A Caller to My "Open Line" Radio Show Asks Me About the "Good Fruits" of Medjugorje

November 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog



A call came in recently from a woman who wanted to remind me about all the “good fruits” associated with the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje. You know, the thousands of confessions and conversions, rosaries and other prayers prayed, and even numerous priestly vocations which are attributed to men having made a pilgrimage there.


Well . . . I don’t deny that there are good “fruits” associated with Medjugorje, but even so, I am strongly disinclined to believe that it is the site of authentic Marian apparitions. And, as I explained to the caller, I personally do not agree that the “good fruit” argument constitutes proof of its authenticity.

The Medjugorje issue comes up from time to time on my “Open Line” show, and the fact that I am skeptical about this alleged apparition seems to perplex and, at times, irritate some of my listeners. I surely do not mean to irritate them! But I feel obliged to give my honest opinion when callers ask me about it. Take a listen.
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35 Responses to “A Caller to My "Open Line" Radio Show Asks Me About the "Good Fruits" of Medjugorje”
  1. Joan Heatherington says:

    Doesn't any one recall that some of these "fruits" of theirs include:
    the Franciscans there being in a state of
    1. disobedience from Rome since the time of Pope Paul the sixth.

    2. the Kidnapping and beating of their local Bishop Peric, specifically due to his denunciation of the supposed apparitions there.

    3. The fact that the "gospa" decided to show up when the teenagers were out smoking and listening to rock music.

    4. one of the main priests fathered a child by a nun.

    if you ask me those are some pretty darn rotten ones, and i'd like to see some med defender answer those.

    J.M.J

  2. Danello says:

    November 24th was the 9th anniversary of Fr. Slavko Barbaric's death. The Medjugorje.net website proudly recalled the Gospa's message of the 25th, the day after he died:
    "Dear children! Today when Heaven is near to you in a special way, I call you to prayer so that through prayer you place God in the first place. Little children, today I am near you and I bless each of you with my motherly blessing so that you have the strength and love for all the people you meet in your earthly life and that you can give God’s love. I rejoice with you
    and I desire to tell you that your brother Slavko has been born into Heaven and intercedes for you. Thank you for having responded to my call."

    I sent them a feedback email and asked them to explain to me If this is a new way for the Catholic Church to canonize someone? Instantly I may add. If the Gospa says that Fr. Slavko is in heaven then this means that he's a saint, correct?
    Are we to believe this?

    Their response: I think you have misunderstand this message, the message never stated that
    Fr. Slavko is a saint. From what I can read out of your message everyone that goes to heaven is a saint and according to my knowledge that is not correct. But I am not saying Fr. Slavko is not going to be a saint.

    My response to them:
    Please, I beg to differ. The Catholic Church states that: the title of Saint refers to a person who has been formally canonized (officially recognized) by the Catholic Church, and is therefore believed by this Church to be in Heaven.

    So, what the "seers" are saying is that the Gospa told them that Fr. Slavko is in Heaven interceding for them. Which in effect the Gospa has by-passed the canonization process of the Catholic Church.

    I'm waiting for their response.

    It appears to me that someone or a source other than the Gospa fed Marija the last sentence the day after he died. I could be wrong but that message sounds fishy to me as to what these 'seers' are seeing and hearing.

    Dan

  3. Tominellay says:

    …and to follow up on the topic of unity, the good Catholic who is also a Medjugorje promoter is in the remarkable position of toeing the Catholic line on things like Sunday Mass or the ordination of women or homosexual marriage, or whatever, all while sticking a thumb in the eye of the Bishop of Mostar…

  4. Tominellay says:

    This is one of the most disturbing things about the Medjugorje phenomenon: the stakes are so high!

    In cases like Emmitsburg or now Cleveland, the bishop is dealing with lay individuals and their largely lay organizations. But in Medjugorje, the lay seers have been promoted by a large fraction of the local Franciscan province, by published priest theologians, by Catholic university theology department heads, by prelates in other countries, by communities who have established themselves in Medjugorje. It's really a problem, and so dangerous to the unity of the Church.

