by Marco Corvaglia
Pilgrims are often told that there is a conflict between the Curia of Mostar and the Herzegovinian Franciscans (regularly governing the parish of Medjugorje, among the others).
Actually, the situation of friction relates only to a number of Franciscans who have always opposed the implementation of the Vatican decree Romanis Pontificibus. This, in 1975, stated that half of the faithful of the diocese of Mostar will remain entrusted to the pastoral care of the Franciscans, while the other half will be entrusted to the diocesan clergy.
Only a few people know that many Franciscans of the diocese have been punished in the most severe way, by the Vatican and the General Curia of the Franciscan Order, for their disobedience on this matter.
Without going back to origins, we can note that on 14 December 1998 the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, Father Giacomo Bini, and the Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Archbishop Marcello Zago, along with Msgr. Ratko Perić, Bishop of Mostar, signed a joint communiqué in which they stressed the status of serious irregularity in which disobedient Franciscans of the Mostar-Duvno diocese lived, being guilty of unlawfully and forcibly holding various parishes.
Let us see a list of some Franciscans of the diocese who have been expelled from the Order of Friars Minor and suspended a divinis:
Brother Stanko Pavlović (parish of Grude): documentation link
Brother Leonard Hrkać (parish of Crnač): documentation link
Brother Petar (ex-Bonifacije) Barbarić and Brother Bože Radoš (parish of Čapljina): documentation link
Some Franciscans, after the action, tried to appeal to the Signatura Apostolica, Vatican supreme court, and lost. They are:
Brother Bernard Marić (parish of Grude), Brother Martin Planinić (parish of Ploče-Tepčići) , Brother Ante Šaravanja (parish of Grude): documentation link
But this is not all: these nine brothers, in fact, even after their conviction and expulsion from the Order and suspension a divinis, have been continuing to unlawfully administer the sacraments for many years.
Here are the words of Bishop Ratko Perić in a public statement on 2 January 2010:
We now have in the Diocese nine former Franciscans, expelled from the Order of Friars Minor by the Superior General, and the Holy See has confirmed the expulsions. Although suspended a divinis, they act as lawful priests in the usurped parishes. While the supposed apparition of Medjugorje gives answers to the most trivial questions of curious people, not a word has been heard from the same on the serious abuses that strike at the unity of this local Church.
These friars have no ties with Medjugorje, but these events that have been affecting for decades the diocese of Mostar, deserve to be remembered.
They are indeed important because:
-These events help you to understand that the two local bishops, who followed one another, act in a completely legitimate way against the rebel Franciscans and are victims of slander by those who want to reduce the significance of their opposition to the phenomenon of Medjugorje;
-They help you to "contextualize" the phenomenon of Medjugorje, enabling you to recall the experiences and the attitudes of other figures who have been closely linked to Medjugorje: the brothers Ivan Prusina and Ivica Vego (see page The Gospa and Instigation to Insubordiantion, § 1), brother Tomislav Vlašić, brother Jozo Zovko, brother Slavko Barbarić.
Published on 27 June 2010