Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pope Benedict, John Paul II, Medjugorje (..and E Michael Jones)

The sustained length of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje (since 1981) is getting people stir-crazy. Nothing new has come from the Vatican since the Zadar Declaration of 1991, when essentially we were told to "Wait, nothing has yet been determined. More investigations are possible".
To the sensible observer familiar with the Medjugorje story and Vatican procedure, this made sense even if it were only for the fact that the apparitions had not yet ceased as it is highly unusual for the Vatican to pronounce on an apparition that is still ongoing.

But, have people waited? A few have not. There are a number of self-styled pseudo-journalistic conspiracy theorists waving the flag of "Truth", who have been causing more damage and division in the Catholic Church than anything else. Furthermore, because nothing new has come from the Vatican, these conspiracy theorists need to either rehash the old stuff or create illusions, like what E Michael has done recently in this article - an interview by the Serbian newspaper - Politika, featured by Matt C. Abbott.

The fruits of this activity are vile and divisive, creating massive confusion. Here's an example of what I come across every day on YouTube from an obviously half-decent Catholic with the handle SAYYOURROSARY:

SAYYOURROSARY: Medjugrorje has been condemmed by  even the New Order Cult "bishop" The fake "priest" has been defrocked ! The "p0pE" has said you are not allowed to go and that Medjugrorje is off limits ! What do you need to understand Medjugrorje is totally fake ?

Unbelievable stuff!

So, let's have a look at some of what these gentlemen said and get a feel for the kind of hearts and minds these conspiracy theorists possess:

E MICHAEL JONES: No, I don't think there has been any new information about Medjugorje for at least ten years. The main difference is the pope himself. When I met with then-ordinary of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, Bishop Pavao Zanic, in 1988, he told me that Cardinal Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI, was in complete agreement that the so-called apparitions of Medjugorje were a hoax orchestrated by the renegade order of Franciscans in his diocese. Bishop Zanic then told me that he presented the same evidence to Pope John Paul II. 'And what did the pope say?' I asked. 'The pope said nothing,' Zanic replied. This confirms what I learned in my meetings with Cardinal Ratzinger. He was convinced that Medjugorje was a hoax from the beginning. The main reason for the inactivity in Rome was Pope John Paul II. The main reason for recent activity is Pope Benedict XVI, not new evidence.

Jones, lacking any direct quotes or statements from Ratzinger HIMSELF, attempts to manufacture Ratzinger's opinion from something Zanic allegedly said.

Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith during John Paul II's pontificate. Ratzinger was involved in Medjugorje from the beginning. What he believes now should not differ much from what he believed then. And what exactly did Ratzinger believe? He believed that Zanic could not be trusted to judge on the authenticity of the apparitions of Medjugorje.

After Zanic gave Ratzinger the negative report on Medjugorje, Ratzinger removed the dossier from the hands of Zanic and place the investigative task in the hands of the Yugoslav Bishops' Conference? If Ratzinger were in complete agreement that the visions were a hoax, as Jones reports, we would have perhaps expected Ratzinger to approve his conclusions or at least allow him to carry on? But, what sort of a response did we see from Zanic that hints at the REAL reaction he received from Ratzinger? A concerted media campaign, against the desires of the Vatican, as we shall see very soon.

Zanic had been at the forefront of bitter disputes between the Franciscans and secular clergy for many years during the Herzegovinian Affair. He was naturally biassed against the Franciscans. When you couple this with his forced loyalty to the Yugoslav communist government who wanted him him to cease the apparitions immediately, it is highly unwise to paint Zanic as the most trustworthy of sources. I will say no more, but allow readers to make their own conclusions by reading here. It doesn't make good reading for Bishop Zanic. Please note: We are not deliberately trying to criticise one of Christ's shepherds/representatives. Please, let us constantly pray for them and give them our love and support as far as possible. This is purely for the sake of balance and to specifically answer those who try to use the opposition of the Bishops as bullets for their own guns. The following is an extract from Wikipedia on Zanic with my comments in blue in square brackets:

Žanić became so hostile to the events at Međugorje that he wrote a letter denouncing the apparitions and sent it publicly throughout the world [This is the same letter picked up on by E Michael Jones and every other conspiracy theorist you hear today. It is their ONLY source of material]. The Archbishop of the neighboring diocese, along with other high dignitaries, urged Žanić restraint in the strongest possible language between bishops. Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote to Žanić: "My Lord, what a sorry document you have sent throughout the world! I have been deeply pained to see the episcopal office degraded in this manner." He went on to say that Žanić was "bring[ing] out accusations which have been refuted a hundred times over."[1]

The Vatican also stepped in. A communiqué from the office of the Vatican secretary of State of April 1985, told Bishop Žanić in no uncertain terms to suspend the diffusion of [your] personal declarations."[2]

Zanic did not heed this letter and continued spreading his letters and opinions.
The fact that he even needed to begin his viral campaign of destruction should speak volumes to any sensible, unbiassed person. If the Vatican agrees with you, you don't need to embark on a self-justification campaign. You just need to wait for Vatican due process.

