Admissions and Contradictions of the Commission of Investigation on Medjugorje (Part 2)
by Marco Corvaglia
The disheartening testimony of Dr. Darinka Šumanović-Glamuzina
David Murgia wrote:
[…] I have also decided to publish a document of the Pontifical International Commission which is not contained in the Final Report. It is a very important and unknown document that changed the process of the work of the Pontifical Commission itself.
In fact, after a few years of work, the members of the Commission decided to make an inspection in Medjugorje to check what was happening there. After a number of visits, they managed to find a lady whose testimony would be fundamental for the recognition of the first apparitions. [...]
Darinka Šumanović-Glamuzina [...] [is] a formidable witness who, with her simplicity and observation, will convince the entire Pontifical Commission that the events (of the first period) that happened in Medjugorje are true.
[Murgia, pp. 13-14]
Indeed, the commission gave such importance to this testimony that it has been quoted in the Final Report itself, Part I, paragraph 1.1, entitled "The initial profile of the phenomenon" (and consider that later on we read: "The data and considerations proposed in dealing with the initial profile of the phenomenon (point 1.1) constitute, as has already been mentioned, reasons for affirming the supernatural origin of its beginnings"
[Final Report: Gaeta, p. 54; Murgia, p. 42]):
The signed witness exists from Dr. Darinka Šumanović-Glamuzina, collected during the site visit to Medjugorje from the International Commission, which recounts the happening in an extrinsic and neutral perspective.
[Final Report: Gaeta, p. 43; Murgia, p. 34]
In the introduction to the Testimony, the commission wrote that the woman today reports that she had "an experience of the Madonna that changed her. After the event, in fact, she felt full of energy." [Testimony of Darinka Šumanović-Glamuzina, Murgia, p. 84]
In reality, the testimony tells, in highly emotional terms, a banal affair that has always been well-known, which occurred on 29 June 1981 (sixth day of the "apparitions"). Vicka also spoke of it in her famous interview book with Father Bubalo [cf. J. Bubalo, A Thousand Encounters, cit., p. 36].
In the Testimony, Dr. Šumanović-Glamuzina defined herself as "very rational".
In fact, in order to understand the level of suggestibility of Šumanović-Glamuzina, just read the passage in which she says that, impressed by the atmosphere of prayer, she thought that the phenomenon could be linked to an alien manifestation:
At a certain moment, I even thought it was an object of the universe, something that belongs to another reality. At that moment, they all began to pray the rosary together. They prayed, prayed, prayed. The atmosphere of their prayers in that moment changed in an incredible way. It was something I had never experienced before.
[Testimony of Darinka Šumanović-Glamuzina, Murgia, p. 86]
The apparition began and Šumanović-Glamuzina wrote in her Testimony:
I asked Vicka who was next to me: “Can I ask some questions to Our Lady?” At that moment, I doubted. I was impressed, but I didn't think it was the Madonna. Vicka asked Our Lady: “Madonna, can this woman ask You questions?” This was a new shock to me because she had contacted something and asked permission so that I could have contact. This immediately put me in a position to think that someone is actually there. Someone is there.
[Ibid., p. 87]
It makes perfect sense...
I go ahead and ask Vicka to ask the Madonna if I can touch the vision. […] The Madonna says to Vicka: “Yes, come closer”. Vicka tells me where I had to stay and where to touch Her. Vicka says, “Here, here.” At that moment, I am still doubting. I want to unmask everything and reveal their hoax.
[Ibid., p. 88]
But she had written that at that point she had already convinced herself that "someone is there" ...
The Testimony, however, continues as follows:
But the moment I knelt down and put my hand in the place where Vicka told me that there Our Lady was I become aware that I am entering into something very dangerous, the end of which I can't see.
Of course, however, Šumanović-Glamuzina did not perceive anything concrete. In her eyes, this fact, quite obvious, became proof that the apparition was true:
In the following seconds, I try, like a robot, to touch something and an incredible thing happens: something that words cannot describe, something inexplicable. I feel that this “something” or “someone” is gone. I don't see anything, but I feel it's gone. I feel that it is no longer here.
Obviously, if Vicka (together with the others) was simulating the apparition and knew that therefore Šumanović-Glamuzina wat not perceiving anything, what would she do?
She would say that the Madonna had gone. And indeed:
Behind me I hear Vicka's words: "The Madonna has gone away.”
So, at first, she allegedly gave her permission to be touched, and then instead she left.
I back off with so much shame. I was so ashamed inside. [...] I approach Vicka and ask her: “Vicka, what is this?” Vicka is so scared. She says: “The Madonna said: There are always unbelieving Judases."
