Are Pilgrimages to Medjugorje Reeeeeeeally Forbidden?

Are Pilgrimages to Medjugorje Reeeeeeeally Forbidden? November 6, 2013

Yes. Really:

When the second commission was formed, Cardinal Franjo Kuharić and the Bishop of Mostar, in the name of the CBY, declared publicly on 9 January 1987: “For this reason it is forbidden to organise pilgrimages or other manifestations motivated by the supernatural character attributed to the events in Medjugorje“.

Ah! But this only applies to church-sanctioned pilgrimages!

True, but utterly unimportant. The Church doesn’t (and can’t) forbid private pilgrimages for the simple reason that she can’t forbid freedom of movement. You can make a private pilgrimage to the grocery store and say a Rosary before a squash you think resembles the likeness of Jesus if that’s what floats your boat. Doesn’t mean your pilgrimage proves that Jesus is appearing on Aisle 7. People make private pilgrimages to Auschwitz. That doesn’t mean the Blessed Mother is appearing there.

The note from the CDF about Medjugorje is the death knell for this fraud.

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  • Jordan

    “My Daddy said not to *stand* on the counter, but he didn’t say I couldn’t reach the top shelf by *kneeling* on the counter!”

    Game set match, Mr. Doubty McDoubt-Pants!

    • chezami


  • Sean P. Dailey

    Why do you hate aisle 7, Mark?

    • Alexander S Anderson

      I mean, come on, hasn’t it borne good fruit? and some good vegetables?

      • Dan F.

        I see what you did there.

  • Jane

    Now you’re making me want to go to the grocery store and pray the rosary amongs the vegetables.

    • michicatholic

      Yeah, who knows? There might be a water spot on the floor in the shape
      of the BVM and someone could call CNN and get famous, or even better,
      make a lot of money from passing the hat.

  • Fr. Terry Donahue

    “…official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, are not permitted to be organized either on the parish or on the diocesan level…” (Most Rev. Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to Bishop Taverdet, 23 March 1996)

    “…concerning pilgrimages to Medjugorje which take place in a private manner, this Congregation holds that they are permitted, on the condition that they not be considered a validation of events in progress and which still call for examination by the Church.” (Most Rev. Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to Bishop Aubry, 26 May 1998)

  • Facebook User

    And you have the authority to declare it a fraud because?

    • chezami

      Because I’m a free man who is entitled to an opinion based on my reading of the bleedin’ obvious evidence. I don’t have the authority to tell you to agree with me. But I do have the authority to say you will regret it if you don’t.

    • michicatholic

      Because I have enough common sense to recognize that there’s something fishy about “visions on demand” followed by passing the hat.

    • Clare Krishan

      anyone trying to overturn tradition — visionary’s demand that her so-called ‘apparation’ of Our Lady corrected a 2000-yr old misapprehension of the date of her birthday (implying the date associated with the Dogma of her Immaculate Conception would be way off also) — is attempting to defraud the gullible of the Truth. hallo??? Authority??? My fidelity to our Church’s Magesterium demands I correct such egregious tomfoolery, I don’t need any special authority other than perhaps the grace I received at confirmation.

      • Peter

        Clare, the birthday of the Blessed Virgin is not de fide…

        • Clare Krishan

          Did I ever say it was? What I said was egregious tomfoolery implying a Dogma declared on a day the Church has honored with a Feast binding on the Faithful (Ineffabilis Deus) Dec 8, a Holy Day of Obligation in these United States consecrated to Our Lady as Patron under this Title) could be called into question by gullible sorts ought – and can be – corrected without special authority.

          • Chauffeur

            It’s unlikely that Christ was born on December 25 too. That doesn’t lessen the importance of His birth, or any aspect of our devotion or recognition of the importance of Christmas. The Church’s establishment of a date is not what’s important… the event is the important thing assigned to a date which then is recognized as important because of the event.

            • Dan F.

              actually, December 25 (or thereabouts) is likely accurate (quick calculations based on when Zechariah would have been in the temple, therefore when Elisabeth would have had John, add 6 months, presto chango you get the end of December.)

