"Private" Revelation and Medjugorje
Date: July 20, 2005 , Originally published November 10, 2001
Author: Dr. fra Ljudevit Rupcic, OFM
Category: Medjugorje in the Catholic Church , Theology reports , Priests of Medjugorje
Content of the article
The Medjugorje Apparitions and Visions
Already since June 24, 1981 until today, six visionaries in Medjugorje, Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez, Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo, Vicka Ivankovic, Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti, Ivan Dragicevic and Jakov Colo, unanimously claim that Our Lady is appearing to them. They all still see her every day, except Ivanka and Mirjana, who still see her once a year, Ivanka on the anniversary of the apparitions and Mirjana on her birthday. Already from the very beginning of the apparitions, it was attempted in different ways to obtain approval of the authenticity of these apparitions and visions. In addition to the persistent claim of the visionaries, it was attempted, in a more or less scientific and theological way, to arrive at objective proofs of the authenticity of the apparitions. Already from the first days, the communist regime of that time, which because of ideological and atheistic motives opposed the fame about Our Lady's apparition, tried first of all through doctors in Citluk and Mostar to prove that talk about apparitions is a common childish trick and a report of sick children. When doctors established that the children were completely healthy, the communists composed a commission of twelve doctors and psychiatrists, which they simply charged to declare the children mentally ill. It is significant that, despite the pressure, member of the Commission did not do so because it was obvious that the children were healthy.
After that, numerous other unofficial and official commissions followed in succession. The tried to arrive at the truth of the apparition with a greater fairness. An exception to this were the two commissions established by the local Bishop Pavao Zanic. He did not request these commissions to study the Medjugorje phenomena, but to confirm his negative opinion which, taking into consideration the apparitions themselves, did not have any grounds whatsoever. In order to assure "the outcome" of the investigation, he appointed himself president of the commission, and charged them to think and speak what he, without any basis in the truth, thought and spoke. The others, differently from Bishop Zanic and his commissions, expertly examined the visionaries and the facts in Medjugorje. Since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, rejected the "results" of the commissions of Bishop Zanic as incompetent and unfounded, it ordered the Yugoslav Bishops' Conference to establish its own commission to care more seriously for the apparitions of Medjugorje. Although even that commission did not investigate these apparitions more seriously, nevertheless, it behaved more responsibly toward them. At least, it did not assert that the apparitions are unauthentic, but it found a Solomonic solution and declared that it had not yet arrived at real proofs of the supernaturalness of the apparitions. That position was also accepted by the Yugoslav Bishops' Conference. Because of the ever more general conviction that the apparitions are authentic, and especially because of the exceptional spiritual gifts to the whole world in regard to the apparitions, it was, nevertheless, compelled to accept Medjugorje as a shrine and to take on itself greater care for a correct development of devotion and adequate provision for the spiritual needs of pilgrims in Medjugorje.
However, the apparitions of Medjugorje were examined the most competently and the most expertly by the international French-Italian scientific theological commission "on the extraordinary events that are taking place in Medjugorje." The assembly of seventeen renowned natural scientists, doctors, psychiatrists and theologians in their research came to a 12-point conclusion on January 14, 1986 in Paina near Milan.
1. On the basis of the psychological tests, for all and each of the visionaries it is possible with certainty to exclude fraud and deception.
2. On the basis of the medical examinations, tests and clinical observations etc, for all and each of the visionaries it is possible to exclude pathological hallucinations.
3. On the basis of the results of previous researches for all and each of the visionaries it is possible to exclude a purely natural interpretation of these manifestations.
4. On the basis of information and observations that can be documented, for all and each of the visionaries it is possible to exclude that these manifestations are of the preternatural order i.e. under demonic influence.
5. On the basis of information and observations that can be documented, there is a correspondence between these manifestations and those that are usually described in mystical theology.
6. On the basis of information and observations that can be documented, it is possible to speak of spiritual advances and advances in the theological and moral virtues of the visionaries, from the beginning of these manifestations until today.
