4th Medjugorje Commission Completed/Possibilities Considered/Facts & Conclusions

By Michael K. Jones

(February 09, 2014)

This article is in regard to recent online media postings about the 4th Medjugorje Commission, formed in March 2010, assembled to investigate the Medjugorje apparitions. On January 17, 2014, the Commission announced its inquiries are completed. The findings of this 45 month examination are now submitted to the CDF (Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith.) The CDF and Pope Francis will now determine if any, all or nothing will be publicly released about the extensive study.

Commissions normally pronounce their findings based on a single panel of investigators. Yet, Medjugorje breaks the norm of a single panel investigation. The current Commission is the 4th in a series of previously failed attempts. Currently, online media sources are reporting the 4th Commission inquiries are favorable, while other online media sources are promising a negative outcome. Considering all the factors surrounding recent media attention (both pro and con,) is it possible the judgment of the 4th Commission is not as simple as a black or white response?

Despite the difficulty in determining the status of the Medjugorje apparitions, millions have gone to Medjugorje. As a result, the good fruits of Medjugorje are well tested by countless positive testimonies and witness. Offering a few vague examples, men and woman spiritually moved by their pilgrimage to Medjugorje are now priests and nuns. A record is kept at St. James Parish (Medjugorje) of known healings, conversions and unusual witness of heavenly phenomenon.  Profoundly changed forever by celestial occurrences, the laity has created organizations helping the poor, spread the message of Medjugorje and so many other good works besides. The lists of good fruits go on and on, leaving these spiritual happenings difficult to dismiss.  Just maybe it is possible the good fruits of Medjugorje are too vast to ignore or kick by the wayside! Just maybe the 4th Commission has seriously considered the many blessing of Medjugorje.  

On January 8, 1987 Our Lady of Medjugorje gave the following message.

"Dear children! I desire to thank you for every response to the messages. Especially, dear children, thank you for all the sacrifices and prayers which you have presented to me. Dear children, I desire to keep on giving you still further messages, only not every Thursday, dear children, but on each 25th in the month. The time has come when what my Lord desired has been fulfilled. Now I will give you less messages, but I am still with you. Therefore, dear children, I beseech you, listen to my messages and live them, so I can guide you. Dear children, thank you for having responded to my call."

Medjugorje seer Mirija is the visionary that received the messages on the 25th of each month. According to online sources, during the December 25, 2013 apparition, Our Lady also told Mirija that the baby Jesus will help the Vatican understand Medjugorje. However, this comment does not appear in the December message itself. At best, the question of if baby Jesus will or will not help the Vatican understand the Medjugorje apparitions is hearsay. Meanwhile, others internet sources are posting what they claim is leaked information from members of the 4th Commission. These reports also suggest a favorable view from the 4th Medjugorje Commission, because the fruits of Medjugorje are positive. Countering, there are many other sources reporting the Commission will announce a negative review.  Separating possible rumor, speculation, and gossip from truth is no easy task. Therefore, it is best to focus on some known facts, in efforts to reach some reasonable possibilities and conclusions.

Fact:   The first 4th Medjugorje Commission meeting convened on April 14, 2010. Three other Commissions failed.

Fact:   Mid 2012. (Begin Document) To help bishops determine the credibility of alleged Marian apparitions, the Vatican translated and republished procedural rules from 1978 that had previously been available only in Latin. The "Norms regarding the manner of proceedings in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations" were approved by Pope Paul VI in 1978 and distributed to the world's bishops, but never officially published or translated into modern languages. However, over the past three decades, unauthorized translations have appeared around the world, according to U.S. Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The doctrinal office "believes it is now opportune to publish these 'Norms,' providing translations in the principle languages" so as to "aid the pastors of the Catholic Church in their difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or, more generally, extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin," the cardinal wrote in a note dated December 2011. His note and the newly translated norms were published recently on the congregation's website www.doctrinafidei.va.

More than 1,500 visions of Mary have been reported around the world, but in the past century only nine cases have received church approval as worthy of belief. Determining the veracity of an apparition falls to the local bishop, and the Vatican's doctrinal congregation established the norms to guide the process. Granting approval is never brief, with some cases taking hundreds of years. Visionaries and witnesses must be questioned and the fruits of the apparitions, such as conversions, miracles and healings, must be examined.

