(c)Mateo Ivankovic 2018
The Medjugorje Deception
A Shocking New Revelation
Almost since it commenced over three decades ago, the Medjugorje phenomenon has lived under a cloud. There were two competing narratives “explaining” it.
From the beginning, you had the obvious, straightforward narrative: the Blessed Virgin Mary was appearing to six children (now adults) following a pattern found in famous apparitions of the past. The appearances were longer than usual but then again the “need” was greater than ever before. The visionaries never retracted or contradicted their testimonies over the decades – a salient fact given the traumatic, continuing attacks on them. They were clinically tested during the “ecstasies” and found to be “normal.” The site of the apparitions itself drew millions of pilgrims, believers and unbelievers, laity and clerics. Countless conversions, a variety of miracles and continuous confessions and Masses made it a spiritual center of gravity in the wasteland that was the West. This was why the famed exorcist Fr. Gabriel Amorth called Medjugorje “a fortress against Satan.” It was also why St. John Paul II and St. Mother Teresa both became strong believers in the authenticity of Our Lady’s apparitions there.
But then a counter-narrative emerged: the children were lying; they were tools of the rebellious Franciscans who used them to undermine their bishop; they were simply seeking to personally enrich themselves. It was all a fraud. The power of a narrative depends on its source. And in this case the source was formidable. It was the Ordinary of the diocese in which the phenomenon was taking place, the local bishop. And concerning the authenticity of apparitions, in Church history it was always the local bishop who had the last word.
Not surprisingly, the Catholic media and most traditionalist Catholics gravitated to the Bishop’s counter-narrative. Bishop Zanic, the bishop of Mostar, the diocese in which Medjugorje was located, said he believed in the apparitions of Our Lady in Lourdes and Fatima but not in Medjugorje. Medjugorje, he said, was not only fraudulent but likely to undermine other authentic apparitions. It was the word of the duly authorized Church leader against that of a clutch of unknown children in a remote region. The pilgrims kept coming but the traditionalists used the multitude of “facts” supplied by the Bishop to create elaborate critiques and refutations of the authenticity of the apparitions. Others among the faithful who were impressed by the phenomenon decided to remain neutral given the controversy. After all, where there’s smoke there’s fire. There’s two sides to every story. And the Bishop was giving his side.
Yet, discerning observers could have seen that things were not quite so black and white. For the Holy See had removed Medjugorje from the jurisdiction of the local bishop – a first in Church history. It should have been obvious that the Vatican did not trust him to do a fair job. It was not clear why. But the local bishop was no longer “in charge” when it came to Medjugorje. This did not stop Bishop Zanic and his successor Bishop Ratko Peric from continuing their war against Medjugorje and its principals. Even with the Vatican taking over the investigation and approving the authenticity of the first seven apparitions, the cloud created and sustained by the local bishop remained in place casting a baleful glance on every positive pronouncement. The Bishop’s drumbeaters among the traditionalists churned out stories, pamphlets and books promoting his counter-narrative and turning Medjugorje into a source of division among Catholics everywhere.
This, we might say, is the status quo. But everything just changed in 2018.
Shocking new revelations have vaporized the foundations of the counter-narrative. Previously classified government documents and high-level communist government witnesses have been brought into the light of day. And they tell us an “untold story” that is alternately appalling and infuriating. Bishop Zanic and Bishop Peric, according to the documents and witnesses, were working not just with the communist government of Yugoslavia but the Soviet Union’s KGB to destroy Medjugorje. Bishop Zanic changed his initially favorable stance on Medjugorje because the communists had incriminating information on him and in return for their silence he led the assault on the phenomenon. Bishop Peric (who was also given this information) asked the KGB to destroy Medjugorje even if it was true because of his animosity for the Franciscans. The traditionalists who “bought” the bishops’ counter-narrative were simply dupes peddling communist propaganda. Worst of all, the faithful who “fell” for the propaganda were deprived of a source of grace.
The whole sordid story with copies of the documents and the testimonies of KGB and Yugoslavian secret service agents can be found at https://www.medjugorje-to-fatima.com?wix-vod-video-id=6dd1b0ec26c448a487b098ac50150e7e&wix-vod-comp-id=comp-iwccusfc# .. Younger viewers of today may have a hard time imagining the state of the world in 1981 when the events of Medjugorje began. But it was a time when totalitarian communism and the Soviet Union, a global super-power, dominated Eastern Europe. This included Yugoslavia where Medjugorje was then located. The Soviets and the Yugoslavs rightly guessed that Medjugorje represented a mortal threat to their hegemony. They guessed this almost from the beginning – a prophetic insight we might say. So they did all in their power to end it.