              • Chauffeur

                “thereabouts” that sounds reasonable to me!


    “Visionary Ivan” has been forced to cancel all his trips to parishes in America by the CDF. Something tells me very soon we are going to see the other shoe drop. One can only hope he is forced into silence on the manner.

    • Milton

      Looks like the “visionaries” will have to get real jobs like the rest of us.

      I hope they are forced to return the millions of dollars they have conned back to the Church and the working-poor.

  • bernard

    You’re smart, Mark, but not that smart! 🙂 No mention of pilgrimages on the forbidden list. Work it out. Ask yourself why. Separation of Church and state of ecstasy. Must be a reason, but not the reason you will favour. Undoer of knots working overtime. Check with Francis. And when completed not a knot in sight and she will still be pulling the string and holding both ends. Shrine status at one end… “private revelation” at the other. 🙂 peace and prayers.

    • michicatholic

      You know, sometimes I think that all the smart ones left at the Reformation. You guys are doing nothing but confirming that perception.

      • I’m still trying to figure out what bernard is actually saying. Can someone help me?

        Seriously, this sounds like a bunch of Glossolalia to me. I need a Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring.

        • Rebecca Fuentes

          Glossolalia is more pleasant.

          • Dan F.

            and fruitful

        • PalaceGuard

          Not enough spontaneous glottal stops to be glossolalia.

    • chezami

      The delusion continues. Some people see what’s there. Some people see what the will themselves to see.

  • tj.nelson

    Mark, what exactly are you trying to say here?
    Just kidding.

  • Josey

    Authorities tried to outlaw pilgrimage to Lourdes as well back in the days however it didn’t last long.

    • HornOrSilk

      Medjugorje is no Lourdes

    • And if Catholics disobeyed, they were guilty of disobedience.

      • IRVCath

        Precisely. Even assuming for sake of argument if Medj is worthy of belief, if the Bishop tells you to stay away, we’re supposed to ask ourselves, “If I obeyed His Grace, would it be a sin?” Now we all know that not going on pilgrimage anywhere is not a sin. Therefore we are bound to obey our legitimate superiors when they tell us not to go. Perhaps there are practical reasons, perhaps there are spiritual reasons, but we are bound to obey.

  • LSpinelli

    I used to believe in this thing. Years ago. Now I think it’s on the same level as this:

  • Yes, and the same website also has an excellent article “Medjugorje and the Church”:

  • Hugh Beaumont

    Fatima, Lourdes, Gudalupe – the local Bishops had the first and final say. There’s no court of appeal for Medjugorge. Nuke it.

    • Chauffeur

      MORE misinformation. Correction… the Vatican commission headed by Cardinal Ruini is evaluating Medjugorje, not the local Bishops and will submit their findings to the CDF who will have the final say.

  • Thomas J. Ryan

    I’m surprised they aren’t trying to say the “misspelling” of Medjugorje invalidates the letter.

    • Chauffeur

      You give us so little credit…..

  • Have you ever been at Medjugorje, Mark?

    Ops, no? Ok.

    As to the real content of the letter, here it is:

    • I don’t see where you point out how he is wrong. Saying “have you been there” isn’t a valid argument.
      Besides, what does Mr. Akin say that Mr. Shea does not? Both seem to say explicitly you can’t organize pilgrimages to Medjugorje, and that the declaration of the Bishops that there is no supernatural revelation going on remains in effect.

      • Chauffeur

        MORE misinformation….Yes, you may organize a pilgrimage – but not on a parish or diocesan level. (It’s not a Church approved apparition.) Also, the bishops of that time claimed there was no “evidence” of these events being supernatural, but the apparitions were not condemned. They didn’t accept the evidence, but were wise to allow continuing pilgrimages.

        • Headstand

          I, for one, am just deeply grateful that the CDF has shut down this kind of speculative ugliness and division from further spreading here in the US by this most recent letter.

          • Chauffeur

            Again, not shut down. But what motivates your hatred?

            • Headstand

              Gratefully, the veracity of your speculative claims are of no importance, our Church doesn’t require my belief in them. Therefore, I, for one, consider yourself shut down.

