Two months after death of priest, Medjugorje waits for another shoe to drop
Seer Ivanka Ivankovic Elez during an annual apparition in June as her baby seems to be seeing something too!
Two months after the death of Father Slavko Barbaric, the priest who served a leading role at Medjugorje, those who follow the famous apparition site are waiting for another shoe to drop. There has been a sense of anticipation since last Thanksgiving -- if nothing else, to see who will take his place.
Rumors swirl that one prospect is Father Petar Ljubicic, a Croatian priest who once served in Medjugorje before taking assignments elsewhere, including at least one in a foreign country. We haven't been able to confirm the rumor that he is returning to Medjugorje. If true it would be of keen interest because it is Father Petar to whom one of the seers, Mirjana Dragicevic Soldo, will confide just before the first secret she was given in 1981 by the Virgin Mary takes place. Mirjana has said that she will give Father Petar her first secret, which is recorded on a piece of material, ten days before it occurs. Father Petar is then to fast, pray, and decide whether to announce the event -- which Mirjana describes as one of several warnings to the world. "It looks as though the first secret will be very disturbing," Father Petar, now in his mid-fifties, once commented.
Meanwhile the new pastor of St. James Parish, Dr. Fra Ivan Sesar, appears to be carrying forth the tradition of ministering to pilgrims and respecting the claims of apparitions there, with the official parish website reporting on the latest such events. Last month the website carried an account of an annual apparition to seer Jakov Colo.
Tensions remain, however, in Mostar, where Bishop Ratko Peric continues to vehemently oppose the apparitions and is feared to be mounting another major offensive. Father Slavko kept an even hand on the keel and guided Medjugorje through many turbulent times, including the rise to power of Bishop Peric, who succeeded Bishop Pavao Zanic and is similarly hostile to the Medjugorje Franciscans. Without Slavko, Bishop Peric may see an opportunity to shut down the apparitions, which are currently under the control of Franciscans with whom the diocese has long been at odds for decades. Although the Vatican has stripped the Mostar episcopate of its authority in ruling on Medjugorje, Bishop Peric has worked hard behind the scenes to discredit the apparitions and is widely reported to have tried to relocate Father Slavko from Medjugorje before the priest's death. According to a well-placed source, Slavko had confided last summer that he would take his fight to the Vatican. It is said that Peric, who graciously spoke at Father Slavko's funeral, is intent, however, on removing religious communities from Medjugorje, including a French nun, Sister Emmanuel, who has helped spread the message of Medjugorje and draw pilgrims there. As at historic sites of apparition such tension is expected to increase before the secrets materialize.
Meanwhile Vicka Ivankovic, the most famous of the seers, left on January 17 for four days of medical tests in Rome. It has not been confirmed what she may be suffering from. It is time, however, to pray for her -- and for Medjugorje. As yet another seer, Marija Pavlovic, quoted Mary in a message on January 1, "Tonight in a special way I desired you to be here. In a special way now when Satan is free from chains, I invite you to consecrate yourselves to my Heart and to the Heart of my Son. In a special way now, my dear children, I invite you to be close to me through your prayers."
Vicka receives pilgrims last fall at Medjugorje, tirelessly as usual
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