Vatican Bishop: Medjugorje comes from the Devil

Medjugorje is one of those topics you just don’t discuss in polite Catholic company anymore. It’s highly controversial. I’ve heard arguments on all sides: that the bad stuff is manufactured by its enemies; that the bad stuff discredits it. Some of the priests originally involved have been touched by sex scandals–again, some say these are scurrilous rumors. One of Medjugorje’s biggest proponents, Bud Macfarlane, Jr., has fallen from public sight in a scandal of his own shallow faith. I had an internet friend years ago who said his in-laws’ home had become infested when a Medjugorje statue was brought in. Others have profound stories of both physical and spiritual healing there.

In the official EWTN FAQ on Medjugorje, Colin Donovan, STL, explains the concept of the preternatural, and how both angels and demons can be responsible for certain kinds of mystical phenomena. There is little doubt that mystical phenomena are occurring at Medjugorje, and that much of what happens can go beyond a merely human hoax. However, some of that phenomena could very well be God working good in spite of the evil there. And some of the signs and wonders may be works of the Enemy. In that sense, the questionable status of Medjugorje requires even more extreme caution.

Suzanne, a Catholic internet activist from Canada, whom I know from several listservs and forums, has talked about this recent article on her blog, Big Blue Wave. She focuses on the fact that the article says “Vatican,” yet it’s a comment by one bishop, identified as an “important” Church official, but Suzanne says she’s never heard of him before (me either). One critique of Suzanne’s comment, though, is that she says he’s a “former” exorcist–I don’t think episcopal ordination negates exorcism. I think that all bishops are automatically exorcists. However, this bishop is retired, so I guess that makes him a “former” exorcist. Regardless, it negates the article’s claim to his being an important official.

So, who is this Bishop Andrea Gemma? Well, CNN interviewed him in 2005. Here’s a short article about him from 2005. Another article about his exorcism class.

So he’s not “the Vatican,” but he *is* one of the Church’s leading experts on possession, and he says that Medjugorje is a Satanic deception (confirming my reading of Colin Donovan’s article), so that should be taken pretty seriously.

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5 responses to “Vatican Bishop: Medjugorje comes from the Devil

  1. Does satan urge pilgrims to confess their sins and reconcile with God? No.
    Does satan urge lapsed Catholics to return to the Church? No.
    Does satan encourge daily Mass? No.
    Does satan encourage people to pray? No.
    Does satan encourage a return to the Sacraments? No.

    Does satan attack marriages? Yes.
    Does satan attack the priesthood? Yes.
    Does satan confuse? Yes.
    Does satan tempt any of us? Yes.

    Even a Vatican exorcist is not immune to holding a wrong opinion.
    Even a Vatican excorcist is yet imperfect.
    Even the Pope confesses his sins.

    And in all of this, the Vatican has not yet ruled against Medjugorje, even after 28 years.

    A call by the Daily Mail to the Vatican Pres Office would have saved a lot of embarrassment and confusion. But we are all familiar with the story of tares amongst wheat.

    I wonder who was responsible for planting the story with the Daily Mail? The accusation and claims are not new.

    The person may well want to take note of Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s comments in a speech he made last week to the Catholic Media Convention.
    http://www.zenit.org/article-22748?l=english

  2. John C. Hathaway

    Does Satan say that all religions are equal in God’s eyes? Yes.
    Does Satan try to sow discord and disobedience in the Church? Yes.
    Does Satan tell people that they can be good Catholics and live in huge mansions off the money they get from “pilgrims”? Yes.

    Every authentic visionary in the history of the Church has a) lived a life of asceticism (these “seers” do not) and b) done their best to keep the apparitions *private*. Fatima happened *in spite* of the children’s efforts to keep silent. St. Faustina only spoke with her superiors and confessors about her visions and locutions. And, in her messages, Jesus told her to always put obedience *first*, even if it meant obeying priests and religious superiors who told her to ignore her visions.