  5. Mike says:

    Thanks for taking this subject up and posting on it, Patrick.

    You described the problem well when you said that some people choose Medjugorje as their religion.

    I see it a similar way. There are now some people who filter the Catholic Church through Medjugorje, rather than the other way around. It's backwards, and I fear that if the Catholic Church makes a negative pronouncement on Medjugorje that it will cause a bit of a rift in the Church.

    It reminds me of SSPX. And given the nature of some of the dissenters in this comment section, it's going to be hard on them if/when the Church declares Medjugorje to be unauthentic.

  6. joyceawilliams09 says:

    As far as the fruits that have come from Medjugorje, they have absolutly nothing to do with it's authenticity…..Would you say that we should all go on drugs, as I know of some who had conversions while being on drugs. I for one had a re-conversion and I was living in sin at the time. God can bring good out of any bad situation, even the ones where we have place unsurmountable obstacles in our way of receiving God's Graces. The end does not justify the means….We must procede with caution, people should put all their time and energy in to praying, learning the Truths of our Catholic Faith, which have been distorted for the last 40 years or so and then evengelizing to others our Catholic Faith and not be overly concerned about visionaries and apparitions, except those that have already been approved.

  7. mgseamanjr says:

    Diane:
    It's nice to see that you actually do feel that this topic is worth discussing (one wonders why you felt compelled to disallow discussion on your website of this story and it appeared as though you felt so because you felt you had nothing to gain by allowing such discussion).

    So you say that this cardinal and sitting bishop, a student and friend of the sitting Pope, has nothing better to do than to thumb his nose at the bishop of Mostar and show his lack of collegiality. This is the *real* reason (according to Diane) why he is to travel to Medjugorje at Christmastime. Very incisive.

  8. Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS says:

    Michael,

    I think there was a translation error. It is highly unlikely that the Cardinal will have an entire month to spend in Medjugorje. Rather, he will probably go to Medjugorje somewhere between December 8th and January 4th.

    It speaks volumes alright. There's a small matter called "collegiality" (or lack, thereof).

  9. michael says:

    Nick says: Cardinal "Schönborn’s visit to Medjugorje 'not a statement,' spokesman says"

    It may not be an official statement but it speaks volumes. He will visit, not as most, for a few days, but for a month.

  10. Timothy says:

    Very well said, Michael!

  11. michael says:

    Like Diane and so many other anti-Medjugorje folks, your skepticism of Medjugorje stems, by your own admission, from your experience in speaking with someone who is overly fanatic. You must judge the site based on the message and what it is in essence, which is a reiteration of the Gospel. At its core, Medjugorje is a call to prayer, fasting and the sacraments. Focusing on Fr. Vlasic is akin to focusing on Judas when assessing Christianity. It's great to have an abundance of caution towards such sites but the Gospel is clear that good fruits can not come from good trees and Satin divided against himself can not stand. Your side-stepping the issue of all the good fruits begs for furthr explanation.

  12. Timothy says:

    motolife … you are incorrect. The Church has not condemned the Medjugorje phenomenon. Read Diane's post above that states that it has been given to the Vatican for that determination. Any statement by the Bishop at this point is his opinion and not Church doctrine. Also, the conference of Bishops stated that at this point it could not be determined that the visions were of supernatural origin. That is different than what you stated. Even though you strongly believe that the Medjugorje phenomenon is not of God, you must be very careful not to let your enthusiasm lead you to bear false witness because in the end that only weakens your argument. The other points you raised and all those raised by those who don't believe the Medjurgorje phenomenon are of God have a tone that is very bitter and not compassionate. I detect a lot of ego, pride and cynicism in these posts which should concern us. For it is these human attributes that block the Holy Spirit. Those against Medjugorje sound as much like they have adopted anti-Medjugorje as a religion as some who believe in Medjguorje. But neither side should be spending so much energy on this but rather on the Lord Jesus Christ to build up His church on Earth. We don't build up His Church by attacking other people. And those on both sides of the Medjugorje issue have been guilty of this. Although we have disagreement on this, we all agree that the truth will finally come out one day one way or the other. There is really nothing anyone can say or do regarding Medjugorje to change the hearts of those who are on one side or another. I pray that God may give us the grace of discernment to focus on His commandments to love Him and love others as Christ loved others. Amen.

