Medjugorje: A Warning
The Remnant Press
8. THE IRISH BISHOPS' CONFERENCE STATEMENT, 1990,
AND THE BISHOPS 'LEAKED RULING' ON THE YUGOSLAV SHRINE
The Irish Bishops' Conference, 13th June 1990
The Irish Bishops' Conference issued a 5 point statement on
the subject of Medjugorje. Point 4 stated "Until the Church gives its
decision no one is entitled, on behalf of the Church, to presume a
favorable judgment regarding the apparitions in Medjugorje. That is why
the Church does not approve pilgrimages and other manifestations
organized on the presumption that a supernatural character can be
attributed to the facts of Medjugorje."
"Bishops 'Leaked' Ruling on Yugoslav Shrine"
Under this headline the Universe
of January 13th 1991 carried the following report from Rome by their correspondent Ronald Singleton.
The Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference, according to a leaked report, has
concluded that there is nothing supernatural about the phenomena at the
Marian Shrine of Medjugorje.
The bishops have allegedly decided that the sanctuary, visited by more
than 10 million pilgrims since 1981, "has no revelation to offer." They
are said to have urged help to be given to Bishop Pavao Zanic of
Mostar, the diocese which embraces Medjugorje, in dealing with the
The Yugoslav Episcopal Conference prepared a report for the Vatican's
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which its Prefect,
Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, the Church's chief Moral Watchdog, had
The bishops held a special session at the end of November in Zagreb to discuss the developments in Medjugorje.
At the start of the meeting the bishops said they were going to hear
evidence and, if necessary, publish pastoral directives. But after the
meeting they decided against issuing any statement.
Rome's impeccable news agency ASCA made the claims from what it
says is a leaked report, which have been published by leading
newspapers. Milan's daily Avenire
linked to the Italian Episcopal Conference, has given the report a prominent position.
There has so far been no official Vatican response to the ASCA report
and no official comment from the Doctrine Congregation. However a
spokesman said: "The report can be considered to be a 'leak' in
information, an 'indiscretion', a portion of the bishops' report lifted
from the whole.
It is unlikely that there will be Vatican comment, and, eventually, its
public ruling on the Medjugorje shrine may simply be to announce that
it has taken note of what the Yugoslavian Bishops have concluded.
The Zagreb November conference was attended by representatives of the
23 dioceses. Reportedly, 19 bishops approved the findings, with one
abstention, and three absentees' votes uncast.
The allegedly leaked report published in Italian newspapers reads:
"The bishops have followed events at Medjugorje in contact with the
local bishop, the local diocesan commission, and the special commission
of the conference. On the basis of research, it cannot be affirmed that
the events are supernatural apparitions or revelations.
In the meantime the constant gathering at Medjugorje of faithful from
all parts of the world, and urged by motives of faith, requires the
attention and care of the bishops.
Therefore our conference, in the spirit of ecclesiastical communion, is
disposed to help the resident bishop to organize pastoral work in
Medjugorje in favor of a correct liturgical pastoral activity, thereby
to forestall and impede phenomena not conforming to the spirit of the
9. ROME STUDIES THE NEW REPORT AND THE
Rome Studies New Medjugorje Report
This was the heading of a report in the Catholic Herald
of 25th January 1991, from their correspondent Viviane Hewitt in Rome,
with the additional information that "The Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith is now said to have imposed a ban on further information
on the issue of Medjugorje . . . The report coincides with a new
campaign by some Italian bishops against pilgrimages to Medjugorje,
pending a Vatican ruling."
