“The Virgin Mary has not appeared in Medjugorje,” said Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, the diocese in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which includes Medjugorje.
Two weeks after the Vatican announced Pope Francis was sending a
Polish archbishop to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and the
thousands of pilgrims who flock to Medjugorje each year, Bishop Peric
posted his statement Feb. 26 on his diocesan website.
Three of the six young people who originally claimed to have seen
Mary in Medjugorje in June 1981 say she continues to appear to them each
day; the other three say Mary appears to them once a year now.
Bishop Peric noted that a diocesan commission studied the alleged
apparitions in 1982-1984 and again in 1984-1986 with more members; and
the then-Yugoslavian bishops’ conference studied them from 1987 to 1990.
All three commissions concluded that it could not be affirmed that a
supernatural event was occurring in the town.
The six young people continued to claim to see Mary and receive
messages from her and tens of thousands of pilgrims visited the town —
and the alleged visionaries — each year. Pope Benedict XVI established a
commission that worked from 2010 to 2014; and the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith began looking at that commission’s report in 2014.
Many observers believe Pope Francis appointed his envoy in February
to study the pastoral needs of the town and the pilgrims in preparation
for releasing a judgment on the alleged apparitions.
The position of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno “for this entire period
has been clear and resolute: these are not real apparitions of the
Blessed Virgin Mary,” Bishop Peric wrote in his statement, which was
posted in Croatian and Italian.
Some people, he said, believe the apparitions were real at least at
the beginning — perhaps for the first week — but that the young people
continued to claim to see and hear Mary “for other reasons, most of
which are not religious.”
Bishop Peric said a study of the transcripts of interviews with the
six alleged visionaries from that first week give several motives for
suspicion if not total doubt about the supernatural nature of events.
First, he said, the Mary of Medjugorje usually speaks only when
spoken to, “she laughs in a strange way, in response to certain
questions she disappears and then returns, and she obeyed the ‘seers’
and the pastor who made her come down from the hill into the church even
against her will. She does not know with certainty how long she will
appear, she allows some of those present to step on her veil lying on
the ground, to touch her clothes and her body. This is not the Gospel
The seventh time Mary allegedly appeared, June 30, 1981, five of the
youngsters were in a nearby town called Cerno and claimed to have seen
Mary there. Bishop Peric said that in the recorded interviews all five
reported that the apparitions would continue only three more days, July
“Then she changed her mind and still ‘appears,'” the bishop wrote.
“Taking into account all that was examined and studied by this
diocesan curia, including the study of the first seven days of the
presumed apparitions, one calmly can affirm: The Virgin Mary has not
appeared in Medjugorje. This is the truth that we uphold, and we believe
in the word of Jesus who said the truth will set you free.”