  13. motolife says:

    Congratulations Patrick for you stand with the Church.
    The Medjugorje phenomenon has already been clearly condemned by the Church. That is, by all the local Bishops (2 so far), who have apostolic authority over the dioceses.
    On top of that, the conference of Bishops determined the alleged apparitions NOT to be of supernatural, (divine), origin. Which means that has been determined that the events do not come from God. (I wonder here whom they come from then?..)

    Medjugorje is condemned by its own bad fruits. His horrible fruits: disobedience and division.
    According to the "seers" records Our Lady kept speaking against the Bishop, over and over through the years.
    Just referring to Ivica Vego, the priest thrown out of his franciscan religious order and suspended "a divinis", who disobeyed this order and continued "celebrating" Mass at Medjugorje, all while leaving with his mistress, a nun with whom he had eventually 2 children, "Our Lady" of Medjugorje mentined 13 times that he has innocent and that the Bishop was wrong..

    Compare that with real apparitions.. I was reading on a web site over Our Lady of Guadalupe, which Feast comes next month, and read:
    "…She made a request for a church to be built on the site, and submitted her wish to the local Bishop. When the Bishop hesitated, and requested her for a sign, the Mother of God obeyed without delay or question to the Church's local Bishop, and sent her native messenger to the top of the hill in mid-December to gather an assorment of roses for the Bishop. 
After complying to the Bishop's request for a sign, She also left for us an image of herself imprinted miraculously on… "
    Wow, the Mother of God not only asking respectfully to the Church his Son founded, but also complying immediately to the Bishop request..
    What a difference…

  14. Peter B says:

    I am someone who loves Medjugorje. But if the Pope condemns Medjugorje, then we as Catholics should follow suit. Just because that one woman is a fanatic does not make Medjugorje wrong.

  15. Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS says:

    Aussie Therese,

    Indeed, there is the infamous case of Magdalena of the Cross (in this larger article).

    there is the oft mentioned case of Franciscan Magdalena of the Cross from the same epoch, who fooled the whole of Spain and most reputed theologians with her outstanding charisma. She could heal the sick, foretell the future, claimed to have lived off nothing but the Blessed Sacrament for 11 years etc, etc. She was honoured as a saint. Only after 38 years did it emerge that as a child she had consecrated herself to Satan.

    Then there is the case of the Mariavites of Poland (you'll have to read it through as it can't be comprehended by excerpting)

  16. joan says:

    Are there any bad fruits in the new Mass since Vatican II and Modernism? Yes.Modernism is a sin.

  17. Aussie Therese says:

    I have often wondered when debate comes up about Medjugorje if there are any other sites that have been disapproved by the church that has produced the good fruit that people attribute to Medjugorje?

  18. pfinley says:

    Anyone remember Padre Pio? He was a stigmatic. Was forbidden to say mass. Now he obeyed. He is probably on of the greatests male saints in the past 100 years. However, he didnt skulk off in the corner and say mass regardless.

    Juan Diego, obeyed the bishop. Lots of visionaries, still obeyed their bishops.

    Yes Christ said "By their Fruits". But Christ also said to Peter "What you bind on earth is bound in heaven". That implies, that if directive comes from rome, or representatives of rome (in this case a Bishop), it should be obeyed. Unless the Church declares this Authentic, it should be met with some apprehension. We have the Bishops, and Pope for a reason.

    I also really have a problem with people saying "Well look at the good works". Those things can happen without some sign from above, by catholics actually being active.

