By Frits Albers, Ph.B.
The video tape Visions on Demand achieves what its compilers had in mind when they made it: it totally destroys the credibility of all those who for more than 17 years have been pushing and manipulating the happenings at Medjugorje. What the video may lack in seamless professionalism it undoubtedly gains in overall coverage and sincerity. Not much of what has come to light in all those 17 years since the start of the hoax in 1981, and is becoming more widely known (especially in the Vatican), has been left unsaid.
One thing the video is silent on is the origin of the breakdown between the local hierarchies of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and some of the Franciscans. For a proper understanding of this difficult question it is necessary that research into it goes back to the early years of the reign of(who was elected on February 20, 1878). What this will bring to light is the subject-matter of this short paper.
Joachim Pecci brought with him to the papal throne as Pope Leo XIII the conviction that for the full benefit of Catholic life anywhere in the world, it is of the greatest importance that peoples everywhere are united with the Holy See through the establishment or the restoration of strong local hierarchies. That as early as 1880 he had in mind the regions which the great Apostle St. Paul had called Illyricum (Rom. 15:19), and which the Holy Father mentions by name as Bohemia, Moravia, Croatia, can be gauged from the fact that in that year the Holy Father issued an encyclical to remind the whole Catholic world of the immense missionary activities that had been carried out by the two great Saints of the Slavonic peoples: St. Cyrillus and St. Methodius, and to ask for prayers for the people populating these regions. This was obviously in preparation of what the Holy Father did the following year. For it was already in 1881 that he fully restored the Hierarchies of what he calls in the Apostolic Letter of Restoration “the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
So, within a little more than two years after ascending to the See of St. Peter, Pope Leo XIII issued an encyclical in 1880 to prepare for his Apostolic Letter of 1881 by which he restored the hierarchies in Bosnia – Herzegovina. It is from these two Letters, so clearly representative of the mind of Pope Leo XIII, that I wish to bring the following extracts to the attention of all who are puzzled by the deep rifts that have right from the start shown up the happenings at Medjugorje as fraudulent exactly 100 years later.
We will deal with the second of these two Letters, the one of 1881, first.
The Holy Father starts the 1881 Apostolic Letter Ex hac augusta by which the Hierarchy of Bosnia – Herzegovina was being restored, by going right back to the earliest Christian times of these regions by relating that their conversion to Christianity was taken care of by the Apostle of the Gentiles himself, who in his Letter to the Romans could testify to the truth “… ” (Rom. 15:19). Taking from recorded history household names such as St. Luke, St. Clemens, St. Titus as the successors of St. Paul, the Holy Father lays down the cornerstone of his whole argument when he declares:
It is wonderful to say how beneficial it must have been for Christianityfounded of which the principal Sees were those of Thessalonica, Salonica and Smyrna, which rightly can glory over the fact that they received their first occupants from the .
After that it is the stated intention of the Holy Father to show that from that blessed time on the Holy See has never allowed any part of its care for Illyria to flag. In the course of this Apostolic Letter covering its history someare mentioned by name to give substance to this declared intention.
As can be expected, the history of the region as unfolded in this Apostolic Letter presents the usual checkered appearance to the casual student. The unity the Holy Father imposes on this picture is the steadfast interest shown by the Holy See in the vicissitudes of the peoples populating those remote regions, by which a seemingly earthly interest nevertheless brings out the divine interest of the Father of all. The struggles of the Holy See are the manifestations of the Divine Providence. Part of these ‘vicissitudes’ incorporate the loss at times of the Episcopal Sees which had been established in the region under previous pontificates.
When the Holy Father arrives at a description of the 12th century, and after noting that “”, he then makes the following remarkable statement:
However happy this state of affairs may have been, it did not last long. Because not much later, from the vicinity of Bulgaria, other evils came forth and became widespread and far worse than that which went before.which gave their name to the sect of the Patarenses. From this sad concurrence of evils, which fed on these regions, much damage was done to the Faith and morals of the peoples living in those territories.
So the new pestilence was sown by the Bulgarians; it had its origin in the ancient errors of the Manichaeans, and it was so vehement that it lasted for the best part of three centuries, from ca 1170 – 1470. Thirteen Popes are mentioned by name, from Innocentius III (+1216) until Sixtus IV (+1484), who during this time did something about this sad state of affairs. In the next couple of pages the Apostolic Letter then deals with some of the activities undertaken by these Pontiffs, and it is in this context thatis made of a measure which seems to have its repercussions in our days.
