Now that the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has specifically forbidden priests and bishops from supporting events that “take for granted” the truth of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje and/or hosting the “seers,” specifically Ivan Dragicevic, for speaking engagements, it is generally believed that a definitive judgement is forthcoming and will not be positive. One wonders why the CDF has taken so long when Medjugorje fails under just about every standard in its 1978 guidelines for discerning apparitions:
A) Positive Criteria:
a) Moral certitude, or at least great probability of the existence of the fact, acquired by means of a serious investigation;
This is where the “no proof of the supernatural” ruling that has come from every investigation stops things right out of the gate.
Parlor tricks and preternatural phenomena do not count. Medjugorje fanatics constantly insist “there are miracles happening there every day,” but that’s precisely what “no proof of the supernatural” means: no miracles. Without evidence of miracles, there’s no probability that the “fact” is in fact a fact.
b) Particular circumstances relative to the existence and to the nature of the fact, that is to say:
1. Personal qualities of the subject or of the subjects (in particular, psychological equilibrium, honesty and rectitude of moral life, sincerity and habitual docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority, the capacity to return to a normal regimen of a life of faith, etc.);
Let’s see. . . .
“honesty and rectitude of moral life”: They lied to the investigation about whether they were “taking care of sheep” or going out for a smoke. If that wasn’t enough, they’re not exactly being honest about their profit motives (see below), using dummy corporations to cover up their profits from the tourism.
Tomislav Vlasic, whom the late Bishop Pavao Zanic called “the creator of Medjugorje,” was very prominently laicized in 2009 in part for his rampant sexual immorality. Proponents claim that Zanic opposed Medjugorje because he had a pre-existing conflict with “the Franciscans.” This “pre-existing conflict,” which also existed between the “local Franciscans” and their Order (which later expelled them), was over the fact that Vlasic had fathered a child as early as 1977 (several more by various women before he was finally defrocked 30+ years later!), and that the priests had ties to the Ustasha/Ustashe terrorist group (which was responsible for a horrible massacre of Serbians near the very spot of the first alleged “apparition,” nearly 40 years to the day before they started). Vlasic even “predicted,” at a meeting with the bishop about 6 months before the first “apparition,” that there would be an apparition to justify him.
Jozo Zovko, described by the “Gospa” as a “living saint,” was suspended twice by the mid-1990s for allegations of sexual affairs, as was a priest who left the priesthood and married an ex-nun. All of these men were referred to supposedly as “living saints” by the “Gospa,” who insisted they would be vindicated in the Church’s investigations of their scandalous behavior.
“habitual docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority”: Just the opposite
“the capacity to return to a normal regimen of a life of faith”: 32 years and “still going.” They’re like the Energizer Bunny of visionaries. Most approved visionaries either remained hidden most of their lives (e.g., Faustina, Gemma, etc.) or if they achievd notoriety, their apparitions were short, and they shunned “celebrity status.” Even the alleged Garabandal visionaries, who would occasionally give interviews and such, led relatively normal lives, from what I’ve heard.
2. As regards revelation: trueob theological and spiritual doctrine and immune from error;
This has been well discussed all over the web. Here’s one example.
3. Healthy devotion and abundant and constant spiritual fruit (for example, spirit of prayer, conversion, testimonies of charity, etc.)./blockquote>
This would, of course, be the main sticking point: “Look at all the conversions and vocations that take place there!” “I was converted because of it!” “Isn’t it great to have all these people fasting and saying the Rosary?”
The main reason Rome has delayed is that, superficially, there is so much “good fruit” in the sense of “Let’s get as many people filling the pews as we can.” Yet people get converted at Pentecostal tent meetings, too, and the Society of St. Pius X claims to have the best per capita vocations in the world, so what does that say to those claims?
But the operative word would seem to be “healthy”:
i) returning to the same place multiple times in search of “miracles” and “spiritual highs”?
ii) insisting on strict fasting rules for everyone.
Jesus told St. Faustina to request of her superior to be allowed to wear a hair shirt for a month and live off bread and water. When the superior refused, Jesus said, “Good, because I value obedience to your superiors more than obedience to these messages.” (See also above, about obedience). He said similar things to Bl. Teresa of Calcutta. Medjugorje supporters say that it’s a “continuation of Fatima,” yet a key element of the Fatima message was essentially the Little Way of St. Therese: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘It is mercy I demand and not sacrifice'” (Matthew 9:13). Fatima, Divine Mercy, Sacred Heart, Lourdes: they all teach that we shouldn’t make things complicated and put undo burdens on ourselves or others, that simple acts of kindness and offering up the trials we encounter in every day life are greater sacrifices than intentional mortification or fasting, that prayer should be simple but heartfelt. Medjugorje commands everyone to fast on bread and water two days a week to avoid nuclear war.
Most saints and authentic visionaries teach that a single Pater or Ave said thoughtfully is better than a rosary rattled off, that a single verse taken to heart is better than saying all the Psalms quickly. I know my own prayer life was horribly stunted by my early adherence to Medjugorje’s teachings.
B) Negative Criteria:
a) Manifest error concerning the fact.
See above, about the lies told in the “seers'” testimonies.
Then there’s the time “the Devil” appeared “by mistake,” or the time that someone tested Vicka’s claim of ecstasy by poking her, she recoiled, then she and Vlasic ran off to a room, came back, and said that the recoiled because the Virgin “dropped baby Jesus.”
b) Doctrinal errors attributed to God himself, or to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or to some saint in their manifestations, taking into account however the possibility that the subject might have added, even unconsciously, purely human elements or some error of the natural order to an authentic supernatural revelation (cf. Saint Ignatius, Exercises, no. 336).
See above about heresy. Here is Bishop Peric’s summary of the situation in 2010, following Christoph Cardinal Schonborn’s controversial visit.
c) Evidence of a search for profit or gain strictly connected to the fact.
As noted already, there’s plenty of that.
d) Gravely immoral acts committed by the subject or his or her followers when the fact occurred or in connection with it.
See above: smoking, sexual scandals involving the priests, and the simple principle that “the fact” in this case has been allegedly ongoing for 32+ years.
e) Psychological disorder or psychopathic tendencies in the subject, that with certainty influenced on the presumed supernatural fact, or psychosis, collective hysteria or other things of this kind.
That’s one for the investigators, but noting the distinction between “psychological disorder” and “psychopathy,” if it isn’t true, given everything else, they have to be one or the other.