I ran across this article while surfing the net today. It is an interesting interview given by the chairman of the German Society for Mariology, Manfred Hauke, regarding the apparitions at Medjugorje. Here is the entire article, made available by a translation from German on the Catholic Light website. I put a few of the main points from the interview that caught my eye below.
Does the Medjugorje phenomenon fit, in your view, in the line of the great Marian apparition sites such as Lourdes, Fatima, or Guadalupe?
The Portuguese Cardinal Saraiva-Martins, for years prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, was recently asked about the parallels between Medjugorje and Fatima. He gave the opinion: While the shepherd children of Fatima showed themselves to be humble and chose silence, these virtues are not obvious in Medjugorje; while Sister Lucia entered the cloister, no one in Medjugorje has chosen consecrated life [one of the seers instead married an American beauty queen; this is of course no sin, but it is also no especial sign of a supernatural influence through Marian apparitions]; Sister Lucia put down the secrets entrusted to her by Mary in writing, while the visionaries of Medjugorje keep them for themselves. "No, I see nothing in common between Fatima and Medjugorje"
Many people regard Medjugorje as the beginning of their conversion. Is there a theological logic of "good fruits", which allows for conclusions of an experience of grace or the authenticity of the phenomenon?
Good fruits alone are still no confirmation for the supernatural origin of a visionary phenomenon. In medicine placebo therapy also sometimes brings good results, but they aren't to be credited to the medicine as such. And even at a place, at which trickery happens or even the devil acts, it is possible that divine grace acts and people convert and find God. In the criteria for the supernatural credibility of Marian apparitions the fruits are to be connected with the examination of the phenomenon itself and its confirmation through miracles. In Medjugorje there are, in addition, not only good fruits, but also a whole number of negative consequences that are connected with the phenomenon of the apparitions. One of those is the encouragement given to two Franciscan friars, who were urged by the seer Vicka in the name of the "Gospa" to set themselves against the canonically legitimate directives of the local bishop regarding their pastoral activity. At the repeated exhortations of the "Gospa" to disobedience (13 times), the ordinary at the time, Bishop Zanic, who had been originally inclined favorably to the Medjugorje phenomenon, reacted with very understandable rejection.
In his reaction to Cardinal Schönborn's visit Bishop Peric draws attention to further fruits that are connected with the same exhortation to disobedience: at present there are in the Mostar-Duvno diocese nine ex-Franciscans who were suspended from ministry, but are carrying on in usurped parishes as legal priests; certain Franciscans invited an Old-Catholic deacon in 2001, who presented himself as an "Archbishop" and "confirmed" over 700 young people in the usurped parishes, which a deacon can never validly do; two of the recalcitrant friars invited an Old-Catholic bishop from Switzerland with the request to consecrate them as bishops, which the Old-Catholic bishop, however, declined. Two friars, who were closely connected with the beginning of the Medjugorje phenomenon, were disciplined by the Church: Jozo Zovko (the pastor during the first months of the apparition, June-August 1981) was forbidden by his superiors to have any contact with Medjugorje; Tomislav Vlasic, who worked in Medjugorje from 1981-1988, was released from his priestly duties by the Holy See in 2008
How do you evaluate the "messages" of the "Gospa"?
From that penetrating research, the filtering of the "messages" by the seers or by the priests connected with them was named as a problem. The problematic assertions are often only known to critical source research through obscure publications (in part only in Croatian, English, and French), and are withheld from the broader public.
Particularly in the early period of the phenomenon there were several very unusual messages. According to a tape-recording transcript from June 30, 1981, the seers reported, according to the assertion of the "Gospa", the end of the appearances would be in three days (on July 3), but they then went on. At the sixth apparition (June 29, 1981), the "Gospa" announced the healing of a four-year-old boy, but it never happened. Furthermore, the "Gospa" informed them (May 25, 1984) that her two-thousandth birthday would fall on August 5, 1984. Would the real Mother of God propagate a birthday celebration for herself, that sets itself apart from the date of the liturgical feast (September 8)? If the given date were to be correct historically, then Mary would have been born in the year 16 B.C.
Since, because of the historical data known to us (census, astronomical conjunction), the birth of Christ is to be set at 7 B.C., then Mary would be about 9 years old at the birth of Christ. Besides untruths and ridiculous things, some erroneous teachings are also presented alongside them: Fr. Vlasic wrote on May 8, 1982, in the Chronicle he authored, that according to the utterance of the "Gospa" the Saints in Heaven are present there not only with the soul, but also with the body. Here on display is the erroneous teaching, widely spread today, but condemned by the Church, of "resurrection in death", in which awaiting the future resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ is rendered nugatory. In other words: alongside plenty of catechetical platitudes that are found with notably more substance in the Bible and the Catechism, the messages contain elements that speak clearly against a supernatural origin of the phenomenon.