Medjugorje spiritual adviser excommunicated: Does this affect the status of the apparitions?
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The Vatican has announced a former, early spiritual advisor to the Medjugorje visionaries is excommunicated. The Church issued a decree to announce Mr. Tomislav Vlasic had "incurred the penalty of excommunication." Vlasic had previously advised the Medjugorje visionaries. Now the question arises whether or not the integrity of the visionaries and the apparition is impacted by his involvement.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a formal communication to the bishop of Brescia that on July 15, 2020, Mr. Tomislav Vlasic was exommunicated from the Church. The diocese of Brescia shared the news on October 23.
Vlasic was formerly a Franciscan priest and was an early spiritual advisor to the Medjugorje visionaries. However, news came to light he had engaged in an affair with a Franciscan nun and fathered a child with her. He then tried to cover up the affair. Because of the news, he left the former Yugoslavia in the mid 1980's to Italy where he established the "Queen of Peace" community in Parma, Italy.
The Vatican warned Vlasic he was not to present himself as a priest or issue declarations on religious matters, especially about Medjugorje. Vlasic did not comply. Instead, the Vatican says he continued to present himself as a member of the Apostolate, participating in both conferences and media appearances.
The Vatican initiated an investigation into him and his activities on the suspicion of heresy and an attempt to cause a schism. The Church concluded Vlasic had caused scandal and was still administering Sacraments which were invalid.
Pope Benedict returned Mr. Vlasic to the lay state. As a result of his recent excommunication, Vlasic is forbidden to take part as a minister of the celebration of the Eucharist or any other ceremony of public worship. He may not celebrate or receive the Sacraments or exercise any kind of Church office, ministry or function. He is not permitted to engage in any act of public worship and is to be expelled if he refuses to leave.
Of course, this is not what the Church wants for any individual. Unless the excommunicated person repents and seeks reconciliation, these measures protect the faithful from scandal.
But how does this affect our understanding of the visions at Medjugorje?
Vlasic's writings on the matter of the Medjugorje apparitions are considered "incredible," meaning they are suspect, or are difficult for the faithful to accept as accurate.
So far, the Church continues to state the apparitions are non constat, meaning they cannot be confirmed. However, in 2019 Pope Francis recently authorized pilgrimages to the shrine at Medjugorje. He acknowledged that visits to the shrine seem to transform people and to deepen their faith.
Vlasic himself isn't a visionary, but a remora. In the first years of the apparitions (1981-1983), He acted as a spiritual advisor and conducted a chronicle of the events. As mentioned above, that chronicle is considered suspect in its integrity. However, he is not a visionary himself, and his involvement does not impact our understanding of the apparitions. It is not unheard of for others to attach themselves to famous people and events for the purpose of promoting their own agendas.
The Church will continue to evaluate and consider Medjugorje for decades, possibly centuries to come. Some of the faithful will remain suspicious of the event while others will point to the miracles, transformations, and conversions there as sure evidence Our Lady appeared there.
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