According to the norms, the local bishop should set up a commission of experts, including theologians, canonists, psychologists and doctors, to help him determine the facts, the mental, moral and spiritual wholesomeness and seriousness of the visionary, and whether the message and testimony are free from theological and doctrinal error. A bishop can come to one of three conclusions: He can determine the apparition to be true and worthy of belief; he can say it is not true, which leaves open the possibility for an appeal; or he can say that at the moment he doesn't know and needs more help. In the last scenario, the investigation is brought to the country's bishops' conference. If that body cannot come to a conclusion, the matter is turned over to the pope, who delegates the doctrinal congregation to step in and give advice or appoint others to investigate. (End Document)

The document above indicates a number of claimed apparitions are taking place around the world, yet it seems most claims are not investigated. However, the pattern seems to change during the investigation of the 4th Independent Commission. During the 4th investigation of alleged apparitions at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith intervenes, updating rules governing apparitions. Also the document above states; if the first process of investigating is not decisive by a local Bishop, the matter is handed over to the “Conference of Bishops," and if that fails, it is handed over to the Vatican. The first Medjugorje Commission formed by the local bishop did not fail but reached a negative verdict. The question is, if the first Commission reached a verdict, why did 3 more Medjugorje Commissions follow?

The findings of first Commission cast aside, two Commissions were conducted by the regional “Conference of Bishops” and the 4th (created in March 2010) was named “The Independent Commission.” The 4th Commission was considered “independent” because the panels of investigators exceed the previous realm of the local Conference of Bishops. The 4th Commission was also placed in the hands of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, for the first time in church history.

Claims of apparition are always investigated by the bishop of a local province. In past history, only a local bishop announces the findings of a Commission. The Vatican never involves itself in apparitions. In fact, it is the nature of the Vatican to stay aloof in such local matters. Truth is, the Vatican remains detached from a local Commission just in case approved apparitions are later found to be false.  The Vatican feels the faithful would loose trust in the church if the Vatican itself approved apparitions that were later proven false. After all, the primary duty of the church is to guide and protect the faithful and not to mislead them. These facts are noted in a 1980’s U.S. declassified State Department document, written by the local Medjugorje bishop of Mostar, Pavao Zanic. Bishop Zanic formed the first Medjugorje Commission that declared the apparitions were not proven to be supernatural.

In the document above defining the rules for investigating apparitions, we find, “…A bishop can come to one of three conclusions: He can determine the apparition to be true and worthy of belief; he can say it is not true, which leaves open the possibility for an appeal; or he can say that at the moment he doesn't know and needs more help. In the last scenario, the investigation is brought to the country's bishops' conference. If that body cannot come to a conclusion, the matter is turned over to the pope, who delegates the doctrinal congregation to step in and give advice or appoint others to investigate…”

The second possibility listed claims a bishop can say the apparitions are not true, leaving open the possibility for an appeal…” On one hand the document states a local bishop can claim apparitions are not real and the church has a right to appeal the local bishop’s judgment.” Never has a negative claim by local bishops been subject to scrutiny before, even though the document above says if bishops claims an apparitions is not supernatural, the Vatican can involve itself. Never before has the Vatican reviewed and reevaluated the decision of local bishops, in regard to investigating apparitions. Truth is, several members of the Conference of Bishops were members of the first Commission already, so why throw out the findings of the first Commission and give the task back to the Conference of Bishops, who were already sitting on the first Commission?

In my book released in 2006, I stated “never in the history of the church has it ever involved itself in matters of investigating claims of local apparitions.” On January 11, 2012, in a video interview with "RomeReports," apparition expert Saverio Gaeta states, “…This is the first time in history that a commission established by the Holy See investigates an apparition, it's the first time absolutely, in the history of apparitions... It's unprecedented, so we can't compare it to other apparitions…” Even though Medjugorje itself is unprecedented, approving claims of apparitions are often denied, even when the phenomena is also unprecedented.

On June 17, 1961 in Garabandal, Spain, 4 children claimed apparitions from the Virgin Mary. Millions flocked to Garabandal to witness unusual phenomena. There were so many miraculous events, they were hard to dismiss. As example; when called to the “pines” (place of apparitions) the children would walk in reverse with their head leaning backwards facing toward the sky. Walking backwards became know as “the ecstasy walk.” The children never tripped over anything but always stepped over obstacles. The children would end up at the pines at the same time, regardless of each child’s location at the time of the calling. The children would carry countless rosaries that the faithful asked to be blessed by Our Lady. After the apparition, still in ecstasy, rosaries draped on their arms, the children would seek out owners in the crowd, giving them back their now blessed rosary. This was extraordinary in that, how could the children remember so many people and give back the correct rosary to each person? Also, anyone holding a few rosaries in their hands know how easily they tangle. The children could have 100 rosaries on their arms and each rosary was taken off without entanglement. Maybe even more extraordinary is, these rosaries would emanate sweet odors or become luminous. The long and short is, the local bishop published what is still considered a negative finding even though the events of Garabandal were also unprecedented. A second local Commission also revealed no further results. The faithful stopped going to Garabandal. Today it has reverted back to a quiet little village, without tourists or pilgrims, regardless of the amazing events that took place. The findings of the Garabandal Commissions did not yield its approval.

