Monday, July 27, 2009

Medjogorje priest defrocked


Simon Caldwell reports that the Holy See has "defrocked" Tomislav Vladic a former Franciscan. Simon says:


In the midst of a spat with the local bishop and the Vatican, he had earlier made a prophecy that the Virgin Mary would appear in Bosnia.
Months later, six local children said they had seen the Virgin on a nearby hillside. Soon after Father Vlasic announced he was 'spiritual adviser' to the 'visionaries' who now claim that Our Lady has visited them 40,000 times over the last 28 years.
An estimated 30million pilgrims have visited the shrine since 1981, including many from Britain and Ireland.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, issued a ban on pilgrimages to the site but this has been widely ignored.
Father Vlasic was suspended last year by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith amid an inquiry into his conduct after three commissions failed to find evidence to support the visionaries' claims.

This seems to be yet another sign of the Church's disaproval of Medjugorje. Some people ask why doesn't the Church just close it down, the problem is that so many otherwise good Catholics place their trust in visions and seeings rather than the authority of Peter. Many people testify to how their lives have been changed by a visit to Medjogorje, many have a sincere devotion to the place. God does have ability to draw good out of ill, never the less the Church, first of all in the person of the local bishop has a duty to verify such visions. There is always a tension between the heirachic and charismatic authority in the Church, but unless we are to end in chaos wise heirarchic authority must prevail.
Priests and even bishops visit Medjogorje claiming to do so in a "private capacity", I have never quite understood how a priest and most especially can do that especially when he celebrates the sacraments or preaches.

The Church did forbid any visit at all to Garabandal, it very quickly became a focus of division, setting the Blessed Virgin against against the Pope. It is significant the Bishop Richard Williamson in a recent interview used this pseudo-vision as yet another way of attacking or undermining the hierarchic authority of the Church.

These sort of visions demand belief not so much in Our Lady but in the visionary or visionaries. Ultimately the question is not whether there is a miraculous appearance but whether the visionary is credible. We believe in a vision because we believe in the visionary. Lourdes and Fatima are credible because of the holiness of those who did the seeing. The first fruit of any true vision is holiness of the visionary. Good trees bring forth good fruit.

19 comments:

Crux Fidelis said...

I remember reading that one of the Garabandal "visionaries" subsequently apostasised.

Michael Petek said...

Ex-Father Vlasic hasn't had anything to do with Medjugorje, or with the visionaries, since the 1980s. It seems that the cause for his laicisation arose well after that, after he had been moved to a different Franciscan province.

As for the issue of the holiness of the visionaries, I shouldn't read too much into the fact that they are all married and own large guest-houses. Charles the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary was a man of no small wealth while in office and before, yet he is today counted among the Blessed.

What matters about the visionaries is not that that they are outstandingly holy, but that they are at least faithful to their marriage vows and to their duties as parents, as well as regular at Mass and the sacraments.

Finally, the state of the Church's official judgement. Medjugorje is unique in that it is the only alleged apparition site for which the Holy See has set aside the adverse judgement of the local Bishop and sent the jury out again.

So for now, we're left with the intrinsic content of the messages. If you want an object lesson in Satan's real work, then google "Army of Mary" who were excommunicated by the Archbishop of Quebec in 2007. That one's dead easy to spot!

Victor S E Moubarak said...

"This seems to be yet another sign of the Church's disaproval of Medjugorje."

You raise a very important point. I did not realise, until you mentioned it just now, that the Church disaproves of Medjugorje.

There have been several trips to there organised by Catholic churches and priests here in the UK.

This seems to send conflicting messages to lay people who (rightly or wrongly) place their Faith on what their priests tell them.

How are they to know what is and what is not an "approved" site and a genuine Apparition?

I think of such places as Walsingham, Knock, Zeitoun in Egypt etc ...

Should (does) the Catholic Church make available a list of Visions which are considered genuine?

Independent said...

Who was it said "Unless they see signs and wonders they will not believe"? and "this evil and adulterous generation look for a sign"?

Crux Fidelis said...

Isn't "defrocking" an Anglican term? I suppose "laicisation" would be too difficult for DM readers to get their heads round.

Crux Fidelis said...

Isn't "defrocking" an Anglican term? I suppose "laicisation" would be too difficult for DM readers to get their heads round.

Shepherd said...

I thought that we did not de-frock priests but laicise them. Is that so Father?

Fr Ray Blake said...

"Defrocked" seems to be a popular term, it was used Simon's original story, In my reporting of it I put it in quotes.

lizard said...

Ultimately the question is not whether there is a miraculous appearance but whether the visionary is credible.

An even more important question is whether the appearances, if even credible, are from God or they are from Satan. "And no wonder: for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light." Post V-II Church seem to have lost a sense of World Evil and Satan behind much of it. I have seen so many nonsense "Catholic" cathechetical texts stating in very unclear terms that angels and daemons are just some vague "forces," that the naive reader would likely doubt their real existence! Not surprisingly, people now think everything "spiritual" is intrinsically good.

Priests and even bishops visit Medjogorje claiming to do so in a "private capacity"
The first fruit of any true vision is holiness of the visionary.

