benedict has always taken a prudent view of apparitions and signs and divine messages. As head of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation for 24 years, it was sometimes his job to investigate reports of apparitions, and as one might expect the Vatican was always very, very cautious about claims of the supernatural. Behind this careful approach is a basic church teaching: that public revelation ended with Jesus Christ and the New Testament, and that no private revelation will add anything essential to the faith. At the same time, Pope Benedict once said that authentic apparitions are possible today, and in fact can throw light on the faith.
CG: One reason church leaders have spoken favorably about Medjugorje is that millions of people have gone there, and many say they’ve had a life-changing experience of conversion. They talk to the visionaries, they pray, they go to Mass and confession -- in some cases, for the first time in years. For people like Cardinal Schonborn, that’s a powerful argument in support of the apparitions.
JT: The Vatican commission will be looking into all that, which is a huge task. It will also examine the hundreds of messages the visionaries are said to …
Powered by www.medjugorje.ws