Thursday, 07 January 2010

(Source: Spirit Daily)


Pope Benedict, went the buzz, would finally put a rein on the apparitions, and perhaps even dismiss them.

That was the hope in a band of detractors who for years have spearheaded e-mail campaigns against Medjugorje, led by the bishop.

So there was consternation if not a degree of shock last week when a major cardinal — Christoph Maria Michael Hugo Damian Peter Adalbert von Schönborn of Vienna, better known simply as  Cardinal Schönborn — not only visited Medjugorje, but celebrated Mass at St. James Church with Medjugorje pilgrims, freely moved about the village — at least once with a seer who accompanied him up the hill of apparitions — and issued what could only be interpreted as positive statements about the apparitions.

“Who could make these things up?” he asked at one point after his arrival. “Who could invent this thing? Man? No, this is not a human act.”

The cardinal also called Medjugorje a “superpower” of God’s mercy.

In conversation with the press office of the Archdiocese of Vienna, Cardinal Schönborn advocated “an integration of the ‘Medjugorje phenomenon’ into the normal pastoral work of the Church,” reported an Austrian radio station. “The Archbishop of Vienna made a private visit to the Marian pilgrimage site over Christmas. He wanted to see the place from which so ‘many positive fruits’ had come.”

It hardly meant that the Church had officially approved of the site. The Cardinal is not the prefect of the congregation that one day may make this decision. But he is a close ally of the Pope and a member of that congregation. Moreover, Cardinal Schönborn was director of the team that wrote the Catechism — obviously, an expert on Church teaching.

While some tried to spin the event otherwise, it became difficult. There was immediate consternation  in the U.S. Catholic press.

Medjugorje, said the cardinal, has not yet been ruled upon by the Church; a committee of Yugoslavian bishops in 1991 declared it  non constat de supernaturalitatae, meaning that thus far, the supernaturality of the events has not been confirmed. No one knows what the final decision will be. But instead of being a rejection, said the eminent cardinal, this leaves open the possibility that it is indeed a supernatural event. The cardinal said that pilgrims and priests are allowed to go as long as such a pilgrimage is not an official parish event — something announced long ago by Rome.

This flew directly in the face of those who have long argued that the local bishop — who disapproves — has sole authority, and that pilgrimages are prohibited.

It was a stunning clarification, as was his statement, to an interviewer from Vecernji List, daily newspaper for Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, that “when I see the fruits of Medjugorje back at home I can only say that the tree is surely good.”

The cardinal mentioned as fruits the countless vocations and conversions spawned by Medjugorje, along with healings.

The statements were especially powerful in that Cardinal Schönborn is known as a close friend and colleague of Pope Benedict XVI. “Cardinal Schönborn is a prominent voice in a wide variety of contemporary discussions and (though he himself avoids this characterization) is considered by many as ‘papabile,’ that is, as a prelate with a significant chance of someday being elected Pope,” notes a site that follows his movements.