On July 22, 2018, Monsignor Henryk Hoser began his official role as Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visitor to Medjugorje by celebrating Holy Mass at St. James’ Church at 7 pm.
Transcript of the Homily of Archbishop Hoser, given in Medjugorje, July 22, 2018
Your Excellency, Monsignor Apostolic Nuncio in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Your Excellency, Bishop of Alexandria de la Pallia, Reverend Father Provincial, dear Priests, dear Persons of Consecrated Life, dear Faithful of the Parish of Medjugorje, dear Pilgrims, Brothers and Sisters!
The Lord speaks: “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.” The Holy Father, the Universal Shepherd of the Church, takes the words of the prophet as his own. He sends us there where people exist and live, there where the faithful gather together seeking the light of salvation.
Today the Lord provides us with an incomparable example, and the role model of missionaries. When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with compassion for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things.
The Holy Father sends apostles and missionaries all over the world, in accordance with Christ’s command: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and behold I am with you until the end of the age.”
Gathered together at this Sunday Holy Mass, let us be sensitive to the words of St. Paul, the Apostle of Nations. He said: “But now, in Christ Jesus, you who once were far-off have become near by the Blood of Christ. He came and preached peace to you who were far-off, and peace to you who are near.”
Pilgrims come to Medjugorje from far away regions, from approximately 80 countries of the world. The distance, the remoteness, represents the space measured by the kilometers we have passed. In order to pass these kilometers, we need to have a firm and decisive motivation as well as the means of transportation that are important to accomplish many journeys.
But the word distance means something else as well. The word distance represents the existential situation of the many who have distanced themselves from God, from Christ, from the Church and from the Light which gives meaning to life, which directs it, and gives it a dignified goal, and is the life worthy of living.
Now we can understand why the Holy Father has sent the Apostolic Visitor to Medjugorje. The pastoral care requires ensuring a stable and continuous accompaniment of the Parish Community of Medjugorje and of the Faithful who come here on pilgrimage.
This mission equally concerns not only those who are far-off, but also those who are near. The latter has a double meaning. They are near because they have lived in this place and territory for generations. They are near because they are the Parishioners of Medjugorje. They are near also because for 37 years they have witnessed so many events in this region.
In another meaning, near are all those who live an ardent and warm faith, and who desire to live in an intimate and grateful contact with the Risen and Merciful Lord.
Let us now ask the fundamental question: “Why do so many people come to Medjugorje every year?”
The clear answer is this: They come to meet someone. To meet God. To meet Christ. To meet His Mother. And then to discover the path that leads to the joy of living in the house of the Father and the Mother. And ultimately to discover the Marian Way as the safest one. This is the path of the Marian Devotion that has been taking place here for years. That is the Sacred Worship in which the culmination of Wisdom and the Summit of Faith come together, and which is therefore the primary task of God’s people.
Indeed this is a Christ-centered worship, because it takes its origin and effectiveness from Christ, finds its complete expression in Christ, and leads through Christ and the Spirit to the Father – as the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, said.
The Second Vatican Council strongly emphasizes that the various forms of devotion towards the Mother of God that the Church has approved, within the limits of wholesome and orthodox doctrine, have developed in harmonious subordination to the worship of Christ and have gravitated towards this worship as to their natural and necessary point of reference.
Besides this, it is useful to return to them, in order to remove doubts and especially to help the development of that devotion of the Blessed Virgin which in the Church is motivated by the Word of God, and practiced in the Spirit of Christ, as Paul the VI said in his “Marialis Cultus.”
This is what the devotion of the people in Medjugorje looks like. In the center is the Holy Mass, Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and all of this followed by other forms of devotion, the Rosary, and the Way of the Cross – which has turned what in the beginning used to be a trail of sharp stones, and made it into a smooth path.
Pilgrims take time off and dedicate their time to be able to sojourn in Medjugorje. In this regard, Pope John Paul II said, “Just as time can be marked by [ ] by special moments of grace, space too may by analogy bear the [ ] or particular saving actions of God. Moreover, this is an intuition present in all religions which not only have sacred times but also sacred spaces where they encounter where the Divine may be also experienced more intensely than it would be normally in the vastness of the cosmos.
Medjugorje gives us both the time and the space of God’s grace, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church, whom here we honor as the Queen of Peace. This title is well known from the Litany of Loreto.
It is true, the world is in great need of peace, peace in one’s own heart, peace in the family, peace in society and international peace. Peace is desired by everybody, especially by the people of this country who suffered so much in the recent Balkan War.
To promote peace means to build a civilization based on love, on communion, on fraternity, on justice, and therefore on peace and freedom. May the Gospa, the Mother of the Prince of Peace who was proclaimed by the prophets, be our Protectress, our Queen and our Mother. Amen
Archbishop Henryk Hoser, retired Archbishop of Warsaw-Prague in Poland, on July 22, 2018, began his second assignment in Medjugorje, having been appointed by Pope Francis as Apostolic Visitor to St James Parish in the village. He inaugurated his ministry with solemn Mass in the evening and has invited all of the faithful and pilgrims present to participate, according to Vatican News.
