The Hidden Side of Medjugorje
A critical look at the “ apparitions ” of the Virgin Mary in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Since 1981, the Virgin Mary, reportedly, has been appearing to six young Croats during ecstasies which last several minutes. Millions of pilgrims have responded to the Lady of Medjugorje, the young visionaries, and the Franciscans who lead the parish there. What exactly has happened ?
Father Ivo Sivric, O.F.M.
From a unique vantage point — he is both a Franciscan priest and a native son of Medjugorje — the author of this book, Father Ivo Sivric, O.F.M., exposes contradictions and falsehoods that have been omitted or intentionally concealed until now. He introduces us to the group of visionaries, makes known and explains the Church’s teachings on Marian apparitions, and comments on exceptional and previously unpublished material (in appendices) which allows a thorough examination of the roots of these events. He scrutinizes the role of Medjugorje’s Franciscans and the Bishop’s interventions, as well as those of the Commission of inquiry set up to evaluate the whole question, and also attempts to explain the so-called apparitions. Finally, the theologian urges readers to draw their own conclusions as to whether it is still possible to believe in the Madonna’s presence and action.
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Father Ivo Sivric was born in Medjugorje in 1917. After completing his studies in philosophy and theology in Mostar, he was ordained in 1941, and then went on to complete his postgraduate studies in Zagreb and Rome where he received his doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1947. Father Sivric emigrated to the United States, taught at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and has also written several works, including Bishop J. G. Strossmayer — New Light on Vatican I (1975), The Peasant Culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1982), both published by the Franciscan Herald Press in Chicago, and Temelji krscanstva C.S. Lewisa [The Christian Basics According to C.S. Lewis] (1988), published by Teoloska Biblioteka in Sarajevo. After becoming a U.S. citizen, Father Sivric made eight extended trips to Medjugorje. He served as director of Croatian Franciscan Publications and he worked as a parochial vicar of a parish serving the Roman Catholic Croatians in St. Louis, Missouri. Father Ivo Sivric passed away October 28, 2002, at age 85.
The author of Volume II — that will be published in sections on this blog — visited Medjugorje, filmed the visionaries during four of their “ ecstasies ” and explored various physical and psychological hypotheses to explain the natural charateristics of both the luminous phenomena and visions. Louis Bélanger illustrates the sequences of a spontaneous test done during an “ apparition ” and analyses their consequences. He invokes the testimony of critical witnesses, as well as the opinion and work of expert specialists. From the matrix of his special interest in altered states of consciousness, he proposes his own experimental counteranalysis of the “ scientific and medical studies ”. For example, an “ ordinary ” student is shown doing a laboratory reproduction of the “ ecstatic electrophysiological parameters ” identical to those recorded in the young Croatian visionaries. Important sociopolitical, ecclesiastical, and economic factors, as well as the high stakes for Marian propagandists and the overt manipulation and artifices are introducted and explored. In all, Louis Bélanger provides readers with a complete overview of Medjugorje’s apparent anomaly : on a fine June day in 1981, a teenaged girl, moved by the sincerest hopes, incited a collective drama which has drawn millions of believers in search of tangible expressions of the spiritual dimension.
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Louis Bélanger was born in Québec City in 1941. After his studies in political science at Laval University, he pursued his research in the fields of psychology and parapsychology at Freiburg University in Germany (1968-1974). Between 1975 and 2005, he has been conducting the study of paranormal phenomena at the University of Montréal’s Faculty of Theology and at the Université du Québec à Montréal’s Department of the Sciences of Religions. He has also written Psi, au-delà de l’occultisme [Psi: Beyond the Occult], published by Québec-Amérique, and has presided over film-lectures of the motion picture version throughout Québec, Europe, and French speaking African countries. He has been scientific consultant, researcher and commentator for the production of four series of 45 film documentaries on paranormal phenomena — Monde et mystères — and one series of 10 film documentaries on controversies in science — Mystères et controverses. Louis Bélanger is the editor of the French original publication La face cachée de Medjugorje and its English version The Hidden Side of Medjugorje.
Order The Hidden Side of Medjugorje
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Appreciations and Reviews
I can say that the work is solid, professional and excellent in every regard. The cassettes were reproduced faithfully, as well as the documents. Your book is of first class quality and no-one should take a stand on Medjugorje before reading this work, especially if they want to write on the events in Medjugorje You can publish this letter if you so wish. I wish you great perseverance and strength in your battle for the truth. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin watch over you. Yours in Christ,
Bishop Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar-Duvno and the constant apostolic administrator of the diocese of Trebinje-Mrkan and the apostolic administrator of the diocese of Dubrovnik.
English excerpt of a letter of appreciation written by Mgr Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar (1980-1993)
“ Having taken into account not only the human and spiritual, but also the economic and political stakes, the Church can no longer say no to Medjugorje, ”
This [quote] illustrates the strategy of these groups […] who are looking for a kind of restoration of Christian values. Without waiting for the official judgment of the Church on the apparitions, they mandate their theologians and physicians, bring pressure on the local ecclesiastical authorities and even those in Rome, and try, as in Herzegovina, to create an irreversible situation. Isn’t that the principal ambiguity of Medjugorje ? Recommended reading on this affair […] is the recently published critical book, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje written by Father Sivric and Louis Bélanger.
Henri TINCQ, Le Monde, Paris
The author introduces us to the visionaries and to some of their psychological characteristics which raise very serious questions. He reproduces the texts of interviews given by the visionaries and, in point of fact, he does explain the position of all who are involved in these events… It is, in my opinion, a very respectful and very moderate book.
Claudette LAMBERT, Second regard [Second Look], Radio-Canada
Even if one accepts only 10% of Father Sivric’s arguments, that would suffice to make pause even those most well disposed toward Medjugorje concerning the supernatural character of the events under analysis.
Marist Father Paul-Emile VACHON, Pastorale Québec
In any case, after encountering this thorough study published by a Croatian Franciscan who is himself a native of Medjugorje, it will be difficult to defend uncritically the supernaturality of the facts.
Assumptionist Father Jean POTIN, La Croix, Paris
Sivric’s first advantage over other investigators who have looked into Medjugorje is that he knows the psychology of his own people intimately… This is what Sivric has done remarkably. From his exile in St. Louis, he has performed a service for the Church in his native village and the whole Church.
Peter HEBBLETHWAITE, National Catholic Reporter, Kansas City, Missouri
Sivric has provided Catholics with the best documented book on Medjugorje to date.
Suzanne M. RINI, Fidelity Magazine, South Bend, Indiana
© 2010 Les Éditions Psilog Inc.