The Medjugorje apparitions are not quite as mystic as Garabandal. However, there are similarities and visual phenomenon. When the negative findings of the first Medjugorje Commission were rejected by the Vatican, local bishop Zanic was up in arms. Zanic outspokenly rejected the concept of the second Commission, insisting the Medjugorje apparitions were not worthy of belief. Yet, while Zanic was still local bishop, the head of the Congregations of the Doctrine of Faith (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict) sent a letter to Bishop Zanic about his ongoing negative outspokenness. The letter was sent through the local Congregation of Bishops to Zanic. Despite Cardinal Ratzinger’s demand for obedience and silence, Bishop Zanic remained a public vocal opponent against the apparitions until his death. This information is based on U.S. declassified documents and other sources related to Zanic’s public remarks. Like Garabandal, the first Medjugorje Commission did not put any stock in visual witness.

Fact:  On October 21, 2013, Carlo Maria Vigano (Apostolic Nuncio) wrote a letter on behalf of Reverend Gerhard Ludwig Muller (Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith) in Vatican, Rome. The letter was written to the bishops of the United States. The official Vatican document is a follow-up of a previous document sent to the U.S. bishops in February 2013, in regard to Medjugorje seer Ivan Draigcevic.

In this letter we find, “so called visionary of Medjugorje” Ivan Draigcevic speaking engagements and apparitions in U.S. parishes, are not acceptable, per order of the Vatican’s “Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith.” In the other factoid document above, we read; “Determining the veracity of an apparition falls to the local bishop, and the Vatican's doctrinal congregation established the norms to guide the process.”

Reviewing both the U.S. State Department and Apostolic Nuncio documents, we find, one document claims the Vatican offers procedure but does not involves itself in these matters, leaving the outcome to local bishops. Another documents claim, it is standard procedure to seek Vatican intervention.  So which is it? It can’t be both ways. 

In the document to the U.S. bishops dated October 21, 2013, the Prefect reminds the bishops of the finding of the first Medjugorje Commission conducted in 1991. The findings of the first Commission stated, “On the basis of research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations.” The Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith adds, “because the first Commission did not approve the apparitions, clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such “apparitions” would be taken for granted,” (meaning, accepting without question, the apparitions are real.) He adds, “in order to avoid scandal and confusion that the U.S. bishops be informed…”

Seeking to "avoid scandal and confusion," is it possible scandal and or confusion has been created instead? The big question remains. The findings of the first Commission stands firm (according to the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith) as stated in the letter to the U.S. bishops in October 2013. As a result, in obedience, the faithful should exercise prudence away from Medjugorje involvements, as is also stated in the same letter.  The question remains, why were there three other Commission, if we are now being told to follow and accept the findings of the first Commission? How can the faithful be obedient to the rule of the church when religious powers that be are creating confusion amongst themselves? It seems the church itself leaves the faithful in limbo, as a result of mix signals and changing policy and procedure. Should it really take 4 Commissions to revert back to the findings of the first?

The following is as written and received and not edited for correction. Below is only a small part of the actual homily by Pope Francis on November 14, 2013.  

Fact:  At this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House in the Vatican Pope Francis said, “The spirit of curiosity distances us from the Spirit of wisdom…which gives us peace…..”….I know a visionary, who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady.” "But, look, Our Lady is the Mother of everyone! And she loves all of us. She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day. Such responses to these situations distance us from the Gospel, from the Holy Spirit, from peace and wisdom, from the glory of God, from the beauty of God." "Jesus says that the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom. The Kingdom of God is among you,' said Jesus, and it is this action of the Holy Spirit, which gives us wisdom and peace.” “The Kingdom of God does not come in (a state of) confusion….”

24 days after the letter sent to the U.S. bishops forbidding Medjugorje seer Ivan from speaking in parishes, Pope Francis speaks out about a visionary that receives daily letters from Our Lady. No one can be 100% certain Pope Francis was singling out Ivan but there are no other negative actions from the Vatican about other claimed seers. From this one concludes, Pope Francis is likely talking about Ivan Draigcevic.

