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Inaccurate Reporting on Medjugorje is a Disservice to All Catholics

On the British tabloid Daily Mail Online, there recently appeared an article by Chris Rogers and Marshall Corwin concerning the six alleged seers of Medjugorje.  Rogers and Corwin write a fairly simple article that recounts some basic history of Medjugorje.  It also mixes the authors’ own experience with Medjugorje and the alleged seers.  I would like to take the opportunity to respond to some questionable statements made by Rogers and Corwin in their article.

The first statement is as follows, “Medjugorje is damned as childish and vulgar by a snootier class of Catholic. Certainly, it has become a religious Costa del Sol of hotels and souvenir shops, with everything from Jesus clocks to Virgin Mary lampshades, the flashing mementos merging with the Christmas lights.”

The above characterization as to why some Catholics question Medjugorje is inaccurate and deplorable.  First, it insults them by calling them “a snootier class of Catholic.”  The Catholics who have openly questioned Medjugorje are not “snooty” people.  They are, by and large, fairly well educated and catechized Catholics.  They have heard of the controversy that is Medjugorje and decided to investigate personally the matter.  Their results they have shared with others in accordance with Catholic law (canon 212 §3).

Secondly, the characterization associates the various wares and bric-a-brac of Medjugorje with certain criticisms.  The characterization asserts the unnamed “snootier” Catholics look down upon the souvenir business that has sprung up in Medjugorje.  While it is true said business has been a discussion point by certain skeptics, it is, however, quite secondary and not spoken of by the skeptics in a snooty way.

Speaking in terms of hierarchy or taxis of concerns, the souvenir business observation is quite low on the theological totem pole of issues surrounding Medjugorje.  The heresy, disobedience, scandal(s) fanaticism, etc. wrought by Medjugorje take the center stage of issues.  Sadly, Rogers and Corwin neglect to tell their readers about the existence of these issues.

Bishop Ratko Peric has denounced Medjugorje saying the alleged messages contain “contradictions, falsehoods and banalities.” Photo-Wikipedia.

Some of the above issues concern the local Bishop referenced in the subsequent paragraph.  Despite the golden opportunity afforded them by this reference, Rogers and Corwin fail to take advantage of it.  They state “Medjugorje sits uneasily with a Church unused to such uncontrolled, spontaneous displays of faith, and over time it has become an open wound of acrimonious allegation and counter claim. Even the local bishop has denounced the visions as lies, banning the visionaries from public displays.”

The Catholic Church has been around for 2,000 years.  It is quite used to handling spontaneous devotions that arise from occasions such as these.  In fact, the Church has even issued norms on precisely how to handle these affairs.  Furthermore, this document stands in a long tradition of discernment stretching back to the foundation of the Church upon the Apostles and prophets.

Cardinal Ruini, head of the Medjugorje Commission (photo courtesy of Catholic News Services)

Rogers and Corwin, in the next paragraph, declare Rome will give believers in Medjugorje a “present” by approving the claims.  This is nothing short of overreaching.  Unless they wish to claim private knowledge, Rogers and Corwin cannot possibly know what the judgment of the commission is as it works in secret.  In fact, a number of conflicting reports have been given in the press in recent months, making them as believable as a snow cone in hell.

Another consideration in the article is a little further down.  Rogers and Corwin state, “The visionaries have been wired up as they undergo their trances, with some experts concluding that they are indeed in a state of ecstasy. None of the evidence is conclusive, but nor is there any evidence of deception or trickery, despite years of allegations.”  The second half of Rogers and Corwin’s statement is not accurate.

It is true various tests have been performed on the alleged visionaries but the results have been called into question.  Donal Foley’s book Medjugorje Revisited devotes an entire chapter (13) to critically investigating these tests.  Other tests performed by Dr. Giorgio Gagliardi and Fr. Andreas Resch in 1998 (Foley, 178-180) are particularly revealing.  There was also the infamous “flinching” episode with Vicka recorded by Louis Bélanger during one of her alleged ecstasies.

A further consideration in the article is the following statement, “‘They drive nice cars, have large homes and wear designer clothes,’ claims one website called Medjugorje Unmasked. This is untrue. Some have built annexes to house pilgrims, but the rooms are basic, the food is home-cooked and, at a cost of £20 a night, it covers the costs and affords only a modest living.”  There are a couple of objections with this statement.

Title image of Marco Corvaglia’s “Medjugorje Without a Mask” web site.

First, the proper Italian name of the given web site is “Medjugorje senza maschera,” which means “Medjugorje without a Mask” not “Medjugorje Unmasked.”  This is a slight linguistic difference, but in the interests of accuracy, it is important to be faithful to the facts.  Secondly, this alleged citation from Marco Corvaglia’s web site cannot be found.  Regardless, Rogers and Corwin apparently missed Corvaglia’s page wherein the “large homes” claim is elucidated, at least in regard to one of the supposed visionaries.

The Italian web site L’Abateo Impertinente demonstrated from legal documentation that “seer” Ivan Dragicevic took out an $800,000 mortgage for a home in Massachusetts.  This loan, says the documentation, was retired within a year.  The question then arose: how was such a high debt repaid in a year by someone who does not have a full-time job?  Furthermore, was this house bought to “house” pilgrims?  Let it also be noted that Corvaglia also clearly posts on his site that the homes (at least those in Medjugorje) house pilgrims.

