Medjugorje: 20 Years Later, the Questions Linger
Church Has Not Ruled on Reported Apparitions
ROME, JULY 3, 2001 (Zenit.org).- June
24 marked the 20th anniversary of the first reports of Marian apparitions
in Medjugorje, the little village in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
On that day in 1981, six children of Medjugorje, a hamlet of a few
houses located 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Mostar, said they had
seen the Blessed Virgin on a nearby hill.
Since then, the hamlet has become part of the world circuit of pilgrimages,
drawing at least 15 million people. Prayer meetings and associations
of all kinds have started worldwide.
Still, the Holy See and the bishop of Mostar have questions about
Two elements in particular have made ecclesial approval of the apparitions
difficult: the conduct of the Franciscans who directed the visionaries´
parish in Medjugorje, and the quantity and character of the messages
attributed to Mary.
For now, neither the diocese nor the Holy See have approved or disqualified
In September 1998, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote a letter in response
to a question from a French bishop.
"We specify that, in regard to the credibility of the alleged
apparitions, this dicastery adheres to what was already established
by the bishops of former Yugoslavia in the Zara Declaration of April
10, 1991," the letter stated.
On that occasion, the Yugoslavian bishops said: "In virtue
of the investigations conducted to date, it is not possible to affirm
that these are supernatural apparitions or revelations."
The Vatican aide´s letter acknowledged that the investigations
do not rule out the apparition reports. So, for now, the apparitions
are a matter of personal opinion.
Archbishop Bertone confirmed the prohibition to organize official
pilgrimages, but explained that "private" pilgrimages
are allowed, with the stipulation that they not be regarded as authentication
of the events, "which still require an examination by the Church."
He suggested that Bosnian bishops study the matter further.