Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mary in Medjugorje

In what has to be a blow for Medjugorje, Bosnia's famous holy town, the Vatican has defrocked (a word I love) the priest who has served as the spiritual advisor of six children to whom the Virgin Mary has appeared repeatedly since 1981.

It seems that Father Tomislav Vladic got a nun pregnant in a little sexual misconduct and has failed to produce convincing evidence of Mary's supposed 40,000 visits over the last 28 years.

Church officials, including the local bishop, have long scoffed at the idea of the visions, but this has hardly slowed the stream of pilgrims -- including me -- who have flocked to the place over the years, even during the war years.

1 comment:

Timothy said...

This incident is not a blow to Medjugorje as some would want so desperately to believe. After the apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje began and the pastor of Medjugorje was put in prison by the communists, Fr. Tomislav Vlasic was assigned to St. James parish in Medjugorje. In September, 1984 he left Medjugorje and in 1985 was assigned to the parish in Vitina (with all priestly faculties - to preach, to hear confessions, celebrate Mass, etc., ie., when he left, he was in good standing with the Church). He was never formally designated pastor of St. James parish. Parish records state that Fr. Tomislav Pervan served as pastor in Medjugorje from 1982 through 1988. 

Fr. Tomislva Vlasic moved to Italy in 1987 and in 1992 joined the Italian Franciscan Province of Abbruzzo. All these years he has not been a member of the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina. It appears he decided to go on a different path in the mid 80’s, having been heavily influenced by a German woman who had come to Medjugorje, Agnes Heupel, who claimed to be a visionary, and with whom he formed his own community in 1987. During this time he tried forcing one of the visionaries of Medjugorje, Marija Pavlovic, to publicly state that Our Lady supported his “spiritual marriage” with Agnes Heupel and the new way of life of his community. To the contrary, Marija’s conscience forced her to write a public statement on July 11, 1988, disavowing any connection with him or with his community: “I repeat that I never received from the Gospa, nor gave Fr. Tomislav or anyone else, a confirmation of the program of Fr. Tomislav and Agnes Heupel.” Though Fr. Vlasic would later build a house outside of Medjugorje behind the hill of Crnica, between the village of Surmanc and Bijakovici, he, himself, kept distant from Medjugorje and was never involved in any activities of the parish. 

The fact is that in the mid 80’s Fr. Vlasic decided to go his own way and since then none of the visionaries of Medjugorje have had any contact with him.

Let’s not forget that during this time the events of Medjugorje were situated between a hostile communist government and a bishop who had stated publicly, “I want Medjugorje destroyed!” (and that anyone purporting Our Lady was appearing in Medjugorje deserved the lowest place in hell)! During a filmed interview in his Episcopal residence in February 1989, in response to a question, “Who is the pastor in Medjugorje?” the Bishop replied, “I don’t know, I think it’s the fat one!” Medjugorje has not been cared for by the local Ordinary – though literally hundreds of bishops throughout the world are testifying to incredible graces having come into their own dioceses through Medjugorje. Though vulnerable itself from attacks on all sides – lacking protection that should have been in place – this little parish has continued going forward, renewing the Church! The parish – and visionaries – have been nothing less than heroic! Let’s not forget that early on in her messages Our Lady had warned that Satan left many places in the world in order to focus his attack against Medjugorje – to try to thwart what God was doing there. All those who continue answering Our Lady’s call to be her apostles are vulnerable to his attacks. 

Don’t be distracted by what you might read in the media. Present developments are a good sign. Rome is finally beginning to give some shepherding to Medjugorje – to take seriously protecting what God is doing there. Good things lie ahead!

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