Wait! But… you said… how can… what?!

That’s the response I anticipate as I link to Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s account of seeing the sun spin at Medjugorje, in which he registers his (understandably) more favorable view of the claimed apparitions there.

Why do I link it when I am obviously skeptical about the claims being made for a Marian apparitions there? Several reasons.

First and most important of course, Fr. Longenecker is male, so what he says is automatically important. (JUST kidding!)

Seriously, I link it because I presume Fr. Longenecker is not just making stuff up so it’s worth paying attention to his experience.

Second, I link it because it’s a good example (as distinct from Steve Ryan’s hilarious attempt to poison the well with bizarre conspiracy theories about a sexist conspiracy) of somebody who can hold a different opinion about a matter not essential to the deposit of faith without acting crazy.

Third, I link it because, frankly, I have no problem believing that God, who is famously unscupulous about honoring attempts to seek him, has done any number of healings, miracles, sign and wonders at Medjugorje *in response to the faith of people who were honestly seeking him*. I’ll go further than that: I think it obviously and documentably true that he does signs and wonders for non-Catholics and non-Christians (I discuss a number of such events in Volume 3 of Mary, Mother of the Son.) This does not mean God is an indifferentist. It means that God, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, does whatever he feels like doing. If he wishes to intervene miraculously in the life of a non-Christian, or do a miracle at Medjugorje because some honest soul is seeking him there, who am I to tell him he can’t?

None of that means, however, that I think Mary is appearing at Medjugorje. I don’t. I incline toward thinking the thing is not a mere mistake, but a fraud. But I will leave that for Rome to decide. I tend to suspect Rome will be gentle and not call it a fraud. But I am also morally certain that Rome will agree with the local ordinaries and make it clear that nothing supernatural is occurring there (meaning “Mary is not appearing there”, not “nobody who has ever visited there has ever had God intervene in their lives there”. That’s beyond the scope of their inquiry.)

Mere miracles, signs and wonders, while evidence that God is work are not, as Jesus warns, proof of sanctity. So while Fr. Longenecker’s tale suggests to me that *he* is certainly seeking God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, it does nothing, so far as I can see, to establish that the local ordinaries and other skeptics are wrong to conclude that the “apparitions” at Medjugorje are bunk.

But, of course, that’s just my (correct–and obnoxious) opinion. :)

  • rosaryfixer

    Many decades ago I read a book about false apparitions. One of the signs of such is rosaries turning to gold. Why a person has to have that happen is beyond me. My objection to Medjugorge is two-fold. First, why do people who do not believe the Blessed Mother is appearing there, are severely criticized by those who do? I ahve seen women go ballistic if you dare to suggest that Mary is not appearing daily. Secondly, we have not yet fulfilled the requests of Our Lady of Fatima to observe the first Five Saturdays with special devotions and the rosary. Logically Mary would be continuing the message of Fatima, instead of the millions of words spoken by her over the years, most of which are repetitions of what she has said thousands of times in the past. In the Scriptures Mary was a woman of few words, and in many apparitions she has spoken little, not needing millions of words to voice her requests.

  • Tominellay

    The bishops have judged that it cannot be said that Mary is appearing…so when pilgrims to Medjugorje and follow Ivan up the hill and then kneel in silence while he “has a vision”, before whom or what are they kneeling?

  • Dave Hahn

    Here is my question to all people who doubt that Medjugorje is not a true apparition because of the visionaries behavior or confusion surrounding the visions. When the larger commission of Yugoslavian bishops looked at the whole thing, to my knowledge they never cited any such evidence as problematic. They had access to all they documents and had numerous people studying every angle of the phenomenon. Why did they not cite this. Is it possible that the information about this put out by the Bishop was not put out in the proper contexts? That the commission was able to see the information in the proper context and when read in that light there wasn’t any problem? I have read that the former Bishop of Medjugorje was called out on lying and destroying good peoples name as well as not listening to the Vatican on dealing with this matter. IF that is the case perhaps it is the Bishop who caused the confusion because of his position as bishop. It is not impossible for a bishop to do something like that. They are not infallible or without fault. IF it is the case that the bishop did this than there is no confusion centered around the apparitions. There is confusion about the apparitions due to the bishops actions.

