“In denial” about Medjugorje problems: a further response to Daniel Klimek and Denis Nolan
This is a response to the further criticisms from Daniel Klimek and Denis Nolan (his points are in blue), regarding my book Understanding Medjugorje. Some of their points overlap, so it seems sensible to do things this way. In general, they seem to be in denial about the problems associated with Medjugorje, and I am posting this information more for the record rather than in any expectation that a fruitful dialogue will ensue, especially given the hostility displayed by both.
My comments on their criticisms are in Times Roman as here, and in black, while extracts from the revised version of my book are in Arial font – those parts in black were already in the text, while the brown parts are additional.
The important thing to note about Klimek’s criticisms is that they focus on secondary or even tertiary aspects of Medjugorje, while almost completely ignoring the main themes of my book, namely, the importance of the tape transcripts, the difference between the how approved apparitions have unfolded in comparison with Medjugorje, and the many serious anomalies associated with it. As I think I remarked previously, it is very much a case of straining out gnats while swallowing camels.
Specifically, Klimek alleged that I had:
“systematically distorted a medical statement made by the Italian neurophysiologist Dr. Marco Margnelli - who examined the Medjugorje visionaries on numerous occasions - in order to deceptively portray that statement as supporting Foley's own theory that the visionaries' ecstasies are "self-induced"-a theory that Dr. Margnelli's statement denied.”
I deny that, but in order to remove any cause for criticism have amended the text, and also included further details which indicate the problems involved with the tests the visionaries underwent in this area. The revised text is as follows:
An Italian doctor, Dr Marco Margnelli, in an interview given in 1988, following his investigations, stated that the visionaries “pass into another state of consciousness—a condition that one can also reach through meditation techniques, such as auto-training, though not as profoundly.” He went on to say that he didn’t believe that they were lying because “otherwise they would react to tests of a sensory and painful kind.”
It is not clear how the latter points rule out the possibility of lying, since it is quite possible to envisage a person in such a trance becoming largely impervious to pain—and as we will see, the tests in these areas were inadequate in some important respects. But it is interesting that he can describe the ecstasies of the visionaries in terms of a condition akin to a self-induced state of alternative consciousness, with the difference between them being their depth or intensity. Certainly if one can enter a self-induced trance, then presumably with practice this process could be refined to produce a much deeper state of mental and bodily abstraction. This factor may well explain why during their ecstasies some of the visionaries were allegedly impervious to loud sounds or very bright lights.
Regarding Dr Margnelli’s claims, he thus argues that people can pass into another state of consciousness via meditation techniques, but qualifies this by saying that in his opinion they cannot do this to the extent found regarding the Medjugorje visionaries’ ecstasies. Surely, though, it’s legitimate to ask whether Dr Margnelli was justified in being so certain that this couldn’t happen. He is described as a neurophysiologist, that is a specialist in the functioning of the nervous system. He is usually dealing, presumably, with people with various abnormal conditions, and so trying to analyze exactly what is behind the Medjugorje visions is something really beyond his experience. Whether the visions are supernatural, or merely preternatural or diabolical, or even just fabricated, then this is certainly the case.
Thus, his conclusion that the “other state of consciousness” assumed by the visionaries could not be due to meditation techniques is not justified. Had he examined anyone else who had been claiming visions for what was at the time a period of seven years? That was certainly a long enough time for the visionaries to have practised techniques enabling them to enter into deeper trance-like states. How many other people in a similar state had he studied, and of those how was he able to determine which ecstasies were genuine and which false? The reality is that scientific methods, on their own, cannot tell us the exact nature of such alleged visions, which can only ultimately be judged through a process of spiritual discernment.
Dr Margnelli also stated that he had not done an electroencephalogram on the visionaries as this had already been done by the French investigators; he relied rather on “several other checks and investigations.”
Overall, the Italian neurophysiologist, Dr Francesco D’Alpa, is critical of both of these tests. In the case of Ivan this is because of the, “short duration of ecstasy, about 62 seconds, a time quite insufficient to assess any possible changes relative to the basic graph.”
Regarding Marija, he says:
As regards the EEG obtained on Marija … the new datum would be the observation that alpha rhythm ‘predominates progressively from the beginning of the ecstasy.’ One may legitimately ask what is the reliability of this information, which comes from a subjective assessment on an encephalogram of very poor quality.
He goes on to say, “the ‘ecstasy’ of Marija lasted only 102 ± 2 sec, a period during which it is very difficult to assess … the percentage amount of the various sequences of rhythms.”
Overall, Dr D’Alpa, points to deficiencies in the planning, implementation and evaluation of these tests, and sees them as characterized by “methodological deficiencies” and “arbitrariness of evaluation,” criticisms which he also applied to many other aspects of the group’s work. He concluded that a report such as the one produced by Dr Joyeux could never be accepted by a serious medical journal.
In fact, Marco Corvaglia on his website, “Medjugorje without a Mask” provides background information about Dr Margnelli’s attitude and experience at: http://www.marcocorvaglia.com/medjugorje-en/medjugorje-scientists.html - this makes for very interesting reading and refutes the idea that Dr Margnelli is beyond criticism.
The next point Klimek makes refers to my criticism of Randall Sullivan in connection with some of the alleged miracles claimed at Medjugorje. Again, in order to avoid any possibility of confusion, I have amended the text as follows:
Randall Sullivan says that in investigating accounts of alleged cures at Medjugorje, he was forced to admit that he “could not help but notice how many of them involved either MS [multiple sclerosis] or some other disease that attacked the nervous system. Difficult to diagnose and impossible to cure, such illnesses also are remarkably resistant to scientific study, making it very difficult to prove that a healing has been miraculous.”
He goes on, though, to say: “Many of the cases in the files at Medjugorje involved injuries and diseases more suitable to scientific certification. At least two of those who claimed miraculous healings were themselves medical doctors.”
The problem with this approach is that it is somewhat contradictory and vague—in both quotes Sullivan talks in terms of “many” cases, but doesn’t give us any idea of numbers so we can judge what percentage of alleged cures are more likely to be genuine. And this is quite apart from the fact that no matter how many such “cures” are brought forward, since they have not been verified by the legitimate spiritual authority then they have no standing in the eyes of the Church.
So we are clearly a long way here from
the astounding cures of organic diseases which have taken place at authentic
Marian shrines such as
Regarding Klimek’s contention that I have distorted the work of Medjugorje authors by selectively quoting them, I again deny this and point to my previous remarks.
And regarding his contention that Randall Sullivan was well qualified to write a book on Medjugorje, and his criticisms of Fr Sivric, I have added further detail on this point:
Fr Sivric’s book came
in for criticism from Randall Sullivan, the author of a later pro-Medjugorje
book published in 2004, The Miracle Detective.
In this, Sullivan stated that: “The volume was an
astonishingly shoddy compendium of rumor, gossip, and outright falsehoods that
concluded the apparitions had been produced by a combination of imagination and
fabrication, and clearly were ‘a copy of
As we have seen, though, Fr Sivric’s book provides the primary evidence for what actually happened during the early days of the visions, and it would appear that Sullivan was relying on the views of his Medjugorje contacts. He provides no evidence of the “outright falsehoods” he mentions, or any hard evidence to back up his assertions. And this is despite the fact that he was obviously aware of the existence of the tapes and thus should have realized their significance. It is not clear if he used material from the tape transcripts, or from later interviews with the visionaries, in giving his own version of what happened, since, although he does mention some of the points found in Fr Sivric’s book, the wording he uses is different and there are also discrepancies over dating; in addition, he gives no references to his sources.
What is clear, though, is that Sullivan definitely states that the visions were supposed to end on 3 July, and he even quotes Vicka as saying on that occasion: “This evening the Madonna gave messages for us, and not for the world, … She appeared for the last time this evening.” However, despite this, bizarrely he accepts the visionaries’ later accounts of further visions.
As for Randall Sullivan’s knowledge of the subject, the problem is that he was not a Catholic, and indeed displays a degree of ignorance about the Catholic Faith and basic Catholic terminology. For example, he talks of priests who “take” rather than “hear” confessions, and also doesn’t seem to realize that friars and monks are quite different. As he himself admits, “most of what I knew of the Catholic Church …had been learned through my liaisons with women who were fallen from the faith” Clearly, this is not likely to be the most reliable source of catechesis, and so Sullivan’s expertise is questionable. Even if we grant that he learned a good deal about the Church during his investigations, the fact remains that he received much of his further “catechesis” within the environment of “Medjugorjean” emotionalism, rather than in a more sober setting.
On the question as to whether it is fair to regard Sullivan’s book as pro-Medjugorje propaganda, I have included further details, as follows:
Apart from that, it is clear that once the Medjugorje “apparatus” realized that he was a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine, he was welcomed with open arms, and given very privileged access to the visionaries and their Franciscan associates, to the extent of even being able to stay with Mirjana. This is his description of his first encounter with her: “The moment I met Mirjana, I knew she was neither a liar nor a lunatic, at least not of any sort I knew about. The young woman’s eyes were the blue of alpine lakes, luminous with clarity, unnerving in their repose. Her gaze was penetrating but did not probe. She struck me as quite sure of herself yet entirely unassuming.”