[Ibid., p. 89]
And, according to the Pontifical International Commission, this narrative would be "extrinsic and neutral."
The Report and the change of position of Bishop Žanić
The Report also reads, with reference to the local bishop, Pavao Žanić (who was in charge when the phenomenon began and became an opponent):
There are the testimonies that there was pressure on the Bishop, who, probably for this and certainly for the subsequent affirmations of some alleged visionaries on the pronouncements of the Gospa regarding the Herzegovina Question, changed his opinion on the authenticity of the phenomenon.
[Final Report: Gaeta, p. 44; Murgia, p. 35]
The reason that the commission defines as "probable" (the presumed pressure), in reality, is not only unproven (therefore, it is slanderous), but is irreconcilable with all the documented and irrefutable historical data that are available (see my page The Bishop Opposed Medjugorje ... and the Regime). What matters is not if there was pressure, but if the bishop made himself conditioned by it. And the answer can only be a resounding "no".
It is necessary to clarify briefly a couple of issues here, which can then be delved into on the aforementioned page.
In the first place, it is not entirely correct to say - as we read in some Medjugorjan texts to which the commission has passively drawn - that Msgr. Žanić has "changed his opinion on authenticity": it is true that over time he became an opponent, but he was never a supporter of authenticity. Basically, for the first six months or so, he was only open and convinced of the youngsters’ good faith (not the objectivity of the experience).
Second, in fact, Bishop Žanić never hid that he had started to change his position for events related to the "Herzegovinian question" (about which, on the website of the Curia in Mostar, see the document The attacks of the Medjugorje "apparition" against the Diocesan Bishop Pavao Žanić) or, to put it better, above all for some obvious and irreconciliable lies and contradictions by the youngsters in this matter.
The commission criticizes the visionaries (but tries to cope)
After having "saved" the first apparitions, the commission goes on to analyze the continuation of the phenomenon of Medjugorje and highlights (in the particular ways that we will see) the lack of reliability of the "visionaries" for the tens of thousands of apparitions following the first seven.
Among the critical aspects there is the theme of their relation with money:
What the International Commission has been able to ascertain, in regard to the accusation of a possible seeking of profit, is that the witnesses of the supernatural sign originally addressed to them now effectively have a relation, ambiguous in certain aspects, with money (and with what in general can be called a preoccupation with their own “wellbeing”). Yet this ambiguity, rather than being located on the side of immorality, is found on the side of the structure of the person, often lacking a solid discernment and a coherent orientation, and also because an available and steady spiritual guide has been lacking to them in the course of these thirty years. If anything, there have been many signs exhibited of spiritual self-promotion and of a lack of pastoral relationships. […]
This lack of spiritual and human accompaniment is surely one among the causes of certain ambivalences and ambiguities that have been manifested among the protagonists of the phenomenon underway. This negative dynamic reaches its apex in the case of Ivan Dragičević, whose continuing meetings and conferences on the Medjugorje phenomenon seem to constitute his only work and support. He has also lied multiple times and is also less credible in the way he speaks of experiences with the Gospa.
[Final Report: Gaeta, pp. 81-83; Murgia, pp. 57-58. Murgia chose to omit all the names in the Report.]
[...] the alleged visionaries have appeared substantially credible in their witness of the first seven apparitions, and also through the succeeding alleged apparitions, it does not seem possible to deny their subjective good faith, independent of judgment on the reality of the event. This positive evaluation, however, does not extend to Ivan Dragičević, on whose credibility serious and demonstrated reservations have emerged. Also, as regards moral conduct and in particular the question of the quaestus lucri, the position of Ivan Dragičević is more compromised than that of the other alleged visionaries.
[Final Report: Gaeta, p. 115; Murgia, pp. 69-70]
Church authority must keep watch over the economic activities of the alleged visionaries connected with the Medjugorje phenomenon, especially in the case of Ivan Dragičević.
[Final Report: Gaeta, p. 119; Murgia, p. 72]
In essence, the Report admits that the relationship of the “visionaries” with money and the search for profit is undeniably ambiguous, but, incredibly, the Report also says that this is attributable not to their own fault but to the lack of a spiritual guide. Then, according to the Pontifical International Commission, people who for decades have said that they are spiritually guided by Our Lady, need an earthly spiritual guide who teaches them what the Madonna evidently does not teach (for example, concepts such as: you must not toy with the faithful—asking them for money for the construction of a “spirituality center,” when, instead, a private 120-bed hotel called Magnificat is being built).
