Debunking six myths about Medjugorje

January 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

A new communique was released from the Bishop of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno (the ecclesiastical territory within which the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje are allegedly taking place) helps clarify things by providing a meticulously-documented refutation of what it refers to as six “untruths” being peddled by some promoters of this phenomenon.

Share this with those who may be confused by the relentless barrage of promotion from those Medjugorje boosters who, for whatever reason, do not take into account all the facts surrounding this controversy.

Facts can be quite inconvenient, as this communique shows.


BISHOP ŽANIĆ IN “THE MYSTERY OF MEDJUGORJE”

Diocesan Chancery, 2011-12-31

In June 2011 the newspaper Večernji list published a book written by four journalists: Ž. Ivković, R. Bubalo, Z. Despot and S. Hančić, titled “The Mystery of Medjugorje: 30 years of the phenomenon. For the first time: the documents of the Yugoslav secret police”. On June 17, the day before the book’s release, one of the authors wrote an ad in the same newspaper. The book was also mentioned on the website of the Italian vaticanist Andrea Tornielli, on September 9 and 20, 2011.[1] The Canadian psychologist Louis Bélanger responded to him on the internet, on September 19, 20, and 21 of this year.[2]

Tornielli writes that, according to the 1987 UDBA (Ured državne bezbednosti: Office of State Security) document called “Crnica”, it turns out that the principal tool seems to have been “Bishop Žanić, who in the beginning showed himself to be open to the possibility that there was a supernatural event taking place, but later became its most committed enemy”, and that Bishop Žanić’s aversion toward Medjugorje “had been fed by a series of documents manufactured by the secret police.”

In sum, according to the UDBA report, Tornielli says, it turns out that “Bishop Žanić was ready to accept any document against the Franciscans and against the apparitions, even if it was of suspect origin.” Very grave accusations. The author concludes that the Commission of the Holy See on Medjugorje will need to discuss these documents too.

Louis Bélanger reacted on September 19, primarily because Tornielli was attacking the “intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral integrity of the former Ordinary of Mostar, Msgr. Pavao Žanić”. The Italian vaticanist, said Bélanger, “doesn’t ‘document’ anything, doesn’t verify anything: he copies/pastes very serious allegations without granting his readers any factual historical retrospective.”

Tornielli then mitigated his assertions and, on September 20, wrote to Bélanger that it “is a fact that the Communists were trying to control and influence the Medjugorje phenomenon, and that they were trying to influence Bishop Žanić.”

Bélanger replied on September 21, agreeing that the Communists had tried to manipulate both Medjugorje and Bishop Žanić. “My main point is that you convey the allegation that the Secret Service so heavily influenced Mgr. Žanić’s decision that he changed completely his position from January 1982 – does the choice of that date point to a specific historical document? – making him a tool of the communist regime, thus its marionette concerning Medjugorje. As if the Ordinary had no legitimate intimate intellectual, spiritual and pastoral motive for the change of his initial spontaneous and positive assessment of the supernatural quality of the Medjugorje events – completely independent of the regime’s political stratagems.”

Tornielli did not respond further.

Since the late bishop Pavao Žanić is mentioned in numerous pages of the book “The Mystery of Medjugorje” (MM), and not in a complimentary way, it is our duty, for the love of truth and out of respect for Bishop Pavao, who was a bishop in Herzegovina for 23 years, to respond to such arbitrary claims and insinuations. But, as an introduction, another topic:

The first untruth: The journalist Ivković writes: “The day the seers met with the Gospa for the first time, June 25…” (MM, p. 120).

Which Six? It is commonly known that the “seers” met for the first time on June 24, 1981. This also turns up in the same journalist’s writings on pages 9, 17, 29, 166, etc.

This is a big untruth that creates confusion if this whole thing has been elaborated throughout the journalist’s writing. But if the author is thinking of the stable Six, it is worth mentioning here that, in regard to the “seers”, the “mystery of Medjugorje” has not been resolved yet: who was present on the second day of the “apparition”? In fact, the first encounter was on June 24, and this Six was present: Ivanka, Mirjana, Milka, Vicka, Ivan Dragićević and Ivan Ivanković.

