For the 17th Anniversary of the apparitions, the Church just gave a beautiful gift to Our Lady! The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent the following letter to Bishop Gilbert Aubry of Saint Denis clarifying its position on Medjugorje. He received it on June 24th. On the 25th, he spread it to the priests and communities of his diocese (circular # C003) so that they can have the latest statement from Rome and, if necessary, inform the faithful with full knowledge of the facts.
Pr. No 154/81-06419      

Cittá del Vaticano, 
Palazzo del S. Officio


May 26, 1998

   To His Excellency
Mons. Gilbert Aubry
Bishop of Saint-Denis de la Reunion


In your letter of January 1, 1998, you submitted to this Dicastery several questions about the position of the Holy See and of the Bishop of Mostar in regard to the so called apparitions of Medjugorje, private pilgrimages and the pastoral care of the faithful who go there.      

In regard to this matter, I think it is impossible to reply to each of the questions posed by Your Excellency. The main thing I would like to point out is that the Holy See does not ordinarily take a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena as a court of first instance. As for the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, this Dicastery respects what was decided by the bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Declaration of Zadar, April 10, 1991: "On the basis of the investigations so far, it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations." Since the division of Yugoslavia into different independent nations it would now pertain to the members of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Hercegovina to eventually reopen the examination of this case, and to make any new pronouncements that might be called for.      

What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of "Famille Chretienne", declaring: "My conviction and my position is not only 'non constat de supernaturalitate,' but likewise, 'constat de non supernaturalitate' of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje", should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion.      

Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentication of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church.      

I hope that I have replied satisfactorily at least to the principal questions that you have presented to this Dicastery and I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my devoted sentiments.


Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone

[Secretary to the "Congregatio", presided over by Cardinal Ratzinger]

Fr. Daniel-Ange (France) summerizes this way:      

1 -The declarations of the Bishop of Mostar only reflect his personal opinion. Consequently, they are not an official and definitive judgement from the Church.      

2 - One is directed to the declaration of Zadar, which leaves the door open to future investigations. In the meanwhile private pilgrimages with pastoral accompaniment for the faithful are permitted.      

3 - A new commission could eventually be named.      

4 - In the meanwhile, all Catholics may go as pilgrims to Medjugorje.   

A clarification from Cardinal Schonborn:

The letter of Archbishop Bertone to the Bishop of Le Reunion sufficiently makes clear what has always been the official position of the hierarchy during recent years concerning Medjugorje: namely, that it knowingly leaves the matter undecided.  The supernatural character is not established; such were the words used by the former conference of bishops of Yugoslavia in Zadar in 1991.  It really is a matter of wording, which knowingly leaves the matter pending.  It has not been said that the supernatural character is substantially established.  Furthermore, it has not been denied or discounted that the phenomena may be of a supernatural nature.  There is no doubt that the magisterium of the Church does not make a definite declaration while the extraordinary phenomena are going on in the form of apparitions or other means.  Indeed it is the mission of the shepherds to promote what is growing, to encourage the fruits which are appearing, to protect them, if need be, from the dangers which are obviously everywhere.

It is also necessary at Lourdes to see to it that the original gift of Lourdes not be stifled by unfortunate developments.  Neither is Medjugorje invulnerable.  That is why it is and will be so important that bishops be very conscientious about their mission as shepherds for Medjugorje, so that the obvious fruits that are in that place might be protected from any possible unfortunate errors.

I believe that the words of Mary at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you,” make up the substance of what s he says throughout the centuries.  Mary helps us to hear Jesus and she desires with her whole heart and with all her strength that we do what He tells us.
This is what I wish for all the communities of prayer which were formed from Medjugorje; this is what I wish for our diocese and for the Church.

...Personally, I have not been to Medjugorjre, but in a certain way I have been there many times through the people I have met and the people I know.  And in their lives I am seeing good fruit.  I would be lying, if I said this fruit did not exist.  This fruit is concrete and visible and I can see in our diocese and in many other places graces of conversion, graces of a supernatural life of faith, graces of joy, graces of vocations, of healings, of people returning to the Sacraments - to confession.  All this is not misleading.  Therefore, as far as I am concerned, as a Bishop, I can only see the fruit.  If we had to judge the tree by it’s fruit, like Jesus, I must say that the tree is fruitful!

                  Cardinal Christoph Schonborn

Cardinal Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, who gave the Holy Father and his Papal Household their 1998 Lenten Retreat (and who  was head of the church’s commission responsible for the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”), gave the preceding testimony in Lourdes on July 18, 1998.  The Cardinal’s words were published in “Medjugorje Gebetsakion”, #50, and  in “Stella Maris”, #343, pp. 19, 20.


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