    Why is it, people will run to the first gimic, but cant simply obey simple directives?

    Also, lets compare the medjugorie visionaries to say, the Fatima Children. What about quality of character? What about lives of virtue. From everything I have read about the "visionaries", they are anything but humble, virtuous people.

    They for one, smoke, which is destructive to the body (Your body is a temple of the holy spirit)

    2, I really DOUBT the mother of the Poor, approves of their mansions, or gated homes, when there are people poor and suffering and dying not 2 miles from it. Its a "prosperity gospel" if I ever saw one.

    When you pray the creed every week, you say "I believe in one Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church". That includes following her directions.

    There has also been no visible sign like at Fatima, Lourdes, or Snows. Maybe the Lord is working good things there, but I wouldnt attribute it so blindly to the false apparitions

  19. michangelo says:

    I agree with Patrick on this one. My mother used to keep track of the goings on in Neseda, WI, back in the 70's. There were not too many places to get good prayers books in those days, was always her defense. That says more about the state of the Church in those days then it says anything about the authenticity of the seer (can't remember the name).

  20. Aquinas says:

    Sean doth protest too much, methinks.

    Is this one of those "good fruits" of Medjugorje I've heard about?

  21. Patrick Madrid says:

    No, Sean. That's not how it works. I am completely free to hold an opinion on this matter and to speak it openly. There is no constraint upon me (or anyone else, for that matter) to keep my opinion to myself. The fact that you happen to dislike my opinion is irrelevant.

    I have graduate training in dogamatic theology, by the way. But that's not a requirement to have an informed opinion on this issue.

    Anyone who has taken an introductory level course on Catholic theology knows that private revelation such as Marian apparitions, are not part of the deposit of Faith ( c.f., CCC 67 ) and, therefore, Catholics are free to hold personal opinions on such matters.

    And notice that it's merely your *opinion* that I should keep my opinion to myself.

  22. RC says:

    Thanks for taking on this unpopular issue, Patrick.

    Your stand is just right: if the Church were to pronounce Medjugorje as legitimate, I'd stop any public criticism of it too, out of respect for the Church's pastors. I wouldn't be obliged to believe in it or endorse it, since no one is obliged to believe in private revelations.

    For now, there is guidance, and it's too little known. There is the 1991 warning from the Yugoslav bishops ("non constat"); there are the 2006 position statement and directives from Bp. Peric (which CDF has endorsed by urging other bishops to republish them).

    Those directives forbid visiting priests from expressing personal opinions about the apparition claims, and they call on the "seers" to stop releasing "messages" and stop other promotional activity. Alas, the promotion goes on and on.

    The Yugoslav bishops also called for an end to all pilgrimages that presuppose the authenticity of the claims — which is to say, any "pilgrimages" at all.

    And you're right to acknowledge the sincere devotion by Catholics who mistakenly thought it was for real, and made good confessions and changed their lives in a positive way. It's good to acknowledge these, while noting that they are on the periphery of the events, not at the center of the story.

    Bad fruits can be a disqualification, but good fruits are only a modest plus. There are bad fruits such as the encouragement of Croatian nationalism, which fed the wars of the 1990s.

    There is bad fruit in the "Gospa's" endorsement of Franciscans in Herzegovina who were in rebellion against the diocese and the Holy See. There is bad fruit in the "Gospa's" endorsement of the "saint" friar Jozo Zovko, who has no faculties now because of morals complaints against him.

    There is bad fruit in the "Gospa's" announcement that her birthday should be commemorated in August, not September. It created a convenient date for an annual youth festival (to generate more followers), but it undermines the Church's authority over the liturgy.

  23. Sean says:

    Patrick,

    You should keep your "opinion" to yourself and leave things like the approbation of Marian apparitions to those who have been authorized by the Church to do so. You should also leave any speculation on Marian matters to those who actually have degrees in theology, especially with concentrations in Mariology, who can give not just their opinion, but some tenet of an answer on the matter that pertains to the truth.

