WADE ST. ONGE

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Medjugorje: V. Other Arguments, Clues, and Problems Pointing Against Authenticity


Although the issue of disobedience to me is enough to convince me that Medjugorje is not authentic, there are at least three other reasons which add support to my claim: namely, the nature of the messages, the problems surrounding the promised sign, and the lives of the seers.

1. The Messages. The messages at Medjugorje stand in contrast to the messages at other apparitions. (a) When Mary appeared at Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Fatima, she spoke little, but what little she said was either very important or profound. She was not prone to repetition – except to repeat the key message she wanted to convey (such as “penance” at Lourdes or “pray the rosary” at Fatima). This is in line with what we know about Mary from Scripture – namely, that she who contemplated and reflected by “ponder[ing] these things in her heart” (Luke 2: 19, 51) was “quick to hear [and] slow to speak” (Jas 1:19) and was the model for the advice given by St. Francis de Sales: “‘To speak little’ – so highly recommended by wise men – does not consist in uttering few words, but in not speaking useless words. It is not their quantity but their quality that counts.” [St. Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III, Chapter 30] (b) At Medjugorje, however, the frequent messages are prone to banality and triviality, and often reflect the minds of six young Catholics (now adults) and the place from which they come, ie. the former Yugoslavia. With few exceptions, there is nothing objectionable in the messages, and Mary would no doubt agree with almost everything that is found in them. However, although Mary would say these things because they generally consist of exhortations to peace, prayer, and conversion, it is doubtful that Mary has said all this, because of the reason stated before – namely, that Mary’s modus operandi is to apply the principle of “less is more” to her dialogue so that others grant great importance to what little she does say, as she makes sure she speaks only when she has an important or profound word to speak. (c) Yet the problem arises that because there is so much more material at Medjugorje, we spend much more time with those messages than we do focusing on and living the messages of Fatima or Lourdes. They can become distractions from that which is more substantial and important. A guest on a Protestant radio show once said that her mother warned her, “if Satan can’t make you sin he will make you busy”. Bishop Zanic said that “Today, many prayer groups all over the world pray from Rev. Ivica Vego's prayer book and meditate over the supposed messages of Our Lady as it these things were more important than the Bible and the teaching Magisterium of the Church.” (http://www.newjerusalem.com/bishop-truth.htm, no. 28) This is a problem, and it can occur with those heavily devoted to apparitions.

2. The Sign. Once again, the sign at Medjugorje stands in contrast to the signs at Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Fatima. The signs at these approved apparitions were immediate, occurring within days, weeks, or at most months in order to prove their authenticity. However, at Medjugorje, the sign has still not been given 29 years after the apparitions began. On the other hand, the sign promised at Garabandal, another alleged apparition that has never been approved, has still not been given 49 years after they began.

3. The Lives of the Seers. Besides examining the seers for disobedience, the Church likewise examines the moral lives of the seers, especially for evidence that they have undergone a deeper conversion and have thus become more Christ-like. As Fr. Most explains: “Inquiries to be made about the alleged recipient [include the questions:] What virtues does the person have? What was his general level before and after the alleged revelation? If a great advance in holiness is seen, and it seems to have come from the revelation, there is good probability for the revelations. ... But if the seer has stayed at the ordinary level of virtue, the visions come under some suspicion, for would God use extraordinary means to lead to a merely ordinary state of holiness?” (http://www.catholic-pages.com/bvm/private_revelations.asp)

A. Vocations. Once again, we see a contrast between other approved apparitions and Medjugorje, in that both Bernadette of Lourdes and Lucia of Fatima entered religious life, while all six seers at Medjugorje married. I indeed believe this is a reason for scepticism. Authentic apparitions tend to attract one to the heavenly, as such close contact with the Divine will naturally do this. That is why Lucia became a contemplative nun, and why Jacinta wanted to join religious life as well. And St. Bernadette, who also became a nun, said: “Once you have seen her, you never have any more liking for this earth!”. (http://www.medjugorjelive.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=357&start=15)

