Saturday, October 03, 2009

Manipulation and Heresy in Medjugorje

More documents have been released by the Bishop of Mostar, this time on the role of the Franciscan Friar Tomislav Vlasic, who was eventually laicised and threatened with excommunication by the Holy See. There is an English translation here.

There is an interesting account of a heretical statement by the Gospa in the document:
This evening the young people posed a theological question and received the answer. Are people in heaven present with their souls, or with the soul and the body? - they asked. They are present with the soul and with the body - that was their answer.
Obviously Our Lady is not a heretic and knows well from personal experience the truth of the Church's doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body on last day. If the statements made by the Gospa are heretical it shows, as I think the bishop is trying to show here, the manipulation of the seers by Vlasic.
Reading the documents, it strikes me that the bishop's main thrust is that the "seers" are as much victims of unscrupulous spiritual advisers as those who come seeking signs and wonders.


Hestor said...

What about also when the "Gospa" supposedly said that there is no difference in religions to Her Son?

That is certainly not what the hundreds of martyrs of the church thought!

Toma Blizanac said...

Father, Gospa means (Our) Lady in Croatian and is used exclusively for BV Mary so if you want you can call this an apparition, otherwise just write "Gospa" to distinguish it from Our Lady.

I think you can find more theologically suspicious statements in the book written by Michael Davies. However, for me it comes down to the disobedience to legitimate Church authority.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Hestor, give me a reference.

Toma, I use "Gospa", italicised, because that is what the Bishop does.

Michael Petek said...

I have a reference here to Hestor's comment. It's from

Q. One of the messages said that all faiths are equal. Isn't this against the Catholic Church's beliefs?

A. There was a question asked of Our Lady in October 1981 which was: Are all religions the same? Our Lady answered: "Members of all faiths are equal before God. God rules over each faith just like a sovereign over his kingdom. In the world, all religions are not the same because all people have not complied with the commandments of God. They reject and disparage them."

The difficulty that some Catholics have had with this answer is based on the belief that the only salvation is within the Catholic Church. But the Catholic Church does not believe this. In fact, Vatican II in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church "Lumen Genitum" says this: "Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God, and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life."

It is a great privilage to be Catholic and I love my faith. I share my faith through my actions and words whenever possible. But as Matthew 7 says "Judge not, that you may not be judged". It is not up to us to decide who goes to Heaven and who does not by their faith.

Concerning the comment attributed to "Gospa" (same term in Slovenian as in Croatian, save that the stress is on the first vowel in Croatian, and on the final vowel in Slovenian), that people are in heaven with their bodies as well as with their souls, the question to be asked is whether it is severable from all the other messages.

In particular, have the visionaries been corrected on this point and accepted correction? In view of the sheer number of messages, are there any recurring errors?

Paul said...

The fact the apparitions apparently continued long after the ordinary disapproved of them is quite sufficient proof for me that the ordinarys decision is correct.

I seemed to recall that Our Lady did not appear at a planned apparition after St Bernadettes parish priest told her not to go, then later admonished St Bernadette for disobeying the instruction of her parish priest by turning up.

No member of the Church Triumphant would do anything to disobey or undermine the ordinary, let alone Our Lady.

shadowlands said...

"All religions are dear to my son. It is you on earth who are divided. We are all children of God. The Moslems and the Orthodox for the same reason as Catholics are equal before my son and me. All religions are not equal. All men are equal before God. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved. It is necessary to respect and obey the commandants of God in following one’s conscience. Those who are not Catholics are no less creatures made in the image of God and destined ultimately to live in the house of God. Salvation is available to everyone without exception. Only those who refuse God deliberately are condemned by their own choice."


Catholic Mom of 10 said...

I presume you have read Donal Foley's "Understanding Medjugorje" Fr Ray? I feel very uncomfortable by the as I've said before uncharitable way some anti - Medj types attack their fellow Catholics. So then they'll go oh but we speak the truth & we can't pussyfoot with these claims can we? well Donal is happy to visit Churches etc & explain the truth of Medjugorje & let me tell you he is a perfect gentleman & Catholic in the way he does!

Fr Ray Blake said...

I have never heard of Mr Foley, all ~Ihave read on this matter are the magisterial documents of the Bishop of Mostar.
Does Mr Foley have any authority to teach or instruct or does he do this off his own bat?
Does he encourage obedience to canonical authority?

Catholic Mom of 10 said...

He is totally anti Medjugorje using every single document you have cited. He points people towards Fatima an approved apparition. I will send you his details he runs a site called Theotokos selling books of the most authentic & approved nature. If you read those apart from lil ole me that have reviwed his book you may be far more enlightened. For sure the Medjugorje phenomena is a hoax. You don't think I believe it do you?

