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5. Tomislav Vlašić: A Dubious Guide?

by Marco Corvaglia


Go to the page Responses to Saverio Gaeta (Part 1)

Padre Tomislav Vlašić e Vicka

Tomislav Vlašić with Vicka, in December 1983.

Franciscan Tomislav Vlašić got in touch with the "visionaries" a few days after the first of the “apparitions” and was parochial vicar of Medjugorje for three years (beginning in August of 1981).

A follower of Charismatic Renewal and proponent of a Christianity deeply rooted in the New Age (which, over the years, has come to light even more clearly), he was reduced to lay status in 2009 after being accused by Vatican authorities of "heresy and schism", “dissemination of questionable doctrines”, “manipulation of consciences", “suspected mysticism”, “disobedience of legitimately imposed orders” and contra sextum charges (i.e., against the sixth commandment).

In 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a decree of excommunication against Tomislav Vlašić.

 

 

Saverio Gaeta writes in his book:


One of the most misused criticisms from opponents centers around this controversial figure and still associates him with the apparitions in Medjugorje.

[Saverio Gaeta, Medjugorje. La vera storia, San Paolo, 2020, p. 197]

 


In essence, Gaeta (like all supporters of Medjugorje) claims that Vlašić did not have a particularly close relationship with the visionaries and therefore could not "shape" them and influence them. According to this argument, when Father Tomislav called himself the "spiritual guide" of the visionaries, he did so arbitrarily:

 

Remember that it was Father Tomislav who arbitrarily qualified himself as “the one, who by Divine Providence, guides the visionaries of Medjugorje” in a letter sent on April 13, 1984 to John Paul II...

[Ibid., p. 198]
 

 

The position I have expressed, which I believe is robustly argued and documented, is actually the opposite. Additionally, for various reasons which can be documented, it appears likely that, taking action on the newly emerging phenomenon, Vlašić was decisive in determining certain elements that have become central to the "message" of Medjugorje and were perfectly consistent with his ideas, such as millenarianism and the specific nature of "secrets", which the "visionaries" had ceased emphasizing the apocalyptic nature of beginning in the late 1980s to early 1990s, when the relationship with Father Tomislav essentially dissolved [cfr. M. Corvaglia, La verità su Medjugorje. Il grande inganno, Lindau, Turin 2018, pp. 83-96; 226-231].

 


Surely Vlašić volunteered for the role of guide (and, in this sense, essentially proclaimed himself as such) but, in fact, actually played this role, particularly with regard to the visionaries who, during his three-year stay in Medjugorje, resided there permanently (Vicka, in addition to Jakov, the little boy) or at least for several days a week (Marija, who, 30 kilometers away in Mostar, was completing her training as a hairstylist).

 


However, the others also had him as a point of reference when they were in Medjugorje. This is easily proven.


That Vlašić guided the "visionaries" was a fact shared by all authors of Medjugorje from the early years (Herzegovinian Franciscans Father Janko Bubalo and Father Svetozar Kraljević, Father René Laurentin, Father Robert Faricy, Father Marijan Ljubić, Father Luigi Bianchi, Gildo Spaziante, Mario Botta and Luigi Frigerio) (documentation in Corvaglia’s La verità su Medjugorje, p. 76 and note 54 p. 149), but that's not enough...

 


It was a fact that was explicitly admitted even by the other Franciscans of Medjugorje, by the "visionaries" themselves and even by the Gospa (which, of course, for me coincides with the "visionaries").

 


In fact, in the Chronicle of the Apparitions of the parish of Medjugorje, Franciscan Slavko Barbarić thus expresses himself regarding Tomislav Vlašić on April 2, 1984:

 

He guided the visionaries, parish and pilgrims.

[Kronika ukazanja [Chronical of the Apparitions], vol. III, 2/4/1984, cit. in Službeni vjesnik (Official Bulletin of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno), 2/2009, p.183. Original text: «Vodio je vidioce, župu i hodočasnike»]

 


“Visionary” Ivanka, when interviewed in July of 1984 by columnist Gianfranco Fagiuoli for the Domenica del Corriere (Sunday Courier), says, "Father Vlasic, our spiritual advisor…” [G. Fagiuoli, La Madonna non mi ha mai sgridato, «La Domenica del Corriere», vol. 86, no. 30, July 28, 1984, p. 32].

 


But as early as February 28, 1982, there was this message from the Gospa (i.e., the Madonna) to the “visionaries”:

 

Thank Tomislav very much, for he is guiding you very well.

[René Laurentin, Message et pédagogie de Marie a Medjugorje. Corpus chronologique des messages O.E.I.L., Paris 1988, p. 173 (message taken from the Diary of Vicka, third notebook). English edition: Messages and Teachings of Mary at Medjugorje. Chronological Corpus of the Messages, Riehle Foundation, 1988]

 


Additionally, another “visionary" admitted having gaven false messages requested by Father Vlašić, and this was Marija.

