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PAPAL PLANE (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis is expressing skepticism about the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje. On the papal flight back from Portugal Saturday, the Holy Father was asked about the Vatican investigation into the Marian apparitions in the Bosnian town.
"The report has its doubts, but personally, I am a little worse," he told reporters. "I prefer Our Lady as mother, our mother, and not Our Lady as head of the post office who sends a message at a stated time."
He continued, "This isn't Jesus' mother. And these alleged apparitions don't have much value. I say this as a personal opinion, but it is clear. Who thinks that Our Lady says, 'Come, because tomorrow at this time I will give a message to that seer?' No!"
Even so, the Holy Father acknowledged that conversions are taking place. The "spiritual and pastoral facts cannot be denied: People go there and convert, people who find God, who change their lives," Pope Francis said. "There isn't magic there."
The alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been occurring like clockwork in the Bosnian town since 1981, when a group of children claimed they were receiving heavenly messages from Mary. She's reportedly been appearing to them regularly ever since, giving thousands of messages over the course of more than three decades. The alleged apparitions have turned the once-sleepy village into a travel destination for millions of pilgrims and tourists, launching the seers to international fame as they travel the globe on lucrative speaking tours.
At least three of the original six visionaries claim to still be receiving messages daily from Our Lady. Her appearances are so regular, in fact, that she seems to appear on command at the seers' whim.
In 2012, visionary Marija Pavlovic Lunetti was scheduled to speak at the National Medjugorje Conference at the University of Notre Dame, complete with a scheduled apparition "streamed live ... on computers, iPhones, iPads and all droid devices!" The event was to take place at the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, but when a conflict occurred because of the university's basketball game scheduled to take place at the same time, the event — along with the apparition — was moved to a different time and place.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the CDF, prohibited a parish in Sestola, Italy from holding a prayer meeting scheduled for June 21, 2015, where Vicka Ivankovic-Mijatovic, one of the Medjugorje seers, was to offer her testimony and possibly have a vision. Vicka had attended the same event in the two years previous and reportedly had visions during her time there.
Müller had to remind two Italian dioceses they could not sponsor events for Medjugorje visionaries. In March, in light of a scheduled conference with Ivan Dragicevic at a parish in St. Louis, Missouri, Archbishop Robert Carlson issued the following statement:
I have received a request from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to remind everyone that they are not to participate in events that promote the so-called visionaries of Medjugorje and in particular Mr. Ivan Dragicevic.
In the same year, another scheduled event with Ivan Dragicevic in Padua was called off after Müller intervened.
It was in response to a speaking tour by Dragicevic in 2013 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 reaffirmed 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. Their conclusion follows canonical investigations by two successive bishops of the Mostar diocese, in which the apparition site is located, which failed to establish the supernatural nature of the alleged visions.
So far, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued letters forbidding Medjugorje-themed events in the United States, Italy and Spain.
The most recent statement comes from Bp. Ratko Peric of the Mostar diocese, who repeated his condemnation of the apparition site.
"Considering everything that this diocesan chancery has so far researched and studied, including the first seven days of alleged apparitions, we can say: There have been no apparitions of Our Lady of Medjugorje," he announced on February 27.