Saturday, May 29, 2010
Cardinal in Medjugorje
Titles and Responsibilities
To name a few of his responsibilities, the Cardinal is a member of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Director of the team that wrote the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He is a dogmatist, an expert in Church Teaching, and was a professor of Theological Dogma.
His impressive credentials include "curial membership" in the Congregations for the Oriental Churches and Catholic Education. He is a member of the Pontifical Council on Culture, the commission on the Cultural Heritage of the Church, as well as the Special Council for Europe of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
He serves as the Ordinary for the Faithful of the Byzantine Rite in Austria. With Archbishops of Paris, Brussels, Lisbon, and Budapest, Schoenborn is deeply involved in the re-evangelization of Europe.
He is active in bringing about cooperation between new movements (such as Charismatic Renewal) and the Church's hierarchical structure, and is recognized for his sensitivity to Eastern Christian and Orthodox spiritualities. Within Austria and Europe, Schoenborn has led the way in reconciling Christians and Jews.
Cardinal Schoenborn is a prominent voice in a wide variety of contemporary discussions and is considered by many as "papabile, " that is, a prelate with a significant chance of some day being elected Pope.
30 Million Pilgrims
The Medjugorje apparitions have been disputed since 1981, when six young people said that they had regularly seen visions of the Virgin there.
Neither Rome nor the local diocese had formally approved Medjugorje as an official shrine site, but the lack of official recognition has not stopped the remote village, 70 miles southwest of Sarajevo, from thriving. More than 30 million faithful religious and lay persons have visited the area since 1981.
Committee Of Yugoslav Bishops
There are some who think that Rome has spoken definitively, and, since the local bishop of Mostar and of Medjugorje, Bishop Ratko Peric, is against the apparitions, that no one should go there. However, in this particular case, the local bishop is not the sole authority regarding the supernatural nature of the events, since Rome has ruled otherwise.
Long ago, Rome appointed a committee of some Yugoslavian bishops, to discern the spiritual nature of the events, and in 1991, they declared it non constat de supernatualitatae, meaning that thus far, the supernaturality of the event has not been confirmed.
However, although Bishop Peric is no longer in charge of discernment, as far as mystical claims, the bishop still retains the authority over sacramental practices in Medjugorje, and should be respected in this role.
Of late, he has used his authority to restrict the activities of pilgrims and seers, despite a powerful rebuke from Rome. For the time being, the debate seems not likely to end.
In March of 2010, while in Medjugorje with some pilgrims, I heard that he is ill and a new bishop is being considered, in the event that it might be necessary.
In Rome in 1996, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, wrote that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje were not to be organized at parish or diocesan levels, since bishops from the former Yugoslavia had affirmed in 1991 that the evidence is not sufficient to declare with certainty that supernatural appari¬tions and revelations had taken place.
No One Knows The Outcome
Cardinal Schoenborn pointed out that the Church has not yet ruled upon Medjugorje. He stated that no one knows what the final decision will be. But, instead of being a rejection, this leaves open the possibility that it is, indeed, a supernatural event.
The cardinal said that pilgrims and priests are allowed to go there, while reiterating the Rome ruling of 1996, as long as such a pilgrimage is not an official parish event.
He Needed To Know
He wanted to see the place from which so many positive fruits had come. Thus, he made a private visit to Medjugorje in late December, 2009, through January 1, 2010. The cardinal felt that he needed to know more about Medjugorje. And considering his eminent position, HE DID NEED TO KNOW!
He had heard the detractions, but he had also seen the number of priestly vocations coming to his seminary in Vienna, attributed to Medjugorje.
He knew of a number of personal conversions, physical and moral healings, new prayer groups, a heard Fr. Rene Laurentin, one of the world's leading Mariologists, describe the site of Medjugorje as: the "Confessional of the World."
He had heard both sides of the story, and now wanted to be more clearly informed by "seeing for himself."
What Did He Do There?
The cardinal spent his time concelebrating Mass at St. James Church, hearing confessions, praying in silent Eucharistic Adoration, and (with visionary, Marija Lunelti, and thousands of other pilgrims), he climbed Apparition Hill.
