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October 26, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: In a recent column in the Sunday bulletin of the Parish of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George Rutler expressed his concern about the “mixture of calculation and callowness in the provisional agreement between the Holy See and Communist China, recognizing the primacy of the Pope, but at the price of an unclear arrangement giving the government a role in the appointment of bishops.”
He said that “it was my privilege to know Cardinal Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei of Shanghai, who endured thirty years in prison, and Archbishop Dominic Tang Yee-Ming of Canton, who was imprisoned for twenty-two years, seven of them in solitary confinement. The 87-year-old Cardinal Archbishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen, sees a betrayal of those who have suffered so much for Christ. Time will tell if the present diplomacy is wise.”
Fr. Rutler said that “an architect of this agreement, Cardinal Parolin, said, ‘The Church in China does not want to replace the state, but wants to make a positive and serene contribution for the good of all.’ His words are drowned out by the sound of bulldozers knocking down churches while countless Christians languish in ‘re-education camps.’ A fourteenth-century maxim warned: ‘He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.’ For spoon we might now say chopsticks. When it comes to cutting deals with governments, it is sobering to recall that of the twelve Apostles only one was a diplomat, and he hanged himself.”

Q. I was shocked and sickened, but sadly not surprised, to read your artfully dishonest reply to the question about Medjugorje in your September 20th column. I am sure you would have had to look at the results of the Ruini Report in 2017 to see that the first apparitions to the children were strongly affirmed by the committee (13 in favor, one against, and one suspended). And yet you knowingly misrepresented this. You left out the comments by the Pope about the good fruit (“By their fruit you shall know them”). There have been over 400 documented healings and over 600 documented priestly vocations that have come.
You purposely never mentioned this. . . . Because of the large forum your paper has, you have, through your column, now influenced the uninformed who read your column to avoid Medjugorje. A great offense to our Blessed Mother! You owe her a correction of this information from the Ruini Report. — J.G., Arizona.
A. We have been honestly skeptical about the reported apparitions in Medjugorje ever since we began writing this column in 1991. That skepticism was based at first on a talk we heard Wayne Weible give in the late 1980s.
Mr. Weible, who passed away earlier this year, was a secular journalist whose investigation into Medjugorje led him to write many articles and books asserting that the apparitions were authentic. A Lutheran at the time, who would later convert to Catholicism, Weible quoted our Lady as having promoted religious indifferentism by saying that all religions are equal before God. When asked what he would do if the Catholic Church declared that the apparitions were not authentic, he said that he would ignore the Church and continue to believe in the apparitions.
The second reason for our skepticism was the statement by 19 Yugoslav bishops in 1991 that “one cannot affirm that we are dealing here with supernatural apparitions or revelations.”
The third reason was the number of the apparitions, which was so out of sync with such approved apparitions as those in Fatima and Lourdes.
The fourth reason was the delay in approving or rejecting Medjugorje. Lourdes was approved in four years, and Fatima in 13 years, but it’s been 37 years, and counting, for Medjugorje.
The fifth reason is based on a 2011 book by Donal Anthony Foley entitled Medjugorje Revisited: 30 Years of Visions or Religious Fraud.
We cannot list all of the reasons Mr. Foley gives for disbelieving in Medjugorje in this column; you will have to read his book yourself.
But among his reasons are the worldly character of the visionaries, compared to the innocence, for example, of St. Bernadette at Lourdes or of the three children at Fatima, and later their world travels and affluent lifestyles; their statement on June 30, 1981 that the visions would only last “two or three more days”; the bizarre messages attributed to the Blessed Virgin; the statement of Bishop Ratko Peric, the bishop of Mostar, after an ad limina meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, that there were “numerous absurd messages, insincerities, falsehoods and disobedience associated with the events and ‘apparitions’ of Medjugorje from the very outset.”
And: the 2008 letter from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, disciplining Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, spiritual adviser to the visionaries from 1981 to 1984, “for the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience toward legitimately issued order,” and sexual immorality.
In July 2009, Pope Benedict laicized Vlasic and imposed conditions on him, “under pain of excommunication,” that prohibited him from releasing declarations on religious matters, especially regarding ‘the phenomenon of Medjugorje’.” This is the same man of whom the Blessed Virgin is alleged to have said in 1982, “Thank Tomislav very much, for he is guiding you very well.”
The Ruini Report refers to a report from a commission established by Pope Benedict in 2010 and headed by Camillo Cardinal Ruini. The commission met for four years, visited Medjugorje, interviewed all the seers and witnesses involved, and, as J.G., said, found credible the first seven alleged appearances, between June 24 and July 3, 1981, but had mixed opinions about the credibility of subsequent reported visions, particularly with regard to repetitive messages and some “secrets” that were to be revealed.
As we said in the September 20th column, Pope Francis called the Ruini Report “very, very good,” although he has made no official pronouncement about its findings, and he has expressed doubts about the Blessed Mother delivering daily messages “at a certain hour.” He did send Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Poland on a “special mission” to Medjugorje to acquire more information about the situation.
In an interview published October 5th in the Franciscan magazine Veritas, Archbishop Hoser compared Medjugorje to Fatima and Lourdes, saying that “these are three Marian shrines which call for repentance and conversion and for the prayer of the rosary. . . . Between these three pilgrimage sites, there is a kind of spiritual solidarity and bondage.”
He said that Medjugorje is “a simple parish. The power of grace that is felt here, the power of God’s words here proclaimed, makes us witnesses to many radical transformations that are happening here. Medjugorje has become the confessional of the world.”
Asked about the reported apparitions, the archbishop said, “The Church’s position is: Let’s wait and see. In general terms, the message of peace that emerges from the Medjugorje phenomenon is always valid. The Queen of Peace — the title of the Mother of God which is present here — existed in distant history as well.”
As for the “fruits” of Medjugorje, there are good ones, such as wonderful stories of repentance, conversions, and vocations. God’s grace can work even at false apparitions, as happened at Necedah and Bayside. But there are other fruits that are not so good, such as causing people to put more stock in apparitions than in the Church.
Wayne Weible noticed a change in the “new entrepreneurs” coming to Medjugorje in later years. He said that “their demeanor was that of rapacious wolves disguised as converted sheep, as they attempted to cash in quickly on the desires of those in search of miracles.”
Weible also said that “many pilgrims who had experienced a life-changing conversion through Medjugorje were now busily following after every claimed visionary and locutionist. They seemed driven by an insatiable thirst to know every possible detail about any supernatural event.”
This is not a healthy attitude, as St. John Paul II said in a statement that appeared in the pages of the September 18, 1996 issue of L’Osservatore Romano:
“Some members of the People of God are not rooted firmly enough in the Faith, so that the sects, with their deceptive proselytism, mislead them to separate themselves from true communion in Christ. Within the Church community, the multiplication of supposed ‘apparitions’ or ‘visions’ is sowing confusion and reveals a certain lack of a solid basis to the Faith and Christian life among her members.”

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Catholic Replies

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