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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Medjugorje Revisited

Te Deum Laudamus has posted a portion of an interview conducted by a German newspaper with theologian Manfred Hauke on Medjugorje. (You can read the entire interview here.) The selection is ineresting and a warning as well about a possible backlash against the Church in the event of a negative finding because of allowing the activities there to continue for so long. That, I think, is a real possibility. I know some Medjugorje supporters who, if it came to a choice, would likely spurn the Church in favor of the seers.

I've read a lot about Medjugorje over the years and even visited around 1991 but one paragraph in the interview was new to me and shocking:
Medjugorje is often cited as an "oasis of peace" during the civil war at the beginning of the '90s. Yet there are also uncomfortable facts that disturb the harmonious view. When revenue from the pilgrimage industry went down in 1992, there were press reports in the wake of a violent conflict among three family clans that served pilgrimage businesses. In a "cleansing action" about 140 inhabitants of Medjugorje were killed, while 600 others had to flee. "This was all kept secret from the the outside world, since it naturally could not be brought into accord with belief in the Queen of Peace" (R. Franken, "A Journey to Medjugorje", 2000, p, 45). Thus there are not only good fruits to the Medjugorje phenomenon.
The Medjugorje promoters in this country never share this piece of information with potential pilgrims.

Fr. Hauke also gives an example from the Middle Ages of a nun who appeared to be a holy seer, but was actually possessed by the devil. It's certainly a cautionary tale:
For the devil there is no problem, for example, in making statues cry, calling forth ecstasies and stigmata, to manipulate cameras, to make people speak in tongues, or produce marvelous scents. Because of his surpassing knowledge of the natural world he can also, to a limited degree, make assertions about the future, in cases when the influences of the already recognizable factors is extrapolated. He can also reveal hidden things that are unknown to a person (with the exception of secrets of the innermost part of man). A known example for the working of the devil in pseudo-mystical phenomena is, say, in Spain in the 16th century, the life of the religious sister Magdalena of the Cross (1487-1560). From the age of five she had plenty of ecstasies and visions. She tells the story that Saints Dominic and Francis had prepared her for receiving her first Communion. Three months before being granted permission to receive the Eucharist, she is receiving Communion daily "in a mystical manner", in which every time she emits a scream. At the age of 17 she enters a convent of the Poor Clares in Cordoba. She receives stigmata and clairvoyantly knows how to find hidden objects. At her perpetual profession the nuns are surprised at the lengthy presence of a dove, which is taken to be a sign of the Holy Spirit. Karl I, the king of Spain, has Magdalena bless, among other things, the royal standard and the clothing of his son Philip. Cardinal Cisneros and numerous other princes of the Church are also impressed. Even the Holy Father personally asked the Spanish Poor Clare for her intercession. Only a few reflective contemporaries such as St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. John of Avila remain skeptical. Their doubts are confirmed when the Poor Clares start to wonder about the lax leadership of their superior and elect a successor. The "miracle nun" was then visited with convulsions. When the exorcism undertaken thereafter exposes a demonic presence, the Inquisition undertakes a trial against Magdalena. In it she testifies that in the year 1504 she made a forty-year pact with the devil, which had reached its end in 1544. Her paranormal abilities ceased. After she abjured her errors, she does penance for several years, she can no longer be elected to any offices in the Order, and lives an exemplary life until her death. In other words: the devil can succeed to make fools of the highest princes of the Church for decades long. Such an example warns us to caution in the face of present-day happenings.

Fr. Hauke discusses the Medjugorje phenomenon, and apparitions in general, so clearly that this interview is essential reading for those interested in the subject. I also recommend Donal Foley's book, Understanding Medjugorje.

1 comment:

Dan Patrascu said...

Another article on Medjugorje