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By Matt C. Abbott

11/18/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I know devout Catholics who are favorable toward Medjugorje and devout Catholics who are not favorable toward Medjugorje. Some years ago, I was in the former camp. Right now, I'm indifferent about it and await the Church's judgment

In 1995, at the age of 19, I went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. I was going through a rather tumultuous time in my life, but was fascinated with, and very inclined to believe, reports that the Blessed Mother was indeed appearing to several young people who lived in that village. It was an edifying trip for me, and, all things considered, I'm glad I went. But over the years, I've come to realize that my faith, which admittedly has gone through periods of intense struggle and doubt, does not stem from an alleged private revelation. And it shouldn't, even for other Catholics.

Church of St James

Church of St James

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By Matt C. Abbott

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/18/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Medjugorje, private apparitions, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Yugoslavia, Archbishop Gerhard Muller, Ivan Dragicevic, Marian, St. James Church, private revelations, pilgrimage, Matt C. Abbott


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - In 1995, at the age of 19, I went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. I was going through a rather tumultuous time in my life, but was fascinated with, and very inclined to believe, reports that the Blessed Mother was indeed appearing to several young people who lived in that village.

It was an edifying trip for me, and, all things considered, I'm glad I went. But over the years, I've come to realize that my faith, which admittedly has gone through periods of intense struggle and doubt, does not stem from an alleged private revelation. And it shouldn't, even for other Catholics.

Regarding private revelations, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called 'private' revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

Christian faith cannot accept 'revelations' that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such 'revelations.'

So the bottom line is that Catholics are not required to believe in even Church-approved private revelations such as Fatima and Lourdes. I believe in them, yes. But a Catholic can be faithful to the Magisterium and still not believe in them. In other words, there is no sin in not believing in them.

Enter Medjugorje, which is an alleged private revelation that has not been approved by the Church. There's been considerable controversy over the events that have taken place since the apparitions allegedly began in June 1981, and, frankly, I don't wish to delve into specific incidents in this article.

I do want to cover a recent development, though, which has been written about in a Nov. 6 story at the Catholic News Service website:

The Vatican ambassador to the United States has reminded U.S. Catholics that the Vatican has not recognized alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, as authentic.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio, wrote to Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and told him the reminder came as one of the visionaries [Ivan Dragicevic] was scheduled to tour U.S. parishes.

He said the reminder was being sent at the request of Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has said it was not yet possible 'to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations' by visionaries in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia.. 

Dragicevic's U.S. tour was reportedly canceled after the nuncio's letter was received by the bishops. A Vatican commission formed during the pontificate of Benedict XVI has yet to make a final ruling on the alleged apparitions, but the aforementioned letter, coupled with very recent remarks made by Pope Francis, could indicate that a ruling is not far off.

Pope Francis said the following during a Nov. 14 homily (from the Vatican Radio website):

.Curiosity, the pope continued, impels us to want to feel that the Lord is here or rather there, or leads us to say: 'But I know a visionary, who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady.' And the pope commented: 'But, look, Our Lady is the Mother of everyone! And she loves all of us. She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day.'

Such responses to these situations, he affirmed, 'distance us from the Gospel, from the Holy Spirit, from peace and wisdom, from the glory of God, from the beauty of God. Jesus says that the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom'..

Granted, the pope doesn't specifically mention Medjugorje, and his remarks are ambiguous enough that we cannot say with certainty that he's alluding to Medjugorje. Still, I find it very interesting that these remarks come not long after the release (or leak, if you prefer) of the nuncio's letter regarding Ivan Dragicevic's tour. 

Time will tell.

I know devout Catholics who are favorable toward Medjugorje and devout Catholics who are not favorable toward Medjugorje. Some years ago, I was in the former camp. Right now, I'm indifferent about it and await the Church's judgment.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

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(Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He has worked in the right-to-life movement and is a published writer focused on Catholic and social issues. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.)

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