As stated previously, during an evening speaking engagements, Ivan does talk about the apparitions. He also has an apparition with Our Lady during these speaking engagements. After the apparition, he tells those attending, the message Our Lady gives him. As if in reply, Pope Francis notes in his thoughts, “… Our Lady is not a postmaster, sending messages every day…”

Pope Francis’s comment is negative. In the letter sent to the U.S. Bishops, the CDF warns that Ivan is not allowed more speaking engagements in parishes. This is also a negative response. The first Medjugorje Commission also pronounced a negative response about the Medjugorje apparitions. The current letter to the U.S. Bishops states; “The findings of the first Commission stated, “On the basis of research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations.” The Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith adds, because the first Commission did not approve the apparitions, “clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such “apparitions” would be taken for granted.” This again is a negative statement. The facts are clear; there are no forthcoming positive statements in regard to the question of Medjugorje.

In separating fact from fiction, all indications continue to suggest the final outcome of the Medjugorje apparitions will revert back to the findings of the first Medjugorje Commission. If so, Medjugorje would therefore be declared “not supernatural or worthy of belief.”

The letter from the CDF is already having impact in the United States by stating “we the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such “apparitions” would be taken for granted.” The repercussions of this statement are causing ripple effects. It was just announced that after 25 years of Medjugorje Conferences at Notre Dame, this year there will be no Medjugorje Conference. Notre Dame is the most well received Medjugorje Conference in the U.S. Now 25 years later, the conference is stopped as result of the letter from the CDF to U.S. Bishops.

The CDF demands a Medjugorje seer can not speak in parishes, Pope Francis say’s Our Lady is no postmaster, the original Commission says the apparitions are not proven supernatural, and the Medjugorje Conference at Notre Dame is cancelled. The projected findings of the Medugorje apparitions seemingly conclude a negative response.   

 If a negative conclusion is likely, one has to wonder how the good fruits of Medjugorje can be explained away, as they were at Garabandal. The bishop who called for the second Garabandal Commission may have said it best. Silent about Garabandal after completion of the second Garabandal Commission, upon retiring from office, Bishop del Val, stated in an interview that the message of Garabandal was "important" and "theologically correct.” Bishop del Val publicly stated this even though the findings of both Garabandal Commissions did not yield what would be considered a positive result. It just may well be that the final decision of the Medjugorje apparitions may also hang in the balance of the powers that be, who offer a negative response or the believers who just can’t deny the good fruits, labor and works of Medjugorje.

Notes: In Garabandal, Spain there were two Commissions who investigated the apparitions. The Commissions were local, not involving the Vatican itself. Though the findings are not exactly clear, EWTN concludes, “It seems, therefore, that notwithstanding the decisions of two commissions accepted by the bishops of Santander, that there are reasonable grounds for individual Catholics to find Garabandal credible.” Even so, the over all conclusion of the Garabandal apparitions were not approved.

Note: About the two Commissions conducted by the regional “Conference of Bishops.” The second Commission was conducted by the “Yugoslavia Conference of Bishops.” In 1990, the U.S. State Department issued warning for those traveling to Yugoslavia. The State Dept recommended travelers exercise caution, due to civil unrest in the region. The civil unrest turned into civil war with strong signs of escalation as early as 1991. The final outcome of the war was the complete collapse of Yugoslavia and the foundation of a number of independent providences. Medjugorje located in Herzegovina and Bosnia were among the first two providences achieving independence from Yugoslavia. With newfound independence, the “Yugoslavia Conference of Bishops” became the “Bosnia and Herzegovina Conference of Bishops.”

Note: Unrelated;  January 2, 2014. A federal judge had forced Notre Dame to accept the abortions laws of the ObamaCare Birth Control Mandate. This means any female employee with a health care plan working at Notre Dame can use health insurance to have an abortion. Medjugorje USA sees this judgment as a violation of Church and State.

Follow-up reading related to above article

Why did Church reject Zanic’s findings of first Commission, leading Zanic to become a vocal spokesman against the Medjugorje apparitions?

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reevaluation criteria for discerning apparitions & revelations, (1974-1978)http://www.medjugorjeusa.org/apparitioncriteria.htm

Official Document from Congregation of Doctrine of Faith to U.S. Bishops about Seer Ivan http://www.medjugorjeusa.org/ivanspeakingstopped2.htm

How the U.S. Government became interested in Medjugorje

The Story of Garabandal, Spain

Note: if you would like to read more, visit our comprehensive organized Medjugorje Commission page.

Note: This article is based on known facts related to Medjugorje. A likely scenario is offered based on these known facts. Untimely the final decisions lay in the hands of The Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith and the faithful of the church, who believe or not.

Note: Use of the word, "Negative" in this article is not used in reference of the writers personal opinion about Medjugorje but to reference the conclusion of related facts. The writer of this article believe in the Medjugorje apparitions because of personal event that he experienced while in Medjugorje. If you would like to read the testimony of Michael K. Jones the article is here>> http://www.medjugorjeusa.org/visit.htm

If you would like to write Medjugorje USA