Many people are wondering what will happen at the end of the current investigation of Medjugorje.

As a result, they’re trying to figure out what attitude Pope Francis takes toward the reported apparitions.

On Thursday, Pope Francis made remarks which some people think tipped his hand and revealed his attitude.

Here are 10 things to know and share . . .


1) What is Medjugorje?

Medjugorje is a location in Herzegovina where, in 1981, a group of young people began reporting visions of the Virgin Mary.

Currently, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican is investigating the reported phenomena.

When their investigation is finished, they are expected to report its findings to the Pope, who will make the final determination of what, if anything, is to be done regarding the apparitions.



2) Where did Pope Francis make his remarks?

He made them in the “fervorino” (informal homily) at his daily Mass on Thursday, Nov. 14.

By the Pope’s own request, the full text of these fervorinos are not published, only summaries of them.

This means that we need to be somewhat cautious when interpreting them, because we do not have the full remarks.



3) What did he say about Medjugorje in the fervorino?

If the fervorino is taken at face value, he didn’t say anything about Medjugorje.

It is not mentioned explicitly.

He did make remarks that have been interpreted as a reference to Medjugorje without naming it.


4) What did he say?

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis was cautioning people against excessive curiosity about the future and contrasting it with the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit:

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.”

“Jesus says that the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom.”


5) Why would people connect this with Medjugorje?

Because several of the Medjugorje seers claim to receive revelations on a daily basis.

That is thought to be reflected in the comment that Mary “is not a postmaster, sending messages every day.”

On this interpretation, the Pope could be saying—without naming Medjugorje—that he does not think that the type of phenomena that are reported in connection with it are genuine spiritual phenomena.

He thus might be thinking of Medjugorje in particular, referring to it without naming it, and signaling his attitude toward it.

He might even be signaling this as a way of preparing the faithful who support Medjugorje to adjust to the idea of a negative judgment regarding the authenticity of the apparitions.

A variation on this would be that is not thinking of Medjugorje in particular but is expressing a criterion of evaluation that would still lead to a negative judgment.


6) Is that interpretation of his remarks correct?

It certainly could be.

Both of the variations just mentioned are plausible interpretations of his remarks as reported by Vatican Radio.

On the other hand, in the time that Pope Francis has been in office, it’s been clear that Pope Francis often speaks in an off-the-cuff manner which is sometimes imprecise.

He knows this, and my understanding is that part of the reason that he didn’t want full texts of the fervorinos released is that he’s speaking informally in a language that is not his native Spanish.

He’s not giving formally prepared homilies, and he doesn’t want them read as carefully prepared statements in which we can regard each word as deliberately chosen in advance.

As a result, it’s worth asking the question of whether there might be other ways of understanding what he was trying to say (in this fervorino and in any other).

Often we must look at the big picture of what he was trying to say and not put too much emphasis on particular expressions.


7) Is there another way to interpret his remarks?

One could say that the Pope’s larger point—that we should not be excessively curious about the future—is the controlling statement here, and that the denial that Mary sends messages every day is not meant to preclude the idea that she might do so in a particular case.

Indeed, if Mary ever sent messages two or more days in a row then, during that timeframe, she would be sending messages “every day” in that sense.

I imagine that some mystics, somewhere in the history of the Church, have received revelations on consecutive days.

As a parallel, note his statement that:

“Jesus says that the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom.”

That should not be read as a statement that there are never private revelations that attract attention. There have been.

Fatima attracted a lot of attention in its own day, and we know that Pope Francis thinks Fatima was a legitimate apparition (in fact, he just entrusted the world to Mary’s care in front of the main statue of Our Lady of Fatima).

So we should be a little careful about reading particular remarks in this fervorino as utterly excluding certain types of apparitions.


8) What else might he have meant by his remark?

Let’s take another look at the relevant paragraph from Vatican Radio:

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.”

It’s possible to read this as follows:

  • Pope Francis’s main point is against excessive curiosity.
  • As an illustration of excessive curiosity, Pope Francis names the desire “to feel that the Lord is here or rather there.” In other words: Focusing too much on particular local manifestations, without recognizing God’s involvement in a broader sense.
  • One might thus pay too much attention to a particular visionary (notice that he doesn’t challenge the idea that the visionary is genuine, nor does he say that this visionary receives messages every day).
  • In contrast to focusing on a particular visionary (genuine or not), we need to recognize that “Our Lady is the Mother of Everyone! And she loves all of us.”

It is in that context that he says, “She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day.”

The thing is: Postmasters send messages to large numbers of people every day, not a letter a day to a single individual, ignoring everyone else.

In view of that, the Pope might be saying that Mary loves all of us, but this doesn’t mean that we should be overly concerned with private revelations, because she doesn’t give those on an every day basis.

She doesn’t do what postmasters do, which is to route messages to everyone, every day.

We should thus keep our curiosity about apparitions in check, not dismissing them out of hand, but not focusing on them to the neglect of God and Mary’s love for all of us, either.


9) Which interpretation of the Pope’s remarks is correct?

I’ll have to leave that to the reader to decide.

I will confess that my first impression of his remarks was to think that it had implications for Medjugorje.

Further reflection, though, made me realize that there was another way of looking at his comments—given their only partial reporting and the caution that must be used when Pope Francis speaks informally—that there was another way of looking at them which I could not exclude as a possibility.


10) What implications does this have for the expected decision regarding Medjugorje?

That depends on the interpretation of his remarks that you have.

If you think he was saying that any apparition which claims daily revelations over a long period of time is likely to be false then it has very significant implications.

If you think he was saying something else, then it doesn’t have such implications (or may not have them).

The fact that his remarks could be looked at in more than one way suggests to me something that I have said before: Both Medjugorje supporters and Medjugorje critics should prepare themselves for a final judgment that might surprise them and might not be in line with their present views.

If we consider our loyalty to Christ, to the pastors of the Church, and to particular, private revelations, then:

  • Our ultimate loyalty must be to Christ.
  • Based on that, we must respect the judgment of the pastors that Christ has given his Church.
  • Our attachment to or opposition to particular private revelations should be a distant third.


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