Criticism 1: There is too much emphasis on the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje.
At Medjugorje, the Virgin Mary does not come of her own accord but has been sent by God:
25th April 1997
"Dear children! Today I call you to have your life be connected with God the Creator, because only in this way will your life have meaning and you will comprehend that God is love. God sends me to you out of love, that I may help you to comprehend that without Him there is no future or joy and, above all, there is no eternal salvation. Little children, I call you to leave sin and to accept prayer at all times, that you may in prayer come to know the meaning of your life. God gives Himself to him who seeks Him. Thank you for having responded to my call."
25th September 1994
"Dear children! I rejoice with you and I invite you to prayer. Little children, pray for my intention. Your prayers are necessary to me, through which I desire to bring you closer to God. He is your salvation. God sends me to help you and to guide you towards paradise, which is your goal. Therefore, little children, pray, pray, pray. Thank you for having responded to my call.
25th January 1999
"Dear children! I again invite you to prayer. You have no excuse to work more because nature still lies in deep sleep. Open yourselves in prayer. Renew prayer in your families. Put Holy Scripture in a visible place in your families, read it, reflect on it and learn how God loves His people. His love shows itself also in present times because He sends me to call you upon the path of salvation. Thank you for having responded to my call."
25th March 1990
"Dear children! I am with you even if you are not conscious of it. I want to protect you from everything that Satan offers you and through which he wants to destroy you. As I bore Jesus in my womb, so also, dear children, do I wish to bear you into holiness. God wants to save you and sends you messages through men, nature, and so many things which can only help you to understand that you must change the direction of your life. Therefore, little children, understand also the greatness of the gift which God is giving you through me, so that I may protect you with my mantle and lead you to the joy of life. Thank you for having responded to my call."
21st March 1985
"Dear children! I wish to keep on giving messages and therefore today I call you to live and accept my messages! Dear children, I love you and in a special way I have chosen this parish, one more dear to me than the others, in which I have gladly remained when the Almighty sent me. Therefore I call on you - accept me, dear children, that it might go well with you. Listen to my messages! Thank you for having responded to my call."
So Mary has been sent to help bring people back to God. In a message on 26th June 1981 Mary said:
"I have come to tell you that God exists. I am here because there are many true believers. I wish to be with you to convert and to reconcile the whole world."
The focus of Medjugorje is on God and not on Mary. The miracles that take place are caused by God and not by Mary. Every message teaches people how to get closer to God, by prayer, fasting, reading the Bible, confession and the Eucharist. These are basic teachings of the Catholic Church on how to progress on the journey of faith and are not focused on Mary but on God. Mary said to the visionaries that if they had to choose between having a vision and going to Holy Mass, they should choose Holy Mass, because that is where they would find her Son.
Criticism 2: The Medjugorje visionaries are being disobedient to the Church
No order from any bishop can actually stop the visionaries having visions but bishops can try to place a gag order on the Franciscans and remove the seers from Church property.
The visionaries stopped having their visions in the Church at the request of Bishop Zanic (previous bishop of Mostar). Bishops Zanic and Peric (current bishop of Mostar) have tried to stop Medjugorje from promoting the visions by telling the visionaries to stop claiming that they have been seeing Mary. But this has not been done officially, just mentioned in a homily, therefore as far as the visionaries are concerned it is hearsay. Besides, the Bishop has no authority to stop a human being from claiming apparitions anyway, no bishop has. They only have the authority to make a judgement on behalf of the church for others to follow.
According to a decree in 1966 by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine and the Faith, seers do not need ecclesiastical approval for private revelations:
A. Ecclesiastical permission is not required for publication of revelations, visions, miracles or for the
frequenting of non-recognized places of apparitions.
A decree of the "Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine and the Faith" was published in the "Official Acts of
the Holy See" (A.A.S.) 58/16, dated December 29.1966.
Articles 1399 and 2318 of Canon Law are abrogated by this decree.
This decree of abrogation was approved October 14, 1966 by His Holiness the Sovereign Pontiff Paul VI. who ordered at the same time its publication.
This approval by the Holy Father took place during an audience accorded to His Eminence Cardinal Ottaviani,
Pro-Prefect for the "Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine and the Faith."
The decree was made in Rome. November 15, 1966. It bears the signatures of:
A. Cardinal Ottaviani. Pro-Prefect
P. Parente. Secretary
The decree took effect three months after its publication, hence on March 29.1967.
The Canon 1399 forbade by right the publication of certain books such as those that deal with revelations, visions, prophecies and miracles.
