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Pope Francis on Medjugorje: it's almost decision time

Banner pope francis greets musicians at the apostolic nunciature in sarajevo june 6 2015 credit andreas dueren cna

Pope Francis greets musicians at the apostolic nunciature in Sarajevo June 6, 2015. Credit: Andreas Dueren/CNA.

When asked by a Bosnian journalist about the status of his decision on the Marian apparitions in Medjugorje on his flight from Sarajevo to Rome, Pope Francis said that after a lengthy study, a decision could be coming soon. “We’re at this point of making decisions … and then they will be announced,” the Pope told journalists on board his June 6 flight from Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina to Rome. Bosnian Croat journalist Silva Tomasevic brought the topic up to the Pope during his brief in-flight news conference in route to Rome following his June 6 apostolic visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina. When Tomasevic noted that there is a great interest in Bosnia regarding his judgement on the authenticity of the apparitions, the Pope responded by recalling how Benedict XVI created a commission to study the reports surrounding the alleged apparitions. Presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, emeritus vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, the commission was created by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2010 under Benedict XVI, and was composed of an international panel of bishops, cardinals, theologians and various experts. It was established to further investigate “certain doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of the phenomenon of Medjugorje.” Pope Francis said that commission “made a study and Cardinal Ruini came to me and consigned the study to me after many years. I don’t know, three or four years, more or less.” He said the commission “did good work,” and revealed that Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the current prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told him that “he would do a ‘feria quarta,’ in these times.” A “feria quarta” is a once-a-month meeting in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith during which current cases are examined. “I believe that (the feria quarta) has been done the last Wednesday of last month, but I’m not sure,” Francis said, explaining that a decision could be made soon and that “some guidelines will be given to bishops on the lines they will take.” The alleged apparitions originally began June 24, 1981, when six children in the town of Medjugorje, located in what is now Bosnia, began to experience phenomena which they have claimed to be apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to these six “seers,” the apparitions contained a message of peace for the world, a call to conversion, prayer and fasting, as well as certain secrets surrounding events to be fulfilled in the future. These apparitions are said to have continued almost daily since their first occurrence, with three of the original six children – who are now young adults – continuing to receive apparitions every afternoon because not all of the “secrets” intended for them have been revealed. Originally said to have occurred on a hilltop in the town where a cross commemorating the Redemption rests, the apparitions are also said to have taken place in various other locations, including the local parish church and wherever the visionaries happen to be located during the time of Mary’s appearance. Since their beginning, the alleged apparitions have been a source of both controversy and conversion, with many flocking to the city for pilgrimage and prayer, and some claiming to have experienced miracles at the site, while many others claim the visions are non-credible. In April 1991, the bishops of the former Yugoslavia determined that “on the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations.” On the basis of those findings, and because the commission was still in the process of its investigation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith directed last October that clerics and the faithful “are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted.”

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