By Jonathan Luxmoore
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — A Polish
archbishop who inspected Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Medjugorje shrine for the pope predicted
the Vatican will soon recognize its Marian apparitions.
“The Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith has passed all documentation to the Secretariat of State —
everything suggests the apparitions will be accepted before the year
ends,” said Archbishop Henryk Hoser.
“It’s difficult to believe
the six visionaries have been lying for 36 years,” the archbishop said. “What they say is coherent,
and none is mentally disturbed, while the apparitions’ faithfulness to church
doctrine is also a powerful argument for their authenticity.”
The archbishop spoke as he
completed a report from his spring mission to the hilltop shrine, which has not
been officially recognized by the church despite 2.5 million pilgrims annually.
He told Poland’s Catholic Information
Agency, KAI, he had found an “exceptional atmosphere” of
“spiritual creativeness” at Medjugorje, characterized by
“prayer, silence, meditation, Eucharist, adoration, fasting and reconciliation.”
He added that the shrine was
seeing “huge dynamic growth,” in contrast to older sanctuaries in Portugal, France and Poland and had succeeded in remaining “a true
place for pilgrims” while “eliminating tourist elements.”
“Everything is moving in
a good direction. My mission wasn’t aimed at closing Medjugorje down, but at
evaluating whether pastoral work is being properly organized there in line with
church teaching,” Archbishop Hoser said.
“My conclusions are that it
is, and my impression is highly positive,” he told KAI.
Six teenagers claim to have seen
the Virgin Mary June 24, 1981, near Medjugorje. Since then,
they have reported more than 42,000 apparitions at the site, which was largely
untouched by the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In April, the then-prefect of
the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, told KAI ageny it still could “take a long time” for the Vatican to rule
on the apparitions, despite Archbishop Hoser’s pastoral visitation.
Bishop Ratko Peric of
Mostar-Duvno, the local ordinary, has consistently dismissed the Medjugorje
apparitions as false, like his predecessor, Bishop Pavao Zanic, and appealed to
bishops abroad not to support pilgrimages there.
However, in March, Cardinal
Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, defended the shrine as
“Europe’s largest confessional,” and said he counted on the Vatican to
appreciate its evangelical potential in generating “conversions and acts
Pope Francis told reporters traveling with him from Fatima,
Portugal, in May that the most important fact about Medjugorje is “the
spiritual fact, the pastoral fact” that thousands of pilgrims go to
Medjugorje and are converted. “For this there is no magic wand; this
spiritual-pastoral fact cannot be denied.”
The spiritual fruits of the pilgrimages, he said, are the
reason why in February he appointed Archbishop Hoser to study the best ways to
provide pastoral care to townspeople and the pilgrims.
Speaking to reporters May 13, Pope Francis gave no
indication of when a final pronouncement about the alleged apparitions would be
made. However, the said that a commission set up by then-Pope Benedict XVI had
spent years investigating the phenomenon and tended to believe the apparitions
in that first week of the summer of 1981 may have been real, but the continued
reports of apparitions are questionable.
Furthermore, Pope Francis told the press, “personally,
I am more ‘mischievous.’ I prefer Our Lady to be a mother, our mother, and not
a telegraph operator who sends out a message every day at a certain time —
this is not the mother of Jesus.”
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