In appendix: A Note on a Vatican Judgement
by Marco Corvaglia
§ 1. "Do Not Obey Anyone!"
"Do not obey anyone!" (Nemojte slušati nikogo!): with these words, according to the "visionary" Vicka, on 15 April 1982 Our Lady spoke to the two rebel Franciscans Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina, inducing them to disobey the local bishop and the general vicar of their order.
Let us reconstruct and, above all, prove by documents these events.
The Vatican, in 1975, issued the decree Romanis Pontificibus, which required to entrust to the secular clergy (i.e. priests, not members of religious orders) a number of Herzegovinian parishes which until then had been governed by the Franciscans.
In particular, in pursuance of paragraph 6 of the Vatican decree, in 1980, the year before the apparitions, the then Bishop Pavao Žanić decided to found a new parish in the city of Mostar, entrusting it to the secular clergy and reducing the size of the existing Franciscan parish.
The fathers Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina, chaplains in Mostar, like other Herzegovinian Franciscans, opposed the enforcement of the decree.
Let us recall first what canon law says about the vow of obedience (which by the way is an obligation in itself, no matter who is right or who is wrong):
The evangelical counsel of obedience, undertaken in the spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ, who was obedient even unto death, obliges submission of one's will to lawful Superiors, who act in the place of God when they give commands that are in accordance with each institute's own constitutions.
Moreover, can. 201:
Clerics have a special obligation to show reverence and obedience to the Supreme Pontiff and to their own Ordinary.
"After a good eight heavy admonitions by the General Curia of Friars Minor in Rome" [La posizione attuale, non ufficiale, della Curia Vescovile di Mostar nei confronti degli eventi di Medjugorje ("The present, unofficial, position of the Diocesan Chancery of Mostar regarding the events of Medjugorje"), Mostar, 30 October 1984, § 7], Vego e Prusina were suspended a divinis, reduced to the lay state (by the Vatican Congregation for Religious) and dismissed from the Order (by the General Curia in Rome).
However, the two friars, reports the Bishop, "continued exercising sacerdotal duties in the area of the new founded cathedral parish" and "tirelessly propagandize the Medjugorje apparitions" [Ibid.].
Let us study in detail the question of the relationship between the two friars and the "apparitions".
In 1981, the parish of Medjugorje (like today) was governed by the Franciscans.
On 19 December of that year, the above mentioned Father Ivica Vego went to Medjugorje, spoke with the visionaries and consulted the Madonna, through them. And Our Lady, from this moment, in her messages began to defend with resentful words the rebel Franciscans, particularly Vego and Prusina, unequivocally inciting them to insubordination.
There is a document entirely autographed by the visionary Vicka. It is the Rokovnik (Notebook), which contains all the messages that the Gospa addressed to the two rebel friars, between 1981 and 1982.
First of all, let us look at two pages, placed in sequence, relating to 19 December 1981 and 3 January 1982 (in all the following excerpts, in the translation the "messages" of the Madonna will be shown in italics)
"19 December 1981 - Saturday
I made a request to Our Lady on the problem of Herzegovina, in particular as regards Father Ivica Vego. Our Lady said that for these disorders the more guilty is the Bishop Žanić. Relating to Ivica Vego has said that he is not guilty, but that the bishop has in hand all the power. She said to remain in Mostar and not to leave from there
January 3  - Saturday [... ] The Madonna replied: Ivica is not guilty. If they expel him from order, he must be courageous […] Let him remain! Ivica is not guilty […] The Bishop does not arrange the situation and therefore he is guilty. And then he will not always be the bishop. I will show the justice in Paradise”
[See also Ogledalo Pravde. Biskupski ordinarijat u Mostaru o navodnim ukazanjima i porukama u Međugorju (The Diocesan Curia of Mostar on the Alleged Apparitions and Messages of Medjugorje), Mostar, 2001, pp. 75-76 and R. Laurentin, Message et pédagogie de Marie a Medjugorje. Corpus chronologique des messages. Urgence du retour à Dieu, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1988, p. 304.