Medjugorje skeptic Richard Chonak wisely commented: “Religious life is an eschatological witness to the Resurrection, and it is a suitable sign of the transforming grace that comes in an extraordinary heavenly visitation. It's a sign of virtues such as humility and generosity (self-donation). So it’s no surprise that many past ‘recipients’ of apparitions became consecrated religious, and it may be an anomaly that none of the six alleged seers in the Medjugorje case have become such”. (http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/archives/2010/02/hauke-on-medj.html) Though by itself this does not mean much, when considered with all of the other things that have been mentioned here, it provides further confirmation.

There are generally two replies from Medjugorje apologists to this. First, they say that celibacy is no better than marriage (which is incorrect and is in fact heresy, which I will explain later). Secondly, they say, as Paul Baylis did, “There may not have been any vocations among the visionaries, but this is offset by the huge numbers of vocations among the pilgrims.” (http://mariantimes.blogspot.com/2006/11/medjugorje-objections-of-ratko-peric.html)

Regarding the latter response, the problem is that this is a red herring. It deflects the issue and does not respond to the point, namely, that a true apparition would inspire or attract at least a couple if not a few or even all seers to religious life. That others would come and experience conversion and discern religious vocations at this pilgrimage site is a related yet irrelevant point to the initial charge, even though it sounds as though it is a valid reply (which is why red herrings are so dangerous and deceptive).

Regarding the former, Baylis responds: “Should married life be considered somehow lower than religious life? Most married couples would take exception, including Mary and St. Joseph themselves. I’m sure the Bishop has never had to deal with screaming babies or realized the saintly patience required to bring up children while maintaining a healthy spousal relationship.” [Ibid.]

Here we have an example of the widespread ignorance of what I call “the Church’s forgotten dogma”, one that makes “material heretics” out of probably over 90 percent of orthodox Catholics (including many priests, religious, theologians, and even some bishops) – namely, the “superiority” of celibacy to marriage.

Most think this notion is “pre-Vatican”, that with the “universal call to holiness” in Lumen Gentium, the Church officially cut Herself off from this “erroneous” thinking. But on the contrary, Vatican II itself actually taught this. We read in the “Decree on Priestly Training” (Optatam Totius), paragraph 10: “Students ought rightly to acknowledge the duties and dignity of Christian matrimony, which is a sign of the love between Christ and the Church. Let them recognize, however, the surpassing excellence of virginity consecrated to Christ.”

Now, for a more explicit citation – one in which the teaching was specifically called a “dogma” – we will reference Pius XII’s encyclical “On Sacred Virginity” (Sacra Virginitas), paragraph 32: “This doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy and of their superiority over the married state was, as We have already said, revealed by our Divine Redeemer and by the Apostle of the Gentiles; so too, it was solemnly defined as a dogma of divine faith by the holy council of Trent (57), and explained in the same way by all the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Finally, We and Our Predecessors have often expounded it and earnestly advocated it whenever occasion offered”. Notice that the mention of the Council of Trent contains a footnote (#57). That footnote references the Council of Trent, Session XXIV, Canon 10, which reads: “If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.”

Let us continue with what Pius XII says in the second part of this paragraph: “But recent attacks on this traditional doctrine of the Church, the danger they constitute, and the harm they do to the souls of the faithful lead Us, in fulfillment of the duties of Our charge, to take up the matter once again in this Encyclical Letter, and to reprove these errors which are so often propounded under a specious appearance of truth”. These are strong words! The Pope says that dissent from this dogma is “dangerous” and “harms souls”, and is conveyed in deceptive ways. Indeed, this “egalitarianism”, this tendency to see celibacy as being “equal” to marriage and merely “different” rather than having a superiority, can seriously harm priestly and religious vocations – especially depending on how it is presented or represented.