This quote surely demonstrates that Randall Sullivan simply wasn’t a suitable person to investigate alleged visions. His approach is based on feelings. He intuitively feels that Mirjana is genuine, therefore she must be genuine. I feel therefore I am. So much for a rigorous process of discernment.
Sullivan also had no difficulty in meeting most of the other visionaries, including Vicka. And just over a week after his arrival, he was introduced to Fr Slavko Barbaric, at the time the spiritual director of the visionaries. What becomes clear, as the text unfolds, is that Fr Barbaric and the visionaries entirely succeeded in persuading Sullivan that Medjugorje was genuine. The Franciscan priest even arranged for him to meet with a famous recipient of an alleged Medjugorje “miraculous healing,” and from then on he was even more firmly in the Medjugorje camp.
In sum, Randall Sullivan goes into great detail about the visions, but everything is portrayed in an almost exclusively uncritical light. This is not to say one cannot find some useful information in the book, but overall his conclusions need to be treated with great caution.
Regarding Klimek’s point about Fr Zovko not accepting Fr Sivric’s transcript of the tapes, I make the following points:
Fr Rupcic also quotes Fr Zovko as saying, after having read Fr Sivric’s transcripts: “This is not my composition.” So he is saying that Fr Sivric made up the transcripts. But what about Daria Klanac—did see also make up her version of the tapes? And the person effectively accusing them of this, Fr Zovko, has been episcopally disciplined three times, and in 1985, was forbidden by Bishop Zanic to celebrate Mass or to preach at Medjugorje. Who therefore is more likely to be telling the truth?
Regarding Fr Rupcic’s criticisms of Fr Sivric, I have included additional information as follows, and this also answers Denis Nolan’s criticisms on this point:
Fr Rupcic claims that the tapes are incomplete and unreliable, but as is clear from the appendices to his book, Fr Sivric was very careful to indicate when sections of the tape were incomprehensible, or where there was an interruption in recording.
These are the claims made by Fr Rupcic:
It is important to note here that not all, including the most relevant facts and situations associated with the events at Medjugorje are recorded on tape. Beyond that, the author selects the tape recordings in harmony with the goal he has set for himself. Aside from that, the tape recordings used by Sivric are not the original tapes. The original tapes were entirely clear and complete. The police confiscated those tapes at the time they arrested the pastor, Fr. Jozo Zovko. The Bishop sought to retrieve the tapes so as to make use of them for his Investigative Commission, but was unable to get them. The tapes made use of by Sivric are copies of copies made by individuals for their private use. When the tapes are being copied, often individual parts of the conversations were deleted; thus, the spliced conversations are spread over a period of days and dates. Evidence of this is seen in the transcription of the tapes used by the author in his book. Sivric often notes that the tape has been cut, and notes that the tape recordings are undecipherable in at least 148 instances.
But if we analyze these claims, it is clear that there is no real substance to them. Firstly, if the original tapes were confiscated by the police, how could Fr Rupcic have actually known what was on them in order to compare them with the copies? How does he know that what is on the copies does not give us the substantial truth about what was on the original tapes? Obviously, he couldn’t know any of this and so his criticisms of Fr Sivric here are of little weight. There may well be other important information on the “missing” portions—if there are any significant missing portions—but that is not really relevant, since what is on the tapes gives us quite enough information to understand what went on during the interviews. And if there is any missing material that might eventually come to light, then the chances are that it would be even more damaging to the position of the visionaries than what the extant tapes have already revealed.
As we have seen, Fr Rupcic also stated that when the tapes were being copied “often individual parts of the conversations were deleted; thus, the spliced conversations are spread over a period of days and dates.” Even if this was the case—and again, since the original tapes were not available, how could he have any certain knowledge of this—even then, we still have within the transcripts sections of text which are long enough to be confident that we are getting a good idea of not only what was said, but also the context in which it was said. We are not dealing with very short snatches of conversation which could possibly be misunderstood in that way, but mostly lengthy dialogues without any significant disruptions.
And as we will see shortly, Fr Rupcic’s fellow Franciscan, Fr Bubalo, said this when challenging Vicka about some of her recollections: “Lately I replayed some of the cassettes including that conversation with Fra Jozo.” He pointedly didn’t say: “Lately I replayed some of the cassettes and they are so disjointed and unclear as to be useless,” or anything of the sort. It’s obvious from the context that he considered the quality of the tapes quite satisfactory. So if the tapes were good enough for Fr Bubalo, then they ought to have been good enough for Fr Rupcic.
And in addition to this, an audio file of one of the cassettes is available on the internet, that is, the interview between Fr Zovko and Jakov on the morning of 27 June 1981. The quality of this file is surprising good, and on the assumption that the other tapes are of similar quality, then we can have even more confidence that the transcripts of the tapes by Fr Sivric and Daria Klanac are reliable.
Overall, what really matters is this: does the material we have give us enough information about the first days of the visions to come to a balanced judgment about what happened. And the answer to that is positive, because a perusal of the tape transcripts in Fr Sivric’s book—which comprise nearly half the text at 176 pages—shows that there is more than enough material available to justify that position.
Fr Rupcic also says that, “Such tapes, ‘documents’ for the author, are seventh-hand witness, at best, which, by established principles, cannot be recognized as having the strength of proof.” To describe the tape transcripts as “seventh-hand witness” is just bizarre—surely anyone can see that they are the primary evidence we have for what took place during the first days at Medjugorje.
Nolan says: “Of course the same Foley who hangs on to every word from Fr. Sivric is equally adamant in rejecting any word that comes from a Franciscan. Apparently if you’re a Bosnian Franciscan you are incapable of telling the truth! Thus, in one fell swoop, Foley tells us to turn our backs on the mountains of documentation on Medjugorje gathered by the holy men of God who have served the Catholics of the region for centuries often at the cost of their own lives.”
I have included some extra material to illustrate the problems involving the Hercegovina Franciscans, which shows the difficulty in accepting Nolan’s position:
in November 1998, there was a further development regarding the proper implementation of the special decree issued in 1975 by the Holy See, Romanis Pontificibus, which was mentioned previously. This demanded Franciscan obedience concerning the distribution of parishes between the Franciscans of the Herzegovina Province, and the diocesan clergy of Mostar-Duvno diocese. The crux of this problem was not that it was a dispute between the bishops and the Franciscans, but rather between the Franciscans and the Vatican. Although most of the Franciscans involved did cooperate, as we have seen above, a number resisted at Capljina to the point of usurping the parish, an action which ultimately led to their dismissal from the Order.
Then, on 20 February 1999, nearly twenty-four years after being issued, Romanis Pontificibus was definitively implemented by the then Vicar General of the Order of Friars Minor, Fr Stephan Ottenbreit, and Bishop Peric of Mostar-Duvno. The Holy See was represented by the then Papal Nuncio, Msgr Mario Cassari.
The important point to note here is that the usual task of an Order such as the Franciscans is to evangelize a new territory, and then, once this is done, to hand over control to the diocesan clergy. That is the way things normally work in the Church. So, the fact that the Holy See was prepared to allow the Herzegovina Province Franciscans to keep half of their parishes—a situation which does not exist anywhere else in the world—was a significant concession.
Despite this, a number of Franciscans refused to sign the declaration of obedience this implementation required, and as a result, nine were dismissed from the Order, and a further twenty-three suffered other penalties, including the withdrawal of the faculty to hear confessions. Furthermore, as part of the process of implementation, seven parishes were due to be handed over to the diocese, but this did not take place as planned because some parishioners physically resisted this move, a resistance which also involved “serious written and verbal threats, [the] occupation of churches and parochial houses and the removal of parish registers and stamps.”
As for the continuing “power” and influence of Medjugorje, one also has to ask if there isn’t also a diabolical element present here too. Specifically, has the effect of the long-running rebellion by the Franciscans of the Herzegovina Province given the devil the power to ensure that Medjugorje continues to thrive? This might seem like an improbable claim, but it’s worth investigation.
The first thing to note is that, as discussed previously, the special decree issued in 1975 by the Holy See, Romanis Pontificibus, demanded Franciscan obedience concerning the distribution of parishes between the Franciscans of the Herzegovina Province, and the diocesan clergy of Mostar-Duvno diocese. The crucial point about this is that it was a Vatican decree, and thus this dispute was essentially between the Papacy and the rebellious Franciscans. So the Franciscans of the Herzegovina Province were in an active state of rebellion against the Vicars of Christ, even before the Medjugorje visions began. Just think of the power that must have given the devil to cause trouble. It was only in 1999, nearly twenty-four years after its promulgation, that Romanis Pontificibus was complied with, and even then a number of Franciscans refused to sign the declaration of obedience, resulting in nine being dismissed from the Order, and a further twenty-three suffering other penalties.
Disobedience resulting from pride was, of course, the hallmark of the devil’s primordial revolt against God. And the non serviam—“I will not serve”—of Satan, has found a very powerful echo in the attitude of the Herzegovina Franciscans in their rebellion against official Church authority for so many years. And furthermore, this disobedience and pride have been compounded by the actions and attitudes of those Franciscans most involved with the Medjugorje visionaries, that is Frs Vlasic, Zovko and Barbaric.
