On February 11, 2017, Pope Francis named Archbishop Henryk Hoser as special envoy to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Polish archbishop is being sent to “acquire a deeper knowledge of the pastoral situation” in Medjugorje, and “above all the needs of the faithful who go there on pilgrimage,” the Vatican said.
In a telephone interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Henryk Hoser explained his “special envoy” appointment is “above all, about regular, pastoral reception of the millions of pilgrims coming to Medjugorje. This high number is a challenge for the Church and a call to improve the reception if possible.” Asked if his proposals might include the appointment of an apostolic administrator for Medjugorje, the Pope’s envoy said, “Yes, this is not impossible. Perhaps one will have to supplement the structure of the hierarchy on the ground so that initiatives can be better coordinated and thus more effective. I must confirm that these a Archbishop Henryk Hoser re only hypotheses.”
The Vatican’s announcement said that Archbishop Hoser “is expected to finish his mandate as special envoy by summer of this year.” His position is not to report or just the but provide support, initiative, and suggestions for pastoral care of the thousands of pilgrims who travel to Medjugorje each month. Msgr. Hoser added that he did not know when his report to Pope Francis, or any other, would be published.
The appointment of special envoy of the Pope may lead to an upsurge in pilgrims to Medjugorje since the Catholic Church, and the Pope at its head, would never send an envoy to a place that it considered to be under the influence of evil, or a danger to the Church or its people in any way. Medjugorje’s parish priest Marinko Šakota responded to the the news of the appointment saying: “This is an answer to prayer, a moment of grace and joy, and also a time of great responsibility for the parish of Medjugorje.”
Among the supporters of the alleged apparitions of Our Lady of Peace in Medjugorje, one can find several “heavy hitters”:
- Recently deceased Father Gabriele Amorth, Rome’s longtime chief exorcist. In a YouTube video he clearly states that the Madonna of Medjugorje has come to “bring the world back to God,” after Satan’s great success of building a “cultural world without God.”
- Padre Pio, who reportedly once told a group of pilgrims from Mostar that the Virgin would appear in their land before it actually happened.
- In a handwritten letter to Denis Nolan, author of Medjugorje and the Church, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “We are all praying one Hail Mary before Holy Mass to Our Lady of Medjugorje.” (April 8th, 1992)
- Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar, regarded by Benedict XVI as the greatest theologian of the 20th century, and said to be John Paul II’s favorite theologian, once said: “The theology of Medjugorje rings true. I am convinced of its truth. Everything concerning Medjugorje is authentic from a Catholic point of view.” He also stated,“There is only one danger alone for Medjugorje—that people will pass it by!”
Cardinal Cristoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, the main author of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and a close collaborator of Pope Francis said, regarding the fruits of Medjugorje, “These fruits are tangible, evident. And in our diocese and in many other places, I observe graces of conversion, graces of a life of supernatural faith, of vocations, of healings, of a rediscovering of the sacraments, of confession. These are all things which do not mislead. This is the reason why I can only say that it is these fruits which enable me, as bishop, to pass a moral judgment. And if as Jesus said, we must judge the tree by its fruits, I am obliged to say that the tree is good.” (Medjugorje Gebetsakion, #50; Stella Maris, #343, pp. 19, 20).
- Read an interview with the cardinal here: http://medjugorjeca.org/interview-of-cardinal-schonborn-of-vienna/
Many other bishops have expressed their personal approval of Medjugorje. See www.Medjugorje.com. It is interesting to note that canonized saints from our world’s recent history, Rome’s chief exorcist, and the main author of the Catechism of the Catholic Church have believed in the authenticity of the Medjugorje apparitions. Medjugorje’s strongest proponents come from saints and those who have traveled there on pilgrimage. Medjugorje’s detractors have largely never gone there to see for themselves.