    • Mark Shea

      No. There is confusion due to the “visionaries” and their enablers’ rebellion. And there will likely continue to be even after Rome ratifies the findings of the local ordinaries.

      • Dave Hahn

        If that is the case why didn’t the commission of Yugoslavian bishops mention this or point this out?
        The bishops on that commission didn’t agree with the Bishop from Medjugorje that I am aware of. If they did I have never seen a statement from them.

  • Bob Franks

    Mark Shea says: “…Still, I do think the ordinary’s view sound and that the only reason it’s in Rome is because so many noisy dupes like Steve Ryan are saying so much crap that Rome is forced to act. I’m perfectly confident they are going to ratify what the local ordinaries have already said. Not every case is Joan of Arc. The question is, what will the Medj zealots do when Rome goes against them. It won’t be pretty.”

    A while ago, you publicly pronounced in your NCR blog that you were going to begin praying the daily rosary with your family. If I might ask, I am wondering how that is going?
    Blessed Mary has allegedly said regards Medjugorje, “if you pray, you will know why I am here.”

    • Mark Shea

      Allegedly.

  • Terry

    The apparitions of Our Lady of Laus in France were recently approved. The Blessed Mother appeared to that visionary almost everday for 35 years! If it happened once, why can’t it happen again? I am a friend of Ivan’s. I have had several dinners with him while in New Orleans and been present for numerous apparitions of Our Lady. There is no doubt in my mind that he is telling the truth. He is the same in private as he is in public. A soft spoken humble man. I detect no lie about him. Why do people have such a hard time with the fact that none of the visionaries became nuns or priests? Last time I checked marriage was a valid sacramental state. So from encountering Our Lady that should make them become a religious? As Catholics we all encounter God himself in the Eucharist, but that doesn’t make us all became a religious does it. I think their married states is an example that the world needs right now with the breakdown of the family/married life.

  • TeaPot562

    Commenters should NOT be giving St. Joan of Arc as an example of someone condemned by the Church. She was captured by the English (then fighting a war with France) and turned over to clerics sympathetic to the English. Although there were no actual heresies to condemn her for, her captors were determined on her death because of her effectiveness as a military leader.
    In the late medieval period, bishops were often appointed by Rome on the recommendation of the local kings; and the bishops were often far more interested in political than theological matters – consider Cardinal Richelieu, who shipped five tubs of gold to the Lutheran king of Sweden, to encourage him to go to war with the Catholic emperor of Austria. Richelieu was a far better French patriot than churchman.
    When Baltimore was named the first diocese in the newly formed USA, the then pope wrote President Jefferson, asking whether he (Jefferson) had a preferred candidate for the bishop of Baltimore. Jefferson wrote back that had no interest or care in that appointment. This was quite different from the approach of most heads of state at that time.
    TeaPot562

  • Adrian

    Mark,
    you think Medugorje is a fraud. I visited Medugorje in 1984 and 1986. I was present in the chapel at the side of the altar on numerous occasions when the children had their apparitions. I saw a number of things while there for which I have no explanation. I’ve considered that this could be a fraud as well but I still can’t imagine how a group of children living in what was then a communist country, could come up with such a scheme and maintain it under intense scrutiny all these years. Why would they do such a thing? If it was fraud I think any normal child would have cracked and admitted as much during those early years. I think the youngest was about 6 years old at the time of the first apparition. I think it’s simply impossible for any group of children to cook something like Medugorje up and then steadfastly maintain it over a lifetime.

  • David Tolson

    What I believe Mark fails to bring out is that the highest levels of the Church have taken the decision regarding Medjugorje out of the hands of the local ordinary (the Bishop). Lots of rumors and speculation have surfaced as to why, but only the Vatican knows the reason and it must have been for a very good reason; I may be wrong, but I don’t believe this has ever happened before.

