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In June 1981, six Croatian teens (well, one was 10) went up Podbrdo Hill near the village of Medjugorje in then rural Yugoslavia. When they came down, they said they had seen “the Gospa” (Croatian for Lady). The local bishop, Pavao Žanić, was initially open to their claims but…after he interviewed them, and learned the full story, he knew it was a complete hoax.
If you do an internet search for “Medjugorje” you will find that the pro-apparition websites, books, DVDs, and prayer groups, positively swamp any critical sources. Yet the official judgment of the Catholic Church is clear: Medjugorje is rejected (officially, non constat de supernaturalitate). And yet Church leadership all the way up to Pope Francis treats the decades-sprawling phenomenon with a combination of kid gloves playing hot potato, to mix a metaphor.
The six seers have parlayed their so-called apparitions into consistently high sources of income, and the pilgrimage industry still rakes in millions each year off of naive, usually low information Catholics seeking solace or answers at the place.
Dr. E. Michael Jones, editor of Culture Wars magazine, wrote the first full length treatment of Medjugorje in 1988, and a book length account in 2010, which is why I invited him to give us an overview of the sprawling saga from the beginning. I do so with the intention of alerting my fellow Catholics who may be unaware (most are) of the truth about the Church’s discernment of this oddly toxic phenomenon.
Why do so many people—Catholics included—think that feelings triumph over facts?
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