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Official Declarations on Medjugorje
A FRENCH BISHOP AND VATICAN CONGREGATION ON MEDJUGORJE
The Bishop of Langres in France, Msgr. Leon Taverdet, took recourse to the Apostolic See February 14, 1996 to ask what the position of the Church is regarding the apparitions in Medjugorje and whether it is permitted to go there for pilgrimage. The Holy See's Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith answered March 23, 1996 through its Secretary Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone. We present his response in its entirety.
SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
March 23, 1996, Prot. No. 154/81-01985,
In your letter of February 14, 1996 you inquired what is the present position of the Church regarding the alleged "apparitions in Medjugorje' and whether it is permitted to the Catholic faith to go there for pilgrimage.
In reference to that it is my honor to make known to you that, regarding the authenticity of the apparitions in question, the Bishops of the former Yugoslavia confirmed in their Declaration of April 10, 1991 published in Zadar:
". . .On the basis of investigation up till now it cannot be established that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations. However, the numerous gatherings of the faithful from different parts of the world, who are coming to Medjugorje prompted both by motives of belief and certain other motives, require the attention and pastoral care in the first place of the bishop of the diocese and of the other bishops with him so that in Medjugorje and everything related to it a healthy devotion toward the Blessed Virgin Mary would be promoted in conformity with the teaching of the Church.
For that purpose the bishops shall issue separate appropriate liturgical-pastoral directives. Likewise by means of their Commission they shall further follow and investigate the total event in Medjugorje."
The result from this in what is precisely said is that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, are not permitted to be organized either on the parish or on the diocesan level, because that would be in contradiction to what the Bishops of former Yugoslavia affirmed in their fore mentioned Declaration.
Kindly accept, your Excellency, an expression of my profoundly devoted affection!
+ Tarcisio Bertone
ON MEDJUGORJE AT THE 6TH REGULAR SESSION OF THE BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA BISHOPS' CONFERENCE
In Sarajevo on July 2-3, 1996 the sixth regular session of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia-Hercegovina (BCB-H) was held. Present were all of its members: Cardinal Vinko Puljic, President; Bishop of Banja Luka, Franjo Komarica; Bishop of Mostar, Ratko Peric; and Sarajevo auxiliary Bishop, Pero Sudar. From that session we present here only the text that refers to Our Lady's apparitions in the parish of Medjugorje.
"The Bishop of Mostar reported to the Conference on the official letters of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed to two French bishops in regard to pilgrimages to Medjugorje. In the letters, among other things, is stated that 'official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, are not permitted to be organized either on the parish or on the diocesan level, because that would be in contradiction to what the Bishops of former Yugoslavia affirmed in their Declaration of April 10, 1991. (see Glas Koncila, 30, VI, 1996). The bishops moved to announce and circulate this church position in the territory of their dioceses."
Vrhbosna,VII (CX), 3, Sarajevo 1996, p. 171
THE LATEST VATICAN STATEMENT ABOUT MEDJUGORJE
From the beginning of June 1996 many of the public means of communication reported that the Vatican had prohibited pilgrimmages to Medjugorje. Spokesman for the Holy See, Joaquin Navarro- Valls immediately refuted this. However, in case there would remain any doubt regarding the stance of the Vatican towards Medjugorje, the spokesman for the Holy See clarified their position once again. Here we treat of the subject in full:
"INDIVIDUALS PERMITTED TO VISIT MEDJUGORJE, OFFICIAL SAYS", By Catholic News Service
While the Vatican has never said that Catholics may not go to Medjugorje, it has told bishops that their parishes and dioceses may not organise official pilgrimmages to the site of the alleged Marian apparitions, the Vatican spokesman said.
"You cannot say people cannot go there until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want," the spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, told Catholic News Service Aug. 21.
In addition, he said, when Catholic faithful go anywhere, they are entitled to spiritual care, so the church does not forbid priests to accompany lay-organized trips to Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina, just as it would not forbid them accompanying a group of Catholics visiting South Africa.
Navarro-Valls insisted "nothing has changed" regarding the Vatican's position on Medjugorje.
In early June ,a French newspaper published excerpts from a letter about Medjugorje pilgrimages written by the secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Fatih in response to a question from a French bishop.
The letter from Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone of the doctrinal congregation quoted from a 1991 statement by the bishops of former Yugoslavia, which said that after much study,"it cannot be confirmed that supernatural apparitions or revalations are occurring here."
However, the bishops said- and Archbishop Bertone repeated- the number of the faithful travelling to Medjugorje requires for the church to arrange for their pastoral care.
After quoting the 1991 statement, Archbishop Bertone wrote,"From what was said, it follows that official pilgrimmages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, should not be organized either on a parish or diocesan level because it would be in contradiction with what the bishops of ex-Yugoslavia said in their declaration cited above."
Navarro-Valls said, "When one reads what Archbishop Bertone wrote, one could get the impression that from now on everything is forbidden, no possibility" for Catholics to travel to Medjugorje.
But, in fact,"nothing has changed, nothing new has been said", the spokesman told CNS. "The problem is if you systematically organize pilgrimages, organize them with the bishop and the church, you are giving a canonical sanction to the facts of Medjugorje," which the church is still in the process of studying.
"This is different from people going in a group who bring a priest with them in order to go to confession," the spokesman said.
Navarro-Valls said he commented because "I was worried that what Archbishop Bertone said could be interpreted in too restricted a way. Has the church or the Vatican said no (to Catholics visiting Medjugorje)? No."
DECLARATION OF THE EX-YUGOSLAVIA BISHOPS' CONFERENCE ON MEDJUGORJE
At the ordinary session of the Bishops' Conference of Yugoslavia in Zadar from April 9 - 11, 1991 the following was adopted.
The bishops, from the very beginning, have been following the events of Medjugorje through the Bishop of the diocese [Mostar], the Bishop's Commission and the Commission of the Bishops Conference of Yugoslavia on Medjugorje.
On the basis of the investigations so far it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.
However, the numerous gatherings of the faithful from different parts of the world, who come to Medjugorje, prompted both by motives of belief and various other motives, require the attention and pastoral care in the first place of the diocesan bishop and with him of the other bishops also, so that in Medjugorje and in everything connected with it a healthy devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may be promoted in accordance with the teaching of the Church.
For this purpose the bishops will issue specially suitable liturgical-pastoral directives. Likewise, through their Commission they will continue to keep up with and investigate the entire event in Medjugorje.
In Zadar April 10, 1991
The Bishops of Yugoslavia
(Zagreb Glas Koncila May 5, 1991 19)
STATEMENT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE PRESS OFFICE OF THE HOLY SEE,DR. JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS, ON PILGRIMAGE TO MEDJUGORJE
"No new fact has been undertaken regarding this. As has been already stated on previous occasions, in these cases respect of the immediate competence of the local episcopate is required.
In regard to that, on April 10, 1991 the Bishops of ex-Yugoslavia declared: "... On the basis of the investigations so far it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.
However, the numerous gatherings of the faithful from different parts of the world, who come to Medjugorje prompted both by motives of belief and various other motives, require attention and pastoral care in the first place of the bishop of the diocese and with him of the other bishops also, so that in Medjugorje and in everything connected with it a healthy devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may be promoted in accordance with the teaching of the Church...."
One must still repeatedly emphasize the indispensable necessity of continuing the search and the reflection, besides the prayer, in the face of any presumed supernatural phenomenon, as long as there be no definitive pronouncement."
Bulletin No. 233 - June 19, 1996