Medjugorje: A Warning
The Remnant Press
1. MEDJUGORJE: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
by Geoffrey Lawman Co-founder of Approaches; Co-editor of Apropos;
and Editor of Fatal Star, the autobiography of Hamish Fraser.
We are hearing more and more about Medjugorje, the Yugoslavian village
where, it is said, Our Lady has been appearing almost daily to some or
all of six young visionaries ever since 1981. The natural question, as
with all such claimed apparitions, is "Are they authentic?" To this
there are three possible answers: "Yes," "No," and "We'd better wait
for the Church's verdict." The third is clearly the wisest answer for
any Catholic who recognizes the Church's teaching authority and the
limitations of his own private judgment. Yet equally it is part of our
tradition to revere Our Lady in the context of her numerous
authenticated apparitions, and, historically speaking, popular devotion
to any new apparition has often spread and become as it were
"established" well before the Church gave its final approval.
We cannot therefore object to devotees of Medjugorje trying to enlist
our support for phenomena which they strongly believe to be of God,
provided their publicity is balanced and honest and they are ready to
leave the last word to the Teaching Church. But they, for their part,
must be equally ready to face the questions of other Catholics,
possibly as devoted to Our Lady as themselves, but who have serious
doubts about the events in question.
A New Type of Apparition?
One reason for questioning the events at Medjugorje is that they are so
strikingly unlike all previous Marian apparitions. Which other
apparitions have gone on almost daily for over 12 years and are still going on?
Which others were announced a month in advance (at a charismatic
congress in Rome)? Which others have been so well publicized
internationally as to attract (it is claimed) 5 million pilgrims to
date? These 3 features may not in themselves constitute arguments
against the authenticity of the alleged apparitions (though one may
well wonder what Our Lady could have found to say that needed some
26,000 appearances!), but it is clear that Medjugorje is following a
pattern quite different from that of earlier (and approved) apparitions-----Lourdes, La Salette, Pontmain, Fatima or Beauraing, for example.
A 'Holiness Explosion'
Supporters point to the devotional and spiritual impact of the
occurrences on both villagers and pilgrims, and it is true that the
apparitions have repeatedly urged greater assiduity in prayer and
fasting and regular confession, together with Bible reading,
Eucharistic devotions, etc., and that these recommendations have been
enthusiastically followed. However welcome this is, we should remember
that it is not in itself any guarantee of holiness or even of
orthodoxy, let alone evidence that the apparitions are authentic. The
Church's history shows numerous cases of heretical groups noteworthy
for intense devotion, prayer and fasting (the Fraticelli of
the 13th century, for example). One may perhaps question the prudence
of the "Lady's" subsequent extension of fasting, even partial, from 1
to 2 days per week (for growing teenagers!) and her unrealistic
recommendation of up to 3 hours of prayer daily. And the frequent
practice of "laying on of hands" and "the baptism of the Spirit"
suggests that the "holiness explosion" claimed for Medjugorje is as
much charismatic as Catholic.
Graver Reasons For Doubt
Three further, and far more serious, characteristics of the Medjugorje phenomenon -----disobedience, lying and false doctrine-----form the essential grounds for the view that Our Lady has not, and could not have, appeared there at all.
diocesan bishop, Msgr. Zanic of Mostar, has on several occasions given
legitimate instructions to the Franciscan priests active in Medjugorje
parish, which they have consistently disobeyed. He has ordered certain
priests to leave the parish, and they have stayed. He has asked that
the occurrences should not be publicized, and that pilgrimages
should not be organized or welcomed (until his canonical enquiry was
complete). These orders have been ignored. But the most flagrant and
(to my mind) conclusive case is that involving Fathers Prusina and
Vego, two Franciscans being disciplined by their superiors (and who
have since been expelled from the Order). Bishop Zanic' had ordered
them to leave the parish. "Our Lady", questioned by the "visionaries",
is stated to have said on two occasions (19.12.81 and 20.1.82) that the
bishop was "in the wrong" and that the Franciscans "should stay put"!