In addition to pride and disobedience, there is also the question of dishonesty. At the beginning it doesn’t seem that there was outright dishonesty—the evidence from the tapes does suggest that the visionaries really saw something. So it is probable that the claims of the visionaries—that they saw what they believed was the “Gospa”—were genuine for most of what happened until about the tenth day. The argument which has been presented in this book, of course, is that this wasn’t the real Gospa, the Blessed Virgin, but a diabolical imposture.
From that point on, though, things for the most part, it would seem, changed, and this passage from the Catechism holds good: “Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.” (2486)
As we have seen, there is no question but that the visions were supposed to end on Friday 3 July 1981, the end of the three day period stipulated by both the visionaries and the two young women who were present during the vision on 30 June. But equally, the visions didn’t end on that day, and it is claimed that they have continued for the last thirty years. Clearly, if that is the case, someone isn’t telling the truth, and in a very big way.
It could be argued that if what the visionaries were seeing during this earlier period was actually diabolical in origin, then the evidence from the “three more days” dialogue suggest that they were being giving a chance to exit their role as visionaries. Maybe the devil had only been given a certain amount of time to tempt them, the ten day period from 24 June to 3 July—but they didn’t take that chance. Whatever the exact reason for the continuance of the visions, such a pretence involves an extremely grave violation of the truth, and this too plays into the hands of Satan, who, according to Christ is “a liar and the father of lies.” (Jn 8:44)
Thus, the whole Medjugorje edifice is built on pride, disobedience and, on the basis of the “three more days” dialogue, dishonesty, and this must, to some extent, account for the “spiritual power” which emanates from it. But the problem is that this power is not the grace which comes from God through Christ, but a sort of counterfeit “grace” which ultimately is a sign of the devil. Of course, there was, and is, “real” grace available at Medjugorje through sincere prayer and the sacraments, but it would be foolish to discount the presence of this diabolical “grace”—in the sense of deliberate serious sin putting a person under the power of the devil—as one of the “motors” for the Medjugorje phenomenon. This last point, of course, doesn’t apply to the visionaries during the period up to 3 July, but rather to the disobedience of the local Franciscans. Even though the devil, unlike God, doesn’t have the power to act directly on the human intellect and will, but only on the imagination and sensibility, he can still wield a powerful influence over individuals who freely commit sin. As Christ also noted, “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (Jn 8:34). And ultimately, being a slave of sin means being a slave of the devil.
Regarding Klimek’s contention that Ivan was present for the second apparition, he specifically denies this three times in one of the transcripts, so what “millions of pilgrims know,” that the first time the visionaries were allegedly together that evening to see the “Gospa,” is incorrect – the details are as follows:
Another example of this type of thing concerns the “anniversary” of the visions. This is commemorated on the 25th of each month, although the first vision actually took place on 24 June 1981. But the 25th has become important for Medjugorje supporters, as the day when the monthly message from Marija Pavlovic is communicated to the world. Fr Bubalo also asked Vicka about this point, and was told that, in 1982, “the Virgin herself decided it.” He pursued the matter asking why she had said this, and was told that the “Gospa” had said to the visionaries: “Why, my angels, isn’t it clear to you that we really met that day for the first time.”
But the only problem with this response is that it contradicts the facts as revealed on one of the other tapes transcribed by Fr Sivric, since all the visionaries were not present on the second day—Ivan Dragicevic was missing. This is clear from his interview with Fr Cuvalo on the afternoon of 27 June 1981. In this, after describing the events of the first day, Ivan says: “The first evening I was with them, the second I wasn’t.” And further on, he was asked: “Did you go [to the hill] the next day,” to which he responded: “No, I didn’t.” And finally, towards the end of the interview when Fr Cuvalo again asked him what happened on the second day, and if he had gone to Podbrdo, Ivan responded: “The second evening I didn’t go. I worked in the field, I was picking tobacco leaves.”
Klimek says about this incident: “It is true that Ivan was working in the fields that day but he, later, decided to go back to the apparition site and did, in fact, experience his apparition like the other visionaries.” As we have seen, it is impossible to reconcile this explanation with the evidence found on the relevant tape transcript, where Ivan clearly says he didn’t go to Podbrdo the second evening.
Regarding Klimek’s allegation that Fr Sivric was motivated by personal reasons in his opposition to Medjugorje, I have included the following further material, to clarify this point.
Fr Rupcic claimed that because some of Fr Sivric’s relatives in Medjugorje were opposed to the visions, then this affected his own objectivity; but this is a rather insecure argument. As we have seen, Fr Sivric was away from Medjugorje from the early 1940s, and had in fact emigrated to the United States, where he taught for many years. Thus his links to his relatives were remote, to say the least, and far from his criticisms of Medjugorje being to his advantage, they were a cause of hostility from some of his fellow Franciscans—including Fr Rupcic. And in describing his sources in the village, he said that:
A good number of Medjugorje’s citizens have shown spontaneity and openness to my work by communicating to me everything which might be pertinent to the visions. From the beginning, some among them have been against the authenticity of the apparitions, seeing them as a “shady” affair, and unworthy of the Madonna. From others came testimony of contradictions and even of actual lies. These informants are even afraid to speak openly for fear of literally being banished from the village.
That was the atmosphere in which he had to operate, and indeed he tells us that in his book he felt obliged to conceal the identities of those who assisted him, surely a sign of the hostility he faced from many in Medjugorje.
Fr Sivric openly acknowledged that Mica Ivankovic was his second cousin, but she was also related to Ivanka, who said of her “She is our cousin.” In a small place like Medjugorje a lot of people are related to a lot of other people, and so we shouldn’t read anything sinister into the fact that Fr Sivric had relatives locally. The argument could be turned on its head to say that the Medjugorje visionaries also had relatives in the area, and so this was to their advantage.
Denis Nolan claims that Fr Sivric’s nephew was a communist party official who was sent to Medjugorje to “put an end to the whole matter.” But he doesn’t give the name of this individual, or any evidence to back up this allegation, and in any case what matters is what is on the tapes; and given that we can have confidence that they were accurately transcribed by Fr Sivric, then arguments about his relatives are ultimately beside the point.
Denis Nolan makes a similar point:
“He persists in ignoring the relevance of Fr. Sivric’s family ties with the earliest and most prominent opponents of Medjugorje. Is Foley not familiar with the system of jury selection where a person who has any link to the accused is not allowed to sit on the jury? That Fr. Sivric’s nephew and niece (whom I called cousin in my book – sorry!) tried to “stop” Medjugorje and were subsequently ostracized by the natives has no bearing on the matter according to Foley.”
But Nolan provides no hard evidence to back up this claim about Fr Sivric’s nephew and niece.
Klimek’s then makes the following assertions:
“It is noteworthy that in his recent reply to Nolan, Foley also claims that the visionaries were not technically kidnapped by these two women because they weren't "abducted." What he neglects to mention is that the visionaries were in fact lured by these two Communist officials, offered treats by them, and so as youngsters accepted to enter their car but later realized that the two officials were trying to keep them - against their will - from Podbrdo, where they shared their apparitions. Keeping children against their will by driving them away from where they should be is easily a case of kidnapping, no matter whether an "abduction" occurred or not. We know very well that criminals lure children in different ways, even using disingenuous persuasion, to kidnap them.”
In response I have expanded the relevant section to show that this is just nonsense, and this section also has further info about the two young women, which answers Klimek’s criticisms of them:
One of the most important interviews took place at about 6:30 p.m. on the evening of 30 June, after their vision that day. This involved Fr Zovko and five of the six visionaries, as well as two other young women, Mica Ivankovic, and Ljubica Vasilj-Gluvic, who were called into the interview about half way through. Ivan Dragicevic was not present during this vision, nor had he been with the others in the afternoon.
Mica was a social worker, and at the time a practicing Catholic, while Ljubica worked for the Bosnia-Herzegovina Executive Council in Sarajevo and was a member of the Communist party. There is nothing necessarily suspicious about that though, since many people would have felt it necessary to be party members in order to safeguard their jobs. As Fr Sivric points out, “later, all sorts of disparaging stories were circulated in many places about these two fine people,” but these were without foundation.
The young women had driven them, via a roundabout route stopping at various points, to a place called Cerno, near Medjugorje, where their visions took place that day. The idea has grown up that the visionaries were in some way “abducted” by the women, as part of a Communist plot to discredit them. But the visionaries knew them and agreed to go; in fact Mica was a near-neighbor of some of them.
As Fr Sivric points
out, Mica said that the authorities in Citluk “were not considering removing
the visionaries from Medjugorje that day, nor that they, Mica and Ljubica, had
been sent by any official to carry out that task.” If anything, the taped
evidence shows that Mica came in for some criticism when she defended the
children at a meeting connected with her work.
However, it does seem possible that Mica decided to “unofficially” persuade the visionaries to go somewhere different from Podbrdo that day, by telling that they would have to undergo some sort of “inspection,” which presumably wouldn’t have involved their being taken away. This is a reference to the police—the Milicija—interviewing them. This is what Mirjana said about this at the interview, before the two young women were called in by Fr Zovko: “We were just eating and Mica said that some sort of inspection would take place, so it would be better if we would move … to see if … the Gospa was going to appear in another place.” A little further on, Vicka corroborates what Mirjana said.
