Understanding Medjugorje
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Understanding Medjugorje Comments and Reviews

ISBN 0955074606

Review by By Dr Mitchell Kalpakgian, which appeared in the 20 August 2009 edition of The Wanderer: www.thewandererpress.com

As John Paul II reiterated in Fides et Ratio, Christian belief demands both a life of the mind and a life of faith for the fullness of the truth. Just as reason without faith degenerates into cold, skeptical rationalism, faith without reason easily declines to gullibility, naiveté, and illusion. Foley’s book on Medjugorje defends the rational basis of faith, the realm of sound common sense, and the traditional wisdom of the Church in his argument that Medjugorje has created “a misguided quest for ‘signs and wonders’” and developed into “a vast, if captivating religious illusion.”

Examining the entire phenomenon of the apparitions from their inception in 1981 to the present, Foley mounts compelling evidence that questions the authenticity of the visions of the seers. The most cogent aspect of his argument contrasts the approved miracles at Fatima and Lourdes with the alleged appearances of the Holy Mother at Medjugorje.

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Review by Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins, which appeared in the January-June 2009 issue of Miles Immaculatae

"For many years, when asked my private opinion about the alleged apparitions of Our Lady (the Gospa) in Medjugorje, I have responded with the Latin word nescio – I don’t know. It has long seemed to me that a balanced and authoritative response would require a team of experts fluent in Croatian in order to untangle the complex phenomenon of Medjugorje: the enormous mass of seemingly contradictory statements by the visionaries, the propaganda generated by its devotees, the favorable writings of well-known mariologists and commentators, the personal testimonies of those who claim to have had “conversion experiences” there and those of priests who claim to have heard there the best and most sincere confessions of their lives, the statements of the former Yugloslav Episcopal Conference as well as those of the past and present Bishops of Mostar-Duvno, the Diocese in which Medjugorje is located. I am now fairly convinced that Donal Foley has done a great deal of that necessary work in assembling, untangling and sorting out the studies already carried out by experts and then weighing and evaluating them.

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Signs and Wonders by Peter Costello, Irish Catholic, 19 October 2008

"For more than two decades the “phenomenon of Medjugorje” has aroused impassioned debate. The recent news that Fr Vlasic, the initial promoter of the seers, has been disciplined by the Congregation for Doctrine and Faith may give many, especially here in Ireland, reason to pause for thought.

"Enthusiasts for the shrine have been quick to claim that Fr Vlasic has been living in Italy for many years and has had no contact with the seers. But all would have to admit that he was instrumental in establishing the international interest in what has been happening in Medjugorje.

"This book by Donal Anthony Foley makes its position clear by its subtitle: he believes that the affair is one of “religious illusion”. This will displease or dismay many."

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Medjugorje Evaluated In New Study, a review by James Likoudis

"British author Donal Anthony Foley, a well-known author on Marian apparitions, has written Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion (£12.95, Theotokos Books, P.O. Box 8570, Nottingham, England)

"English-speaking readers will find it an excellent summary of the evidence for and against the authenticity of the apparitions alleged to have begun 25 years ago in the village of Medjugorje in the former Yugoslavia. Medjugorje has been the subject of passionate controversy ever since the visionaries first claimed to see the Blessed Virgin on 24 June 1981. The result: 30 million Catholics visiting the site of the apparitions and presuming their authenticity contrary to the repeated judgments of the two Bishops of Mostar-Duvno who have studied the events."

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Book Review: Understanding Medjugorje, by Kevin J. Symonds, MA

In 2006, British author Donal Anthony Foley published a book entitled, Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion? (UM) I purchased a copy and read it shortly after it was released and re-read it again this past month. I would like to share some of my thoughts and reflections with readers of Desiderium in a book review format.

In UM, Foley approaches Medjugorje as one who believes in the importance of private revelation, particularly the series of approved revelations in the era dubbed "The Age of Mary" (c.a. 1830-present). He discusses Medjugorje in the light of approved revelations, giving a special prominence to Fatima as Foley holds it to be the most important private revelation of our time.

