Within the phenomenon known as Medjugorje, no element has been so highly debated as the question, where does the Church stand? Both sides, those who believe in the apparitions and those who are against them, use the Church to defend their opinions and beliefs. On April 11, 1991, the Commission made up of the Yugoslavian bishops put forth a declaration that stated that thus far, it could not be established that the supernatural is manifest in Medjugorje [non constat supernaturalitate]. From the 1991 Zadar Declaration:
“On the basis of the investigations so far, it cannot be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.”
It was recognized by the Commission, however, that believers were coming in great numbers and converting in Medjugorje. They stated:
“However, the numerous gatherings of great numbers of the faithful from different parts of the world, who are coming to Medjugorje prompted both by motives of belief and various other motives, do require attention and pastoral care—in the first place by the bishop of the diocese and with him also of the other bishops, so that both in Medjugorje and in everything connected with it a healthy devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may be promoted in accordance with the teaching of the Church. For this purpose the bishops will issue specially suitable liturgical-pastoral directives.”
The Commission noted that even though they could not yet “approve” the apparitions, many people were coming to Medjugorje “prompted by motives of belief” in the apparitions. Therefore, the Commission recommended establishing guidelines for the parish house in Medjugorje to follow that would ensure Medjugorje would be guided by sound doctrinal practices. In this declaration, the Commission charged with investigating Medjugorje was not hindering anyone from going to Medjugorje—nor hindering anything connected with it. This was the spirit of Pope Saint John Paul II in regards to Medjugorje. In October 1994, Monsignor Felipe Benitez from Paraguay was making his ad limina visit with the Holy Father and asked his opinion of Medjugorje in his private meeting, as there were many of the faithful who wanted to spread Medjugorje in his country. John Paul II said:
“Authorize everything that concerns Medjugorje.”
The April 1991 decree, known as the Zadar Declaration, is the only decree that had been issued concerning Medjugorje, until recently, when Cardinal Mueller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, citing the April 1991 decree, placed restrictions on the Medjugorje visionaries for the first time. So, the very same decree that Pope John Paul II used to say, “authorize everything that concerns Medjugorje,” Cardinal Mueller now uses to place restrictions on Medjugorje. Yet, the Zadar Declaration has always acknowledged that Medjugorje is free for the faithful to visit and propagate as long as no one assumes the authenticity of the apparitions and will obey the Church’s final judgement.
A Friend of Medjugorje stated in a recent interview at Caritas:
“Many within the camp of the believers of Medjugorje have made it their aim to work towards Church ‘approval.’ Some have even tried to posture Medjugorje in such a way as to make the road to Church approval more straight and direct, as if God needed help to get Medjugorje approved.”
A Friend of Medjugorje has never followed this path. He believes in the apparitions of Our Lady. Therefore, he believes what Our Lady says. He strives to live and promote what She says without worrying about or considering the consequences. He doesn’t consider if something Our Lady says causes theologians difficulty. That is the Church’s concern. That is for the Church to figure out. He is to live and spread the messages. How can he be so confident in his actions? Because of what he believes about the apparitions of Medjugorje, as he states below:
“The apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje, beginning June 24, 1981, are indicating the climax and final stages of events which began in Guadalupe in 1513. The apparitions are an extraordinary event and their significance cannot be overstated. For centuries Medjugorje has been in the making. All the messages indicate it is the place of the triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart! No other event in Church history since the time of Christ and the death of the last apostle comes close to the significance of what has happened through this little village.”
If Medjugorje is that important, that significant, why after 34 years has the Church not approved these apparitions? Through studying the events of Medjugorje, as well as Our Lady’s words, one cannot help but be led to the conclusion that it is not the will of God for Medjugorje to be approved by the Church. Why? For Medjugorje’s protection. Why is it stated that Medjugorje would be protected by the Church not approving the apparitions? Again, a Friend of Medjugorje explains:
“We tell you to date, it is God’s plan that Medjugorje not be approved. It had to remain open and free, untouched by those enemies against Medjugorje who, if it gained Church approval, would have been given avenues to navigate towards the apparitions to stifle, stymie, slow Our Lady down, even silence Her.”
