Sunday, 10 January 2010
In an interview given to kath.net Cardinal Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, has made more comment about his time spent in Medjugorje recently .
He said that it was rather unusual for a Cardinal to visit Medjugorje as a pilgrim but has since heard that several other cardinals and bishops had been there in a very private way.
He added that Medjugorje is now one of the greatest pilgrimage sites in the world to travel to.
The cardinal also confirmed that Medjugorje had played an important part for many young priests on their personal path to the priesthood.
He referred to the annual Youth Festival at Medjugorje and said that, other than Taize, there is no other place that gathers so many young people and that this reflects the global importance of the phenomenon.
Cardinal Schönborn revealed that he had listened to Confessions for two and a half hours in Medjugorje, and that some of the penitents had not received the Sacrament for 20 or 30 years.
“How does this tree bear such fruit?” the cardinal asked.
He went on to speak about the phenomena of apparitions around the world and said that apparitions have their own language, that they provide simple uncomplicated messages which can get to the heart of the Christian message. He said that in Medjugorje the messages have a distinguishing feature with Our Lady’s call to peace and revealing herself as the Queen of Peace.
The cardinal confirmed again that the official position of the Church is as the Zadar declaration of 1991 made by the Yugoslav bishops’ conference. He said that this declaration has been confirmed at least twice and an ideal guideline to keep to.
On the question of the Church providing a definitive ruling when the phenomena are completed the cardinal said that there are many Marian apparition sites where an ecclesiastical verdict is not pronounced but still pilgrimages take place. He also stressed that ‘official’ pilgrimages to Medjugorje (pilgrimages organised by a diocese) cannot take place but support will be given to the spiritual needs of pilgrims who go there.
The cardinal also pointed out the deep level of prayer witnessed at Medjugorje and that the pilgrims show an incredible desire to return. He said that he could only explain that the closeness of Our Lady is good for the people and he also definitely wants to return to Medjugorje.
When asked if Medjugorje was a place of grace the cardinal said that to doubt that grace flows from Medjugorje it is necessary to close our eyes and the evidence was very obvious that graces spring from Medjugorje.
As to the messages and locutions cardinal Schönborn said that when Rome investigated the claims of Sr Faustina, who received daily messages from Jesus, it was very critical but the phenomena stood the test of time. He emphasised that the Church is always very cautious in this respect and it is a good thing.
He then added it was also very important that the fruits are not hampered and he was particularly impressed by the amount of good works resulting from the Medjugorje. He specifically mentioned the Cenacolo Community and Mother Village founded by the late Fr Slavko Barbaric.
He spoke about Medjugorje in the light of the Second vatican Council and the “sensus fidelium”, the faith of the people. He said that the messages play an important role for pilgrims to stay “connected” to Medjugorje and that without the initial momentum there would be no Medjugorje today, but he did not want to speculate “recognition” and that for him as a bishop it is important that nothing in the messages is contrary to faith. He added that in this time Our Lady manifests herself as Queen of Peace and that is the theme of the messages from Medjugorje, peace with the emphasis on conversion, because when we are peace with each other we are peace with God.
The cardinal was asked that in the light of people’s lives changing at Medjugorje is there anything he does differently since his vist. The cardinal responded by saying that if there was, he would not say, but he knows through a long association with Lourdes that a close union with the Mother can lead to God. He stressed the pastoral care of Our Lady in bringing people to her Son and how her words can touch hearts and get people to say “Yes”.
When asked if he would report his impressions to the Holy See, the cardinal stated he went on pilgrimage for personal reasons but he does not conceal his attitude to Medjugorje from his brothers, which has deepened since his visit. He confirmed that he has spoken with many bishops and will continue to do so and that this was part of the Church view and judgment. He added that as a visiting Cardinal to Medjugorje it brought consolation to the people who were there on New Year’s Eve.