The vast majority of phenomena at Medjugorje can not be said to be of supernatural origin, according to most votes cast this week by the official commission on Medjugorje.
The Commission, established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, was asked to evaluate separately the first seven apparitions, which allegedly occurred in the summer of 1981, and the tens of thousands of subsequent apparitions, which allegedly continue to this day. The commission includes five cardinals, two psychologists, four theologians, a Mariologist, anthropologist, a canonist, and an official of the Doctrine of the Faith. According to La Stampa, the commission
met 17 times and screened all documents filed in the Vatican, the parish of Medjugorje and the archives of the secret services of the former Yugoslavia. The commission heard all the seers and witnesses involved, and in April 2012, they carried out an inspection in the village of Herzegovina.
Most members of the commission voted that the first seven apparitions were supernatural in nature, and not a hoax or demonic [note that the quotations from La Stampa have been translated from Italian, which accounts for the somewhat clumsy language]:
Members and experts came out with 13 votes in favor of recognizing the supernatural nature of the first visions. A member voted against and an expert expressed a suspensive vote. The committee argues that the six young seers were psychically normal and were caught by surprise by the apparition, and that nothing of what they had seen was influenced by either the Franciscans of the parish or any other subjects. They showed resistance in telling what happened despite the police arrested them and death threating [sic] them. The commission also rejected the hypothesis of a demonic origin of the apparitions.
The commission was much more doubtful about the supernatural origin of subsequent apparitions, though. Regarding the circumstances and nature of the subsequent apparitions themselves,
the commission took note of the heavy interference caused by the conflict between the bishop and the Franciscans of the parish, as well as the fact that the apparitions, pre-announced and programmed individually for each seer continued with repetitive messages. These visions continued despite the youngsters had said they would end, however that actually has never happened. There is then the issue of the “secrets” of the somewhat apocalyptic flavor that the seers claim to have been revealed from the apparition.
Based on the “behavior of the seers,” the commission reports
eight members and four experts believe that an opinion cannot be expressed, while two other members have voted against the supernatural nature of the phenomenon.
Regarding the much-touted “spiritual fruits” of the phenomena, “but leaving aside the behaviors of the seers,” La Stampa reports
3 members and 3 experts say there are positive outcomes, 4 members and 3 experts say they are mixed, with a majority of positive, effects and the remaining 3 experts claim there are mixed positive and negative effects.
Thirteen of the fourteen commission members have voted to put Medjugorje directly under the authority of the Vatican. The establishment of an authority that answers to the Vatican “would not imply the recognition of the supernatural nature of the apparitions,” but would aid the Church in overseeing the pastoral care of the millions of pilgrims who visit the region every year.
These pastoral developments would also provide “clarity on economic issues.” Commerce related to Medjugorje has become a global industry, producing steady income for some of the alleged visionaries.
On his way home from Fatima, Pope Francis told reporters Saturday that he had “worse” than doubts about the authenticity of the phenomena at Medjugorje. The Pope said:
The report has its doubts, but personally, I am a little worse. I prefer Our Lady as mother, our mother, and not Our Lady as head of the post office who sends a message at a stated time.
This isn’t Jesus’ mother. And these alleged apparitions don’t have much value. I say this as a personal opinion, but it is clear. Who thinks that Our Lady says, ‘Come, because tomorrow at this time I will give a message to that seer?’ No!
For an extensive explanation of the many concerns and alarms surrounding the alleged apparitions, see my essay in The Catholic Weekly, The Lady of Medjugorje Is Not Your Mother.
NOTE: This post was edited at 10:55 AM eastern on 5/17/17. The first sentence originally read: “The vast majority of phenomena at Medjugorje are not of supernatural origin, according to most votes cast this week by the official commission on Medjugorje.” I do not believe this statement is inaccurate, but the edited version is more clear.
Image of a cross at Medjugorje by Miran Rijavec via Flickr