II. The Judgement of the Church on Medjugorje.
BISHOP Pavao Zanic of Mostar, who was first benevolent to the apparitions and the seers of Medjugorje, set up on January 11, 1982 a canonical commission of enquiry to examine the apparition’s words and actions and those of the seers.
In the weeks that followed, he realised that the seers were lying to him. It was a question of their hiding from him the Gospa’s words in favour of those Franciscans who had rebelled against his legitimate episcopal directives as well as against the orders of their own superiors and of the Pope himself. Thus the Bishop definitely formed his conviction between January and May of 1982, and, with the consent of the members of the commission, he decided to publish immediately his canonical sentence condemning the apparitions as the apings of Satan. His conviction at the time was that the adolescents were indeed seeing something preternatural, but that it was Satan. Henceforth Bishop Zanic’s only concern was to warn the Roman authorities about this diabolical disorientation that might disgrace the Church.
Let us briefly relate the steps of this courageous testimony that he ceaselessly gave to the truth for the honour of the Church and Mary Immaculate.
BISHOP ZANIC, THE HONOUR OF THE CHURCH
When Bishop Zanic went to Rome to warn Roman authorities, he was recommended to be in no hurry to pass judgement “because with time there would be further proofs both for and against the apparitions which, in any case, were still going on and something new would probably occur.”
What new thing could happen? Could the seers’ lies become candid truths? Could the Gospa’s oracles in favour of the rebellious Franciscans suddenly become legitimate? Could the Gospa’s heresies become Catholic?
JOHN PAUL II WAS TORN BETWEEN FATIMA AND MEDJUGORJE?
What happened in Rome? The attack on John Paul II’s life of May 13, 1981 made the Pope turn his eyes towards Fatima. A month later, the Gospa appeared in Yugoslavia drawing his attention back to the East and dissuading him against Fatima. Its ecumenical message was bound to appeal to him as it flattered his own deepest and life-long held theological convictions.
Thus from May 13, 1981 at the very moment when Fatima was beckoning Pope John Paul II to respond to the precise demands that contradicted the Vatican’s political orientations, Medjugorje was about to provide him with a “Marian” apparition that would confirm all the novelties that he had contributed to introducing into the Second Vatican Council.
BISHOP ZANIC FOUGHT ALONE AGAINST MEDJUGORJE AND THE CHARISMATIC LOBBY.
On October 5, 1983, the great theologian and friend of the Pope, Urs von Balthasar, declared: “What is happening at Medjugorje is truly of God [...]. It is certain that the Pope is interested in Medjugorje.” With these words, Urs von Balthasar, who had been won over to the charismatics, started Rome on its decision to nullify the decisions of Bishop Zanic. Nevertheless, Bishop Zanic was and is the only one in the circumstances with the jurisdiction to pronounce on the subject. From then on, a crowd of theological luminaries and leaders of the Charismatic Movement would ensure the media promotion of Medjugorje. It was so skilfully orchestrated that the only voice with the right to speak on the matter could no longer be heard and was reduced to no more than one opinion among many others contrary to his.
On January 13, 1984, Bishop Zanic published his second official warning. On January 21, he wrote to the Italian Bishops’ Conference to warn them of the truth, for in Italy Medjugorje was all the rage.
On March 24, the Commission of Inquiry published a firm document condemning both the pilgrimages and the propaganda.
On September 13, Bishop Zanic received from Dr. Mangiapan, Director of the Medical Bureau of Lourdes, a wholly negative report on the alleged “miraculous” cures attributed to Medjugorje.
MEDJUGORJE AND THE YUGOSLAV BISHOPS.
On October 12, Bishop Zanic addressed all his fellow bishops of the Yugoslav episcopate, who were gathered in plenary session. He convinced them of the falseness of the apparitions, but Cardinal Kuharic, President of the Episcopal Conference, recommended that he delay taking action.
The Bishop of Mostar did not let himself be intimidated. He published a document signed by himself alone. It was his famous Posizione, in Croatian and Italian dated October 30, 1984. No echo was made of this in any other publication except the CRC, which we did by reproducing it in our February 1985 issue.
On the other hand, in November and December, the Italian press published the Roman reply. Cardinal Ratzinger showed himself favourable towards authenticity, and von Balthasar was ever more certain of it. On December 13, Archbishop Franic, the only Yugoslav bishop in favour of Medjugorje, was received in private audience by the Pope. On the 16, he was in Medjugorje for a “retreat,” which was immediately publicised in the world’s press. In the eyes of the whole Catholic Church, Bishop Zanic was thus mocked in his own diocese. The main Yugoslav Catholic review published an inflammatory declaration by Archbishop Franic against his fellow bishop of Mostar.
In January 1985, Bishop Zanic wrote to Rome complaining of Archbishop Franic’s infringement of his legitimate decisions. In February, he went to Rome himself, and in the course of a press conference he reaffirmed the illegal character of the entire propaganda in favour of and of the pilgrimages to Medjugorje before his judgement had been pronounced.
