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What future role for the visionaries at Medjugorje?

Up to now pilgrims visiting Medjugorje have always had an opportunity to listen to the witness of some of the visionaries, outside their homes or in the parish hall. On occasions the visionaries give their testimony on the outside altar of St James church, or are invited to recite the Magnificat.


Pilgrims can also attend apparitions, notably those received by Mirjana on the 2nd of each month, usually at the Blue Cross located at the foot of Apparition Hill. And whenever Ivan is in town he normally receives a weekly apparition on the hill and pilgrims are invited to attend. Ivan also invites groups of priests on a weekly basis to an apparition in the chapel next to his home. Marija, too, in her private chapel.


Then there are the monthly messages given to Marija which are disseminated by the parish website. The monthly message received by Mirjana is not published by the parish website. Instead it is normally translated and announced to pilgrims attending the apparition and distributed via social media.


So how will all this fit in with the new ruling expressed by the papal envoy last week that ‘official’ pilgrimages to Medjugorje (organised at diocesan level) are now allowed, but with the proviso that they are not organised to go there for the apparitions (and, by association, the visionaries and the messages)?


For this to happen, then it is likely that the prohibition will apply to the visionaries themselves, especially if the Vatican takes control of the parish and Medjugorje is given status as a pontifical sanctuary.


But how will this be enforced? Will some onus be placed on the visionaries, parish guides and tour companies to co-operate with any papal declaration, beginning with this latest announcement to allow official pilgrimages? 


There is uncertainty among many Medjugorje followers as to the veracity of the ongoing apparitions and messages since Pope Francis expressed his personal view earlier this year (February 13), saying he doubted the alleged current apparitions.


2018 will be a testing time for all concerned.


Another point to consider is if Medjugorje is given papal recognition as a place of faith, prayer and devotion then it would be a contradiction not to allow pilgrimages to be organised at diocesan level. Papal recognition of Medjugorje does not imply approval of the apparitions, hence the proviso attached to papal envoy’s announcement when he said: “Pilgrimages of prayer can be organised in Medjugorje without an problem, provided they are spiritual and do not concern the apparitions of Our Lady to the seers.”


UPDATE... May 31, 2018


The Vatican announcement today that Msgr Henryk Hoser will be returning to Medjugorje again, but this time in the role of an Apostolic Visitor, has come as a surprise; that his appointment has been described as indefinite, even more so.


His returning mission as described by the Vatican Press Office is: “to ensure a stable and continuous accompaniment of the parish community of Medjugorje and of the faithful who go there on pilgrimage, whose needs require special attention”. Greg Burke, director of the VPO, added that Msgr Hoser “will have a residence in Medjugorje, for a tighter collaboration with the bishop and the local Franciscans.” Burke also stressed the “pastoral, not doctrinal character” of Hoser’s mission.


Following his previous visitation the Polish envoy opened the doors for pilgrimages to Medjugorje at diocesan level: “Pilgrimages of prayer can be organised in Medjugorje without an problem, provided they are spiritual and do not concern the apparitions of Our Lady to the seers.”


This also raises the question as to where priests stand on this when they make private pilgrimages. Will they be allowed to attend the apparitions, notably those to Marija on the 25th of every month, and Mirjana on the 2nd day of the month? And if priests are allowed to attend then why not the laity, even as groups?


Another anomoly is the weekly invitation extended by the visionary Ivan to priests to visit his home and be present at an apparition. Will this continue be the norm? Will we also continue to see priests lineup behind Mirjana during her apparitions at the Blue Cross, some of them leading the prayers? Or will all this change, even though the Apostolic Visitor’s brief is said not to be doctrinal and his revised role pastoral only?


Then there are the two annual events at Medjugorje where the visionaries’s presence is very visible, even on the altar – the anniversary of the apparitions celebrated on the June 25, and the week-long Youth Festival beginning August 1. Can the public presence of the visionaries at these events be said not to “concern the apparitions of Our Lady to the seers”?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Envoy’s comments on Medjugorje pilgrimages echo earlier recommendations by CDF

The recent comments made by papal envoy Msgr Henryk Hoser (right) about pilgrimages to Medjugorje organised at diocesan level may have come as a surprise to many, but his announcement went some way to confirm an earlier report by the Italian news portal Il Giornale, published in June 2015. 


The report stated that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had considered the Ruini Commission dossier and recommended Medjugorje be recognised as a place of faith, prayer and devotion, but not a shrine. The CDF also recommended that pilgrims should be prohibited from having contact with the visionaries and participating in the apparitions, so as to avoid the danger of any fanaticism or exaltation of the seers; the faithful are invited to go on pilgrimage to Medjugorje to pray and not to meet the visionaries.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Problem of the visionaries is not yet solved... bishops cannot organise pilgrimages to go to the apparitions... Papal Envoy Henryk Hoser

This report was published today by the Italian news outlet Il Giornale.

