The position of Medjugorje in the Church is a difficult, disputed subject, an object of confusion and ambiguities, that is important to dissipate.
Among us, Medjugorje does not need any explanations. It is a place of grace where Our Lady has manifested Herself by all the exceptional fruits: spiritual life, conversions, healings. “The tree is judged by its fruits,” says the Lord, and it is the only criterion of discernment that comes from Him (Mt 7:20; 12:33).
The Status of the Apparitions
There is, however, an ambiguity we should be well aware of. Apparitions, where faith becomes evident, where the invisible becomes visible, are a superficial and secondary phenomenon in comparison to the Gospel and the holy sacraments. Even where the Church recognizes an apparition (including Lourdes and Fatima, the most solemnly recognized), she does not employ her infallibility or even her authority, since it is not a question of a dogma, necessary for salvation and taught in the name of Christ, but of a discernment, only probable and conjectural. She does not say, “You have to believe” but, “There are some good reasons to believe. It is beneficial to believe.”
The responsible authority itself can even add, “I believe”; but it does not impose this judgment under the penalty of sin. If I would not believe in Lourdes or in Fatima, I would not have to go to confession if I had reasons to doubt. It was in this spirit and with a completely open mind that I undertook my investigations about Lourdes.
Similarly, if authority says, “There are serious reasons not to believe,” then it is wrong to believe. Our judgment is called upon to obey the Church, but permits freedom of examination and of discernment. In 1984-1985, when Bishop Zanic announced his negative verdict, I had prepared my conscience for this possibility, and I said to myself candidly something like, “In this case, I will stop writing or speaking publicly about Medjugorje, but like the friends of St. Joan of Arc, burned at the order of a bishop in 1431, I will deepen my knowledge about it and put down the reasons for revising such a judgment”.
Respect for authority and obedience, from which we should never deviate, in this area occasionally allows for slight differences in the free service of the faith.
The Two Meanings of the Word “Church”
Concerning the word “Church”, the last word of the topic that was assigned to me (The Place of Medjugorje in the Church ), another ambiguity must be be clarified:
Before the Council, for the majority of theologians, the Church was the hierachy: the Pope and the bishops.
Vatican Council II revised this conception. It restructured the Constitution of the Church inversely: the Church is, first of all, the people of God, among which certain faithful (equal to others before God in faith, hope, charity and in the search for holin ess) have authority in the name of Christ, but this authority is service of the people of God. That is why the Pope has given himself the title “Servant of the servants of God”.
Now let us examine the place of Medjugorje in the Church according to these two complementary meanings of the word Church which signifies an organic reality: the mystical but visible Body of Christ.
The Reception by the People of God
At Medjugorje, as in other places, the faithful were the first to recognize the presence of the Virgin Mary in these apparitions.
The pastor, Fr. Jozo Zovko, a spiritual man, was first of all critical and demanded verification of the apparitions. He said to the parishioners, “What are you going to do on this hill, when you have the Eucharist in the Church?”
He brought them all back to the church for daily mass to where the apparitions were transferred. Quite soon he believed and a personal apparition of the Virgin confirmed his conviction.
Among Christians, however, there are opponents on the right and on the left.
1. The Christian progressives prefer the negative critique, psychological and psycho-analytical explanations, systematic doubt and suspicion in the face of extraordinary phenomena.
2. The traditionalist wing or moderate integrist, for example, Fidelity in the USA, or the extreme right of the Catholic Counter Reform (which excommunicated the Pope as heretical) were the most fierce adversaries of Medjugorje.
Pilgrims often ask the visionaries, “What should we do to be able to convince the opponents?”
Vicka answers, “Pray for them and be good. The Lord and the Holy Virgin will do the rest.”
That was already the position of Bernadette, who did not involve herself in discussions with the opponents who wanted to dispute with her, but, if they insisted, answered simply, “I am charged to tell you. I am not charged to make you believe.”
The Hierarchical Church: The Bishops and the Pope
The situation is more complex on the side of the authorities.
The Local Bishop
The local bishop, Msgr. Zanic, successor of the apostles and the one responsible for discernment in his diocese, was at first favorable during the summer of 1981 (although he does not want to remember it today). But the local conflict with the Franciscans (who make up 80% of the priests of his diocese) aggravated everything step by step. The time allotted here does not permit me to give the details of this problem. For that I refer you to my books.