MANOEUVRES OF ROME TO SILENCE BISHOP ZANIC
On April 1, Cardinal Casaroli, Secretary of State and overseer of the Vatican’s Ostpolitik, officially obliged Bishop Zanic and Archbishop Franic to keep silent on the subject, for the good of the Church.
On 31 October 1985, John Paul II in turn dissuaded Bishop Zanic against continuing with his action. The intrepid Bishop, however, in no way changed his conduct. On November 30, he announced that the definitive report would be published in May 1986. Needless to say, but during those months further lies, countless acts of disobedience and moral scandals ceaselessly tarnishing the seers and clergy of Medjugorje amassed to strengthen the Bishop’s conviction.
The Gospa’s adepts were panic stricken. On February 21, 1986, Fr. Laurentin was still hoping that “a prolongation of the apparitions would prevent the Bishop from doing anything irreparable.”
WHY DID JOHN PAUL II SAVE MEDJUGORJE?
In April, Cardinal Ratzinger told Bishop Zanic: “Medjugorje’s defenders are too strong!” Bishop Zanic was then ordered to send the entire dossier to Rome, which he did in May 1986.
The Gospa’s adepts were triumphant: the apparition had been saved! It has to be said that during those summer months, Pope John Paul II was actively preparing for the ecumenical prayer gathering scheduled to take place at Assisi on October 27.
The Gospa’s messages: “ Peace, peace, peace... nothing but peace. Be reconciled. All religions are the same before God. God commands in all these religions as a King does in his realm ” etc., would be made to stand Marian surety in the pious Catholic press for the interreligious gathering of Assisi, which was so close to the Pope’s heart.
The Medjugorje dossier, however, burnt the fingers of the examiners of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fr. Laurentin, who had rejoiced over the ecumenical character of the Gospa’s oracles between 1984 and 1985, had to admit in 1987: “The main objection [against authenticity], which has preoccupied not only the professional polemicists but also the Commission, causing problems in Rome itself, had to do with words favouring ecumenism said by the polemicists to be relativist, indifferentist, heretical and even ‘apostate.’ ”
A NEW COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY.
In 1987, the dossier was returned to the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference, the members of which shared Bishop Zanic’s convictions but not his courage over the question of Medjugorje. The Yugoslav bishops in their turn set up a commission of Enquiry.
Seeing that the new Commission was following the same path as the first one and that no public statement would come of it, Bishop Zanic went to Medjugorje on July 25 to preach the homily at Mass. The terrible indictment he pronounced on that occasion can be summed up in these three phrases taken from his homily: “ To preach to the faithful untruths concerning God, Jesus Christ and the Virgin is something that deserves the depths of Hell!” And he exclaimed saying: “ Oh, Blessed Virgin, what have they done with you?” – to conclude with this supplication: “ Oh Most Blessed Virgin, deign to accept in reparation the sincere prayers of pious souls.” (See infra the insert with the homily in extenso.)
The Commission’s work was nearing its conclusion, which would plainly be negative. For three years, however, Bishop Zanic waited in vain for its publication.
MEDJUGORJE SUPPLANTS FATIMA AND STANDS SURETY FOR THE VATICAN’S OSTPOLITIK
During those three years, Medjugorje, which had first stood “Marian” surety for conciliar ecumenism and interreligion, was now serving the same purpose for the Vatican’s Ostpolitik, in line with the events of “Perestroika” but in contradiction with the prophecies of Our Lady of Fatima. This was done through the intermediary of Bishop Hnilica, the Pope’s personal friend.
From 1989 on, Bishop Hnilica spread abroad the report that Russia was in the course of conversion following the Pope’s consecration of Russia on March 25, 1984! Fatima, we were told, had prophesied Russia’s conversion and Medjugorje would see it fulfilled: Medjugorje was the continuation and completion of Fatima.
In March 1990, it was announced that the text of the Commission of Enquiry would finally be published. Bishop Zanic, however, knew that it would not appear. The Bishop, therefore, prepared his own report which he published in March. He repeated the accusations he had made in 1984, augmented by many other proofs. No echo was made of this report other than in the CRC, which published it in June.
BISHOP ZANIC SAVED THE TRUTH, ROME HARBOURED HYPOCRISY
The commission of enquiry returned its definitive report in November 1990 but Rome banned its publication.
Bishop Zanic, however, broke the ban and decided to reveal its contents by publishing them under the title: “ The Bishops Declare: Medjugorje Is not Supernatural.” Here is the threefold conclusion:
“1° Regarding the facts, apparitions, ecstasies, etc., the bishops have declared that “on the basis of tests carried out so far, there is no guarantee of the supernatural character of the apparitions.
