Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
What do I think about Medjugorje? I'm so glad you asked. I think it's the scam to end all scams. Either it was a hoax from the beginning, and nothing ever happened there; or it was originally a true apparition and has since become a hoax, or possibly even a spiritual manifestation that is not from God. Whichever it is, it's bad, bad news.
But there are plenty of people who remain devoted to Medjugorje, pointing to the "good fruits" as thousands of people return to the sacraments and the rosary.
[T]he Ordinary had come to the firm conclusion that the apparitions of the Madonna in Medjugorje are not a reality . . . [T]he Bishop's Office expressed its desire, and even demanded, that the propaganda stop because of the disobedience of the pastoral personnel and the "visionaries." This was a futile attempt."
We can talk about how the alleged seers' spiritual director was laicized after facing allegations he had sex with a nun and after he was ruled guilty of promoting "dubious doctrine, the manipulation of consciences, suspect mysticism and disobedience towards legitimately issued orders."
We can talk about how Pope Francis declined to visit Medjugorje even though he came within twenty minutes of the site; and we can talk about how the apostolic nuncio declared that "clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such ‘apparitions’ would be taken for granted."
Curiosity, the Pope continued, impels us to want to feel that the Lord is here or rather there, or leads us to say: “But I know a visionary, who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady”. And the Pope commented: “But, look, Our Lady is the Mother of everyone! And she loves all of us. She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day.”
Such responses to these situations, he affirmed, “distance us from the Gospel, from the Holy Spirit, from peace and wisdom, from the glory of God, from the beauty of God.”
We can talk about how, once Ivan Dragicevic began to claim that Mary routinely comes to him in his house, and he is selling tickets to stay in that house -- essentially renting out time with the Virgin Mary.
And we can talk about how unbearably pedestrian and forgettable the alleged messages from Heaven are.
We can talk about how Medjugorje is a smorgasbord of red flags, and it will still have its ardent defenders. When I last spoke about these things on Facebook, one fellow asked me:
Why are you upset about thousands of people finding Jesus through Mary? Why is that evil? You're really not making much sense to me.
And another woman agreed, asking:
Why so negative? What's the harm?
Whether Mary appears there or not it is a beautiful, peaceful, prayerful and life changing pilgrimage for many. To gather in prayer and worship at Mass with pilgrims from all over the world is an awesome privilege and blessing.
I'm guessing Mama Mary is happy her children come to this place from all over the world in pilgrimage to bring their petitions to the foot of her statue....in love, sincerity and true devotion. I doubt she is shaking her head in disgust or shame and calling it all a fraud. She is probably just so happy to see her babies flocking to be near her *whether she appears there or not*. Wouldn't you say?
No. I would not say that. I would say that Mary, my mother in heaven who knows me and loves me, would not be happy to see her children duped into following around a sock puppet that looks like her, even if it makes them say the rosary and go to Mass more often. I would say that, as the eternal queen of Heaven and earth, Mary can work to convert the hearts of sinners without the help of a tour guide agency. I would say that no one should dare muscle past my Holy Mother and say, "Looks like you need some help with these pesky kids, little lady. You sit back, and I'll put on a really convincing show, and we'll have them peaceful and docile in no time!" I would say that no one must dare to lie to Mary's children, especially in her name. There are some things you don't mess around with.
Francis Phillips of the Catholic Herald UK quotes a priest friend who said: “The Devil doesn’t mind a few thousand people becoming better Catholics after going there if, as a result, he’s got millions of Catholics being disobedient to the authority of the Church.”
Those are the fruits of Medjugorje: disobedience, a disregard for legitimate authority, and -- possibly most shocking of all -- statements like what my Facebook friends made: that it doesn't even matter if it's true or not, because look at the good fruits! Well, the Holy Spirit can bring good fruits out of any situation, no matter how rotten. Auschwitz produced converts and repentance, too. Good fruits alone are no sign that God's will is being done. When we're willing to disobey, when we're willing to say, "Why does the truth matter?" then these are fruits of Medjugorje, as well.
If the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says that we may, in good faith, consider Medjugorje a legitimate Marian apparition, then I will acknowledge their authority to do so. But in the mean time, if we want to listen to Mary, then let's listen to what she said to God: "Fiat." Let it be done to me. I obey. It was that obedience, and nothing else, that shook the earth and changed the universe forever; and it is obedience that is so shockingly lacking in everything that surrounds Medjugorje.