A Special Favor
On the evening of December 31, 2009, the visionary, Marija, asked the Blessed Mother for a special favor, explaining that the next day, the Feast of the Mother of God, and the first day of the year, many pilgrims were requesting permission to attend the apparition at her home the following afternoon.
Because her chapel is very small, she was sad not to be able to offer this opportunity to all who wanted it. Therefore, she asked the Blessed Mother for a change in location to make it easier for more people to be able to attend.
Marija suggested that instead of coming at 5:40 p.m. to Marija's chapel, that Our Lady would appear on Apparition Hill at that time, so that everyone could attend. The Gospa replied that She would do both on the first of the year: "come to the chapel at 5:40 p.m., and come to Apparition Hill at 10:40 p.m.!"
Word of it got around fast, and the crowds were elated! On the evening of January 1st, 2010 thousands of people climbed Mt. Podbro, praying their Rosaries in the cold and pouring rain! Their feet were full of mud... but their hearts were full of joy!
The apparition of Our Lady lasted quite a while, and Marija told everyone, "The Gospa was very happy today, and She came with legions of angels!
"She looked at us, and said, 'You are My joy; you are My hope!' Then She urged us again to live the messages that She has been giving to us."
My Own Thoughts
This is how they started the year 2010 in Medjugorje, with Our Lady and Her heavenly army of Angels.
I have been to Medjugorje many times since 1986, and I have personally seen many conversions, healings, and various phenomena... but especially conversions.
I could tell you stories of people who had not gone to confession for years, and somehow they become
inspired to go to confession there, and they leave the confessional spiritually healed!
Many people, find that after confession there... to ordinary priests... the Holy Spirit worked in such a powerful way, that their lives have been forever changed.
I have seen physical healings almost every time I go there, and there is a plethora, a profusion of phenomena, especially to people who go for the first time.
To me, it seems to be mostly a place of spiritual healing and spiritual rejuvenation. It seems to bring comfort to the mind, soul, and body of the pilgrims. Many people go there often to obtain their spiritual "shot in the arm," the needed "spiritual vitamins and nourishment," thus enabling them to cope better with the problems of life that all of us encounter at various times.
Of all apparition sites, it seems to me, to be the one to which most people want to return. Also, at other apparition sites where confession is available, confession does not seem to be the main priority of the pilgrims that it most certainly has become in Medjugorje.
Our Lady's Joy
I feel that Our Lady may also have been joyful to have that loved cardinal present for Her apparitions twice on that special day, and I believe that Her joy made him very happy as well. It may have been Our Lady's gift to him for going there. In my mind, the many angels present that day in the apparitions to Marija, may also have been an indication of Heaven's joy regarding the Feast of the Mother of God, the many devotees of God present, and of Cardinal Schoenborn's openness (to either positive or negative findings) with a desire to "see for himself." Yes, he needed to know... and so do many others.
What Was His Personal Opinion?
At one point after his arrival, he asked, "Who could make these things up?"
"Who could invent this thing? Man? No, this is not a human act."
He went on to say, "When you look at a place like Medjugorje, you can see a superpower of mercy. Many merciful deeds were born here or they are supported here... something that is impossible from a human point of view."
No Official Declaration
Added Cardinal Schoenborn, "There is no official declaration, either way. I would advise for patience. The Mother of God is so patient with us, that for almost 30 years here, in a very direct way, She is showing Her closeness and care for the parish of Medjugorje and the numerous pilgrims.
We can peacefully wait and have patience! This number of years is a long period of time for us, but not such a long period to Our God."
Cardinal Schoenborn's comments prompted Bishop Peric to write him a letter on January 2, 2010, sharply criticizing his visit and stressing to him that his presence there was by no means a formal recognition of the apparitions.
Cardinal Schoenborn met with the Pope on January 15, 2010, after which he wrote to Bishop Peric, saying that he regretted "if you have the impression that my pilgrimage to Medjugorje did a disservice to peace. Rest assured that this was not my intention."
New Vatican Studies
A Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that the Vatican has decided to launch the investigation based on a request from Bosnian bishops.
Therefore, on Wednesday, March 10, 2010, the Vatican released a statement that an international commission of inquiry, headed by Italian Cardinal Camillo Ruini, a top adviser to the late Pope John Paul II, has been formed to study the case and report back to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith... (and later to us). +++