Catholic Mom of 10 said...

" Understanding Medjugorje " link here

Fr Guy Nicholls was Chaplain to the author of this book Donal Foley's recent Pilgrimage to Fatima & I can assure you he doesn't believe in the authenticity of Medjugorje!

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Fr. Blake says: Reading the documents, it strikes me that the bishop's main thrust is that the "seers" are as much victims of unscrupulous spiritual advisers as those who come seeking signs and wonders.

This has been a concern of mine for many years. While these six "seers" are now adults, they ranged in age from 11-18 at the time this all began.

I've always felt that what may have started as a prank that could have ended in a few days when the children claimed on June 30, 1981that the "gospa" would only appear 3 more days.

Whether someone manipulated these children nearly 30 years ago is something that may remain unclear in the minds of some until the end of time. However, if they were manipulated, it is unhidden to the Just Judge.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...


Donal Anthony Foley's book - Understanding Medjugorje, has been one of the most helpful books which questions the apparitions. It is not favorable to Medjugorje, yet Donal Foley does a very dignified job of pointing out the problems. It is not strident.

Catholic Mom of 10 said...

My review...but Eric Hesters, the Herald's, Leo Madigan's, the Mons.etc etc are better..

Michael Petek said...

Donal Foley's website is at

He has degrees in Humanities and Theology and is a writer and part-time teacher. He has written a number of published articles, including the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

He also links his website to mine at and to my article "Do-it-Yourself Popes: The Wacky World of Sedevacantists".

His book Marian Apparitions, the Bible and the Modern World is the best I've read on its subject.

Michael Petek said...

Diane, your comment is quite remarkable!

For anyone, let alone six youngsters, to pull a prank like that in 1981, when the Communists were still in power would have taken no small measure of courage, let alone to keep it going until the Communists were gone. The same applies to Fatima, where the civil authorities were riddled with Freemasons at the time of the apparitions.

Although Yugoslavia was a fairly open society as Communist countries go, there was definitely a line you didn't dare cross.

In 1986 my father and I went to visit his sister in northern Croatia, and while we were there we visited a man who had been his schoolfriend, and who owned a farm which was partly in Slovenia and partly in Croatia.

His wife was there too, as was his teenage son. Her parents had been interned by the Communists when they first seized power. They died in detention.

My father told me afterwards that she couldn't risk talking about it in front of her son, for fear that he might report the matter to the police.

tempus putationis said...

Have another look at the photo posted by Father Ray here: is anyone seriously suggesting that these six young faces are those of people engaged in some kind of 'prank'?
Read the works of Prof Henri Joyeux, who conducted experiments on the 'visionaries' to test the extent of their trance.
And tell me why, as I said in my comment a couple of days ago, Cardinal Bertone is unambiguous in telling us that the Bishop of Mostar is expressing a personal opinion of the Medjugorje events, but that the Church will decide; and that meanwhile all Catholic pilgrims have the right to go there, and to have pastoral accompaniment.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

tempus putationis says...Read the works of Prof Henri Joyeux, who conducted experiments on the 'visionaries' to test the extent of their trance.

The experiments and tests done were not extensive by any means. Italian author, Marco Corvaglia detailed this. Click thru some of his material recently translated on his blog (this is the list of topics in English and it includes discussion of experiments).

And tell me why, as I said in my comment a couple of days ago, Cardinal Bertone is unambiguous in telling us that the Bishop of Mostar is expressing a personal opinion of the Medjugorje events, but that the Church will decide; and that meanwhile all Catholic pilgrims have the right to go there, and to have pastoral accompaniment.

Unfortunately, promoter websites have led ordinary people to take a single statement by Cardinal Bertone out of context, and then use it as a reason to be indifferent or even hostile to anything he has to say.

I looked closely at that statement in a new blog I set up to detail my own studies on Medjugorje.

I would encourage people to understand what Cardinal Bertone was talking about, and in the context it was said. To project it on everything said by the bishop, including the pastoral matters still under his control, is disingenuous and an injustice to the Bishop of Mostar.

See my post: What did Archbishop Bertone really say about Bishop Peric? at Medjugorje Documents and FAQ's.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Michael Petek said...For anyone, let alone six youngsters, to pull a prank like that in 1981, when the Communists were still in power would have taken no small measure of courage, let alone to keep it going until the Communists were gone.....

...Although Yugoslavia was a fairly open society as Communist countries go, there was definitely a line you didn't dare cross.