Father, it is also so terrible how people can lose a sense of obedience to the Church. There are so many extraordinary legends of our Greatest Saints who were unjustly offended by bishops, inquisition, etc, but happily obeyed the unjustified punishments, sometimes severe and for many years.

Are those "private" priests and "ignoring" people a fruit of the Church democracy?

gemoftheocean said...

Well said. It's an important point to remember that no one is obliged to believe in ANY private revelations.

The church is wise to be reserved about such things.

Michael Petek said...

Let's also remember that there's an important difference between a vision and an apparition.

Apparitions have an objective quality about them and can be observationally verified, albeit only indirectly.

A vision is entirely subjective, involving the direct action of the Holy Spirit on the intellect, or the senses, of the visionary.

Michael Clifton said...

The last word cannot be spoken on this "shrine" because as far as I know, "messages" still come out, usually a few trite and obvious remarks. In the early days the so called visionaries asked the vision whether the obections of the Bishop against the Franciscans there should be noted and the vision said the Bishop was in the wrong !! That is absolutely never said by any true appearance of Our Lady.

maryrose said...

Medjugorje is still under review and the commission reviewing it is reporting directly to Rome. The jurisdiction for this has been removed from the local bishop. The fact that a priest has failed in his ministry is a reason for prayer for him and all who fail. It should not be taken as a judgement on Medjugorje. Lets wait for Rome to give its direction. many bishops also visit Medjugorje. They do not lead pilgrimages but visit there as pilgrims the same as everybody else.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Michael Petek says: Ex-Father Vlasic hasn't had anything to do with Medjugorje, or with the visionaries, since the 1980s. It seems that the cause for his laicisation arose well after that, after he had been moved to a different Franciscan province.

Keep in mind that when the "severe canonical sanctions" were imposed last year on then Fr. Vlasic, the decree stated, "his case was being investigated in the context of Medjugorje".

Since the now Mr. Vlasic has been away from Medjugorje for many years, it is evident that they were looking at his involvement at a point in time, along with the situation he recently found himself in.

This is the same man who predicted BEFORE the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje, that the BVM would appear back in his neck of the woods. It is precisely why Bishop Zanic referred to him as the "creator" of the phenomena. Where in history do we see an apparition prophesied, especially at a Charismatic conference ahead of the "visions" other than at Medjugorje?

The strict prohibitions, under pain of excommunication, are also very telling. You can read the entire decree at my blog here:

Former spiritual advisor to Medjugorje seers laicized

And I do call him a spiritual advisor because he himself sent a letter to Pope John Paul II declaring himself an advisor to the "seers".

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Fr. Michael Clifton is quite right to say that all the remarks attributed to Our Lady at Medjugorje need to be evaluated in the round -- and not just the ones that sound on-message doctrinally.

But I wouldn't be as categorical as Fr. Clifton in claiming that Our Lady would never criticize a bishop. Her apparitions at La Salette and Akita (both approved) include messages that strongly criticize elements in the clergy, including bishops. The La Salette message warned that some priests "by their wicked lives have become cesspools of impurity" [as has recently emerged], while the Japanese apparition at Akita warned that "The work of the devil will infiltrate the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops opposing other bishops" [as we are increasingly seeing].

I strongly recommend that Fr. Clifton looks into these two approved apparitions. They are very interesting, and also saddening.

Michael Clifton said...

Framcis I am well aware of the apparitions of Akita and La Salette. But in the Medjugorice case the "Vision" was asked a specific question and gave a specific answer. The references at Akita and La Salette plus say Pope Paul VI on the wind of Satan in the church (or was it in Rome?) were generalised and quite true.

Michael Clifton said...

Francis. The case of Medjugorice is quite different from Akita or La Salette. In those examples the condemnations of the clergy etc were quite generalised and quite obviously true. In the case of Medjugorice a specific question was asked of the "Vision" and a specific answer was given against the actions of the local Bishop. For me that makes the whole affair impossible to believe in.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

I think that Fr. Clifton, in a roundabout way, has put his finger on what is a really big problem about Medjugorje, which is the poor quality of the translations of the messages and the general uncertainty this creates about what is reportedly being said.

Remarks are attributed to Our Lady which are then processed through a very mediocre translation machine. The much-criticised "banality" of the messages speaks as much, if not more, to the way they are re-cast into English as it does to their actual content.

I look forward to a commission getting to grips with Medjugorje at some point. The first job must be to establish exactly what the visionaries claim to have seen and heard. In the meantime, it would be very helpful if the official websites could post all the messages attributed to Our Lady, so that all controversial or questionable comments, including the one that Fr. Clifton refers to, can be properly analysed.

For those interested in what Our Lady said in an approved apparition where she speaks about, and makes requests to, the local bishop, the apparitions of Our Lady of All Nations (approved in 2002) are instructive. Our Lady seems to have been very insistent, but unfailingly courteous. It is noteworthy that, at one point during the apparitions, the visionary received contradictory instructions from Our Lady and from her spiritual director. The visionary chose to obey the priest, and was later praised by Our Lady for following ecclesiastical authority. I fully agree with Fr. Clifton that this factor is a very important authenticator.

Edward P. Walton said...

Mother Angelica of EWTN used to talk about Garabandal very often, when she was still able.

Did not one of the visionaries of La Salette go astray in latter years?