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Still six or seven months of work, then by the end of this year the International Commission of Inquiry into the apparitions of Medjugorje, presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, will conclude its work with a pronouncement that will be submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and then to Benedict XVI. This morning, the Cardinal was received in audience by the Pope to discuss the progress of the investigation.
When Ratzinger established this work group in early 2010, the director of the Vatican press office said that "the commission itself does not take decisions and does not make the final pronouncements, but provides the results of its study, its vote – to put it in technical terms - to the Congregation, which will then take the appropriate decisions."
When the apparitions in Medjugorje started, a diocesan commission was established , whose work was then taken over by the Bishops' Conference of Yugoslavia. The latter however failed to pronounce itself on whether the phenomena was supernatural or not concluding in 1991, with the declaration "non constat de supernaturalitate", that: "It is not proven that there is anythingsupernatural here:" a classic cautious expression, since the bishops were not able to either approve or reject it, a sign that although there was insufficient evidence to confirm that there was a supernatural dimension involved, there was no evidence that it was a scam as claimed by the Bishop of Mostar, either.
The suspensive verdict, which remained open to further developments, gave no definitive answer. In fact, in the first case the statement asserts that a supernatural element does "exist", thus establishing official recognition. In the second case, the negative one, it affirms that "It is not proven that there is anything supernatural here", ascertaining that the phenomenon is not supernatural.
It was the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina who asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to take matters in hand. The Committee is made up of six cardinals. The previously mentioned Cardinal Ruini, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Salesian Archbishop Angelo Amato; Jozef Tomko, Emeritus Prefect of Propaganda Fide; Vinko Pulijc, Archbishop of Sarajevo and Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb; Julian Herranz, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. They are also flanked by theologians and experts in Mariology.
As already known, the Bishop of Mostar, - in office at the time of the apparitions in 1981 - under whose jurisdiction the diocese Medjugorje falls, strongly denied the appearances. Ratko Peric, his successor, also rejected them. Recently, some documents that emerged from the archives have shown that the secret services of Yugoslavia's communist regime had attempted to negatively influence the ecclesiastical authorities at that time.
The commission, headed by Ruini, has already met will all the visionaries secretly convened in Rome. The meetings took place in one of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's halls, here the archives of the work group are kept.
The committee members prepare appointments well in advance, so that all can be present. So, since last June, the persons heard and questioned were firstly, Ivanka, then Vicka, and then Mirjana and Marja (separately, but on the same day) at the end of 2011. In recent days, Ivan and Jakov were also heard.
In a recent public statement Cardinal Vinko Pulijc announced that the work would be completed within the year. It is currently not possible to predict what the final verdict will be. The seers generally made a good impression on the commissioners. But the outcome considered most likely at the moment in the Holy See, is a repeat of the 1991 suspension of judgement, a "supernatural dimension is not certain" without openly taking a stand for or against.
The appearances, which started in June 24, 1981, still continue, albeit limited, for some of the seers that ensure that they meet with the Virgin Mary at a certain time of day, wherever they are.
Mary, who defines herself the "Queen of Peace," began to appear in a parish run by Franciscan friars, and the village of Medjugorje, which still today is rather difficult to reach, has attracted millions of people, in spite of the public disavowals of the Bishops of Mostar. In 1998, the then Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Tarcisio Bertone, explained that the pilgrimages were permitted, "provided they are not considered as an authentication of events still in progress and require an examination by the Church." Many people also testified to have rediscovered the faith and to have returned from Medjugorje changed.
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