Other reasons for concern [italics in the original]:
From the original documents made available to the International Commission, it appears that the then adolescents had declared that the phenomenon would end. But as we know, this has not happened.
[Final Report: Gaeta, pp. 83-84; Murgia, p. 58]
Also [parentheses and exclamation marks in the original]:
The International Commission has had to consider the repetitive banality of some of the communications which the witnesses declare they received from the Gospa [...]. Above all, however, this sector concerns:
the alleged Vita di Maria–of which Vicka Ivanković claims to be the custodian, because it was dictated by Gospa herself (!);
the “great sign” (not yet realized!);
the so-called ten “secrets” (with the question of the “trusted friar”).
[Final Report: Gaeta, pp. 77-78; Murgia, p. 54. Murgia chose to omit all the names in the Report.]
In the following video, Vicka, interviewed in 1988 on Rai Uno, during an episode of Uno Mattina, confirms that she has put the dictated life of the Madonna into writing and to wait for the Virgin to tell her to publish it:
After so many years, nobody has been able to see these manuscripts and the publication has not taken place.
Further on, the Report reads [italics in the original]:
Among the many problematic and ambiguous elements, what undoubtedly assumes a greater weight, in the light of past events, is the typical form of the “secret”; not having the alleged visionaries developed particular intellectual qualities and introspection, and having been likewise left without accompaniment and a human and spiritual education worthy of what was happening, the need to refer to behavior patterns that could allow them to integrate the particular experiences that they claimed they were living, may have oriented them to acquire forms and roles already present in ecclesial life (to be similar to) [...];
[Final Report: Gaeta, pp. 79-80; Murgia, pp. 55-56]
In practice, in its somewhat murky style, the Report says that the commission considers it probable that the secrets are an invention of the "visionaries", who have been inspired by the stories of other alleged visionaries of the past. But once again, according to the Pontifical International Commission, the fault of this deception is not theirs but their lack of a spiritual education.
To confirm that the commission of inquiry wanted not to investigate too much, there is the fact that, significantly, it did not want to make (nor did it suggest to carry out) the only verification that would have been unequivocal and decisive for everyone: the examination of the alleged parchment with "magical" features that Mirjana claims she received from the Madonna and that allegedly contains the secrets.
The Report reads:
The International Commission has considered itself unable to order the alleged visionaries to reveal the content of the ‘secrets’, and thus it does not have the power to include this in its decisions...
[Final Report: Gaeta, pp. 79-80; Murgia, pp. 55-56]
It should be noted that viewing Mirjana's parchment and examining it would have nothing to do with the disclosure of the alleged secrets, as Mirjana has always said that only she can see them written, while anyone else looking at the sheet reads different things: precisely in this feature, one of the presumed amazing features of the object in question would consist (see the page Mirjana and Her Magic Parchment...).
Then, the Commission wrote:
It seems opportune to ask the alleged visionaries to live the alleged apparitions in a manner not as public as presently happens [...]
[Final report: Gaeta, p. 118; Murgia, p. 71]
And it suggested accompanying the visionaries with a priest who, in fact, should check the messages themselves: it is a potentially - if not intrinsically - ambiguous function that was probably already carried out in the early 1980s by Father Tomislav Vlašić. On the other hand, it is certain that this function was carried out in the second half of the 1980s by Father Slavko Barbarić (see, for example, the testimony of Wayne Weible, writer and apologist of Medjugorje, close friend of Marija, in his book The Final Harvest. Medjugorje at the End of the Century, Paraclete Press, 1999, pp. 98 and 164):
The linguistic formulation of the alleged messages of the Madonna should take place in the presence of the priest in charge of the spiritual accompaniment of the alleged visionary.
[Final Report: Gaeta, p. 119; Murgia, pp. 71-72]
Suggestions for the practical management of the phenomenon (and of the money)
On the basis of its proposal (not based on anything rationally persuasive) to approve the first seven apparitions, the Report, in Part II entitled Suggestions for the practical management of the phenomenon, suggested that "the prohibitions of pilgrimages to Medjugorje should be removed with the participation of priests [...]" [Final Report: Gaeta, p. 100; Murgia, p. 63].
The outcome of the vote was reported:
The 14 present and voting (11 Members and 3 Experts) expressed themselves as follows:
10 Members and 3 Experts: ‘the current bans on pilgrimages to Medjugorje must be removed’;
1 Member: null vote.
[Final Report: Gaeta, p. 101; Murgia, p. 65]
The goal of increasing the influx of pilgrimages to Medjugorje, however, finds an obstacle in the fact that Bishop Perić (in charge from 1993 to 2020) is convinced of the falsity of the phenomenon and therefore - according to the commission - would not collaborate in this plan. It is therefore suggested that "the establishment of an on-site ecclesiastical authority directly dependent on the Holy See, and not on the diocesan bishop, as regards the management of the Medjugorje phenomenon" [Final Report: Gaeta, p. 105; Murgia, p. 66].