Nine Reasons Why God Has Not Wanted the Church to Approve Medjugorje
Over the past three decades, A Friend of Medjugorje’s understanding of what Our Lady is doing has slowly formed. These organic thoughts of his, presented throughout the past years, have shaped Medjugorje followers across the world:
1. The current ruling of non constat supernaturalitate gives Medjugorje freedom. Medjugorje is protected by the laws governing private revelation. The faithful are free to visit and have devotion to private revelation unless condemned. Medjugorje is not condemned. If the apparitions were to be approved, if the Catholic Church took “ownership” of the apparitions, the messages of Our Lady would have to be channeled through Church bureaucracy before the faithful could receive them. The Church would have to approve each message as it would be given. In effect, Our Lady would be silenced. There would also be a great risk in the secrets not being able to be released.
Medjugorje visionary, Mirjana Soldo, has stated that Fr. Petar Ljubicic, the priest of her choice, who will be the one to announce the secrets to the world, has no choice in the matter. He is under obligation to announce the secrets. If, however, the Church were to approve the apparitions, Fr. Petar could be placed under obedience not to reveal the secrets. God, therefore, desires to keep Medjugorje outside of the bureaucracy of the Church so that the messages of Our Lady can continue to be freely given to Her followers and to keep the revelation of the secrets protected.
2. Medjugorje is not just for Catholics. Our Lady has said that She is Mother of the entire world:
July 2, 2014
Our Lady has come for everyone, for people of all faiths; for nonbelievers; for atheists; even for those who hate God.
If Medjugorje would receive a Catholic label of approval, there would be many people who would not be open to approach it. People of all faiths who visit Medjugorje, become convinced in Our Lady’s presence and begin to develop a relationship with Her. They are led by Our Lady into the spiritual life and eventually, to Her Son.
Our Lady has said that She has come for the salvation of the whole world—not just for Catholics. Church approval would hamper Our Lady’s efforts to reach everyone.
3. Our Lady is renewing the Church through the laity. She has called them, She is teaching them, and She is preparing them for “authentic and real apostleship” through Medjugorje.
4. Medjugorje would suffer from the hands of those who would want to influence, define and conform it to the present Church, rather than allowing Medjugorje to reform and renew the Church. Our Lady is not remodeling the Church. She is rebuilding the Church from the outside, inward.*
5. Medjugorje is a place of conversion, not devotion. Church approval would adversely affect Medjugorje. Fatima, Lourdes and Guadalupe are now just places of devotion, not places of conversion that they started out to be. These famous “approved” apparition sites rarely produce conversion in proportion to the many who go there. People go there who already believe.
Medjugorje draws people of all walks of life and leads them to conversion, repentance and reconciliation with God. As with Fatima, Lourdes and Guadalupe, Church approval would hasten Medjugorje into becoming a place of devotion, smothering the organic nature of what Our Lady came for and is doing. It would adversely affect the Holy Village and lead it in a different direction than which Our Lady is leading it. “Organic nature” means the purpose, from the very outset of the apparitions, of Our Lady’s coming—which was the conversion of the heart of all people; a spiritual transformative change of heart.
6. Being outside the Church, yet faithful to it, makes for stronger apostles of Our Lady. Medjugorje requires faith. Our Lady requires of Her followers to walk in holiness, to change the direction of their lives, to witness with their lives and their belief in Her apparitions—often times being ridiculed and rejected because of their beliefs. This is formation for apostleship. Our Lady’s followers love the Church, but are not embraced by the Church, even while they “sacrifice their lives for the salvation of the world” (message of February 25, 1988), at the request of Our Lady. Because of this, Medjugorje tends to cull out those who are not ready or not willing to offer their lives for Our Lady’s plans. A call to apostleship contains strong trials to cull out those who do not take Her messages with seriousness.
7. Our Lady wants Medjugorje’s plan to remain outside the Church to help unbelievers, as well as the ‘churched.’ These are the hearts Our Lady wants us to lead to Her. In regards to unbelievers, wherever these hearts are who have been wounded, they must be led to healing before they will open themselves to the Church. As apostles of Our Lady, we are learning the way of love that draws souls to us, that we can draw souls to Our Lady.
8. God is creating a stage for Our Lady. The mystery and intrigue of Medjugorje is partly created by the delay in a final judgement which has a higher purpose, in God’s design, of drawing the world’s attention to Medjugorje when prophesied events begin to unfold.