    The Vatican has not “ruled against” Medjugorje, because the Vatican does not “rule” on apparitions: the local bishop does, and, depsite several commissions, the local bishop *has* ruled against it. The Church *has* forbidden pilgrimages to the site, yet the pilgrimages continue in defiance of legitimate church authority.

    There is, as Colin Donovan explains in the article I linked, no evidence of legitimate miracles at Medjugorje.

    For a site to be ruled authentic, there has to be a documented miracle *at* the site. If the apparition is still ongoing, it has to happen *during* the apparition.

    Verifiable miracles happen at Lourdes all the time. Medjugorje has been “going on” for 28 years.

    Nothing.

    No spiritual fruit in the lives of the “visionaries.” Nothing but Charismatic “feel good” religion.

    Medjugorje is all about sensationalism. It totally defies the authentic spiritual teachings of the Saints.

    What about the claims in this website? http://www.rosesfromheaven.com/medjugorje.html

  3. “Medjugorje is a fortress against Satan. Satan hates Medjugorje because it is a place of conversion, of prayer, of transformation of life.”

    –Fr. Don Gabriele Amorth, exorcist of Rome, author of the bestseller “An Exorcist Tells His Story.”

  4. John, you surprise me. After posting a pretty neutral item you have really shown where you stand on Medjugorje.

    Let me address the three points you mimic:
    (1) Does Satan say that all religions are equal in God’s eyes? Yes.
    This statement is a distortion of the message you seem to be quoting from (October 1, 1981). In response to the question: Are all religions good? Our Lady said. “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”

    (2) Does Satan try to sow discord and disobedience in the Church? Yes. AMEN!

    (3) Does Satan tell people that they can be good Catholics and live in huge mansions off the money they get from “pilgrims”? Yes.
    It is not sinful to live in a huge mansion. Look at the example set by popes, cardinals and bishops.
    As to receiving money from pilgrims, do you mean donations or that their families are supported financially for housing pilgrims? Why even the Church charges rents for accomodation.
    The main beneficiary of pilgrim’s money in Medjugorje is in fact the diocese of Mostar and the poorer surrounding parishes. The local bishop sets the stipend for all Mass offerings. Each is recorded and a receipt issued. The cost is about 15 US dollars for a Mass. This money is collected by the Bishop’s office and redistributed to the poorer parishes of his diocese, of which there are many. It doesn’t take a lot of math to work out that if every pilgrim paid only for one Mass when they visit Medjugorje, then a considerable sum is generated. A consevative estimated would be half a million masses. Say 7.5 million dollars annually. Nice money for the local bishop and his diocese – and I don’t have a problem, with that. The Church has never been ashamed of making money.

    As to “several commisions” there have been only three. The first, set up by the local bishop was overuled by the Vatican (for reasons I won’t waste time explaining) and a new commission appointed at bishops conference level (Yugoslavia). This reached a decision, It decided neither for or against the claim of apparitions but took the middle line and let the matter until more information and detail would become available. The Balkan war then intervened. About two years ago the Vatican announced that a new commission was to be set up at bishops conference level (Bosnia & Herzegovina) since the Yugoslavia bishops conference no longer existed. Three bishops, one a cardinal, were charged with primarily reaching a new decision on Medjugorje’s shrine status (another story). After two years the commission could not meet with the Vatican’s requirements (nothing was done) and the matter was placed back into the Vatican’s hands. Now it will be the Vatican that will decide on the shrine status and when it does Medjugorje will have shrine status at international (Vatican) level. There are three levels of status, all independent of each other. Local level, bishops conference level (national) and Vatican (international) level. The Vatican can give shrine status without ever acknowledging the status of the apparitions, providing its ecclesiastic conditions are met.