Over the course of this discussion, Foley points out discrepancies on Medjugorje with Fatima that give pause to the popular claim of Medjugorje being the "continuation and fulfillment of Fatima." The most significant discrepancy, in this writer's opinion, comes at the very end of the book.

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This is a review, (18 June 2007), by Michael Rose, the author of the bestselling Goodbye Good Men, as posted on the New Oxford Review website:

Although the subtitle of Donal Anthony Foley's Understanding Medjugorje is Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion? there is no question in the mind or writing of the author that the answer is "illusion." Add to that, fraud and deceit. The alleged visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a backwater town of former Yugoslavia (now Bosnia-Herzegovina) since 1981 continue to attract religious thrill seekers in droves.

What most Medjugorje pilgrims don't know, suggests Foley, is the sordid history surrounding the visionaries and the the religious order that has promoted the alleged visions over the past quarter century. Sexual scandal, ecclesial disobedience, an attack on the local bishop, and outright fraud are just some of the compelling reasons to question the authenticity of the visions and the motives of its promoters.

Unlike previous slovenly-written attempts by other authors to expose the Medjugorje deception, Foley's offering provides an informative, compelling and persuasive argument to give Medjugorje a wide berth.

Also available at: http://www.newoxfordreview.org/bookmarks-061807.jsp

Reviewed by Jackie Parkes http://catholicmomof10.blogspot.com

Mrs Jackie Parkes is a former Medjugorje supporter who has taken groups there in the past, but who now encourages people to adopt a more sceptical attitude towards the alleged visionaries and their claims. She was familiar with some of the visionaries and the Franciscan priests involved with Medjugorje, and so her testimony is particularly valuable.

"The war in Bosnia-Herzogovina in the early 90s dramatically cut the number of pilgrims to Medjugorje. However, I took a party of 30 including 2 Priests during the war. It was such an outrageous venture that ‘The Independent’ newspaper sent a correspondent with us. I have that article still and can see with hindsight that he thought we were a little mad! The party included members of my family - my mother, sister, brother, uncle, 2 aunts, and cousin. Looking back, I think we were very foolish, though thankfully we remained safe.

"I would like to look at Medjugorje initially under a number of aspects, before giving my own thoughts and feelings about both the book and my own experiences."

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Understanding Medjugorje Book Review which appeared in the Brandsma Review (Issue 84)


"In some ways Donal Foley is a David to the Goliath of the lucrative Medjugorje industry. Week after week in the Irish and British Catholic press, Medjugorje generates considerable revenue in the form of travel ads for pilgrimages, often accompanied by favourable articles. Recently the Irish Catholic even carried an advertising feature for apartments in Medjugorje. It has been extremely difficult to obtain a hearing for the other side-though thanks partly to Understanding Medjugorje, that may be beginning to change. There have been several favourable reviews.

I would not recommend that you beg, steal or borrow Understanding Medjugorje: I would suggest that you buy it!"

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Review by the "Curt Jester" as found on his blog


"I recently read "Understanding Medjugorje Heavenly Vision or Religious Illusions" by Donal Foley. After my last post on this subject the Author sent me a copy of this book to review.

"It was quite an interesting read and whatever you feelings are on this subject it is quite informative. The book is definitely in the critical camp on these alleged apparitions and I am in the same camp. There have been a lot of pro-Medjugorje books and very few that take a more skeptical view. During my conversion I had read a few books that supported these visions and even attended a talk by one of the "seers" Ivan Dragicevic. The information in Foley's book presents both things I have read in the past and a lot of information that was totally skipped in book sympathetic to the "seers."

"His book is broader though than just an examination of the seers. He places the events at Medjugorje firmly on historical background and gives an overall view of both the political and social climate surrounding the area. The dispute between the diocesan bishop and the Franciscans goes back hundreds of years. There has been a climate of disobedience by these Franciscans for quite a while and has been addressed multiple times by the Vatican with little result. The apparitions have done nothing to change this pattern. The author also gives the background of the individual seers and their family life."

