…who have a, for the most part, honest and simple faith in the signs ‘n wonders aspect of the faith. I have a healthy regard for people who take such things seriously and I think such folk piety has always had and will always have a place in the Church. At the same time, like everything else human, such an impulse requires the guidance of the Church or it can (and has) fractaled off into crazytown antics, nutty beliefs and (not infrequently) dangerous heresies and cults. Belief in private revelation is best dealt with by taking it seriouly and holding it lightly. The absolute worst way to handle claims of private revelation is to chase after them or, worse, use them as a substitute for learning the Church’s teaching or maturing into an adult Catholic who is formed by the creed, sacraments, commandments, beatitudes, and prayers of the Church in union with the Magisterium.
Now one of the things Spirit Daily and its considerable readership have chased after for far too long is the fraud that is Medjugorje–a fraud that will *never ever ever* be approved by the Church. Recently, the CDF not only reiterated that there can be no church-sponsored pilgrimages, but they also made clear that the fraudulent dog and pony shows done by fake Medj seers should not be allowed in US Churches. The point is pretty clear: Stop talking about this junk as though it’s a real apparition. Spirit Daily, to its credit, links a at least one post saying “Pray and obey” and is not, like some Medjugorje supporters, fomenting rebellion or paranoid conspiracy theories about the matter. However, one does have to ask, if the spirit of Rome’s instruction is “Stop talking about this stuff like it’s a real apparition” then why are these links still prominently featured on the Spirit Daily page?
It is, after all, no secret that Spirit Daily has talked for years as though this fraud is the real deal. If they want to stop giving that impression, per the CDF instruction, then they should stop disseminating this junk from sites that habitually talk as though this fraud is genuine.
The Medjugorje Fraud is not–absolutely not–going to end well. I know of at least one priest who has lived and served in Medjugorje for years who is now convinced that it is not merely a human fraud, but a demonic one. In this view, he is not very far from not one, but two bishops of the diocese where this fraud has been perpetrated:
The majority of the pious public has naively fallen victim of the great propaganda. These people themselves have become the greatest propaganda for the events. They do not even stop to think that the truth has been hidden by deliberate falsehoods. – Msgr. Pavao Žanić, former bishop of Mostar
The numerous absurd messages, lies, falsehoods and disobedience associated from the beginning with the events and “apparitions” of Medjugorje, all refute every claim of authenticity. – Msgr. Ratko Perić, present bishop of Mostar
And these guys are backed up–19-0–by the vote of their entire episcopal conference. You can read the whole appalling history here.
The CDF’s latest move, clamping down on Ivan Dragicevic’s and various other fake “seer” traveling roadshows (which has helped him pay off his $800,000 home in a single year), is the shape of things to come. Despite the True Believers’ delusional telling of the tale, the reality is not that Rome “took it out of the hands of the local bishops” because a righteous Son of Peter is just about to school these unbelieving bishops in True Marian Piety. Rather, the reality is that the local ordinaries handed the case to Rome in the sure and certain confidence that Rome will agree with them and will tell the True Believers that this is indeed what the bishops above call it: lies and deliberate falsehoods.
Related in the ensuing article, the sixteenth-century case of Magdalena of the Cross is essential reading for those who argue that even Satanic inspiration could not keep the fraud alive for so long. At least one of the “seers” or their extended family would have broken ranks and spilled the beans, they say. Yet even without a preternatural element, with so much money at stake, both personally and corporately, it would take a brave person to fess up to such an epochal deception tied to myriad vested interests. Fr Philip Pavich, an American Franciscan who worked for eleven years in Israel before securing a transfer to Bosnia to be close to Medjugorje, is in no doubt about this powerful motivation to maintain the Big Lie.
“I believed the apparitions when I came. If anybody wanted it to be true, I did,” he once told writer Bill Sammon. Watching people go partially blind by staring at the “miracle of the sun” and observing “professional visionaries” who are “living off the profits” of the booming tourist trade opened his eyes to the truth. “Medjugorje has spawned 400 visionaries in the United States,” said Pavich, “They got ’em in every state. It’s a ridiculous, pandemic situation. It’s totally out of control. I mean, it is a sick visionary world. Canada, the United States, Australia … everybody that has touched Medjugorje has spawned a whole new petri dish of visionaries.”
Pavich grew especially disenchanted with the six original visionaries. “Oh man, they bring home lots of money. People give unbelievably. It’s like a cult. They’re like little cult leaders, little cult characters. And they collect, man, big time. They’ve got second houses; they’ve got perks. They’re professional visionaries who are living off the profits.”
“Some wealthy Croat tour leader will put down 80,000 bucks, build a house for a visionary, and then she’ll sucker her pilgrims into coming by saying ‘When you come you’ll get to stay with a visionary’,” said Pavich, who noted the beauty of the visionaries’ houses. “They’re a scandal to a lot of people because they (the visionaries) are in on the take — big time. … They don’t work, they never work. They just collect money.”
Rome, being typically Roman, seems to be taking their time on this. I have my worthless theories on why this is: romanitas, the fear of scandal when the fraud is finally exposed, worries about the honest faith of simple good people who have been honestly deceived and whose whole faith may come crashing down as a result, frets about money, worries about yet another global church-bashing fest, perhaps they are searching for the best words to tell people who have steeped themselves in a lie for 30 years that they’ve been had, maybe they are concerned about trying to get their ducks in a row in order to outflank the fake “seers” lest they attempt an act of schism when they are finally exposed. But I have no doubts whatsoever about what the commission is ultimately going to find. They are going to reiterate what the local ordinaries said at minimum and, at maximum, they are going to condemn the fraud as a fraud. And my hope is that the Ents of Rome will speak sooner rather than later, since the fraud is now being marketed as a movie. Attentiveness to pop culture, God bless ’em, is not their strong suit.
Sites like Spirit Daily could save themselves an awful lot of trouble and heartache right now if they would exercise some minimal discernment, de-couple from this fraud now and start warning their readers that this is a fraud and is not going to end well. The anti-charism of discernment that has managed to be incredibly wrong so often about so much will not serve True Believers in Medjugorje either.
But Cardinal Schoenborn approves of Medjugorje!
Yes. And Cardinal Schoenborn approved of this Wild West Mass too:
In the Old Testament God sent prophets to warn of the betrayals of the Jewish people. Now, here, to warn of the betrayal of the Christian people, also the priests, God sends us His Mother! It has been 30 years! Is it possible that people still do not hear? And as for those people who believe themselves to be intelligent by saying they wait until the Church approves? They are fools!”
Yes. And he thereby makes the crowning statement in a long history of crazy, reckless, and irresponsible things that only the most discernment-free Catholic could possibly take seriously.
Every episcopal leader responsible for the care of the flock at Medjugorje has said, at minimum, that there is no evidence Mary is appearing at Medjugorje. The one’s most directely involved have said considerably more, using words like “lies” to characterize the fraud. The CDF has just clamped down on the frauds spreading those lies here in the US. Fr. Amorth’s reckless and foolish demand that we accept the absolute contrary of what the bishops of Mostar say is as worthless a guide as his other ridiculous claims to have performed nine excorcisms a day, 24/7, for nine solid years.
But rosaries have turned to gold!
Yeah? Prove it. I’ve heard that urban legend for years.
But good fruits!
Yep. Where you have the sacraments and good hearts disposed to them, you are going to have good fruits. God can bring good out of the crucifixion after all. But fat lot of good that did Judas. These fake seers are Judases. Don’t buy what they are selling. Don’t get played. This stuff is a fraud.