"Our Lady" is thus shown as inciting disobedience to a lawful order of a bishop.
Lying: I can understand the indignation this word will cause to
convinced Medjugorjists. Yet I honestly do not see how otherwise to
describe certain behavior on the part of the visionaries Ivan and Vicka
and of Fr. Vlasic: Vicka's alternate denials and admissions that she
was keeping a day-to-day chronicle of the events (and her concealment
of large sections of it from the bishop's commission); the unbelievable
perjury of Fr. Vlasic, swearing on the cross in the bishop's presence
that he knew nothing of Vicka's diary (though he had earlier supplied
extracts of that very diary to Fr. Grafenauer); young Ivan's "message"
regarding the great sign to come "in the sixth month", written and
signed by him and lodged in sealed envelopes with the canonical
commission, but which he retracted nearly 3 years later when the
"messages" were opened and shown to be invalid. Ivan, by then twenty
years old, agreed that the "Lady" had not objected when he wrote the
"message" originally, conveniently delaying her admonition for 3 years
until the day before he admitted his "mistake"! Only lack of space
dissuades me from continuing this distasteful and saddening list. A
whole study could be devoted to the subject, particularly if one
includes the suppressiones veri and suggestiones falsi purveyed by Medjugorje's chief propagandists, Frs. Laurentin, Bugalo, and Co.
False Doctrine: Properly
doctrinal statements are rare among the interminable reported words of
the "Lady", but a single example of a doctrinal falsity ought to be
enough to discredit any apparition. Here are two examples, both dating
from 1983. In January, Mirjana told Fr. Vlasic how "Mary" was
distressed by the lack of unity between Catholics, Orthodox and
Muslims, since there was only one God: "You
are not a believer if you do not respect the other religions, Muslim
and Serbian (i.e. Orthodox). You are not Christians if you do not
respect them." [This is
false doctrine: we owe proper respect to non-believers, but none at all
to their false religion; this would be a betrayal of Christ and His
Church.] Even Fr. Vlasic was taken aback by this, but to his further
questions-----Mirjana could only reply by repeating herself: ". . . lack
of unity among the religions. You must respect each person's religion,"
adding "Keep your own for yourselves and your children." This
Masonic syncretism in a supernatural message is quite inadmissible; it
rules out the missionary charity whereby we try to win our neighbors
over to Our Lord.
The second example is from April 1983. "Our Lady" is supposed to have
dictated to Helena (a charismatic 'mystic', aged 10 or 11 years, who
does not "see" the visions but hears what is said) a prayer of
consecration to her Immaculate Heart. Bear in mind that these words are
of the "Lady's" composition, but are intended to be addressed to her.
In them we find the following:
1. . . . give me the grace to love all men as you loved Jesus Christ . . .
2. . . . give me the grace to be merciful towards you . . .
3 . . . if, by chance, I should lose your grace, I ask you to restore it to me.
To love all men . . . yes, God said we may all achieve that height of charity. But to love them as Mary loved Jesus
(her God, King and Savior as well as Son), as in petition 1, is
impossible and scandalous; it amounts to making gods out of our
fellow-creatures. Petition 2 is just stupid, not to say insolent; she
who is: "full of grace," the Queen of Heaven, has no need of our mercy.
Of petition 3 one could at least object that grace is never lost by chance,
but only through sin. The exercise as a whole is not impressive;
whatever "Spirit" inspired it was clearly not the Holy Ghost.
