Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
The Vatican has confirmed that indeed the International Commission investigating the events at Medjugorje has completed its mission and submitted its report.
Some news accounts are already giving us hints as to what the report contains. If these news reports are to be believed, the big news coming out of Medjugorje is that there is no big news.
The lack of big news is big news in and of itself and about the best possible outcome for Medjugorje supporters.
Vatican Insider says the report has found no evidence of "any tricks, hoaxes or abuse of popular credulity" as well as no definitive evidence of its supernatural character.
In other words, the status quo remains. Let's face it. Status quo on Medjugorje would be a big win for Medjugorje supporters. The possibilities ranged from status quo to annihilation, there was never any up side.
There was never any possibility of the Commission confirming the supernatural character of ongoing events particularly with key heavenly prognostications still outstanding. That could not and should not happen until long after the seers have died uneventful deaths or their dire warnings have proved true.
But if the report finds no evidence of fraud or heresy, that should be encouraging to everyone. While we will not know for sure until if/when the Pope pronounces on the subject, I give these reports some credence for I suspect if the smoking gun of fraud or heresy had been found, we would likely know about it by now.
Whether you suspect the Medjugorje phenomenon is worthy of belief or not, it has undoubtedly been an important place in the lives of many people and I rejoice if they have not been subjected to purposeful fraud and heresy.
That in and of itself would be very big news and I would hope that it would reduce some of the nastier polemics on the phenomenon and its supporters. At the same time, such a report would do absolutely nothing to establish the supernatural nature of the events. Supporters may try to spin the lack of a negative report into some sort of pseudo-authentication, but that would be false witness should be avoided at all costs.
So if the status quo remains, what might happen then?
I suspect that the Pope will use the opportunity of the report to make changes in Medjugorje providing greater pastoral support for all the visitors there. Additionally, I suspect the Pope will exercise greater caution so that with any events that take place, the Church does not act or allow the faithful to act in a way in which the authenticity of the events is presumed, as has certainly been the unfortunate case in the past.
That is tricky but necessary business. The Church in Medjugorje should be there to support the faithful without in any way encouraging belief in the phenomenon.
In the meantime, if the reports are true, supporters of the phenomenon can breathe a sigh of relief. Medjugorje lives to be judged another day.