The second day, June 25, Milka was not present, nor the second Ivan; and Marija, the sister of Milka, and Jakov Čolo were added. And then: Vicka states that Ivan Dragićević “stood with us and saw everything like us”[3] that second day, while the same Ivan categorically denied to Fr. Zrinko Čuvalo, on June 27, that he had been present at the “apparition” that second day, and he denied it three times.[4]To which testimony should we give credence?

Why is the anniversary the 25th and not the 24th of June? The same author reports the news that the Gospa said “this to the seers a month before the first anniversary of the apparitions, and then they conveyed it to the parish priest so that he could make it known to the faithful” (p. 17).

This news was made public by Vicka in 1985. She added that it had happened in 1982, “about a month before the anniversary, or maybe more.”

It is strange that such a piece of news was not recorded in the Chronicle of the Apparitions, in which its scribe, and moreover the illicit head of the parish at the time, Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, was accustomed to writing all sorts of banalities; and yet he must have left out such an important message. Otherwise, this would be a case of some false recollections and memories.

It is much more probable that this choice was the fruit of a tacit understanding, as has since been recounted: Podmilačje at Jajce has been celebrating St. John the Baptist on the 24th of June for centuries, and it would not be opportune for the young Medjugorje to compete with that celebration. So it was all attributed to the Gospa who supposedly established, on the occasion of the first anniversary in 1982, that the anniversary be celebrated on the 25th of June, as was made public in the book A Thousand Encounters only in 1985. In any case, over time the group of the stable Six was formed.

Let it be said, incidentally: according to the Chronicle of the Apparitions at Medjugorje and in the vicinity about 120 people have affirmed that the Gospa appeared to them between 1981 and 1985, and that Jesus and angels from God also appeared to some of them. If necessary, we could call them all “seers”. Anyway, the Six were chosen.

In the article, “The secret dossier. How the UDBA suffocated Medjugorje” (MM, pp. 119-169), Ž. Ivković reports many untruths in regard to UDBA and he seems to accept them.

The main piece of news goes back to November 17, 1987, six years after the start of the Medjugorje phenomenon. UDBA’s informers in the province are said to have boasted to excess in front of their superiors in the metropolis about their “successes”. The rest is numerous untruths, one after another. It’s impossible to rebut all the untruths here, but we cannot neglect the occasion to do so in regard to the matters that seem truly grotesque.

Bishop Žanić – enemy. The municipal Party conference at Čitluk in August 1981 “also energetically condemned the behavior of part of the clergy,” and the following names were mentioned: “Bishop Pavao Žanić, Fr. Jozo Zovko and Fr. Ferdo Vlašić” (MM, p. 121). Bishop Žanić is included here among the enemies of the state along with the two Franciscans. Should we accept this too? It will be useful to make note of it, because later Ž. Ivković will brand Bishop Žanić as a “collaborator” of the UDBA!

The second untruth: The aforementioned UDBA document, reported by the journalist as a discovery, states: “So Žanić in the course of 1986 alone went to Rome 14 times…” (MM, p. 127).

– This is not true. According to . . . (continue reading)

 

(Courtesy of NewAdvent.org)

As the new year starts, Father John Corapi vanishes off the radar screen

January 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

This is noteworthy: Father John Corapi’s Internet presence at sites such as the www.theblacksheepdog.us and http://theblacksheepdog.wordpress.com has vanished, ditto for his presence on YouTube and Facebook. No one I know has any clue what happened to him, but there are several possible scenarios that would explain this. The one I hope is correct is that he has reconciled with the S.O.L.T. order he once was a member of and, more importantly, that he has reconciled with the Catholic Church, from which it certainly seemed he was distancing himself in the wake of all the unpleasantness that erupted last year.

In any case, his abrupt disappearance from the Internet serves as good reminder that we should all continue praying for him, whatever path he may be on. May God bless Father Corapi and may He bless us all.