I lived in Bijelo Polje - a mere 20-30 minutes from Medjugorje by bus from November of 1980 to February of 1983. In fact, I was with the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King - the very community which was responsible for the parish (left in my noviate year due to illness). I personally made tens of thousands of hosts for daily Mass.

I'm quite familiar with behavior of the local people under an oppresive communist government because I lived thru it for several years.

I witnessed the roadblocks, the harassment by the government (before they realized it was a money maker), and I wanted very much to believe while I was there, and for the most part I did. I based that on the good fruits alone. I was cautiously optimistic.

Coming back stateside, and years later finally having access to documents now in the public domain (and the web) from the diocese, Holy See, religious order, prompted me to look beyond the good fruits. That's all I needed. The contempt I had for the local bishop in my heart was visible and I couldn't get to a confessional fast enough once I saw it for what it was - a bad fruit.

Truly, all fruits - good and bad must be studied. Because good things are happening doesn't mean you stop seeking Truth, for it's own sake. Since unity subsists in Truth, any attempt to ignore that which is damaging, will create disunity.

We have considerable disunity. There is disunity within the very diocese where Medjugorje exists. It is manifested in rampant disobedience on the part "seers" and associates who have been active within the diocese forcing the bishop to repeat his orders many times. They are not united with him and if they were, extraordinary grace would be seen in filial reverence and obedience towards him, even if they felt he were wrong.

There is disunity in the world over Medjugorje, visible right here within this blog and elsewhere on the web. There is disunity in parishes where this unapproved appartion is illicitly being promoted, with those who don't believe in it feeling like they have to walk on egg shells about their reservations and objections. Secular orders who have members "formed" in Medjugorje struggle the same way.

Worst of all, we have disunity at the ecclesiastical level, whereby lack of collegiality among bishops outside the affected diocese are sowing confusion by permitting "seers" to promote Medjugorje in their cathedrals or in parishes within their dioceses.

To ignore the bad fruits because there are good fruits is to yield to consequetialism.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

I'm reading a book at the moment about the approved apparitions of Our Lady in San Nicolas, Argentina, which started in 1983 and went on for about a decade. The difference with Medjugorje is stark: the local bishop was fully supportive from the start and led pilgrimages to a new basilica built close to the apparition site. He also gave his imprimatur to the visionary's book containing the messages she had received from Our Lady.

I mention this happier episode for the benefit of any Medjugorje supporters who are becoming confused and upset by the recent turn of events. If they do some research into San Nicolas, they will find an apparition with the following basic message: pray, fast, say the Rosary, receive the sacraments and read the scriptures (Our Lady apparently recommended many biblical passages to the visionary). It is very reminiscent of the basic Medjugorje elements, but without the risk of getting dragged into the rough and tumble.

Fr. Tim Finigan put up a brief post on this apparition on his blog a while ago.

Norah said...

Under the principle of subsidiarity I thought that the bishop of the diocese where the alleged apparition is happening had the say as to whether it was genuine or not and if he couldn't say then it was passed on to Rome. Is the Cardinal Bertone quote genuine? If so it overrides the judgement of the diocesean bishop.

More confusion in the Church - bishops contradicting bishops publicly! That brave Brazilian bishop was criticised by a bishop from Rome also. More scandal for the laity.

Michael Petek said...

To add to my previous point about the "prank" hypothesis, there's something which needs to be said about manipulation.

Many times when news of apparitions spreads, the following sort of thing happens.

Donal Foley writes, on page 165 of his book on Marian apparitions, that at Lourdes some false apparitions were reported.

These "copycat visionaries" - other young girls than Bernadette - were later seen to be false because of their ridiculous and bizarre activities.

At Palmar de Troya the situation was not dissimilar. Some young girls claimed to have seen Our Lady but their claim was dismissed by the local Bishop. As far as I know they are still in full communion with the Catholic Church.

The villain of the piece was Clemente Dominguez y Gomez. He manipulated the situation in no uncertain terms, and the outcome was the bizarre Palmarian Church.

If we assume, without deciding, that the seers of Medjugorje were manipulated by Fr Vlasic and/or Fr Barbaric, then we should expect the whole thing to have fallen apart after their departure, in Fr Barbaric's case through death.

But what we do see is something unprecedented in the whole of Catholic history. Not one of the six seers has broken ranks in nearly thirty years.

Neither have any of their spouses and children. If you're living a lie you can't hide it for long in the intimacy of the family home.

Catholic Mom of 10 said...

Fr Slavko Barbaric was one of the humblest, holiest, prayerful & kindest priest ( Franciscan ) I ever met. Remember I don't believe the visions are authentic but like the previous comment I don't believe the alleged visionaries are running a hoax deliberately. something supernatural is going on..most likely diabolical though the visionaries (alleged) are living good lives & practicing their faith..pleeeeeze don't bring up the BMW's they drive! They do that to the Oratorians! I can't wait to meet Donal Foley soon to give a talk in the Parish so we gain from his expertise. A fascintating though worrying situation..

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...


Fr. Slavko Barbaric may have seemed humble, but when it came to obeying his bishop's orders, he was not so humble. In fact, he was headed for big trouble. Here is only a portio of what Marco Corvaglia - Italian author - has made available in English on the Measures Against Fr. Slavko Barbaric by the Bishop of Mostar.. Note the references to official documents with protocol numbers.


In 1993 the new bishop Mons. Perić was installed in Mostar. He waited until the 20th November 1999 to order Fra Slavko to leave Medjugorje and return to Humac within a period of 15 days.

The Franciscan did not obey.

The bishop renewed the order on the 17th December 1999 without effect.
However on the 26th January 2000 he gave him a canonical warning, bringing to his attention the fact that if he did not leave Medjugorje before 20th February 2000 he would be deprived of the faculty of hearing confessions.

Mons. Perić renewed the aforementioned warning on the 9th February and again on the 15th February(cf. Ogledalo Pravde, cit. p.60).

The Franciscan continued to disobey.

Therefore on the 21st February the bishop wrote to Fra Slavko Barbarić that his faculties for hearing confessions had been withdrawn.
The decree was published in Vhrbosna 1/2000, p.65 (see beginning of this article) under the title “Fra Slavko Barbarić is without the faculty of hearing confessions”

Fra Slavko seemed to obey the following June 20th when he signed the ‘Declaration of Pastoral Obedience’, but then he continued to remain in Medjugorje as before.

Therefore on the 30th October the bishop had to confirm that he had been deprived of the faculties for hearing confession (cf. Ogledalo Pravde, cit. p. 61)
On the 24th November 2000, when he suddenly died, fra Slavko was still in Medjugorje.

The next day, the 25th November 2000, in the monthly ‘message’ of the ‘Gospa’ , we read : “ I rejoice with you and wish to tell you that your brother Slavko is born in ‘heaven’ and is interceding for you.”

Once again, an act of obedience is far greater than the most noble of causes done in the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Next to life itself, the will is the most difficult thing to give up.

When a priest lays his hand into the hands of a bishop at ordination, he is promising obedience to him, and to all successors. This is not a light matter. Further, it is entirely unbecoming of a Franciscan to disobey his bishop on simple matters as which parish in which he will work. I find it shocking myself.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Donal Foley wrote a CTS pamphlet about Marian apparitions and would appear to be knowledgeable on this subject. But it may be useful for anyone thinking of inviting him to give a parish talk about Medjugorje to read this article that he wrote very carefully.

In it, Mr. Foley refers to the 2002 decision by the Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam to approve a reported apparition in Holland as “a position which many would strongly disagree with”, adding “it would appear more than likely that this apparent ‘approval’ will eventually be overturned.” The website (referred to in one of the comments above) has published a “Petition against the ecclesiastical recognition of the ‘apparitions’ and ‘messages’…by Bishop Punt.” written by another contributor, which asserts that the bishop “made a serious error in recognizing the Amsterdam ‘apparitions.’”

The Medjugorje waters are muddied enough. Before inviting any guest speaker to lecture on Medjugorje, it may be prudent to ask them to confirm beforehand, for the avoidance of doubt, that they submit to all episcopal decisions on private revelations. I recommend this partly because of the risk of compounding an already confused situation, but also because it is untenable for us as Catholics simultaneously to support one bishop’s actions in relation to a particular apparition when we happen to agree with him, while opposing another bishop’s decision on an apparition when we think that we know better.

Thinking that “we know better than the bishop” is one of the root causes of the problems surrounding Medjugorje. My view is that Catholics should always respect the local ordinary’s guidance on these matters, regardless of their personal convictions and irrespective of their own level of academic expertise.

tempus putationis said...

