The pope wants to understand more the needs of the faithful who come on pilgrimage to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The commission that investigated the authenticity of the apparitions finished its work long ago. Francis often jokes about ‘Our Lady the postwoman’ delivering appearances on command, or the ‘Virgin Mary superstar’ but never explicitly in relation to Medjugorje.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis has named Mgr Henryk Hoser, archbishop of Warsaw, as a Special Envoy to Medjugorje. So far, the Church has not made any statement about the veracity of the apparitions to visionaries. In the statement published today by the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Secretariat of State said that Mgr Hoser’s task has "exclusively pastoral character."
The statement reads:
“On February 11, 2017, the Holy Father entrusted Archbishop Henryk Hoser, S.A.C., bishop of Warsaw-Prague (Poland), to go to Medjugorje as Special Envoy of the Holy See.
“The mission has the aim of acquiring a deeper knowledge of the pastoral situation there and above all, of the needs of the faithful who go there in pilgrimage, and on the basis of this, to suggest possible pastoral initiatives for the future. The mission will therefore have an exclusively pastoral character.
“Archbishop Hoser, who will continue to exercise his role as bishop of Warsaw-Prague, is expected to finish his mandate as Special Envoy by summer of this year.”
Over the years, contrasts have developed between the bishop of Mostar and the community that has emerged around the visionaries who claim to have daily visions of the Virgin at least since 1984.
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI set up a commission headed by Card Camillo Ruini to investigate the phenomenon of the apparitions and vet the Marian devotion that developed around the world with millions of pilgrims who come to Medjugorje every year.
The results of the commission's work went to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but so far there has been no papal pronouncement.
More and more testimonies have been coming to the fore about the truthfulness of the faith of the people who come to the shrine in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including people converting, returning to the faith, or making vocational decisions.
For this reason, while not yet expressing views about the apparitions, the Vatican gave instructions that pilgrims receive all religious services: Mass, Stations of the Cross, Eucharistic adoration, confessions, etc. Groups that visit the sanctuary are also advised to be accompanied by a priest.
Pope Francis seems to have some doubts with respect to the truthfulness of appearances, although in the past, he seems to have been a devotee of Medjugorje.
He has sometimes expressed views about Our Lady acting as a postwoman continuously delivering messages, and about the “booking” of appearances, with lots of time and room, that some visionaries seem to exploit during ecclesial gatherings.
Speaking with religious superiors in November, the pontiff said he refuses “the Virgin of a post office that every day sends a different letter, saying: ‘My children, you do this and then, tomorrow, you do something else’.”
Instead, "The real Virgin is the one who generates Jesus in our hearts; she is a Mother,” he explained. “This fashion of the Virgin Mary superstar, as a protagonist that puts herself at the centre, isn’t Catholic,” he added.
In any event, Francis has never closely tied these utterances to the phenomenon of Medjugorje.