“150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know” TV interview

January 2, 2012 by  
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Pope Paul VI, the new Roman Missal, and the ineffable Fr. Richard McBrien

December 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Now that the much-anticipated new English translation of the Roman Missal has finally been promulgated and is being learned by priests and faithful alike, certain Catholics continue to disparage it, some through mockery. A fatuous example of this recently appeared on the website of Commonweal Magazine.

What’s interesting is that some who denigrate the new translation, such as the ineffable Fr. Richard McBrien, make the similarly fatuous claim that it was rammed through by “traditionalists in the hierarchy and a minority of ultra-conservatives within the Catholic church (sic).” Father McBrien’s recent commentary on the new translation revolves around the notion that there is a war being waged for “control” of the Mass between so-called “right-wing” Catholics and those “for whom Pope John XXIII is a hero and Vatican II was a great event.”

Seeking no doubt to console panicky progressives who are outraged (outraged!) that the pope and the bishops would have the temerity to impose liturgical changes, Father M encourages his fellow travelers to keep a stiff upper lip, secure in the reassurance that . . .

To be sure, the advocates of the “reform of the reform” have won only a partial victory with this new translation (for example, “I believe …” rather than the more communal “We believe …” in the Credo). But the Mass is still in the vernacular; the altar is still turned around; the great majority of people receive Communion in the hand; and there are more likely to be altar girls in the sanctuary than boys.

Notice the irony here. He is thoroughly gung-ho for reform, as long as it’s his kind of reform. You know, the kind that involves jettisoning as much of the Catholic Church’s rich, 2000-year-old liturgical patrimony as possible and replacing it with altar girls and such. How ironic, then, that his heart bleeds for

“those priests who have been reciting these prayers for many years [who] will inevitably stumble over the new wording, and those priests whose eyesight has failed them and who have memorized unchangeable parts of the Mass will continue to recite the words with which they have been long familiar. At least, that is what I would advise them if they were silly enough to ask.”

And yet, in his books and newspaper column, Father McBrien routinely engages in casuistry by scorning those Catholics who’ve had difficulties with or who for whatever reason resisted the far more sweeping and significant changes to the Mass that were enacted by Vatican II.

Happily, Pope Paul VI, the pontiff who presided over Vatican II, offered some prescient advice to those who, like Father McBrien, have difficulty understanding (or accepting) Pope Benedict XVI’s reasons for implementing the new translation of the Roman Missal.

I doubt that Father M has ever even heard of my lowly blog, much less reads it, but if in God’s providence he should happen to do so, I hope he will ponder the following section of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Mysterium Fidei, given in September, 1965, shortly before the conclusion of Vatican II:

It is only logical, then, for us to follow the magisterium of the Church as a guiding star in carrying on our investigations into this mystery, for the Divine Redeemer has entrusted the safeguarding and the explanation of the written or transmitted word of God to her. And we are convinced that “whatever has been preached and believed throughout the whole Church with true Catholic faith since the days of antiquity is true, even if it not be subject to rational investigation, and even if it not be explained in words.”

Proper Wording of Great Importance

23. But this is not enough. Once the integrity of the faith has been safeguarded, then it is time to guard the proper way of expressing it, lest our careless use of words give rise, God forbid, to false opinions regarding faith in the most sublime things. St. Augustine gives a stern warning about this when he takes up the matter of the different ways of speaking that are employed by the philosophers on the one hand and that ought to be used by Christians on the other. “The philosophers,” he says, “use words freely, and they have no fear of offending religious listeners in dealing with subjects that are difficult to understand. But we have to speak in accordance with a fixed rule, so that a lack of restraint in speech on our part may not give rise to some irreverent opinion about the things represented by the words.”

24. And so the rule of language which the Church has established through the long labor of centuries, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and which she has confirmed with the authority of the Councils, and which has more than once been the watchword and banner of orthodox faith, is to be religiously preserved, and no one may presume to change it at his own pleasure or under the pretext of new knowledge.