This is a misunderstanding among many believers in Medjugorje – which is reinforced by the fact that all six seers are married. It is typical for such believers to ask the same question a believer in the apparitions who called him or her self “Mail” posted in response to an article from a Medjugorje sceptic: “Where did the belief begin that a religious vocation was better than the vocation of marriage; clearly Jesus disagreed”. (http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/archives/2010/04/six-medjugorje.html) But clearly, Jesus did not disagree, as can be seen most clearly in Matthew 19:11-12 and Luke 18:29, although it can be seen implicitly elsewhere and logically derived from other things He said.

B. Now, this is one problem. The other problem is that some of the lifestyles of the seers stand in contrast to the life of simplicity and chastity that other seers have lived after their apparitions. Ronald Conte admits himself: “A few of the accusations have some merit, such as that one of the visionaries lied or that another lives in some degree of wealth and comfort.” (http://catholicplanet.com/apparitions/reply08a.htm) The implication here based on the wording or literary style is that there is more than one. Indeed, the seers who still live in Medjugorje have been reported to live in very large houses. Believers in Medjugorje explain this by saying that the seers host a number of guests, and thus in reality they really live in a small area of a very large guesthouse. However, my question is this: why not just build a number of guesthouses, even right next door? There is plenty of money to do so. At the very least, it looks suspicious and is scandalous. The Church has often cautioned against the mere appearance of things, such as warning her priests not to be seen alone with another woman in a public place (such as dining together in a restaurant), or Vatican II’s admonition that “priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions” and “arrange their homes” accordingly. (Presbyterorum Ordinis [Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests], 17) Thus, the mere appearance of seers living in a very large house is problematic from a Catholic perspective.

Of all the seers, the one who has caused the most scandal in the eyes of sceptics has been Ivan. Ivan, ironically, was the one and only seer who spent time discerning a vocation within the context of a community (he went to seminary). Today, he lives in a New England mansion and is married to the former Miss Massachusettes, Loreen Murphy. Though there is nothing wrong per se in either living in a mansion or marrying a former beauty pageant contestant, in line with what we have already said, if a man was truly seeing the Blessed Mother daily, he would almost assuredly be in a monastery, but if not, he almost certainly would not be living in a mansion with a former national beauty pageant contestant.

C. There is one more thing which must be mentioned that unfortunately borders on rash judgment (or even goes beyond those bounds), but I believe must be mentioned. The youngest seer, Jakov, is now 40 years of age. That means most if not all of the seers or their wives are past their childbearing years, or very close to being so. However, none of the seers has more than four children (the average is about three children each). If they were all living by the teachings of Humanae Vitae, we should expect some of them would have bigger families. Ivan, for instance, has only three children – and considering the fact that he is well off financially and that both he and his wife are in good enough health that he can leave her at home to tend to the children for lengthy periods of time while he travels the country (and sometimes outside the country) to speak in parishes, I do not believe he would have much of a reason to practice NFP. Certainly, there are other reasons they might have had to practice NFP, and there may be other reasons they do not have more children, such as infertility or that they have decided to live a Josephite marriage. But I find it suspicious that these other explanations would apply to all six of the seers. The most likely explanation is that they are not all living according to the teachings of Humanae Vitae – although I grant this most likely explanation may not be the correct explanation. But if it is, this is problematic, because if fasting off bread and water twice a week – which is a difficult but excellent religious practice – is not leading them to live the Church’s teachings on love, marriage, and human sexuality – an even greater and more important and essential religious duty – then the fast becomes an empty one, much like the fasting of the Pharisees, whose fasting did not lead to conversion of the heart and redemption of their fallen natures. We will get back to this point as well at a later time.