Towards the end of Rogers and Corwin’s article is another inaccurate statement.  They say, “Out of the tens of thousands of apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported throughout history, only 295 have been formally investigated and just 12 have ever been authenticated, the most recent being the apparitions of Our Lady of Laus in France, approved in 2008.”  The apparitions of Our Lady to Adele Brise in Champion, Wisconsin were approved on December 8, 2010 making it the most recently approved apparition in Catholic history, and the first approved by decree in the United States.

Shortly thereafter, Rogers and Corwin end their article on this note, “Awkward as it might be for the Vatican, Medjugorje has become impossible to ignore.”  That Medjugorje has affected a broad portion of the Church to merit the intervention of the Holy See is a statement of the obvious given the fact of the Holy See’s commission.

In conclusion, Rogers and Corwin’s article is largely uncritical, inaccurate and not well researched.  It appears to be written by two people who wish to believe in Medjugorje based upon what is in front of them.  Such face value judgments would be acceptable in certain cases, but in one such as Medjugorje, there is a lot more to the story that deserves treatment.  Sadly, Rogers and Corwin have failed to do so.


Kevin Symonds writes from South Carolina.  He received his B.A. and M.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and is the author of the book, Private Revelation: What Does the Catholic Church Teach?


  • Noel Fitzpatrick

    Mr Symonds,

    thank you for this article.

    Some friends of mine visit Medjugorje frequently and are very committed to the Church. I have an open mind, but think it is a pity that there seems to be divisions among Catholics concerning Medjugorje.

    • Kevin Symonds

      There are divisions, yes, but this article was more about the British tabloid piece.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003586781928 Magdalene Prodigal

      I went to Medjugorje in 1998. It was my first ever pilgrimage and it was a wonderful experience. I am still in contact with some of my fellow pilgrims. And I experienced prodigies–sun spinning, rosary turned gold, etc. And the original messages from Medjugorje were the springboard to my reconversion.
      BUT
      Having said all that, I no longer support what is going on there. There is disobedience and that is a huge red flag. Our Lady would never support the bashing of the local bishop, etc. for she is perfect in obedience. The vast amounts of cash flowing to the visionaries who can almost pay cash for an almost million dollar home is disconcerting. Most holy followers of Our Lord and Our Lady live frugal lives. Not to say that there are not some holy rich people but to make money from (alleged) apparitions and locutions is also a red flag.

      • hrvat

        You all seem to be missing the point. The “red flag” is not the Bishop’s warning it is the ideology that this Bishop holds to. I am a Croat. I, like most of my Catholic brethren here, be they holymen or laymen, believe in these visionaries and not in this Bishop who along with his predecessor were one of about 3% of priests who unfortunately worked with the Yugoslav communist authorities and security system against the Croatian people and hence the Church in the Catholic parts of the former Yugoslavia. Neither are these two Bishops liked, nor respected by either the Croatian or Bosnian Bishops’ Conference. The two organisations that hold sway over the Church here. But due to the continued political battles occuring here between the descendants of the Red elite and the average people who hold dearly to Church values the official Croatian Church which is embodied in the persons of the Cardinal of Zagreb and Cardinal of Vrhbosansko have decided in the name of national unity to keep quiet until the decisions come down from the Vatican itself. Whilst in the meantime quietly promoting belief in Me?ugorje within the parishes. For non-Croat Catholics who never experienced Yugoslavia it is almost impossible to understand how such pro-communist priests got so far ahead within the Church here, especially from your comfortable lifestyles in the democratic systems in which you grew up. Thank God they are a minority here. But unfortunately, the media here, which are essentially the children of the JNA and communist elite push their agenda in order to bring disunity amongst the believers as what they fear more than anything is Catholicism within the Croat nation be they in Croatia or Bosnia-Herzegovinia. As under 46 years of communism it was us who destroyed their Marxist utopia and no one else. So you guys can talk as much as you want but here we believe in Me?ugorje and will continue to ignore what the common folk call these “crveni poppvi” (red priests) in favour of “hrvatski sve?enici” (Croat priests) as we know how the system works as well as we know all about the biographies of those crveni popovi who preach against us as themselves are wolves in sheep’s clothings. Yes, this Bishop wears a mantle, but whether or not he is God’s choice is another matter. All in all too many things have happened surrounding this case that only people who have grown up here can understand. Thank God for 97% of priests who remained loyal to their people, they proved wonderful pastors throughout the Hell that was communism, and they are proving wonderful shepherds today. God bless.

        • Kevin Symonds

          I think the “Communist-sympathizer” argument has already been addressed by the authorities.

          Secondly, if what you say is accurate, you have just poorly characterized the Cardinals of Zagreb and Vrhbosansko. You have just effectively told us they are imprudent men who promote visions that are not approved, thereby placing their private opinions over those of the Church.

          Not good. Not good at all.