Original text: 19. Prosinca 1981. - Subota. Pitala sam za hercegovački problem, posebno na ono što se odnosi na Fra Ivicu Vego. Gospa je rekla, da je za ove nerede najkrivlji biskup Žanić, za Fra Ivicu Vegu rekla je, da on nije kriv, ali da Biskup ima svu vlast. Rekla mu je da ostane u Mostaru i da odatle ne ide.
3 Sječnja - Subota [...] Gospa je odgovorila: Ivica nije kriv. Ako ga izbace iz fratara, neka bude hrabar [...] Nek ostane! Ivica nije kriv [...] Biskup ne pravi red i zato je on kriv. Neće ni on vazda bit biskup. Pokazat ću ja pravdu u kraljevstvu.]
Eleven days after, on 14 January 1982, Vicka, Marija and Jakov went to the Bishop. He in the meantime had learned from a member of the Franciscan Provincial Council that Vego and Prusina "defended themselves before their superiors by saying that they would not leave Mostar because Our Lady through Vicka, told them not to leave".
The bishop himself has made it known in a document entitled The Truth About Medjugorje, published in March of 1990, in Italian, English, German and Croatian.
The msgr. Žanić document continues:
I asked Vicka at our meeting: "Did Our Lady mention anything about the Mostar chaplains, Vego and Prusina?" "She did not, we don't know them" responded all three. Our conversation lasted 30 minutes and I taped all of it. I repeated the question about the chaplains of Mostar several times and they always responded: "We don't know them." Later on, I found from Vicka's diary that they knew the chaplains very well. It was clear to me that they were lying [...].
[Msgr. Pavao Žanić, The Truth About Medjugorje, March 1990, § 7]
The two following pages are instead related to 15 April 1982
"Thursday, 15 April 1982.
Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina. I have asked the question to the Madonna this way: "Could you generally tell me everything about them both?". She at first has smiled and began to speak: They are not to blame. She repeated twice. Let them not care at all for that. Many are against them, and are looking forward that they are expelled and go away from Mostar. Here the Bishop is guilty and there are many who support him and who every day say that you have to be sent away, so that they will not see you anymore. Do not obey anyone! Do not blame yourselves for anything at all, and, above all, do not go away from Mostar. [...] My Madonna, you said that you will somehow get the Bishop to let them stay, so I ask you to do this as soon as possible, because we are a bit in a hurry.” [See also Ogledalo Pravde. Biskupski ordinarijat u Mostaru o navodnim ukazanjima i porukama u Međugorju (The Diocesan Curia of Mostar on the Alleged Apparitions and Messages of Medjugorje), Mostar, 2001, p. 77 and Laurentin, Message et pédagogie de Marie a Medjugorje. Corpus chronologique des messages, p. 306.Original text: "Četvrtak 15 IV 1982. Ivica Vego i Ivan Prusina. Ja sam postavila pitanje Gospi ovako: Općenito da mi sve kaže o vama dvojici. Ona se najprije nasmijala i počela govoriti. Oni nisu ništa krivi. Ponovila je dva puta. Neka se zato ništa nebrinu. Ima ih dosta protiv nji dvojice, koji jedva čekaju da ih izbace i da odu iz Mostara. Biskup je tu kriv a ima ih puno koji ga podržavaju i svaki dan govore da vas izbace, da vas više neviđaju. Nemojte slušati nikoga! Nemojte sebi ništa predbacivati, i što je svakako važno - da neidete iz Mostara [...] Gospe moja ti si rekla, da ćeš ti Biskupu nečim pokazati, da ih se okane, pa te ja molim da to što prije učiniš, jer nama se pomalo žuri.]
Now the reproduction of the page related to 26 April 1982
"26 April 1982 Monday
The bishop - she says – doesn’t possess a scrap of the true love of God for those two.
With regard to the bishop, Ivica and Ivan should be peaceful because he has placed a too heavy load on their shoulders, only to get rid of them. In fact, he has begun with the younger (friars) and then more and more forward [...] The bishop is not acting according to the will of God, and can do what he wants. But one day justice will be done, of the sort you haven’t seen for a long time. I will begin to slowly tidy all this and many Friars will be irradiated by a great happiness."
[See also Ogledalo Pravde. Biskupski ordinarijat u Mostaru o navodnim ukazanjima i porukama u Međugorju (The Diocesan Curia of Mostar on the Alleged Apparitions and Messages of Medjugorje), Mostar, 2001, pp. 76-77 and Laurentin, Message et pédagogie de Marie a Medjugorje. Corpus chronologique des messages, p. 308.