    Unlike Mark, I do not believe God would allow what Mark believes is a “fraud” simply because God, as Mark says, “is famously unscupulous about honoring attempts to seek him, has done any number of healings, miracles, sign and wonders at Medjugorje in response to the faith of people who were honestly seeking him.” I do not believe God would allow a “fraud” like this to continue for over thirty years in a direct dishonor to His and Our Mother. Moreover, I know of numerous cases of people going to Medjugorje who were not”honestly seeking him;” many were cajoled by spouse, parents, parishioners, or friends to go and had little or no faith (there are quite a number who were admittedly atheists). So, while Mark made his prediction on what He believes the Vatican will do, I’ll also make my prediction: Because the Vatican doesn’t rule on ongoing apparitions (although there could always be a first), I believe the Vatican will declare Medjugorje to be a Holy Shrine at this time.

    • Mark Shea

      He allowed the fraud Maciel to continue for over 50 years.

      • Bob Franks

        Were there any miracles liek a spinning sun associated with Maciel? No.

        And also, I thought you said God gave the miracles because they were honestly seeking God. But the poster here has a point – wouldn’t it seem like God is ‘unwittingly’ helping to perpetrate the fraud? (Of course not, so, in other words, that reasoned rationale you gave for why miracles (like the sun spinning) occur there while Mary does not appear there, does not hold water. This poster is right – God would be sowing confusion to give miracles for the reason you describe, in a place of such controversy. And then, why doesn’t he give miracles like this to those who go to Rome on pilgrimage, or Jerusalem, honestly seeking God? Why only here and Fatima and Lourdes and such?). I think you might want to re-think.

        God bless you.

  • Denise

    I have been to Medjugorje. I did not see any miracles while there. But, without a doubt, I believe in it’s authenticity, and I will tell you why.
    I have read every message she’s given for the last 30 years, and I listened, and did exactly what she asked. And, guess what. My life, my faith, everything changed. I have an inner peace that I can’t explain, but it’s there. I know the kind of person I was before this transformation, and it wasn’t good. But now, I live my life with humility, kindness, compassion for all people. I have slowly turned away from all my former sinful desires. It’s taken 10 years to achieve this total transformation.
    Her messages seem the same because it’s really all very simple on how to attain inner peace. Pray, fast, go to Mass, Confession. She’s showing us how to first purify our own soul, then after you remove your own selfishness, you can start living your faith without hypocracy. And, then, you can start praying for others to find this change in their own lives as well.
    My miracle was my own conversion. And it’s there for anyone who will listen. And one other thing, the reason I think she does not go into all the sins that plague our world such as abortion, pornography, etc…is because until each individual changes his own heart first, all those other things will still be temptations that he won’t be able to overcome. She’s here to guide us to where our hearts should be. To an inner strength that can rise above the things that are going on in our world today.
    People have free will to listen, or not. Don’t condemn it until you have tried putting what the Blessed Mother has asked into your own lives. She refers to herself as The Queen of Peace. That’s what she is offering to all of us. And I, for one, am eternally grateful. Medjugorje is for real.

  • jpelham

    “Pride goeth before destruction: and the spirit is lifted up before a fall.”

    • Mark Shea

      Wow! Damning people to hell for not buying Medj. More of that sweet, sweet fruit I run into so often when it comes to this fraud.

      • Bob Franks

        One can fall without going to hell. Once-proud Paul fell. He is a declared saint and thus not in hell. It is not a good to put words (maybe that you wanted to hear to strengthen your opinion against those who beleive in Medj??) into others’ mouths.

      • Maureen Pereiro

        Mark,
        I wonder if you intend to come off as kind of snarky and divisive?
        Let’s all debate the merits of the alleged messages in the tradition of our shared great Catholic intellectual heritage, examine the good fruits and bad fruits where they exist but without name-calling, judging, and assigning motive — “fraud” “noisy dupes” — Have you placed yourself in the position of making the determination for the Church what will or will not be recognized as authentic? What a position the Church is in. The investigation must be very thorough since a decision either way will lead to some loss of faith. We can all help each other look closely at both the apparently-good and the questionable fruit in an effort toward unity even before the Church makes a declaration.
        Is it so easy for you to dismiss the obvious good fruits as well? Good fruits like continuous Confession lines, rosaries prayed, and Masses offered at St. James?
        Please, let’s all pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and 7-fold gift for the whole Church.

  • TaylorKH

    People who have never experienced a vision, apparition, locution, etc, should not be skeptical because they have not. What harm comes from believing what others say they have experienced? Remember St. Thomas…If you are skeptical enough, God may give you a vision just to calm you down. (and perhaps that is the underlying motive of the skeptic). :-)

  • jpelham

    Mark, if you refer to my post, it was merely a general reminder from the Psalmist to all posters here, no less to myself, that faith is coterminous with humility. Recall St. Therese.