        • wilhelmina

          The best story i read,was from a bishop,who visited,our late pope JohnPaul.Who told him why dont you go to Medjugorje?He did 3 times,The last time Bishop Peric told him not to come back,or he would tell our pope.So he told the story to JohnPaul,who told him he had to be obediant,to him,And the bishop ,would have to stand in front of the throne of God,How well said.How Our Mother love him,And he loved her.

        • wilhelmina

          The best story i read,was from a bishop,who visited,our late pope JohnPaul.Who told him why dont you go to Medjugorje?He did 3 times,The last time Bishop Peric told him not to come back,or he would tell our pope.So he told the story to JohnPaul,who told him he had to be obediant,to him,And the bishop ,would have to stand in front of the throne of God,How well said.How Our Mother love him,And he loved her.

      • wilhelmina

        I have never seen any of Sun spinning,or roserys turning gold,but i strongly believe.Our Mother said to the vissionarys,they were not miracles ,but small graces for unbelievers.The seers have never been diobedient to the bishop.The vatican is rich,in a lot of ways,That is Gods Gift.nobody complains,exept for unbelievers..

        • Kevin Symonds

          Wilhelmina, the evidence points otherwise with respect to the visionaries obeying the Bishop.

  • Tim Haley

    With all due respect, Mr Symonds, your sources are equally suspect as they are well known to be negatively biased and highly selective of the evidence they present. Foley and Belanger freely mix truth with fiction to support their preconceived notions. They are not known as Catholic scholars except to those who are hard set against the Medjugorje phenomenon. As for your article, I would have expected a higher standard from someone with BA and MA in Theology from Fransiscan University.

    • Kevin Symonds

      Mr. Haley, thank you for your comment. I will not here defend Foley or Belanger as they are plenty capable of doing that themselves.

      However, feel free here to present arguments that prove your statements.

  • Giulia
    • Kevin Symonds

      Thank you for notifying me of this. A most interesting read!!

      I believe my article only references the fact of the tests and some interesting results. I did not specify much else, so I would hope Dr. Gagliardi would not say I am one of those that has abused his research.

      • Giulia

        Not at all. The only point we wanted to make is that, in connection with this article, an accurate interview had been made by one of the authors. Unfortunately the lenght and contents of an article are not always under the control of those who submit it for publication.

        • Kevin Symonds

          Are you Dr. Gagliardi?

          • Giulia

            Sorry, I have only just noticed your question! Yes, I am from Dott. Gagliardi’s entourage and I personally translated his replies for Mr Corwin’s interview into English (though I usually translate into Italian), as well as their correspondence related to this article.

          • Kevin Symonds

            Giulia,

            Hello. Do you mind corresponding with me on E-mail?

          • Giulia

            Not at all! May I have your e-mai address or a link to a webpage listing your contact details?

          • Kevin Symonds

            Hello! You will find my E-mail address at the end of the document in this link:

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/73756470/Normae-Congregationis-2010-translation

            I do value my privacy, that is why I am not providing the E-mail address directly here.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeGannome Mike Gannome

    Thanks for the article holding the Daily Mail accountable for its shabby reporting. People need to read “The Truth About Medjugorje” by Bishop Zanic of Mostar. Google it. It exposes the lies, scandal, disobedience and error by the seers and those closely associated with it.

    • http://www.schefter.org/ PrairieHawk

      I read much of Bishop Zanic’s article and, as usual, I’m floored at the capacity for scandal that I see there. I had a couple of books on Medjugorje on my shelf, never read but supportive of the “seers”, and they are now in the trash. I am finding it hard enough to get to Heaven without the input from schismatics and phonies. It all underscores the great importance of OBEDIENCE. Obey the Church, obey the teachings of the Church, and obey personally your Bishop.

  • http://www.schefter.org/ PrairieHawk

    When I lived in Seattle during the 90’s Medjugorje was in full swing. Groups from our parish were travelling there. We were aware that there were “issues” – something about the local Bishop’s disapproval – but nothing to sway anyone from going. Good grief! No way should a group from any U.S. parish have traveled to Medjugorje with the blessing of their pastor. As an institution founded by God to spread “the Word”, we sure do have trouble as a Church getting the word out. Maybe if more members of the hierarchy – and even the laity – saw themselves as soldiers fighting a war, the “Church Militant”, things would change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Sundberg/100000503691206 Sam Sundberg

    Jan. 1, 2013: I have a deep love for Our Lady but have always felt an unease about Medjugorje. I do believe that Mary appeared there in the beginning because of something I heard about the youngest ‘seer’…but as years went by, I wondered why Mary, the mother of all, never – or very rarely – mentions the extermination of millions and millions of human babies in the wombs of their mothers? It just doesn’t make any sense. Then, recently, when there were questions about why the messages were so brief and pretty much the same, the seers’ messages got longer. Then I wondered why Mary would follow the seers to Italy or to the States or to wherever they would go…it seemed as if they would give Mary an appointment and tell her to be there…and they would set up crowds around their itinerary. I believe it is the faith and hope and love of those who go there that does bring Our Lady to that place…not visibly perhaps, but very palpably…but I don’t know. I would go there if I could but…Our Lady is to be found everywhere because she is the mother of us all.

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