When I went to Medjugorje for the first time at Christmas 1983, I believed that he was still favorable but he disillusioned me. I listened to him and did my best to note his objections, although they seemed to me quite external, partial and weak in comparison to the obvious facts, which got me involved in a difficult venture in respect to his episcopal authority. I went to see him as often as I could. He confirmed to me his radical opposition. At the end of the visit with him, I asked for his blessing. Once he found it difficult. I insisted, saying, “If I am a problem for you, give me the blessing for my conversion”. To that he responded with his episcopal magnanimity, “Remain Laurentin”
His Official Position of October 30, 1984 against Medjugorje defamed me on several points in a surprising manner: I was supposed to have counselled him to hide the truth; I disqualified myself as a theologian; I was supposed to have done this for money; I had earned more than a billion!; I had succumbed to the charm of the visionaries of Medjugorje rather than to listen to the bishop. But he had never forbidden me to go to Medjugorje or asked me to stop writing.
I prepared myself to keep silence after the negative verdict, which he had publicly announced. But when he came to Rome in April 1986 to propose it, Cardinal Ratzinger told him (and Bishop Zanic, a man of clarity and of no duplicity, revealed it openly): “No, you are going to dissolve your diocesan commission. The verdict is transferred to the Bishops Conference.”
This was unexpected; because, according to an old tradition, aggravated by Cardinal Ottaviani, who in 1959 and 1960 made the decisions against Sister Faustina (beatified today) and Mother Yvonne Aimée etc., the Holy Office generally supported bishops who were unfavorable towards apparitions and rather restrained favorable judgments. Here then it was reversed. One could ask why. I believe I have the explanation.
In July 1984 Pope John Paul II, into whose own hands I gave my first book, “Is The Virgin Mary Appearing at Medjugorje?” (February 1984), had read it in Castelgandolfo and had recommended it to Bishop Pio Belo Ricardo of Los Teques (Venezuela).
The following year, he also read “Scientific & Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje”, which I wrote together with Professor Joyeux from Montpellier.
Finally, I initiated an international meeting of doctors and theologians at Milan to establish ten scientific and ten theological conclusions concerning Medjugorje. Agreement was easily reached in one day of work, and these twenty conclusions were sent to John Paul II by Doctor Luigi Farina, the President of ARPA, where this meeting had taken place. The Pope sent all these documents to Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, who seems to have made this new decision after having conferred with John Paul II. It was an unprecedented decision. It took the bishops ordinary authority away from him without taking it away completely, since he would still be a member of the Yugoslav Bishops Conference, to which the judgment was transferred.
The result was a long journey. Cardinal Kuharic, with whom Vicka had an apparition (in his living room in 1983, as he told me ) was, it seemed to me, open and discretely favorable. In any case, he desired the bishops to peacefully take the responsibility for this important and fruitful place of pilgrimage instead of stirring up one of those conflicts around apparitions that create discomfort and divisions within the Church, which are detrimental to the faithful, the bishops, and God Himself.
But being prudent and respectful of Monsignor Zanic, the local bishop who is responsible before God and the parish of Medjugorje, Cardinal Kuharic rightly maintained a prominent place for him. Every time a question was addressed to the Bishops Conference, he was always the one to speak first. With his characteristic vigor Bishop Zanic repeated all the objections he had developed twice publicly and retained them:
1. The Official Position on Medjugorje of October 30, 1984, dealt a blow to the further expansion of Medjugorje, since he invited all the bishops of the episcopal conferences of the world to support his negative position, suggesting that official pilgrimages (he underscored the “official”) were not authorized.
2. His severe sermon of July 25, 1987, against Medjugorje during the confirmation ceremony. He expected to see the parishioners revolt, but they silently listened to him with respect, in spite of the deep hurt they felt in their hearts. They gave proof of their heroic respect and obedience, but the bishop interpreted their reaction differently. During the dinner that followed, he concluded, “They dont believe so much any more today.” The Franciscans disabused him (the sermon is published with my critical observations in Seven Years of Apparitions, pp 72-77).
After this first intervention of the local bishop, the other less informed bishops kept silence or supported him out of solidarity. The only one who pleaded for Medjugorje was Msgr. Franic, archbishop of Split, an authority in these matters, since he was president of the Yugoslav Bishops Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith. But he retired on September 10, 1988, and was no longer a member of the Bishops Conference thus leaving open terrain for Bishop Zanic.