Other Reasons for Doubt
A fuller critique of Medjugorje would go into other doubtful aspects
which I can only mention in passing: the unedifying expatiation of "the
Lady" by the Franciscans in their
dispute with the bishop over the allocation of parishes; the
pretentious pseudo-science deployed to authenticate the "ecstasies" of
the "visionaries" (including the use of an electroscope to measure the
intensity of "spiritual energy" developed during "apparitions"!); the rather suspect discrepancies in the testimonies as to what actually happened
during the "miracle of the sun" of August 1981; the sentimental
banality of so much of the interminable stream of oracles uttered by
the "Lady", and the unlikely vulgarity that has marked some of the
"apparitions" (outbursts of laughter, "Our Lady" touched, and even caressed
by visionaries and pilgrims.) And Bishop Zanic has voiced his own
suspicion that the "visions" are less likely to be hallucinations than
well-rehearsed play-acting. Such a suggestion is bound to enrage
supporters of Medjugorje; the fact remains that if the ever-present
local Franciscans had left the young people alone and the world
charismfitic movement had followed suit-----in other words, if the bishop had been obeyed-----the whole question of authenticity could have been resolved long back.
There is one aspect of Medjugorje which I find particularly
unsatisfactory; I refer to some of the material put out by the London
Medjugorje Centre. It would be too much to expect, for example, that
their introductory leaflet, The Facts About Medjugorje, would enter into
all the minutiae of such a controversial affair, but even in such a
short document one would at least have expected a more balanced account
than this-----one which was just to Bishop Zanic, and which showed some
awareness of the doubts raised by the apparitions. One is surprised to
find no mention in it of such important issues as disobedience, lying
and unacceptable doctrine, even if only to refute them.
Here are some of the facts that The Facts About Medjugorje does not choose to tell us:
-----that the diocesan canonical commission of enquiry has found (by 11 voices to 4) that the apparitions are not authentic.
-----that Bishop Zanic is speaking as the responsible bishop of the
diocese (and therefore in somewhat more than "a private capacity") when
he dismisses the apparitions as not authentic.
[See text of his July 25 sermon at Medjugorje.]
-----that if Rome and the Yugoslav Bishops' Conference have put the
findings of his canonical enquiry into "cold storage", the most likely
explanation, to any objective observer, is the enormous influence of
the international propaganda campaign orchestrated by a pro-Medjugorje
-----that the local Franciscans "counseling" the "visionaries" are
virtually all connected with the charismatic renewal movement (i.e. a
sect of Protestant, "pentecostalist" inspiration, busy "colonizing" the
Church since 1967). The same is true of the 'leading theologians' cited
by the leaflet: Laurentin, Urs von Balthasar, and Faricy are all avowed
charismatics. As for the "several other Yugoslav bishops" who, the
leaflet claims, "fully accept Medjugorje as a precious gift from God,"
the only name that readily comes to mind is that of Archbishop Franic
of Split, an enthusiastic charismatic; the others, even the initially
favorable Cardinal Kuharic of Zagreb, seem now to have adopted a
waiting posture. Why did the London Medjugorje Centre feel it necessary
to conceal this heavy charismatic involvement?
Two other statements in this leaflet call, I feel, for comment.
Firstly: "The Holy See usually waits at least until apparitions are
over before making any pronouncement." True . . . but has it ever before
been faced with apparitions that continue for 12 years and show no sign
of stopping? What better way of putting off any definitive verdict
until these "apparitions" achieve a sort of de facto respectability
through their sheer indefmite continuance?
And secondly: "Unless and until the Church condemns Medjugorje . . . we
enjoy the right to have as much to do with it as we like." Even if its
messages clash with Catholic teaching (as I have tried to show above)?
Even if they incite priests and visionaries to reject the Church's
No, the leaflet, The Facts About Medjugorje presents in my view a most
unsatisfactory and one-sided account, which cannot help but mislead
inquirers who have no access to the fuller picture. One would like to
excuse this as the result of enthusiastic devotion and inadequate
research-----pray God this is so-----but the fact remains that, objectively,
it is a travesty of the truth in important respects, and as such should
The Threat To The Church
Some readers may well be surprised at the severity of my criticism. To
them, the word "Medjugorje" conjures up Our Blessed Lady, humble and
hopeful pilgrimages, all that is best in Marian devotion and
spirituality. I assure such readers that I could have attacked much
harder and adduced even more evidence of the negative aspects of
Medjugorje. But what I have written above is already sufficient to
support my conviction that it is a dangerous and un-Catholic thing.
