Plummeting Numbers at Medjugorje

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  •  August 28, 2015   

The number of Italian pilgrims visiting the site have dropped by half

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MEDJUGORJE, August 28, 2015 ( - The number of Italian pilgrims to Medjugorje has dropped by half in recent weeks, according to a recent Catholic Herald report.

Italians make up the bulk of visitors to the controversial site where Marian apparitions have allegedly been taking place for more than 30 years. Ever since the Pope's announcement in June, made on his return flight from Sarajevo, that the Vatican is "close to coming to a decision" on the authenticity of the apparitions, the site has seen a sharp drop in numbers.

A few days later, in a homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis seemed to make a jab at Medjugorje pilgrims. He warned against various ways of watering down one's Christian identity — among them seeking "after novelty," including supernatural messages and apparitions. Such Christians forget who they are, he said, and they ask questions like, "Where are the visionaries who can tell us exactly what message Our Lady will be sending at four o'clock this afternoon?"

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has stepped in on several occasions over the past few years and ordered Medjugorje-themed events to be cancelled. So far, the CDF has issued letters forbidding such events in the United States, Italy and Spain.  

It was in response to a 2013 speaking tour by Ivan Dragicevic, one of the visionaries who claims to continue to receive daily messages from Our Lady, that the CDF issued a letter to be sent to every American diocese forbidding the faithful to participate in any events where "the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted." The letter also re-affirmed the findings of the 1991 Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference, which concluded that "it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations" at Medjugorje.

Medjugorje has been steeped in controversy, as alleged visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have reportedly been taking place like clockwork in the Bosnian town for more than three decades, with thousands of messages from Our Lady, some of which are doctrinally questionable.

Both bishops of the diocese with jurisdiction over the reported apparitions have condemned the visions as false. Bishop Ratko Peric, current bishop of Mostar, said

During my official visit to the Holy Father Benedict XVI, I not only expressed my doubts but also my disbelief in the "apparitions" of Medjugorje. The Holy Father, who prior to his election was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, replied with this thought: "We at the Congregation always asked ourselves how a believer could possibly accept as authentic, apparitions that occur every day for so many years?"

The CDF set up an international panel of experts in 2010 to investigate the alleged apparitions. The investigation concluded last year, and the final decree is expected to be published this fall.

For our FAQ on Medjugorje, visit our resource page.

Watch Michael Voris' presentation on Medjugorje here.


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