And later in the interview, Mica stated that, while in Vicka’s house, she told Vicka and Mirjana that she had heard from Zlata, Vicka’s mother, that they, the visionaries, had decided not to go to Podbrdo that day. At this, Mica asked them what they were going to do then, to which Mirjana responded: “We are going to lock ourselves up in my room!” Mica pointed out the impracticality of this, given the mood of the people coming to Medjugorje, who would expect to see them that evening on Podbrdo. According to Fr Sivric, she then continued, saying: “Then they [the visionaries] told me: ‘It just occurred to us. Do you think it would be possible for us to go someplace else?’ I said: ‘There’s no problem. Let’s go!’ Then they notified Marija and Jakov.’ ” However, according to Daria Klanac, it was Mica’s idea, which the visionaries then accepted.
Either way, the visionaries went of their own free will, so there was no question of force being used, or their being “abducted.”
And regarding the “inspection” and what that might involve, Mirjana was certainly worried that they would be taken away by the authorities: “We thought they would take us to the mental asylum or to the hospital, either today or tomorrow. The people certainly think so.” Mica then confirmed to Fr Zovko that during a meeting she attended as part of her work, she was told that the visionaries would be taken to the hospital. She also said that later on she had been told to talk to both the visionaries and their parents, but denied that anyone had suggested that she take the visionaries to another place.
According to Mica’s account, when they were about to set off for the afternoon, there were quite a lot of people about and also a police car, which was apparently outside one of the visionaries’ houses, but that they managed to depart without any serious problems. She did confess that she was worried that people might think she had taken away the visionaries, but actually it seems that her motives were a mixture of trying to help them avoid the inspection and also because she “wanted to see the reality of how the children would behave at the other place.” She had been at Podbrdo on previous evenings, but had been too far away from the visionaries to see what was going on. So it would seem that her motives were a combination of protectiveness and curiosity.
Regarding Klimek’s accusations that E. Michael Jones is not credible as a source, I have added the following material to clarify matters. And it should be noted that Klimek provides no specific reference for his quotation from Fr Fox from the Fatima Family Messenger – no issue date, page number etc – further evidence of a lack of concern for such things on his part. The passage below also answers Nolan’s further points on this issue.
…. the fact that Fr Fox withdrew his support for Jones’ first book on Medjugorje does not necessarily mean that the facts in the book are wrong. In order to determine that, we would need to have precise details of exactly what points Fr Fox was making, but these are not indicated by Klimek, who just gives some general reasons given by Fr Fox, including “the integrity of methodology and [his] journalistic responsibility.” Those are serious charges but Fr Fox did not substantiate them, (or at least Klimek provides no evidence of this), and so it’s difficult to assess their weight.
In any case, just because one person, Fr Fox, withdrew his support for the book, that doesn’t “discredit” it—there have to be precise reasons, supported by clear evidence, for making such a charge. In fact, the allegations that Jones made against Fr Vlasic, of sexual misconduct amongst other things, which is what Fr Fox was presumably referring to, have, it would seem, been substantiated, as we will see, in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declaration issued against Fr Vlasic in 2008; but exactly what these sexual matters are has not been revealed. The canonical status of Fr Vlasic was made public because his actions had led to him being reported to the CDF in connection with Medjugorje, for, amongst other things, charges “contra sextum,” that is in connection with the Sixth Commandment, and thus relating to sexual matters.
The specific sexual allegations dealt with by Jones are not discussed in this book, and so in this instance there has not been any reliance on him as a source. In any case, critics of Jones have not demonstrated that any of the material facts which he provides, and which have been quoted in this book, are incorrect.
Regarding my contention that there is a danger that a negative judgment on Medjugorje might lead to the formation of an alternative, breakaway Medjugorje-based ‘Church.’ Klimek criticizes this, but the facts are that this is a real danger, as the example of Caritas of Birmingham, which has come in for criticism from other Medjugorje groups, makes clear. As I say:
If the Church makes a final judgment on Medjugorje which is negative—definitely stating that it is not supernatural—it is to be hoped that most Catholics who support it will respect the Church’s judgment. However, of the millions of supporters around the world, if only a tiny percentage of these reject such as decision, there is the real danger of a break-away movement establishing itself. What if priests, or some of the local Medjugorje Franciscans, were to get involved with such a group? These are real dangers and this is the prize which the devil is no doubt doing his utmost to achieve.
And in fact, at least one group has adopted an openly “schismatic” attitude to Medjugorje, that is, Caritas of Birmingham, the well known Medjugorje group in Alabama, although this stance has been repudiated by some of the more “official” Medjugorje organizations. The “Medjugorje Web Site” has a whole series of people and groups lining up to criticize Caritas, under the heading: “Keep extreme caution or totally avoid anything from this person, his organization and their websites” Underneath this is a sub-heading stating: “The people who live in Medjugorje, especially most of the visionaries, the guides and the priests, warn to stay away from Caritas of Birmingham. ‘Cult’ is a word that often comes up.”
Fr Svetozar Kraljevic is then quoted, in a letter dated October 2000, as saying:
Dear brothers and sisters, Here in Medjugorje, in the name of the priests who are working in the parish with pilgrims who are coming from all over the world, I express my deep concern for the organization called CARITAS from Birmingham, Alabama. It appears that the organization does not follow good practice of Church discipline as well as the discipline of its members in regard to their ways in which they are organized within. We are afraid that there might be elements of a lack of respect for family relationships, mutual respect, respect for the church authority, respect for the families where the members come from, respect for property of family members who are there now and those who were there and left the community.
Beneath this, EWTN is listed as an organization disapproving of Caritas, and then there are whole series of links to documents accusing Caritas of being a cult-like operation, with testimonies from individuals, plus news stories detailing court cases involving it. There is even a letter from Denis Nolan, dated 25 November 2000 expressing concern about Caritas.
One ex-member of Caritas is quoted as saying:
Caritas of Birmingham, under the sole dictates of Terry Colafrancesco has developed a set of doctrines exclusively for itself. In many cases, these ‘doctrines’ are in direct conflict with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. In light of this, Caritas can be seen as an isolated cult outside Catholicism.
Klimek then criticizes E. Michael Jones regarding the saga of Ivan and the alleged “sign.” I have now included extra material which clarifies the situation, and shows that Jones was correct. In fact that there is an interesting article on his site which shows the sort of opposition he faced in trying to let people know the truth about Medjugorje: http://www.culturewars.com/1998/Hahn.htm
Randall Sullivan puts forward his own version of this event, alleging that Ivan was “overwhelmed” by this encounter with the commission members, and when writing about the sign, after revealing the month, became aware within himself that he should not reveal the year.
Fr Laurentin, too, has his version of what happened, arguing that Ivan was “isolated …misunderstood, [and] ill at ease with his studies”—he was expelled a month later—and having been “intimidated” by the commissioners, he “cracked.” The French priest claims that what Ivan wrote was, “so vague that in his mind he figured he had not ‘written anything.’ ” Apparently, Ivan told him this in “all sincerity,” and, according to Fr Laurentin, the result, once the envelope was opened, was that he “lost face, not only with the members of the commission but also with the parish priests and the other visionaries.”
Then, we are told, after a “grueling” meeting on 7 March 1985, involving Fr Barbaric and the Commission members, the Franciscan “convened a meeting with the six visionaries in order to ascertain Ivan’s veracity as a visionary.” At this, the “other five confirmed his position as a visionary, all the while reprimanding him for his error. During the days to come, he would weep bitterly. But he did learn from his experience.”
This picturesque account is interesting for all sorts of reasons, but the idea of the other visionaries “confirming” (or perhaps that should be “re-confirming”) Ivan as a visionary is surely completely surreal. If a seer is genuine it is God or Our Lady who “confirm” them, not their peers, and on earth such confirmation, in the sense of approving the apparitions in question, or beatifying or canonizing the seers, is done by the Church. Surely this one incident, on its own, is enough to indicate the strange depths to which adhering to the “logic” of Medjugorje has led Fr Laurentin, and unfortunately, many others beside him.
In sum, readers will have to decide for themselves whether to accept Ivan’s “explanations,” or that of the official commission members. But apart from that, Ivan’s description of the sign, as recorded by Sullivan, that it would be “a flame that burned continuously but without consuming,” also raises problems. As with Vicka’s description of the supposed “sign,” Ivan’s portrayal of it as something clearly miraculous, that is something which will tend to obviate the need for faith, is difficult to accept.
Furthermore, Klimek produces no hard evidence to refute Jones’s claim that he received death threats regarding Medjugorje, or that he did not in fact hear Ivan say that he took hours to say the rosary. That is not “slander” but simply reporting things as they are. So Klimek has still not provided any hard evidence to say why Jones’s book has been “discredited,” apart from the above rather pathetic examples.