The Medjugorje Industry
In a letter to Father Hugh Thwaites, dated 17 August 1987,
Mgr. Zanic stated bluntly that Our Lady does not appear at Medjugorje,
that there are no miracles, and that the "messages" cannot come from
Our Lady: "They are the fruit of a fabrication, fraud, and disobedience
to the Church. It is about big money and personal interest too." When
he wrote this letter in 1987 the good bishop can scarcely have imagined
the extent to which what can only be described as the Medjugorje
industry would expand by 1993. It must now be considered primarily as a
multi-million dollar business operation, particularly in the United
The amount of money made by travel operators would be impossible to
calculate. Many of the so-called Medjugorje centers are, in reality,
quasi travel agencies. Section 3 describes the manner in which a
certain Terry Colafrancesco paid for Marija Pavlovic to bring her
brother to Birmingham, Alabama for a kidney transplant in 1989. In 1986
he had founded an organization named Caritas
to promote the Medjugorje messages. Colafrancesco will have been
pleased but not surprised when Pavlovic agreed obligingly to help her
benefactor by having a vision on Thanksgiving Day of that year in the
field that he had bought for $400,000, and on precisely the day that he
had announced in advance. Since then Colafrancesco has not looked back.
Colafrancesco's organization Caritas
has expanded considerably, and in 1993 he was appealing for more than
one and a half million dollars to build a "Medjugorje Tabernacle". On
page 15 of his May-June Newsletter, which has a circulation of 150,000,
he described the proposed tabernacle as follows:
The "Tabernacle of Our Lady's Messages" is a 32,000 square-foot building that will house the six different ministries at Caritas.
It will have three floors, all dedicated 100 percent to Our Lady of
Medjugorje. Through this tabernacle will flow the messages of Our Lady
through the printing, producing and shipping of newsletters, tapes,
booklets, textbooks, flyers, researching the messages and researching
history, etc., all over the United States as well as into sixty-five
In order to build his tabernacle Mr. Colafrancesco would like
$1,600,000. He requests his readers to "pray to the Holy Spirit" before
reading his fundraising "pitch", which bears an uncanny, or perhaps not
so uncanny, resemblance to techniques employed by Protestant T.V.
evangelists who spread a gospel composed almost entirely of admonitions
to make sacrificial donations. Mr. Colafrancesco warned his readers
that the building of the tabernacle would be "in jeopardy" unless many
of them were moved to help. Those who might be in doubt about donating
are told to pray to Our Lady as he has heard from many people who
"after prayer felt Our Lady urging them to do so." Satan, it would
appear, would do anything to persuade Catholics not to donate to the
tabernacle. "We know times are difficult for many of you, but they are
going to get more difficult and Our Lady's plan is what will reverse
that in the long run. We are at a point in construction where decisions
have to be made to proceed to the next steps and we need your response
immediately. The people of this nation and the world need the security
of Our Lady, not savings." The alleged tens of thousands of messages of
Our Lady which are to be housed in Mr. Colafrancesco's tabernacle are
almost invariably truisms of such utter banality that any ten your old
could compose them:
Dear children, today I invite you
to live in humility all the messages which I am giving you. Do not
become arrogant, living the messages and saying, "I am living the
messages." If you shall bear and live the messages in your heart,
everyone will feel it so that words, which serve those who do not obey,
will not be necessary. For you, dear children, it is necessary to live
and witness by your lives. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Dear children. Thank you for dedicating all your hard work to God even
now when He is testing you through the grapes you are picking. Be
assured dear children, that He loves you and therefore He tests you.
You just always offer up all your burdens to God and do not be anxious.
Thank you for having responded to my call.
Can one seriously imagine the Mother of God appearing on earth four to
six times a day if she has nothing more profound than this to say?
Celestial Book Reviews
Mr. Colfrancesco sells the first two volumes of the Poem of the Man God
at $35.00 dollars each. It would appear that sales had been adversely
affected by Cardinal Ratzinger's admonition that the book should not be
read. Mr. Colafrancesco consulted Marija Pavlovic whom he describes as
"a close personal friend." Miss Pavlovic demonstrated her friendship
yet again with a promptness equal to that she had displayed in
arranging the Thanksgiving Day apparition for her benefactor. Miss
Pavlovic used her direct line to Heaven to consult Our Lady concerning
the book, and was assured that we are free to read it. I understand
that her actual words were: "It makes for good reading." Mr.