Much has been made of Franciscan and visionary disobedience towards the local bishop. We cannot condone disobedience, but we can understand it. By disregarding official Vatican warnings, the Bishop himself appeared to show the same disobedience he accused everyone else of, but apparently that's OK if you're a secular Bishop in Bosnia. The document "The Truth about the Herzegovinian Affair" is a litany of bad blood between Franciscans and Seculars resulting from dishonesty, disobedience and downright hatred. This is MUST READING for anyone who wishes to comment intelligently on Medjugorje. In a perfect world it would be required reading for Medjugorje reporters.

E MICHAEL JONES: I think this [the laicising of Fr. Tomislav Vlasic] is the first step in the Vatican's campaign to de-legitimize Medjugorje. Anyone familiar with the story knows that the apparitions were the creation of two Franciscan priests: Tomislav Vlasic and Jozo Zovko. Children do not create world-wide movements generating millions of dollars a year in revenue.

Jones puts himself in the league of people who are "familiar with the story". He isn't showing much familiarity at all. Firstly, Vlasic requested the laicisation (see here). Secondly, those who are really familiar with the story can see that Ratzinger is most likely protecting Medjugorje, not de-legitimising it as Jones ludicrously states. Just look at how quiet Ratko Peric is these days. He has either been officially gagged or simply has nothing happy to report (for Peric, happiness is the complete condemnation of Medugorje). Thirdly, and most telling, Vlasic's involvement with Medjugorje ended in 1985, more than twenty years ago, when the visionary Marija recanted and refused to acknowledge his claim that the Virgin endorsed his plan. He basically disappeared until we hear recently in the news about his laicisement.

Here's the thing - Conspiracy theorists are desperate for information, ANY information. The Vatican refuses to play into their hands, perhaps more wiser these days after the Zadar Declaration left people confused enough for conspiracy theorists to gain a foothold. So, when a piece of information comes along that has any indication of being negative to the Medjugorje case, you can bet your house and children that they will jump on it like a starving hyena on a sick antelope.

But, take a look at the wild, crazy-eyed accusations and innuendo he makes:

E MICHAEL JONES: The apparitions were the creation of two Franciscan priests: Tomislav Vlasic and Jozo Zovko...Children do not create world-wide movements generating millions of dollars a year in revenue.

It was Zanic who first referred to Vlasic this way. To say he was the "creator" implies he was around to see the actual creation - the illicit fruits - the "booty" as it were. But, as I've stated, he was out of Medjugorje by 1985. Pretty much an outcast, he would have been a key figure if anyone wanted to target him for an exposee.

Secondly, anyone who has taken the time to read the early testimonies will know the irony that Zanic originally wanted to approve the apparitions but that Zovko thought the children were lying. The really interesting thing is how it came about that both changed their positions. According to Zovko's testimony, he was praying in the Church when he received an inner locution to "Protect the Children". Next moment, he heard loud banging on the Church door only to find the children trying to escape the police.

Both Zanic and Zovko were called in for a "chat" by the Communist Secret Police and, under threat of jail, ordered to stop the apparitions and gatherings. Zovko elected to spend 3 years in jail rather than try to stop the apparitions. Zanic appeared to change his tune quite soon after that meeting. We need to keep the environment firmly in mind: In communist countries, in order to save the Catholic population from persecution, the Vatican often agrees to let the communist government endorse bishopric appointments.

So, we had the so-called "creator of the hoax" in jail, where he supposedly was still able to mastermind his dastardly, clandestine plans. That wasn't very clever of Zovko was it, if we rely on Jones' character assessment of Zovko as a criminal mastermind.

E Michael Jones needs to sit himself down in front of a mirror and ask himself where his hatred and irrationality comes from. He is apparently a Catholic who thinks the 8th Commandment does not apply to him. Does he think it's compelling racey "journalism" to create these fantasies at the expense of the reputation of innocent people? Save it Michael. But, if we were to bother to refute this accusation, it might go along the lines of this: After 28 years of apparitions, might it not be highly probable that at least one of the six visionaries, or thousands of others close to the visionaries, would expose the fraud. I dare say they have been offered handsomely to do so. One of E Michael Jones' seedy friends Phil Kronzer, a wealthy California business man hell-bent on destroying Medjugorje after his wife chose to believe while he didn't, would undoubtedly have tried to pull a string or two. But, we have nothing...nothing...nothing. That irks people like E Michael Jones. He NEEDS something. ANYTHING!!!

