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Pope Francis On Medjugorje… Why The Visions Have Not Received Church Approval

June 19, 2017 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

Now that the dust has settled somewhat following the remarks made by Pope Francis about Medjugorje, on his journey back to Rome from Fatima in May — where he had just canonized Jacinta and Francisco Marto — we can see whether anything significant has occurred regarding the Vatican stance on Medjugorje.
The Pope was asked what he thought about “shrines” like Medjugorje, and the religious fervor surrounding them. He responded by saying that presumed apparitions, such as Medjugorje, aren’t part of the public, ordinary Magisterium of the Church.
Then he remarked that he was aware of problems concerning it, but that investigations were continuing and that he hoped that the truth about it would come out. He then mentioned the Ruini Commission and described the report it produced as “very, very good,” while also saying that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, (CDF) under Cardinal Mueller, had expressed some “doubts,” about the phenomenon and sent all the documentation, including evidence opposed to the position of the Ruini Commission, to the members of the Feria Quarta CDF monthly meeting.
He then went on to say that the Ruini report indicated that the “first apparitions” must continue to be studied. But speaking of alleged current apparitions, Pope Francis said the report had its doubts, which he would personally express more strongly, in line with his previous criticism of the idea of the Madonna as the head of a post office who sends out daily messages.
Writing a few days later, Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli apparently revealed the way the Ruini Commission members had voted regarding Medjugorje, despite the fact that its deliberations were supposed to be kept secret. Tornielli claimed that there had been “thirteen votes in favor of recognizing the supernatural nature of the first seven appearances in Medjugorje,” with one vote against and one suspended.
So, according to Tornielli, the majority of the Commission voted in favor of recognizing the first seven visions, those which took place between June 24 and 30, 1981. But regarding all the other claimed visions, which are described as the “second phase of the apparitions,” there was apparently more mixed voting as regards the spiritual fruits of Medjugorje — depending on whether or not the behavior of the visionaries was taken into account.
The Commission also called for an end to the ban on official diocesan and parish pilgrimages to Medjugorje; and the majority of the Commission “voted in favor of the constitution of ‘an authority dependent on the Holy See’ in Medjugorje as well as the transformation of the parish into a pontifical sanctuary.”
This is said to be a pastoral decision which “would not imply the recognition of the supernatural nature of the apparitions.”
The tone of Tornielli’s account gives the impression that Medjugorje has been approved, but in fact a majority positive vote was given to only seven out of the alleged tens of thousands of visions said to have taken place since 1981. Regarding these visions — the “second phase of the apparitions” — apparently two members of the Commission voted against them being supernatural, and twelve offered no opinion about them, which means they received no votes in favor of them having a supernatural origin.
The Commission members also stated their belief that the visionaries were “psychically normal,” and that “nothing of what they had seen was influenced by either the Franciscans of the parish or any other subjects.” These claims seem rather surprising in the light of the publicly available evidence.
On May 18, one of the commission members, Fr. Salvatore Perrella, was interviewed by the Italian newspaper, Avvenire. He said that the “Commission did not make a definitive pronouncement,” but rather decided to distinguish between what happened at the beginning and what has happened since then.
He is reported as saying, “the Commission has cut the case into two segments. The first part concerns the seven initial apparitions — let’s call it the founding core — which seemed credible. The other part, that is, the sequel to the apparitions that would continue, has left the Commission perplexed.”
Fr. Perrella also noted that the facts about Medjugorje are so complex, “that the Pontiff is free to conduct a further investigation.”
This suggests that the views of the Commission members are far from definitive, a position which finds support in the Pope’s remarks during the in-flight press conference that the initial apparitions must continue to be studied.

Only An Advisory Body

What are we to make, then, of the Commission’s findings? The first thing to note is that the Ruini Commission is a purely advisory body whose role is to offer its findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which then makes recommendations regarding Medjugorje.
Apart from that, neither Andrea Tornielli nor Fr. Perrella mentions the transcripts of the original tape-recordings of the visionaries, which constitute the primary evidence about the whole phenomenon. Did the Commission study the transcripts, which now exist in at least three differing but largely complementary printed versions? And on what basis did the Commission rule out diabolical involvement at Medjugorje?
If Medjugorje is to be properly understood within the Church as a whole, we need to know exactly what the sources consulted by the Commission members were that led to them voting for a supernatural origin for the initial visions.
And if the transcripts of the original tapes were not studied by the Ruini Commission, this leaves open the possibility for such a study in the future.
We are left with the fact that there are a number of very strange events recorded as happening during the first seven visions, as is clear from the transcripts, including a laughing Virgin Mary who told the visionaries that she would remain with them as long as they wanted.
In addition, there was simply no message of any significance given to the visionaries during the first week or so of the visions. And in fact, the Vision apparently said nothing unless questioned by the visionaries — surely a very odd procedure, and one which prompted Fr. Zovko, the parish priest at the time, to say, “So, there is no message.”
And there is also a further stumbling block to belief in the supernatural nature of these early visions — the fact that two of the visionaries, Ivanka and Mirjana, actually went initially to Podbrdo, where the early visions took place, to smoke and listen to rock music.

A Fatal Objection

The biggest problem, though, with the messages emanating from the early visions, is the clear transcript evidence that they were supposed to end on July 3, three days after the vision on Tuesday June 30.
Tornielli’s reporting about the views of the Ruini Commission leaves us with an unsettling anomaly. If the Commission members believe that the Blessed Virgin appeared to the visionaries on the first seven occasions, starting in June 1981, and not afterward, that implies that the visionaries then proceeded immediately, the very next day, to start giving out false reports of more alleged visions. This implies that our Lady appeared to the visionaries in the full knowledge that once she had stopped appearing to them they would fabricate further visions.
This seems to be a fatal objection to the idea that the first visions were supernatural. Given all that, it is difficult to believe that the Blessed Virgin really would have appeared to the visionaries during the first week or so, knowing all that would happen in the following decades.

+ + +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, including Medjugorje Revisited, and maintains a related website at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also written two time-travel/adventure books for young people — details can be found at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk/.)

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