Colafrancesco assures us that there is "no question that she spoke to
Our Lady". As is proved conclusively in Section 4, Pavlovic is a
"Remarkable Things" and "Miracles"
Mr. Colafrancesco claims that Our Lady speaks directly to his Caritas
community through her daily messages. Each morning they read a randomly
chosen message which results in "remarkable things" such as the
following "remarkable thing" which concerned a retreat for children in
"the Field" (note the upper case "F"):
An area Catholic grade school had planned a retreat day at Caritas
and the Field (the site of Our Lady's apparition to visionary Marija
Pavlovic in November 1988). Several hundred children from kindergarten
through the eighth grade joined the Caritas
community and staff for our daily rosary as well as assisting at a Mass
they had planned for the Field. That day at morning prayer, before the
students arrived, we opened up the following message: April 29, 1983-----
a group of young people as they leave for their pilgrimage: "I wish
that you pray throughout your trip and that you glorify God. There you
will be able to meet other young people. Convey the messages which I
have given you. Do not hesitate to speak to them about it."
Not only does the Caritas
community experience "remarkable things", but cites what it claims are
"miracles" at Medjugorje. An account of a "Eucharistic Miracle"
appeared in the May-June 1993 Newsletter. A non-Catholic lady
accompanied a Caritas
Birmingham pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Pilgrimages to Medjugorje have, of
course, been forbidden by the Bishop, the lawful authority in the
diocese, and so every organized pilgrimage there constitutes an act of
disobedience to lawful authority. This Protestant lady was annoyed that
she could not receive Holy Communion. Non-Catholics are permitted to
receive Catholic Holy Communion only on very rare occasions with
specific permission after a number of stringent conditions have been
fulfilled. But, it would appear, Our Lady was more concerned at the
displeasure of the Protestant than with adherence to the law of the
Church, and so she arranged for the lady to receive Communion in
circumstances which Mr. Colafrancesco describes as miraculous:
When distribution for Communion came, the first priest off the altar
came toward the group leader. He and the others around him expected to
be given the Eucharist, but instead the priest walked through the crowd
which opened up. The leader, as well as the group, watched stunned as
everyone was passed by while the priest walked directly to the spot
where the woman was sitting in the pew. He held up the Eucharist for
her to receive. The leader and the group and she herself stared in
disbelief at what they were seeing. Though it was but a moment, it
seemed the hesitation lasted for minutes. While she sat there and Jesus
in the Eucharist was held up before her, she hesitated at first, not
being sure, then willfully (sic) received Him. Everyone around her who
was not weeping were (sic) fighting back their (sic) tears because all
knew the priest could not have seen her until he was before her, much
less known that she was not a Catholic. Only a few months later, the
pilgrim who did not want to become a Catholic, received the Holy
Eucharist a second time as a new Catholic.
Millions are Deluded
What is most alarming about the Medjugorje phenomenon is
the number of Catholics who have been deluded into believing it. It
would be a serious matter if a few thousand or even a few hundred
Catholics were wasting their time and their money, and giving their
credence and their cash to a fraud that detracts from the dignity of
Our Lady, presenting her as possibly the most garrulous woman in
history. But millions of people have now visited Medjugorje and are now
supporting the ever-expanding Medjugorje industry. Every month Twin Circle
and the National Catholic Register
publish what amounts to a Medjugorje colour supplement with a monthly message such as the following for August 1993:
I want you to understand that I am your Mother, that I want to help
you, can call you to prayer. Only by prayer can you understand and
accept my messages and practice them in your life. Read Sacred
Scripture, live it and pray to understand the signs of the time. This
is a special time, therefore I am with you to draw you close to my
heart and the heart of my Son, Jesus. Dear little children, I want you
to be the children of the light and not of the darkness. Therefore live
what I am telling you. Thank you for having responded to my call.