    • jpelham

      Sorry, a reminder from the Psalmist’s son, not the Psalmist.

  • Tominellay

    …thinking there remain the problems of Vicka’s “bloody handkerchief” story, Mirjana’s “parchment”, Marija’s giving and then retracting “Mary’s” endorsement of Vlasic’s religious community in Italy, Ivan’s handwritten description of the “visible sign” in the sealed envelope which he denied writing…

  • Bob Franks

    While I have noticed some truth in that it does seem many influential US Catholics seem to speak as one against Medjugorje, I do not accept a charge of sexism. But the article did make me curious. I know one of the Patricks – Coffin or Madrid I cannot remember which I do admit – I heard speaking on the Drew Mariani show last year say he had not been to Medjugorje and would not ever go unless the Church approved the apparition.

    So it has made me curious and so I ask: Mark Shea, have you been to Medjugorje?

    God bless you.

    • Mark Shea

      No. I’ve also never been to Lourdes or Fatima. Yet I think the latter are legit. Why might that be?

      • Bob Franks

        So then, while as I said I don’t buy the women-sexism thing, there is some meat on the bones of that article about how many US influential Catholics opposed to Medjugorje have not actually been there. (A significant difference with Lourdes and Fatima is this is an ongoing alleged apparition.)

        I understood the ‘sense’ of that article to mean that in the US, Medjugorje is basically ‘dead’ – one hardly ever hears about it in the mainstream US Catholic media world (except negatively), which is heavily influenced,or run by, or controlled by, those US Catholic influential leaders, some of whom were cited in the article. For example, many Catholic-associated blogs and forums such as catholic.com disallow discussion of Medjugorje and will quickly ban a member for posting on it (I do note more leeway when posts opposing it are made, curiously). And many US Catholic bookstores, online or brick and mortar, carry no books – none – on Medjugorje. It would be nice to see pro and con sections on it in the stores, so we can be informed about it, since it is important enough that the Vatican is studying it.

        However, Medjugorje is thriving everywhere else, like Europe. Italians are flocking to the place, especially after their Catholic tv media reported on a healing of a boy due to the intervention of Padre Pio and the boy’s trip to Medjugorje. And in Lebanon, seer Marija (who says Our Lady asked her to go there) spoke to some 70,000 each of two days in Beirut, and had her apparition at the conference hall there. And she spoke to an enormous crowd in Sicily the other day. A traffic jam ensued in Ireland when Vicka went there a little while ago, and she was covered on a popular TV talk show there.

        So while Medjugorje is ‘booming’ – 2011 was the busiest year on record there – in the US, because of these influential Catholics, possibility the most important event in Salvation History that could be readying us for the long-prophesied Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is all but a dead topic of discussion here.

        That is the gist of the article – and it reflects a sadness for the plight of the US and puts much (if not all) of the blame on the US Catholic ‘influencers’ who diligently work to block it out of the US Catholic world.

        And there is some truth in the article, because when contrasted to other places where there is no ban on its discussion, it is a booming and lively topic. So that begs the question why is that, and the answer does point to US Catholic influencers forbidding its discussion in US Catholic media for some thirty years now and running.

        What will be, will be.

        God bless you.

        • Mark Shea

          No. The gist of the argument was that there is a sexist cabal who are skeptical due to their sexism. It was a stupid charge, and all too typical of the stupidity and poisonous thinking evident in Medj enthusiast circles. I’ve called on Ryan to retract and apologize. He refuses. Any honest person should demand likewise. Instead, you’re here, making excuses for his libel. Why?

          • Bob Franks

            I am not making excuses for anybody. We are all responsible for our own words and deeds. (I already twice said in two posts I did not buy the sexism part of the argument, so let me say it a third time – I do not buy the sexism part of the article – meaning I don’t agree with it and I personally feel that should not have been leveled and yes, even an apology might be in order for that. I would go with calumny which is a serious sin more than libel – it is hard to libel ‘public’ figures and you and other influential Catholics are, whether you like it or not, public figures in that regard.

            Likewise those who say the visionaries are perpetrating a fraud – thereby being ‘fraudsters’ – should be careful of calumny too.)

            I focused more on two points: 1) many of you have not been to Medjugorje but condemn it, an alleged ongoing apparition as opposed to ‘settled’ apparitions such as Fatima and Lourdes; and 2) virtually all of you, as controllers of the flow of Catholic information, have worked very hard over the years to keep Medjugorje off the US radar screen. My mom, a devout Catholic now 80 yrs of age, watches CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS , EWTN and occasionally might read an NC Register. She never heard of Medjugorje until two years ago, and when she heard, she asked, “What is that?” I am sure she is typical. While millions of us in the US have heard about it, millions have not, or they heard it and forget about it once they hear you guys say to stay away, and thus they don’t tell others about it.

            A main point of the alleged apparition is for us to help spread the message, but you guys have worked relentlessly, tirelessly over the past 25 years to block it. It seems many of you have made it your ‘mission’, so I guess you are confident.

            No matter. In but a couple of years will come the vindication. As Our Lady (allegedly) says, it is urgent for everyone to return to God, now. This is Our Lady’s final call in all of history.

            God bless you.

  • Bob Franks

    Influential US Catholic leaders have been given that role from above. And so they should remember the story of Don Bosco’s dream. He saw in the dream two large groups of people, and an angel before him. The group on his right was much larger than that on his left. He asked the angel, “Who are all these people?” The angel pointed to the smaller but still large group to his left and said, “these are all the people you saved by your prayer, sacrifice and witness.” Bosco said, “And these?” pointing to the larger group on his right. The angel replied, “These are all the people you could have saved.”

    There are Catholics struggling to keep the faith, but sinking in the turbulent seas of this life, seeking any ‘life preserver’ to stay afloat. Some of these hear of Medjugorje and start reading the messages and gain hope, only to read or hear an influential Catholic say it is but a fraud. And so some of these children of hers whom Our Lady hoped to save and might have saved, are lost, for indeed she has asked us to help her spread her messages to as many as possible. Instead, some influential US Catholic leaders have taken it upon themselves to do all they can to thwart the effort.

    I hope those ‘influential’ Catholic leaders are absolutely sure they are right.
    It seems it would be the safer choice to remain silent and let the Church speak. For if they are wrong, their efforts to thwart her messages must make Our Lady very sad.

    God bless you.

  • jo

    Mr. Shea seems to think he ‘knows all’ and denigrates others by saying what we believe about M. is fraudulent.
    This seems to me that we beleivers are wrong and he is right.
    This argument can go on forever, so why not just let those believe what they want and leave charitably.

    • Mark Shea

      Where have I forbidden anybody to believe what they want? I haven’t even condemned anybody as doomed and charged them with being enemies of God and our Lady, as so many Medj fans routinely do to skeptics.

      • hpoitiers

        “So thin-skinned that a fly would draw blood,” as the prince of Carpi expressed it, he could not himself restrain his pen from sarcasm. He forgot that though it is ‘safe’ to lash the dunces,..”

        …referring to “an influential Catholic” of an earlier day.

  • Mary

    Unfortunately the majority of people go becuase of the phenomena they expect to see. In the beginnig I did not pay too much attention to the supposed apparitions but shortly after i began to look into it and thought it seemed legitimate. I evenwent to one of the confrences here in the states and during the supposed appariton as I was kneeling I felt a sense of peace that has never left me. ( I was not in the room where the apparition? was taking place with a few lucky people from at the conference who’s ticket had been drawn that enabled them to be in the room) I began to believe this was a valid apparition until I heard of the visionaries claim that the Blessed Mother told the Franciscans to disobey the bishop!!! That to me was a RED FLAG. No st. or valid visionary ever was told to be disobedient to the church. I satated to read some of the books thinking as many do that this was just detractors who wanted put doubt in the minds of those who believed. When I read in the earlier books that what was alleged was just dismissed as silly or was true but justified etc. I could not continue to belivve it was valid. The sense of peace I was given was given to me by God not by medjugorie, and I truly believe it is because I was sincere in my devotion to Mary and our Lord. I have always been devoted to Our Lady and have been to Fatima many times but it is not Fatima but God who gives me the graces through Mary. My rosaries have also turned a gold color , 3 different rosaries 3 different places and none of them at any apparition site.