It divides Christians-----those who accept its pseudo-spiritual humbug
from those who insist on a sterner, purer spirituality-----even to the
point of driving a wedge between fellow-bishops: on the one side Msgrs.
Franic and Ianucci, on the other Msgr. Zanic.
It devalues and discredits the cult of Mary,
and thus robs modern
Catholicism of its finest spiritual flower. How do we expect Marian
devotion to survive a "Lady" of interminable verbosity who submits to
indiscriminate "patting", incites her hearers to disobedience; and even
stages a pantomime "transformation-scene" between herself and Satan? An
earlier generation of Catholics would have blown this absurdity away in
a gust of Chestertonian laughter, but we seem to have lost. our sense
of the ridiculous in the last 20 years.
And, with the cult of Mary, Medjugorje weakens the message of Fatima,
with its cardinal insistence on the conversion of Russia and of
Communists as the prerequisite for any peace and progress. Medjugorje
talks airily of peace, but ignores the very precise recommendations of
Our Lady of Fatima and the disastrous consequences that will follow if
these are not complied with.
And, with the cult of Mary, Medjugorje weakens authority in the Church,
by its resistance to the legitimate authority of its own bishop, by its
partisan espousal of the cause of the dissident Franciscans in their
quarrel with the diocese, It could even be argued that the long
duration of the phenomenon constitutes an incipient "alternative
magisterium", in the sense that we shall have much less need of
hierarchies, a Teaching Church for our guidance if "Our Lady" is to
appear daily to give us our instructions direct from Heaven . . . a
disquieting prospect for all our bishops and for the Holy See itself.
Here I must rest my case, reminding readers that in presenting
arguments against the Medjugorje apparitions I am merely availing
myself of the same right as that claimed by its supporters when
recommending it. Both they and I are speaking in our private
capacities. As is customary and proper in these cases, I willingly give
the assurance that I do not intend hereby to anticipate the Church's
final verdict in any way. I merely hold the opinion, again in my private
capacity, that the most probable conclusion is that the matter of that
verdict exists already, in the shape of the findings of Bishop Zanic's
commission, filed away in the offices of the Yugoslav Bishops'
Conference and the Vatican, and will be re-worded and promulgated when
the Church decides that the right moment has come.
2. 1987 COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE YUGOSLAV BISHOPS
CONCERNING THE FACTS OF MEDJUGORJE
Verbatim from L'Osservatore Romano
, English Edition, 23rd February 1987.
We publish below the text of a communiqué published in the Official Bulletin
of the Diocese of Zagreb, 1, 1987, p. 35, signed by His Eminence
Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, President of the Yugoslav Episcopal
Conference, and Most Rev. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar-Duvno,
concerning the facts of Medjugorje.
In conformity with the canonical norms concerning the discernment of
alleged apparitions and private revelations, the diocesan commission
instituted for this purpose by the Bishop of Mostar, Ordinary of the
place, has conducted an inquiry into the events of Medjugorje.
In the course of the investigation it emerged that the events went far
beyond the diocese in question. Consequently, on the basis of the
above-mentioned norms it seemed fitting to continue the investigation
on the level of the Episcopal Conference with the institution of a new
Commission for that purpose.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was informed. It
expressed appreciation for the work carried out under the
responsibility of the local ordinary, and it encouraged the continuance
of the work at the national episcopal level.
The Episcopal Conference, therefore, is establishing a commission to
continue the investigation of the events at Medjugorje. While awaiting
the results of the commission's investigation and the Church's
judgment, pastors and faithful should observe an attitude of prudence
customary in such situations.
Therefore it is not permissible to organize pilgrimages and other
manifestations motivated by the supernatural character attributed to
the facts of Medjugorje.
Legitimate devotion to Our Lady, recommended by the Church, must
conform to the directives of the Magisterium and especially those
contained in the Apostolic Exhortation Mariali Cultus
of 2 February 1974 (cf. AAS, 66,1974, pp. 113-168).
