Massimiliano Menichetti – Vatican City
Pope Francis has decided to authorize pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which can now be officially organized by dioceses and parishes and will no longer take place only in a private capacity which as has so far been the case. The announcement was made today during Mass, at the parish shrine which has become a destination for millions of pilgrims, by the Apostolic Nuncio Luigi Pezzuto in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Archbishop Henryk Hoser, the Holy See’s Special Apostolic Visitator.
Pilgrimages do not authenticate known events
The “ad interim” director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, responding to journalists’ questions about the announcement, specified that the papal authorization must be accompanied by “care to prevent these pilgrimages from being interpreted as an authentication of known events, which still require examination by the Church. Therefore, care must be taken to avoid creating confusion or ambiguity from the doctrinal point of view regarding such pilgrimages. This also concerns pastors of every order and level who intend to go to Medjugorje and celebrate or concelebrate there even in a solemn way”.
“Considering the considerable flow of people who go to Medjugorje and the abundant fruits of grace that have sprung from it – continued Gisotti – this authorization is part of the particular pastoral attention that the Holy Father intended to give to that reality, aimed at encouraging and promoting the fruits of good”.
The apostolic visitator, concluded the ad interim director, “will have, in this way, greater ease in establishing – relations with the priests in charge of organizing pilgrimages to Medjugorje, as well as, safe and well-prepared persons, offering them information and indications to be able to fruitfully conduct such pilgrimages, – in agreement with the ordinary people of the place.”
The Pope’s decision comes a year after the appointment of Hoser, Archbishop Emeritus of Warszawa-Prague in Poland, as “Apostolic Visitator for the Parish of Medjugorje, on May 31, 2018.
Both that nomination and today’s announcement do not, therefore, enter into doctrinal questions relating to the authenticity of the account of the six visionaries of what has happened in Medjugorje since June 1981, a phenomenon that has not yet been concluded. Of the six visionaries, at that time children or young people, three assure us that they still have a daily apparition of the “Queen of Peace”, always at the same time in the afternoon and wherever they are: they are Vicka (who lives in Medjugorje), Marija (who lives in Monza) and Ivan (who lives in the United States but often returns home). A fourth visionary, Mirjana, says that she receives an apparition every month, on the 2nd, while for the last two this happens once a year.