The Portuguese Cardinal Saraiva-Martins, formerly Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, when asked if he saw similarities between Fatima and Medjugorje, responded thus: “While the shepherd children of Fatima showed themselves to be humble and chose silence, these virtues are not obvious in Medjugorje; while Sister Lucia entered the cloister, no one in Medjugorje has chosen consecrated life; Sister Lucia put down the secrets entrusted to her by Mary in writing, while the visionaries of Medjugorje keep them for themselves. No, I see nothing in common between Fatima and Medjugorje". (http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/archives/2010/01/from-petrus-car.html) Another blog commenter added: “Where God worked a miracle at Fatima as a sign of the authenticity of the apparitions - the dancing of the Sun - God has worked no such miracle at Medjugorje, and, in fact, the visionaries have said the shrine erected in Medjugorje is the "Great Sign" promised. Where the visionaries of Fatima did nothing without the permission of their parish pastor, the visionaries of Medjugorje erected a shrine without the sanction of the local Bishop.” (http://patrickmadrid.blogspot.com/2010/01/medjugorje-fact-sheet-is-devil-in.html)

X. Besides these three other reasons, there are four other clues that the apparition may not be authentic. As we said, Satan is the master counterfeiter, who always crafts his traps to make them appear authentic. There are two dimensions to the apparitions that seem so providential and divine, but which could very well be the opposite. First, the connections and similarities to previous apparitions, and second, the history and dynamics of the area the apparitions have taken place.

1A. Dr. Miravalle, besides demonstrating how rooted the pillars of Medjugorje are in Christian Revelation, has likewise pointed out how Medjugorje seems to be a full-flowering of the entire history of Marian apparitions in the modern age. [See once again “Mary in the Modern World” lecture CD-Rom, Lectures 34-37] Miravalle submits that the apparitions give us one and the same unified message that gets more specific at each subsequent apparition rather than giving a different message at each apparition concerning a different aspect of the faith. He says that if you look at the Fatima message, you can see a full-flowering of a message that was all there in “seed-form” already at Guadalupe, but even more prominent at Lourdes. At Fatima, the message of Prayer, Penance, Reparation and Consecration, Conversion, and Peace was made quite explicit, and many specific directives were given, such as praying the daily rosary, specific prayers of reparation given, the First Saturdays devotion, etc. However, at Lourdes all of these pillars can be seen. For instance, although Mary does not say anything about the rosary, she teaches it by example by appearing always with it and often praying it during the apparitions. Mary says little, but one thing she did say was “penitence, penitence, penitence!” She says little about reparation and conversion but does say “pray for the salvation of poor sinners”. But it is at Medjugorje that we see the full-flowering of this unified message with the Medjugorjian message of “Faith, Prayer, Fasting, Conversion, and Peace”. For instance, at Fatima where the seers were told to “pray much”, at Medjugorje the seers were given specific directives to increase both the quantity and quality of their prayer – being told, for instance, that they should pray three hours a day, and to make sure they “pray from the heart”. At Fatima the seers were told to do much penance, but at Medjugorje further specification was given with the request that all fast twice a week on bread and water.

B. One could also point out that Guadalupe took place in days, Lourdes in weeks, Fatima spanned months, and Medjugorje has gone on for years. Here we see a numerical correspondence to Miravalle’s hypothesis. One could also point out that as Fatima promised an “era of peace”, Mary at Medjugorje has specifically called herself “Our Lady of Peace”, indicating that this apparition will bring about a realization of what Fatima only promised.

x. Dr. Miravalle would argue, in line with his doctoral dissertation, that these are all too coincidental to be anything but heavenly. I would not go this far. Rather, I would say instead that these are all too coincidental to be mere coincidences! But that which is uncanny need not have its origin in the heavens, as we stated earlier during our discussion of Miravalle’s dissertation. Once again, such connections could be a perfectly-crafted guise of Satan.

