WAYNE'S MAY COLUMN
Taking a stand
By Wayne Weible
My dear brothers and sisters,
It is time to take a stand to correct errors in a letter sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the American bishops in October 2013. Unfortunately, the letter was poorly written and contradicts the law of the Church that allows belief in any alleged apparition until the Church makes a formal ruling. Therefore, I have written the following open letter to the CDF leader asking for a correction to these errors. I do so with the utmost respect for this important body of our Church. There is no monetary gain or desire for glory to do this. On the contrary, I risk my good name to the wolves of opposition who seek the end of the greatest apparitions in the history of the Church.
Possibly you are bored over what could be overkill on the subject. However, we, the faithful, are just as important as members of the Church family as the Magisterium, and our voices need to be heard. I ask for your prayers that as Church family, we can change errors for the good of the family. I will allow the letter to speak for itself:
27 April 2015
An Open Letter To:
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect for
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
I write to you concerning the disturbing effect of the letter sent to the American bishops by the Apostolic Nunciature of the United States, dated October 21, 2013, in reference to allegiance by the faithful to the alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina. I do so with all due respect, humility and obedience as a member in good standing of our Holy Catholic Church.
My sole purpose in writing this letter is to make Your Eminence aware that the letter contains two critical and damaging errors and misquotations, which clearly changes the meaning of the quoted statement taken from the 1991 Zadar Declaration, which serves to date as the formal position of the Church on the alleged apparitions in Medjugorje.
The original quote from the Zadar document states: “On the basis of studies made so far, it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations."
The letter sent to the American bishops quoting this critical passage reads: "On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions of supernatural revelations."
By leaving out the two words “so far” from the original statement, it creates a completely different meaning to the statement inferring that the investigation is over and that the conclusion is that the apparitions were not supernatural. On the contrary, the original statement clearly indicates that the investigation will continue, thus indicating that the matter of whether or not they are supernatural is not determined to this point.
Another error occurs when the letter does not quote the statement in the present tense, as in the Zadar Declaration, but in the past tense. Again, it gives the impression that the investigation has been completed and that the final decision is that the apparitions were not supernatural and no further investigation is necessary. Yet again, quite on the contrary, the Yugoslav Bishops ended the Zadar Declaration by declaring they would continue to follow the events of Medjugorje and do so to its conclusion.
Over the past 18 months, the errors in this letter sent to the American bishops have caused people to withdraw from many events concerning or associated with Medjugorje, including conferences, gatherings and pilgrimages to the site. In fact, there is strong sentiment among the faithful that the Church is stating in this letter that the apparitions at Medjugorje are not supernatural and questionable at best.
Frankly, the harshness of the language of the letter is damaging in itself by stating that the faithful are not permitted to attend meetings, gatherings, conferences or any celebrations that would take for granted that the apparitions are authentic. Actually, the faithful, as individuals, are allowed by the Church to believe in, promote, make pilgrimage, write about and attend such events until the Church formally rules on an alleged apparition. We are then to accept the ruling as obedient members of the Church.
Clear clarification concerning followers of the alleged apparitions in Medjugorje came from then Vatican Press Office spokesman Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls in a statement on August 21, 1996, in which he stated: “You cannot say people cannot go there until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want…"
Your Eminence, this self-contradiction in itself clearly needs to be corrected: On the one hand, according to the statement of Mr. Navarro-Valls, the faithful are permitted to go to Medjugorje where the alleged visionaries are giving talks that always took the authenticity of their experiences "for granted". While, on the other hand, according to the letter of October 21, 2013, the same faithful are not permitted to listen to the same talks given by the same visionaries, when these talks are given outside of Medjugorje, especially in the United States. These two positions cannot be intellectually reconciled.
The carelessness of these errors cannot be overlooked due to the unjust damage it has done to Medjugorje and the credibility of the alleged visionaries here in the United States. Pilgrimages to the village are down considerably and there are only a handful of conferences that focus on the apparitions—this from a country that sent millions of pilgrims there in the eighties, resulting in thousands of spiritual conversions as well as hundreds of new vocations to the priesthood and to the convent.
By writing this open letter, I respectfully urge the CDF to acknowledge the errors in the statement sent to the American Bishops - and to call back the statement as the only logical and reasonable consequence of the misquotations and the misinterpretations of the Zadar Declaration contained within the statement. Throughout the 24 years of its existence, the Zadar Declaration was never used to impose restrictions on events related to Medjugorje. Loyally used and quoted correctly, it cannot be used for this purpose. Therefore, calling back the statement sent to the American Bishops would appear to be unavoidable.
Your Eminence, I humbly ask you to consider my request in correcting the above-mentioned errors, so that the faithful, as they have in many past apparitions, and in accordance with both the real meaning and spirit of the Zadar Declaration and the statement from Mr. Navarro-Valls, be allowed to both make pilgrimage to and believe in what I personally believe is the greatest and most important apparition site in the history of the Church; and, to attend Medjugorje arrangements outside of Medjugorje, which for the past 33 years have led to thousands of spiritual conversions.
God bless you.
journalist, speaker and author of 10 books on the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje
cc: Cardinal Christoph Schönborn