        • You really don’t understand how private revelation works. Very, and I mean VERY seldom is a private revelation condemned. What happens instead is they determine that, based on their judgement, there is nothing of a supernatural character to these private revelations.

          They didn’t “continue to allow pilgrimages” because again, the Church doesn’t prevent people from freedom of movement. All they can say is that you can’t make a Catholic event out of those pilgrimages by including clerics, representing a parish, etc.

          Now here’s the question. If you can’t do it on the parish level, and priests should not be involved, why organize a “private” pilgrimage?

          • Chauffeur

            The Catholic Church is very cautious about these things- and rightly so! In addition, they have the right to condemn an apparition and may go as far as threatening excommunication to those professing belief in something that is contrary to the Faith. But they haven’t done so in connection with Medjugorje. And for good reason. The jury is still out.

            Consider Mary’s statement to St. Bernadette; “I am the Immaculate Conception.” at Lourdes. Prior to that time, there was great debate about whether or not the Mother of God was conceived free of original sin. So too, we might be concerned about some statements in Medjugorje – but that can’t, in itself, be the catalyst to dismiss it.

      • Hi Kevin, they don’t say really the same. Mr. Akin writes:

        “[O]fficial pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, are not permitted to be organized either on the parish or on the diocesan level, because that would be in contradiction to what the Bishops of former Yugoslavia affirmed in their fore mentioned Declaration.

        So while pilgrimages to Medjugorje are permitted, they could not be organized by Church bodies (parishes, dioceses) with the understanding that Medjugorje is “a place of authentic Marian apparitions.”

        On the other hand, I’m surprised to see someone who has not lived firsthand Medjugorje write comments as ferocious.

        God bless you 🙂

        • And Mr. Shea says the same thing. You can do a private pilgrimage anywhere. The Church is just saying that official pilgrimages are forbidden. i.e. if a priest leads a pilgrimage there, he’s disobedient to the Bishop, and now it is apparent he is disobedient to Rome as well.

          • This is not what you wrote. You said:

            “Both seem to say explicitly you can’t organize pilgrimages to Medjugorje”


            As you see, I can, as a lay. I even may bring priest to attend us espiritually. Nothing new then. We already knew all this from Bertone.

            By the way, all the pilgrimages I know are organized by lay people who bring some priests to help, as the Church recommends.

            Best regards

            • HornOrSilk

              You can’t go as a layman suggesting any authenticity to the visions, which means, it can’t be an official pilgrimage of any sort. When talking about pilgrimages, I think “official” is the assumption behind such talk. And arranging pilgrimages with priests and acting like it all is fine and the apparition is approved for pilgrimages IS against the declaration.

        • john konnor

          ..the spirituality at medjugorje is entirely self centred. self willed,,a spiritual diaspora….prayer fasting is the spirituality of the Pharisees which Jesus condemned…an exploitation of truth..“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18….so we see the adherents at medjugorje live by the letter of the law but do not live by the law of love..they are not humble..they do not submit to authority..which is hallmark of holy humility…they exalt themselves over the Bishop who is the proper authority..the law of love which is to concentrate on unifying the Church by being obedient to proper authority wound your neighbour grievously by disobeying the Church which Jesus gave us (the mystical Body)…and set yourself up for inveterate error..invincible or innocent ignorance is not an excuse…with the internet anyone if they wish can search out the truth of the matter…after reasonable deliberation anyone can see it is an insult to the Mother of God…

  • bob

    Speaking of pilgrimmages a 4th century Church father, St Gregory of Nyssa way back then, said pilgrimmages are a bad idea, period.

    • Chauffeur

      Dang! They should have told that to the pope before he authorized that big St. Peter’s Church in Rome.

  • Noah Doyle

    This is a scam worthy of Tetzel. Thank God for the Magisterium and the CDF.

  • Nick

    As usual, Jimmy Akin’s analysis is informative. The pilgrimages that are problematic are those that take the credibility of the alleged apparitions for granted. In other words, the final analysis is still out and we shouldn’t count our eggs before they hatch.