7. On the basis of information and observations that can be documented, it is possible to exclude teaching or behaviour of the visionaries that would be in clear contradiction to Christian faith and morals.
8. On the basis of information or observations that can be documented, it is possible to speak of good spiritual fruits in people drawn into the supernatural activity of these manifestations and in people favourable to them.
9. After more than four years, the tendencies and different movements that have been generated through Medjugorje, in consequence of these manifestations, influence the people of God in the Church in complete harmony with Christian doctrine and morals.
10. After more than four years, it is possible to speak of permanent and objective spiritual fruits of movements generated through Medjugorje.
11. It is possible to affirm that all good and spiritual undertakings of the Church, which are in complete harmony with the authentic magisterium of the Church, find support in the events in Medjugorje.
12. Accordingly, one can conclude that after a deeper examination of the protagonists, facts, and their effects, not only in the local framework, but also in regard to the responsive chords of the Church in general, it is well for the Church to recognize the supernatural origin and, thereby, the purpose of the events in Medjugorje.
So far it is the most conscientious and the most complete research of the Medjugorje phenomena, and, for that very reason, it is the most positive that has yet been said about it on a scientific-theological level.
Besides that, a very serious work of examination of the visionaries was also undertaken by a French team of experts headed by Mr. Henri Joyeux. Employing the most modern equipment and expertise, it examined the internal reactions of the visionaries before, during, and after the apparitions. Likewise, the synchronization of their ocular, auditory, cardiac, and cerebral reactions. The results of that commission were very significant. They showed that the object of observation is external to the visionaries, and that any external manipulation or mutual agreement between the visionaries is excluded. The results with individual electro-encephalograms and other reactions are collected and elaborated in a special book (H. Joyeux - R. Laurentin, Etudes medicales et scientifiques sur les Apparitions de Medjugorje, Paris 1986).
The results of the last mentioned commission confirmed the conclusions of the international commission and, for their part, they proved that the apparitions, to which the visionaries testify, are a phenomenon that surpasses modern science and that all points toward some other level of happening.
In regard to the scientific examination of the Medjugorje apparitions, it is important to bear in mind that in the entire history of apparitions not a single one has ever been so broadly and strictly examined scientifically as those in Medjugorje. When the examinations in Lourdes and Fatima are compared with those in Medjugorje, then there is almost no similarity whatsoever between them. Neither have other visionaries been that strictly examined nor was it possible to examine them with such certainty and success, due to the inferior level of science and the insufficiency of technical tools at that time. Besides, it is also very significant to mention that there was only one visionary in Lourdes, Bernadette Soubirous; there were three visionaries in Fatima, and six in Medjugorje. Manipulation is easier with one visionary than with several. Likewise, a group confirmation is more valuable than an individual. The said about Bernadette herself that she was psychically of delicate health. For the visionaries in Medjugorje adequate health has been established. When to that are added the positive moral qualities, the uniformity of testimonies, there remains no significant doubt whatsoever that the apparitions, to which the visionaries in Medjugorje testify, are indeed supernatural and worthy of belief.
The content of the Medjugorje messages also confirms that. Beside the five main messages on which the visionaries agree, every month, primarily through Marija Pavlovic, Our Lady has been giving special messages intended for the whole world. Even though in volume they have grown into a library, still, in spite of that, nothing can be found in them that would in the least manner be contrary to Christian doctrine and faith. On the contrary, together with the principal messages, they compose a veritable treasury of handy and practical theology on a level, which not even 80% of today's priests would attain. It is, thereby, more significant since the visionary Marija, as well as the other visionaries, is a completely average believer who could not even attend regular instruction in catechism, much less acquire a practical-theological education. The false charges of the Bishop and some other opponents of Medjugorje that the friars wrote them, also speaks in favour of the extraordinary content of the messages. Indirectly they thereby confirm their extraordinariness.