Zagreb 29th January 1987
+ Pavao Zanic + Franjo Card. Kuharic, President of Yugoslav Bishop of Mostar Episcopal Conference
Declaration of the Bishop of Mostar Concerning Medjugorje
15 July 1987
After a version of this
Declaration, translated into English from an Italian translation and
not Croatian, had been circulating for some time, the Bishop asked
Father Hugh Thwaites, an English Jesuit, to have an accurate
translation made from the original Croatian. The task was undertaken by
my wife Marija, who is Croatian, and my son Adrian, who has a Cambridge
degree in Serbo-Croatian.
Brothers and Sisters,
Today in Medjugorje, on the occasion of administering the Sacrament of
Confirmation, you are perhaps expecting me to say a few words
concerning those events about which the whole world is talking. The
Church must concern herself with them, and whatever is of concern to
the Church, she refers to particular individuals and commissions. You
know that at the moment this subject is being discussed by the
Commission which was convened by the Conference of Yugoslav Bishops,
because the Church cannot expose her credibility lightly before the
twentieth-century world, which seeks to discredit and criticize her, so
that it can say: "There you are-----
there is Jesus Christ for you."
I can assure you that I prayed, studied, and kept silent for six years.
Others have prayed too, and I thank them for it. In every Holy Mass
that I have said Medjugorje was present in my intentions. In my daily
Rosary I prayed to Our Lord, and to the Holy Ghost, to give me light
from God. This has helped me to form a firm and certain conviction
concerning everything that I have heard, read or experienced.
There is a great deal of praying and fasting going on here (in
Medjugorje), but it is in the belief that all the events are truly
supernatural. However, to preach falsehood to the faithful concerning
God, Jesus, and Our Lady-----
that merits the depths of Hell.
In all my work, prayers, and studies I had one aim before me-----
discern the truth. With this aim, as early as 1982, I formed a four
member commission which later, with the help of some bishops and
fathers provincial, I expanded to fifteen members drawn from nine
theological centers from seven dioceses and four provinces, and two
leading psychiatrists who were enabled to consult their colleagues.
They worked for three years. The Holy See was informed about their
work, and the events. This Commission of the Conference of Bishops of
Yugoslavia continues to concern itself with the same problem.
However, there were impatient people who went ahead before the judgment
of the Church, and declared that miracles and supernatural events were
taking place. They preached on private revelations from the altar,
something which is not permitted until the Church declares such
revelations to be authentic. That is why the various authorities
demanded that pilgrimages should not be organized, that the Church's
judgement should be awaited. This was first done on 24 March 1984 when
the Commission of Medjugorje warned against it, but, unfortunately,
without effect. Then, in October of the same year, the Conference of
Bishops declared that there should be no more officially organized
pilgrimages to Medjugorje. By "officially organized" is meant those who
gather or come in a group. That had no effect either. Then the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, on 23 May 1985,
sent a letter to the Conference of Italian Bishops asking them to try
to reduce the number of organized pilgrimages, and likewise to minimize
all forms of propaganda. That too bore no fruit. Finally, when the
second commission was formed Cardinal Franjo Kuharic and the Bishop of
Mostar, in the name of the Conference of Bishops of Yugoslavia,
declared publicly on 9 January 1987: "For this reason it is forbidden
to organize pilgrimages or other manifestations motivated by the
supernatural character attributed to the events in Medjugorje." This
pronouncement came from the highest level in the Church and must not be
ignored as if it were of no significance.
Ever since the first news appeared concerning the unusual events in
this diocese, the Bishop's Office followed the reports carefully, and
collected everything that could serve in the search for truth. The
Bishop allowed the seers and religious involved full freedom, and even
defended them from political and press attacks. We taped all the
conversations, collected chronicles and diaries, letters and documents.
The Commission of our-----
professors of theology and
physicians studied all this for three years. The three year work of the
Commission concluded as follows: two members voted in favor of the
truth andsupernatural nature of the apparitions. One member abstained
from voting. One accepted that something had happened at the beginning.
