The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a letter to all of the U.S. bishops about Medjugorje. So yeah just another quite Catholic news day.
Jimmy Akin as usual has provided his usual excellent service of distilling what this means with things to know and share about the new letter on Medjugorje.
One thing I find interesting is that the letter was sent to the U.S. Bishops specifically. Possibly other Bishop conferences are receiving similar letters. Or maybe the majority of visitors to Medjugorje are from the United States. It seems to me that many bishops have seemed to turn a blind eye to “unofficial official” pilgrimages there despite the 1991 letter from the Bishops of the former Republic of Yugoslavia. In my own diocese these “unofficial official” pilgrimages appear in parish bulletins and on local Catholic radio along with parish priests “unofficially” going along.
Another thing of interest was the way the letter was written with language such as “so-called visionaries” and later “apparitions” used with scare quotes.
Years ago I reviewed Donal Foley’s book “Understanding Medjugorje Heavenly Vision or Religious Illusions”. Information since then has only confirmed my belief that it is a hoax on some level. When I first came into the Church I was very interested in apparitions. I think my previous atheism was seeking for evidential proofs to confirm I had not gone crazy with this “faith thing.” Medjugorje interested me and I had even gone to a parish where one of the “seer’s” spoke. Not long after that though I found out what the Bishop’s of Medjugorje had said and decided to pay no more attention to it along with the whole idea of seeking apparitions. After all even such apparitions that the Church considers worthy of pious credence and declaring them constat de supernaturalitate might emphasize an area of the faith, but teach nothing new.
The situation reminds me of the rich man who had feasted sumptuously while ignoring the plight of Lazurus.
And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ (Lk 16:27–30)
We are in the same situation where we have the scriptures, sacred tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church and yet look for other sources instead of “hearing them.” Still I think God in his mercy does act via some apparitions to call us to what has already been revealed. Valid apparitions (and valid with all necessary caveats) are a sign of our weakness and not favor.
When it comes to Medjugorje I find it fascinating that it produces two contradictory fruits. That of disobedience and conversion. There has been so much shameful disobedience surrounding followers of the so-called seers and disobedience to their bishop from the “seer’s” themselves. Yet around this there have been genuine conversions. Evidence that God can draw straight lines out of anything and of course anywhere there is the Mass, the sacraments, and repentance; there will also be conversions.