Klimek then says that the positive information given by Dr Janet Smith, and Dr Adrian J. Reimers discredits Jones, but in reality, Denis Nolan quotes an article by her which was written in April 1989, over 20 years ago. That was during the period when a huge amount of propaganda about Medjugorje was in circulation, and when there was very little critical material available. Dr Smith was largely repeating the positive information about Medjugorje which was then available, and following a visit there had obviously been favorably impressed. She mentions solar “miracles” and rosaries changing color as evidence, and also the large numbers of people who have gone there. Some of the things that she pointed to have subsequently turned out to be false, and in general her position on Medjugorje as a whole has been overtaken by events, including claims concerning the poverty of the visionaries; the “bloody handkerchief” incident; the reliability of Fr Laurentin; and the reputations of Fr Zovko and Fr Vlasic. These points also answer Nolan’s further points about Dr Smith.
Regarding Dr Reimers his criticisms are essentially about the tone of what Jones said – I can’t see that anything he said “discredits” Jones’s position on Medjugorje – as in the case of Dr Smith, what he said has been overtaken by events, and particularly as regards the sexual matters and Fr Vlasic, Jones appears to have been vindicated.
And if Klimek is thus critical of Jones’s tone regarding Medjugorje, what about his own hostile, aggressive and unchristian tone in attacking me? He ought to put his own house in order before criticizing other people. And the same could be said for the tone of Nolan’s criticisms of me.
And exactly what points have the following other people brought forward against Jones’s work which have stood the test of time: Fr. Rene Laurentin, Professor Mark Miravalle, & Dr. Nicholas Bartulica? Please provide some hard evidence from these people.
Regarding Fr Laurentin, it is actually he who is the one who is discredited:
Fr Laurentin is actually guilty of omitting important material in his Chronological Corpus, particularly on this point of the “three more days,” as Louis Bélanger makes clear. He shows how when Fr Laurentin’s accounts of the 29th and 30th June 1981 are compared with the tape transcripts made by Fr Sivric and Daria Klanac, it is quite clear that Fr Laurentin has left out a good deal of material which is damaging to Medjugorje.
But I would just like to see chapter and verse of how exactly Fr Laurentin, Mark Miravalle and Nicholas Bartulica have refuted Jones – and not just these continued vague accusations with nothing substantial to back them up.
I have removed the text referring to explicit/implicit approval and the Holy See, since it was possibly open to misinterpretation.
I have also adjusted the text regarding the Bertone letter to Bishop Aubry, for the same reason. It now reads:
The first point to make is that this was a personal letter, addressed to one bishop, and not meant, initially, as a general response for the whole Church, although it was circulated more widely later on. In any case, in this letter Archbishop Bertone speaks of the “so-called apparitions of Medjugorje,” thus indicating that the Holy See has not in any way approved the alleged visions. Furthermore, the Archbishop says that it is impossible for him to answer all the questions put by Bishop Aubry on matters such as pilgrimages and the “pastoral care of the faithful who go there,” because “the Holy See does not ordinarily take a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena as a court of first instance.”
Archbishop Bertone then went on to speak about the “credibility” of the “apparitions” in question, stating that the Congregation accepts the Zadar declaration made by the Yugoslavian bishops in April 1991, that is, that: “On the basis of investigation up till now, it cannot be established that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.”
The Archbishop indicated that Bishop Peric’s statement to Thierry Boutet, as detailed above, that is, that the “non-supernaturality” of the visions or revelations of Medjugorje is “proven,” was the “personal conviction” of Bishop Peric. But this does not mean that he was dismissing or contradicting the latter—he was merely stating a fact, while at the same time acknowledging that Bishop Peric, as the local Ordinary, was perfectly entitled to express such a conviction.
The reason why Archbishop Bertone said this was because Bishop Peric was no longer in a position to make a definitive final judgment, since Medjugorje now had a presence much wider than his diocese. And in fact the Archbishop indicated that if the case were to be re-examined this would be under the aegis of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it would be for this body “to make any new pronouncements that might be called for.” But in saying this he wasn’t stating that Bishop Peric shouldn’t advance his personal opinion, nor act concerning Medjugorje within his own diocese.
The word “new” as in “new pronouncements” was inadvertently omitted in the original. But having said that, common sense tells us that if there are “pronouncements” to be made, then of necessity they are going to be “new.”
In context, I would still argue that the only way to understand the Zadar declaration, in the light of thousands of alleged visions over a ten year period, is that it is actually “essentially negative.” And I again deny Klimek’s tiresome accusations of deliberate distortion. But I have added the following text to the section which deals with this in order to avoid any misunderstanding:
This is not to say, of course, that the final sentence of the declaration, which does allow for further investigation into Medjugorje, is being called into question here: merely that in practise, the nature of the visions, their extreme longevity, and the fact that the bishops could not establish that they were dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations, makes it extremely unlikely that any further investigations will lead to Medjugorje being declared supernatural.
Klimek’s claims regarding the new Commission and the Bishop are not correct – the true situation is as follows: and as the text says, the “the Ordinary is always to be consulted.” The text below also deals with Nolan’s assertion that:
“the Vatican has taken over the investigation of Medjugorje as well as jurisdiction over the phenomenon. The opinions of the past and current Bishops of Mostar on Medjugorje are no more relevant or authoritative than that of any other Bishop in the Church.”
It is clear that the way the question of Medjugorje has been dealt with, initially by the local Bishop, and then by the Bishops’ Conferences of first ex-Yugoslavia, and then Bosnia-Herzegovina, accords with the above provisions, [of Normae Congregationis] and that the repetitive claim that Bishop Zanic was relieved of the Medjugorje “dossier” is incorrect. It would be more accurate to say that the CDF, in consultation with the successive bishops of Mostar has been trying for many years now to find the best way to deal with Medjugorje. The relevant text from Normae Congregationis (IV, 1. b) makes this clear: “It is proper to the Sacred Congregation to intervene at its own initiative in more serious cases, especially if the matter affects a larger part of the Church; the Ordinary is always to be consulted and, if appropriate, also the Episcopal Conference.”
The fact that this text speaks of the Ordinary being consulted indicates that any crude assertion that the local bishop, in this case Bishop Peric, has been deliberately snubbed or excluded is incorrect.
Part 2 of this final section of the document states that: “The Sacred Congregation will be able either to evaluate the Ordinary's manner of acting and approve it, or, if possible and appropriate, to initiate a new examination of the matter, distinct from the study completed by the Ordinary, either on its own or through a special commission.”
This can be read as though it implies “disapproval” as regards Bishop Peric’s way of acting regarding Medjugorje, but the investigation had already passed beyond this point, to higher episcopal levels. And as we will see, the CDF announced the formation of a new Commission to study Medjugorje, in March 2010, in line with the provision in the quotation above.
It always needs to be borne in mind that Normae Congregationis was meant to be a set of guidelines and not a strait-jacket, and that it was written before the advent of Medjugorje and its world-wide impact. Nothing comparable to Medjugorje in the realm of alleged visions had been seen in the Church in modern times before 1978, the year of its promulgation. Because of this, it would have been impossible to compose a document on apparition discernment prior to something like Medjugorje, which could have taken account of every possible eventuality, and so it has to be interpreted in the light of experience, and of the facts on the ground, and not in an unreal or overly legalistic way.
Regarding Klimek’s point about Bishop Peric not being on the new Commission, I have included a new section as follows:
… since this is a new examination of the event, distinct from previous Episcopal commissions, and given the highly contentious nature of Medjugorje, it only made sense that Bishop Peric was not a part of the special Commission. To have included him would only have invited charges from Medjugorje partisans that the commission was “unbalanced” or “biased,” although, as we have seen, Normae Congregationis clearly stipulates that the local Ordinary is always to be consulted regarding the investigation of alleged revelations. In fact, the Bishop contacted the Catholic News Service in February 2011, to say that he would “no longer comment about what is happening in Medjugorje out of respect for the Vatican commission”. And it also needs to be pointed out that none of the local Franciscans were invited to join the Commission either.
Regarding Klimek’s points about the Medjugorje “Gospa” foretelling both the fall of Communism and the Yugoslav civil war, the following passage tells the true story:
It has been claimed that the “Gospa” at Medjugorje prophesied the war in Yugoslavia, but there are no unambiguous messages to this effect which can be cited to definitely prove this assertion. Randall Sullivan says that, in 1982, a Franciscan friar asked Mirjana “if Croatia would ever be free,” with the response being: “Yes, after a small war.”
The first thing to say about such a “prophecy” is that given the violent history of the Balkans, it wouldn’t have been difficult to foresee that the end of communism in Yugoslavia would almost certainly lead to bloodshed and war. And the downfall of communism was on the horizon even before this alleged prophecy: workers in Poland had already gone on strike in 1980 and went on to form the Solidarity trade union in 1981. Many people in the Eastern bloc countries were anxious to be free of communism, but feared the consequences of revolution, especially after what had happened in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. It was the bravery of the Polish people in standing up for their rights, following the historic visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979, which was the catalyst for the downfall of communism. The situation in ex-Yugoslavia was somewhat different, but following Tito’s death in May 1980, it became clear that it would be difficult to keep Yugoslavia together in the future, in the face of a resurgent nationalism. So overall, predicting the fall of communism in Yugoslavia in 1982 would not necessarily have required any supernatural insight.
Apart from all that, anyone familiar with the message of Fatima could have logically predicted the fall of communism without the need for any new apparition. So this could have been a purely “human” prophecy, or alternatively, a diabolical one: that is assuming that the above dialogue did actually take place, which is by no means certain.