Eleven voted that there had been no apparitions-----non
constat de supernaturalitate.
I am firmly convinced that all the members of the
Commission worked conscientiously and examined everything which could
have aided their search for truth. The Church cannot risk her
credibility, and often, in similar cases, she has studied events like
these carefully and rebuked groups who gathered in places where it had
been established that the events were not supernatural. Let us remember
Garabandal in Spain, San Damiano in Italy, and dozens of similar places
in the past few years. The seers at Garabandal claimed that Our Lady
promised a great sign for the whole world. Twenty-five years have
passed since then, and still there is no sign. If Our Lady had left a
sign it would be clear to all what this is about.
It was said that Our Lady started to appear at Podbrdo on Mount Crnica.
When the police stopped people going there she appeared in people's
homes, on fences, in fields, in vineyards, and tobacco fields. She
appeared in the church, on the altar, in the sacristy, in the
choir-loft, on the roof, in the bell-tower, on the roads, on the road
to Cerno, in a car, on a bus, in schools, at several places in Mostar
and Sarajevo, in monasteries in Zagreb, in Varazdin, in Switzerland, in
Italy, then again at Podbrdo, in Krizevac, in the parish, in the
presbytery and so on. This does not list even half the number of
locations where apparitions were alleged to have taken place, so that a
sober man who venerates Our Lady must ask: "My Lady, what are they
making of you?"
By Divine law I am the pastor in this diocese, the teacher of the
faith, and the judge in questions concerning the faith. Since the
events in Medjugorje have caused strife and division in the Church-----
some people believing, others not believing-----
there are those who have refused to submit themselves to the authority
of the Church, and because the recommendations and decisions of the
above mentioned authorities, commissions, congregations of the Bishops'
Conference had no effect, I the bishop of Mostar, answerable before God
for discipline in this diocese repeat and confirm earlier decisions of
ecclesiastical bodies, and I forbid pilgrimages to come here and
attribute a supernatural character to these events before the
Commission of the Bishops' Conference completes its work.
I turn to you, O Immaculate Virgin and Mother, Mother of God, and
Mother of the Church, Mother of the faithful who seek, pray to, and
love you. I, your servant, the Bishop of Mostar, turn to you, and
before the whole world declare my deep and constant faith in all the
privileges God bestowed upon you according to which you are the first
and most excellent of His creatures. I express my profound and
unswerving faith in your intercession before Almighty God for all the
needs of your children in this vale of tears.
I declare my profound and constant faith in your love towards us
sinners, that love to which you have testified by your apparitions and
assistance. I myself have led pilgrimages to Lourdes. It is precisely
with the strength of this faith that I, your servant the Bishop of
Mostar, before the great multitudes who have called upon you, discern
and accept your great sign which, after six years, has become clear and
certain. No special sign is necessary for me, but it was necessary for
those who believed in a falsehood. The sign you have given is that for
six years you remained silent continually whenever they prophesied that
there would be an apparition on the mountain which would be permanent
and for all to see. "It will be soon, quite soon, just be patient a
little longer." They were saying this as early as 1981. Then they
claimed that it would be on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception,
then at Christmas, then for the new year and so on.
Thank you, Blessed Lady, for manifesting by your six year silence
whether or not you have spoken here, whether or not you had appeared or
given messages, revealed secrets, or promised a special sign. Most holy
Virgin, Mother of Christ and our Mother, intercede for peace in this
restless region of the Church, the Diocese of Mostar. Intercede
especially for this village, this parish where your holy name has been
mentioned countless times in messages. Accept, most holy Virgin, in
reparation, the sincere prayers of those devout souls who are far from
fanaticism and disobedience within the Church. Help us all to come to
the real truth. Beloved, humble, and obedient Maiden of God, help
Medjugorje to follow with a firm step the shepherd of the Church on
earth, so that we all may glorify you and thank you in truth and love.
Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar
Letter To Mrs. Davies From the Bishop of Mostar
Thank you very much for getting in touch with me. Thank you
especially for the translation of my statement about Medjugorje, and
thank you for taking the correct attitude over this great source of
confusion. God knows how this will all end, not well, you can be sure
of that. The Church is divided. Factions are at war in the name of the
Queen of Peace. I, who saw the beginning of this falsehood, of this
lie, have before my very eyes a great deal about which it is impossible
to write, or to describe, for various reasons. A huge amount of money
is involved, and so the propaganda has no bounds. In my office there
are some fifty books about Medjugorje, a vast number of cassettes,
newspapers, and magazines, and new material is arriving all the time,
and yet the position I have taken hurts them. For an average Catholic
the first question to ask is: "What does the Ordinary of the place
think about this matter?" The position which I have taken brings many
people to their senses. Of course the fanaticism of some is
incorrigible, and no argument avails in their cases.
Archbishop Franic has caused me dreadful problems, although the mere
fact that he thinks something does not mean that it must be true. One
of the first questions asked by the sectaries of Medjugorje is: "How is
it that Archbishop Franic believes?" I, for my part, say to them, that
there are thirty-five bishops in Yugoslavia, and that he is the only
one who believes, so that argument is worthless. For them, however, it
is enough that one Archbishop believes.
I am firmly convinced that no responsible person will dare to defend
the apparitions. The contrary arguments are too strong. It is only
necessary to be aware of them.
3. VISIONS IN ALABAMA
Excerptedfrom "Letter from London", by Michael Davies The Remnant, 31 March 1989
I have excerpted from some cuttings, unfortunately not
dated, concerning a recent visit to Alabama by Marija Pavolovic, one of
the so-called seers of Medjugorje. Miss Pavolovic was in Alabama for 53
days, and readers will certainly be wondering whether she had any
visions during her visit. Miss Pavolovic claims that she did. How many,
you may be wondering?
Fifty-three of course! One a day. She had come to Birmingham to
donate one of her kidneys to her brother in an operation performed at
the University Hospital, and she deserves our admiration for this fine
gesture. During the operation, while unconscious under an anaesthetic,
she claims to have had a vision-----which must be a first in the history of apparitions.
During her stay Miss Pavolovic stayed with a Mr. Terry Colafrancesco
who, it appears, works full time for a non-profit organization called Caritas which he established in 1986 to promote Medjugorje: "Since then he has let his business, Country Landscaping,
go dormant." Mr. Colafrancesco purchased a 90-acre field adjacent to
his property for $400,000. In that field there is a pine tree. Mr.
Colafrancesco mowed a path from his home to the tree, mowed around the
tree, and placed a Crucifix and a Madonna on the site. He asked Miss
Pavolovic to have a vision under the tree, and she duly obliged. It is
somewhat remarkable that Mr. Colafrancesco had been able in advance to
distribute information about the date and time that Miss Pavolovic
would have her vision under the pine tree on his newly acquired
property. Thousands of pilgrims are now visiting the field, much to the
delight of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel. The Shelby County
Sheriffs Deputy, a gentleman by the name of Gene Hamby, predicted,
while directing a steady stream of cars to the field, "It's just
A Mr. Cyril Auboyneau, Miss Pavolovic's translator, confirmed that
Colafrancesco asked for a vision in the field: "Terry wanted a vision
in the field under that tree-----he
prayed about that. So we asked Marija to ask Our Lady if she would
appear in the field on Thanksgiving Day. Our Lady said she would appear
in the field."
Well, what can one say? I am astounded that anyone with a modicum of
intelligence can give one second's credence to anything connected with
Medjugorje, apart from the statements
of Bishop Zanic.
