by Marco Corvaglia
On the basis of the investigations so far, it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.
In 2010 the Vatican has formed a new commission of inquiry on Medjugorje (presided over by Card. Camillo Ruini) with purely consultative functions: the final judgment pertains to the pope, having regard to the opinion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
In January 2014, the commission completed its work and delivered its conclusions to the Congregation. These conclusions were not officially disclosed.
However, on May 13 2017, when prompted to comment on the credibility of Međugorje at a press conference (on his return flight from Fatima), Pope Francis observed that the members of the Congregation have their doubts. As to the result of the Ruini report, he added:
As to the first apparitions, when they [the visionaries] were kids, the report more or less says that it must continue being studied. As to the apparitions, the presumed current apparitions, the report has its doubts. Personally I am harsher: I prefer the Madonna as mother, our mother, and not a woman who’s the head of a telegraphic office, who everyday sends a message at such hour.
Select: Settings (toothed or CC icon) > Subtitles > English:
Three days after these statements by Pope Francis, the Vatican correspondent (and Medjugorje supporter) Andrea Tornielli published a detailed leak (not denied by the Vatican) that 13 of the 15 members of the committee voted in favor of "the supernatural nature of the first seven appearances in Medjugorje". However, for what concerns the continuation of the phenomenon, there were "a majority of suspensive votes and many doubts."
Father Salvatore Perrella, a member of the commission of inquiry interviewed by the newspaper Avvenire a few days later, confirmed the news:
[...] the Commission has divided the "case" into two segments. The first part concerns the seven initial apparitions - the founding core (let’s define it as such) which seemed credible. The other part, namely the alleged continuation of the apparitions, perplexed the Commission.
[Giacomo Gambassi, Padre Perrella. Medjugorje, perché il Papa non crede alla «Madonna postina», Avvenire, 18/5/2017]
In summary, the very first apparitions would be credible, on the basis of a majority (one wonders: how come this alleged evidence of initial supernaturality had escaped the Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference in 1991?) but not credible those of subsequent decades. With an apparent mental gymnastics, it is admitted that the seers behaved inappropriately over the years, while maintaing that the original nucleus of Medjugorje and the religious fervor that has arisen there are somehow “saved”.
Moreover, the commission has focused specifically on an aspect that, from a rational point of view, has no probative value. That is, the "spiritual fruits" (which, as the pope says in the aforementioned press conference, constitute "the core of the Ruini report").
But the Commission did not want to make the only (very simple) verification that would have been unequivocal and resolutive to everyone: the examination of the alleged parchment with "magical" features that Mirjana claims she received from Our Lady (see the page Mirjana's Parchement).
In February 2017, pope Francis appointed bishop Msgr. Henryk Hoser (a great Polish supporter of Medjugorje) as "Holy See Special Envoy for the parish of Medjugorje", and, in May 2018, "as special apostolic visitor for the parish of Medjugorje, for an undefined period": "an exclusively pastoral office", with the "aim of ensuring a stable and continuous accompaniment to the parish community of Medjugorje and to the faithful who go there as pilgrims, and whose needs require particular attention." [cf. Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office (31 May 2018)].
Msgr. Hoser, interviewed by the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, made the position of the Vatican regarding the pilgrimages to Medjugorje explicit. He said that "the decree prohibiting bishops from organizing pilgrimages is no longer active", but added that "the problem of the visionaries is not yet solved", and as a consequence:
Pilgrimages of prayer can be organized in Medjugorje without any problem, provided they are spiritual and do not concern the apparitions of Our Lady to the seers.
[Fabio Marchese Ragona, "Medjugorje, pellegrinaggi sì. Ma non per le apparizioni", Il Giornale, 10 December 2017]
Apparently, a very subtle and rather unrealistic distinction.
And what will happen in the future? Contrary to what many defenders of Medjugorje repeat to justify the decades of “wait and see” position, there is no rule in the Church that prescribes the need for a phenomenon to be terminated before a positive judgment on it can be issued. As a matter of fact, the Zadar declaration made it impossible (on the state of the facts) to approve the phenomena — not because these are in progress but, as we have seen, "on the basis of the investigations so far." (Approvals while the alleged phenomena were still ongoing were granted, for example, to Finca Betania, Venezuela [November 1987, cf. R. Laurentin, La Vergine appare a Medjugorje?, Queriniana, 1991, p. 15] and San Nicolás, Argentina [May 2016]).
The Church cannot approve Medjugorje because it would be compromising, but it does not want to condemn it (despite the fact that the two local bishops Pavao Žanić and Ratko Perić opposed the phenomenon).
So, it is easy to understand that this question will continue to be managed as in the past decades: without official approvals, but also without prohibitions (which is what most interests the crowds of Medjugorje devotees).
Updated on 09 March 2019