[SUMMARY: Bp. Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno in Bosnia and Herzegovina has sent letters to the pastor and a parochial vicar at Medjugorje, with specific directives about how they and the parish are not to promote the alleged apparitions of the place:
- that alleged messages and commentaries on them are not to be published;
- that prayers from the apparitions are not to be used publicly;
- the parish church is not to be called a “shrine”, even privately;
- that foreign priests may not give conferences or retreats without permission of the bishop;
- foreign priests wishing to offer Mass must present a celebret from their diocese or order, and the information is to be recorded;
- a privately-built church has already been closed and is not to be used;
- unauthorized religious communities have no permission to set up residence;
- and about regulating several other forms of promotion of the alleged phenomenon.
This English version is based on the Italian text published on the website of the diocese of Mostar-Duvno.]
Letter of the bishop to Friar Petar Vlasic, parish priest of Medjugorje
Mostar, 12 June 2009.: Prot. 648/2009
Reverend parish priest friar Peter!
After having made the canonical visit to the parish of Medjugorje last Wednesday, 10 June, where nine other Franciscan fathers share the pastoral care of souls with you, according to the directive issued by this office, I wish to make reference now, by this means, to several points.
Inasmuch as you are the current parish priest, who have been working in that capacity since September 2007, I express to you my sincere thanks for maintaining transparent records in the books of registration and other matters. For a parish priest, as for a bishop – it is really essential to carry out not only the munus docendi et sanctificandi, but also the munus gubernandi entrusted to us.
The rule is still valid that in the parish of Medjugorje priests coming from elsewhere are not permitted to conduct retreats or spiritual exercises, nor to hold conferences, without the approval of this office. (Circular of 23.8.2001, #1290/2001)
Analogously, neither foreign nor domestic priests can promote alleged “messages” or “apparitions” which have not been proclaimed authentic in that church or on church property.
It is praiseworthy that you require from every priest who wishes to celebrate the Holy Mass at Medjugorje the celebret of his ecclesiastical superior and that you record in a particular book all the concelebrants, from the beginning of this year.
As well, you have kept me informed about the “Oasis of peace”, which, since the intervention of this office on 15 December 2008, no longer keeps the Blessed Sacrament privately in their chapel and no longer conducts adoration, which they had been doing according to their own account. They do not have permission as a religious association to reside in the territory of this diocese.
You have informed me that the church in Bijakovic, built by a foreign member of the faithful as his ex voto, without the necessary request and approval of the competent ecclesiastical authority, has been closed by now and that no services are conducted in it.
In the parish chronicle you have made sure to record, with the right terminology, everything that happens to this parish as a pastoral unit of this diocese, without regard to all the stories about “seers”, “apparitions”, and “messages” connected with the parish.
“The phenomenon of Medjugorje”:
The “Shrine”. The parish of Medjugorje cannot be called a shrine, neither privately, nor publicly, not officially, because it is not recognized as such by any level of competent ecclesial authority. And that wording cannot appear on the web site of “Medjugorje – place of prayer and reconciliation”, where it is currently found in many places. In a statement on that site – where there is no indication of who is responsible for it – this message appears:
“To avoid any misunderstanding, we wish to underscore that the Shrine has not given the mission of representing Medjugorje to anyone. The Shrine has not given the mission to any community or person either in Medjugorje or outside of Medjugorje – of speading or interpreting the messages of the Gospa. All these initiatives are private and voluntary on the part of the faithful and the communities.”
From that statement it appears as if the site is proclaiming itself as being a “Shrine”. Then it seems in some way to be the only competent [source] to give instruction to the world. As the local Ordinary, in this present letter, I declare that the so-called “shrine” has no mission to declare itself a “Shrine”, nor to present (the parish) with that title, because it has no ecclesiastical mission to present itself in the name of Medjugorje, nor to spread or interpret the “apparitions” and “messages” of Medjugorje.
Commentaries on the “messages”: I have already discussed with you and with another vicar, with friar Danko Perutina, who writes and publishes the commentaries on the “messages” issued from the “apparitions” on the 25th of the month. It was said that he receives the “messages” of the “seer” Marija from Italy or from Medjugorje when she is in that location, and then he presents them there, comments on them and publishes them. This is contrary to the decision and request of this Curia, especially after the declaration of 10 June 2006, which was repeated in the parish church on 6 July 2009 (the accompanying homily).