 


Vlašić, in fact, frequently continued going to Medjugorje for several years, even after his move to nearby Vitina (1984).

 

 

In 1987, however, he "retired to a hermitage for an indefinite period” [“Eco di Medjugorje” [Medjugorje Echo], n. 39, April 19, 1987, p. 2] and was absent for several months.

 


When he finally returned, visionary Marija, evidently very attached to him, was especially happy:

Tomislav's visit was enthusiastically welcomed by many. I was about to collapse from joy, stated Marija.

[Laurentin, Dernières nouvelles de Medjugorje, n. 7, O.E.I.L., Paris, December 1988, p. 97]

 


The following year, Father Tomislav Vlašić, along with a self-proclaimed German mystic (Agnes Heupel), founded a community called “Regina della Pace, completamente tuoi, attraverso Maria a Gesù” (Queen of Peace, all yours through Mary to Jesus) in Parma, Italy, which Marija also joins.

 


Here is Saverio Gaeta’s account:

 

Initially, visionary Marija also joined the community. In a writing from April 21, 1988, she claimed that she withdrew into silence in February and prayed to the Gospa to give her enlightenment. “The Gospa arrived. She was happy. She prayed over all of us and said, ‘Beloved children, I give you a special gift, the gift of freedom so that you can decide in favor of God. I bless everyone's free decision’.” The following July 5, the girl abandoned the experience and clarified, “I never explicitly asked for myself whether I should be part of that work, and I never received any instruction from the Virgin regarding the group, except that everyone should be free to choose their own life,” adding that “Father Tomislav insisted that, as a visionary, I write the testimony that the world was waiting for.”

[Gaeta, Medjugorjepp. 201-202]

 


Gaeta then underscores that “the statement attributed to the Queen of Peace is crystal clear” because Our Lady leaves the visionaries free to make the choices they will “at the risk of making mistakes” (ibid., p. 202).

 

 

Immediately afterwards, he writes (bold text added):

The rest is always dependent on the underlying problem that, to quote again from the not suspicious Vatican Commission, regarding the personal makeup of the visionaries as “often lacking sound discernment and coherent guidance, partly because they have lacked reliable and continuous spiritual guidance over the course of these nearly three decades. In other words, we must recognize that, for many years, neither the bishops of Mostar-Duvno, nor the community of Franciscan friars in Medjugorje have established a sufficiently close relationship of with these people […]” Translated from “ecclesialese” (e.g., ecclesiastic language), the youngsters were left to their own devices and committed bona fide errors and indiscretions.
[Ibid.]

 


As to the Commission, I refer back to my series of articles entitled Who Will Judge the Judges? The Unresolvable Contradictions of the Commission of Inquiry on Medjugorje.

 


Staying on the main topic, I think Saverio should have clearly reported what "the rest" is to which he alludes. In essence, that which was written in the testimony that Father Tomislav - by the admission of Marija herself - “insisted that she write”.

 


Otherwise, it’s not clear what the “mistake” is for which - in his opinion - Marija should be excused, the responsibility for which, indeed, would generally fall on the Franciscans of Medjugorje and the bishop of Mostar (the latter, by first and last name, being at the time Pavao Žanić).

 


However, in the testimony, Marija had written falsely (as she later admitted):

 

Our Lady has provided the mission for the “Queen of Peace, all yours through Mary to Jesus” community and leads this community through Father Tomislav and Agnes, through which messages for the community are sent.

 


Additionally, in A Calling in the Marian Year, a pamphlet by Vlašić whose contents are based on the same testimony from Marija, the following alleged message was given by the Madonna to Marija on March 18, 1987: “This [the founding of Father Tomislav’s community, nda] is God’s plan.” (for documentation, see the page entitled When Marija Pavlović Confessed That She Had Invented a Message).

 


In essence, according to the defense argument, if Marija, at 23 years old, cannot distinguish the just and the honest from the unjust and the dishonest (or, from a religious perspective that she should embrace “godly” behavior over “ungodly” behavior), and if she could not grasp this difference even after seven years of daily appearances from the Madonna, the blame, in the end, is on who?

 

 

On Bishop Žanić...

 


Speaking of which, one final thought.

 


At the beginning of the 1980s, when the Gospa, as we’ve seen, invited the visionaries to praise Father Tomislav, Bishop Žanić called him a “con artist and charismatic wizard” [Pavao Žanić, The present unofficial position of the Diocesan Chancery of Mostar regarding the events of Medjugorje, October 30, 1984].

 


In the end, whose facts were correct?

Marco Corvaglia

Go to the page Responses to Saverio Gaeta (Part 6): Father Jozo: Testimony or Fantasy?


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