Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Pope Issues His Declaration on Medjugorje ... in "Vaticanese"

Kevin Symonds of Desiderium has reproduced an interesting snippet (in Croatian and Italian) from the Holy Father's latest Wednesday audience. According to the Google translation of the Croatian, Pope Benedict addressed the Croatian pilgrims thus:

"Since I greet all the pilgrims, Croatian, and especially those from the parish of St. James Medjugorje! Your pilgrimage to Rome is part of the way of preparation for the coming of the Lord. Therefore, in hope, be evangelizers of God's love in your nation. May God bless you!"

The "Vatican-ese" here is pretty clear. Allow me to interpret ...

Medjugorjeans are being told that "coming to Rome" for Christmas is a "preparation" for how they will have to "come to Rome" in a pilgrimage of faith with the submission of their minds and wills in response to the impending negative declaration against Medjugorje.

The key is when he says that they must be "evangelizers in their nation" rather than "in the world". If the Vatican is on the verge of a positive declaration following the apostolic visit, he would have said the latter, not the former. After such a declaration, Medjugorje will no longer be a "universal phenomenon", and the members of St. James parish - including some of the "visionaries" - will no longer have a "universal audience".

The incredible thing about "Vaticanese" is that strong and substantial statements are made in short and seemingly trivial and equivocal sentences. The stronger the "accent", the harder it is to interpret; but although the accent here is quite "pronounced", I think it is still clear what the Pope is saying.

The last time Ratzinger spoke publicly about Medjugorje (in 1985 in "The Ratzinger Report"), it was not as clear as to where he stood. If I am properly understanding the Vaticanese, he is coming through loud and clear.


  1. I think many hard core Medjugorje supporters will see only that the Holy Father mentioned Medjugorje and be jubilant (even though it was in the context of a contingent from the parish of St. James in Medjugorje, not the "apparition")

    I agree that the series of talks given on mystics in the Church, especially the one on St. Hildegard, is indeed aimed at this.

    Jimmy Akin just put up something on St. Hildegard and Medjugorje.

    Given that, right now, there is a commission appointed by the Holy See evaluating the mystical phenomena reported at Medjugorje, it is hard not to review the Medjugorje situation in terms of what Pope Benedict says about St. Hildegard—particularly with the noted controversy between the visionary community and the local bishops.

    Here is his post: Pope Benedict on Mystical Experiences

  2. I just noticed that the audience text released for December 2 in English is abbreviated and does not mention the contingent from St. James in Medjugorje.

    It is the Italian version: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20101201_it.html (readers can copy the url and put it into a google translate tool).

    Here is the English version:

  3. Thanks for the links and the insights, Diane. Yes, that confirms for me that I am thinking along the right lines ...

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  5. Wade... the pope was addressing all Croatians present not just the Croats from Medjugorje.

    But here are some words of Our Lady which also draw attention to the parish of Medjugorje.

    Dear children! I have chosen this parish in a special way and I wish to lead it. I am guarding it in love and I want everyone to be mine. Thank you for having responded tonight. I wish you always to be with me and my Son in ever greater numbers. I shall speak a message to you every Thursday. Medjugorje message, March 1, 1984

    Thank you for having responded to my call! Dear children, you in the parish, be converted. This is my other wish. That way all those who shall come here shall be able to convert. Medjugorje message, March 8, 1984

  6. The problem, pilgrim, is that I don't believe that was Our Lady speaking, as I outlined in my "Discerning the Spirits" series.

  7. The universal language of a smile and a wave is understood far better than so-called Vaticanese.

    Interesting that Pope Benedict, after welcoming the Croatians to Rome, looked up from his notes, smiled and then waved to the cheering Croats!

    Pictures on my blog: http://crownofstars.blogspot.com

  8. Well I'll be looking for the actual statements, not trying to interpret things.

    Remember JPII with the Charismatics. He spoke of them with favor, yet for reasons that seemed to make no sense, went into a discourse about how they need to remain "faithful to the Magesterium of the Church" During that time (even still somewhat now) one could really question if some charismatics were indeed doing that, with their anti-marian and anti-traditional piety attitude (both have decreased since they've been integrated with the Church.)

    So let's see what happens, and remember that the problem with "Vaticanese" is that, in the words of John Allen, THERE IS NO VATICAN.

  9. The Google translation “May God bless you” for “Hvaljen Isus i Marija!” is not at all accurate: It should be: “Praised be Jesus and Mary”.

    This is a very popular greeting in Medjugorje as Cardinal Schönborn will testify having used it to begin his homily in St James’ church last December 30, and then urging the congregation to respond with the same greeting.

    Is there any significance in the fact that Benedict has used this greeting to the visiting Medjugorje parishioners to Rome?

  10. The accent on the greeting is pretty thick (the final statement in his address). I cannot decipher his Vatican-ese here.

  11. There is a transcript on the Vatican website.

  12. Sorry, pilgrim, when I mentioned "accent", I was speaking metaphorically (in line with the metaphors I used in my post).

    What I was trying to say is that greeting can be taken both ways - it does not indicate whether or not he believes in the authenticity of the apparitions.

    But when read in context, I do not think the meaning lines up with what a lot of believers in Medjugorje think it does.

  13. Of course. Thank you for your explanation. I really don’t know what ‘Medjugorje believers’ think about the Pope’s greeting other than to welcome the fact that he did not skirt around mentioning Medjugorje or greeting the pilgrims with a salutation that was familiar to them. I suppose he could have played safe and stayed with mentioning “Croatians” in general but he didn’t. And the reaction put a smile on his face. It’s a blessing to be able to smile. :)

  14. Wade, I don't read in your original post that you think the Pope's statements can be taken either way. You say pretty clearly that you interpret his statement as load and clear against the apparitions. If so it seems clear that you are reading way too into it. Personally I believe in the apparitions but am not really fretting it too much: if we focus on prayer, the Mass, fasting and conversion (the central messages of Medjugorje, perfectly in Communion with Church teaching) we can't go wrong. I won't worry quite so much about the square footage of Ivan's house or what this or that Cardinal may or may not have implied.

  15. Lake, your rhetorical remark about the "square footage of Ivan's house" is actually an important clue as to the veracity of the apparitions. When believers in Medjugorje hear about a Cardinal who disapproves of Medjugorje, the response is that it doesn't matter "what this or that Cardinal" said. But when Cardinal Schonborn visited Medjugorje and "may have implied" his belief in its authenticity, those same believers said: "See, it is authentic! The author of the Catechism says so!"

    Lake, if the Vatican comes out with a negative declaration and you accept it and it does not shake your faith, then it is fine for you to believe in the apparitions. But not every believer in Medjugorje will react this way. As I explained in my seven-part article, "Discerning the Spirits: A Fresh and Balanced Look at Medjugorje", many have already been misled by the fact that the "central messages of Medjogorje are perfectly in line with Church teaching" (how else would the Devil be able to get Catholics to believe in a false apparition) and many will be led into at least material schism.

  16. .u are right i think the vatican-ese went straight over some heads..but then again people are using hearts instead of heads..and so what do you expect...u are really perspicacious to elucidate the code ..thanks God for people like you