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Review by Eric Hester, which appeared in the Catholic Times, 25 June 2006

"The twenty-fifth anniversary of the first claim of a vision at Medjugorje falls on 24th June of this year and it is a good time to have a cool look at the claims and the truth. This is done admirably in this book by Donal Foley - an expert on the appearances of Our Blessed Lady and, even more important, one with great devotion to her. It is well written, examines all the available evidence and is, above all, clear. It even has what is often absent in this kind of book an excellent index, comprehensive and logical. A select bibliography gives sources for further study and the many references and citations are given very clearly in notes at the back but enable the general reader to carry on without interruption. This is a scholarly book but is easy to read even when it guides the reader through the Hampton Court Maze of Balkans history and church feuds."

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Medjugorje Unveiled - A review of Donal Anthony Foley's Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion? Theotokos Books, 2006.

By Frank M. Rega, S.F.O.

"What happens when someone has believed in Medjugorje for many years, has read and digested most of the books that support it, made pilgrimages there, and then suddenly sees the apparitions in a new light – and begins to doubt the entire phenomenon? Little by little he realizes that he is no longer as certain as he once was that the apparition itself is really the Blessed Virgin Mary. The monthly messages that he once eagerly awaited are no longer absorbed as if they were truly of heavenly origin. He begins to worry about hurting the feelings of the people he knew and met on pilgrimage, true believers as he once was, if he makes known his doubts.

"But how could such a change occur? In the case of this reviewer, it took only one sentence from an online preview of a chapter in Donal Foley’s new book Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion? The sentence reads: 'Similarly, the loss of a sense of the sacred which followed the changes in the liturgy has left many Catholics looking for spiritual solace elsewhere' "

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Martin Blake reviews Understanding Medjugorje: Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion?

"At last we have an in-depth examination of the phenomenon of Medjugorje, which for 25 years has fascinated and perplexed huge numbers of Catholics. And who better to make this examination but the author of one of the standard works on ‘Marian Apparitions’ Donal Foley, whose last book was published by Gracewing in 2002.

"The events which started in this remote village in Yugoslavia (as it was then) in June 1981 can indeed be described as a religious phenomenon, if only because they have convinced millions of sincere Catholics that they are genuine and authentic. Yet, as Foley shows in scholarly detail, they are fraught with serious problems. Chapter by chapter he reveals the background to the situation, and why after so many years the Church has not given her approval, and is not likely to do so."

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Extract from a review by Jack Carrigan, which appeared in the Catholic Herald, 12 May 2006

"The question he addresses is: are these visions from heaven or are they a religious illusion? Referring to the subject of the apparitions diplomatically as 'the Vision', he has conducted a painstaking and thorough investigation of every aspect of the case and, in an area fraught with strong, even aggressive opinions his tone is moderate and charitable throughout. ... The author is at pains to emphasise that the thousands of visitors to Medjugorje over the years have come in good faith, ignorant of the dissensions and scandals that surround the shrine; but their sincerity is no guarantee of authenticity. Further, he believes that the frenetic activities at the site have distracted attention from Fatima, the most spiritually significant of the approved apparitions of the 20th century. ... This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the sightings, and there is no end in sight. Huge crowds, hungering for the supernatural, are expected at Medjugorje. Are they being led closer to God - or astray by his adversary? This is the question readers of this judicious and informative book must ask themselves. - Jack Carrigan, Catholic Herald, 14 May 2006

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"Donal Foley takes the reader on a journey of discovery through the formidable information maze that surrounds Medjugorje. His tenacity in not losing the narrow path to the truth about the Balkan prodigy among many false trails and dead alleys would make Hercule Poirot jealous. Foley unearths little known Croatian sources and calls upon Catholic scholars to shed light on the enigma of Medjugorje. He delivers what he promises and takes his readers to the heart of the matter. Understanding Medjugorje is excellent!" - John Hauf, former editor of SOUL magazine, USA

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