Under these circumstances, I never came to know how Cardinal Kuharic was able in November 1990 to succeed through the Bishops Conference in obtaining the recognition of pilgrimage and its practice. It was done according to the directives and criteria published February 25, 1978 by Cardinal eper, (the predecessor of Cardinal Ratzinger at the Congregation of the Faith ). In the case of apparitions, if no serious objection presents itself and if the fruits are good, the bishop takes charge of pilgrimage in order to direct the piety of the faithful. After that, he can eventually, without haste and with the necessary caution, recognize the apparitions themselves. Unfortunately, Bishop Zanic accepted this recognition of pilgrimage (to which he was opposed) only on condition that several negative clauses be introduced. These minor restrictions made the text so obscure that the Cardinal and the Bishops Conference decided not to publish it , and to recognize it in action (as was done in Rome without a declaration for the recognition of Tre Fontane).
This is how Bishop Komarica, president of the Yugoslav Bishops Commission for the investigation of Medjugorje, came to Medjugorje to celebrate a mass of pilgrimage. He declared officially:
“I came not only in my own name but in the name of all the Yugoslav bishops, including Msgr. Zanic (the local bishop and the number one opponent). Other bishops will come…”
And other bishops followed, including Msgr. Zanic and his archbishop, the future Cardinal Puljic of Sarajevo.
Everything seemed to be going well. But on January 2, 1991 the text, kept secret because of its ambiguity, was published by the Italian News Agency ASCA (on the initiative of Msgr. Zanic, according to the Counter Reform which was very much behind him) with a radically negative commentary. This obscure text, published under savage conditions, created uncertainty and disarray with pilgrims on an international scale. They referred to Cardinal Kuharic, who replied:
“The Church is not in a hurry. We, the bishops, after three years of examination by the Commission, have declared Medjugorje a place of prayer and a Marian sanctuary. This means that WE ARE NOT OPPOSED to people coming on pilgrimage to Medjugorje to venerate the Mother of God there, in conformity with the teaching and faith of the universal Church.
As to the supernaturality of the apparitions, we have declared: UP TO THIS MOMENT WE CANNOT AFFIRM IT. WE LEAVE IT FOR LATER.. THE CHURCH IS NOT IN A HURRY.” ( Declaration printed in Vecernji List, August 1993, Latest News 13, page 41). Several Croatian bishops spoke in the same way.
Overwhelmed with questions on an international level, Cardinal Kuharic took the time needed to arrive at a new version of the text , which was clearer and from which some negative ambivalences were absent.
The sense became clearer, in spite of the negative declarations circulated in the press. The Yugoslav bishops had to choose between two classic formulas of possible expressions of judgments since the authenticity of the apparitions were not recognized:
1. Non patet supernaturalitas: The supernatural is not proved
2. Patet non supernaturalitas: The non-supernatural character is proved.
The bishops chose, not the second formula which excluded the supernatural, but the first, which had an element of doubt: it was not yet possible to recognize the supernatural character, but without excluding it, as Cardinal Kuharic had clearly stated. It is a pity to see how the press and how certain priests or authorities continually confuse the prudent formula which suspends judgment and the formula which definitely excludes it. This confusion, which is frequent in such cases, has never ceased to revive at Medjugorje.
Another ambiguity: the word supernatural in similar circumstances is generally used in an ambiguous sense and is subject to confusion: it is supposed to mean miraculous, extraordinary, inexplicable, which is a very particular meaning of the word supernatural. The ambiguity is unfortunate because it would seem to deprive the aspects of pilgrimage (fervent masses, inumerable confessions, the Way of the Cross and rosaries) of a supernatural character, as if it were a place of superstition! Thus certain commentaries have suggested. But the Bishops Conference does not leave in any doubt the supernatural character of the Medjugorje liturgies, but only thinks that the proof of an extraordinary intervention by God is not yet established.
You know that Archbishop Franic blamed the prudence of the bishops and thinks that this has been partially responsible for the war, to the extent that “they did not recognize the voice of the Mother of God who was offering peace,” or that they were “relentlessly opposed.” (Latest News 14, p. 114). The urgent call of Our Lady was not sufficiently heard, she could not save the situation. I leave to the archbishop the responsibility of his judgment published in Gebetsaktion, not personally having the authority nor the competence for this (Latest News 13, 14 and 15: 1994, 1995, 1996).