His first mandate to the community came in February 2017, when Pope Francis sent him to go to Medjugorje as Special Envoy of the Holy See.
According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office at the time, the mission had 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,” it stated.
The new assignment reflects a similar mission, according to the Holy See’s Press Office, which said, “the mission of the Apostolic Visitor has the aim of ensuring a stable and continuous accompaniment to the parish community of Medjugorje and to the faithful who go there as pilgrims, and whose needs require particular attention.”
To the Venerable Brother
Msgr. Henryk Hoser
The Archbishop – Bishop Emeritus of Warsawa – Praga
As the continuation of the task of the Special Envoy of the Holy See for the parish of Medjugorje, which You recently accomplished, and in the desire to express the particular pastoral care that this reality requires, I appoint Your Excellency as Apostolic Visitor with a special role for the parish of Međugorje for an indefinite period, ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, with the authority, obligations and in accordance with the modalities specified in the Mandate attached to this Document.
Convinced that You will know how efficiently to carry out the entrusted task in the spirit of positive cooperation with all the interested parties, I assure you of my prayers and with heart I impart you the Apostolic Blessing.
In Vatican, May 31st 2018, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
– Pope Francis
On this second Sunday of Advent, the liturgy places us in the school of John the Baptist, who preached a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And perhaps we ask ourselves, “Why do we have to convert? Conversion is for an atheist who becomes a believer, or a sinner who becomes just. But we don’t need it. We are already Christian.”
We can ask ourselves this and in this regard say, “We’re ok.” But that’s not true. Thinking like this, we don’t realize that it is precisely because of this presumption – that we are Christians, good in every way, that we’re doing the right thing – precisely because of this presumption we must convert: from the supposition that, overall, things are going well like they are and we don’t need any conversion.
But let us ask: Is it true that in the various situations and circumstances of life, we have in us the same sentiments that Jesus had? Is it true that we feel as Christ felt? For example, when we suffer some evil or some affront, can we react without animosity?
The voice of the Baptist still cries in humanity’s deserts of today, which are – what are the deserts of today? – they are the closed minds and the hardened hearts. And [his voice] calls us so that we ask ourselves if we actually are following the right path, living a life according to the Gospel. Today, as then, he admonishes us with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord!”
None of us can say, “I’m a saint; I’m perfect; I’m already saved.”
But we should be courageous: make low the mountains of pride and rivalry.
May we be aided in this by Our Lady – who is Mother and who knows how to do it – to bring down the walls and the obstacles that impede our conversion, that is, our journey toward the encounter with the Lord. He alone.
Cardinal Vinko Puljic, head of the Church in Bosnia/Herzegovina, has hinted at possible changes to Medjugorje’s status as a sanctuary and place of pilgrimage.
In a Christmas interview with press agency Anadolu the Cardinal said Medjugorje is one of the largest confessionals, not only in the Balkans but also in Europe, and should be recognised in some way.
He also spoke about the long-awaited outcome on the status of Medjugorje and said that any decision on the sanctuary would be only a matter of administrative management and for probably the parish, and would not mean an early decision on the claimed apparitions and messages associated with the phenomenon. “In terms of the visions and messages, the Church will continue its study and not go that fast. The Church is not in a hurry,” the Cardinal explained.
He added that he was not worried about the attitude of the Holy Father nor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, but that it was important for the people who come in faith to Medjugorje to pray and strengthen their faith, and return home comforted.
The Sarajevo Archbishop concluded his comments on Medjugorje saying that “until otherwise decided, people have the right to come to Medjugorje, to pray and do penance.”
Cardinal Puljic was a member of the Commission set up by Pope Benedict XVI to give further study to the Medjugorje phenomenon.
The Cardinal’s mention of administrative changes could be the precursor to an official announcement on this from the Holy See.
Video news by Romereports:
(Romereports) On his flight back from Bosnia-Herzegovina in June 2015, Pope Francis held a quick press conference with the roughly 60 journalists on flight. In one of his answers, he shed light the latest developments on the reported Medjugorje apparitions of Our Lady.
“On the issue of Medjugorje, Benedict XVI, during his pontificate, created a commission led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. Other Cardinals were also assigned, along with theologians and experts. They carried out their studies and then Cardinal Ruini came to me and delivered the final analysis. It was after many years, three or four more or less. They did a great job, they really did. Cardinal Muller, told me they would carry out a so called ‘feria quarta’ or special meeting around this time. I think they held the meeting last Wednesday, but I’m not really sure. We’re really close to making a decision. They will let us know. For now, only a few guidelines are being offered to Bishops. Thank you!
Dr. Fr. Miljenko Šteko, the Provincial of Herzegovina Franciscan Province from Mostar, was elected as the new President of the European Franciscan OFM Provincials. The election was held in Rome during the 11th General Assembly of the Conference of Franciscans from Europe. This Conference (from October 21-25, 2013) gathered 49 Provincials of the Franciscan Order from Europe as well as 5 General Definitors.