Perhaps it would help advance the discussion if we try to be succinct.
My point is that childish 'pranks' are unlikely to be behind the events, given the evidence such as the photo displayed; having 90 decibel noises next to the ear of a 'visionary'; lines of sight interrupted; sharp instruments made to penetrate skin etc., and all without disturbing the 'trance'. OK?
So, if the trances seem to be genuine, what is going on? I don't pretend to have the answer, but am prepared to listen to Cdl Bertone (who incidentally was Secretary to the CDF when he wrote that letter to Mgr Aubry, as well as being an Archbishop. Your website needs clarification: you also confuse his letter with the Zadar declaration and thus misquote him).
I read his letter in the original French when it was published in 1998. It is simple to understand. Even 'ordinary' people (your term) can get the point: Bishop Peric's assertion that nothing supernatural is happening is a personal opinion. Cdl. Bertone repeated his point two years ago when he wrote a book about the last visionary of Fatima: it was published in English by Doubleday last year as 'The Last Secret of Fatima'. "Bishop Peric’s statement expresses a personal opinion of his own. It is not a definitive official judgment on the part of the Church. The Church defers to the Zadar statement issued on 10th April 1991 by the bishops of the former Yugoslavia and the statement leaves the door open to further investigations of the affair. So the process of verification needs to move forward.
In the meantime, private pilgrimages with pastoral provision for the faithful are authorised. Any Catholic can go as a pilgrim to Medjugorje, which is a Marian shrine welcoming all forms of devotion".
Cdl Bertone is now of course Vatican Secretary of State, and his book carries an introduction by the Holy Father (who was Prefect of the CDF when Bertone was Secretary).
There is nothing out-of-context, underhand or disingenuous in any of the above.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...


The Zadar Declaration was brought up first to demonstrate what authority had been given to the local Bishop by that Commission. That authority was not stripped when Cardinal Bertone addressed the bishop's personal position which went from non constat de supernaturalite to constat de non supernaturalite. (Prot 1267/97)

The Cardinal was simply stating a fact that was already stated by the bishop himself in that protocol letter, where, in the end he wrote:

5) Nevertheless I am open to a study that the Holy See would undertake, as the supreme court of the Catholic Church, to speak the supreme and definitive judgment on the case

Cardinal Bertone - then archbishop, was referring to the bishop's personal opinion on the constat de non supernaturalite, not on everything and anything he says about the apparitions, "visionaries", associates, priests, and lay people coming.

The local bishop still has the authority, and the duty, to ensure that people visiting do so in such a way as to not act as if the cultus was authorized. Not only was it not authorized - it has been prohibited and discouraged. Neither +Bertone, or the Zadar Declaration authorized the cultus. In fact, then Abp Bertone made this point when he said, pilgrimages "are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentification of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church."

What is disingenuous is to project that "personal opinion" statement by Cardinal Bertone onto everything the Bishop of Mostar says. And, I reiterate, it is unjust and lacking in filial reverence for this apostolic successor.

I'm just curious - what do you feel is the reason that the decision was put into the hands of another body of people - a commission?

Michael Petek said...

Tempus putationis, I agree with you but for one tiny detail.

Medjugorje is a place of prayer, not a shrine. A place is in canon lawn a shrine only if the Church officially declares it to be so.

Tom SVDP said...

It is good to be updated on this matter. I wish that since it has been going on for so long, there could be some sort of closure or finality given to it. Now I know, if the Church sends out a negative signal regarding this apparition or however it might come will be in the shadows like Garabandal which has so many followers still. One can see the video tapes of Garabandal and it truly is remarkable along with the story. I only keep up to date on this and I'm basically in the middle. I have a friend who has gone three times but I harbour skepticism. So, like I said, it would be good to have a more "official" statement on the matter.

Tom SVDP said...

Allow me please to add one more thing: it came up about some book where the author states, the message of Medjugorje gets into the way of the Fatima message. Valid point.

Fatima is where I have some involvement, one visit, going to a number of the All night vigils (given by the Fatima Apostolate/Blue Army), read a handful of books on the matter.

I'll try to keep it simple. Only one child really received the messages, the "secrets", Lucia. Now, she relates that from the 1917 apparitions she was told "Russia will spread it's errors around the world" and "this war (World War I) will end soon but if man does not repent and come to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and My (meaning Our Lady's) Immaculate Heart, there will be a worst war where whole countries will be destroyed, etc.": words to that effect.

But when did the public here about these predictions?? Probably well after they were actually given to Lucia, so in some ways, I wonder about the timeline. Then, Fatima does not become an approved apparition until 1929, 1932, something like that. My point being is that basically, by this time, Russia was already doing these things. In researching it deeply, perhaps, the "Secret", first secret was told to the public by 1923. There is also, the thing, that we are largely depending on just the word of a girl less than 10 years old for these messages. And then, on top of all other things, it seems the message to some extent, may have gotten added onto in about 1942. It is an exciting story, no doubt about it.

More or less, I've read everything on this, witnesses to the Miracle of the Sun, a number of Fatima books (available at Amazon), I wonder what this Mr. Foley would say about what I've said because I have spoken about it to a number of people.

Any feedback is welcome. Just things I wonder about.

Tom Cieszinski

john konnor said...

... :-)