Who would ever tolerate that the dogmatic formulas used by the ecumenical councils for the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation be judged as no longer appropriate for men of our times, and let others be rashly substituted for them? In the same way, it cannot be tolerated that any individual should on his own authority take something away from the formulas which were used by the Council of Trent to propose the Eucharistic Mystery for our belief. These formulas—like the others that the Church used to propose the dogmas of faith—express concepts that are not tied to a certain specific form of human culture, or to a certain level of scientific progress, or to one or another theological school.

Instead they set forth what the human mind grasps of reality through necessary and universal experience and what it expresses in apt and exact words, whether it be in ordinary or more refined language. For this reason, these formulas are adapted to all men of all times and all places.

Greater Clarity of Expression Always Possible

25. They can, it is true, be made clearer and more obvious; and doing this is of great benefit. But it must always be done in such a way that they retain the meaning in which they have been used, so that with the advance of an understanding of the faith, the truth of faith will remain unchanged. For it is the teaching of the First Vatican Council that “the meaning that Holy Mother the Church has once declared, is to be retained forever, and no pretext of deeper understanding ever justifies any deviation from that meaning.”

 

Ever wonder where your suitcase goes when you check it at the airport?

December 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Over the 25+ years that I’ve been traveling a lot by airplane, I have checked my luggage at the airport literally about 1000 times. Maybe more. Once a bag has been tagged by the ticket agent, who then places it on the conveyor belt, it moves toward the rubber-flap draped entrance to the hidden world of airport luggage processing. This Delta Airlines video shows what your suitcase goes through from the time you check it in till you retrieve it again at the flight arrival baggage carousel.

An Embarrassing Case of Sacramental Mistaken Identity

December 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog


One Saturday, many years ago, a friend of mine visits from out of town. Looking for some prayerful encouragement and, probably, a kick in the rear to get himself to confession, he confides painfully to me that he had fallen into a pattern of sexual sin, about which he is understandably distressed and embarrassed. (Let’s just say that the particular sins burdening him went beyond the solitary sort which many men are prone to these days.)

During a frank conversation in which my friend is searingly honest with himself, I offer some advice and encouragement, after which we clamber into my car and drive to a nearby parish so he can receive the sacrament of confession.

His discomfiture at having to confess these sins to another man is palpable.

Promising him the meager benefit of my prayers for courage and trust in the Lord’s mercy, I kneel in a pew at the back of the church while my friend approaches the confessional.

The red light above the door indicates that a priest is waiting for penitents. Aside from my friend and me, the church is completely empty.

15 minutes pass. My friend exits the confessional and scuttles to a back pew in the shadows of the left transept, where he remains motionless in prayer, head bowed, his face covered by remorseful hands.

There are no other penitents.

5 more minutes go by.

The priest exits the confessional and walks toward the back of the church . . . where I happen to be kneeling.

The priest does not notice my friend kneeling in the transept.

The priest does, however, notice me.

The closer he gets, the more clearly I see the abashed look on his face as he recognizes me.

Although this priest and I have only ever exchanged but a few words in passing, he knows who I am.

“Awkward” is not a sufficiently descriptive adjective to describe the look we exchange as he passes by. Panicking, I realize the priest thinks he has just heard my confession.

“Oh, ho!” I imagine the good father thinking to himself. “What a fraud!”

Meanwhile, my friend remains conveniently engrossed in prayer for several minutes more, off in his wonderfully anonymous dark corner, unaware of the unpleasant little drama playing out as the priest whisks by me with that look on his face.

I admit, I am tempted to run after him and explain that he has it all wrong, that I am not that guy, that his new-found view of me is really just a case of mistaken identity. But I stay put.

Why? Because, in a momentary flash of (albeit dim) understanding, I am painfully reminded of my own lifetime-constructed ziggurat of sin and, 2) my savior, Jesus Christ, was wrongly accused of crimes He did not commit but for which He willingly suffered the penalty — for my sake. For my countless sins He suffered so that by His stripes I may be healed.

