Approval would follow conclusions of 2010 commission, which separated phenomenon into two 'chapters'
Pope Francis’ special envoy to the shrine of Medjugorje, Archbishop Henryk Hoser, said that it is “possible that the first seven Medjugorje apparitions will be recognized,” according to remarks reported by the Total Croatia News website on Aug. 19.
“Everything suggests that the apparitions will be recognized, perhaps as early as this year,” said Archbishop Hoser.
Pope Francis sent Archbishop Hoser to Medjugorje to evaluate the pastoral situation of the many thousands of pilgrims who travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina every year. He hasn’t had any role in investigating the veracity of the reported apparitions.
The Polish prelate said that a Vatican recognition might only cover the first seven apparitions, “as suggested by Cardinal Camillo Ruini’s commission.”
The commission was established by Benedict XVI in 2010, and the resulting dossier was submitted to the Vatican Secretariat of State for study, the papal envoy explained.
On Feb. 11, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Hoser as special envoy to the small town located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the task of studying the pastoral situation of the shrine. The Press Office of the Holy See explained at the time that pronouncing on the supernatural character of the apparitions was not within the scope of Bishop Hoser’s mission.
Returning from Fatima earlier this year, Pope Francis expressed his own personal doubts about the veracity of the apparitions.
“The report [of Cardinal Ruini’s commission] has its doubts, but personally, I am a little worse,” the pope told reporters traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal. “I prefer Our Lady as mother, our mother, and not Our Lady as head of the post office who sends a message at a stated time.”
One of the members of Cardinal Ruini’s commission later spoke with the press about Francis’ doubts. Father Salvatore Maria Perrella, head of the Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum in Rome, explained: “The Commission has cut the [Medjugorje] case into two segments. The first part concerns the seven initial apparitions — let’s call it the founding core — which seemed credible. The other part, that is, the sequel to the apparitions that would continue, has left the Commission perplexed.”
“The pope is skeptical about the fact that the so-called ‘Madonna of Medjugorje’ sends continuous messages, speaks too much, and presents herself at predetermined times,” Father Perrella said.
When Archbishop Hoser gave the first press conference of his mission to Medjugorge, he suggested that the shrine is helping pilgrims quench their “thirst for the sacred, and for prayer.”
“The greatest miracle of Medjugorje is confession,” he added, before thanking “all the priests who come to hear confessions here.”