Documents on Medjugorje from
Mgr. Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar

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Confirmation Homily by Bishop Peric with references to Medjugorje highlighted in red

THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY - Medjugorje, July 1, 2000

Dear candidates for Confirmation and God-loving faithful:

Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in various places in our two Dioceses.

Today the Church celebrates the liturgical memory of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This celebration used to fall on the 22nd of August (I recall with gratitude to God, that I chose to celebrate my First Mass on that day in 1969). For many years now this memory is celebrated the day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, one after the other, and rightfully so. Today's memory moves us to say a few words on the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was filled with the Holy Spirit and to especially refer to her motherly heart.

Holy Scripture twice mentions Mary's motherly heart:

After the events regarding Jesus' birth, Saint Luke writes: "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lk 2:19).

After the encounter in the temple, when Jesus was 12 years old, Saint Luke writes once again: "his mother kept all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:51).

This is truly a simple, motherly and humane reaction! She kept all these events with gratitude inside her and reflected upon them with love in her motherly heart. In both, the first and second, occasions, not only words are mentioned which Mary heard, since the Greek original rhemata means words, news, teaching, events, memories. The Madonna pondered upon these events in her heart, just as one ponders upon the glorious mysteries of the rosary, keeps them as a great treasure, thanks God and prays to Him that she may thoughtfully unite them in her mind and heart. Mary surely spoke of these events to Jesus when he grew up. She also could have heard directly from him and experienced during his and her lifetime, the full meaning of these memories and events.

The Gospels contain a few moments where Mary speaks up, asks questions and says a prayer. For instance, the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark do not contain any of Mary's direct words. In the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John, there are a few, five or six of her direct interventions.

In Nazareth she asked the archangel Gabriel: "How can this be, since I have no husband?" (Lk 1:34). And when the angel explained in his own way how this will come about, then she accepted and said: "Let it be to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). This word of the Madonna, we Catholics say at least once if not three times a day, when we pray the Angelus.

The Magnificat is her prayer of praise and thanksgiving, which follows the Old Testament way of the Samuel's mother Anne, arranged in ten lines: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour ... and his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation ..." (Lk 1:46-56). This prayer of praise we priests, religious and sisters pray or sing each evening during the liturgy of the hours.

Then come two words which Mary puts to Jesus:

When he was 12 years old, while at the temple, when they found him, she said: "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously" (Lk 2:48), which we heard in today's gospel reading, and at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, at Cana of Galilee, during a wedding banquet: "They have no wine" (Jn 2:3). Right after this she said to the servants: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5). There could be other similar occasions in the future.

Regarding these few lines where Mary directly asks, speaks or prays something, and other moments when she listens to others and in which she is described as Virgin and Mother, tons of theological books have been written, innumerous Marian conferences have been held and many Masters' and Doctoral theses on Mariology have been defended. These biblical words are the foundation of our faith and relationship to Mary as Mother of Jesus and exemplary believer in God. She is an example and guide in this faith. We especially appreciate Mary's words that God's mercy is on those who fear him, on those who have a sense of fear of God and his commandments. Dear candidates for Confirmation, remember to pray today and always for the gift of fear of God which comes from the Holy Spirit!

When one keeps this in mind, and arrives at a biblical knowledge of Mary as the humble and silent Virgin, as a worried and prudent Mother, who ponders upon all these events in her heart and speaks very little of it, then a true believer can only remain amazed at the talk that here in Medjugorje, for almost twenty years now, day by day, Mary has been presumably "appearing" for five, ten or fifteen minutes to so-called "seers"; that she is presumably handing something over: in the form of so-called "messages", or "ten secrets", it's not sure if there are exactly ten, if each person has received the same number, or if there are six times more, meaning that each person received a different amount.

Does this mean that this "apparition" up until this time has appeared 6,940 times (19 years multiplied by 365/6 days)? And that constantly, every day, she is speaking, and that only once in a month she leaves a "message", and thanks the so-called "seers" for responding to her call? And this has been going on for almost twenty years now, and could keep on going another ten, twenty or even more years?

The official statements of the Church, starting from the local Bishop up to the Bishops' Conference has not in this case recognized a single "apparition" as authentic. The Church has clearly declared that it is impossible to affirm that these events involve supernatural apparitions. For this reason I wrote decisively and clearly on 14 February 1998 to the local pastor: "Therefore, let no official church premises belonging to the parish be used for these so-called, presumed and imagined "apparitions" which have never been recognized nor accepted by the Catholic Church". The parish priest willingly obeyed. Therefore I hereby declare with no doubt in my mind, as the local Ordinary and Bishop, that not a single so-called "apparition" nor so-called "message" convinces me that these events involve supernatural appearances. Messages on peace and grace, regarding fasting and prayer, on love and the need for penance are already known at the most official levels of the Bible teachings and those of the Church.

And what are we to do with the acclaimed "spiritual fruits"? Dear believers, in whichever church you enter in order to pray to God with faith, sincerely confess and repent for your sins, and piously receive Holy Communion, you may receive spiritual fruits. Candidates for Confirmation receive the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit, not because they are in Medjugorje, or Mostar or Rome, but because it is conferred upon them by an authorized minister of the Church. No one in the right mind who believes in God would every say that in those parishes around the world where the sacraments are celebrated and received legitimately, there will be no spiritual fruits. Wherever the Holy Spirit is found there will be spiritual fruits as well!

The Catholic Church in her mission of teaching and upholding the truth of salvation, is not influenced by large or small numbers of peoples or nations present. She holds instead, to that which God has revealed about himself, on mankind, and on Mary of whom we believe and hold

- that she was immaculately conceived,

- that she is the Mother of God; according to the Father's plan in time, by conceiving through the Holy Spirit, she gave birth to our Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity,

- that she remained a Virgin always,

- that she was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven,

The Church upholds and believes that the Blessed Virgin Mary can appear, and that she has appeared at different times in history and also that up to this day there is no proof nor convincing arguments that she ever appeared in a supernatural way in Medjugorje.

All of us, you candidates for Confirmation and the rest of us, should pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our spiritual mother, that through the love of her Immaculate Heart she intercede for us before the Father, that through her motherly care, she watch over us, over this parish, our Diocese and the entire world.

+ Ratko Peric, diocesan Bishop

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