In the years that have passed since that day, I occasionally see that priest. In truth, I have searched for but never detected even a hint of “that look” on his face when he sees me. Perhaps he forgot what he heard in the confessional minutes later (many priests have assured me that this happens to them — a kind of grace of state that enables them to blank out any lingering memories of what is unburdened to them by penitents). Or maybe he is just a kind and compassionate man who would never even think of betraying the thought that he had been scandalized. I don’t know.

I do know this though: My sins may be different from my friend’s, or yours, or that priest’s, but I am a sinner in grievous need of God’s grace and mercy, just like my friend. Just like you. And I am so grateful to the Lord for his gift of the sacrament of confession. He knows how much and how often I need it.

In North Korea, Tears for fear

December 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I’m pretty sure that some, perhaps even many, of these poor, battered, starving North Koreans are only “weeping” because Big Brother is keeping careful track of who does and who doesn’t. Sure, some of them have no doubt been brainwashed to believe the Big Lie, but not all. Now that Dear Leader has died and gone on to his eternal reward, I hope North Korea can somehow rid itself of the atheist Communist cancer that has subjugated it for so long. Maybe a lot of them aren’t cyring for Kim Jong Il, but for themselves, as they reflect with fear and despair on their horribly bleak predicament.

Look at these spectacular pictures from the 90th floor of One World Trade Center

December 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

The day I flew into LaGuardia Airport early this year, I missed this. From my vantage point above Lower Manhattan, I couldn’t pick out this tower from the among the other high-rises clustered around what, a little over 10 years ago, had been the World Trade Center. I wasn’t sure what to look for. Now I know. Since then, One World Trade Center has been going up so rapidly that it’s estimated it has reached the rapidity of “one story per day.” Impressive. And what’s beyond impressive are these recent images from the new edifice’s 90th floor. Wow. Just wow.

I admit, I can’t help but think about how utterly horrifying it must have been to fall from that height on September 11, 2001. May God rest the souls of all those poor victims of terrorism.

According to the Daily Mail:

When it is completed, it will be the tallest building in Manhattan and one of incredible poignancy for New York City.  One World Trade Center reached its 90th floor this week – with just 14 more floors to go until the top. The structure can now be seen from all five boroughs of the city. Stunning pictures showed how the area has been reborn since the 9/11 attacks more than a decade ago where almost 3,000 people lost their lives in the worst ever terrorist attack on American soil.

 

“Change”: This movie will mess you up . . . in a very good way

December 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Watching this short film will be 10 minutes of your busy life  well-spent. One of my Facebook friends reacted this way: “If you do not have the time to make a three day retreat this advent, why not make it a ten minute retreat right here and now?” Personally, I couldn’t help but think of the reality that Jesus Christ is truly present to us in our neighbor, both when we serve Him (Matt. 25:31-46) and when He serves us (Luke 24:13-52). I would love to know your reactions to “Change.” Please watch. Please share.

A look at the biblical foreshadowing of The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I wrote this article 20 years ago to give an overview of some of the biblical aspects of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Pope Pius IX, who defined this dogma, declared that Our Lady, “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin” (Ineffabilis Deus, 1854).

His face stiffened, and his eyes narrowed to slits. Until now the Calvary Chapel pastor had been calm as he “shared the gospel” with me, but when I mentioned my belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception, his attitude changed.

“The problem with you Roman Catholics,” he said, his forefinger stabbing the air a few inches from my face, “is that you’ve added extra baggage to the gospel. How can you call yourselves Christians when you cling to unbiblical traditions like the Immaculate Conception? It’s not in the Bible–it was invented by the Roman Catholic system in 1854. Besides, Mary couldn’t have been sinless, only God is sinless. If she were without sin she would be God!”

At least the minister got the date right, 1854 being the year Pope Pius IX infallibly defined the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, but that’s as far as his accuracy went. His reaction was typical of many Evangelicals. He was adamant that the Catholic emphasis on Mary’s sinlessness was an unbearable affront to the unique holiness of God, especially as manifested in Jesus Christ. . . . (continue reading)

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