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Negative judgment on Medjugorje could split Church, says noted Italian writer

June 24, 2015

As rumors swirl in Rome that the Vatican will soon issue a statement on the reported Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, a noted Italian journalist has warned that a negative judgment could prompt “something like a schism.”

Vittorio Messori said that the Medjugorje phenomenon has brought about “the largest mass movement for a battered Catholicism since the Council.” He cited the many people whose faith has been rekindled by visits to the little town in Bosnia-Herzegovina where the first apparitions were reported.

Messori suggested that Pope Francis would be prudent to take no official position regarding the authenticity of the apparitions, but simply to take note of the spiritual fruits.

In 1991, the bishops of what was then Yugoslavia issued a formal statement that the reported apparitions “cannot be affirmed as supernatural.” That statement remains the most authoritative judgment of the Church to date. The Vatican has cautioned pastors against sponsoring events that presume the authenticity of the reported apparitions.

An international commission, formed by Pope Benedict XVI to study the phenomenon, has completed its work and delivered its findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pope Francis told journalists earlier this month that the Vatican is “close to coming to a decision” on the matter.

In a closely related development, a new book by a Brazilian priest, based on an interview with Pope Francis, reports that the Pontiff expressed clear skepticism about the reality of the reported apparitions and the motivations of the alleged seers of Medjugorje.

In his book She’s My Mother: Encounters of Pope Francis with Mary (not available in English), Father Alexander Awi Mello—who interviewed the Pontiff at length during the papal visit to Brazil for World Youth Day—says that the Holy Father voiced his suspicion that some people who claim visions have psychological problems, and others are deliberately deceiving the public. The Pope also reportedly scoffed at the idea that the Virgin Mary would make appearances on a set schedule, as the Medjugorje seers claim.

Still, according to the Brazilian priest, the Pope acknowledged the spiritual fruits of the Medjugorje phenomenon, saying: “So in the midst of human follies, God continues working miracles; isn’t that right?”


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