This particular issue listed no less than 177 Medjugorje Centers throughout the U.S.A. which included, of course, Caritas
of Birmingham together with Medjugorje Information Centers, Peace
Centers, Resource Centers, Message Centers, Ventures, Centers for Love,
Centers for Peace (many of these), Messengers of Peace, Queen of Peace,
Hearts for Peace, Pilgrims for Peace Video Ministry, Mary's Touch by
Mail, Friends, Coalitions, and Book Centers. There is no little irony
in the fact that the area in Bosnia where Our Lady is alleged to have
appeared with the title of "Queen of Peace" is a center of one of the
most vicious wars of this century, of which she gave not the least
warning in tens of thousands of messages.
There are now many Medjugorje newsletters serving the needs of the industry, including the Medjugorje News
which is circulated throughout Canada. It reports in its issue number 5
in 1993 that 20,000 people came to hear the "seer" Ivan when he came to
Marmora in Ontario, where Our Lady is also alleged to appear to
children and adults of various ethnic backgrounds, including a member
of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. It is claimed that Angels and
deceased members of families appear there and converse! The literature
which circulates among Medjugorje devotees lists literally hundreds of
apparitions of Our Lady allegedly taking place throughout the world,
including twenty-five in Ireland alone. News of every new apparition is
greeted with uncritical enthusiasm by many thousands of devotees. One
can only say that whatever all this represents it is not Catholicism.
The appearance of Ivan in Ontario indicates the current policy of the
Medjugorje "seers", i.e. that as due to the war in Bosnia the people
cannot come to the seers, the seers will come to the people. One can
refer with complete accuracy to a Medjugorje "road-show". It has even
reached Kent, the county in England where I live. The Autumn 1993 issue
of The Children of Medjugorje
(published in Scotland) recounts the appearance of Ivan at "The
Medjugorje Ecumenical Day of Prayer" on 28 August 1993 at the Carmelite
Priory at Aylesford in Kent. The customers came expecting an
The mother of Jesus appeared in "an indescribable light, wearing a grey
dress with a white veil over her dark hair", according to the
visionary, 27 year old Ivan Dragicevic. Her eyes are blue and she has
rosy cheeks, he told the gathering of 5,000 Christians. Ivan said that
Mary "was joyful and prayed over all of us with outstretched hands. She
blessed us all."
He added that, "She then prayed for peace in a special way for a long
time." The Virgin gave no special message having given one for the
world only three days before in Medjugorje. She simply said, "Go in
peace, my dear children", before departing in the light of a shining
Ivan's script could well have been written by Walt Disney! The report
was accompanied by a picture of Ivan wearing pajamas and kneeling by a
radiator looking extremely pious. The message given at Medjugorje on 25
March 1993, to which Ivan referred, reads as
Dear Children, I want you to understand that I am your Mother, that I
want to help you and call you to prayer. Only by prayer can you
understand and accept my messages and practise them in your life.
Read Sacred Scripture, live it, and pray to understand the signs of the
time. This is a special time. Therefore I am with you to draw you close
too my heart and the heart of my Son, Jesus.
Dear little children, I want you to be children of the light, not the darkness. Therefore, live what I am telling you.
Thank you for your response to my call.
Speedy Condemnation Needed
It would seem that the Vatican is delaying its announcement
that nothing supernatural has occurred at Medjugorje for fear of the
reaction among its devotees, but the longer it delays the announcement,
which must inevitably come, the greater will be the number of those
devotees and the greater their disillusionment. When the announcement
comes many souls will be lost to the Church as they will prefer the
authority of spurious messages to the authority of the Magisterium. It
is therefore imperative that all who have a true devotion to Our Lady
do everything possible by praying and by writing to persuade the Holy
See to publish the verdict of the former Yugoslav Bishops' conference
without further delay (see Section 6). They should also try by prayer
and by persuasion to convince those who have been duped by the
propaganda of the Medjugorje industry that the whole scandalous affair
represents, as Mgr. Zanic expressed it, "the fruit of a fabrication,
fraud, and disobedience to the Church. It is about big money and
personal interest too."