2. Regarding the area surrounding Medjugorje and its history, we will quote James Likoudis in his book review of Donal Foley’s Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion: “The historical background of the apparitions is given, noting the destructive consequences of World War II atrocities, of Croatian atrocities against the Serbs, and the more recent Communist oppression of the Croatians under Tito who died in 1980. The psychology of the population of Medjugorje and surrounding communities—still plagued by murderous vendettas ... may have been seriously affected. ... ‘young adults’ [including the seers were] ‘exposed to the corrupting influences of the modern world’. ... ‘We are not dealing with a normal Catholic culture here, but one with a strange and checkered history, comprised of heretical sects, pagan religion, seemingly endless violence, and a long running dispute between official Church authority and local Franciscans.” (http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/books/medjbook/jlreview.html, citing p. 24) None of this would be disputed by believers in Medjugorje. In fact, believers would point to her appearing in a troubled area as being consistent with the divine action, including that of other apparitions, including Lourdes and Fatima, not to mention the appearance of Jesus in his life and ministry. However, on the other hand, a sceptic might well point out that out of all the places for Satan to create a false apparition, there would be no better place than Medjugorje. This is due in part to the fact it looks like the kind of turbulent place Our Lord would send Our Lady for such an important apparition. It is also due to the fact that due to many of the above factors, including its remote and obscure location, such an apparition was more likely to be believed and last as long as it has. However, a major part of the reason could be that if Satan wanted to chip away at the faithful’s understanding of ecclesial obedience, there was no better place than the Diocese of Mostar and no better situation than the dissenting Franciscans, because their plight attracts sympathy, and the disobedience is subtle and equivocal. One can make an excellent case for “disobedience” in this situation – as the last 29 years have shown.

3. It is interesting to note that the Herzegovina Affair began in 1968 – the same year that Humanae Vitae was issued. This is an intriguing parallel, for the dissent following Humanae Vitae was the greatest, most organized, and most widespread act of disobedience in Church history – one which provoked a wave of disobedience which is only recently being brought under control. Although Humanae Vitae was issued after the Herzegovina Affair began, the fact that the latter occurred in the same year as the former indicates a potential connection at least on a prophetic level. It is quite possible that this is one of the “signs” that Medjugorje is not of divine origin. In fact, consider this excerpt from paragraph 26 of “The Winnipeg Statement” - which was the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops September 26, 1968 response and decree of dissent against Humanae Vitae: “If these [married] persons have tried sincerely but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives, they may be safely assured that, whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience." (http://www.therosarium.ca/winnipeg.html) [emphasis mine]. Now compare this with the statement made by Fr. Nuiae, after citing “the salvation of souls” as “the supreme law”, and in support of the Franciscan response to Romanis Pontificibus: “Everyone needs to decide towards his or her own conscience - does one's behaviour serve towards that supreme goal.” (II.C.3) [emphasis mine] But the answer that was given to dissenters of Humanae Vitae is the same answer that applies to the Franciscans in the Herzegovina Affair: “[Catholics] must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church's teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the Gospel” (Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes, 50)

4. Finally, perhaps the biggest clue is the similarities that can be drawn between Medjugorje (assuming it is not authentic) and Fr. Marcial Maciel – the disgraced founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

A. First, the argument against the possibility of “good fruit coming from a bad tree” was cited in both instances – and the troupe of holy and orthodox priests formed by the Legion and the orthodox schools and programs they ran was always cited as the main proof that the accusations against Maciel were false, despite all evidence to the contrary. A believer in Medjugorje by the username of “mgseamanjr” made this argument on a site which presented evidence against Medjugorje’s authenticity: “But leaving ALL THIS aside, the real question is this: 'Good fruit does not come from a bad tree' (Mt. 7:18). How more clear can that statement be?” (http://patrickmadrid.blogspot.com/2010/04/medjugorje-and-maciel-effect.html) Now reference this to what Fr. Richard John Neuhaus said in 2002 in Fr. Maciel’s defence as found in the March, 2002 edition of “First Things”. (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/2002_03_Neuhaus_FeathersOf.htm) That is exactly what he argues. But this argument is very dangerous, and we should have learned this lesson from the past, especially after the case of the false mystic, Magdalen of the Cross. To look only at “fruits” and make that the chief criterion has misled us badly – it was what enabled Fr. Maciel to avoid suspicion for so long. It is also what enabled Magdalen to escape detection, and if Medjugorje turns out to be not authentic as well, the “fruits” argument is by far the greatest reason why it too has been so widely accepted as authentic.

