Pope Francis Authorizes Official Pilgrimages to Medjugorje

Richard Sontag    |   Last Updated: September 21, 2020
Pope Francis Authorizes Official Pilgrimages to Medjugorje
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Marian Shrine in Bosnia-Herzegovina draws more than 40 million pilgrims since 1981

Medjugorje— May 13, 2019
Pope Francis has authorized official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, meaning that any Catholic entity (diocese, parish or organization) is now permitted to officially organize pilgrimages to the shrine. They no longer have to be organized or take place in a private capacity only.

The joyful announcement was made during Mass on May 12, by Archbishop Henryk Hoser, the Holy See’s Special Apostolic Visitator to Medjugorje, in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Luigi Pezzuto. The apparitions at the Bosnia-Herzegovina shrine have been ongoing since June, 1981 when the Virgin Mary, who calls herself the Queen of Peace, allegedly began appearing to six children. Three of visionaries claim to continue seeing the Virgin Mary every day: Marija who lives in Monza, Italy; Vicka who lives close to Medjugorje; and Ivan who lives in the United States and Medjugorje. A fourth visionary, Mirjana claims to see Our Lady once a month. The two final visionaries, Ivanka and Jakov, claim to see the Virgin Mary once a year.

According to the “ad-interim” director of the Holy See Press Office, Allessandro Gisotto, the Vatican announcement clarifies that, while official pilgrimages are now permitted, the authenticity of the apparitions is still under investigation. (https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-05/medjugorje-the-marian-faith-and-the-decision-of-the-pastor.html)

Gisotto stipulated that papal authorization of the official pilgrimages must be accompanied by “care to prevent these pilgrimages from being interpreted as authentication of known events, which still requires examination by the Church. Therefore, care must be taken to avoid creating confusion or ambiguity from the doctrinal point of view regarding such pilgrimages. This also concerns pastors of every order and level who intend to go to Medjugorje and celebrate or concelebrate there even in a solemn way.”

The positive fruits of Medjugorje and steady stream of pilgrims and conversions has made an impression. In a Vatican News editorial published May 13, 2019, editor-in-chief Andrea Tornielli commented on the long lines of people going to confession; and Eucharistic adoration in the evenings, which was standing room only. He also said that in 2013, Pope Francis told Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello, a Mariologist and the Secretary for the Laity, Family and life: "I believe" that "in Medjugorje there is grace. There is no denying it. There are people who convert." ( https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-05/medjugorje-the-marian-faith-and-the-decision-of-the-pastor.html)

The Pope’s decision comes a year after the retired Archbishop of Warsaw, Poland, Henryk Hoser, was appointed as Apostolic Visitator for Medjugorje. Hoser’s appointment was made on May 31, 2018 to ensure the proper pastoral care of the pilgrims.

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