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PAPAL NUNCIO IN U.S. BARS ALLEGED APPARITIONS FROM CHURCHES ON DIRECTIVE FROM ROME
Conflicting indications continue to emanate from the Church on apparitions such as Medjugorje in former Yugoslavia. On the one hand, parishioners from there were invited, on Vatican letterhead (as "the National Shrine of Medugorje") to attend a recent Marian day the weekend of the Fatima consecration conducted by Pope Francis, in which the world was entrusted to her Immaculate Heart. Representatives from the site were positioned near the Pope, waving a banner. At Medjugorje itself, three bishops and an archbishop con-celebrated Mass that very same week at the altar of the church there, St. James. Just two weeks later, however, on October 26, a planned appearance of visionary Ivan Dragičević, was abruptly canceled at St. Richard Church in Danvers, Massachusetts, and the next night, October 27, at St. Philip's Church, in Greenville, Rhode Island. According to a well-placed source at one of the parishes, the cancellation came upon receipt of a letter from the bishop citing a directive from the papal nuncio, who is in effect the Pope's ambassador to the U.S. A priest at St. Richard, Father Bruce G. Flannagan, declined comment except to say that the appearance had been canceled "for whatever reason" and that "it is out of our hands." We have now confirmed that the papal nuncio, Carlo Maria Viganò, did indeed send such a statement to Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, for distribution through America. The letter is below. Spokesmen for both the Archdiocese of Boston and the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, had declined to offer answers to questions from this website; the same has been true of the papal nuncio, whose assistant said it was doubtful he would make any remarks, though our request for information has been placed on his desk. The nuncio's letter cites a 1991 statement about the apparitions. According to a copy of the declaration obtained by Spirit Daily, the nuncio acted on behalf Archbishop Gerard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees alleged apparitions, and was sent to all U.S. bishops. Whether it pertains internationally and to all the seers is also unclear, although indications are that the faithful, while allowed to visit Medjugorje devotionally, are asked to refrain from events whereby apparitions are presented as an authenticated happening. On April 10, 1991, the Yugoslav Episcopal Conference adopted a declaration that in part said, "On the base of studies made so far, it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations. Yet the gathering of the faithful from various parts of the world to Međugorje, inspired by reasons of faith or other motives, require the pastoral attention and care, first of all, of the local Bishop and then of the other bishops with him, so that in Međugorje and all connected with it, a healthy devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary according to the teachings of the Church may be promoted. The Bishops will also provide special liturgical and pastoral directives corresponding to this aim. At the same time, they will continue to study all the events of Medjugorje through the commissions." The statement was seen as neither an acceptance nor a rejection but rather an interim report saying that the supernatural had not been definitively proven. A rejection occurs when there is an espiscopal decision saying not only that events have not yet been proven as supernatural but have in fact been shown to be the opposite: "non-supernatural." That has not as yet occurred. A Vatican Commission is currently studying the apparitions. Only time will tell if the letter is a cautionary one, respecting the as-yet incomplete work of the commission -- a reining-in -- or the forerunner of a discernment. There have been conflicting accounts about the commission's progress -- some saying it is approaching its end, others that it has a ways yet to go. It's unclear if the commission had a role in the nuncio's directive. While Pope John Paul II was favorable to the apparitions, and Benedict was also, though possibly to a lesser degree, it's not known how Pope Francis -- a Marian cleric -- himself views the events. There are reports that as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of the Buenos Aires, he allowed Ivan to speak in his archdiocese shortly before his election as Pontiff and has an association with a priest connected with the events. But those reports are unconfirmed. Meanwhile, two other seers, Vicka Ivanković-Mijatovic and Marija Pavlović-Lunetti, have of late appeared with both priests and bishops in the Holy Land and European countries such as Ireland and Austria, where Marija -- along with Ivan -- have appeared repeatedly with the Cardinal in the Vienna cathedral. While hundreds of bishops and cardinals, along with thousands of priests, have visited the reputed apparition site, the final verdict that must be obeyed will be that from the Congregation. The nuncio's letter mentioned only Dragičević, who has a home in the Boston area and has appeared in parishes throughout the U.S. during the past seventeen years. A critic in the U.S. reportedly has been campaigning to halt the visionary's appearances.
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