“2° With regard to the problems that have arisen between the friars of the Franciscan Province and the diocese [of Mostar,] they [the bishops] refer the matter to the competent authorities, it not being within their power.” Bishop Zanic triumphs in this point as in the first.
“3° The constant influx of pilgrims from all over the world is a matter for the bishops’ attention and concern. In the spirit of ecclesial communion, they wish to help the local Bishop to organise the pastoral work at Medjugorje in favour of a liturgical and pastoral course of action.”
If the facts are not supernatural, as is stated in the first point, why is this contradicted in this third point that provides for accepting the arrival of pilgrims? This episcopal language, imposed by Pope John Paul II, allies two contradictories: on the one hand it recognises the theological impossibility of approving the apparitions; on the other hand, it accepts the pilgrimages in the name of the post-conciliar and charismatic pastoral orientation, which seeks not the truth but rather claims to “respect” the religious sensitivities of the faithful.
Thus Rome could continue to favour the pilgrimage, money will still enter the tills of the Charismatic Movement at the cost, however, of persistently denying the truth.
THE WITNESSES OF THE CHURCH’S INFALLIBILITY
Yet, the Catholic truth endures. Bishop Zanic’s successor in the see of Mostar, Bishop Ratko Peric, shows that he is as firm and well-informed as was his heroic predecessor. He has a thorough knowledge of the Medjugorje dossier, since for many years he was the principal correspondent and ally of Bishop Zanic in Rome, where he was the superior of the Croatian seminary.
The enlightened and persevering opposition of Bishop Peric is a sign of hope. During the synod of October 1994, he had the courage to publicly justify, in the presence of the Pope, his condemnation of Medjugorje. Furthermore, in 1998, by an act of his authority, he sanctioned Laurentin, forbidding him from continuing to write his annual history of Medjugorje, Dernières Nouvelles [Latest News].
The imposture of Medjugorje, so vulgar and ridiculous, as Fr. de Nantes would remark, “continues to gain ground like a leprosy within the Church, attacking the sublime, immense and truly divine work of Fatima. Medjugorje is to the false conciliar religion what the apparitions and message of Fatima are to the true and irreformable Catholic religion.”
May the demise of Medjugorje sound the death knell for the Devil’s plans and mark the dawn of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the soul of our Pastors, a triumph irrevocably promised at Fatima. By its official approval for the “little devotions” this triumph will allow the conditions fixed by our dearest Mother of Heaven to be satisfied, thus leading to the salvation of souls, the restoration of the Church and peace in the world.
BISHOP ZANIC’S MARIAN PROFESSION OF FAITH
“I appeal to You, Immaculate Virgin and Mother, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, Mother of this people who seek You, pray to You and love You. I appeal to You as your servant, Bishop of Mostar, and before all the world I express my profound and firm faith in all the privileges God has bestowed on You – privileges that make of You the first and most highly favoured of creatures. I express my profound and firm faith in Your intercession, which makes You the Mediatrix before Almighty God for all your children’s needs in this valley of tears. I express my profound and firm faith in Your love for us sinners – a love which You have manifested through Your apparitions and through the help You have given us. I myself have led pilgrimages to Lourdes.
“Truly, with the strength of that faith, I, Your servant, the Bishop of Mostar, before all the multitudes who have called upon You, declare that I have discovered and that I accept Your great sign, which has become clear and certain after six years. I myself had no need of any special sign, but it was necessary for those who believed in things that were untrue. This sign is Your silence. For six years You have remained silent despite repeated announcements that You would give a sign. Already in 1981, the ‘seers’ were saying: ‘There will be a visible and lasting sign on the hill of the apparitions; it will come soon, you will see in a short time. Wait a little longer, be patient.’ And again: ‘The sign will be on the feast of the Immaculate Conception 1981, then at Christmas, then for New Year’s Day,’ etc.
“I thank you, Our Lady, for having made sufficiently clear through Your six year-long silence whether You have truly spoken or not, whether You have really appeared, whether You did give messages and secrets, and whether or not You did promise a particular sign.
“Virgin Most Holy, Mother of Christ and our Mother, deign to intercede for peace in this turbulent ecclesiastical province, in this Diocese of Mostar. Intervene especially in favour of this place and for this parish where many, many times Your holy Name has been used to preach messages that were not from You. Deign to put a stop to the fabrication of such messages purporting to come from You. Finally, may You accept, Most Holy Virgin, as reparation the sincere prayers of devout souls who remain aloof from all fanaticism and from all disobedience towards the Church. Grant that we may all recover the authentic truth. Oh Blessed Virgin, humble and obedient Handmaid of the Lord, give strength that our Medjugorje may walk with a sure step behind the Pastor of this local Church and may all of us all together be enabled to praise and glorify You in truth and love. Amen!
† Bishop Pavao Zanic Bishop of Mostar”
Extracts from CCR 235, January 1991, CCR 319, May 1999.