This Canon has been repealed. This means that as far as these publications are concerned, the prohibition is lifted as to their being bound by ecclesiastical law. This means that henceforth: Catholics are permitted without need of Imprimatur, or of NIhil Obstat. or any other permission. to publish accounts of revelations, visions, prophecies and miracles. Of course these publications must not put in danger the Faith or the Morals: this is the general rule which every Catholic must follow in all his actions, even journalists. especially Journalists.
There is hence no longer any prohibition concerning the narrative of seers. be they recognized or not by Ecclesiastical Authority.
All the more reason is it permitted for Catholics to frequent places of Apparitions, even those not recognized by the Ordinaries of the diocese or by the Holy Father Granted that the Catholic visitors who frequent these places must respect the Faith and the Morals. However, they are not subject to any ecclesiastical discipline, not even for their public prayers.
Permission is required only for the celebration of Holy Mass or any other religious service.
Canon 2318 carried penalties against those who violated the taws of censure and prohibition.
This Canon is abrogated since 1966. None can incur ecclesiastical censure for frequenting places of Apparitions even those not recognized by the Ordinaries of dioceses or by the Holy Father.
Also. "those who would have incurred the censures treated in Canon 2318 will be like absolved by the very fact of the abrogation of this Canon." (Cardinal Ottaviani)
So the visionaries do not need the permission of the Bishop of Mostar to make public their private revelations.
Bishop Zanic set up a commission to investigate the authenticity of the visions, but Cardinal Ratzinger rejected it and gave the authority to the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference. Their conclusion was the Zadar Declaration of 1991, which said that investigations continued and that in the meantime pastoral care was to be given to the pilgrims:
DECLARATION OF THE EX-YUGOSLAVIA BISHOPS' CONFERENCE ON MEDJUGORJE
At the ordinary session of the Bishops' Conference of Yugoslavia in Zadar from April 9 - 11, 1991 the following was adopted.
The bishops, from the very beginning, have been following the events of Medjugorje through the Bishop of the diocese [Mostar], the Bishop's Commission and the Commission of the Bishops Conference of Yugoslavia on Medjugorje.
On the basis of the investigations so far it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.
However, the numerous gatherings of the faithful from different parts of the world, who come to Medjugorje, prompted both by motives of belief and various other motives, require the attention and pastoral care in the first place of the diocesan bishop and with him of the other bishops also, so that in Medjugorje and in everything connected with it a healthy devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may be promoted in accordance with the teaching of the Church.
For this purpose the bishops will issue specially suitable liturgical-pastoral directives. Likewise, through their Commission they will continue to keep up with and investigate the entire event in Medjugorje.
In Zadar April 10, 1991
The Bishops of Yugoslavia
(Zagreb Glas Koncila May 5, 1991 19)
Here is a letter answering questions from the Bishop of Langres, France, asked on 14th February 1996, asking what the position of the Church is and whether people are allowed to go there for pilgrimage. The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith replied with this letter through its secretary. It shows that Bishop Ratko Peric does not have authority over the Church’s decision on Medjugorje.
CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI
Citta del Vaticano, Palazzo del S. Uffizio
Pr. No 154/81-06419
May 26, 1998
To His Excellency Mons. Gilbert Aubry,
Bishop of Saint-Denis de la Reunion
In your letter of January 1, 1998, you submitted to this Dicastery several questions about the position of the Holy See and of the Bishop of Mostar in regard to the so-called apparitions of Medjugorje, private pilgrimages and the pastoral care of the faithful who go there.
In regard to this matter, I think it is impossible to reply to each of the questions posed by Your Excellency. The main thing I would like to point out is that the Holy See does not ordinarily take a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena as a court of first instance.
As for the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, this Dicastery respects what was decided by the bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Declaration of Zadar, April 10, 1991: "On the basis of the investigations so far, it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.” Since the division of Yugoslavia into different independent nations, it would now pertain to the members of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina to eventually reopen the examination of this case and to make any new pronouncements that might be called for.
What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of "Famille Chretienne", declaring: "My conviction and my position is not only 'non constat de supernaturalitate,' but likewise, 'constat de non supernaturalitate' of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje", should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion.
Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentification of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church.
I hope that I have replied satisfactorily at least to the principal questions that you have presented to this Dicastery and I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my devoted sentiments.
Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone
(Secretary to the "Congregation for the Doctrine,” presided over by Cardinal Ratzinger)
This is the summary of the letter:
1. The declarations of the Bishop of Mostar only reflect his personal opinion. Consequently, they are not an official and definitive judgement from the Church.
