Still six or seven months of work, then by the end of this year the International Commission of Inquiry on the apparitions of Medjugorje, presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruin, will conclude its work with a pronouncement that will be submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and then to Benedict XVI.
When Ratzinger established this working group in early 2010, the director of the Vatican press office said that « the commission itself does not makes decisions, the final pronouncements, but it provides the results of its study, its vote - as they say in technical terms - to the Congregation, which then will make the appropriate decisions».
At the beginning of the apparitions in Medjugorje a diocesan commission had been established which had then passed its hand to the Bishops' Conference of Yugoslavia which, however failed to pronounce itself on whether the phenomena was supernatural or not, concluding in 1991 with the declaration «non constat de supernaturalitate», that is «It is established that there is nothing supernatural here»: this is the classic cautious expression, since the bishops were not able to either approve or deny, a sign that if there was insufficient evidence to say «yes», there was neither any evidence that it was a scam as claimed by the Bishop of Mostar.
The suspension verdict, open to further developments, is neither «yes» nor «no».
In fact, in the first case the statement asserts that the supernatural «exists», thus establishing official recognition.
In the second case, the negative one, it affirms that «it is established that here is nothing supernatural» that is, that it was ascertained that the phenomenon is not supernatural.
It was the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina that asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to take matters in hand.
The six cardinals are part of the Committee: In addition to the previously mentioned Ruini, there are, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Salesian Archbishop Angelo Amato; Jozef Tomko, Emeritus Prefect of Propaganda Fide; Vinko Pulijc, Archbishop of Sarajevo and Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb; Julian Herranz, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Together with them, theologians and experts in Mariology.
As already known, the Bishop of Mostar, in whose jurisdiction falls the diocese Medjugorje - in office at the time of the apparitions in 1981 - was quite contrary to the appearances. Ratko Peric, his successor is also contrary.
Recently, some documents that emerged from the archives showed that the secret service of Yugoslavia's communist regime tried to negatively influence the ecclesiastical authorities at that time.
The commission, headed by Ruini, has already met will all the seers secretly convened in Rome.
The meetings took place in a hall of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where the archives of the working group are guarded.
The committee members prepare appointments well in advance, so that all can be present.
So, since last June, the persons heard and questioned were firstly, Ivanka, then Vicka, and, at the end of 2011, Mirjana and Marja (separately, but on the same day). In recent days, Ivan and Jakov were also heard.
In a recent public statement Cardinal Vinko Pulijc announced that the work would be completed within the year.
It is currently not possible to predict what the final verdict will be.
The seers generally made a good impression on the commissioners.
But the outcome considered most likely at the moment in the sacred buildings is a repeat of the 1991 suspension of judgment, the «supernaturality is not certain» without openly taking a stand for or against.
The appearances, which began in June 24, 1981, still continue, albeit limited, for some of the seers that ensure that they meet with the Virgin Mary at a certain time of day, wherever they are.
Mary defining herself the «Queen of Peace,» began to appear in a parish run by Franciscan friars, and the village of Medjugorje, which still today is rather difficult to reach, has attracted millions of people, in spite of the public disavowals of the Bishops of Mostar.
In 1998, the then Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Tarcisio Bertone, explained that the pilgrimages were permitted, «provided they are not considered as an authentication of events still in progress and require an examination by the Church».
Many people also testified to have rediscovered the faith and to have returned from Medjugorje changed.