    Medjugorje is a complex matter that will only be settled by the hierarchy in Rome. Interestingly, there is a rumor that Cardinal Schonborn is going to Medj for a month (he is a supporter of the apparitions).

    Finally, concerning its fruits … as anyone who has taken an introductory level course on Mariology knows, one of the criteria the Church uses to judge the authenticity of apparitions happens to be the fruits. As Jesus said "By their fruits, you will know them."

  24. Aquinas says:

    Obedience problems and lifestyle choices aside, what troubles me the most – and I think what is most overlooked in the debate – is the notion that the Blessed Mother would isolate Rome from these supposedly earth-shattering secrets. The idea that these men and women can carry on with these undisclosed "secrets" smacks of Gnosticism. As in, only these are priveleged to have such knowledge, and can furthermore use this unprovable "knowledge" to hold sway over anyone and everyone who opposes them. i.e, "I've got a secret". "No, you don't". "Fine, prove that I don't have a secret!"

    It's beyond me how people can't see this whole "knowledge as uncheckable power" as something other than Gnosticism.

  25. Mike says:

    I recommend that every Catholic read Fr. Groeschel's wonderful book "A Still, Small Voice: A Practical Guide to Reported Revelations." The Church does, indeed, have a methodology for determining authenticity of events like these. Most people simply don't make the effort to understand and they believe what they want to believe – a sort of spiritual Protestantism I would call it. What many people fail to understand is the difference between private revelation and public revelation. If more people understood the Church's teaching we would all be much better off and there would be less confusion and the tragic sitaution where people are led astray, or "off message" and by that I mean the Gospel message and the timeless teaching of the Church.

  26. Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS says:

    La Crosse Catholic, indeed.

    A mushroom may taste very good even if it is poisonous. Only an expert in mushrooms can distinguish a good mushroom from a bad mushroom.

    Holy Mother Church is that expert when it comes to apparitions.

    As an aside on fruits, the Church concerns herself not so much with the fruits seen in the followers. Rather, she is focused more on the fruits seen in the alleged seers and their closest associates.

  27. William says:

    I think the prudent thing to do at this point is to just wait on the Church's forthcoming decision.

  28. Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS says:

    Roman Catholic Deacon asks: How else can one judge a supernatural event except by it's "Good Fruits?"

    This is where the Church needs to offer catechesis.

    Events are the "who", "what", "where", "when", and "how". In alleged apparitions, the Church is concerned first with the events at the onset, then with the hours, days, weeks, months….then years after the onset. It's like any investigation – you first concern yourself with what happened in the beginning moreso than with what is happening now.

    Fruits are the effects of the phenomena. There are two kinds of fruits the Church looks at: Good and bad. One bad fruit can take out a whole lot of good fruit, as I said in my example, in the same manner that a rotten apple can take out an entire bushel.

    Examination of events always precedes examination of the fruits. Why? Study the case of the Mariavites in Poland and their split from the Catholic Church (suggested in footnote 8 of the French Bishop's statement on Medjugorje by Msg. Henri Brincard).

    Also study the 1978 Criteria for Discernment of Apparitions which goes deeper into events, fruits, and what the Church would expect to see not only in those claiming to have heavenly visions, but their closest associates. The closest associates in the case of alleged apparitions of Medjugorje would be those judged by the Church to be those who provided spiritual direction or advice.

    Note that I said "judged by the Church". When the Church disciplined with canonical sanctions the now laicized Tomislav Vlasic, She clearly communicated that it was in the context of the Medjugorje apparitions. No matter how much the movement attempts to distance him based on his long absence from Medjugorje, the Church is focused on his earlier activties there.

    Bishop Peric released a 3-part statement which explains in detail just how intricately involved Vlasic was in the early years, as well as Barbaric.

    I believe the Holy See will point to this 3-part statement in it's forthcoming communication announced by Cardinal Vinko Puljic.