The commission also discussed the possibility of promoting the church of Medjugorje as a pontifical shrine.
Here is the outcome of the vote:
The 14 present and voting (11 Members and 3 Experts) expressed themselves as follows:
6 Members and 3 Experts: “a pontifical shrine is erected in Medjugorje”
4 Members: “a pontifical sanctuary is not erected for now, but only later, in Medjugorje”
1 Member: “a pontifical sanctuary is not erected in Medjugorje at all”.
[Final Report: Gaeta, p. 109; Murgia, p. 69]
And we can read:
The offerings that flow to the parish church and to the Franciscans are managed with due transparency and wisely distributed. However, it seems appropriate, given the size assumed by the influx of pilgrims, to organize more accurately the collection of the various offerings and in particular the Mass intentions, on the model of what happens in the most important Marian shrines.
[Final Report: Gaeta, p. 125; Murgia, pp. 74-75]
The Report also stated that it is "highly desirable to enlarge the size of the parish church” [Final Report: Gaeta, p. 123; Murgia, p. 73] and that the pastoral care of pilgrims must be "integrated and strengthened" [Final Report: Gaeta, ibid.; Murgia, ibid.].
Therefore, in essence, the Church must work to increase pilgrimages to this place where the "visionaries" "effectively have a relation, ambiguous in certain aspects, with money", as the Report itself said.
The Equivocal Position of the Church
In strict accordance with the advices of the pontifical commission led by Card. Ruini, in May 2018 pope Francis appointed bishop Msgr. Henryk Hoser (a great Polish supporter of Medjugorje) "as special apostolic visitor for the parish of Medjugorje, for an undefined period": an "exclusively pastoral office" linked to the assistance of pilgrims [cf. Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office (31 May 2018)].
On 12 May 2019, the interim director of the Vatican Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, publicly communicated that official pilgrimages (organized by dioceses and parishes) are allowed, on one condition:
The Holy Father has ruled that it's possible to organize pilgrimages to Medjugorje, always being careful to avoid that those pilgrimages are interpreted as an authentication of the known events, which still require an examination on the part of the Church [italian original text: "che richiedono ancora un esame da parte della Chiesa"].
It is an inevitably equivocal position, so much so that the statement continues: "care must be taken to avoid creating confusion or ambiguity from the doctrinal point of view regarding such pilgrimages". But it does not indicate in the least how this ambiguity could be avoided.
Note that the pontiff has granted only an oral permission: there is no official act.
It’s also worth noting that the statement contains the very same key-expression already used, as many as 21 years earlier, by the then Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Mgr. Tarcisio Bertone, who, on May 26, 1998, wrote in an official letter to the bishop of Saint-Denis de la Réunion, Msgr. Gilbert Aubry (on that occasion the reference was to private pilgrimages):
[...] as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentication of events still taking place and which still require an examination on the part of the Church [italian original text: "che richiedono ancora un esame da parte della Chiesa"].
[Tarcisio Bertone, L'ultima veggente di Fatima, Rai Eri-Rizzoli, Milan 2007, p. 105]
And what will happen in the future?
Contrary to what many defenders of Medjugorje repeat to justify the decades of “wait and see” position, there is no rule in the Church that prescribes the need for a phenomenon to be terminated before a positive judgment on it can be issued.
As a matter of fact, the Zadar declaration made it impossible (on the state of the facts) to approve the phenomena — not because these are in progress but, as we have seen, "on the basis of the investigations so far." (Approvals while the alleged phenomena were still ongoing were granted, for example, to Finca Betania, Venezuela [November 1987, cf. R. Laurentin, La Vergine appare a Medjugorje?, Queriniana, 1991, p. 15] and San Nicolás, Argentina [May 2016]).
The Church cannot approve Medjugorje because it would be highly compromising, but it does not want to condemn it (despite the fact that the two local bishops Pavao Žanić and Ratko Perić openly considered the phenomenon to be false).
So, it is easy to understand that this question will continue to be managed without official approvals, but also without prohibitions (which is what most interests the crowds of Medjugorje devotees).
The translation from Italian into English has been realized in collaboration with Richard Chonak and Kevin J. Symonds.
Published on 10 February 2020. Last update: 13 August 2020
Copyright © Marco Corvaglia. All rights reserved