2. One is directed to the declaration of Zadar, which leaves the door open to future investigations. In the meanwhile, private pilgrimages with pastoral accompaniment for the faithful are permitted.
3. A new commission could eventually be named.
4. In the meanwhile, all Catholics may go as pilgrims to Medjugorje.
We can’t but be thankful for this long awaited explanation.
It can therefore be seen that the bishop of Mostar’s opinion is his own private opinion, which he is entitled to as local Bishop, but remains his personal opinion and does not affect the visionaries.
The jurisdiction over the visions and visionaries belongs to the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference.
Marija, Ivan and Mirjana do not live all the time in Medjugorje and so are not under the bishop of Mostar anyway for large parts of the year.
Criticism 3: Faith should be based on reason and not on the heart
The following is excerpted from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s ‘Behold the Pierced One: An Approach to a Spiritual Christology’ (G. Harrison, trans.; San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986), pp25-26.
“By nature, knowledge depends on a certain similarity between the knower and the known… religion can only be understood through religion… The fundamental act of religion is prayer… it is the act of self-surrender by which we enter into the Body of Christ. Thus it is an act of love.
…it is only possible really to understand this person [Jesus] by entering into this act of prayer… Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e., in his prayer, which (as we have seen) is an act of love… is the basic precondition if real understanding… is to take place.”
So we know God by love and God is love. As humans, we love with the heart. This surely makes clear that to respond to a private revelation of this kind with the heart is the appropriate response.
Quite apart from the opinion given here of Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Mary, in many messages over the twenty-five years of apparitions at Medjugorje, has repeatedly asked us to use our hearts in our relationship with God and our relationships with each other.
29th November 1984
"Dear children! No, you don't know how to love and you don't know how to listen with love to the words I am saying to you. Be conscious, my beloved, that I am your Mother and I have come on earth to teach you to listen out of love, to pray out of love and not compelled by the fact that you are carrying a cross. By means of the cross God is glorified through every person. Thank you for having responded to my call."
28th February 1985
"Dear children! Today I call you to live the word this week: "I love God!” Dear children through love you will achieve everything and even what you think is impossible. God wants this parish to belong completely to Him. And that's what I want too. Thank you for having responded to my call."
19th September 1985
September 20, 1985 (Friday) "Dear children! Today I invite you to live in humility all the messages which I am giving you. Do not become arrogant living the messages and saying 'I am living the messages'. If you shall bear and live the messages in your heart, everyone will feel it so that words, which serve those who do not obey, will not be necessary. For you, dear children, it is necessary to live and witness by your lives. Thank you for having responded to my call."
25th October 1989
"Dear children! Today also I am inviting you to prayer. I am always inviting you, but you are still far away. Therefore, from today, decide seriously to dedicate time to God. I am with you and I wish to teach you to pray with the heart. In prayer with the heart you shall encounter God. Therefore, little children, pray, pray, pray! Thank you for having responded to my call."
25th October 1993
"Dear children! These years I have been calling you to pray, to live what I am telling you, but you are living my messages a little. You talk, but do not live, that is why little children, this war is lasting so long. I invite you to open yourselves to God and in your hearts to live with God, living the good and giving witness to my messages. I love you and wish to protect you from every evil, but you do not desire it. Dear children, I cannot help you if you do not live God's commandments, if you do not live the mass, if you do not give up sin. I invite you to be apostles of love and goodness. In this world of unrest give witness to God and God's love, and God will bless you and give you what you seek from Him. Thank you for having responded to my call."
25th April 1995
"Dear children! Today I call you to love. Little children, without love you can neither live with God nor with brother. Therefore, I call all of you to open your hearts to the love of God that is so great and open to each one of you. God, out of love for man, has sent me among you to show you the path of salvation, the path of love. If you do not first love God, then you will neither be able to love neighbor nor the one you hate. Therefore, little children, pray and through prayer you will discover love. Thank you for having responded to my call."
It would seem that the correct way to approach Medjugorje is with the heart. The late Fr Slavko Barbaric, a Medjugorje priest who was close to the visionaries, wrote many booklets about living your faith from the heart. It seems he too thought this was vital.
Criticism 4: Some people have a problem with the sheer number of messages.
It is true that most Marian apparitions have only lasted a short while. To date, the Medjugorje visions have lasted for twenty-five years. At the beginning of them there were messages every week. Then the messages for the world started to be given once a month. At present we have one message a month from Marija, and sometimes also one per month from Mirjana.