    I would encourage all followers who are "fruit-focused" to read the links I provided and taken the information to adoration for a period of time. Take a little time to read carefully what the bishop is sharing in that three-part statement.

  29. La Crosse Catholic says:

    Ok, pragmatism can only lead us so far. Does Medjugorje bear good fruits with the "seers", or are they disobedient to those in authority over them(ie their bishop)? That is a bad fruit.

  30. Lisa, sfo says:

    Hey Patrick, here's an excellent article that discusses just this issue:

    Medjugorje and the Flow of Grace
    by Frits Albers, PH.B., Frank Calneggia

    Description: "This article explains that exterior manifestations of grace do not prove the authenticity of apparitions, because the Church is really the source of all grace."

  31. Nick says:

    I pray the comments don't turn into a battle, so to speak, between the yay-sayers, the nay-sayers, and the waiters.

  32. Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS says:

    Thank you for posting this. I heard it on podcast when it first came out and applaud your response.

    What many do not understand is that discernment of spirits involves not only judgment of the fruits, but judgment of the events themselves. Judgment of events trumps judgment of fruits.

    In other words, no matter how good the fruits, if heresy were found attributed to the apparition, or if there is behavior in the seers or closest associates which is contrary to the extraordinary grace that would be received if the Blessed Mother were indeed appearing, these would outweigh any good fruits.

    Further, if we want to look at the good fruits coming forth such as conversions, confessions, vocations, this cannot be to the exclusion of bad fruits. One bad fruit can taint an entire bushel of good fruits.

    While some are converting, others are experiencing broken marriages and families because a loved one has made Medjugorje into their religion.

    There is a visible contempt, and in some cases hostility, toward's the local bishop. He has been calumniated and villified. The movement still errantly claims that he was removed from the dossier, when there is documented evidence that the case was elevated because it had gone outside the bounds of the diocese, and in fact, international.

    Like Patrick, I too have heard or read people saying that they would choose "gospa" over Church, if it were ever condemned. These too are fruits – negative fruits.

    The "gospa" changed the date of the Blessed Mother's birthday without ecclesial permission. And, when that permission was not forthcoming, the movement shifted when it celebrates her birthday from the date recognized by the Church (Sept 8), to August 5th (see part 2 of the 3-part statement by Bishop Peric in which he explains this conflict).

    Now, Marija is having visions in the "Bedroom of Apparitions" down at Caritas in Birmingham where the diocese forbids priests to celebrate Mass. This has turned into a sideshow, complete with a shrine on the "Bed".

    While I don't discount the good things that are happening to people and that they are turning back to the Church, turning to the sacraments, including holy orders, how many will reject the Church in order to keep Medjugorje, should a condemnation come forth? The Angel of Darkness will be delighted with only a fraction of Medjugorje supporters who would say, "non serviam" in the face of a negative judgment.

    A priest once said to me that he no longer believes it is authentic, but that we should leave it alone because of the good fruits. In my heart of hearts, I do not believe Holy Mother Church (and especially Pope Benedict XVI) will yield to consequentialism in the face of so many troubling signs.

    However, she has an awful lot of catechesis on her plate to help people along. Some priests and bishops are not without needing a comprehensive and intense course in discernment of spirits. Along with that, they need to revisit this topic with the subject of collegiality. When one bishop forbids a "seer" to have public manifestations in the diocese of origin, that "seers" ought not be given a free reign to do so in other dioceses.

    I believe in the end, the bishops of Mostar will be vindicated – in very short order.

  33. RomanCatholic Deacon says:

    How else can one judge a supernatural event except by it's "Good Fruits?" If one takes the time to read the messages given at Medjugorje, they will see that all is in union with Church teachings. Many of us will be surprised and astonished when the site will be called an official shrine. Many of us will be shocked when the fulfillment of the prophecies take place. Soon, all will believe for the glory of God!

  34. Catholic Audio says:

    And what of the bad fruit, such as the defrocking of Father Vlasic?

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