26 Travanj 1982 Ponedjeljak.
Biskup – veli - nema nimalo prave ljubavi Božje za njih dvojicu. Ivica i Ivan neka radi Biskupa ostanu samo mirni jer on im stavlja preveliki teret, samo da ih se oslobodi [...] Biskup neradi po Božjoj milosti, pa može činiti šta hoće. Ali jednog dana vidjet će se pravda koju odavno niste vidjeli. Ja ću to sve polako početi smirivati, a mnoge će fratre obasjati velika sreća.]
The following year, thanks to a Slovenian Jesuit, Fr. Radogost Grafenauer, who had met the visionaries, Bishop Žanić learned about the existence of the diaries and the messages we are talking about were confirmed to him.
Grafenauer himself had occasion to speak directly with Vicka and Marija. He recorded the conversations and left a copy of the tape to the parish, to Bishop Žanić and to the Episcopal Conference of Zagreb.
Let us read, before, a passage of the interview with Vicka:
GRAFENAUER: You told the bishop that he is to blame and that those two [Vego and Prusina] are innocent and that they can perform their priestly duties?
VICKA: Yes I did.
GRAFENAUER: Can they hear confessions? Did Our Lady mention this?
GRAFENAUER: If Our Lady said this and the Pope says that they cannot…
VICKA: The Pope can say what he wants, I’m telling it as it is [Original: Nek Pope govori, kako ja kazem onak jest].
[Ogledalo Pravde. Biskupski ordinarijat u Mostaru o navodnim ukazanjima i porukama u Međugorju (The Diocesan Curia of Mostar on the Alleged Apparitions and Messages of Medjugorje), Mostar, 2001, pp. 22-23]
And now an excerpt of the talk with Marija:
GRAFENAUER: Did Our Lady say that the bishop is to blame?
GRAFENAUER: Did she say that Vego and Prusina were not to blame?
GRAFENAUER: When Our Lady says that the bishop is to blame this immediately appears suspicious and we could conclude that this is not Our Lady speaking. The seers are apparently spreading word around that the bishop is to blame.
MARIJA: Our Lady told us this.
[Msgr. P. Žanić, The Truth About Medjugorje, § 12]
On February 15, 1983 the Italian Jesuit Massimo Rastrelli, defined by father Laurentin as "one of the Italian experts who work to defend with tact and measure the apparitions of Medjugorje" [R.Laurentin, Dernières nouvelles de Medjugorje, No 3, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1985, p. 50], went to Cardinal Franjo Kuharić, Archbishop of Zagreb and President of the Episcopal Conference of Yugoslavia.
The Jesuit interviewed the prelate, recording everything with a tape recorder. The transcript of that interview was published by Laurentin himself.
Cardinal Kuharić, while not openly taking a position on the apparitions, said that Vicka had confirmed to him, too, the messages against the Bishop:
This concerns a fundamental principle of ecclesiology. If the Madonna supports the rebels in the Church against the true authority of the Church, for me this is a problem. Who told me about this? Vicka. She came twice (to the Archbishopric of Zagreb). I told her: If Our Lady said these words against the Bishop in favor of the suspended Franciscans, then the one speaking isn't the Virgin.
[Laurentin, Dernières nouvelles de Medjugorje, No 3, pp. 51-52]
§ 2. Threats
On 21 June 1983 intervenes also Ivan, who writes the following autographed letter addressed to the Bishop.
It contains an intimidating message of Our Lady for the Bishop himself (note that, as often happened, Father Ivica Vego was present at this apparition:
"On 19 06 1983, being present the visionaries Jakov, Marija [and also] Ivica, Our Lady appeared. After having answered some questions about the sick, by herself began to talk about you, Excellency. These are the thoughts that she told me : Tell the Bishop that I seek a quick conversion from him towards the happenings in Medjugorje, before it is too late. May he accept these events with plenty of love, understanding and great responsibility. I want him to avoid creating conflicts between priests and to stop publicizing their negative behaviours.