Although there is no precedent for the sheer number of messages coming from Medjugorje, this by itself does not prove that the visions are not real. Who are we to impose restrictions on the Virgin Mary? What knowledge do we have of the reasons for and necessity of lots of messages? We are only human and cannot know the reasons of Heaven. Ten secrets about the future of the world are being given at Medjugorje. Perhaps the world needs this many messages because the events to come are so important or big.
Criticism 5: Some say it is drawing pilgrims away from the true devotional places such as Lourdes, Fatima etc.
Lourdes and Fatima are certainly important shrines. Visions of the Virgin Mary in these places have set them for all time as places of pilgrimage. People who visit these places gain graces and progress on their spiritual journey. But the visions in these places have stopped. New revelation will not come from them. In Medjugorje the visions continue and as such it is natural that people will want to come to experience the graces that are still emanating from this place.
Also, the important thing is that we live the Gospel and remain faithful to the Catholic Church. It is not necessary to go on pilgrimage to do that. Therefore it is perhaps a false argument to worry about the numbers of people going to Lourdes, Fatima compared to Medjugorje. People are free to go where they want; there is no ‘quota’ of people visiting Lourdes and Fatima that has to be fulfilled.
Criticism 6: Others talk about the manner in which the visionaries live e.g. the story of Ivan and his Mercedes.
Some of the visionaries put up lodgers in their homes to make a living, but they don’t rake in the cash. They live modestly. Reports of people driving Mercedes (like Ivan) are misleading. A Mercedes in Europe is just another normal car, not a status symbol. There are also waved import taxes on cars for men who served in the army during the war. So a cost of a Mercedes is lower over there than in the USA, for example.
Criticism 7: I have heard a story of Ivan having a smoke during an apparition.
I would reject this story as untrue. Anyone who has seen the visionaries during an apparition will know that they are totally and entirely taken up by the experience. Their concentration and attention is entirely with the vision that they are seeing. Mirjana in Sean Bloomfield’s DVD Miracles of Medjugorje says that she has two daughters and that like any normal mother she would give her life for them; but that when the visions start even her daughters don’t exist for her. She says she sees and hears and is aware of nothing but Our Lady, with everything around her being blue like sky.
Criticism 8: Medjugorje followers put following Medjugorje as more important than following the Catholic Church
Medjugorje is not in place of our faith, but serves to deepen it. The messages coming from there urge us to do all the things that the Church urges us to do to deepen our faith – prayer, fasting, confession, Mass, reading the Bible. Mary herself said that if the visionaries had to choose between a vision and Mass, they ought to go to Mass, because there her Son is present. True Catholics will follow the Church before anything else. Medjugorje is private revelation, which means that it is not required in order to be a Catholic. Medjugorje followers know this. But why pass up something that helps deepen your faith? This is not going against the Church at all.
Criticism 9: Medjugorje followers would leave the Catholic Church to follow Medjugorje if the visions were ever to be denounced by the Vatican
If a Medjugorje follower were a true Catholic, he would follow the Catholic Church first and foremost. If the Church ever pronounces the visions at Medjugorje as false, then most Medjugorje followers, as Catholics, will follow the Church. There was a survey recently on ‘Medjugorje-online’ (a pro-Medjugorje forum) where this question was asked of all forum members. 95% (22) members said they would follow the Church if this were to happen. One person (4%) said they might not. Not all members of Medjugorje-online forum are Catholic so this one person might not be a Catholic anyway. Although this is a small sample of Medjugorje followers, I think it shows the commitment of the average Catholic to his Church. Link to this survey: http://www.medjugorje-online.com/forum/ ... sc&start=0
Criticism 10: The Church has condemned Medjugorje. Catholics are going against the Church by going there.
Please see the letter above under section (X) from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Please also see this excerpt from the Catholic News Service:
Individuals Permitted to Visit Medjugorje
By Catholic News Service
While the Vatican has never said that Catholics may not go to Medjugorje, it has told bishops that their parishes and dioceses may not organise official pilgrimages to the site of the alleged Marian apparitions, the Vatican spokesman said.
"You cannot say people cannot go there until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want," the spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, told Catholic News Service Aug. 21.
In addition, he said, when Catholic faithful go anywhere, they are entitled to spiritual care, so the church does not forbid priests to accompany lay-organized trips to Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, just as it would not forbid them accompanying a group of Catholics visiting South Africa.
