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Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

Can you tell me the Church's current position on the claimed appearances of
Our Lady at Medjugorje?

Thanks,

Anonymous

  { Can you tell me the Church's current position on the appearances of Our Lady at Medjugorje? }

Richard replied:

Dear Anonymous,

The Church authorities have not declared favorably on Medjugorje and there is no current investigation ongoing. The Church's official position appears in the Yugoslav bishop's statements at Zagreb (1990) and Zadar (1991). These statements do not call Medjugorje a spiritual place, and they don't authorize or even mention "pilgrims" per se. Really, it would have been inconsistent for them to do so, since a legitimate supernatural reason for making a pilgrimage could not be substantiated according to those statements.

Of course, it's a simple fact that people do go to Medjugorje out of motives of faith, and the bishops mention it; they then say that the bishop's conference will issue regulations to prevent and hinder any Marian devotion not in accord with the spirit of the Church; they have since, done so. That is obviously no endorsement, and the recent (CDF) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith letter makes a point that whatever private activity is going on there, it should not be taken as any kind of authentication.

So it would be correct to say: the official standing of the Church is that the alleged supernatural events at Medjugorje cannot be confirmed. The Church has forbidden parish- and diocesan-organized pilgrimages and other "manifestations" based on belief in the alleged apparitions.
The Church has issued pastoral regulations in regard to Marian devotion in the parish.

There is no active investigation underway in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The only sense in which Medjugorje is still "under investigation" is that the authorities will, no doubt, pay attention if some special event happens there.

Visitors to the AskACatholic|CPATS web site are welcome to also visit my little site:

It has most of the relevant documents about Medjugorje; and I'll be adding more.


Richard Chonak

Richard sent me this additional information in September 2009:

Anonymous,

To clarify about pilgrimages to Medjugorje: individual Catholic faithful cannot be forbidden to go to St. James Church in Medjugorje. It is, after all, a Catholic parish, and people can go there to attend Mass or for any other legitimate reason.

What is forbidden is making pilgrimages: that is, going there on the basis of claimed supernatural events. Many well-meaning people have never heard that the bishops of Yugoslavia have prohibited pilgrimages, and intended the ban to be so sweeping. Anyone needing clarification, especially priests, can and should write to the bishop of Mostar-Duvno (even by e-mail to biskupija@cbismo.hr !) for information.

Here are some resources:

This document cites statements and directives by the Yugoslav bishops and CDF officials. Note: the English version is a bit awkward in places.

A news item, as it appeared on my blog:

Former advisor to seers is laicized for suspect mysticism, heresy, disobedience, and sexual misconduct within the context of the Medjugorje phenomenon:

Books on the case:

The Medjugorje case is a complicated matter, with its own dramatic aspects, and the critical books about it are relatively few and unpublicized.

The best recent book on Medjugorje is by Donal Foley, and published by his small company Theotokos Books, which is in Britain. The book is pretty thorough about the history of the alleged apparition, including its problematic aspects.

I know it can't be easy to read a lot of skeptical material about something you might have been favorably disposed to, but I hope this helps!

— Richard

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