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. Edward is the author of “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family”, published by Ignatius Press. Follow him on Twitter @edwardpentin
The Vatican has said reports that Pope Francis is to soon name a special administrator for Medjugorje are “premature”, but it is a hypothesis among others currently under consideration.
In a note to journalists today, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said “in recent days rumors have been circulating about the possible appointment of an apostolic administrator for the Medjugorje shrine”, one which would “report directly to the Holy See.”
Such a possibility is a “hypothetical subject for study among others,” Father Lombardi said, but added “there has still been no decision” about it “and so it is premature to speak of it as a direction already taken, or as an imminent decision”.
Over the past few days, reports in Croatian media have claimed that Pope Francis would soon appoint a special administrator of the Holy See for Medjugorje, possibly taking over in the next few months.
If it were to happen, some assume it would mean that Medjugorje would obtain the status of a shrine which would be managed by the Pope's administrator, while the parish of Medjugorje and pastoral activities would remain in the hands of the Franciscans of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province.
“It would seem that the decision would be a win-win situation for everybody,” reported Total Croatia News. “Herzegovinian friars would lose a part of their autonomy in decision-making, but they will no longer have to deal with the local bishop because the Vatican would take over all responsibilities.”
“Medjugorje would become ‘extraterritorial’ in a way, which would mean the end of 35 years of problems in relations between local bishops and the Medjugorje phenomenon,” the article said. “On the other hand, the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno Ratko Perić can also be satisfied, because the authority of the Vatican would guarantee that there would be no deviations in Međugorje.”
In June last year, the Vatican said no decision had been taken regarding certain doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of Medjugorje following the conclusion of a three-year commission that investigated the Medjugorje phenomenon.
Father Lombardi said around that time that no decision was expected until after the summer of 2015, but gave no definitive timescale.
The latest announcement shows that the Pope is in no rush to issue a judgment on the authenticity of Medjugorje, based on the commission’s findings, but that various concrete solutions are being seriously considered.