B. (a) Second, after the revelations concerning Fr. Maciel, many members of not only the Legionaries and Regnum Christi but of the universal Church in general lost some if not all of their trust they long had in orthodox and apparently holy Church leaders. This trust has now been weakened if not shattered, and may always be so. How is one to know if their orthodox bishop is not another Fr. Maciel? Whereas orthodoxy, visible acts of piety, and the wisdom of one’s writings and speeches used to indicate beyond the shadow of a doubt a good and trustworthy Shepherd before, such things are now much more neutral. In short, trust in Church authorities has weakened with the revelations concerning Fr. Maciel, the fact that John Paul II assured the Church through his support of Maciel that he was good and holy and that the accusations were not correct, and the fact that so many other trusted Catholic leaders came to the defence of Maciel – sometimes with a great deal of passion and self-assurance (please see the article referenced above by Fr. Neuhaus – which stands now as a painful and shameful read – and which always did to his many unfortunate victims who were re-violated by what he and others said and wrote). (b) However, more than just a loss of trust, many involved in the movements have experienced a loss of faith – in the Church, in Christ and Christianity, or even in God. Many of these and many who still do have faith have experienced a great deal of psychological damage and mental and emotional distress due to defects in the movement and in the formation program which was created by Fr. Maciel to control and depersonalize those under him. If it comes out that Medjugorje likewise was a false apparition, we can expect to see a similar loss of faith, and we have already noticed certain psychological, mental, or emotional problems in some of its followers, as we have already discussed. Among Maciel’s followers, the reaction was either one of denial (meaning they still believe Maciel is a Saint and that the accusations are false) or one of acknowledgement and the eating of crow and the grappling with the fact that one has believed a lie, giving parts or the whole of their lives, their selves, and their hearts and minds to this man, and no doubt introducing others to the movement and thus hurting many more in the process. The fallout from Medjugorje would be similar. Unfortunately, the fallout will continue to get worse and will infect many other areas we do not even realize right now and have already infected areas we are oblivious to. This has been and will continue to be a widespread attack on the faith of Catholics as well as the potential faith of those who we are seeking to evangelize.

C. Third, the problem with the Legionaries is that many who experienced conversion with the Legionaries were already searching, and many would have found conversion elsewhere in other Catholic groups if the Legionaries or Regnum Christi did not exist. Many who became priests in the movement would have no doubt been ordained in dioceses or other orders had the Legionaries not existed. Similarly, as was already said about those experiencing conversion at Medjugorje, such people who were already searching would have probably experienced conversion at an approved shrine or in another well-established Catholic movement. Which would have been better is hard to say – but we do know it is Satan’s modus operandi to create inherently defective and diabolical movements and false apparitions in order to attract people before an established movement or approved apparition site “gets to them first”.

D. (a) Fourth and finally, Pope Benedict XVI began his action against the Legionaries by making an equivocal disciplinary ruling against Fr. Maciel, asking him to refrain from public ministry and to commit himself to a life of penance. His supporters did not take this as a disciplinary move, but one that was for his own good in the face of accusations that would not go away. In the end, they said, he would be exonerated and ultimately canonised. It would be another two-and-a-half years before it would be revealed (and confirmed) that evidence clearly showed that Fr. Maciel had indeed lived a double-life, and that the accusations against him were valid. (b) Part of the delay, I believe, was an act of mercy upon the part of Benedict. By issuing an equivocal decision, he wanted the Legionaries to realize that it was at least possible that Fr. Maciel lived a double-life without dropping the mind-boggling, faith-threatening, and potentially life-shattering fact of Maciel’s double-life and the evidence to support it. It is easier to come to grips with something over time, and to incline one’s thoughts to a mere possibility rather than swallow the whole thing at once. Unfortunately, the Legion continued by and large in its denial, and the tragic consequences of failing to slowly adjust to that possibility can be seen now. (c) I believe the laicization of Fr. Vlasic was intended by the Holy Father to be a similar “cushion”, in order to get believers in Medjugorje at least acknowledging the possibility that Medjugorje may not be authentic, and to meditate on and ponder thoroughly that possibility and thus learn to slowly attenuate or process it so as to preserve one’s faith and minimize the adverse effects of certain psychological defence mechanisms.