The Cenacolo. After our intervention, on Christmas Day of last year, there are no longer private “apparitions” in the courtyard of the Cenacolo by the alleged “seer” Mirjana Dragićević, married name Soldo, on the second of each month.
The association “Queen of Peace…” I have been informed in our meeting that in the association founded by Tomislav Vlašić at Medjugorje, which equally has no permission to reside in the territory of this diocese, there are some members, men and women, who dress in lay clothes.
The number of prayers. In September 2007, on the occasion of your installation in the office of parish priest, I indicated to you that the so-called “seers” cannot present themselves on any occasion to promote their private “apparitions” and “messages”, nor to preside, nor to have anyone preside in their place, at the recitation of a certain number of prayers “received” in an “apparition”. Therefore, they cannot use prayers from scripture or those approved by the Church as a means of introducing “numbers” and “messages” from the private “apparition”.
The intentions of the rosary. It is equally not permitted to introduce intentions received in an “apparition” or “message” during the prayer of the Rosary of Our Lady. We have sufficient official intentions (from the Pope, from the bishop, for the missions) and there is no need to arbitrarily have recourse to alleged apparitions and messages and mix them with the Church’s public prayers.
Anniversaries. It is not permitted that the “seers” be invited and present themselves in the parish church or on any church properties at any time, especially on occasions related to the “apparitions” of Medjugorje, to promote their private “messages” and “apparitions”. Therefore, we do not mix the unrecognized with what is recognized, the private with the official, the non-liturgical with the liturgical.
Grateful for what you, together with the other friars of the parish, undertake for the good of souls, and because you know how to clearly separate pastoral care from private “apparitions” and “messages”, I greet you with devout respects.
And the second letter:
Letter of the bishop to friar Danko Perutina, parochial vicar of Medjugorje
Mostar, 12 June 2009; Prot. 649/2009
Reverend friar Danko!
After your priestly ordination in 1999 and at the conclusion of your studies, I appointed you, at the suggestion of your religious superiors, in 2000, parochial vicar of Humac. Then, again at the suggestion of your provincial governor, in 2001, vicar of Medjugorje, in 2005 again of Humac, and in 2007 at Medjugorje. In the meantime, you studied and obtained a degree in mariology at Rome.
I write to you in reference to your commentaries on the so-called “messages” and “apparitions” on the 25th day of the month. In an official visit to Medjugorje on the 10 June, I had a conversation with you, with the parish priest friar Petar Vlasic and another vicar present.
In the conversation it became clear that Marija Pavlović, married name Lunetti, daily “seer” who lives in Italy, and temporarily also at Medjugorje, sends to the parish office or to some one of your pastoral workers in the parish of Medjugorje, her “message” of the 25th day of the month, which is then published on the Medjugorje web site and in other mass media. And you regularly make commentary on the monthly “message”, which is published in various languages.
When I asked how the “messages” of the 25th were published, and not the other “messages” said to be “private”, I did not feel I received a clear and convincing answer. I do not know who has sent and authorized you to comment on them and publish them on the site. What sort of person is assuming the right to decide that some “messages” be omitted and others published, and that this is done through the parish office and the site connected with the parish of Medjugorje?
We are gradually succeeding in distancing the unrecognized “apparitions” and “messages” from the parish church and from church property, and the appearances of the “seers” before or after Holy Mass. In that conversation I reminded you of having asked in 2006, and reconfirmed in 2009 from the altar, that “No priest who works canonically in this parish of Medjugorje or who is here temporarily, is authorized to present his private opinion, contrary to the official position of the Church on the “apparitions and messages”, neither at the celebration of the sacraments, or during the regular acts of devotion, nor in the Catholic media.” (homily attached).
To avoid any misunderstanding, in this present letter I declare that you, according to my decree, are not authorized, either in the name of the parish office or as parochial vicar, to comment upon and publish the “messages” of the 25th or any other day of the month. These are private “messages” of private persons for private use. And we cannot permit that this is given the form of a message from the parish office, from the parish priest, or any parochial vicar, or even of the “Shrine” which is not recognized as such at any level: not diocesan, or the level of the episcopal conference, or of the Holy See.
Therefore I expect with trust, without any further admonitions, that from now on you will not publish your commentaries, either in the name of the parish office or in your own name, or under a pseudonym, not after the 25th of this month or at all, as long as things continue as is.
I greet you with devout respects.