(a return to the yoke of the Gospel) .
The Holy Father does not indicate when these monks arrived there, but addressing himself in the next sentence to what occurred in the middle of 1300, and taking into account that St. Dominic died in 1221, and St. Francis in 1226, it appears that the Holy See did not waste any time in dispatching those new religious to these outlying shores.
In 1233, acting on a report of his predecessor’s legate, Gregorius IX (+1241) increased the number of Episcopal Sees in Pannonia. The same was done for Bosnia during the reign of Pius II (+1464). Again the Holy Father mentions several centuries (from ca 1430 – 1730) of ups and downs with regards to those regions. And for thethe Franciscans get singled out for a distinction:
Nevertheless, in spite of all this obvious good, Pope Leo XIII returns once again to the fundamental theme of his Apostolic Letter when immediately afterwards he mentions:
The mind of the Holy Father Pope Leo XIII is becoming very clear. Recognizing any good that had been done during those troublesome centuries and giving that good its proper due, he nevertheless states in the above quoted words that it is the view of thethat in the care of souls no good can ever come near the greatest good of them all: .
Thus, giving glory to God that the hour had come for him to restore to these regions the Catholic Hierarchy in its full powers, Pope Leo XIII, before launching into the administrative details of this important move, concludes the historico-doctrinal part of his Letter with these important words:
For it can no longer be subject to doubt that the Hierarchical Administration of Ecclesiastical Matters, [in which, as is the case with the way the human body is joined together, the variety itself of the ranks and services in a wonderful way contributes to the wellbeing of all the parts and to the way in which they harmonize with one another because of the common bond of Faith and Love, and because of the authority of the Supreme Head guiding and correlating everything] must for this reason be highly esteemed because, as it slowly increases all the supports on which the religious life of souls depends, and as it directs the powers of everybody towards the common good, the faithful use one and the same Rule of Discipline in the variety of services that make out the Christian life, and because the souls of all are knitted together much more tightly with the bond of peace and love.
Here theof the Hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church , and it is obvious that it was far removed from this Holy Father’s mind when he took pains to write all this down, giving each one his due, that there would come a time in which
And in portraying Our Lady as taking sides with the Franciscans against the established Hierarchy vested in the bishops,
This concludes our investigation of Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolic Letter of 1881 by which he restored for the greatest good of the Catholics living in those regions the old Hierarchies of Illyricum, first established by the Apostle of the Gentiles, St. Paul.
We can now turn our attention to this Pope’s encyclical which he had issued the year before in 1880. The papal intent for giving to the Church this encyclical was to prepare the way for the 1881 Apostolic Letter studied so far. In this encyclical-of-preparation the Holy Father underlines the weight of what we have just studied, his thoughts on the importance of Catholics living under the care of bishops in well-run dioceses, by elevating both the memory as well as the feast days of the two outstanding missionaries of these Dalmatian regions, Sts. Cyrillus and Methodius. And in doing so this address to the whole Church, in its own way, goes through the history of this part of the Balkan, mentioning dates and activities of the Holy See in relation to Bosnia – Herzegovina.
And then, towards the end of his encyclical, as a kind of summary, this far-seeing Pope makes the following remarkable statement:
Neither – as we have seen from the foregoing – can it be said that the solicitude of the Holy See for the peoples of these regions had been spent or had come to an end because of the care the Religious Orders had exhibited at times over the centuries. And how does the Holy Father express this solicitude of the Holy Seewhat others may have done?
From this 1880 encyclical we can clearly see what Leo XIII had in mind when he brought it to fruition the year after in 1881. The fruits of thefor Catholics living under the care of bishops and diocesan priests in communion with the Catholic Church are being spelled out here: , and to experience how great is the that emanates from structures established by the Catholic Church for the well-being of family life and that of the State.
To portray Our Blessed Mother as being totally opposed to this unity under a well-established and properly functioning Hierarchy as well as to the benefits that flow from this unity with Rome, would be the same as saying that She is in Hell with all the other apostates and unbelievers. Since this is impossible we can only come to: that the Medjugorje ‘apparitions’ and ‘messages’ themselves come from that infernal place.