  • If you’re trying to discern whether the Medjugorje “Marian apparitions”
    are authentic or a hoax, I recommend taking a look at the behavior of Cardinal Schonborn and Pope Francis over the last few years. Cardinal Schonborn was given the task of editing the Catechism of the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict, is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and was one of the “papabili” during the recent papal conclave.

    Cardinal Schonborn paid a surprise visit to Medjugorje to celebrate the New Year’s Mass 2009-2010, and afterward he met with Pope Benedict to discuss Medjugorje. During Schonborn’s visit to Medjugorje, he met with four of the visionaries and climbed to the site known as “Apparition Hill” with one of the visionaries, Marija. Every year since 2010, Schonborn has invited Medjugorje visionaries to Vienna (where he serves as Archbishop), and the visionaries have had public apparitions in the Cathedral, St. Stephan’s.

    When Pope Francis recently consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 12-13, representatives from Medjugorje were not only invited to attend the ceremony, but they got “front row” seats behind the bishops and the cardinals (an unusual honor to be recognized with representatives from Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe and other approved Marian apparition sites). The invitation from Rome was for the parish priest, Father Marinko Sakota and 30 parishioners who were part of the early events at Medjugorje.

    Earlier in 2013, just a few days before he traveled to Rome for the conclave, then-Archbishop Bergoglio approved a public apparition by one of the visionaries, Ivan, in the diocese of Buenos Aires. Later, Ivan travelled
    directly from Argentina to St. Louis, where he was scheduled to speak at a
    couple of parishes. While in St. Louis, Ivan said that Bergoglio greeted him
    with a hug, gave him his blessing, and invited him to stay as long as he wanted
    to spread the messages of our Blessed Mother throughout Argentina.

    Bergoglio approved of at least three public talks in his diocese by prominent visitors from Medjugorje, including Father Jozo and Father Danko. Father Jozo was the Medjugorje parish priest when the apparitions first began, and he visited Bergoglio in Argentina in the 1990s. In an interview given with a newspaper based in Croatia, Father Jozo recounted that the two men spent a long time together, prayed together, and that Bergoglio asked for Father Jozo’s blessing at the end of their meeting.

    The bottom line is this. If you’re trying to discern whether the Medjugorje “Marian apparitions” are authentic or a hoax, take a look at the behavior of Cardinal Schonborn and Pope Francis (not the writings of Mark Shea and Jimmy Akin). I wish bloggers and journalists would take the time to research the topics they write about… especially when those topics involve the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thank you.

    • B.Medina

      Where did you get this information about Cardinal Schonborn? I cannot find proof from any neutral sources online that he did any of these things you claim.

  • Pmpc Australia

    Dear Mark, I have no reason to lie to you. If you look at the following website, you will see and your heart will understand, these words, from Pope John Paul II, to a priest who believed Medjugorje was not from God. At just Before Christmas 2002, he had dinner, with Pope John Paul II. And asked him about medjugorje. The following is the answer he was given.

    • chezami

      So what? You have some guy with a website telling you what you want to hear? Why should I care? Even if the story is true, JPII’s opinion is entirely fallible here–like his trust in Maciel (which is an apt analogy).

  • Milton

    Medjugorje has been a pick-pocketing hoax with strong demonic overtones from day one.

    The Local Bishop has condemned Medjugorje in the most withering terms very early on. Had Catholics listened to the Local Bishop this whole mess would have been avoided.

    The Church has bee negligent in allowing this fraud to live long and prosper. Even a Saint like JPII is capable of making tactical, political mistakes.

    Already, the Medjugorje Cult (these are the same ones that insist there is a Vatican conspiracy involving the 1984 Consecration of Russia and that there is a “fourth” secret of Fatima and that Vatican II was the work of the Devil, etc.) starting to craft arguments that will explain the coming Vatican condemnation of Medjugorje as just another conspiracy.

    The Medjugorje Cult is a Scandal!!!!!

  • john konnor
  • NotNow

    The death knell for Medjugorje, eh? Judging by tens of thousands of people flowing into Medjugorje every week, not dead yet.