Vatican Remains Mum on Medjugorje: No Decision Has Been Made

Contradicting Italian media reports, a Vatican press official told the Register today that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has not ruled against the validity of the alleged apparitions.

St. James Church in Medjugorje
St. James Church in Medjugorje (photo: Wikipedia/Creative Commons by gnuckx)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Friday that, contrary to reports in Italian media, no decision has been made regarding certain doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje.

At the time of writing, the Holy See Press Office hadn’t issued a formal statement on the matter, but Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini in the Vatican Press Office told the Register June 26 that officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had not yet met to review the findings of a three-year commission that investigated the Medjugorje phenomenon.

He repeated June 11 declarations from Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, communicating that no decision is expected until “after the summer.”

Father Benedettini’s comments come after Italian news reports alleged Thursday that the CDF had held a feria quarta (ordinary meeting) on June 24 and had agreed with the commission and decided that there is no supernatural activity at Medjugorje.

The reports originated from Vatican watcher Gianluca Barile and were reported by other Italian news outlets.

The Vatican spokesman’s comments were backed up by other Vatican officials close to the issue, who told the Register Friday they were unaware of such a meeting, although they said it may have taken place without their knowledge.

Vatican Insider reported Friday that the CDF did hold a feria quarta meeting, but that it took place on June 17, and the issue of Medjugorje was not discussed.

Thursday’s reports had also alleged that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will recommend that clergy not sponsor or support events that presume the reality of the visions claimed by the Medjugorje “seers.”

Vatican officials are privately irritated by the latest speculation, which they say is unfounded and needs to be swiftly quashed by the Holy See Press Office.

Barile’s report also alleged that the CDF would nevertheless recognize Medjugorje as a special “place of prayer” and that pilgrimages to the site would not be forbidden, provided that the alleged apparitions would not be a central focus.


Papal Comments

Speculation was heightened earlier this month when, on the papal plane back from Sarajevo, Pope Francis said: “We’re at this point of making decisions, [and] then they will be announced,” but gave no indication of any timeline.

The Pope revealed that Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told him that “he would do a feria quarta, in these times.” The Pope said he thought that meeting had been held on the last Wednesday in May, but that he was “not sure.” He said a decision could be made soon and that “some guidelines will be given to bishops on the lines they will take.”

The Vatican downplayed subsequent speculation that a decision was therefore imminent.

In comments to the Register June 11, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said it was “hard to say” when a ruling might be made, but that it’s certainly not likely before the Vatican’s summer break.

“If you ask me: days, weeks or months? I think it would be safest to say a few months,” Father Lombardi said, and he warned against feeding expectations that an announcement was “very imminent.”

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.