• Monsignor Henryk Hoser, archbishop emeritus of Warsaw-Prague, speaks to Il Giornale after the clamour aroused by his words on the “Medjugorje cult which is now authorised”. From the Vatican they say that Pope Francis did not give any instructions on Medjugorje but the delegate of Bergoglio, sent to the small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina to “investigate” the pastoral situation and to know the needs of the faithful, specifies today that “the decree that forbade bishops to organise pilgrimages is no longer active”.


Monsignor, can you explain to us better?

“It is true what I said, although perhaps it was a bit exaggerated in tone [when reported], but it is absolutely authentic that pilgrimages of prayer can be organised in Medjugorje without any problem, provided they are spiritual and do not concern the apparitions of Our Lady to the seers”.


“In the meantime I can say that the Marian cult in Medjugorje is absolutely not forbidden, indeed! It is always accessible, because it is universal. You do not need any authorisation, in short, to pray to Our Lady!”


You said that the old decree of the Episcopal Conference of Yugoslavia that before the war advised against the bishops organising pilgrimages to Medjugorje is no longer in place. Is that so?


“I confirm, first the pilgrimages were a rarity and during the war it was considered appropriate to proceed like this. That decree is no longer active...”


So, for pilgrimages, how should one behave?


“We need to distinguish between worship and apparitions. If a bishop wants to organise a prayer pilgrimage to Medjugorje to pray to Our Lady, he can do it without problem. But if it is organised pilgrimages to go there for the apparitions, we cannot, there is no authorisation to do it.”


And why?


“Because the problem of the visionaries is not yet solved. They are working at the Vatican. The document is with the Secretariat of State and must be awaited. And of course we need a pronouncement from the Pope who was able to study the report of the commission presided over by Cardinal Ruini.”


Did you meet the seers?


“Yes, to be precise, I met four of them...”


How did you find them? What do you think?


“I found them well, but I cannot talk about this, I'm sorry.”


And what did you find in Medjugorje?


“I must say that I found a correct cult, Christocentric, classic. I did not find strange or unknown aspects from the Church.”


And the priests who arrive there how do they behave?


“They behave well I have to say, they confess a lot. It is not a vacation place, there are no circumstances that can make us think that the priests go there to have fun.”


You mentioned an Albanian cardinal who blessed the faithful in Medjugorje after having been authorised by the Pope.


“Yes, Cardinal Ernest Simoni, before going there, asked the Holy Father if he could do it, and Francis said he could absolutely go and bless the people of God on his part too.”

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Should anyone have been surprised?

The recent news that pilgrimages to Medjugorje organised at diocesan level will be legitimised by the Holy See has caused surprise around the world, even among Medjugorje circles. But why should this have been the case?


When Pope Francis issued his Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera in November 2016, it was clear that he had nixed any doubts about the legitimacy of pilgrimages to Medjugorje and priests travelling there to assist with administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation.


Medjugorje has long been referred to as the “Confessional of the World” because of its renown as a “place of prayer and reconciliation”.


In his Apostolic Letter issued at the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year, Pope Francis said:


“The Sacrament of Reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life. This requires priests capable of putting their lives at the service of the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18), in such a way that, while no sincerely repentant sinner is prevented from drawing near to the love of the Father who awaits his return, everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness.”


Now by allowing ‘official’ pilgrimages to Medjugorje, Pope Francis has removed the obstacle that prevented many from travelling to Medjugorje because it was “not approved”. 


And there is a precedent for this to be found in Scripture – Isaiah 57 : 14 


It shall be said: Open up, open up, clear the way, remove all obstacles from the way of my people... 


Also, it was only when the sealed stone was rolled away from Christ’s tomb, that the disciples became aware of the Resurrection – the Risen Christ. How true this is at Medjugorje, a place of resurrection for millions of pilgrims these past 36 years.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Official pilgrimages to Medjugorje will be authorised says Pope’s envoy Henryk Hoser

• Jesús Colina reporting for Aleteia

“The devotion of Medjugorje is allowed. It’s not prohibited, and need not be done in secret,” confirmed Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga, Poland, now some months after being sent to Medjugorje by Pope Francis to evaluate not the veracity of the apparitions, but the state of the pastoral care being provided to the thousands of pilgrims who flock to the site every year.


Formerly, pilgrimages to the site were not to be organised by official Church groups, though the faithful could make them privately or through other organisations. Now, the stance on officially-organised pilgrimages will open.


“My mission is precisely to analyse the pastoral situation and propose improvements,” the archbishop told Aleteia, about his assignment at the shrine in Bosnia & Herzegovina, which has attracted millions of people since Marian apparitions reportedly began there in 1981.


“Today, dioceses and other institutions can organise official pilgrimages. It’s no longer a problem,” explained the archbishop, speaking from his residence in Warsaw. “Pope Francis recently asked an Albanian cardinal to give his blessing to the faithful present in Medjugorje,” he added.


“The decree of the former episcopal conference of what used to be Yugoslavia, which, before the Balkan war, advised against pilgrimages in Medjugorje organised by bishops, is no longer relevant,” he said.

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