Bishops in Medjugorje and About Medjugorje until 2001
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Bishops in Medjugorje and About Medjugorje, part III
Visit of Austrian Bishop
After having taken part at a meeting of the faithful with the Holy Father in Maribor (Slovenia) on September 19th, the archbishop of Salzburg (Austria), Msgr. Georg Eder, visited Medjugorje on September 20th. On this occasion he said the following:
"I am here now for the second time, but not officially, since - up to the present - a bishop is not allowed to come on an official pilgrimage here. I came to Medjugorje for only one day for personal reasons. I greatly trust in Our Lady of Medjugorje. Also I, as bishop, carry many things around with me which burden me. Then one needs to go somewhere to look for help and find it. Every smart child goes to its mother. So the bishop also needs help. At the beginning of the year, I found much help here and I hope that, also this time, I will not leave emptyhanded.
What happens here is not wrong, it is not a lie, but it is good. When, at some time in the future, the credibility of the events here will be accepted, what will happen to those who did not believe? There is no doubt about it: what happens here is good. What happens here is what should happen in the Church: prayer, mass, confession, adoration, conversion, the formation of prayer groups, vocations. These are all in light of the events which are being guided by Mary, with which She is preparing us for the new millennium. Much is happening here that we in the Church have forgotten. Mary calls and teaches us. For the Church in Austria, I can say: 'We have forgotten much and we must begin anew with what Mary tells us in Medjugorje.'
Since the beginning of the apparitions the 19th year is passing. There are six visionaries. It is interesting that throughout all this time their credibility has remained intact, they have never contradicted themselves. This is a true miracle. In Lourdes, there was one visionary, in Fatima there were three - and the apparitions only lasted a short while. Here it is completely different. Our Lady does not speak about what is happening at present. There was a terrible war here. But now I see that this was very wise. If She were to start speaking about things that are happening in the world, there would be a great danger of getting too involved. When I asked the visionary, Ivan, why Our Lady never speaks about the problems of our times, he simply answered that Our Lady tells us what we should do: that we should pray, personally, in our family and in prayer groups. And I realize that it is really so. The reason for war and every other distress lies within us. When people find peace in God, they can transmit this peace to others. That is why Mary is right. Here people experience joy, peace and happiness. I see that. The best way to heal the many negative things in the world is to point toward the positive things.
I must admit that at the beginning the messages were too simple for me. We theologians are like that. We want something great. Sometimes I thought the messages to be too banal and too simple. This was how I felt until my first visit. But since then, I experience them differently. Every evening I read one message. When I read it the first time, it again seems very simple. But when I read it the second time, I realize that we are being told in a simple way what we need. We are like that: we want great movements, sublime things, and forget that everything starts in a very simple manner in the heart of each one of us: first peace, then towards the light and then joy. Mary is a mother and She speaks simply. Very often I recall the words of my own mother: 'How often do I have to tell you that?' While always repeating the same things to us, she was educating us. So what our mother said came into our hearts. I remember how she admonished us to pray and to go to confession. But every friday she still had to remind us not to forget confession. Here in Medjugojre, Mary has chosen the right way to help us and I am grateful for everything.
Although only for one day, I was glad to be able to come to Medjugorje and I must admit that with this visit I also thought of myself. I thank you for everything and may God bless you in everything you are doing here."
Medjugorje Pilgrimage Impressions of Bishop Tadeusz Werno
More and more bishops from various parts of the world are coming to visit Medjugorje. One of them is Msgr. Tadeusz Werno, Bishop of Koszalina, Poland. We gave a short notice about his visit in Press Bulletin #124. After spending some days in Medjugorje, he said this, among other things, about his impressions.
"This year I am celebrating 25 years as a bishop. It is my silver jubilee. I am here for the first time by persuasion of the pastor of Podstrzela in Northern Poland, who is profoundly moved by the spirit of Medjugorje. Once when we were talking, he convinced me that I must come to Medjugorje and that gave me the idea to be disposed. That is how I came.
The experience of the people coming to Medjugorje affirms that this place is a place of special grace. Many convert and return to the path of truth. I admit that I personally pray the rosary, but I get tired already after the first part. Here perhaps I was able for the first time to pray all three parts of the rosary. People pray it in different languages but that doesn't tire me at all. It is even nice to listen to. I saw that many go to confession, return to Holy Mass, to Holy Communion, to union with God who is here amongst us. I am really happy to see that here in Medjugorje the Franciscans, our brothers, lead people to Jesus through Our Lady. I am very grateful to them. I especially like the devotion of the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain. It was something very beautiful. I also met one of the visionaries and we conversed with her. I was also at the community of Sister Elvira, who is helping young men with the problem of addiction. That is really a wonderful fruit of the Medjugorje events. In addition to that, yesterday I was observing the people during Holy Mass. Young man, young ladies, adult men, children - are all praying, kneeling for hours and going to confession. That is what we need the most.
I believe in Jesus and I do not need the apparitions in Lourdes or in Fatima or in Medjugorje,
Here the Holy Mass is proclaimed as the center of life.
And finally, I want you Franciscans to persevere in this magnificent task, to continue being instruments in the hands of God. I am confident that the present Pope blesses your service in Medjugorje, that he thinks of you in his heart because he loves Our Lady so much. May God through Mary's intercession bless you all together with all the pilgrims. You must persevere. This is magnificent."
