by Ethan Mack
Earlier this month, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released a statement on conferences and gatherings related to the alleged Medjugorje phenomenon. At the behest of the CDF, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, sent out a letter to every diocese in the United States, which stated that “clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences, or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted.”
The Medjugorje apparitions are a series of alleged Marian apparitions that have continued until this day in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje. They supposedly began on June 24, 1981 when six young people claimed to have had a vision of the Virgin Mary. Medjugorje quickly became a place like Lourdes and Fatima where thousands of pilgrims visit each year. This prompted an official investigation by the Yugoslavian
bishops conference, which declared in 1991 that “on the base of studies made so far, it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations.” Nevertheless, this statement has not stemmed the flow of pilgrims to Medjugorje, which remains a popular pilgrimage spot to this day.
The alleged apparitions at Medjugorje have been a source of division among Catholics. Many remain very skeptical. One reason for this is that there are several doctrinal issues associated with what the Gospa (Croatian for “Lady”) has said in the past. For example, she stated at one point that individuals should not pray for themselves, which goes against long held Catholic teaching and tradition. Many are also uncomfortable with how some people involved with the apparitions have supposedly profited substantially from them. Nevertheless, many Catholics believe very strongly in the apparitions. Some priests and religious have even claimed that their vocation came out of a pilgrimage to Medjugorje.
The recent letter from the CDF was written in response to planned presentations by Ivan Dragicevic, one of the original Medjugorje youth, at parishes across the U.S. These presentations were advertised to include Dragicevic actually experiencing visions during the presentations.
The letter is not, as some have claimed, an official statement about the validity of the Medjugorje apparitions, which is still under investigation. Ultimately, the final decision will be made by the Holy Father. The CDF is only reminding all the U.S. bishops that until the Holy See's investigation is complete, the faithful are bound to the decision made by the Yugoslavian bishops back in 1991.
As a response to the letter, all the planned events with Dragicevic in the U.S. have been canceled.