Priest Who Serves As Confidante To Seer Believes Predicted Event Getting Closer
A priest who is confidante to a seer at the controversial site of Medjugorje in former Yugoslavia says there is a sense of matters prophesied there as getting "closer and closer."
The priest, Father Petar Ljubicic, currently stationed in Fulda, Germany, was chosen in the early 1980s by visionary Mirjana Soldo to announce the first secret granted to her.
Or so it has been long said. Father Petar will be told ten days in advance of the reputed secret, at which time he is to fast and pray in order to make a decision on whether to release it publicly three days before the supposed event.
That event has been alluded to by the seer as a serious warning to the world -- one that will be followed by a series of other incidents. A strict veil of secrecy has been maintained over the prophecies for more than a quarter of a century.
It is not clear whether Father Petar's sense is based simply on the passage of time, events in the world, or conversations with the seer.
Earlier this week, during a monthly apparition that has replaced what were once daily ones, Mirjana quoted the Blessed Mother as saying, "Dear children! Also in this difficult time God's love sends me to you. My children, do not be afraid, I am with you. With complete trust give me your hearts, that I may help you to recognize the signs of the time in which you live. I will help you to come to know the love of my Son. I will triumph through you. Thank you."
It was the third time in a little more than a year that the term "signs of the times" was allegedly used by Mary, who has sounded what seems like a more pressing tone of late, at least in the case of that seer and occasionally with a second seer, Marija Pavlovic. However, the seers themselves have not expressed any new urgency, at least not in public.
Medjugorje is the remote hamlet where six youngsters began to see Mary on June 24, 1981 -- feast of John the Baptist. Since that time, many have visited, including hundreds of cardinals and bishops, tens of thousands of priests, and millions of laity.
Mirjana, now 42, was the first seer told all ten secrets. Once told the tenth secret, daily apparitions for her came to a halt. Currently, three of the six original visionaries possess all ten -- with none of them knowing how many "secrets" they share.
Such confidential messages have been claimed at a number of apparitions, most famously Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal -- where in the latter case there was the famous "third secret," foreseeing an angel touching earth with a sword of fire (but halted by the light of the Virgin).
At Medjugorje the messages are more numerous and include several "warnings" to the world, a "great sign," events in the Church, developments pertaining to Medjugorje itself, personal secrets, and what have been described as large "chastisements" due to the sin prevalent in the world.
If indeed a major event will occur in his lifetime and be announced by Father Petar, relevant to many would be his age, which is 61. He is a Franciscan currently on a special mission assigned by his superior.
As with other sites of apparition in their early years -- from Fatima to Lourdes -- controversy has dogged the apparition site, and two bishops, first Pavlo Zanic and then his successor, Ratko Peric, have denounced the events and sought to formally disapprove them.
Such official action was halted in 1986 by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who removed the authority of the local chancery to rule on the apparitions at a time when the events had grown far beyond the boundaries of any one locality. The matter is currently under the jurisdiction of a committee of bishops headed by Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo.
While that committee may decide negatively at some future point, and while the chance always exists for problems that could arise to detract from the site's credibility, it has enjoyed a degree of affirmation of late with news that a bishop in Delaware dedicated a statue fashioned after the apparitions (as "Queen of Peace") and with reports that a famous exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, of Rome, visited the site of apparitions several years ago and instead of finding deception described it as a "continuation of Fatima" and a "fortress against Satan." Others differ.
During a tour of the United States, Father Petar -- an ardent believer -- said that opposition to the site has remained the same for many years as the Vatican, which periodically sends observers to Medjugorje, waits for a final determination.
"Many ask me about that," says the priest. "I think it is at the same level. Those against it question why it has been taking place so long. They are confused right now. If it isn't of God, one has to ask why so many are going there and being converted. This confuses them. The Bible tells us, 'by the fruits' we know it. Although it does not quite receive as many pilgrims as Lourdes and Fatima, there are more confessions at Medjugorje than any shrine in the world." [At left, Pope with Mirjana]
Although negative things may arise one day with seers -- who are human, priests there point out, and who have not been afforded strict counsel -- Father Petar says the Franciscans believe that "the power of prayer and grace dispensed there will overcome any negativity."
The Church remains split, with most bishops allowing pilgrimages but declining to make public comments in the stance of neutrality. The Vatican itself permits only unofficial pilgrimages (as opposed to ones organized by a parish itself), until that official discernment is reached. [When such a decision is reached, this news website will strictly adhere to it.]
So intense has the opposition been that at times some have made reference to a private comment by a seer to the effect that the secrets will begin to unfold when few believed in Medjugorje any longer.
Indeed, belief in the apparitions has waned in the U.S., although pilgrimages from other nations, especially Poland and Ireland, have increased to such an extent that during the past several years the site has tallied record attendance. Reports have circulated that Sister Lucia dos Santos of Fatima crocheted scarves for the seers of Medjugorje (although if true that would not constitute a Church discernment).
While those against the site point to the local bishop's opposition, Father Petar, whose appearance in the West Palm Beach diocese last week included a Mass celebrated by the diocese's vicar, and who like others knows of the late John Paul II's private encouragement to those at Medjugorje, takes an unusually strong stand, believing "it is not an exaggeration to say that in the Church Medjugorje can be compared to a Second Pentecost."
The priest, who is in touch with Mirjana every week, and whose extensive interview with her pertaining to the secrets is included in the recent book, Tower of Light (which is based on other prophecies), says that "when I ask her will it be revealed soon, she says that every day it gets closer. But she is a serene person who radiates clarity. She is thinking seriously [about the secrets] because the years pass by quickly.
"It will take place and it will take place soon. We are getting closer and closer to it."
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