I believe this similarity makes it clear that Benedict has long been a sceptic of both, and the fact that he moved against both Maciel and Vlasic after becoming Pope attests to that. However, because his predecessor was a believer in both, his hands were tied. It must also be noted that Benedict has also moved against other false mystics and false apparitions that were allowed free reign under the pontificate of John Paul II, such as the Italian priest, religious founder, and purported prophet and mystic, Fr. Gino Burresi (who it turns out was a molestor and conman) and the apparitions of “Our Lady of All Peoples” from Amsterdam.

X. Additional Problems

I would like to add two other problems I see with phenomenon Medjugorje.

1. Religious Fanaticism. Mark Waterinckx compares religious fanaticism with being in love. He says that “just like a person in love, they refuse all criticism. Somebody in love is so blinded that he will defend his ‘beloved’ even into the absurd.” Applying this to Medjugorje, he says, “A former friend, who does not want to share his ‘belief’ in Medjugorje, suddenly becomes an ‘enemy’ to avoid. ... If somebody dares to criticize Medjugorje one feels oneself being attacked. Medjugorje has become a part of the person himself. ... If the bishop does not want to recognize these ‘apparitions’, then he is a ‘bad bishop’. ... Priests, who do not believe in Medjugorje, suddenly lose their esteem. ... One always wants to persuade others that Medjugorje is authentic.” (http://www.unitypublishing.com/Apparitions/MedLove.htm) He adds elsewhere that he has seen among many believers “a marked degree of fanaticism and obsessiveness. Medjugorje has become their all encompassing dogma which overrides everything else. This fanaticism overrides all common sense, critical evaluation, intellectual honesty, prudence, and friendship.” (http://catholic-ecclesia-dei.blogspot.com/2010/03/medjugorje-haters.html) Bishop Zanic adds that “when the Christian faithful hear of apparitions and miracles they easily accept these events as facts without being at all critical of the events.” (http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/medjugorje5c.htm)

2. Distraction. I believe Medjugorje can distract such adherents from “where the Church is at”. Since this is not too central to my overall argument and would take longer to explain than is worth, I will not spend much time on this. The Church often ebbs and flows over time and through various places. For instance, in the early 1980s, the Charismatic Renewal was a very important movement, one which brought a great deal of life to the parishes and the Church in general. However, many aspects of the Charismatic Renewal have waned, and this is in part because some of the good things the Charismatic Renewal had to offer have been integrated into the life of the entire Church. However, there are some who are concerned about what they see as the Renewal “dying”. These Charismatics want to see the Renewal “revive” and operate precisely how it did in the 1980s. However, the Church of 2010 is different than the Church of 1980, and was moved in that direction by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we should not and in fact as Christians cannot “live in the past” by doing just as we did 30 years earlier. A similar problem can occur with certain apparitions, including Medjugorje. The problem is that Medjugorje, if authentic, was always meant to be integrated into the “mainstream”. Unfortunately, it largely has not, and thus it has not “moved with the Church”. For instance, John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” has become very popular and has transformed many lives and even aspects of Catholic theology and the Church as a whole. However, few of the most ardent believers in Medjugorje have latched onto it because it was not part of the “message of Medjugorje” as it took shape in 1981 and has been passed down to all Medjugorje believers.