Medjugorje: The State of the Question
This extract from an interview with Mgr. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar, by Yves Chiron was published in Présent, 25 January 1997. The interviewer was particularly anxious to obtain clarification from the Bishop concerning the claim by propagandists for Medjugorje that superior authorities in the Church will overturn the verdict --non constat de supernaturalitate (that there is no evidence of any supernatural happenings at Medjugorje).
Chiron: The last official Church document concerning the events at Medjugorje is the declaration published at Zadar on 10 April 1991, by the members of the Episcopal Conference of Yugoslavia. This declaration stated in particular: "On the basis of studies conducted so far it cannot be affirmed that supernatural apparitions and revelations are occurring." It is almost six years since this judgement was published, is it still valid?
Bishop Peric: The judgement of the Church is the same and it is still valid. There is no fact, argument, affirmation or miracle which proves that there is a case of "apparitions or supernatural revelations".
Chiron: The same 1991 declaration required that at Medjugorje "a healthy devotion to the Virgin Mary should be promoted in accordance with the teaching of the church." Certain authors have interpreted this requirement as a recognition of the cult of "Mary Queen of Peace", the name under which the Holy Virgin is presented at Medjugorje. Can it therefore be said that at Medjugorje there has been a "recognition of the cult" as a preliminary to a recognition of the supernatural basis of the events at Medjugorje, or does this requirement of the Conference at Zagreb simply represent a wish that uncontrolled and unrecognized liturgical practices and devotions should not develop at Medjugorje?
Bishop Peric: It cannot be claimed in anyway whatsoever that there has been a "recognition of the cult" or that the parish church at Medjugorje has been recognized as a Marian sanctuary on a diocesan, national or international level. This requirement of the Conference for a "healthy devotion to the Virgin Mary" represents no more than the wish that at Medjugorje, as in every other Catholic parish in the diocese of Mostar-Duvno, a Marian devotion in accordance with the teaching of the Church should be promoted (Marialis cultus, 1974; Redemptoris Mater, 1987, etc.).
Chiron: Certain authors claim that the inquiry into the events at Medjugorje has been withdrawn from the competent authority -- your own, in your capacity as Bishop of Mostar -- and that it has been reserved to the Holy See. Is this correct? Is one of the commissions of inquiry continuing a work of investigation and study?
Bishop Peric: I would be very happy if the Holy See would reserve to itself the inquiry on the events at Medjugorje, forming its own commission and arriving at a definitive judgement. It certainly has the authority to do so. But, right up till today, I have received no such request. In 1993 the Episcopal Conference of Yugoslavia was dissolved, and was replaced by a number of episcopal conferences -- of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina etc. The Commission of Inquiry into the events at Medjugorje of the Episcopal conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina (which is comprised of four bishops) has the authority to form a new commission eventually.
I endeavor to visit the parish of Medjugorje on a regular basis. There are many disorders there. There are Franciscan priests there with no canonical mission; religious communities have been established without the permission of the diocesan bishop; ecclesiastical buildings have been erected without ecclesiastical approval; parishes are encouraged to organize official pilgrimages; etc. Medjugorje, considered as a location of presumed apparitions, does not promote peace and unity but creates confusion and division, and not simply in its own diocese. I stated this in October 1994 at the synod of Bishops and in the presence of the Holy Father, and I repeat it today with the same responsibility.
Chiron: Can we expect a solemn declaration on the events at Medjugorje, made either by you or by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
Bishop Peric: We, the Bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, are preoccupied with the consequences of the four years' war (1992-1995), and of the reconstruction of the life of the Church, and we do not see the need to form a new commission of inquiry and to make a new declaration concerning Medjugorje.
For my part, I have included an article entitled "Criteria for Discerning Apparitions: Regarding the events at Medjugorje in my most recent book, Prijestolje Mudrosti (Seat of Wisdom) published at Mostar in 1995, pp. 266-286). I put forward ten points explaining the reasons why one cannot recognize the authenticity of Medjugorje.
I am, moreover very grateful to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for having, on two occasions, explained and implemented the affirmation of the Episcopal Conference of the ex-Yugoslavia. This was done in a letter to Mgr. Daloz, Archbishop of Besançon, on 4 July 1995, and in a letter to Mgr. Taverdet, Bishop of Langres, on 23 March 1996. After having cited the declaration of the Episcopal Conference of the ex-Yugoslavia, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith added: "From what has been said, it follows that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, representing it as a place of authentic Marian apparitions must not be organized either on a parish or diocesan level, because this would be a contradiction of what has been affirmed by the bishops of the ex-Yugoslavia in their previously cited declaration."
Extract reprinted in Christian Order, Vol. 38, Number 11, November 1997, P.O. Box 14754, London SE19 2ZJ, United Kingdom.