In this month of May, a month in which we honour our Blessed Mother Mary and thank her for all the times that she has interceded, on our behalf, to her Son Jesus, the faithful turn to her, more and more, for her support and strength to face the growing difficulties in the world today.
In recent years devotion to the Virgin Mary of Medjugorje, the yet unauthenticated sightings of Mary at a location in Bosnia-Herzegovina, has grown to rival Church authenticated devotions such as Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Devotions in Medjugorje are centred around the account of six young people who claim to have first seen visions of Our Lady, at this location, in June 1981 and that these visitations continue to occur.
In early May, Pope Francis took the step of authorizing pilgrimages to Medjugorje, officially organized by Churches and Diocese’. In the past, such tours were organized privately, without the authorization of the Catholic Church. With this announcement, Pope Francis is “encouraging and promoting the fruits of good,” holding that if this devotion brings forth good, then the Church will not stand in the way of that good.
However, this announcement also came with a warning. It was stated that this papal authorization must be accompanied by “care to prevent these pilgrimages from being interpreted as authentication of known events, which still require examination by the Church.” This is to say that Pope Francis’ allowing of Catholic Church and Diocese sponsored pilgrimages to Medjugorje IS NOT an authentication of the declared appearances of Mary at this location nor the miracles attributed there. The process surrounding authentication of those events is on-going and the allowing of authorized pilgrimages to Medjugoje does not, in any way, confirm the reported visions and miracles.
Pope Francis is telling us to focus on the good that comes, from Jesus, through Mary, and that we should not let worldly issues, such as authentication of the events at Medjugorje, to draw our attention away from Mary, Mother of us all, and our thanking her for always pointing us toward her Son.
Fr. Edward Gibney
Associate State Chaplain