During the war, which subjected his diocese to destruction and bloodshed, Bishop Zanic had taken refuge in Rome where he spent a long time in obtaining the nomination of a successor who would continue his struggle against the Franciscans and Medjugorje. He was successfull. Msgr. Peric, superior of the Croatian College in Rome, and who had been his principal assistant in transmitting his objections and complaints to Congregations in Rome, thus became the local bishop, with less firmly entrenched convictions, but less impulsive and therefore more effective than Bishop Zanic. Certainly he maintained an episcopal prudence and never gave any official negative judgment against pilgrimages, in spite of many unfavorable declarations and actions.
On several occasions he interpreted the judgment of the Bishops Conference in a manner which was in some way radically negative. Beginning in 1995 he had his Vicar General state these radical terms which he,himself expressed later in Crkva na Kamenu (his diocesan paper Church On the Rock ):
“It is impossible to declare that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions (in Medjugorje). Since the Declaration of the Bishops Conference April 10, 1991, there has been a negative judgment from the two bishops of Mostar: the former and the current one (Bishop Peric spoke here of himself in the third person). Those who affirm the contrary are telling naive children stories. We stand by the opinion that the Holy Virgin has not appeared in person at Medjugorje.” He nevertheless added (this limits and contradicts his statement):
-The Ordinary of Mostar (Bishop Peric himself) is only saying what the bishops said (April 10, 1991) and does not believe in the stories about Medjugorje. This is what the Vicar General clearly stated before (in a recent declaration to the press). The text of the Declaration itself and the interpretation authorized by Cardinal Kuharic, principal author and signatory of the bishops declaration quoted earlier, sets the clock once again at the right time.
The See-saw Game of Interpretations
In this confusion several bishops from all over the world, not understanding anything, wondered if they should discourage the members of their dioceses from going to Medjugorje. They wrote to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and several received a reply which echoed the Bishops Conference official Declaration of April 10, 1991, but in terms so ambiguous that the press interpreted it in a very radically negative sense. As a consequence of these publications, many of the faithful had the understanding that : “If you go to Medjugorje, you are in disobedience.”
Here is the essential part of the answer by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith addressed March 12, 1996 to Msgr. Taverdet, bishop of Langres, in reply to his letter of February 14, 1996. After having quoted the essentials of the Yugoslav Bishops Conference Declaration of April 10, 1991, (see above) he concludes:
“From what has been said it results that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, should not be organized because they would be in contradiction to what was affirmed by the bishops of ex-Yugoslavia.”
Under the influence of the two successive statements of the two local bishops the reply accumulates all the negative characteristics without underlining the positive element of the document. The talk in the press was Rome forbids pilgrimages to Medjugorje.
The bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart echoed the same declaration received from Rome in more negative terms, and they were reproduced by the bishop of Metz. Sister Emmanuel wrote to him pointing out quite rightly:
“Cardinal Ratzinger has never forbidden pilgrimages to Medjugorje. He was only recalling a law of the Church, which means that for places of apparitions still under examination official pilgrimages are forbidden, but private pilgrimages are authorized.” (Letter of November 8, 1995)
Given the confusion that arose from these contradictory and more or less abusive interpretations, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, spokesman for the Holy See and director of the press office, clearly denied the negative interpretation on August 21,1996:
“The Vatican has never said to Catholics , “You cannot go to Medjugorje.” On the contrary, he said to the bishops: “Your parishes and dioceses cannot (yet) organize OFFICIAL pilgrimages. But one cannot tell people not to go there, insofar as it has not been proved that the apparitions are false . . . something that has never been declared. Therefore anyone who wants to, can go there.” (Statement of August 21, 1996 to the Catholic New Service).