Fr. Miljenko Šteko was the director of Medjugorje’s information centre and radio station before he became the Provincial of the Franciscans in Hercegovina.
Reported by Croatia media sources is the news that the Vatican has already arrived at a solution that recognises the importance of Medjugorje to the Church and that the tree bearing good fruit in abundance is to be protected.
Currently the bishop of the Mostar-Duvno diocese is in Rome and on the table for discussion is the partition of his diocese which could see the parish of Medjugorje come under a new bishopric. Apparently a decision has been reached and an announcement is anticipated later this year.
However, such a move would not be an endorsement of the claimed apparitions but could be seen as a possible step forward to Medjugorje being granted international shrine status by the Holy See.
• The diocese of Mostar-Duvno was formed on July 5, 1881 – 100 years before Our Lady first appeared in Medjugorje on June 24, 1981 • The seat of the bishopric is in the Cathedral of Mary the Mother of the Church! • The first two bishops of the Mostar-Duvno diocese were Franciscans and they were in charge of the diocese for 61 years!
[Source: www.medjugorje.ie. This site is officially approved by the Information centre “Mir” Medjugorje.]
The Vatican had to react to millions of people gathering in Medjugorje, and the current Commission works seriously because the members believe Medjugorje is already deeply integrated within the Church, says Medjugorje’s pastor who calls it “irresponsible” to claim the seers lie.
Fr. Petar Vlasic with Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar in May this year in Medjugorje. Photo: Mile Pavlovic, Brotnjo Online.
Rome had no choice but to take up a thorough investigation of the events in Medjugorje, and the result was the March 17th 2010 announcement of the current Commission led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, says Medjugorje’s parish priest.
“Neither the Pope, nor responsible Roman offices could overlook the phenomenon gathering millions of pilgrims in Medjugorje. Therefore, an advisable approach was carefully considered, and the Commission was established to thoroughly investigate” Fr. Petar Vlasic tells the Croatian daily Vecernji List.
Pope Beenedict XVI appointed Cardinal Camillo Ruini (front) to head the Vatican Commission on Medjugorje.
“They do their job seriously and are committed, because they believe that Medjugorje is deeply merged within the contemporary life of the Catholic Church” he further says of the Commission.
“We cannot talk about satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their work. These are all serious religious people who care about truth and the good of the Church” says Fr. Petar Vlasic.
“Irresponsible” to claim the seers lie
In defending the six Medjugorje visionaries, Fr. Petar Vlasic says it is “impossible to declare them liars”. Therefore, it is “irresponsible” to claim the seers are lying, or that their apparitions should be due to a diabolical influence, Fr. Petar Vlasic says, upon revisiting the visionaries’ life history:
“I think they played a vital role in everything from the very beginning. Since the beginning of their intrepid witnesses, they were not in any way embarrassed or intimidated by threats, or militia, or imprisonment, or harassment in school. They stood firm and upheld their original claims” Fr. Petar Vlasic says.
Fr. Petar Vlasic was appointed parish priest of Medjugorje in 2007.
“Claims of apparitions can not be verified, and science comes to its limits, but we can see the effects of their claim. Today they are adults in their forties, and it is impossible to declare them liars.”
“We recognize the fruits of their claims on a daily basis, and they are serious people with their families and children. And it is irresponsible to call them liars, or to attribute to them all the diabolical influence as some still do, even among the clergy” Medjugorje’s parish priest tells Vecernji List.
By Jakob Marschner
Contrary to a previous statement, the Vatican Commission on Medjugorje will not finish its work this year, but rather in 2013, a Bosnian news portal quotes an allegedly well-informed source. More conversations are required. Commission members stayed in Medjugorje last Spring.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini heads the Medjugorje Commission.
Medjugorje will remain under investigation by the Vatican into 2013. The Commission formed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and since then headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini will not finish its work this year as previously stated, the Bosnian news portal Oslobodjenje learns.
“The International Commission for the study of the phenomenon of Medjugorje will certainly not finish their work this year, claims a well-informed souce close to the work of the Commission” the online media reports.
Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo.
The canceling of expectations that the Vatican Commission should finish before the end of 2012 comes in response to a statement from Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo. On February 14 the Cardinal, a member of the Commission himself, told a press conference in Rome that the Commission had to finish this year. However:
“There is still a lot of conversations with people who could contribute quality contents to the Commission’s work” Oslobodjenje quotes the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
All Commission meetings have taken place in Rome.
“Based on what has already been learned about the work of the Commission, our source believes that work could be completed in 2013″ the news portal adds.
Oslobodjenje further writes that, over the past two years, the Vatican Commission has met “a dozen times, each time in Rome.”
“However, the Commission also works in the field, and therefore some members of the Commission stayed in Medjugorje last Spring” the Bosnian news portal learns.
The Commission will submit its work to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. From here, it will be turned over to the Pope who has the final saying.