4. MARIJA PAVLOVIC CONTRADICTS HERSELF
As Mgr. Zanic makes clear in the next section, Marija
Pavlovic has proved beyond any possibility of doubt that no confidence
whatsoever can be placed in her veracity. Father Tomislav Vlasic, the
Svengali figure who has been the principal manipulator of the alleged
seers, established a bizarre community in Parma, Italy, with an
enigmatic German lady named Agnes Heupel. In this community young men
and women would live together, which, Mgr. Zanic comments, is something
unheard of in the history of the Church. It should be noted that, like
his fellow Franciscan, Father Vego, Father Vlasic had also made a nun
pregnant. When their child was born at the beginning of 1977, he did
not leave the order to marry the woman named Mada, but begged her not
to expose him as the father, assuring her that if she kept the matter
secret, she would be like Mary, and God would bless her! She
complied with his wishes initially, but later, feeling abandoned,
revealed the whole story to Mgr. Zanic. As was the case with Father
Vego, Father Laurentin resorted to a cover-up, as he evidently felt
that the credibility of the seers could be endangered if the immorality
of their spiritual director became known. He went as far as claiming
that a Franciscan named Pehar, who had left the order and gone to live
in the U.S.A., was the father of the child.
The founding of the Vlasic/Heupel community was a cause of scandal even
to some devotees of Medjugorje. Father Vlasic decided that his critics
would be silenced if it could be shown that he had acted in obedience
to a command from Our Lady. On 21 April 1988 Our Lady duly "revealed"
the fact that the community had been established at her express command
to Marija Pavlovic. In July of the same year great consternation was
caused among the Medjugorists when, possibly as a result of jealousy of
Agnes Heupel, Pavlovic swore before the Blessed Sacrament that her
previous statement had been false, and that the Vlasic/Heupel community
was in no way endorsed by Our Lady. Even Father Laurentin would find it
hard to cover-up the fact that Pavlovic must have been lying on at
least one occasion. The full text of the 11 July 1988 retraction
I feel morally bound to make the following statements before God, our Lady, and the Church of Jesus Christ:
(1) The message of the text An Invitation to the Marian Year
and the deposition which bears my signature is that I brought Our
Lady's answer to Brother Tomislav Vlasic's question. That answer was
supposedly: "This is God's plan." In other words, it follows from these
texts that I transmitted to Brother Tomislav Vlasic, Our Lady's
confirmation and express approval of this work and of the programme set
in motion in Italy with the Medjugorje prayer group.
(2) I now declare that I never asked Our Lady for any confirmation
whatsoever of this work begun by Brother Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes
Heupel. I never expressly asked Our Lady whether I should take part in
this work and I never received from Our Lady any instruction connected
with the group, apart from her instruction that each of us should be
to make a choice for his or her own life.
(3) From the texts and depositions which bear my signature it appears
that Our Lady suggested that the community and the programme of Brother
Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes Heupel are God's way for myself and the
others. I now repeat that I never received from Our Lady nor gave
Brother Vlasic or anybody else such a statement or instruction from Our
(4) My first statement in its published form in Croatian and Italian
does not correspond to the truth. I personally had no desire to make
any written statement. Brother Tomislav Vlasic advised me, stressing
the point again and again, that I, as a seer, ought to write a
deposition which the world expected.
(5) I must, moreover, declare that the contents of the letter as set
out and my having signed it give rise to a number of questions. For the
time being, I can give to all possible questions only this one answer,
which I give, I repeat, before God, Our Lady, and the Church of Jesus
Christ: everything which might be understood as a confirmation and
approval of this work of Brother Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes Heupel by
Our Lady through myself is absolutely untrue and no less untrue is the
idea that I spontaneously conceived the wish to write down that
(6) I consider myself morally bound to repeat the following statements
before God, Our Lady and the Church: After seven years of daily
visions, after my most intimate experience of Our Lady's kindness and
wisdom, in the light of all that I can remember of Our Lady's advice
and of Our Lady's answers to the questions which I personally put to
her, I can say publicly that the idea that Heaven's plan and the
message of Our Lady to the world at Medjugorje have as a holy
consequence and a process desired by Our Lady this Work and the
programme begun in Italy by Brother Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes Heupel is
It must, however, also be said that the daily apparitions are continuing.
I sign this declaration before the Holy Sacrament, and destine it for
all those devoted to the "Work" of Our Lady in Medjugorje.
Marija Pavolovic, 1lth July 1988
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