He added:”A Catholic who goes to such a place (of apparitions) in good faith has the right to spiritual assistance. The church never forbids priests to accompany journeys to Medjugorje in Bosnia- Hercegovina, organized by the laity, just as it never forbids them to accompany a group of Catholics to visit the Republic of South Africa. Whoever reads the letter of the Archbishop Bertone could think that from now on it is forbidden for Catholics to go to Medjugorje. That would be an incorrect interpretation, since nothing has changed, nothing new has been said. The problem is not to organize official pilgrimages (led by a bishop or the pastor of a church) which would seem to constitute a canonical recognition of the events of Medjugorje still under investigation. It is altogether another thing to organize a pilgrimage accompanied by a priest, who is necessary for confessions. It is a pity that the words of Archbishop Bertone were understood in a restrictive sense. Would the Church and the Vatican have said no to Medjugorje? No!”
The director of the press office noted correctly that Archbishop Bertone had echoed the Bishops Declaration where it is said that “the many faithful who go to Medjugorje require pastoral assistance of the Church” (therefore, the help of priests with their pilgrimage).
Thus pilgrimages to Medjugorje, although unofficial, require the pastoral assistance of priests for mass, preaching, and confessions.
For lack of space, I will be brief on the position of the new bishop whose acts and declarations I have given in detail in successive volumes of Latest News of Medjugorje ( 13, 14, 15: 1994, 1995, 1996).
More than one hundred bishops have gone to Medjugorje in spite of the opposition of the local bishop. This is astonishing enough, given the strict way in which episcopal solidarity is carried out in the Church (something which has greatly damaged my reputation since the personal attacks of Bishop Zanic against me were taken seriously).
But many bishops have noted remarkable, profound and lasting conversions of the people of their dioceses at Medjugorje. Some, who were indifferent, opposed and protesting, have themselves become pillars of the Catholic Church. They went to look, they were convinced and they have witnessed to it, according to the statutory freedom established in the Church in this matter. I have given the names and the testimonies of these bishops in the later volumes of my Latest News.
The Position of the Pope
If so many bishops have gone to Medjugorje, in spite of all the dissuasion which the negative position of the local bishop was creating (and of which some of them were aware), there was another reason behind it that some of them have made public. They asked the advice of John Paul II who answered them positively, for instance to Bishop Hnilica, “If I were not Pope, I would have gone there long ago.”
I cannot treat in detail the many testimonies of bishops on the position of the Pope. I will be even more discreet about the fact that, having been invited for breakfast with him to submit an important question to him, when I finished, he spent the rest of the breakfast asking me questions about Medjugorje.
What he most frequently pointed out to a number of bishops were the “good fruits”, which are the basis for the authenticity of an apparition, according to the only criterion given by Christ Himself: “One judges the tree by its fruits” ( Mt. 7:16-20 ; 12:23 and similar).
On April, 6 1995 the Vice President of Croatia, Mr. Radi_, representing President Tudjman and Cardinal Kuhari_, came to thank the Pope after his visit to Croatia, inviting him to come in September 1995 to celebrate the 17th centenary of the founding of the church of Split. The Pope replied:
“I will look into it. But if I can come I would wish to visit Maria Bistrica (the national shrine of Our Lady near Zagreb) and . . . Medjugorje.” These words were reported in the Croatian newspapers ( Latest News 14, p. 44).
According to Sister Emmanuel, he told an English group on May 31, 1995: “Pray that I may go to Medjugorje this year” ( Latest News 15 ). This testimony and others are published in Latest News 14, p. 43-44 and Latest News 15, pp. 43-46.
I do not think that the Popes desire can be realized, given the opposition of the local bishop, for even if the Pope is theoretically all powerful, he shows maximum respect for the established authorities in the Church according to the principle of subsidiarity that: the higher level must avoid interference with the lower level, while maintaining its freedom to confirm its convictions privately.
In which Direction is it Going?
In reply to the question: “In which direction is it going?” What to answer?
1. Medjugorje is no longer under the Yugoslav Bishops Conference presided over by Cardinal Kuhari_ , who had assumed responsibility for pilgrimages. The Yugoslav Bishops Conference no longer exists and by that fact its Commission exists no more.
2. The local bishop, Msgr. Peri_, now belongs to the Bosnia-Hercegovina Bishops Conference, presided over by Cardinal Pulji_ . He has always been in solidarity with the local bishop who is in opposition without formally stating his position. The new Bosnia-Hercegovina Bishops Conference has only three bishops. One is radically negative (the local bishop), and the other (the Cardinal President) is normally in solidarity. The position of the third one, Msgr. Komarica, the persecuted bishop of Banja Luka, president of the Yugoslav Bishops Commission for the investigation of Medjugorje, remains sibylline. In the Commission over which he presided the experts in favor of Medjugorje did not feel free as some of them confided to Archbishop Frani_.