  • http://none mary smyth

    InApril 2011 I visited Medugorge with my two children. I work as a psychologist and am naturally prone to scepticism. It was the greatest peace I have ever experienced since I was a child. I cried, I prayed, I smiled. I talked to God through Our Lady to help me get over a huge hurt in my life. Neither I nor my children wanted to leave to go to Dubrovnik. I smelled the Roses on three occasions- one prior to going to confession.It was overwhelming. When I got home I browsed through my photos- there was a Person standing with outstretched arms on a cloudbank above the Church. It looks like Jesus. Its unmistakeable .I have shown it to many people who see what I see. For me Medugorge is authentic. I have a stroger sense of clarity than ever before of wrong and right. I want to go back .

  • Anne

    I have been to Medjugorje three times. I had no experience there. I have never been back and have no desire to go back. My faith is in Christ and He is present for me in the Holy Eucharist, at Holy Mass, in Confession through the Priest and the Trinity dwells within me thanks to the gift of my Holy Baptism. We need to study our faith, to get to know Jesus more, to stay close to His Mother Mary, to know our Church and what it teaches. The lives of the Saints give us truly heroic example of a life of faith. We must pray, frequent the Sacraments and build up a strong interior relationship with Christ and not seek external experiences or sensations because we have to live by faith which is not easy but it is truly the only way to True Joy and True Peace and Love.

  • John

    I have been to Medj. twice and I am pretty convinced it is a fraud. Happy to be proved wrong though. Peace

  • patricia

    I don’t know if it’s true or not, but if it is a fraud, it’s the most “fruit-producing” fraud I ever did see! Mark while I can believe that Jesus can work miracles with us anywhere, I find it a hard sell that he would continue to do it in/at a place of “fraud”, at least for so many years.

    Personally I have reasons for doubt, but more reasons to believe that Medjugorie just might be “Of God.”

    What bothers me a lot about your viewpoint Mark, as well as some of the others mentioned by Father L, is that you all assume to know more than the Catholic Church. If Rome can’t tell us with certitude that it’s a fraud, how much pride does it take for you guys to be above the Church? THAT’S what bothers me the most, not that it might not be the real deal. Even if you all turn out to be correct, you will always be wrong in having over stepped what was never yours to “over step”, especially as high profile Catholics.

    I guess you all think you are “saving” us, or something. Well, if our Church is truly guided by the Holy Spirit, maybe God has His reasons for letting us either be blessed by Medjugorie or not. I wonder if any of you ever stop and consider that just maybe you are interferring with God’s plan.

    Hey and look out if Cardinal Schonborn get’s elected Pope. He LOVES Medjurgorie!

    And yes, I’m sure I spelled it wrong too, and I’m a girl: go figure!

    • Mark Shea

      I don’t claim to know more than the Church. I claim to agree with the teachings of the bishops who have investigated Medjugorje.

      Oh, and Schoenborn will not be pope.

  • patricia

    Mark you can’t have it both ways. If Rome hasn’t accepted the investigation of the Bishops, consequently, over took the authority from the Bishops, then you are indeed claiming to know more than the church.

    • Mark Shea

      It’s not a question of Rome “not accepting” the bishops’ investigation. The bishops themselves referred the matter to Rome because people like you have refused to listen to reason. The bishop’s are hoping that people who would not listen to the lawful authority of the local ordinaries will listen to Rome. Rome will, when she speaks, reaffirm what the local ordinaries have said. When Rome speaks, the question is: will you finally listen to what you should have listened to 20 years ago? Or will you mutter darkly that “the smoke of Satan” has invaded St. Peter’s?

  • patricia

    I don’t have a horse in the race Mark. Whatever Rome says, is fine with me. If it’s that clear cut, it makes no sense that it needs to be dragged out any longer.

    • Mark Shea

      The only reason it’s dragged out is that people ignore the bishops and believe the frauds who perpetuate the lie of Medjugorje.

    • Mark Shea

      The only reason it’s dragged out is that people ignore the bishops and believe the frauds who perpetuate the lie of Medjugorje.


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