The Holy Father has given all bishops the duty to fulfill certain tasks in their respective dioceses. Among these, bishops are to solve problems and arguments. The bishop is the spiritual father of all the parishes in Hercegovina. For this reason I seek his conversion towards these events. I am sending my second-last warning. If what I seek does not come about, my judgement and the judgement of my Son await the Bishop. This means that he has not found the way to my Son Jesus.
Our Lady told me to give you this message.
Bijakovici, 21.06.1983. "
[See Ogledalo Pravde. Biskupski ordinarijat u Mostaru o navodnim ukazanjima i porukama u Međugorju (The Diocesan Curia of Mostar on the Alleged Apparitions and Messages of Medjugorje), Mostar, 2001, pp. 88-89 and Laurentin, Message et pédagogie de Marie a Medjugorje. Corpus chronologique des messages. Urgence du retour à Dieu, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1988, pp. 311-312. English edition: Messages and Teachings of Mary at Medjugorje. Chronological Corpus of the Messages. The Urgency to Return to God, Riehle Foundation, 1988]
About the subject, the then Bishop of Mostar on 30 October 1984 comments in the above mentioned report, called La posizione attuale, non ufficiale, della Curia Vescovile di Mostar nei confronti degli eventi di Medjugorje :
Whoever attributes to the Blessed Virgin the absurd threats of her and her Son’s judgement if the Bishop does not accept the authenticity of the apparitions? According to the catholic faith, nobody is obliged to believe in apparitions and private revelations: therefore, how will the bishop be judged by the justice of Our Lady if he does not believe in such apparitions?
[P. Žanić, La posizione attuale, non ufficiale, della Curia Vescovile di Mostar nei confronti degli eventi di Medjugorje ("The present, unofficial, position of the Diocesan Chancery of Mostar regarding the events of Medjugorje"), Mostar, 30 October 1984, § 17]
§ 3. The Demonization
But even worst was accomplished, culminating into a public and literal demonization of Bishop Pavao Žanić.
To verify this, one simply has to check the “Chronicle of the Apparitions”, which was at that time maintained by the assistant pastor, Slavko Barbarić. The “Chronicle” is an important document, which may be consulted at the archives of either the parish of Medjugorje or at the dioceses of Mostar (the “Chronicle” is, for instance, the original source for the so-called “messages to the parish”, which the Gospa has been giving Marija every Thursday from March 184 to January 1987, and on the 25th of each month ever since).
The demonization of the bishop was achieved through a series of messages that Ivan gave to the prayer group he himself had formed.
January 16th, 1985:
“2. While with the group, Ivan had his vision on the Križevac. Vicka was there as well. It lasted about 8 minutes. They both confirmed there was a message after Ivan, as soon as we met, told me he would give me one. Here it is:
Tonight I wish to ask you to pray as much as you can for those men in the world upon whom Satan operates, and especially for Bishop Pavao (Ivan Dragićević)"
[Kronika ukazanja (Chronicle of the Apparitions), vol. III, 16/1/1985, p. 214. Picture above.
The original text reads as follows: 2. Ivan je s grupom imao viđenje na Križevcu. Bila je i Vicka. Trajalo je oko 8 minuta. Oboje su potvrdili da ima poruka, nakon što mi je Ivan, čim smo se sreli, rekao da će mi dati poruku. Ona glasi: „Želim vam reći večeras, da se što više molite za sve ljude u svijetu na kojima sotona djeluje, a napose za biskupa Pavla. (Ivan Dragićević)"]
January 18th, 1985:
“3. Ivan and Vicka had their vision while with the group on the hill. The Gospa asked for one more prayer for the bishop and the others attacked by Satan.”
[Kronika ukazanja, cit., vol. III, 18/1/1985, p. 219. Picture above.
The original text reads as follows: 3. Ivan i Vicka imali su viđenje s grupom na brdu. Gospa je tražila i dalje molitve za biskupa i ostale koje sotona napada.]
Additional similar solicitations will follow in the subsequent days:
Janurary 23rd, 1985:
“The group, together with Ivan and Vicka, had the vision on the Križevac at 11:00pm. The Gospa was rejoicing. Five angels came with her. She asked for prayers, especially for those who are under Satan’s influence. She recommended praying for Bishop Žanić.”