E MICHAEL JONES: When the true story gets out, bishops across the world will begin to ban the 'seers' from their dioceses. This has already happened in the Diocese of Joliet, outside of Chicago. Ivan Dragicevic can no longer show up in parishes there and fleece unsuspecting Catholics of their money.

I've not found anything to date to back up what Jones said regarding the ban from Joliet. I invite anyone else to show me the evidence that this is true. But, anyway, I would expect to see hundreds of parishes on the list if anything Jones says is remotely true. We have only one in 28 years? And Jones again exercises his self-appointed immunity from the 8th commandment by trampling on the reputation of Ivan Dragicevic. That's like playing Russian Roulette. I mean it's just testosterone-laden, impulsive, belligerent craziness. If the Vatican approves Medjugorje, I expect Jones to either become humble or to begin a new Catholic Cult, flourishing in disobedience and becoming, essentially, another Zanic or Peric and eventually getting into serious trouble. The Medjugorje house is clean now. It's ready for shrine status. Lies told have been revealed. Apologies have been made where due. The vast majority of unofficial Vatican comment has been favourable (read here). What's missing in this picture? Humility and patience from the likes of E Michael Jones.

E MICHAEL JONES: The Croatian bishops in general will say that the findings on Vlasic confirm their verdict of 'non constat supernaturalite,' which was handed down in 1990. Bishop Ratko Peric will say that the defrocking of Father Vlasic will confirm what he and the late Bishop Pavao Zanic have said all along. Medjugorje was the invention of a renegade and rebellious group of Franciscan priests who have used this hoax to enrich themselves financially at the expense of unity in the Church and of good relations with the Orthodox.

Wow, that's some tale. Jones is an author of fiction, not a journalist. Just listen to his brazen judgements and accusations. What sort of man is this? I don't want this man representing me, as a Catholic, to the world. What the heck happened to the basic Christian tenet of "judge not lest ye be judged". If he wants to be a Christian only by name and not in action, then at least abide by the legalistic "innocent until proven guilty". Mr Jones, where is the evidence?
The Yugoslav Bishops Conference vacillated on their decision in 1991. We have reports that they initially wanted to approve the apparitions, but that Zanic cried and complained so much that they watered down the conclusion to allow Zanic to save face. That watering down would also fit with two other key factors:

  1. The communist government would not have been happy to hear that Catholic bishops in their country, who are supposed to heed them, had double-crossed them.

  2. The apparitions had not finished at the time of the investigation so it would have been a highly unusual move to approve an apparition that was still ongoing.

So, we have the Zadar Declaration, which essentially stated: "Watch This Space". In the meantime, it was permitted for pilgrims to go to Medjugorje as long as nothing official was organised that gave the impression that the Vatican had completed its investigations. Something falling into this category might be "Join our pilgrimage to the latest approved Marian apparition at Medjugorje".

E Michael Jones has been at the forefront of twisting the Zadar Declaration into becoming something it never was intended to be. This led to many confused pilgrims, who eventually wrote a letter to the Vatican, which netted an unequivocal response from none less than Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of the CDF (read here), which finally relieved the consciences of pigrims who felt bullied by the local bishop.

Nothing much official has come from the Vatican since then. However, a treasure trove of unofficial interviews and comments have given Medjugorje supporters much to cheer about (read here). The following is an EXTREMELY interesting piece of unofficial support from the same man who wrote the letter describe above (Cardinal Bertone):

Source: Sister Emmanuel in her Medjugorje Report 15 May, 1999

Let me tell you about an interesting report, already published in the magazine "Maria" (March-April 1999) concerning Medjugorje.

(Remember that during Pentecost 1998, Pope Jean-Paul II invited the 'New Communities' to Rome. On this occasion, Cardinal Ratzinger expressed the confidence the Church has in those Communities, founded for the most part after Vatican II. He spoke of a "New Springtime in the Church".)

Among these communities, that of "The Beatitudes" is present in Medjugorje. It seeks to be of service to the pilgrims who flock there in great numbers. In order to be well in line with the Church, Dr. Fernand Sanchez, Moderateur General, and Father Francois-Xavier Wallays, a member of the Community's general council, went to Rome on January 12, 1999. They received from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith its directives in regard to Medjugorje. They were warmly welcomed by the Congregation's Secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone.

Cardinal Ratzinger and Mgr Bertone know the Community of the Beatitudes and how it developed within the Church, after its recognition by Cardinal Coffy, at the time Archbishop of Albi (France) in 1976.

Moreover, their presence in Medjugorje having started in 1989, Archbishop Bertone was able to refer to something concrete, i.e 10 years of prayer life and apostolic work of this Community there. The conversation which took place was therefore based on the precise experience of the particular community. It should not be taken as a word systematically given to every Catholic group. Nevertheless, some elements give much light on the Vatican's position towards Medjugorje, and should cut short many rumours. Besides, they can easily be checked in Rome itself.

