Pope Francis has authorized parishes and dioceses to organize priest-led pilgrimages to Medjugorje, a site of alleged Marian apparitions that still “need study” by the Church.
The announcement came during Sunday Mass celebrated at the Queen of Peace parish shrine in Medjugorje by Apostolic Nuncio of Bosnia-Herzegovina Luigi Pezzuto and Holy See Special Apostolic Visitor Archbishop Henryk Hoser.
Interim Director of the Holy See Press Office Alessandro Gisotti in a statement to journalists confirmed Pope Francis’ decree.
“The Holy Father has stipulated that it is possible to organize pilgrimages to Medjugorje.”
Gisotti said the authorization comes as an acknowledgement of Medjugorje’s “abundant fruits of grace” and as a need to promote those “good fruits.”
“Considering the considerable flow of people who go to Medjugorje and the abundant fruits of grace that have sprung from it, this authorization is part of the particular pastoral attention that the Holy Father intended to give to that reality, aimed at encouraging and promoting the fruits of good”.
Pope Francis’ authorization should not be seen “as an authentication of the noted happenings, which still require an examination by the Church,” said Gisotti.
“Care must be taken to avoid creating confusion or ambiguity from the doctrinal point of view regarding such pilgrimages. This also concerns pastors of every order and level who intend to go to Medjugorje and celebrate or concelebrate there even in a solemn way.”
Medjugorje is the site of supposed Marian apparitions which began on June 24, 1981 when six children claimed to have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary. These six “seers” said the apparitions included a message of peace and “secrets” surrounding events that will happen in the future.
Today, they still claim to receive apparitions from Our Lady of Peace. In May of last year, Pope Francis commented on the final report of the Medjugorje commission.
“The first apparitions, which were to children, the report more or less says that these need to continue being studied. For presumed current apparitions, the report has its doubts.”
Archbishop Hoser, Apostolic Visitor to Medjugorje, said there is “every indication” that the apparitions will be approved.
“Specifically, I think it’s possible to recognize the authenticity of the first seven apparitions as proposed by the Medjugorje commission.”