[Kronika ukazanja, cit., vol. III, 23/1/1985, p. 228.
The original text reads as follows: Grupa s Ivanom i Vickom imala je viđenje na Križevcu u 23h. Gospa je bila radosna. S njom je došlo 5 anđela. Traži molitvu za one koji su posebno pod utjecajem sotone. Preporuča molitvu za biskupa Žanića]
January 28th, 1985:
“Ivan, who was with his group, had his vision on the Križevac at 11:00pm. The Gospa keeps asking for prayers for those who are under Satan’s attack. To this group, she requested prayers for the Bishop.”
[Kronika ukazanja, cit., vol. III, 28/1/1985, p. 235.
The original text reads as follows: Ivan je sa svojom grupom imao viđenje na Križevcu u 23 sata. Gospa i dalje traži molitvu za one koje napada sotona. Od ove grupe traži molitvu za Biskupa]
One thing to notice is the lack of discreetness from the presumed apparition, who is demeaning the bishop with her public requests and leading to the consequences one can easily imagine.
A Note on a Vatican Judgement
For thoroughness it is necessary to add that the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican supreme court, on 27 March 1993 recognized errors of formal type in the provision of dismissal from the Order and reduction to the lay state regarding Vego and Prusina, as the judgement had been passed for administrative way, without giving the accused the possibility to defend themselves. Consequently, the punitive measures had to be declared null. The Vatican court did not absolutely deliver a judgement about the innocence or the guilt of the two accused, but merely noted the irregularity of the followed procedure that, therefore, had to start all over again.
Here is what happened:
On 18 February 1985 the two friars had appealed to the Vatican Congregation for Religious, that is the same authority that had issued against them the measure of reduction to the lay state (as a result of the request of the bishop of Mostar, Msgr. Pavao Žanić, and of the emanation of the Decree of dismissal by the Franciscan Order).
The Vatican authorities did not admit this appeal.
Ivica Vego definitively abandoned the religious life, having had a child by a nun from Mostar, Leopolda, known in the official souvenir resale of Medjugorje , where both they were providing service: (cf. also R. Laurentin, Dernières nouvelles de Medjugorje, No 13, O.E.I.L., 1994, p. 49), so Ivan Prusina alone presented further recourse to the Apostolic Signature.
Essential clarifications on the outcome of the appeals of Ivan Prusina are provided in the note, signed by the General Vicar of the Mostar Diocese, don Luka Pavlović, published on Vrhbosna, Official Gazette of the Diocese of Sarajevo Metropolia No 2 / 1996, pp. 142 and on Ogledalo Pravde. Biskupski ordinarijat u Mostaru o navodnim ukazanjima i porukama u Međugorju (The Mostar Bishop’s Court on the Alleged Apparitions and Messages of Medjugorje), Mostar, 2001, pp. 81-82:
[The Congregation for Religious (which in the meantime had taken the name of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life)] did not admit the appeal, because it considered appropriate to rely on the clause contained in the Decree of dismissal [emanated by Franciscan Order], second which an appeal to higher courts of the Holy See would not have been granted.
The Congregation relied on it because it interpreted the decisions of the Pope about the resignation by the Order in the wider way. And in this it lost. Everyone has the right to defense (can. 1620, 7). The Congregation did not mind the querela nullitatis of Ivan.
With regard to the intervention of Bishop Žanić and his request for reduction to the lay state against Ivan Prusina, presented on 7 January 1983, in the note at issue what follows is highlighted:
[In the sentence of the Signature] it is not at all questioned the validity of the bishop’s request, but only the “modus procedendi et decernendi” [way to proceed and to deliberate] of the Congregation for Religious with regard to the Decree of the Order.
[...] Bishop Žanić is mentioned several times in the judgment, and every time his judgement, his opinion and his denunciation are considered falling under his competence.
Remain in force the decisions of the Bishop about the denial of priestly faculties, with regard to the pastoral activities of Ivan Prusina within the diocese before and after the dismissal, and even after the dismissal being declared unlawful.
In essence, there was no irregularity in the loss of priestly faculties, sanctioned by Msgr. Žanić (a process formally incorrect was instead followed by the Vatican Congregation for Religious, in sanctioning the reduction to the lay state).
Published on 17 December 2008