The KGB and the Yugoslavs worked with high-level Vatican officials who promised to help them in this mission but then complained that Pope John Paul II was frustrating their efforts (remember that the assassination attempt on this Pope was engineered, according to many intelligence assessments, by the KGB). As in all communist countries, potential enemies of the regime were always under surveillance. This included bishops. In this manner, they were able to assemble incriminating information on Bishop Zanic which would have led to his dismissal and humiliation if publicized. The Vatican officials were, in fact, aware of this information as was Bishop Zanic’s successor Bishop Peric. In return for Bishop Zanic’s zealous efforts to exterminate Medjugorje, the communists kept their promise of silence. Meanwhile they cultivated Peric who won from them the promise to destroy the Franciscans whom he considered his enemies. In return, he said he would continue the war on Medjugorje specifically saying that he would do so whether or not there was truth to it.
So this is how the counter-narrative emerged. It was no different than the way in which the communists through the East German Secret Service built a false but powerful counter-narrative about Pope Pius XII alleging that he turned a deaf ear to the Holocaust. This was the Pope who was thanked by the Chief Rabbi of Rome at the end of World War II for saving thousands of Jewish lives. But such is the power of counter-narratives created by repressive regimes and peddled by gullible media that today there is a cloud over the head of this holy and heroic pope.
The Medjugorje deception created and sustained by ecclesiastical officials and directed by enemies of the Church has now been exposed. To his enduring credit, for which we should be ever grateful, St. John Paul II, who personally knew how the communists operated, protected Medjugorje. Let us express our gratitude too to the visionaries who have remained faithful to the mission entrusted to them by Our Lady in the face of slander from their own shepherd, who they continued praying for and never criticized.
It is now the mission of the faithful to help the Church recover and respond to the invitation from Our Lady being offered through Medjugorje:
“Dear children! Today I call you to pray and fast for my intentions, because Satan wants to destroy my plan. Here I began with this parish and invited the entire world. Many have responded, but there is an enormous number of those who do not want to hear or accept my call. Therefore, you who have said ‘yes’, be strong and resolute. Thank you for having responded to my call.
The Pope of the secret of Fatima told us in his will, “Victory when it comes, will be a victory through Maria!” He had prophetic vision, telling American bishops when addressing the Philadelphia Eucharistic Congress five years before Our Lady’s apparitions began: “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that wide circles of American Society, or wide circles of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and is a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously…”Five years later Our Lady started coming to Medjugore:
“Dear children, my real, living presence among you should make you happy because this is the great love of my Son. He is sending me among you so that, with a motherly love, I may grant you safety!”
It made Pope John Paul ll happy. He recognized Our Lady’s presence with us through her apparitions in Medjugorje as part of God’s plan, writing to friends in Poland, in his own hand: “I thank Sophia for everything concerning Medjugorje. I too go there every day as a pilgrim in my prayers. I unite in my prayers with all those who pray there or receive a call for prayer from there. Today we have understood this call better. I rejoice that our time is not lacking people of prayer and apostles.” He told friends, “Medjugorje is hope for the entire world,” and visiting bishops to the Vatican: “Medjugorje is the spiritual center of the world!”
As we enter Holy Week, let us take seriously our Mother’s call to pray for the shepherds:
“My children, be my apostles who have not lived in vain. Do not forget that you will come before the Heavenly Father and tell Him about yourself. Be ready! Again I am warning you, pray for those whom my Son called, whose hands He blessed and whom He gave as a gift to you. Pray, pray, pray for your shepherds…
“It is necessary to pray much, to pray and love the Church to which you belong. Now, the Church is suffering and needs apostles who by loving unity, by witnessing and giving, show the ways to God. The Church needs apostles who by living the Eucharist with the heart do great works; it needs you, my apostles of love. My children, from the very beginning the Church was persecuted and betrayed, but day by day it grew. It is indestructible because my Son gave it a heart – the Eucharist, and the light of His Resurrection shone and will continue to shine upon it. Therefore, do not be afraid. Pray for your shepherds that they may have the strength and the love to be bridges of salvation. Thank you.”