The talk Pope Francis held on 25 November last year, with the Major Superiors of Religious Congregations, published in the Vatican daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano on 9 - 10 February 2017, contains a section dedicated to the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which deserves special attention. Speaking on the Marian topics chosen for the future World Youth Days, all geared towards the next World Youth Day to be held in 2019 in Panama, the Holy Father underlined the importance of devotion to the “true Madonna! Not to the Madonna – Post Office Manager, who sends out different daily letters saying: ‘My children, do this, and then the next day: Do something else’. No, this is not the Madonna. The true Madonna is the one who gives birth to Jesus in our hearts, and this is the Mother. This fashion of the Madonna as a superstar, as a protagonist who places herself in the center, is not Catholic”, is the way the Pope distinguishes the true from the false Madonna.
Some websites tie this to the “Medjugorje phenomenon”. Let us recall some facts. In the first 5 years (1981-1985) there were about 120 female and male “seers and visionaries” in various parishes throughout Herzegovina with many messages, just like the postal services! Of these “seers”, over time six became “regular”: 2 boys and 4 girls, now all adults and family people. Of these six, three of them have been having “apparitions” every day for the last 37 years, and one of these three, a female “seer”, has been having an “apparition” every 25th of the month since February 1987, and sending messages to the world. The other three have “apparitions” once a year, and one of them has an “apparition” every second day of the month and has been sending messages to the world from August 1987 onwards. The three that have “apparitions” once a year, live in the area of Medjugorje, while the other three that have “apparitions” every day live outside of Medjugorje. All of this however, is understood as being part of “Medjugorje”.
From what has been outlined above, the accumulative results show that from June 1981 to February 2017, there have been about 47,000 “Medjugorje apparitions” in various places of the world. These daily, monthly, annual “apparitions”, “revelations”, “messages” are becoming hard even for a computer to keep up with.
The position of the bishops of Mostar, of the late diocesan Bishop Pavao Žanić (1981 to 1993, died in 2000) and of the present, regarding the “Medjugorje phenomenon” has been constant and consistent: There is no evidence, no indication, that these are authentic supernatural apparitions, visions or revelations. On 29 January 1985, Bishop Žanić wrote to Father Rene Laurentin, the chronicler of the Medjugorje events, that he felt sorry that the “Gospa of Medjugorje has become a ‘counter clerk’ to whom many questions are posed, including the most ridiculous...”.
The evidence against the authenticity of the “apparitions” is much more convincing than the enormous amount of commercial, economic, financial, building, publishing, property, touristic and parapsychological propaganda that is supporting, promoting and popularizing this phenomenon which is primarily based upon falsehoods and fabrications. The Mostar Diocesan Chancery earlier published a booklet by Bishop Pavao Žanić titled: “The Truth about Medjugorje” in 1990, in several languages, and the book: “Mirror of Justice” in 2001, that present factual arguments against the authenticity of the “Medjugorje phenomenon”.
During his morning Mass of 14 November 2013, Pope Francis said that we cannot imagine the Madonna “as if she were a Post Office manager sending out messages every day” (Official Diocesan Gazzette, 3/2013, p. 309). At the time this was understood as referring to Medjugorje and not refuted by anyone.
Here once again, the Holy Father repeats almost literally his earlier thoughts, that have been published in the daily L'Osservatore Romano, pointing out the right devotion to the “true Madonna! Not to the Madonna – Post Office Manager, who sends out different daily letters saying: ‘My children, do this, and then the next day: Do something else’. No, this is not the Madonna. The true Madonna is the one who gives birth to Jesus in our hearts, and this is the Mother. This fashion of the Madonna as a superstar, as a protagonist who places herself in the center, is not Catholic”
All Catholic devotion and faith is directed to God, for it comes from Him, tends towards and leads to Him. Our Lady as the Seat of Wisdom, through God's providence is our Helper.
Virgin most prudent, pray for us!
Mostar, 9 February 2017
+ Ratko Perić
Bishop of Mostar-Duvno