On Sunday, April 24, 2005, 93 candidates received in Medjugorje the sacrament of Confirmation from the hands of Mons. Ratko Peric, bishop of Mostar. Liturgical celebration began with a procession and the solemn entry into the church of the bishop, the priests and the candidates. (photos)
“Habemus papam – We have a Pope!” This announcement delighted the entire Church, the believers and the world. It seems nevertheless that - for some - the proclamation that we have a Pope is not enough. Some would like to arouse and enkindle conflicts within the Church. A Croatian weekly, on the first page – together with the news about the new Pope Benedikt XVI, published the assertion that the new Pope is an opponent of Medjugorje. Off course, according to the usual screenplay, the text itself contains no arguments for this judgment; just a statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, published on November 8, 1995, taken out of the context. It is saying: “For places of apparitions which are still being investigated, official pilgrimages are forbidden.” And that’s it. There is nothing about the attitude of the new Pope towards Medjugorje.
Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna (Sarajevo) and President of the Bishops Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina, about the election of the new Pope: “The moment when Cardinal Ratzinger accepted the choice of the Cardinals and took the name of Benedict XVI was very moving.
The homily delivered on Monday, April 18, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger during the Mass "for the election of the Roman Pontiff" in St. Peter's Basilica, before the conclave in which he was elected a Pope and took the name of Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission, Dean of the College of Cardinals, was born on 16 April 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany.
Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, related for the Catholic Information Agenca (IKA) his first encounter with the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI:
“Yesterday, after the election of the Holy Father, the Cardinals approached the new Pope to express their respect and fidelity. When I approached the Holy Father, he spoke first and told me: “Heartfelt greetings to Croatian nation and dear Croatia, which is always faithful”. I replied: “Holy Father, the Croatian nation will accompany you with prayers and with love.” The Holy Father answered: “Thank you very much, this is what I need most”.
The first Urbi et Orbi Blessing of the Pope Benedict XVI: “Dear Brothers and Sisters, after our great Pope, John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard. I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with insufficient tools, and I especially trust in your prayers. In the joy of the resurrected Lord, trustful of his permanent help, we go ahead, sure that God will help. And Mary, his most beloved Mother, stands at our side. Thank you”, were the first words of the Pope Benedict XVI to the faithful gathered at St. Peter’s Square.
May the Holy Spirit guide him!
On Saturday, April 16, before the beginning of the Conclave, the usual one-hour Saturday adoration was prolonged, and we prayed in a very special way for the Cardinals and the election of the new Pope.
Albert and Marie-Thérèse de Theux from Bruxelles (Belgium) are at the head of the initiative called “Groupe Contact Medjugorje Benelux” which is bringing together numerous Medjugorje-groups in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg.
The 70th anniversary of the presence and of service of the Franciscan School Sisters in the Parish Medjugorje (1935 – 2005) was celebrated on Sunday, April 17, 2005, with a solemn Holy Mass presided by Fr Branko Rados, parish priest, and concelebrated by 19 priests, among whom also the Franciscan OFM Provincial, Fr. Slavko Soldo.(photos)
The Information Centre “Mir” Medjugorje is proposing to the pilgrims four new books: “Messages of the Queen of Peace” – pocket edition in Croatian and in English, Fra Tomislav Pervan: “Međugorje – Kupka duše”, Fra Tomislav Pervan: “U svjetlu spoznaje Isusa Krista, Knjiga 1”, as well as “Međugorski razgovori, Hodočasnička svjedočanstva”. (photos)
Pope John Paul II visited Croatia three times and Bosnia and Herzegovina two times. Out of 11 Croatians declared saints and blessed, he declared four of them: he canonised Leopold Mandic in 1983, and he beatified the Cardinal Stepinac (1998), Mary of Jesus Crucified and Ivan Merz (2003). Let us not forget Mother Teresa who is an Albanian from Macedonia, but who received the faith through Croatian missionaries in Skopje, and for whom the Croatian language was the language of her catholic faith.
These days, the 83-years old Blaženka Brdar from Rijeka (Croatia) is celebrating the 150th pilgrimage that she has organised to Medjugorje. She came for the first time on May 7, 1983, and she remembers well this difficult time when the police was forbidding to the pilgrims to climb the Apparition Hill and Cross Mountain, and when the Franciscans from Rijeka were disapproving her going to Medjugorje. During the first years, she was taking two cars a year, and with the time, there were 12 cars a year. Everything was happening without any advertisement, simply by phone and through personal contacts.
Luc Gevaert from the Flamish part of Belgium came on his first pilgrimage to Medjugorje with his whole family, on March 29, 1985, in order to celebrate the marriage anniversary. Since then, many lay people and priests, especially young people, asked him to take them to Medjugorje, and this is how he began to organise pilgrimages. He was coming even during the war, without fear, because he felt that Our Lady was protecting him. In the meantime, two of his five children are married, and one of his sons has become a priest. Luc is a witness of many graces, even of exceptional healings.
On Friday, April 8, in the evening, in Saint James’ parish church in Medjugorje, there was Holy Mass for Holy Father John Paul II. In the filled church, Holy Mass was presided by the Parish priest, Fr. Branko Radoš, in concelebration with the Franciscans of Medjugorje and 41 priests from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and abroad.