The second point is that describing the violence which actually took place in ex-Yugoslavia as a “small war” is an obscenity, especially given its horrific nature, the great sufferings of those involved, and the large number of people killed, in what was the worst fighting in Europe since World War II.
Then regarding the “prophecy” itself, note how no precise date is given, nor is the “Franciscan friar” identified. And a search of the Chronological Corpus of the Messages for 1982 reveals no mention of “Croatia.” The only reference to war is found in the following dialogue for 12 July 1982: Q. “Will there be a third world war? A. “The third world war will not take place.”
The “source” of this quote about a “small war” actually appears to be Fr Slavko Barbaric, who in his Mother, Lead us to Peace!, published in 1994, said: “Recently I spoke with Mirjana and she told me that in 1982 a Franciscan priest asked her to ask the Gospa: ‘Will Croatia ever be free?’ … The answer was: ‘Croatia as well as Bosnia will be free, but only after a small war’.”
In other words, he spoke to Mirjana, “recently,” presumably in the early 1990s, and she then told him about this earlier prophecy, which only made it into print in 1994, well after the war started. These characteristics obviously make it very suspect.
Regarding his various other points about alleged connections between Medjugorje and Fatima, it would require including too much material to refute this now, but such material will be in the revised version of the book. I am just going to include one short passage which sums up why choosing to support Medjugorje rather than Fatima is just foolish:
What many adherents of Medjugorje don’t seem to realize is that they are out on a limb in their espousal of the visions and the visionaries. Instead of following the safe and sure path of the Fatima message, a message which has received an abundance of support from the Church, including encouragement from all the Popes since Pius XII, and further confirmation via the collegial consecration in 1984, as well as the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco in 2000, some people are choosing to follow the strange byway of belief in Medjugorje. It is like having to get home late at night, and facing a choice between two footpaths. One is well-lit and safe, but quite long, while there is a short-cut across dangerous ground, without any street lights, and in an area known for its high crime rate. Admittedly, the short cut means less work and may even be somewhat exciting, but in real life would any sensible person risk getting off the beaten path and onto to a strange and possibly dangerous path? It would be foolish to take such a risk just to save a few minutes, but how much more foolish regarding spiritual matters which may have eternal implications?
Regarding Bishop Zanic’s statement, I have now amended this as follows:
By the mid 1980s, Bishop Zanic was very concerned about the way the whole phenomenon of the visions was developing, and the wider effect they were having in Croatia. He wrote a prophetic letter to this effect to Fr Laurentin on 25 January 1985, arguing that a “fierce frenzy has taken hold of many faithful who were good until now; they have become excessive and peculiar penitents … One can look forward to a religious war here.” It seems here that the bishop was referring to a “war” between supporters and opponents of Medjugorje, rather than the violence which actually broke out in the region later on.
Regarding Medjugorje “miracles of the sun,” again it would take up too much space to include all the new material, but the following is worth noting:
… it’s obvious that what pilgrims like Craig saw—and the same could be said for any of the other alleged solar miracles at Medjugorje—is that they are outclassed by the Fatima miracle of the sun from every conceivable angle, whether it is the fact that the Fatima miracle was genuinely predicted three months in advance, or that it was seen over a huge area, or that it resulted in thousands of conversions and a complete renovation of Portuguese society.
Marco Corvaglia describes the work of Professor Auguste Meessen, of the Department of Physics at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, who produced a report entitled, “Apparitions and Miracles of the Sun.” In this, he gives details of some experiments in which he looked at the sun in particular conditions, including the following instance:
In November 2002, I looked directly into the sun, at about 4 p.m. The sun was relatively low above the horizon and its light intensity was attenuated, although the sky was clear. I was able to look right into the sun and was amazed to see that the sun was immediately converted into a grey disc, surrounded by a brilliant ring. The grey disc was practically uniform, while the surrounding ring was somewhat irregular and flamboyant, but did not extend beyond the solar disk. It coincided with its rim.
He goes on to hypothesize that sun became grey because of a reduction in sensitivity of his eyes due to “bleaching of pigments in the colour-sensitive cones of the fovea,” as well as secondary processes in the eye. He comments that this is an automatic adaptation and a purely natural process.
Professor Meessen also investigated the production of the different colors that the testimonies from some Medjugorje witnesses speak of:
In a second experiment, realized at 3 p.m. in December 2002, I looked straight at the sun during a much longer time. After some minutes, I saw impressive colours, up to 2 or 3 times the diameter of the sun. They changed, but were mainly pink, deep blue, red and green. Further away, the sky became progressively more luminous. I stopped there, since I understood that these colours resulted from the fact that the red, green and blue sensitive pigments [of the eyes] are bleached and regenerated at different rates.
He concluded that the brain analyses these changes, but in the process of making sense of the information it is receiving, illusions are possible.
And as Marco Corvaglia notes, in a place like Medjugorje, where sun-gazing is a recognized pilgrimage activity, it is inevitable that when the necessary conditions are present, a number of pilgrims will see “something” when staring at the sun. These will then invite other pilgrims to do likewise, with the result that some will also see a “solar miracle,” while others will see nothing.
Overall, these experiments indicate that a natural explanation for many of the “solar miracles” reported at Medjugorje is quite possible, although further research into this area is required. But that this is the case is apparent from video evidence.
The documentary “The Visionaries from Medjugorje tried by Science”, which is available in Medjugorje on CD, has scenes relating to one of the alleged miracles of the sun that occurred at Medjugorje. They show people looking at the sun, while a “miracle” is supposedly happening, but the camera focuses on these individuals and not the sun itself. During these scenes people are obviously reacting to “something,” with one woman clasping her hands together, close to tears, and a young boy actually weeping. But at the end of the scene we finally see that the sun, as recorded by the camera—and apart from the sort of “flaring” which happens when a video camera is turned towards the sun—looks absolutely normal. Many other instances of alleged solar miracles are given at Youtube, for example, but on examination they can be explained as effects due to the nature of the cameras or camcorders being used.
Once again, Klimek has failed to come up with an “authoritative, public, and official” source to illustrate that Pope John Paul II believed that Medjugorje was the fulfillment of Fatima. Quotes from people like Bishop Hnilica won’t do – it has to be something John Paul II said in an official public way, i.e., in some sort of official teaching documents, and not in private.
Regarding the psychological state of some of the visionaries, certainly there are grounds for some concern, but on reflection, I have modified some of the material to reflect the fact that although there are emotional concerns regarding Vicka and Mirjana in particular, these may be due to guilt feelings:
Regarding Vicka and Mirjana in particular then, as indicated above, there are definitely good grounds for believing that they have suffered some problems in the above areas. The question is, how can we reconcile this with the fact that the medical tests done on the visionaries as a group, in the early 1980s, seemed to indicate that they were psychologically healthy? This is not an easy question to answer, but perhaps we may be dealing here with the psychological effects of guilt at their being part of the deception maintained after Friday 3 July 1981. As we have seen, this involved the claim that the “Gospa” was still appearing to the visionaries, even though we know, via the tape transcripts, and Vicka’s explicit testimony, that that was supposed to be the date of the last vision.
And it is important to take the effects of guilt seriously, as philosopher Donald DeMarco notes:
Throughout history, in both literate and nonliterate societies, the prevailing consensus has been that guilt is a natural human response to one’s deliberate and voluntary complicity in moral wrongdoing, and that man persists in suffering both in body and in soul when his guilt remains unconfessed and unatoned.
I also say that:
The results of the various medical examinations done prior to the publication of the negative decision of the earlier diocesan commission of enquiry in 1986 had not been considered valid by that body, and despite the above medical sub-committee giving the visionaries what was effectively a clean bill of mental health, as we have seen, the Commission itself [re: the Zadar declaration] came to a, at best, “neutral” conclusion. So clearly, they did not consider any of the thousands of alleged visions claimed by 1991 as proven. And so, it comes down to a choice between either believing that the visionaries did really see the Blessed Virgin thousands of times between 1981 and 1991, or that they were not telling the truth. These would appear to be the stark alternatives.
Regarding the source for some of the info in regarding scientific assessments of the visionaries, the website indicated is atheistic rather than satanic. Thus, the use of the material can be justified on the grounds that the author was using his reasoning powers to validly assess the alleged visions, and has actually made some valuable critical points not available elsewhere. In sum, we should be looking to what is being said, rather than in an overly critical way at who might have said it.
I again deny Klimek’s assertion that I have distorted Denis Nolan’s position regarding the quotation about “supernatural titillation”- the points he makes there are dealt with elsewhere in my book. In this quote Nolan is effectively admitting there are problems in this area. I also say:
The points which Denis Nolan puts forward in support of Medjugorje are dealt with elsewhere in this book, so there is no need for a detailed analysis of his position at this point, except to say that events have overtaken him and that many arguments which seemed supportive of the visions in the early days have subsequently been shown to be flawed.
I have also include the following quote from Nolan, to back up this point:
Nolan also said that: “It is unfortunate but true that perhaps the worst enemies of Medjugorje are sometimes proponents of the apparition themselves.” He then went on to list Charismatic elements, and those who have disparaged Fatima and Lourdes at the expense of Medjugorje, as examples of this. In fact, he actually uses the words: “Other excesses abound.”