Dr. Sanchez - Can we remain in Medjugorje and continue our apostolate there of Evangelization with the pilgrims ?

Arch. Bertone - Not only can you do so, but you must remain in Medjugorje, at the service of the pilgrims ! (The answer was categorical.)

Dr. Sanchez - Can we continue to accompany private pilgrimages there?

Arch. Bertone - It is necessary to accompany private pilgrimages!

Archbishop Bertone stated:
"For the moment, one should consider Medjugorje as a Sanctuary, a Marian shrine, in the same way as Czestochowa."
He added:

"The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has asked the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia Hercegovina to take over the dossier of Medjugorje and start again from the beginning. A team of experts will take part in the work."

People like E Michael Jones appear to disregard anything unofficial when it suits them, but will quite happily spread lies, calumny and false witness over the whole globe.

POLITIKA: None of the pilgrims to Medjugorje have ever seen anything

Well, I'm not sure what he is talking about. He appears to simply not know much. Jones' response to this question, by the way, was to pinpoint an alleged occasion where a naked woman spirit was spotted and attempted to make a connection with alleged Franciscan sexual impropriety and paint a picture of demonic infestation. Very poor journalism. Regardless, the fact is that there are literally HUNDREDS and THOUSANDS of testimonies by pilgrims who have seen many things, including the Virgin Mary. Testimonies come from the most unlikely of places. Here is just the tip of the iceberg.

E MICHAEL JONES: Medjugorje is an operation of one particular group of Franciscans who have had a long history of rebellious behavior and who are a disgrace to the Catholic Church.

E Michael Jones either doesn't know the church history of the region or just doesn't want to tell anyone. A very bitter article against the secular clergy in this region was written by a Franciscan who lived through those terrible times during the Herzegovinian Affair. Readers are invited to come to their own conclusions after reading this article. Warning: If you have been a supporter of Zanic and Peric, be prepared to be disappointed, unless you are a lover of truth.

POLITIKA: What do we do with the fraud lasting for 28 years now?

This one question summarises the maverick attitude of conspiracy theorists who think they know better than the Vatican. Gung-ho, control freaks who need the Vatican's nice-and-easy-does-it approach more than anyone, yet are the least able to tolerate it. He says "What do WE do?". Well, here's what we do. We wait for the Vatican! Let the Vatican do what THEY do. And we resist the urge to indulge in character assassination, gossip and rumour-mongering.

E Michael Jones responds to this article and gets it right back again


  1. Thank you for your post on this. I've been looking for a cogent response to the fabrications of E. Michael Jones. As Catholics we know not to bear false witness and I pray for the souls of those like Jones who spread and support rumors and mistruths. God Bless you.

  2. Info on Jones's book is available here:

  3. "I've not found anything to date to back up what Jones said regarding the ban from Joliet. I invite anyone else to show me the evidence that this is true."

    This blog appears to quote the Joliet bishop's ban at length,

    The gist is: don't invite or promote speakers supporting appartitions such as Medjugorje.

  4. The actual letter from Bishop Sartain is directed to Priests and reads as follows:

    "Dear Brother Priests,

    From time to time we are approached by parishioners who would like to invite speakers representing various alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, private revelations or locutions, or others claiming to possess extraordinary spiritual gifts. My purpose in bringing this to your attention is to ask that you not issue such invitations. Whether the speakers would make presentations on well-known alleged apparitions, such as Medjugorje, or lesser known private revelations, we must be extremely cautious about inviting or promoting them.

    As you know the Church takes great time and care before declaring that an apparition is worthy of belief, and even then it never says that a Catholic must accept the apparition as a matter of faith. We must avoid giving the impression that alleged apparitions about which the Church has not made a judgment are somehow already approved. It is our responsibility to see that Our parishioners are not led down the wrong path. That is not to say that those who ask us to promote these matters are doing so out of bad faith, but we must be extremely careful not to confuse our parishioners. Our greatest spiritual treasures are the Word of God, the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and the teaching of the Church, and our focus should always be there.

    Needless to say, these comments do not refer to apparitions such as Fatima, Lourdes or Guadalupe which enjoy the approval of the Church.

    Thank you for your attention to this important spiritual matter, and I am grateful for your cooperation.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Bishop Peter Sartain"

    There is nothing in the letter that bans visionaries from presentations on Catholic property - only that priests should not organize nor endorse them. This is wholly consistent with the Vatican policy to not endorse a private revelation until approved. This is nothing new or unique. In fact, Ivan's visit to the parishes in Joliet Diocese occurred after the Bishop issued his letter. See:

    Again, one must be careful in jumping to conclusions and in so doing bear false witness.

    God Bless ...

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with this letter and, yes, it mirrors the Zadar Declaration. From Jones' writing, I got the impression that they had garlic, silver bullets and stakes at the ready to defend against the evils of Ivan.


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