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New Medjugorje Diocese?

Thursday, March 25, 2010 6:40 AM Comments (4)

A woman touches a cross at a venerated site in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in June last year. Widespread devotion and controversy have surrounded the reported apparitions of Mary in Medjugorje since they were first made known in 1981. An internation al commission has been appointed by the Vatican to study the alleged apparitions. (CNS/Damir Sagolj, Reuters) (March 17, 2010)

The new Vatican commission being set up to investigate the reported apparitions at Medjugorje is allegedly considering the creation of a new diocese to include the Bosnian town.

According to Andrea Tornielli, Vatican correspondent for the Italian daily Il Giornale, the proposal for a new diocese, combining the territories of three existing sees, was advanced last year. He said Bishop Ratko Peric, who heads the existing Mostar diocese where Mejugorje is located, strongly opposed the idea.

Yesterday, I asked the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, about the report. He was unaware of the speculation but stressed that the commission was only just getting started and so it was “baseless” to believe that such a proposal would be included in the commission’s findings. He advised waiting until it had made its final decisions, although the date of its completion isn’t known.

The creation of a new diocese would be a very major development for Medjugorje. Proponents say it would allow for more effective oversight of pilgrimages and devotions at the Marian shrine.

Bishop Peric has actively discouraged pilgrimages, so the proposal appears to be clearly at odds with his concerns, according to Catholic World News. It adds that the local bishop is undoubtedly hoping that the commission will confirm his message of skepticism about the alleged Marian apparitions.

According to Catholic News Agency, Tornielli wrote that the decision to create the new diocese, with a possible see in Makrska, was “nearly made last September, but was put off in part by Bishop Peric’s opposition.” The new diocese would be created from territory currently falling within the dioceses of Dubrovnik, Mostar and Spalato.

Tornielli also gave the names of other members on the commission which is headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. From the Vatican, they are expected to include Cardinal Julián Herranz, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, and Archbishop Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Il Giornale’s correspondent believes the commission will work slowly and its results will not be a statement on the “supernatural nature” of the events, but rather a clearer picture of the “suspended” judgment by Yugoslav bishops after investigations on the matter 20 years ago.

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About Edward Pentin

Edward Pentin
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Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Follow on Twitter @edwardpentin