Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why, since 1986, is the Lady of Medjugorje not considered to be the Virgin Mary? – 1) An itinerary

By: Louis Bélanger

On March 17th, 2010, the Holy See Press Office has announced the creation of a Fourth Commission of inquiry on Medjugorje by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

There seems to be something very peculiar with this case of alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six Croatian visionaries since 1981.

A verdict that was so evident to the diocesan Church authority, 24 years ago in Mostar, is re-examined by the highest authorities of the universal Church, today in Rome.

What has made the situation apparently so complex, and the critical observers so perplexed?
In the weeks and months ahead, this new website will try to unloosen the Medjugorjean knot by throwing some light on the complex Medjugorje problem and first by taking my own itinerary into account.

Personal background

My name is Louis Bélanger. I was born in Quebec City in 1941. After my studies in humanities and political science (International relations) at Laval University in Quebec City, I pursued my research in psychology and parapsychology at Freiburg University in West Germany (1968-1974). In 1975, I began conducting the study of paranormal phenomena while teaching at the Faculty of Theology of the Université de Montréal and at the Department of religious studies of the Université du Québec à Montréal. I retired in 2005.

My visit to Medjugorje

In 1984, I watched a French TV documentary suggesting that the Virgin Mary was appearing daily to youngsters in Yugoslavia.

These encounters claiming a transcendent source caught my attention some 40 months after they began. My mother had just died. Profound grief left me unable to pray. Would Our Heavenly Mother deign to aid me in my agonizing grief?

In January, 1985, I went to Medjugorje with a “declaration of intent” that I presented to the Franciscan parish personnel and to the Bishop of Mostar, Mgr Pavao Zanic.
I come to Medjugorje, not motivated by faith but rather in the spirit of scientific research. The Bishop’s firm position on alleged collective hallucinations doesn’t prevent me of having a favourable bias toward the possibility of authentic phenomena at the beginning of the events (luminous phenomena, ecstatic behaviour).
I do not side with the Franciscans nor the Bishop and I wish to meet them in a spirit of research.
I am interested in the physics, the physiology, the psychology and the parapsychology of the apparitions. In that perspective, I am highly interested in the field reports that have been written by scientists who have observed and tested the visionaries and I would like to have access to their research material.
If those scientific disciplines can not explain the observed phenomena, one will have to consider a possible “transcendent” dimension that has to be respected, even if the scientific rules can not allow the researcher to pronounce a judgement on that dimension.
Medjugorje - January 1985

The village was enveloped in a Siberian winter, as was all of the Bosnia-Herzegovina region in which Medjugorje lies.

In that desert of ice, I mixed with a few stalwart pilgrims and other scattered faithful. While filming the visionaries, I searched closely for signs of their ecstasy, but seemed only to see that they were adept at keeping up the appearances demanded by their newfound roles...

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