(Rome) Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo and member of the Pontifical Commission of Inquiry, which is mandated to study the phenomenon of Medjugorje, said to have "recommended" to the pope to come to a decision on Medjugorje only on "administrative" aspects, but not on the "phenomena" and messages. [The messages are obviously heretical, if words can mean anything at all.]
The Virgin Mary is alleged to have regularly appeared at a parish of Medjugorje for the past 35 years to six "seers", which is under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Mostar. Bishop Ratko Peric, like his predecessor Pavao Zanic (to 1993), regarded the Medjugorje phenomenon with great skepticism. Bishop Zanic declared as competent ecclesiastical authority that the alleged apparitions were "not supernatural" in character ( non constat de supernaturalitate ). This decision was supported and confirmed in 1991 by the Yugoslav Bishops' Conference and still applies today.
People have "the right to go to Medjugorje to pray and do penance," explained Cardinal Puljic in December for the Turkish state news agency Anadolu Agency (AA). Medjugorje "is one of the largest confessional benches, not only the Balkans, but in all of Europe, and that has to be somehow taken into account when deciding which one will meet".
Cardinal Puljic therefore recommended to the Pope a decision to "solely" address the "administrative aspects", responding in "no way to the question of appearances." "When it comes to visions and messages, which are still under consideration, the Church does not move quickly. The Church does not hurry, but always arrives at a conclusion. I'm not worried about the attitude of the Holy Father or those of the CDF. "
Concerning the pilgrims, the Cardinal, that which has already been said applies: "It is important that the people who go to Medjugorje, pray for the strengthening of their faith and are comforted in returning home."
"Solomonic" or "Educational" solution?
Behind the scenes there has been a tug of war for years in the Vatican around Medjugorje. The Vatican became increasingly cautious, while some Church officials, including the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Schönborn, are convinced of the authenticity of the phenomenon. [Not exactly a vote of confidence.] Since the 80s, however, there has been a negative decision on Medjugorje. Since then, it is argued by proponents that Rome had not yet decided. A decision of Rome, however, not canonically necessary to be provided. Among the supporters of Medjugorje, there is the claim that Pope John Paul II. and the then faith Prefect of the CDF, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger have commented positively about Medjugorje, which has been denied in writing by Cardinal Ratzinger 1998.
In 2009 the CDF confirmed the jurisdiction of the Bosnian bishops and thus the negative decision of 1991.
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI. finally established a Vatican commission of inquiry to examine the phenomenon of Medjugorje and bring about the much-discussed decision in Rome. The signals emanating from the Commission were negative in the matter. At the turn of 2012, the final report was placed in front of the Pope.
Since then, a decision has been delayed by some church circles, helped along by the unexpected resignation of Benedict XVI. The Commission of Inquiry had completed its work, yet remained for another two years in office until 2014.
A postponement is argued for since it is concerned that a negative decision could unsettle many believers and shake in their faith. In fact, those in the know confirm that tension is very high among Medjugorje. The danger of divisions within the Bosnian Franciscans makes the regular rounds. An argument from experience- which is not taken lightly in Rome, confirms the reluctance of Pope Francis. Francis has expressed himself repeatedly against "an addiction to apparitions and messages."
On 6 June 2015, the Pope had himself expressed the view of an early decision on the return flight from Sarajevo. But nothing has happened since then. At the end of June, Andrea Tornielli, the papal household vaticanist said that a decision would wait until "after the summer break", perhaps would even be given "at the Synod of Bishops".
An "administrative" solution has presented itself after months. A decree lays on the desk of the pope which has been formulated since the spring of 2015. Medjugorje is recognized as a place of prayer, entrusted to the pastoral care of the Franciscan Order, but is subordinated to the jurisdiction and supervision of Rome. There will be no light construction because it interferes with the rights of the Mostar diocese. Public appearances of the "seers" are also suppressed or completely prevented. As far as a non-decision on the "apparitions" and "messages" it is argued that the phenomenon is still ongoing and therefore, to make a final judgment prematurely was indeed impossible. There is talk in Rome of a "Solomonic" or "educational" solution.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Picture: Cari Filii / Wikicommons