by Bruno Volpe
VATICAN CITY - Confrontation of opinions: the beauty of dialectics. On the columns of our newspaper, the trustworthy Bishop and exorcist, Monsignor Andrea Gemma, has severely fustigated the phenomenon of Medjugorje defining it as “a great deceit”. We wanted to hear also a favorable opinion on the apparitions in that country. Therefore we have interviewed one of the most authoritative living mariologists, Father Renè Laurentin.
Father Laurentin, what is your answer to Monsignor Gemma?
“First of all, I send him a warm greeting. Usually, to be true, I don’t like to speak about Medjugorje because I prefer to follow the line of silence chosen by the Church, but in this precise case I cannot be in agreement with Monsignor Gemma. The number of the apparitions of Our Lady is probably excessive, but I do not think that one can speak about a satanic deceit. On the other hand, we note in Medjugorje the most elevated number of conversions to the catholic faith: what would Satan gain in bringing back so many souls to God? Look, in this kind of situations prudence is an obligation, but I am convinced that Medjugorje is a fruit of the Good and not of the Evil”.
Monsignor Gemma has also spoken about impressing economic interests to the advantage of the visionaries and their collaborators…
“This critic does not seem too convincing to me. Do not forget that in the fringes of every religious shrine there are souvenir stores and wherever a Saint or a Blessed is venerated, hundred of cars are coming, and hotel structures arise to give hospitality to the pilgrims. According to the reasoning of Monsignor Gemma, we would have to say that Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe and San Giovanni Rotondo are also deceits inspired by Satan in order to make some people rich? And then, it seems to me that even the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, directly connected to the Vatican, organizes travels to Medjugorje. Therefore…”
Monsignor Gemma has also asserted that the Catholic Church has denied the authenticity of the apparitions through the two successive Bishops of Mostar.
“I regret, by I do not agree. The two local bishops count, yes, but relatively. In the present situation, the Holy See has not denied the authenticity of the apparitions, but with usual caution, the Church suspends its judgment and waits for ulterior certitude and deepening”.
The Bishop-exorcist, who knows well the Medjugorje case, has emphasized that the present Pope Benedict XVI, when he was the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has forbidden pilgrimages in that place organized by religious and clergymen.
“You see, the documents signed by the Cardinal Ratzinger do not prevent any religious or clergyman to go to Medjugorje. The prohibition, if it can be defined in these terms, concerns the participation of the Bishops to mass pilgrimages”.
You are very close to the positions of the Servant of God John Paul II, aren’t you?
“I wish to emphasize that the Polish Pope said: `I regret to have to guide the Church from the Vatican and not from Medjugorje.’ That seems to me very significant”.