10. A NEW BISHOP OF MOSTAR
Mgr. Zanic has resigned as Bishop of Mostar and was replaced
by Mgr. Ratko Peric who had spent ten years in Rome as Rector of the
Pontifical Croatian College in Rome. Rumors have been circulated that
Mgr. Zanic was forced to resign by the Pope who did not approve of his
intransigent opposition to the veracity of the Medjugorje apparitions.
Had this been the case the Holy Father would have appointed a successor
more open to the possibility of their veracity. On the contrary, Mgr.
Peric is, if anything, more adamant concerning their falsity than was
Mgr. Zanic. This should be more than adequate to make the position of
the Pope clear. In the October 1993 issue of his diocesan journal, Crkva na Kamenu
(The Church on the Rock), Mgr. Peric directed an open letter to St.
Francis of Assisi in which he complains to the Saint that his spiritual
sons, the Bosnian Franciscans, are quite disobedient. The same issue
contains a long interview with the new bishop in which he makes it
clear that his opposition to the false devotion is as great as or
greater than that of Mgr. Zanic. A partial translation of the interview
appeared in the February 1994 issue of Fidelity.
Mgr. Peric testified that his predecessor had been open to the veracity
of the apparitions in the beginning. He pointed out that Mgr. Zanic
would evidently have been predisposed to believe in the alleged
apparitions. He continued:
What bishop wouldn't be delighted that the Virgin Mary should be
appearing in his diocese? Especially Mgr. Zanic, a very Marian bishop,
who as a priest and later as a bishop made eleven pilgrimages to
various Marian shrines all over Europe: Lourdes, Fatima, Syracuse, etc.
And then for the Gospa (Our Lady) to have mercy on him and begin to
"appear" in his own backyard as if to bring an end to all his
wanderings all over Portugal.
But after a few months, when he heard the small fibs and large lies,
insincerities, inexactitudes, and all sorts of fabricated stories from
those who claimed that the Gospa was appearing to them, he became
totally convinced that it was not a matter of supernatural apparitions
of the Gospa. Then he started to bring out the truth and to expose the
falsehoods. The greatest satisfaction of his ten years of hard work was
when the bishops of Yugoslavia at their spring meeting at Zadar on
April 10, 1991, dutifully declared: "On the basis of studies it cannot
be affirmed that supernatural apparitions and revelations are
occurring." This is an exceptionally clear ecclesiastical ruling, and
is a rebuttal of the claims of all those who claim to have seen the
Gospa everywhere and at any time since 1981.
The verdict of the Bishops' Conference is for me an authoritative
instruction, responsive and binding unless another kind of verdict is
brought. But until now there has been no other (ecclesiastical)
judgment. If, after serious, solid, and professional investigation, our
Bishops' Conference had the courage to declare that Medjugorje's
apparitions are not supernatural, in spite of massive stories and
convictions to the contrary, then that is a sign that the Church, even
in the 20th century "upholds the truth and keeps it safe" (I Tim.
3:15). I affirm this unequivocally (my emphasis).
Two devastating critiques can be obtained from Brother
James, S.D.B., SS Peter and Paul Church, 650 Filbert Street, San
Francisco, CA 94133. They are Critique: Medjugorje and Brother Thomas, Doubter in Medjugorje. They cost $5 each postpaid.
Siviric, Dr. I, OFM (a Franciscan born in Medjugorje, and now living in the USA), The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, 400 pages, available from Editions Psilog, CP 300, Saint-François-du-Lac, Quebec, Canada, JOC IMO.
Important news items concerning Medjugorje will be reported as they take place in The Remnant,
the bi-monthly journal which is essential reading for all traditionally
minded Catholics. The subscription is $12 p.a. for the USA and $16 for
all other countries (surface mail). Subscriptions must be sent in U.S.
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