Regarding “miracle seeking” I have included some new material:
It has been argued that this type of thing was also present at genuine apparition sites such as Fatima or Lourdes. But for the most part, there was a clear difference in the attitude displayed by people visiting those shrines formerly, and that displayed in recent times at Medjugorje, where “miracle seeking” has become something of a passion.
Yes, people did want cures at Lourdes, but usually, they did not display an unhealthy fascination with signs and wonders, or a desire to see rosaries changing color, or to spend time staring at the sun—with subsequent permanent eye damage for some—which we find associated with Medjugorje. The majority of people going to Lourdes were satisfied—and more than satisfied—with the miracles arising from the spring which Our Lady revealed to St Bernadette, or which took place during the Eucharistic processions. And regarding the miracle of the sun at Fatima, this was actually predicted three months in advance by Our Lady, so the people were not acting inappropriately in their expectation of a miracle.
But in neither case do we have the well-known phenomenon found at Medjugorje, and other alleged places of visions, of people deliberately seeking out signs and wonders, and traveling around from place to place to satisfy this desire.
Nolan states that:
‘It must be said in closing that Foley’s latest response did add something new to the discussion by revealing the depth and ferocity of his hatred for Medjugorje. Medjugorje is, he says, a spiritual tsunami “which has erupted from the depths of hell”.’
I stand by that description of Medjugorje – all the hard evidence suggests that diabolical activity is the best way to explain it’s origin, growth and present prominence. There was a lot of material on this point in the present edition, and there will be much more in the revised version, including the following information:
In the light of the evidence cited above it is legitimate then to ask whether or not the original visions, of the first week or so, were not in fact diabolical in origin, as Fr Zovko himself suggested on more than one occasion. If we look at the whole phenomenon from the perspective of the devil then some very interesting points emerge. He has a great deal of experience in this area. He knows all about human weakness, foolishness, and sinfulness—and how to exploit these to the maximum. And we always need to bear in mind St Paul’s warning that Satan can disguise himself as an “angel of light.” (2 Cor 11:14)
This discussion, though, needs to be put in context, to see if there are any indications of diabolical activity in Medjugorje prior to the alleged visions. As already noted, in the early hours of the morning of 24 June 1981, the first day of the visions, the village was struck by a terrifying thunderstorm. We have also seen how, in the past, Medjugorje was a center of Bogomil religion, and that part of this belief involved primitive rituals designed to appease the local nature spirits, including Gromovnik, the “spirit of thunder.” He was believed to inhabit Mount Krizevac, which had been known for centuries as Grmljavinac, or “Mountain of Thunder”. After the Franciscans arrived in the area remnants of this old religion lived on, and rituals in honor of Gromovnik continued. And even into the twentieth century, clan rituals, involving ancestor veneration, were still a feature of local life, as a fully Catholic worship struggled to make its presence felt.
In more recent times, too, in the eyes of Medjugorje’s inhabitants, it seemed that Gromovnik still wielded considerable power, a power which was particularly expressed in the devastating storms which plagued the area nearly every summer, and which could mean large hailstones destroying crops in seconds. In short, the villagers still believed in, and feared, Gromovnik. But all that changed following the construction of the large cross at the top of the mountain, in 1933, when its name was changed to Krizevac, or “Mountain of the Cross.” From that point on, villagers claimed that the fiercely destructive storms virtually ceased, and hail was very much less of a problem.
Such a scenario is not inherently unlikely: under the right circumstances the devil can wield considerable power over nature, but if a more obvious devotion to Christ is expressed in a particular area, then naturally his power can be expected to diminish. St Paul warned the Corinthian church to shun the worship of idols, which was so prevalent in his day, and particularly not to make sacrifices to them, which was actually sacrificing to demons. (1 Cor 10 14-20) And what else, ultimately, were the sacrifices made to Gromovnik in the past, if not sacrifices to demons?
This brings us back to the storm which struck Medjugorje overnight, just before the visions began. Some older inhabitants of the village said that they could remember nothing like it since the erection of the Cross on Krizevac, over half a century earlier. Repeated streaks of lightning flashed across the sky to the sound of deafening thunder, and as fires were started by lightning strikes, a hall, which had been turned into a disco, was burned down, and the post office badly damaged. One terrified inhabitant compared it to the “Day of Judgement.”
We have to ask why this significantly destructive storm happened just as the visions were beginning? Since the damaging power of the storms abated when the Cross was erected, what can the fact of such a storm indicate? It is surely hard to avoid the conclusion that it was a sign of some sort of diabolical manifestation, that Gromovnik had returned to the area, and was seeking to cause more trouble. And what is “Gromovnik” except just another name for the demonic, if not the devil himself?
We should remember, too, the terrible storm which struck Fatima on the eve of 13 October, 1917, the day when the tremendous miracle of the sun took place. This had been predicted three months in advance, thus drawing tens of thousands of people to the Cova da Iria, despite the awful weather. Can we not see, in this storm, an attempt by the devil to dissuade as many people as possible from being at the Cova on that day?
And what about the fact that the “official” anniversary date for the first Medjugorje vision is now, in Medjugorje circles, 25 June, rather than 24 June, when the first “vision” actually took place? As we have seen, according to Vicka, the “Gospa” decided on this change of date, but we have to ask why. Could it be a further sign of the diabolical, in that the devil didn’t want to have the beginnings of Medjugorje too closely associated with 24 June, the Solemnity of the Birthday of St John the Baptist?
Another point to note is that in 1977, four years before the Medjugorje visions began, Bishop Zanic’s predecessor, Bishop Cule, set up a Marian shrine, dedicated to Our Lady as “Queen of Peace.” This was done at Hrasno, which is situated about 25 miles away from Medjugorje, in the neighboring diocese of Trebinje e Mrkanin, a diocese which is administered by the bishops of Mostar-Duvno. Bishop Cule, by this act, specifically wanted the Blessed Virgin to heal the divisions within the area which were essentially caused by the disobedience of the Franciscans. Why, then would Our Lady want to begin to appear so close to this genuine shrine and create a rival to it in Medjugorje? It doesn’t make sense, except as, again, a sign of the diabolical. Who else but the devil would want to initiate such a thing?
Regarding Nolan’s points about the well-know figures supportive of Medjugorje, I have included this information on his flawed approach to discernment:
Denis Nolan’s book Medjugorje: A Time for Truth and a Time for Action, was published in 1993, at a time when the early practices associated with Medjugorje, the prayer, the fasting, and so on, had certainly struck a chord with many Catholics. But already, the basic flaws in the approach taken by Medjugorje enthusiasts like Nolan were becoming apparent. This becomes obvious if we look at the structure of the book. After an introductory chapter, and some testimony from Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, the rest of the long first section of the book is taken up with testimonies from various cardinals, bishops and theologians in support of Medjugorje. This takes us up to page 105. There are then further sections dealing with secular sources and Medjugorje; attempts to defend the authenticity of the visions; responses to criticism of Medjugorje from various Catholic authors; and finally, sections detailing some of the messages, and then further responses to criticisms in a lengthy series of appendices. So all in all, Nolan had to adopt quite a defensive stance, a sign that not everybody was as enthusiastic about Medjugorje as he would have liked.
As regards the long initial sections, from the religious and secular sources in favor of Medjugorje, it must be emphasized that no matter how many Churchmen have expressed their approval of it, or how eminent they are, that of itself adds nothing to the argument. This even applies to the Pope. Their statements are just their private opinions and have no official standing. This obviously applies even more so in the case of the views of secular publications and media outlets on Medjugorje. Piling up testimony after testimony of this sort is meaningless as regards discerning the authenticity of an alleged vision. It looks impressive and no doubt is influential for some people, but that is only because they don’t understand the spiritual principles involved.
The opening quote to the section attempting to defend the authenticity of the visions is very revealing as far as Denis Nolan’s attitude to Medjugorje is concerned: “Let’s face it. Prima facie, the Medjugorje apparitions appear to be ‘for real’ beyond a shadow of a doubt. As the television cameras peered into the apparition room and zoomed in on the visionaries conversing with the Gospa, we knew in the pit of our stomachs that something extraordinary was taking place here.”
That sums up the attitude of convinced Medjugorje supporters such as Nolan: his espousal of the visions was not based on any objective discernment of the facts, but was quite literally a “gut-reaction.” Nolan’s views on the subject are colored by this highly emotive response, and so he sees everything about Medjugorje in a positive light. Thus legitimate critical points against Medjugorje are dismissed as “deceit-driven doubt and malicious attack.” The idea that anyone can have serious, objective criticisms of the phenomenon is dismissed as impossible and absurd.
The points which Denis Nolan puts forward in support of Medjugorje are dealt with elsewhere in this book, so there is no need for a detailed analysis of his position at this point, except to say that events have overtaken him and that many arguments which seemed supportive of the visions in the early days have subsequently been shown to be flawed.