    Finally, the Church has not forbidden pilgrimages to Medjugorje. It has issued statements to clarify this misnomer. It does not allow pilgrimages to be organised at diocesan level as this would seem to give “official” approval to the apparitions. So the bishops office cannot lead or arrange a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in the name of his particular diocese. But the Church does not prevent any Catholic making a pilgrimage to Medjugorje and fulfilling the Sacraments as set out by the Church. It even allows for priests to accompany these pilgrimages as confessors. The local Franciscans are unable to cope with the number of people wishing to avail of the Sacarament of Reconcilation. Therefore outside help is required. This is approved by the local bishop under conditions.

    As to ‘miracles’, this is very subjective. Some will claim the real miracle of Medjugorje is the conversion of souls and the return to the Sacraments of many lapsed Catholics. Others look for physical miracles – and many are documented, verifed medically and submitted to the Vatican authorities. Some look for “signs” simple because they need a “sign” to be able to believe. These are subjective.

    As to your statement of no spiritual fruit being produced from Medjugorje, there are many priests who would disagree with you on this – bigtime – especially the priests who have received their vocation through Medjugorje. I personally would disagree because I have witnessed many fruits produced through Medjugorje.

    Apologies for taking so much room to respond but let me finish with a couple of quotes from Fr Jozo Zovko, the parish priest at Medjugorje when the appartions began in 1981.

    “Man can never be sure or objective, because his thinking, his opinion, never leaves him. If one doesn’t allow oneself to be convinced, if one clings to one’s naturally limited judgement, events will continue to occur without us. This is what happened at Medjugorje. Whether one is convinced or skeptical, for or against, the years pass by at Medjugorje; the signs remain, the fruits remain. And Our Lady’s invitation to peace is still valid.”

    “Medjugorje comes from Heaven. It is a pure gift from God. That is why it was difficult for me to accept it at the beginning… because it calls for change. Unless a person accepts change, the Message of Medjugorje appeals to your soul like a beggar. Medjugorje calls you to relieve you of all your presuppositions and to begin a new approach to things, a radically new way. Medjugorje does not produce Pharisees.“

    Thank you for allowing me to respond. Peace.

  5. John C. Hathaway

    Pilgrim,

    Thanks for your further reply.

    I never meant to be “neutral.” I have been firmly convinced for years that Medjugorje is diabolical. I used to be a very avid devotee, like yourself, and used to say many of the same things in its defense. As I learned more about authentic Catholic spirituality, however, and learned to think more critically about the messages, I changed my views completely.

    “Members of all faiths are equal before God”
    This is heresy.

    “It is not sinful to live in a huge mansion.”
    It may or may not be sinful; it *is* a violation of the evangelical counsel of Poverty (and the fact that that fault is shared by many members of the hierarchy is no justification).

    I never said there was no fruit from Medjugorje–God is working a great deal of good in people’s lives.

    A great deal of good happens in Protestant communities. Protestants do many good works. Sometimes, even miracles happen in Protestant communities. Yet, ultimately, Protestant religious are heretical.

    A great deal of good happens in Orthodox Churches, St. Pius X Society and other Schismatic groups. They have miracles–they have the Eucharist, after all–and they have confessions, and they have crowded churches and all sorts of wonderful external signs. Yet these groups are not in full Communion with Rome and are in varying degrees of heresy.

    A great deal of “good fruit” happens at Charismatic prayer services. Yet Charismatic spirituality is completely contrary to the rich tradition of Catholic spirituality reflected in the teachings and actions of the saints: namely, that one is to avoid “consolations” and embrace suffering.

    All of these groups have much “good fruit.” All of these groups are made up of sincere, committed Christians who think they’re doing their best to serve God. God works through all of these groups to reach out to their adherents.

    But that does not justify the varying degrees of error seen in these groups. That does not justify staying at a level of falsehood or, at least, “incomplete truth.”

    That quote from Fr. Zovko could just as easily come from Oprah Winfrey or Barack Obama: New Age, feel good, and subjectivist emphasis on “change”

    And you’re quoting a priest who continues to give public talks while stripped of his faculties due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Again; many saints have been stripped of faculties for one reason or another, usually false accusations. They always adhered to the strictures placed upon them, which led to their being found ultimately innocent.

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