Saturday, July 21, 2012

Our Lady of Medjugorje?: Very Serious Counter-Signs

By Fr. Jay Scott Newman

Medjugorje is a village located (since the crack-up of Yugoslavia) in Bosnia and Herzegovina but populated almost totally by Croats. Since June 1981, a small group of villagers have claimed that the Blessed Virgin Mary regularly appears to them with messages from heaven, and despite the constant warnings of the local bishop that there is no basis to believe these claims, Medjugorje has become the third most visited pilgrimage site in Europe. Many Catholics of undoubted orthodoxy have been to Medjugorje and reported that they saw there only abundant signs of grace at work in the thousands of pilgrims who come there to pray. And yet ... and yet there are very serious counter-signs also at work in Medjugorje.

The most serious of these counter-signs is the man who was once the chief promoter of the claims of Marian apparitions and the de facto spiritual director of the self-proclaimed visionaries. His name is Tomislav Vlašić, and he was once a Franciscan priest. He is now a disgraced ex-Catholic and laicized former priest who has taken to shilling New Age nonsense to pay the bills, and he was dismissed from the priesthood. It turns out that the primary promoter of belief in the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje is a heretic, a degenerate and probably a sociopath. In 1976, for example, he impregnated a Franciscan sister, whom he convinced to flee to Germany to hide the child.

The partisans of the Medjugorje devotion invariably rebut all objections to these alleged apparitions with an appeal to the abundant spiritual fruits which come to those who make pilgrimage there. But this is not sufficient. Many Muslims and Mormons lead lives of great goodness, but their religions are false. Many Calvinists and Lutherans shame too many Catholics in their devotion to the Lord Jesus, their knowledge of Holy Scripture, and their holiness of life, but much of their doctrine is heretical and they live in separation from the Church of Christ fully and rightly ordered in history. The apparent fruit of holiness in the lives of pilgrims to Medjugorje is simply not evidence that the claims being made by the alleged seers are true, and until and unless the Holy Father makes a definitive judgment on this matter, the only certain guidance we have are the decrees of the Bishop of Mostar, the diocese in which Medjugorje is located. Two successive local bishops have asked that there be no pilgrimages to Medjugorje, and any Catholic who goes there to give credence to the claim of Marian apparitions is doing so against the legitimate authority of the local diocesan pastor... (continued)


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