And from the opposite perspective of important Church figures critical of Medjugorje, we have this statement from Cardinal Bertone:
… in February 2005, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, had been interviewed on Radio Maria, an Italian radio station, and expressed skepticism about Medjugorje. The response from many of the listeners was quite aggressive, leading the Cardinal to speak later of the “[u]nseemly and offensive reactions of faithful and priests who describe themselves as ‘Medjugorjean.’ ” The Cardinal went on to deplore the “excesses of fanaticism, such as the events in various churches, in which they promise the possibility of being present at an apparition of the Madonna … at a scheduled time”.
And also this information is relevant:
Given the present crisis in the Church, many young people will have had their first real exposure to a more intense Catholic atmosphere through a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, and may then pursue a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. But that doesn’t prove Medjugorje is genuine.
We have the sad example of the Legionaries of Christ. Consider how many vocations arose through the activities of the founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, who has now been exposed as a sexual deviant and fraud. Although Pope John Paul II gave him his support, Pope Benedict removed him from active ministry on becoming pontiff, and ordered that he lead a life of prayer and penitence. He even described Maciel as a “false prophet.” How do we explain all of these vocations and conversions of heart if Maciel was a “false prophet”? The answer lies in St Paul’s teaching in Romans 5:20. “… where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” The situation is no different with Medjugorje: conversions and vocations can take place because God’s grace will always triumph, even in a place where the visions in question are not supernatural.
Sadly, too, the fact that Pope John Paul II was deceived by Maciel indicates that his private judgment on Medjugorje cannot be regarded as sacrosanct.
To conclude, Klimek has come up with no evidence to support his main contentions, that is, that Fr Sivric’s book and that of E. Michael Jones are discredited, and I still await hard facts rather than vague accusations or trivial examples to that effect from him.
As I said above, the important thing to note about his criticisms is that they focus on secondary or even tertiary aspects of Medjugorje, while almost completely ignoring the main themes of my book, namely, the importance of the tape transcripts, the difference between the how approved apparitions have unfolded in comparison with Medjugorje, and the many serious anomalies associated with it.
In conclusion, I hope that Daniel Klimek, Denis Nolan, and others like them will open their eyes to the reality of what has happened concerning Medjugorje, and not just focus on a few narrow aspects, while ignoring the bigger picture.
 Cited in, Nolan, Medjugorje: A Time for Truth, p. 141.
 Cited in, Nolan, Medjugorje: A Time for Truth, p. 141. For background details about Dr Margnelli’s attitude and experience see: http://www.marcocorvaglia.com/medjugorje-en/medjugorje-scientists.html
 Francesco D’Alpa, La Scienza e Medjugorje, I Il Caso Joyeux, (Laiko.it, 2010), pp. 17–18, and passim. This e-book is available as a PDF from: http://www.marcocorvaglia.com/medjugorje-en/useful-resources-medjugorje.html.
 Sullivan, The Miracle Detective, p. 217.
 Sullivan, The Miracle Detective, pp. 83–107, quote p. 107, emphasis added, 210.
 Ibid., pp. 22, 119, 122, 125, 137, 160, 210 and passim.
 Ibid., p. 202.
 Rupcic, The Great Falsification, p. 4, cited in Nolan, Medjugorje: A Time for Truth, pp. 201–202.
 “Le père Jozo Zovko interroge Jakov Čolo au matin du 27 juin 1981”; link at : http://www.comprendre-medjugorje.info/fr/sources.html
 Rupcic, The Great Falsification, p. 4, cited in Nolan, Medjugorje: A Time for Truth, p. 202.
 http://medjugorjedocuments.blogspot.com/2009/05/february-20-1999-decree-romanis.html; http://www.cbismo.com/index.php?menuID=36; English translation at: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=hr&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fcbismo.com%2Findex.php%3FmenuID%3D36
 http://medjugorjedocuments.blogspot.com/2009/05/february-20-1999-decree-romanis.html (capitalization of some of the words in the quote has been altered); an English translation of Romanis Pontificibus can be seen at: http://www.cbismo.com/index.php?mod=vijest&vijest=648
 Bubalo, Thousand Encounters, p. 125; Sivric, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Vol. I, pp. 222, 224, 228; Marco Corvaglia gives further examples at: http://www.marcocorvaglia.com/medjugorje-en/25-june-1981-what-a-mess.html. For some reason, Daria Klanac failed to publish her own version of this tape. Cf. http://ministryvalues.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1366&Itemid=125.
 Fr Ljudevit Rupcic, The Great Falsification: The Hidden Face of Medjugorje by Ivo Sivric, p. 3, cited in Nolan, Medjugorje: A Time for Truth, p. 200.
 Sivric, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Vol. I, p. 37.
 Sivric, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Vol. I, pp. 64, 360. Daria Klanac attributes this statement to Mirjana, (Aux Sources de Medjugorje, p. 172), but the point is it seems that this young lady was also related to at least one of the visionaries.
 Nolan, Medjugorje: A Time for Truth, p. 200.
 Sivric, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Vol. I, pp. 347, 349, 365; Klanac, Aux Sources de Medjugorje, pp. 160, 162, 178.
 Sivric, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Vol. I, pp. 358, 364, 365; Klanac, Aux Sources de Medjugorje, pp. 170, 176–77.
 Sivric, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Vol. I, pp. 366, 369; Klanac, Aux Sources de Medjugorje, pp. 179, 182.
 Cf. http://ministryvalues.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1366&Itemid=125.
 Sullivan, The Miracle Detective, p. 158; Laurentin, Medjugorje Testament, pp. 81–83.
 An unofficial translation of this letter can be found here: http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfaubry.htm; The original French version of the letter can be found here: http://archive.gabrielmass.com/documents/m19980526f_bertone.html, with a further unofficial translation here: http://archive.gabrielmass.com/documents/m19980526_bertone.html; Cf. Kevin Orlin Johnson, Twenty Questions About Medjugorje: What Rome Really Said, (Pangaeus Press, Dallas, 1999), pp. 6–8.
 Cf. http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfaubry.htm; http://medjugorjedocuments.blogspot.com/2009/09/what-did-archbishop-bertone-really-say.html
 Sullivan, The Miracle Detective, p. 191. Cf. http://ministryvalues.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1366&Itemid=125
 http://www.medjugorje.eu/messages/; Fr Slavko Barbaric, Mother, Lead us to Peace!, (Grude, Herceg-Bosna, Grafotisak, 1994), p. xii, cited in Claverie, Les guerres de la Vierge, p. 238.
 Sivric, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Vol. I, p. 135.
 http://www.marcocorvaglia.com/medjugorje-en/i-saw-it-with-my-own-eyes-then-it-is-false-miracles-of-the-sun-and-more-part-1.html; the report by August Meessen can be accessed via: http://www.meessen.net/AMeessen/MirSun.pdf
 http://www.marcocorvaglia.com/medjugorje-en/i-saw-it-with-my-own-eyes-then-it-is-false-miracles-of-the-sun-and-more-part-1.html; www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr0aQw7XPcg; “The Visionaries from Medjugorje tried by Science,” 2004, FilmGruppMünchen; Marco Corvaglia has a webpage showing the way alleged miracles of the sun at Medjugorje can be reproduced. Cf. http://www.marcocorvaglia.com/medjugorje-en/i-saw-it-with-my-own-eyes-then-it-is-false-miracles-of-the-sun-and-more-part-2.html
 Donald DeMarco “The Goodness of Guilt.” National Catholic Register, (January 21–27, 2001), as located on the internet at: http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0420.html
 Denis Nolan, Medjugorje: A Time for Truth and a Time for Action, (Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, 1993), pp. 221, 223, 224–35.
 Denis Nolan, Medjugorje: A Time for Truth and a Time for Action, (Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, 1993), pp. 24, 181.
 See Mark Garvey, Searching for Mary, for details of this type of thing in the US.
 Randall Sullivan, The Miracle Detective: An Investigation of Holy Visions, (Little Brown, London, 2004), pp. 70–71; Craig, Spark from Heaven, pp. 19–20.
 Sullivan, The Miracle Detective, pp. 71–72; Craig, Spark from Heaven, pp. 20–21.
 Nolan, Medjugorje: A Time for Truth, pp. xi–xiv.
 Ibid., p. 123.
 Ibid., p. 123.
 Ibid., pp. 221, 223. We can see some examples of this in Nolan’s citing of Professor Janet Smith as supportive of Medjugorje; he quotes an article by her which was written in April 1989, over 20 years ago. That was during the period when a huge amount of propaganda about Medjugorje was in circulation, and when there was very little critical material available. Smith was largely repeating the positive information about Medjugorje which was then available, and following a visit there had obviously been favorably impressed. She mentions solar “miracles” and rosaries changing color as evidence, and also the large numbers of people who have gone there. Some of the things that she pointed to have subsequently turned out to be false, and in general her position on Medjugorje as a whole has been overtaken by events, including claims concerning the poverty of the visionaries; the “bloody handkerchief” incident; the reliability of Fr Laurentin; and the reputations of Fr Zovko and Fr Vlasic. Cf. pp. 224–35.
 See: http://medjugorjedocuments.blogspot.com/2010/09/2005-article-about-cardinal-bertone-on.html & http://www.corriere.it/Primo_Piano/Cronache/2005/02_Febbraio/24/medjugorje.shtml
 Cf. comment by Diane M. Korzeniewski at: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2011/02/11/medjugorje-is-generating-what-the-devil-loves-most-disobedience/