[The following text is a comment posted yesterday to NCR-Jimmy Akin’s blog]

What has been written and how it has been expressed in the present thread and in a second one is so illustrative of the Medjugorje controversy that it inspires me to write a post in the near future on my own blog on that “projective exemplar”.

Thanks to Jimmy Akin who, with his “What do you think?” about Benedict XVI’s evaluation of mystical phenomena and its implication for the Medjugorje case, has stirred up a range of interesting reactions, some questions arose in my mind that I would like to submit here and on the other thread.

The first question has to do with the credibility of anonymous commentators.

As an “old-fashioned” researcher, it has never crossed my mind to sign my writings with a fictitious name: they would have never been published! The ethics of identification is still respected in the scientific community. It does not seem to be the case with the current electronic commenting in the blogs. I deplore that lack of transparency.

How can you trust someone who hides behind a mask? Particularly Medjugorje is all about trust: trust in the “Lady of Medjugorje”, trust in the pastoral personnel, trust in the “seers”, in short, trust in the “messengers” of all sorts pretending to have direct contact with the Virgin Mary who is the origin of a mystical experience.

A practical example? “Pilgrim” writes:

I choose the name “pilgrim” because I recognise myself as a “pilgrim” in this life… It is not sinful to do this, just a recognition of my status in life and proclaiming it rather than proclaiming my own name.”

That is his justification to Patrick Coffin.

Fortunately for those who cherish transparency, “pilgrim” has “betrayed” himself in the letter he quotes on the other thread from Father Brendan O’Malley not addressed to “Dear Pilgrim” but in fact to “Dear Bernard” (Gallagher). In his complete profile, Bernard Gallagher mentions seven (7) of his own blogs on Medjugorje and his email address by name.

Mr. Gallagher seems to be well informed on the case of Medjugorje — unfortunately he keeps most of his “documented” references for himself — and has a high opinion of himself:

You are free to have a personal opinion as is the Mostar bishop – just as I am.

Can one compare an undocumented personal opinion of an anonymous pilgrim with the documented judgement of a competent legitimate authority on the subject?

Mr. Gallagher’s insinuations are usually not documented or referenced:

Perhaps the bishop’s public rant against cardinal Schonborn last Christmas may have had something to do with it? Perhaps Benedict knows a little more about the bishop’s behaviour than Diane does? The bishop is not always forthcoming with the full story, demonstrated by the way he only published part of the letter on his website sent to him by cardinal Schonborn; and he never came clean to the full facts as to why after many years he stopped the seer Mirjana receiving her apparitions at the Cenacolo Community in Medjugorje.

After more than eight thousand words on the present thread, “Pilgrim” who is not “forthcoming with the full story” of his real name has resorted to a confession on the other thread:

Bonnie, Dianne (sic) and everyone else that has contributed to this topic, I want to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies for anything that I have said that may have offended or hurt anyone that has posted to this discussion. In my weakness I allowed myself to speak unjustly against others, brothers and sisters in Christ. It was nobody’s fault but my own, and for this I am truly sorry. In the words of St James, “Who am I to give a verdict on my neighbour?” I have done this and now wait for the Lord to lift me up again. Pray for me. Peace.”

I wonder if Mgr Pavao Zanic and Mgr Ratko Peric who have “heavily contributed to the topic” of Medjugorje are also addressees of those “sincere apologies”.

Let us give Mr. Gallagher the benefit of the doubt. What weight then will have those sincere apologies coming from an anonymous pilgrim, especially if they are not reproduced on his seven blogs on Medjugorje? Offences and unjust judgements will remain in the blogosphere, attributed to a masked “sinner”, and they will pursue their harmful influence on ill-informed readers. So far for the ethics of anonymous identification and its consequences.

My second question has to do with the “song of the sirens”: the so-called good fruits.

I have tried and am still trying to document that the edifice of the “Lady of Medjugorje” has been built on the quicksand of lies, artifices and falsifications produced by the main protagonists of Medjugorje. I invite the readers to look at the demonstration that the end of the “apparitions” announced by the “Lady of Medjugorje” has raised one of the most, if not the most important objection that has hindered the recognition of their supernatural character by the first three Commissions. I understand that it is not easy to acknowledge that priests and faithful indulge in such manoeuvres against the truth. Nevertheless it is the unfortunate reality.

If Medjugorje protagonists are not truthful, and if you have documented proof of the construction of the Lady of Medjugorje, how can you still trust them and say that the Virgin Mary or Her Son is party to the artifice?

What place do well documented facts take in the process specified by the 1978 Norms? The “facts” belong to the first place: moral certitude or at least great probability of the existence of the occurrence, acquired through serious investigation. Then personal qualities of the subject or subjects, especially psychological balance, uprightness and moral rectitude, sincerity and habitual docility toward ecclesiastical authority, followed by spiritual veracity, freedom from all error and conformity of  revelations with theological doctrines. And, as a last resort, the question of spiritual fruits.

Some of the promoters close their eyes to the facts that are already accessible to every person of good faith — not only to the members of the four Commissions. In a kind of wilful blindness, they lead their followers to an eventual collapse of trust. Read the following bragging by Stephen K. Ryan (ministryvalues.com) on Patrick Madrid’s blog: “If Medjugorje is proved false I want to meet the inventors and give them a hug.”

The problem with embracing fraud, deception and lying — the end (the fruits) justifying the means — is that it destroys the trust that one could have in the embracer. The whole matter is about trust and truthfulness.

Inspired by St. Augustin from his De Mendacio, the Catechism is very explicit on offenses about truth: (nr. 2486) Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.”

I cannot imagine that the members of the Ruini Commission and Benedict XVI himself are not ready to “embrace” those careful thoughts.

Louis Bélanger