Criticism 11: Medjugorje is the work of the occult
If the visions at Medjugorje were the work of the occult, that would mean they were the work of the devil. Please see below under ‘Medjugorje is the work of the devil’
Criticism 12: The messages at Medjugorje are fear-based, therefore it can’t be true private revelation
The messages at Medjugorje talk of love, prayer, fasting, Mass and confession. These are the accepted ways of the Church. If you feel that these things are fear-based, then you surely must think that the Catholic Church’s teachings are fear-based.
Here are some examples of messages from Medjugorje. I believe they show the messages not to be fear-based but to be love-based, but you can judge that for yourself:
Message of January 25, 2007
“Dear children! Put Sacred Scripture in a visible place in your family and read it. In this way, you will come to know prayer with the heart and your thoughts will be on God. Do not forget that you are passing like a flower in a field, which is visible from afar but disappears in a moment. Little children, leave a sign of goodness and love wherever you pass and God will bless you with an abundance of His blessing. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Message of February 25, 2006
“Dear children! In this Lenten time of grace, I call you to open your hearts to the gifts that God desires to give you. Do not be closed, but with prayer and renunciation say ‘yes’ to God and He will give to you in abundance. As in springtime the earth opens to the seed and yields a hundredfold, so also your heavenly Father will give to you in abundance. I am with you and love you, little children, with a tender love. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Message of March 25, 2005
“Dear children! Today I call you to love. Little children, love each other with God’s love. At every moment, in joy and in sorrow, may love prevail and, in this way, love will begin to reign in your hearts. The risen Jesus will be with you and you will be His witnesses. I will rejoice with you and protect you with my motherly mantle. Especially, little children, I will watch your daily conversion with love. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Message of April 25, 2004
“Dear children! Also today, I call you to live my messages even more strongly in humility and love so that the Holy Spirit may fill you with His grace and strength. Only in this way will you be witnesses of peace and forgiveness. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Message of May 25, 2003
“Dear children! Also today I call you to prayer. Renew your personal prayer, and in a special way pray to the Holy Spirit to help you pray with the heart. I intercede for all of you, little children, and call all of you to conversion. If you convert, all those around you will also be renewed and prayer will be a joy for them. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Message of June 25, 2002
“Dear children! Today I pray for you and with you that the Holy Spirit may help you and increase your faith, so that you may accept even more the messages that I am giving you here in this holy place. Little children, comprehend that this is a time of grace for each of you; and with me, little children, you are secure. I desire to lead you all on the way of holiness. Live my messages and put into life every word that I am giving you. May they be precious to you because they come from heaven. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Criticism 13: There are dead and missing pilgrims. It can’t be true.
People die and go missing everywhere. Just because holy things are happening in one particular place does not stop bad things happening nearby. There have been very few deaths and disappearances: the record of these things happening in Medjugorje is not unusually high. Indeed, Fr Slavko Barbaric himself died on Apparition Hill. This has been reported as a particularly peaceful death and is seen as a good and faithful soul going to Heaven and not as a negative event.
Criticism 14: A message said that all faiths are equal. This is against Catholicism.
One of the visionaries asked Our Lady: are all religions the same? She answered:
"Members of all faiths are equal before God. God rules over each faith just like a sovereign over his kingdom. In the world, all religions are not the same because all people have not complied with the commandments of God. They reject and disparage them."
She also said on another occasion:
"All religions are dear to my son. It is you on earth who are divided. We are all children of God. The Moslems and the Orthodox for the same reason as Catholics are equal before my son and me. All religions are not equal. All men are equal before God. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved. It is necessary to respect and obey the commandants of God in following one’s conscience. Those who are not Catholics are no less creatures made in the image of God and destined ultimately to live in the house of God. Salvation is available to everyone without exception. Only those who refuse God deliberately are condemned by their own choice."
Please note that she is making it clear that all religions are not the same due to the extent to which people have complied with the commandments of God. However, she does not say that you are going to hell if you are not Catholic. I believe that this is where there is misunderstanding. Some Catholics believe this to be true.
The Catholic Church, in ‘Lumen Gentium’ says:
“Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God, and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.”
This is not the same as saying that you are going to hell if you are not Catholic. It is not up to us to decide who is and isn’t going to Heaven, hell and purgatory. We should not judge.
Criticism 15: None of the visionaries has become a priest or a nun
This is true. They have all chosen to fulfil their vocation to the married life, which is also a sacrament. Married life is no less valued by the Church than a religious vocation. Yes, Our Mother said she would like them to be priests and nuns but that they were free to choose. I believe their choices even seen in the very worst light only show them to be human beings who follow their hearts. The visionaries are not saints, just ordinary people. Most of them seriously considered a religious vocation but decided in the end that they should get married. [/b]
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