“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. We could say that the fishhook was thrown. Some days ago, a renowned Croatian columnist told me that the Church should be careful these days because, as he said, it will have to “pay” for all the good that was written about it when John-Paul II died. It seems that the bill is coming, and that this journalist was not mistaken.
In order to defend the Truth, it is good to state that these kinds of articles are malicious, and that they are not written by chance. To impute to the newly chosen Pope something that he has not said – this means to offend his office. Let us be logical and see thing in this way: If someone is underlining in such a spectacular way that the new Pope is against Medjugorje, according to the logic of things, this would mean that there are some changes in the Vatican! The statement that the Pope is against Medjugorje is something new, and therefore interesting. This would lead us to think that the former Pope John Paul II was in favour of Medjugorje. This fact is also touching the authority and the personality of the newly chosen Pope who– until now – has been the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, and as such, he had many occasions to express clearly that he was against Medjugorje, if this was the case. Does it mean that the new Pope was hypocritical? Certainly not! The case is clear for those who want to be at the source of truth about Medjugorje. The office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has confirmed several times that the faithful have to hold on to the Declaration on Medjugorje published by the Bishops in Zadar, on April 10, 1991, based on the work of the commissions which have examined the events of Medjugorje. Mons. Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (whose Prefect was the Cardinal Ratzinger), in the Declaration prot. Br. 154/81-01985, published on March 23, 1996, writes: “… On the basis of investigation up till now it cannot be established that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations. However, the numerous gatherings of the faithful from different parts of the world, who are coming to Medjugorje prompted both by motives of belief and certain other motives, require the attention and pastoral care in the first place of the bishop of the diocese and of the other bishops with him so that in Medjugorje and everything related to it a healthy devotion toward the Blessed Virgin Mary would be promoted in conformity with the teaching of the Church.”
Besides, we could mention several other official statements, in which there is no prohibition of private pilgrimages to Medjugorje. Concerning Medjugorje, the Cardinal – now the Pope – Joseph Ratzinger spoke very positively about it in his book if interviews “Zur Lage des Glaubens” published in 1986. There is an interview about the situation of faith in the Church and in the world, where he speaks positively about Medjugorje as a place of prayer, a place where people are converted, spurred by Mary, our Mother. When, some time ago, the news was spread that Vatican had forbidden pilgrimages to Medjugorje, the spokesman of the Holy See Joaquin Navarro-Valls declared: “You cannot say people cannot go there until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want.” (Catholic News Service 21.8.1996.)
Dr. Tomislav Ivancic (professor at the Catholic Faculty of Theology in Zagreb, who knows the cardinal Ratzinger personally, whom he has often met in the Vatican theological commission), commenting these days the election of the new Pope Benedict XVI, said that it should not be neglected that the new Pope knows how to take a right position concerning Medjugorje. Dr. Fr. Tomislav Pervan who has translated Cardinal Ratzinger’s books and exchanged letters with him has confirmed it. Finally, Medjugorje cannot be either proven or denied by articled and discussions. Jesus said: “You will know them according to their works”, and these works of the grace of God and of Our Lady’s guidance in people’s conversion, are evident from day to day.
Fr. Mario Knezović,
Director of the “Information Centre Mir Medjugorje” and Chief editor of Radio “Mir” Medjugorje