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.


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

Medjugorje and "The Maciel Effect"

April 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Many adherents of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje to whom I have spoken personally have invoked the (also alleged) fondness and support of Blessed Pope John Paul II for it. “The Pope was in favor of Medjugorje,” they reason, “and given what a good and holy pontiff he was, it’s highly unlikely that Medjugorje could be anything other than an authentic Marian apparition. And, conversely, it’s an even stronger reason for believing in Medjugorje.”
This is a form of what’s known as an a fortiori argument. For example, one might say, “If I think that Medjugorje is true, that’s all well and good, but if even the pope thinks it’s true, then it’s even more likely that it is true.”
Similar reasoning can be seen on sundry pro-Medjugorje websites, in which such-and-such a bishop or cardinal is touted as believing that the alleged apparitions are authentic, or such-and-such a theologian is extolled because he has declared that Medjugorje “has the ring of truth,” etc., etc.
Strictly speaking, there is nothing wrong at all with arguing for something along these lines. We make use of valid arguments like this all the time (“Grandma always said that eating apples would keep you healthy, but if even expert scientists confirm this to be true, how much more so should we take Grandma’s advice seriously,” etc.). The problem, though, at least for those who follow Medjugorje, is that the commonly employed argument, based on the widely held belief that Pope Saint John Paul II strongly favored Medjugorje, skates dangerously close to the edge of the logical fallacy of weak induction. I’ll explain what I mean.
As those who follow this blog know, I am an open-minded skeptic when it comes to Medjugorje. I see too many problematic aspects of the alleged apparitions — some, seriously problematic, such as the incitements to disobedience from whoever or whatever is dispensing the messages (for more on that, read my comments beneath this post) — to be convinced that it is an authentic Marian apparition. I realize, of course, and freely admit, that I may in fact be wrong in my skepticism. I simply may not have properly understood or interpreted the data.
As I have said before, if I am wrong about this, and if the Medjugorje phenomena are truly the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then I will rejoice to have my error corrected. I mean that sincerely. But that’s beside the point for the purpose of this post.
What I am driving at, as the title of this article suggests, is that those who attempt to bolster their own faith in Medjugorje, and that of others, by using the argument about Pope John Paul II accepting its authenticity (take note that many now seek to press Pope Benedict XVI into service using this same tactic, as well) are setting themselves up for a serious difficulty.
It is a well known fact that Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, was a stalwart supporter of Fr. Marcial Maciel, the disgraced, recently deceased founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order and its lay arm, Regnum Christi. I can only assume that John Paul was truly ignorant of the many frauds Fr. Maciel had perpetrated for decades. How it is that the pope did not know the truth about that dastardly man is beyond me, but I’m not focusing on that question here. It’s sufficient to remind ourselves that the charism of papal infallibility does not extend to the pope’s private, personal opinions about people and things.
As we now know, Pope John Paul II was utterly wrong about Fr. Maciel. He had completely misjudged him. Like a whole lot of other people, including a few popes who came before him, John Paul was conned by a consummate con-man. His approval of the vaunted Mexican priest was in complete error. The gestures of honor and confidence with which he generously betokened Fr. Maciel over many years were completely undeserved. His famous comment that Maciel was “an efficacious guide to youth” could not have been more hideously incorrect.
We know that now. We know now the sordid details of many bad things which Fr. Maciel perpetrated over his lifetime. Since his demise, they have continued to belch forth from the grave like a sulfurous semi-dormant volcano that will emit its noxious fumes for a long time to come.
Please note: I am not equating Medjugorje with Fr. Maciel. I am not suggesting any kind of similarity whatsoever between the two. Nor am I in any way impugning or disrespecting or trying to besmirch the memory of Blessed Pope John Paul II. I believe he was a good and holy man who was deceived by a duplicitous, wicked man.
And that’s what I hope all Medjugorje supporters who tout the alleged approval of Pope John Paul II will see and understand.
All the stories I have heard from Medjugorje supporters about how Pope John Paul II favored or even personally believed in its authenticity have all been apocryphal. I am not aware of the Holy Father ever publicly commenting, one way or the other, whether verbally or in writing, on Medjugorje.
Sure, there are numerous instances of private comments alleged to have been made by JPII about Medjugorje, but none that I am aware of which have been verified with documentation, such as video or audio recordings. Peruse these comments, and you’ll see they are all third-hand. He said he said he said, etc.
But even that is not the main point here. Let’s say for the sake of discussion that every single last one of those alleged remarks made by John Paul II really did come from his lips. Let’s assume that not only did he say those things, but that he was also convinced that Medjugorje is authentic. And, a fortiori, if even Pope John Paul II himself was a fervent believer in Medjugorje, how much more should we regard it to be true. Right?
Wrong. That’s a bad argument to be using in this case. Why? Because even saintly popes can be seriously wrong in their personal opinions.

We might think of this as the “Maciel Effect,” which applies to Medjugorje and can be expressed in the form of the following argument:

“If even a good and holy pope can be deceived and be utterly wrong in his sincere personal opinion about the character of Fr. Maciel, then how much more so is it possible that you could be sincerely wrong in your personal opinions about Medjugorje?”

Remember: Pope John Paul II was convinced that Fr. Maciel was a holy priest, an exemplary and faithful Catholic, and “an efficacious guide to youth.”
He could not have been more wrong about that.