The recent article “Medjugorje: Communists against apparitions” published in La Stampa (2011-09-08) under the heading “Inquiries and interviews” perplexes me.

Written by journalist-vaticanist Andrea Tornielli, it conveys the allegation that the Yugoslav secret police have manipulated the former Bishop of Mostar, Mgr Pavao Zanic:

–          They supplied him a series of documents that fed the Ordinary’s hostility against the Franciscans of Medjugorje.

–          The said documents directly influenced the bishop’s actions by making him the main tool of the communist regime and the most determined enemy of the Medjugorje events.

–          Bishop Zanic “was willing to accept any document against the Franciscans and against the apparitions, even if of dubious origin.”

–          While the Bishop of Mostar defended the visionaries and the Franciscans at the beginning of the events, the Secret Service heavily influenced the Ordinary’s decision to change completely his position from January 1982.

–          The objectives were to compromise the Bishop and to gather information on “hostile activities” of some monks — Fr. Jozo Zovko, who was said to have had a number of love escapades, being one of the compromised Franciscans.

Tornielli’s sources of inspiration are

–          Journalist Zarko Ivkovic, author of a section of the book

The Mystery of Medjugorje (2011) published by the Croatian daily Vecernji List

–          and Italian journalist, Antonio Socci, author of Medjugorje Mystery (2004) published by Piemme Editions.

Although Tornielli’s article is published under the heading “Inquiries and interviews”, it doesn’t appear that the Italian vaticanist has interviewed for his article one or the other among the four authors of that book.

It seems rather evident that he translated the book description’s blurb released on the publisher’s website on 2011-06-17 only to add:

“These documents will also be scrutinized by the Holy See committee called upon to pronounce itself on Medjugorje, which two years ago Benedict XVI entrusted to the leadership of Cardinal Camillo Ruini.”

To give some credit to that three-month-old “news”, he interviewed an Italian colleague-journalist who stated that

–          the said allegations-“revelations” do not surprise him and that

–          the firm opposition against Medjugorje from Bishop Zanic’s successor is an eloquent reason why the actual Ordinary of Mostar has not been called to be part of the Commission appointed by the Pope.

The day after the publication of his article in La Stampa, Mr. Tornielli announced to the friends of his Blog that he didn’t want to address the question of the authenticity of the apparitions but rather to document the pressures, threats, attempts — and success (?) — by the Yugoslav communist regime to influence the opinion of the Church.

Well, that piece of journalism, concocted especially by a vaticanist, puzzles me.

My main concern is Mr. Tornielli’s insidious attack against the intellectual, spiritual and pastoral integrity of the former Ordinary of Mostar, Mgr Pavao Zanic, by an interposed Croatian Medjugorje propagandist.

The Italian journalist doesn’t “document” anything, doesn’t verify anything: he copies/pastes very serious allegations without granting his readers any factual historical retrospective.

Is Mr. Tornielli so ignorant of the facts concerning Medjugorje that he blackens Mgr Zanic’s integrity and reputation by identifying him as a blind marionette of the Yugoslav communist regime?

Andrea Tornielli (right) with René Laurentin who published more than three thousand pages on Medjugorje (Milano, 2008)

Could it be a case of wilful ignorance? Why does he call, in his article, for the help of another Italian Medjugorje propagandist, his colleague Antonio Socci? Does he intend to influence the work of the members of the Fourth Commission as did René Laurentin for the Third one?

In the next article, I will try to set the record straight on Mgr Zanic’s position and show how Mr. Tornielli’s readers may be ill-informed by abuse of inadequate journalistic tools.

It will be followed in a third post by some speculations/hypotheses on the vaticanist’s agenda and his sense of journalistic ethics related to the Medjugorje affair: a business “too big to fail”, so much so that the end justifies the means…


Louis Bélanger