Archbishop of Seoul in Medjugorje
Archbishop Paul Kim Tchang-Ryeol, of Seoul, South Korea, visited Medjugorje from August 6 - 10, 1999 with three priests from his archdiocese (Rhee Dae Won, Chang Daee Ik and Chang Keung Sun). Following the thousands of Koreans who come on pilgrimage every year to the Queen of Peace, he came to get acquainted with this place of pilgrimage and the prayer and liturgical life of the pilgrims. As a pilgrim he prayed especially for his Church and the elimination of tensions between Koreans who are divided into two states.
The Visit of a Cardinal and Bishops to Medjugorje
As we announced in the last issue of the Press Bulletin that Cardinal Bernardino Echeverria Ruiz, retired archbishop of Guayaquila and Bishop Victor Maldonado, both from Ecuador were on a private visit to Medjugorje from June 26 - 28th.
Two other bishops from Ecuador were here from June 27 - 29th on a private visit: Bishop German Pavon Puente of Tulcano and Bishop Carlos Altamirano, auxiliary of Quito.
In a conversation with Fr. Slavko Barbaric they said the following about their impressions:
Cardinal Bernardino Echeverria Ruiz:
S. B.: When did you hear about Medjugorje for the first time?
B. E. R.: Already a long time ago. I had a great desire to come here immediately, but till now it has not been possible. I am so happy that I have come. As for the messages, that is already well known to us because it is completely biblical. What attracted me was the desire to experience this parish community and to meet the Franciscan friars who are performing such a wonderful work here. It is real evangelization. Yesterday when I participated in the evening mass, it was for me a magnificent experience. Here there is time for prayer, for the celebration of Mass. I felt all the devotion while we prayed the rosary before the mass. It all touched me profoundly. I understood that, besides the message that Our Lady gives, her presence here is so important. God is speaking here through Mary not only to you, but to all nations and to all cultures. One does not come here because of tourism. One comes here for confession, for encounter with God. This is a divine moment for the world. In addition to the message and the presence of Mary, all the work that is done here is important. I personally feel here a beginning for the conversion of all Europe. I saw how many there are waiting for confession. A great many of the faithful go to Holy Communion and celebrate Holy Mass. And that is what for us in pastoral work must be primary and most important, that we be available for the people. Here that is happening. I am grateful to God that I have met my Franciscan brothers and the Croatian people here and I have felt your faith.
Bishop Victor Maldonado:
S. B.: What impressions did you get of Medjugorje?
V. M.: I can confirm that which Cardinal Bernardino Echeverria has already said: Medjugorje is a meeting place of God and man. Here there is found an authentic source of salvation. When one comes here, then he immediately understands that we are all in need of conversion. During these days we have met with the visionary Maria. We prayed with her during the apparition and talked with her. Truly we need conversion to be able to complete our task and to help others on the way of conversion. I have to admit that this visit here has opened my eyes to many things and that I would do a lot of things differently in all the tasks of my life.
S. B.: When you return, what will you say to those entrusted to you?
V. M.: Here I have better understood the role of Mary in the life of a Christian. I consider that for me a great gift and a great grace. So that is exactly what I will talk to people about.
Visit of an Archbishop from Panama
In the last issue of the Press Bulletin we announced that Archbishop Jose Dimas Cedeo from Panama visited Medjugorje. We present here a portion of the conversation that Fr. Slavko Barbaric had with him:
S.B.: In brief tell us about yourself!
J.D.: I am an Archbishop in Panama, Central America. I am President of the Bishops' Conference. Spanish is the language spoken. Panama has about one million inhabitants, and it is interesting that it I the first diocese founded in all of America, and now has eight dioceses. I am 47, and bishop from the foundation of this diocese. The conditions in our Church are good. We still have sufficient vocations and it is especially important that we have many lay movements and active laity who bring a true spirit to the activity of the Church. We have many reasons for hope.
S.B.: What can you say about your stay in Medjugorje?
J.D.: I have come for the first time to Medjugorje. With me came twenty pilgrims. During these days I have seen and experienced a great devotion and zeal in prayer. That is noticed in all pilgrim groups. The readiness for prayer is amazing. The spirit of faith that is felt here in prayer encourages a renewal of faith in the hearts of all who are coming here.
S.B.: Are the fruits of Medjugorje visible in Panama?
J.D.: By all means, thank God. We have a parish community that is led by Fr. Francesco Verar. He often comes to Medjugorje and the church is made completely the same as this church in Medjugorje. Francesco has also founded a community that is called: The Sisters of Mary Queen of Peace. Every evening they also have the same program as here in Medjugorje. They are very active.
S.B.: Is this community already recognized by the Church?
J.D.: Yes. I recognized this community on the diocesan level when I saw what they are doing and how they are living and that their main work is to pray for peace and when I sensed their spirituality.
The community is in existence already for several years. They are having good experiences. And I invited the pastor, who knows them well and when he again confirmed everything to me, I recognized the community precisely on June 25, 1998. And that is exactly also the anniversary of the apparitions. I am fully conscious that this is a fruit of Medjugorje.