Reality television frequently portrays a modified and highly influenced form of reality, utilizing sensationalism to attract viewers and so to generate advertising profits. Participants are often placed in exotic locations or abnormal situations, and are sometimes coached to act in specific scripted ways by off-screen “story editors” or “segment producers,” with the portrayal of events and speech manipulated and contrived to create an illusion of reality through editing and other post-production techniques.

Since the warning of an international team of medical doctors and pastoral psychiatrists, a quarter of a century ago, nothing has improved in the mystifying world of Medjugorje, as shown in the following articles’ and video clips’ titles:

-          Apparition During Press Conference?

-          Marija in ecstasy, tonight in the Bedroom

-          Medjugorje Visionary Vicka on the Late Late Show

-          Medjugorje Visionary Works Her Magic

-          Five Apparitions of the Queen of Peace – March 19-23, 2011, Caritas, Alabama – with the visionary Marija

-          Visionary Ivan to witness in Massachusetts

-          Visionary Ivan and Marija at Vienna Cathedral

-          Visionaries Mirjana and Marija at Masnago, Italy

-          Visionary Ivanka at Carlow Cathedral, Ireland…

The visionaries are exposed or expose themselves to an enormous pressure from the media and the pilgrims who desire to meet and touch them before, during and after the so-called apparitions of the “Gospa”.

The pastoral personnel of Medjugorje with the complicity of other priests, bishops and even cardinals all over the world bear an important part of responsibility for that pastoral mess.

They ignored and are still ignoring the professional warnings and recommendations signed by an international team of three medical doctors and two pastoral psychiatrists and sent to the Bishop of Mostar, to Frs. Slavko Barbaric and Tomislav Vlasic, to the Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and to Pope John-Paul II, in 1986.

It is unfortunate that Fr. René Laurentin, who has a peculiar sense of ethical conduct, publicized and discussed a part of the confidential investigation that accompanied the recommendations. A priest and pastor should know that the confidentiality of an intimate clinical and diagnostic psychiatric evaluation ought to be respected.

However, the faithful who are surprised by the “reality shows” that these so-called ecstasies and apparitions have become should be informed of the general pastoral recommendations submitted, 25 years ago, by the said team of competent professionals to the religious authorities.

Here is the last paragraph of two pages written in Italian and undersigned by Austrian Prof. Gottfried Roth, neurologist and pastoral psychiatrist (deceased in 2006), Polish Prof. Wanda Poltawska, pastoral psychiatrist and intimate friend of Karol Wojtyla/Pope John-Paul II, Italian psychiatrist Pietro R. Cavalleri and Italian medical doctors Caterina Tribbia and PierGiorgio Spaggiari.

I sottoscritti medici consigliano inoltre che le apparizioni abbiano luogo alla sola presenza dei sacerdoti responsabili, con l’esclusione di qualsiasi forma di pubblico. Questo non soltanto per rendere più adeguato il clima spirituale, ma anche per eliminare qualsiasi rinforzo di tipo suggestivo. In scienza e coscienza. Varese, 12 gennaio 1986

The undersigned physicians also recommend that the apparitions take place only in the presence of responsible priests, with the exclusion of any form of public presence. This is, not only to render the spiritual atmosphere more adequate, but also to eliminate any reinforcement of a suggestive type. In science and conscience. Varese, January 12, 1986

At the time of those recommendations, 4½ years after the beginning of the events in Medjugorje, the experts observed that the visionaries were subjected to an enormous psychological pressure from the pilgrims who were searching for a direct contact with them. They feared for their psycho-physical integrity and expressed their great preoccupation that the lack of reserve or discretion surrounding these exceptional circumstances could corrupt the spontaneity of the phenomena under scrutiny for the determination of their supernatural origin.

The Medjugorje pastoral personnel ignored those warnings and recommendations wilfully. Fr. Laurentin countered them publicly:

The psychiatrists have noticed these risks. It is true that these seers sustain, without protection, risks of deterioration from which it would be advantageous to protect them. But who does not assume risks in some way? The inquisitions of the doctors, and even more so of the psychiatrists, are more traumatic to the seers than the ordinary visitors. Even more difficult, would be the inquisitors of the Theological Commission.

[The Apparitions at Medjugorje Prolonged, The Riehle Foundation: Milford, Ohio, 1987, p. 57]

Notwithstanding Laurentin’s lost touch with the reality of pastoral psychiatrists and their professional activities, Pope John-Paul II had yet paved the way of a responsible pastoral care a few months before their investigation in Medjugorje:

Do not accept the idea of an opposition between faith and science: that frame of mind originates only from a lack of understanding of their respective methods. [...] Give it a lot of thought with your bishops, your chaplains, your associations in order to develop a pastoral care of intelligence that will overcome that dichotomy.

Too many of your confreres are seduced, often in good faith, by organizations that seem to be generous, brilliant, that may offer advantages but that in fact sow confusion in their minds and ideas, and sectarian self-importance with sometimes occult methods and syncretic mysticism incompatible with the Church. Doesn’t that disruption come partly from their faith that, since their childhood catechism, has not become deeper at the rate of their education and responsibilities, and that their training is maladjusted? [translated from the French: the English translation from the original Italian seems to be non-inexistent]

Without the collaboration of the parochial pastoral personnel, the Bishop of Mostar could not implement the said pastoral care of intelligence.

According to Mgr. Pavao Zanic, Fr. Tomislav Vlasic was fabricating the Lady of Medjugorje’s so-called messages.

Full of his desperate “mission”, the “mystifier” wrote a “Letter to a friend in Rome”, most probably Bishop Pavel Hnilica, asking him urgently to intervene with the Vatican by taking Medjugorje out of Mgr Zanic’s jurisdiction and creating an International Commission:

Bisognerebbe muovere anche tutti gli altri (studiosi, teologi, vescovi, cardinali…) Ormai dobbiamo riconoscere che satana può agire anche nelle structure della Chiesa.

 

We should mobilize all the others (scholars, theologians, bishops, cardinals ) Now, we have to recognize that Satan may also act in the structure of the Church. [from Vitina, 1985-01-05. Cf source 167 and note 205, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje]

It seems that Fr. Vlasic’s appeal and Fr. Laurentin’s influence have been successful to date.

In spite of the documented proofs of falsifications of historical documents concerning the Lady of Medjugorje and of the enlightened conviction of the legitimate and competent authority, Mgr Ratko Peric, expressed in his constat de non supernaturalitate, the Medjugorje Franciscans have indeed mobilized misinformed priests, bishops, cardinals and millions of faithful, with the power of lies, a political agenda and a tremendous amount of money.

14 years ago, the Ordinary of Mostar expressed his hope that the Holy See would establish a Commission that should give a final judgement on the Medjugorje case. His voice has only been heard last year. What happened?

Has the “sectarian self-importance with sometimes occult methods and syncretic mysticism” of the Medjugorje Franciscans seduced some higher authorities? Has the “confusion in the minds and ideas” of some higher authorities rendered them unaware of the tens of thousands of infantilizing messages addressed by the Lady of Medjugorje to her “dear little children” who are almost in their fifties? How, under those “disruptive” circumstances, could the faith of the recipients “become deeper at the rate of their education and responsibilities”?

According to Cardinal Puljic, the “doctrinal issue of the Medjugorje phenomenon is resolved”. Let’s be confident that it is in the spirit of the 1978 Norms! That inquiry appropriately accomplished, is it not time to move towards “depth Mariology”, with a zest of intelligence in pastoral care?

Our sincere hope: Benedict XVI is apparently keeping an eye on those things!

Your commentaries are welcome, except the “anonymous” ones that will be discarded.

With my cordial greetings,

Louis Bélanger