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Pope says he doubts continuing alleged Medjugorje apparitions are authentic

Pope Francis speaks to reporters as he flies back to Rome after the visit at the Holy Shrine of Fatima in Portugal on May 13, 2017. Reuters/Tiziana Fabi/Pool

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) Pope Francis has voiced serious doubt about the authenticity of alleged continuing apparitions of the Madonna in Medjugorje, a once-obscure village in Bosnia boosted by the pilgrim business.

“These presumed apparitions don’t have a lot of value. This I say as a personal opinion,” he told reporters on his plane returning on Saturday night from Portugal where he gave the Catholic Church two new child saints.

Six children first reported visions of the Virgin Mary in 1981 in a scenario reminiscent of famous apparitions in the French town of Lourdes in the 19th century and 100 years ago in Fatima, which Francis visited on Friday and Saturday.

In the following years, the Bosnian village became a major pilgrimage site, giving many visitors a renewed sense of spirituality and locals a steady source of much-needed revenue.

It also became the focus of controversy as local Franciscan priests running the site promoted their claims in such open defiance of warnings from the Vatican that some were expelled from the order and the local bishop called them schismatic.

Some of the alleged visionaries, now adults, say they still experience apparitions regularly, and that the Madonna tells them ahead of time when she will appear to them.

Many say the apparitions are a hoax.

Former Pope Benedict set up a commission of theologians and bishops to study the situation. Its report has not been published but was given to Pope Francis in 2014.

Francis said investigations are continuing into the first alleged apparitions when the reported visionaries were children or teenagers, but again made it clear that he is highly skeptical about today’s claims.

“The (commission) report has its doubts. I personally am more nasty. I prefer the Madonna as mother, our mother, and not a Madonna who is the head of a telegraph office, who every day sends a message at such-and-such an hour. This is not the Mother of Jesus,” he said.

“Who thinks that the Madonna says, ‘Come tomorrow at this time, and at such time I will deliver a message to that visionary?'” he said.

But Francis acknowledged that some people who go to Medjugorje experience a spiritual renewal and “encounter God, change their lives.”

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Philip Pullella


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  • “a once-obscure village in Bosnia boosted by the pilgrim business.”

    Nothing I can add to THAT.

  • “Many say the apparitions are a hoax”. Also, many say Christianity is also one.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 – Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with” To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We do not walk the earth. There was a time when the dead walked the Earth – but that was when Jesus was raised.
    Mary is either fast asleep, or with the Lord. She doesn’t walk the Earth.

  • “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
    Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
    And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
    Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
    Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
    Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.”

    Did Paul have an apparition, too? How do you tell a fake appearance of Mary from a real one?

  • On toast, a garage floor, or on a taco: real.
    Not on toast, a garage floor, or a taco: fake.

  • ““The (commission) report has its doubts. I personally am more nasty. I prefer the Madonna as mother, our mother, and not a Madonna who is the head of a telegraph office, who every day sends a message at such-and-such an hour. This is not the Mother of Jesus,” he said.”

    About 20 years ago, a pattern of lights suddenly began to appear on the walls of a small Catholic church in the sierras, every day at approximately the same time. People could “see” in it a resemblance to the
    virgin Mary, much like both she and Jesus have both appeared on tacos and toast. The news began to spread. People came from miles around to witness the miracle of her appearance.

    I remember one lady in particular. “It IS the Virgin Mary, and her message is world peace.” (She might have said whirled peas.) An absolutely faith based response. The local bishop weighed in with THIS classic: “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. for those who don’t believe, no explanation ispossible.” Well, he certainly covered his butt with that one. And yet, ironically, it was far truer than he knew.

    A scientist was called in. He could not determine the source of the pattern of lights, but was fairly certain it was caused by refraction, possibly reflection, of sunlight somewhere in the church. He just couldn’t find it. but he did predict that the lights would not appear on any completely cloudy day.

    And he was right.

    As a professional photographer, who dealt everyday with the qualities and directions of light, it would have taken me roughly five minutes and a long stick to determine where the light was coming from. But they didn’t ask me. The miracle, of course, ceased to exist.

    can’t imagine why. /s

  • …meanwhile, the widows and children scatter by the millions world wide, as the US military is running out of bombs and missles ‘defending this christian nation’, as congress drowns in the blood of millions of innocents throughout the middle east, Africa and south america, getting filthy rich bringing anguish, misery, despair, death and destruction in biblical proportions…

  • Do you mean to say, Mr. Pope, that Medjugorgie might be fraudulent? Goodness, gracious.

  • Now watch your language, buster. I think you meant to say, and should have said “oh, my!”

  • Great reply quoting Beetles, Jim! I always wondered why /how they came up with those lyrics (does this mean Paul McCartney is a believer in Marian apparitions?) Hey, if Mother Mary comes to you ‘speaking words of wisdom’ then by all means listen up a d ‘let it BE!”

  • Many people say many things – and half of them are canceled out by the other half. Truth is not established by consensus — it is established by its correspondence with Reality.

  • It’s simpler than Marian apparitions: Paul McCartney’s mother, who died while he was in his early teens, was named Mary. He’s talking about dreaming of her.