The bishop of Mostar seemed to say privately to some people who would have repeated it: “During the war I will not act against Medjugorje, but without doubt the time will be after the war.”
What is keeping his negative action muffled is that he is not ignoring the Popes discreet but well-known position. The situation of Medjugorje will remain morally protected as long as John Paul II is alive.
What will happen afterwards (as late as possible!) will depend on the next Pope.
From a human point of view the perspective would therefore seem quite gloomy. But it was even more gloomy when Bishop _ani_ announced his negative judgment at different stages which I cannot relate in detail. Each time the worst has been avoided against every expectation. The grace of Medjugorje continues: up to now the Virgin Mary has discretely shown herself to be the strongest even when it was at its worst, which were abundant.
Regarding an Official Action Recognized Officially as an Abuse Against the Franciscans
A much too little known fact will comfort those who appreciate the graces of Medjugorje. There are the repressions of the ecclesiastical authorities against the Franciscans whose parish of Medjugorje has suffered artificial counter blows and interferences which were sometimes abusive. One of those abuses of power was officially recognized and rescinded by the highest court of the Church, (similar to our “Cour de Cassation”), The Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, on May 24, 1991 (R. Laurentin, Latest News 13 p 37-50):
Briefly, two Franciscan priests were condemned by an administrative decision for having continued their pastoral activities in Mostar among the faithful who did not want to receive the sacraments except from Franciscans. They were dismissed from the Order, dispensed from their vows and suspended (meaning they were deprived of their right to celebrate mass publicly and to exercise their priestly ministry). They often went to Medjugorje to pray and Vicka, whom they consulted, was judged very imprudent and at fault for saying that the judgment had been hasty, after having consulted the “Gospa.”
The two friars objected to the administrative sanction, asking to be judged according to the laws of the Church and promising to submit to them. Their different appeals received no answer. The last one, addresssed to the Apostolic Signature on September 2, 1985 was taken into consideration. But at the beginning of 1986 one of the closest co-workers of the Pope stopped the progress of justice in this case in which he was involved, because the authorities of the Franciscan Order had made their decision at his firm request and he had to “cover” for them.
The judges of the Apostolic Signature, mindful of the statutory independence of justice, so well established in the Church as in all civilized countries, were shocked by this administrative pressure.
Moreover, shortly afterwards, the Pope (probably unaware of this fact) had made this co-worker Prefect of the Apostolic Signature which aggravated the uneasiness of the judges. Three years later the Pope, probably better informed, transferred this Cardinal to another congregation and the judges reopened the examination of the dossier. They judged, in all honesty, that the administrative declaration taken against the friars was invalid and contrary to canon law, which allowed one of the brothers, who had been persecuted for ten years but remained faithful, to resume his duties. The other had been so scandalized by this miscarriage of justice and so traumatized by a prolonged depression, that he had left the religious life and the priesthood, conforming (alas!) to the administrative decision that had excluded him from his Order, officially annulled his three vows including the one of chastity. The judgment of the Apostolic Signature which breaks this abuse of power put an end to this irregularity in the functioning of supreme justice. It is signed by ten judges, five of which are Cardinals, the Dean of the Sacred College as its head, since the supreme court of the Church is at a higher level than that of nations. Its judges are the principal governors: the heads of Dicasteries, the equivalent of Ministers of State.
However, out of respect for the important persons implicated in this abuse of power, the supreme tribunal issued this judgment with a note that forbids its publication: it is not allowed to be reproduced with its correct reasons, but only to make public its conclusions.
Briefly, if the apparition of Medjugorje indisputably produces the good fruits of conversion and of holiness that we all know, the opposition to Medjugorje produces bad fruits. Each one can here refer to the only criterion of discernment given by Christ: The tree is judged by its fruits (Mt 7:17-20; 12:33).
Let us therefore pray to the Gospa to continue to protect Medjugorje. May She maintain obedience in everyone, respect for the local bishop and the authorities, the sense of peace, but also generosity and efficiency at the service of the lights and fruits of Medjugorje: this masterpiece of Our Lady at the end of our century. May She enlighten those with high responsibility in the Church as She has enlightened Pope John Paul II himself.