WARSAW (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis has chosen Polish archbishop Henryk Hoser to be the Vatican pastoral envoy for pilgrims at Medjugorje.
Since 1981, Medjugorje has been mired in controversy with alleged visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary reportedly taking place regularly in the Bosnian town for about 35 years. Bishops of the diocese with jurisdiction over the reported apparitions have declared the visions false.
Hoser commented to La Fede Quotidiana on February 15, "I do not know why the Pope appointed me. Of course, I'm grateful."
The Vatican is sending Hoser to Medjugorje with "the aim of acquiring a deeper knowledge of the pastoral situation" and to understand "the needs of the faithful who go there in pilgrimage." He will be expected "to suggest possible pastoral initiatives for the future."
"I limit myself to the pastoral not to the doctrine and therefore not to the question of veracity," he noted. "In regards to the fruits on the souls, they seem positive to me. By fruits I mean the practice of the sacraments, the conversions, the lifestyle changes, the participation at Mass and this all happens in Medjugorje, we cannot deny it and disregard it pastorally."
He estimated that more than 2 million pilgrims visit the town yearly, saying "that means something." He went on to clarify, "But I do not deal with the theological aspects and appearances that are the subject of the Pontifical Commission. My range is pastoral."
He reiterated to La Fede Quotidiana that he would not be dealing with the alleged visionaries, asserting, "For me they are neither a problem nor the problem. And I repeat to you, they are not part of my task."
Since 1981, 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.
The Franciscans at the heart of the alleged apparitions have fractured, suffering censure from the local bishop over their disobedience.
In 2015, Cdl. Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), forbade Vicka Ivankovic-Mijatovic, one of Medjugorje's alleged seers, from speaking and having a vision at a parish church in in Sestola, Italy.
The CDF issued a letter in 2013 to every American diocese forbidding Catholics to participate in any events where "the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted." The alleged visionaries travel throughout the world promoting the alleged apparitions, sometimes claiming to have visions at the venues they visit.
The Vatican further asserted:
[W]ith regard to the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, all should accept the declaration, dated 10 April 1991, from the Bishops of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, which asserts: "On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations."