Bishop's Speak On Medjugorje
16th ANNIVERSARY OF OUR LADY'S APPARITIONS IN THE PARISH OF MEDJUGORJE
Three church dignitaries came for the 16th anniversary of Our Lady's apparitions in Medjugorje: the retired Archbishop of Split, Dr. Frane Franic, from Italy the titular bishop of Rusado, Paolo Hnilica S.J., and the archbishop of Manizales in Columbia, Fabio Betancur Tirado who is on his way to Rome for a meeting with Pope John Paul II. He joined in mass with the pilgrims and gave witness to his own conviction in Our Lady's presence in the parish of Medjugorje.
VISIT OF BISHOP DAMIAN KYARUZI FROM TANZANIA
At the end of May Msgr. Damian Kyaruzi, a newly named bishop in Tanzania, visited Medjugorje. On his journey to Rome where he will be consecrated bishop, he visited Medjugorje. This is what he said on the occasions: "I am a priest of the diocese of Bukoba in Tanzania. Till now I have the Vicar General in my diocese and now I am named as bishop of the diocese of Sumbawanga. I am already a priest for 29 years. My episcopal consecration will be on the anniversary of my own priesthood ordination, June 29, 1997. I am in Medjugorje for the first time. I came here to pray before my episcopal consecration. Here I found a place and people who pray a lot in Church, on Podbrdo and Cross Mountain. I saw deep devotion on the mountains. I welcomed this experience because for me it means that people are ready to pray, when they are given the opportunity and when they are led well. But this is not only a place of payer, but a place where one can learn a lot. It is particularly important to me that I understood that we are all pilgrims. Pilgrims who come here discover the gift of life. God heals them here. They come back to God, they grasp the law of life and become messengers of peace. I want in my own ministry to tell people not to be afraid to accept life, even though I know it isn't easy. When we climb the Medjugorje mountains, we can understand those difficulties. That can be experienced especially on Cross Mountain. The lesson one gets on Cross Mountain says: One has to accept everything one encounters in life and complete one's assignment. You only have to look at and follow Jesus' way of the cross. I want all pilgrims here to accept their life pilgrimage with God and Mary."
VISIT OF A BISHOP FROM CAMEROON
In the second half of June the bishop of the diocese of Mbalmayo from Cameroon visited Medjugorje. His name is Msgr Adalbert Hdzana and this is what he said on the occasion: "I gladly visit the great Marian pilgrimage place. I have already been to Lourdes and Fatima twice. Here I feel completely fulfilled and am happy that I came. Here I feel that Medjugorje is the continuation of Fatima. Someone already said that before. But what I see here is the continuation of Fatima, because here I see the realization of the gospel in a way that corresponds to the man of today and to the situation of men. What is important is being proclaimed here: love, confidence in God. However, sin is opposed to that life that God offers us here. Everything Our Lady is telling us here is found in the Gospel and the means to which she call us are out of the gospel and the tradition of the Church. Here life is spoken of, but in the world death is being experienced. The sacraments are the channels through which we obtain divine life. And Our Lady is inviting us to receive the sacraments and to live them. The sacrament of reconciliation is especially at work here and the Eucharist is found at the center.
The manner in which all this is happening here is very simple, I like that, yet again that which is most important is being proclaimed. I believe, that in these kind of events the Church has to remain very reasonable. I can especially understand all the caution because the events here are still not finished. But here much good is happening and already for a rather long time and this must help us to understand what we are dealing with. What I have learned here, I think, will help me to go back more to pastoral work, as the Pope also told us when he said to us to do everything to prepare well for the 2000 year jubilee. What is especially on my heart here in Medjugorje, what I will tell everyone, is conversion and consecration. Our Lady is constantly telling us, free yourselves from sin and open yourselves to God's love. When I go back, I will proclaim again what I have heard and experienced here. That is what re-evangelization means. I invite one to take advantage of this time of grace that God is giving us here through Mary. May God bless you. I will pray for all of your and you pray for me and my homeland."
MEETING WITH A SLOVENIAN ARCHBISHOP
In May at the invitation of pilgrims and friends of Medjugorje Fr. Slavko visited several parishes in Croatia and Slovenia conveying Our Lady's message of peace and the spirit of the Medjugorje prayer program to the faithful in their local churches. A large number of the faithful participated in all the meetings and at one meeting in Slovenia Fr. Slavko met also with Archbishop Franc Rodeo. In an open conversation he asked him, do you know that many Slovenians are coming to Medjugorje and what is his position. He answered: "Once a bishop from Pescara asked the Pope what should be done with the people who are going to Medjugorje. The Pope answered with a question: 'And what are the people doing there?" The bishop answered: "They pray, they go to confession, they do penance!" The Pope answered briefly, "Well then let the people go there!" Fr. Slavko asked the archbishop if that were his position and his answer. With a pleasant smile he said, "Yes."
ARCHBISHOP FRANIC AT MEDJUGORJE PHOTOMONOGRAPH PRESENTATION
The Medjugorje Photomonograph which we mentioned in the last number of the Press Bulletin June 4, 1997 was also presented in Split. In the presence of a large number of the faithful and of people active in the cultural, religious and public life of that city the first one to speak about that book was Msgr. Dr. Frane Franic, retired Archbishop of Split-Makarska. Here is what he said on the occasion: "Our Lady's apparitions have to be seen as an intervention in human history from the other side that can only be understood in a long period of time. I have personally heard Our Lady's voice, but I have never seen her. In the Medjugorje fruits of prayer, fasting and brotherly love I see the signs of preparation for meeting with God. Our bishops with their Declaration of 1991 confirmed Medjugorje as a place of pilgrimage and prayer, and as such they recommended to the faithful what it has become on a world wide level."
THE UGANDAN BISHOPS IN MEDJUGORJE
Just as we mentioned in the last issue of the Press Bulletin, three Ugandan bishops paid a visit to the shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje, from the 8th to the 15th of May 1997: Bishop Frederick Dranuba, Bishop Deogratias Byabazaire and Bishop Joseph Oyanga. In issue no. 65 we published msgr. Drandua's interesting sermon in it's entirety, and in this issue we'd like to communicate testimonies of the impressions they had on their visit here:
MONS DEOGRATIAS BYABAZAIRE, the bishop from Hoime. He was ordained a priest in 1969 and to his Episcopal office in 1990. This is what he had to say about his impressions of Medjugorje:" I've spent a week in Medjugorje and I felt that it emanates much prayer, peace and friendliness. I met so many people who really pray and who seek prayer. I visited Krizevac and Podbrdo. I saw many many people praying. I was apprehensive about going up. But when I reached the top, I felt so happy. Both hills were a beautiful experience for me. I prayed very much and I saw many praying barefoot.
The evening mass made a deep impression on me. The church was full every evening, and there were even more people hearing the mass from outside. And even though they didn't understand the language they were deeply united in devotion and prayer. But even so, the most beautiful part of the prayer program was the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I saw a great number of priests confessing and a multitude of pilgrims and local people confessing.
I was present at an apparition. My impression is that we are dealing with something profoundly real here. Speaking with the visionaries, I understood that thy are sincere and mature people.
On my return home I will emphasize the simplicity of the Gospa's messages, and how it is this simplicity which breaks through to the hearts of her children."
MONS. FREDERICK DRANUBA, is the Bishop of Aru. He was ordained a priest in 1970 and a bishop in 1986. About his experience of Medjugorje, he had this to say:" This is really an important experience for me, especially at the level of prayer. I cannot say that Our Lady is not appearing. 15 years have gone by and the visionaries continue to say it. They are always repeating the same message. They don't change at all. The message is simple: to pray, to fast, to believe, to confess and to adore. That's precisely why we must be dealing with a supernatural event, because they are steadfast in their one message. People come and change their lives. Many confess. In these last ten years as a bishop I hardly ever heard confessions. Here people were constantly asking me to hear their confessions, and I did. In these days I must have heard over 100 confessions. I'm certain that the Lord is using this place for the conversion of nations. On my return home I intend to preach about the rosary, and I will recommend to priests that they dedicate one day in the week to Adoration.
On the occasion of their visit, all three bishops had a meeting with Mons. Ratko Peric the local Bishop. This is what Mons. Dranuba told us about his meeting: " Bishop Peric told me that Medjugorje is not a problem for him provided that people pray there. The problem is the Franciscans who, according to him want to be independent. I told him that Medjugorje is constantly speaking about peace. Our Lady invites us to a change of heart and to peace in our hearts. You cannot say that the Franciscans are bad. You must accept the fact that you must change too. Then, the Franciscans will change, and then peace will be possible. The message of peace is coming from your diocese. It is intended for you and the Franciscans. Have the strength to humble yourself in front of the Gospa and begin to pray for peace. I beg you dear brother, work for peace. Call the Franciscans! Maybe at first only a few will come. It won't all be resolved in one day. But you must go to them because you are the "Shepherd". Say to them, my dear sons, come, please come. If you do this I'm sure that you will succeed . "I'll try" was his reply. He told me that the Franciscans will listen to neither the general nor Rome. I said to him" No. Rome wants peace and you must work concretely for that objective here"."
MONS. JOSEPH OXYANGA, is the Bishop of Lir. He is already 33 years a priest and 8 years a Bishop. About his experiences in the shrine of the Queen of Peace, he had this to say:" This is a place of contemplation and prayer . Everyone who comes here takes part in an interpersonal togetherness. I saw people from Europe, America, Japan, Australia. They all feel as one. This made a strong impression on me. Here one really prays. I couldn't go up the hill but it really touched me when a pilgrim brought be back a stone from the Apparition site. Adoration is a special experience. It is something unique. I saw people fasting. In the house where I was staying the pilgrims ate nothing for dinner other than bread and a little salad. This spirit of penance, sacrifice and mortification is something which I haven't seen in such a long time. This experience will give me the strength to preach about the "Gospa". I feel now that I haven't given her enough attention. She is very close to us. That is the main message of this place."
THREE UGANDAN BISHOPS IN MEDJUGORJE
Bishops also from various parts of the world are still continuing to come to the Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje. From May 8 - 15, 1997 bishops Frederick Drandua, Deogratias Byabazaire, and Joseph Oyanga from Uganda came to visit. They said that before they began their journey they asked the papal nuncio in Uganda, Luis Robles Diaza, what he thought of this journey. He told them: "The Pope is not talking openly about Medjugorje, but he is supporting it. Go!"
Having experienced the spirituality of Medjugorje, they decided to celebrate the evening holy mass on May 12 together with the pilgrims. One of them, Frederick Drandua, also gave a homily on that occasion. Because his homily was so interesting we are presenting it here in its entirety.
"Dear brothers and sisters!
I am very glad tonight to celebrate this holy mass together with you. In one of his epistles St. Paul asks the community if they received the Holy Spirit. Tonight I also ask you: have you received the Holy Spirit? I ask you that for the reason that I am now speaking English. Do you understand me when I am speaking? If you say yes, then you understand my English. I guarantee you that I have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has only one single language. Everyone of us can understand it. You are probably wondering what that language would be? I will tell you that now. It is the language of prayer. Do you understand prayer? God has his own language. He has no other language except the language of prayer. Whether you pray in Croatian, in my mother tongue, in English or whichever other language, it is the language of prayer. All of us, therefore, have come here to pray and we have the Holy Spirit, the spirit of prayer. All of us have gathered around the altar because of prayer. We are all speaking the same language, we are all understanding each other, since together we are speaking to our heavenly Father. Isn't that wonderful?
I am coming from the far away country of Uganda of which many of you probably don't even know where it is located, but I have come here to pray and I am speaking to you and all of you will understand me. I am so happy that I came here to this school of prayer. Our dear Mother, Our Lady, established it. She wanted us to go through this school of prayer.
It is interesting that she established that school right here in the Croatian homeland. From the whole world we come to this school of prayer. What is happening is important also for you Croatians who live here around this school. Don't ever forget that many children who just live close to the school, fail in school. That is, they take their duties too lightly, thinking that it isn't necessary to study since the school is here close by and they will always have time for that. Those who come from far away and perhaps have to live near the school usually do better and succeed in getting a diploma.
Perhaps I might be able to tell you that I got my diploma ahead of you. The visionary Ivan last night gave me a certificate for that. He told me that Our Lady said that she is very happy because we bishops are here. She blessed us as well as all of our dioceses, saying that there is great hope for our dioceses. All of this I call a diploma or a certificate that Our Lady has given me. Did anyone of you get such a certificate? This is the first time that I am coming to Medjugorje. I have to congratulate myself that I am a good student, since I have already gotten my diploma. You Croatians and you dear pilgrims, have you received a diploma like that? If you haven't, you'll have to work a little more.
You pilgrims who have come here from far away and you have come here to work hard, have you received any kind of a certificate for your school? At least work hard enough to get an attendance certificate that you've at least been in the school. Everyone who attends the lectures gets that attendance certificate, meaning everyone who comes here for prayer, who climbs the mountains, who listens to Our Lady's messages. If you have not done that, but you have come here, I am afraid that you won't get a certificate, not even that you have been in the school. Are you sure that you want to go back home without that attendance certificate? I think it would be a great loss if you wouldn't get that attendance certificate.
Also you children who live in this place, I invite to compete with everyone that comes from far away to show that you too are good students, that you regularly come to the lectures in this school of prayer. If you don't do that, it'll be a catastrophe. It would be a mistake if you would not receive the graces that God is giving in this school of prayer and grace from the one who established this school. Imagine what that would mean if you would not pass the exams. You home town people have to work very hard to pass the exams in Our Lady's school together with us who come from far away.
I who am coming from Uganda also still have to work very much. I have to go now and talk about this school, the school of prayer. It is a school for all Christians. Those who wish to live their Christianity have to enroll in this school of prayer. In it is discovered a mother's love for her children. That love is great and a mother will never give anything wrong to her children. Recall those words of Jesus: when a child asks you for bread, will you give him a stone or if he asks for a fish, will you give him a snake? Jesus says further in a very sarcastic manner, if you who are sinners know how to choose gifts for your children, what kind of gifts do you think that God himself will give? We can just imagine what kind of gifts Our Lady who established this school will give us.
I would ask that when you go to your homes you find still many more students who want to learn in this school of Our Lady. When I go back home I know that many Christians, many priests will come to me. They will ask me what good I have to tell and offer them? I will tell them that here they can get two good things. They can choose one or the other or choose both. Do you know which two things I'm thinking of? The first and main thing is prayer. The second is the friendliness of the Croatian people, their hospitality. I think that I will take both, prayer and hospitality. Perhaps someone came here just for prayer or just for hospitality, for enjoyment. Dear pilgrims, I would ask you to take both of these things, and not just one.
I would like to thank you Croatian parishioners for your friendliness and for your hospitality, but also for your prayer. You have tried hard for us to be glad to take both one and the other. You constantly invite us to come here from far away, so that everyone can finish in this school of prayer and get a diploma.
If anyone cannot graduate, I would ask him to at least get an attendance certificate that he was in this school. It isn't important whether you are living here or are coming from far away. I wish you the abundant blessings of God and of Our Lady.
PROPOSAL OF ARCHBISHOP FRANE FRANIC
The events in the parish of Medjugorje have penetrated all the pores of church life. One of those who at first opposed them, and after that came personally and being convinced of what is happening there began to spread it with all his heart, is the retired Archbishop of Split, Frane Franic. He was one of the outstanding personalities at the Vatican II Council. Together with 500 other bishops he dedicated himself to the condemnation of Marxist atheism, even though the Council had in principal taken the position not to pronounce a condemnation, but only positively to expose Christian doctrine. This undertaking of his was an act of great personal courage, since he was coming from Croatia which communist Yugoslavia had occupied. The Council at the end of its session on its pastoral constitution "The Church in the Modern World" no. 21 proclaimed the condemnation of Marxist atheism as the most radical atheism that has appeared in the history of mankind.
For all his merits he received an award from his native Split - Dalmatia regional officials for his life's work. On that occasion a long conversation entitled "Communism Destroys Everything Good" was published in the Croatian daily Slobodna Dalmacija (April 19, 1997). He answered the following question also: "Although you have received an award for your life's work, your ideas even today have aroused quite a bit of caution in ecclesiastical and civil public opinion. One of those proposals also is that on the occasion of the Great Jubilee (Jubilee 2000 - op. P.B.) our Churches organize the closing celebration in the shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje." His answer was: "Yes. I wrote that in The Church in the World (a Croatian theological magazine - op. P.B.) in order that in 2001 our bishops with the approval of the Holy See, and Pope John Paul II is for that, could organize a thanksgiving celebration to Our Lady in Medjugorje for all the gifts we have received, and especially for the gift of freedom for it does not come from just anything, but can be only the work of God through Our Lady's intercession.
The Croatian bishops have not yet responded anything publicly to the fore mentioned proposal. To be sure that would be a great event not only for the Church in Croatia, but also for the universal Church.
BISHOPS MOGED ELHACHEM AND FRANCO HILLARY IN MEDJUGORJE
On his journey to Sarajevo which was called by the Croatian name Vrhbosna all the way up to the Turkish occupation in 1463, Pope John Paul II was accompanied by 11 ambassadors with credentials at the Holy See, Vatican journalists, representatives of the secretary of state and bishops Moged Elhachem and Franco Hillary. On its way this thirty-member delegation also visited the Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje.
Bishop Moged Elhachem presided and preached at the celebration of mass. In his sermon he said how they have set out all together for Sarajevo to encourage the Holy Father and to make a modest contribution themselves by their prayers for peace in Sarajevo, for peace in B-H, and for peace in this area.
After the celebration of mass Fr. Ivan Bradvica led them to the Hill of Apparition. There they all prayed together and discussed the events in the parish of Medjugorje.
At his departure Bishop Elhachem said that he came to pray for peace also in his own war torn homeland of Lebanon. Bishop Franco Hillary from New York announced that this was his second visit to Medjugorje and that he comes here gladly since he senses the presence of the Queen of Peace in his own life and labor. The Croatian ambassador to the Holy See, Ive Livljanic, who was also the travel guide, expressed for himself that the big miracle is just the fact itself that in these modern times a multitude of people comes to Medjugorje and prays there. He also added that the ambassadors were the chief movers and motivators for the journey to Medjugorje.
VISIT OF THE GERMAN MILITARY BISHOP, April 1997
In recent days a military bishop also visited Medjugorje. He was Msgr. Johannes Dyba, bishop of the German city of Fulda. He came for a visit to the German SFOR units that are stationed in Bosnia-Hercegovina. "On the way Medjugorje was unavoidable", said Bishop Dyba who came to the Shrine of the Queen of Peace with a group of German officers and soldiers. After his visit to the Shrine he stayed longer for a hearty talk with the Medjugorje Franciscans who informed him about the events related to Our Lady's apparitions in this parish.
THE DIAMOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE RETIRED ARCHBISHOP OF SPLIT, MONS. FRANE FRANIC
During the month of December 1996, the retired Archbishop of Split Mons. Frane Franic had his "diamond mass", celebrating 60 years in the priesthood. In the Con-Cathedral in Split, amongst the crowds of the faithful were the Croatian Papal-nunciate Giulio Einaudi, Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, Mons. Ante Juriæ, (the present Archbishop of Split) a representative of the President of the Croatian Republic and many Croatian bishops priests and nuns.
Some distinguished guests both from ecclesial and social spheres commented about the life and works of this brave witness to the faith during the most vicious communist persecutions. Dr. Jure Radic, Vice-president of the Croatian government (and deputy of the President), don Dante, an Italian priest and Dr. fr. Ljudevit Rupcic proclaimed Mons. Franic to be..." a courageous witness, who recognised the events of Medjugorje as the hand of God and pledged himself for it. His bravery was the reason for many attacks against him ,but Mons Franic, like in so many other similar situations followed the voice of his conscience"....
The bravery of his testimony helped many to accept the events of Medjugorje which opened up a path of conversion and peace for them.
Archbishop Franic himself, thanking everyone for everything, used the event to testify to his belief in Medjugorje's Queen of Peace. Those present, delighted at his words readily applauded him. Here we quote some of his talk..."Every priest should pray three hours a day, and every bishop four. Every retired bishop should pray five hours a day. I personally learnt how to pray at Medjugorje, with the Queen of Peace...I thank God that I was personally able to observe the development of this mystical theology and mystical phenomenon so closely. I recognise and accept the truth of Marys message at Medjugorje."
THE VISIT OF THE BISHOP FROM UGANDA
More and more often in Medjugorje we meet up with bishops, who come to this shrine as pilgrims. Recently, John Baptist Odama, director of the youngest diocese in Uganda, and himself, a bishop only a couple of months, stayed a week at the Marian shrine.This is what he had to say during his stay:
The first time I heard about the happenings here was in 1990. At the time I was in California in America. A friend of mine spoke to me about Medjugorje, showed me some books, pictures and a film.. The whole family were enthralled with Medjugorje. Then recently I received a letter from the Cardinal of Kampale who had paid a visit to Medjugorje. He offered me the possibility of going on pilgrimmage to Medjugorje in October promising that some one else would see to the costs. Now I know who that was: Joe Roy, the pilot, who was the first to bring the news to Uganda about Medjugorje, and has already helped to bring numerous bishops and even more priests. I immediately replied that I wished to go. After this I prepared myself for my coming here. I read different books and saw another film about Medjugorje in the family home of Joe Roy in London. On my arrival at Medjugorje, the first thing that surprised me was the welcome of the people with whom we stayed. I'm glad that it wasn't a big impersonal hotel. In families it is different. It is possible to meet people, to speak with them, to pray, to eat, in this way you receive the true spirit of Medjugorje. Furthermore, the fact that all the pilgrims whom I met here, are particularly aware of the magnanimity of whats happening here, really impressed me.The people are really attentive and are prepared to be continually so. Everyone is open to that something big which truly is offered here.. I saw great interest for spiritual matters. I see deep devotion to the Holy Mass and at the time of Mass.
When we started out for Krizevac it started to rain and afterwards to hail. At one point I thought it was better to return, because it seemed pointles to go on. However, something urged me onwards. I thought that Iwouldn't be able to get to the top, I felt a heaviness, because I hadn't gone anywhere on foot for so long. We didn't want to turn back, and to go on was so hard. At one moment I prayed for strength, so that I wouldn't give up. I have to admit that when, completely wet, we arrived beneath the cross on Krizevac, all at once every heaviness and tiredness left me. I felt as light as a bird. This experience was very important for me. This is how it is in life too. Often we feel that we can't go on, that it's too difficult, but when we succumb to the will of God, everything goes well.
The rosary on Podbrdo also impressed me deeply. It's as if that multitude of people, who prayed with us inspired me with good thoughts. The people to be lead. If the priest prays, the people will pray. It was very beautiful when, after having prayed the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, everyone knelt at the apparition site and once again prayed the creed, 7 Our Fathers, Hail Mary's and Glory Be's. I felt united to the whole Church, who prays with Mary and goes on living as Mary did.
I think that here the people really responded. In whatever direction you turn, you see individuals and groups, praying, reading Scripture, and Meditating. Here it's so natural to pray, so much so, that those who don't pray look strange. Really, in other places, it's the opposite. I want to use this opportunity to thank the Croatian people in a special way, who with their response, help all of us who come here. With pride, I must say that I always pray for the Croation people and I have often urged my followers to pray for the same intention. From now on I will do it even moreso.
And, to conclude I wish to say that the first thing that I will say to Bishops is that Medjugorje isn't contrary to what the Lord teaches, and what he wants of us. I will tell them not to be afraid to come here. As regards the apparitions, they are a gift from God. I was present at Maria, the visionary's, apparition. We prayed a rosary together. All at once a silence began. I believe that Our Lady came then. I didn't see anything, but I felt Our Lady's presence and through her God's presence. Mary is just a means. Through Our Lady, God calls us to Himself. That is her mission because she gave birth to Christ. That which I saw, has to be true. It would be good if every bishop could come and experience what Mary is doing here. Also, I will tell all bishops that I've just realised what we have to do, and most importantly, we must pray. From my heart I truly prayed that God makes me and my priests capable of spreading His Word to all humanity.
THE VISIT OF THE ENGLISH BISHOP
The English Bishop of the city of Liverpool, Mons. Augustine Harris stayed for two weeks in Medjugorje. He was the spiritual director to two different groups of pilgrims. He tirelessly assisted at confessions and masses.
We present here, his own words before leaving Medjugorje. "Of myself I wish to say the following: When I was born in 1917 there was a war, and when in 1942 I was ordained to the priesthood there was a war then also. Now I am in Medjugorje,and much is being said about the peace after the terrible war in your homeland. It seems to me though, that we are treating the subject of peace far too superficially. If we desire real peace, we need something deeper. That which Our Lady wishes to say is: Don't make the same mistake again, speak about peace, and not go deeper into the soul and the heart, where true peace is made. Here, Mary is teaching us true peace. I heard about Medjugorje from different written articles and from freinds. When in Medjugorje, we pray a lot but we must be careful that this prayer seeps into our hearts and changes us. My freinds were going to Medjugorje and this time I went with them. I came privately. Freinds of mine organised the pilgrimmage and asked me to direct it. I accepted. It's very obvious to me that we must constantly speak of the depths of prayer: to meditate and live what we speak about. However, that which is important here is confession. People are really ready to meet themselves face to face here. They are ready for repentance and penance and I believe that this is the important experience of Medjugorje: to renew ourselves and to convert. But we must constantly remind each other that this is the start of the process and not the end. We must leave here with a solid decision to pray at home,individually, in families and as prayer groups.
In answer to the question:"Does the fact that the local bishop doesn't accept the apparitions disturb you?" Mons. Harris said, "I do not wish to judge the local bishop. What I wish to say is ; when someone comes here and wishes to pray, to confess, the change their lives, you cannot say :no! So many people are confused, so many live in fear, they do not know what to do. I would say that it is good to come to Medjugorje. Here you clear your conscience, and conquer confusion. I see this in so many people here. As for the appparitions, maybe there are, maybe there arn't. Personally, I have no reason not to believe in the apparitions. I met with one of them and I can say that she is a good person. I cannot believe that for years she has been lying. And if people ask me, can I go to Medjugorje, my answer will be: If you wish to clear your conscience, and if you are confused, go.
On the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross I saw over 50 franciscan priests hearing confessions. This was really wonderful. Immediatly after the mass that day which I celebrated in the church of Medjugorje, a pilgrim stopped me and wished to confess. Was I supposed to say no?!
Serve the people, teach them to pray, be ready to hear confessions. And everything else will be okay!"
THE BISHOP FROM VIENNA IN MEDJUGORJE
During his recent visit to the Austrian soldiers in Bosnia Hercegovina, the military bishop,Chris Werner from Vienna, came to Medjugorje. Mons. Werner afterwards told of his impressions about Medjugorje to an Austrian newspaper journalist:
"It was an exceptionally peaceful day when I visited Medjugorje. Thanks to this, my meetings with the small groups were more intensive. It was interesting that the soldiers who were with me,( there were about fifty) didn't buy postcards, but rosaries. In Medjugorje I felt a silence. We sat near the Church which overlooks the square, and we simply remained in the silence and peace. Although unfortunately, we only stayed a few hours, we felt that this place radiated something really special. Both for myself and for the soldiers, it was something truly majestic. After the prayer, we went to a little restaurant where we met with some singularly open-hearted people. They spoke different languages and immediately were able to help us. I told my soldiers about the many conversions that took place in this place. One can have different ideas as to whether there are or arn't apparitions here. The fact that thousands come here and confess and then climb the hills and pray, this is very important. But there's something else- very many young people come here. I have seen the franciscans how they are constantly passing by with some group of young people. That which we saw gives some little idea about what happens here on some of the big feast days. This is definitely a place of grace and of life..."
"Oase des Friedens", Vienna, July 1996.
VISIT OF A BISHOP FROM URUGUAY, July 1996
At the beginning of July, an active bishop from Uruguay, Msgr. Raul Scarone, visited Medjugorje. In the course of his two day stay in Medjugorje he participated in several masses of various language groups and in the Croatian language evening eucharistic celebration at which he gave a blessing to the faithful present. Here is what he said on that occasion:
"This is my first visit to Medjugorje. It is a grace for me to stay here two days. Providence brought me here. I am satisfied and I did not know that it has this kind of great dimension. The apparitions in Medjugorje are known of throughout the whole world. Popular devotion must be purified. It is a question really of religious motivation. That holds true for each one of us. In order for us to go firmly on the way of holiness, we need purification of motivation. When I think of myself, before my own personal confession, I always ask myself,"Am I a bishop in order that I might serve the church or only so that I might have authority?"
You in this parish have a great gift that is called Mary. She can always help us in evangelisation for the reason that she always leads us towards Jesus. She opens the doors of hearts and the doors of homes. I have seen that also in my own people which is so secularised and has so many sects. Where Mary is, there the heart is open. Accordingly, that which has to be done is evangelise with Our Lady's help."
AMERICAN ARCHBISHOP VISITS MEDJUGORJE, February 1996
In these days we note the presence of an Archbishop; namely msgr. Philip Hannan, retired Archbishop of New Orleans. During his active service Msgr. Hannan had already started a home t.v. channel whose purpose was to bring their viewers and listeners in to the situations of the suffering and the afflicted people throughout the world; thereby communicating to the large number of people who worry about their suffering. Using this means he wishes to touch those belonging to the Christian world, and even those who are not Christian, so that we recognise Jesus in our neighbour who await help from us, their brothers and sisters. Archbishop Hannan, together with his t.v. crew visited Bosnia Hercegovina in these days. They stopped off at Tusla and at Sarajevo, where he had an appointment with Cardinal Vinko Pulic: The purpose of the visit was to televise, thereby acquainting the American public with the humanitarian activities undertaken by the various humanitarian organisations from the U.S.A., and the activity of the Ameican IFOR units in the accomplishment of lasting peace in this area. They left their inevitable journey to Medjugorje until the end of their tour. The Archbishop stayed a few days at the Shrine. During the course of his stay here he visited the childrens village. The suffering and pain of these children left a deep impression on him, so much so, that in tears, he said: "God himself touched those who built this." After this Archbishop Hannan visited the "Cenacle" community which is devoted to the healing of young people addicted to drugs.
BELGIAN BISHOP ABOUT MEDJUGORJE, November 1995
The friends and pilgrims of Medjugorje recently organised a prayer meeting in the Belgian town of Baeuring. On that occasion the Eucharistic adoration was led by bishop Namura msgr Leonard. During his sermon, amonst other things he said the following:
The Church still hasn't given her official stance regarding the apparitions at Medjugorje. With trust and prayer we await it. I too went to Medjugorje. I came, I saw, and I believed in the trustworthiness of what is happening there. Every Marian apparition is an occasion of heaven opening towards the earth, and gives us a chance to smile upon heavens gift of love. What impresses me especially is the persistence of Our Lady during our times. Sometimes people say to me,"how is it possible that the apparitions are lasting so long?" or "How much she speaks!" I personally have no calculated idea about how long she should be speaking. I say to myself that maybe Mary is knocking on our door with the unusually longlasting apparitions precisely because in these times there are urgent and great needs. I interpret Mary's persistency as an urge to conversion. The fruits of Medjugorje are blessed fruits. Often people have confided to me their experiences which I can verify because they were accompanied with rich experiences of conversion, an openness to prayer, love peace penance and fasting, which brings them back to the sacramental life and the Eucharist....
I would like to invite both myself and you here, to accept all these incessant invitations and especially the invitation to prayer and fasting so that peace can come to this world and to our families and to our hearts."
THE VISIT OF THE BISHOP / EXORCIST, August 1995
Amongst the numerous pilgrims who visited the shrine during this month of August , the world famous Bishop Exorcist, Emmanuele Milingo was to be found. He prayed for healing of the sick in the parish church. He announced that Medjugorje was a place which greatly helps to triumph over the satanic influences of this world.
THE VISIT OF THE AUSTRALIAN BISHOP TO MEDJUGORJE, July 1995
For the fifteenth anniversary of Our Lady's apparitions at Medjugorje, inquisitive looks of pilgrims and others present, were attracted towards the figure of bishop Henry Kennedy, from Australia. He was in Medjugorje for the third time and he came clad in all the signs of episcopal office. He said that in his heart he felt that he simply must do this. He desires that the Church recognise Medjugorje as soon as possible, just like Lourdes and Fatima. In Medjugorje he feels peace and a most beautiful tide of freindship which he would like to feel between people in Australia. He is not afraid of the war, because in Medjugorje it cannot be felt. He expressed regret that so many lies abut this war are believed and he wishes for the success of the Croatian people in their just struggle.
THE VISIT OF THE FRENCH BISHOP TO MEDJUGORJE, May 1995
From the french town of Gapa, bishop Georges Lagranges arrived in Medjugorje! He remained in Medjugorje a week. On the occasion of his meeting with the franciscans of Medjugorje he said:
"I come from the town of Gapa in France. My diocese borders on Italy. This is my first visit to Medjugorje and if I am correct, only two French bishops have visited up to the present."
To the question: "Does the fact that the apparitions are lasting so long surprise you?", he replied "Not in the least, because this happened to us too, three hundred years ago. That is, in my diocese, the Blessed Virgin appeared to a young girl when she was only sixteen years of age, and those visions lasted until the end of her life. She died at seventy two years of age. She never even counted how many times she saw the Mother of God. Her conversations with Our Lady began with teaching her to be a patient little shepherdess, they continued and finished with mystical visions of Christ crucified, in which she participated in his pain. It is interesting to note that Our Lady led this little visionary to a place where there was a waterfall. She told the girl that a house should be built there for priests whereby they would be able to host pilgrims who wished to come to make their peace with God in the sacrament of confession. This is how the Marian shrine "Our Lady of the Waters", came about. I would also like to add that in today's world there are many clashes between people and religions, and in this area in particular it has come to expression. I believe that it is precisely because of this, that the Blessed Virgin chose Medjugorje as a place of complete and true reconciliation".
THE VISIT OF THE NIGERIAN ARCHBISHOP TO EDJUGORJE, March 1995
For the third time now, the Nigerian archbishop Gabriel Gonsum Ganaka has visited Medjugorje. He came on a private pilgrimmage and this is what he had to say on that occasion:
"From the time that the faithful of my diocese started to come to Medjugorje, I felt an obligation to come and see what was happening here, and to feel the radiation of that strong prayer. I can still remember my first visit to Medjugorje, it left a deep impression on me. Our Lady's messages are simple, practical and they change your life. I know that the Church hasn't yet approved the apparitions and I will submit to her judgement. Pope Urban the eigth, said that it is always better to believe than not to believe in private revelations. When the Church then approves, you have gained. But while I am awaiting their decision I still speak about Medjugorje to many priests, nuns and lay people. I preached in 12 diocese and I always mentioned the apparitions at Medjugorje. I have acquisted some books and films so that people can become better acquainted with it's happenings. Here there is something truly special. The message has spread all over the world, something attracts people here. I have met people who pray the whole rosary daily. I know one person, who, since their visit to Medjugorje, has devoted himself to praying for priests....In my archdiocese, the message of Medjugorje has changed many people, even in the convents and monasteries, life has changed since they heard the message. But we must extend the message even further, and that's why I wish to know as much as posssible about the happenings today. Many groups have been set up to pray for peace just as Our Lady wished. If we look at the messages from Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje, we see how similar they are: peace, conversion and penance. All the messages are biblical and are very important. They have nothing contrary to the Bible. The priests from my diocese would love to come to Medjugore but it isn't always that simple. But it would be very important for them to be able to come, to see, and to experience Medjugorje.
Just as I wouldn't allow myself, so too I do not allow anyone else to judge without seeing. I myself as archbishop would encourage all those who have not yet come to do so, and not to listen to the gossip of others, or make judgements about people whom they do not know. Only then can you govern your own decision. Meeting the visionaries and the priests who work here, I see fruits which I esteem highly and which inspire me. I am very thankful that I can come and I will bear witness to Medjugorje. It's important that we all respond, then peace will come to all. I promise all pilgrims and freindsof Medjugorje my prayers and my blessing, and I intercede for all of them in prayer."
THE VISIT OF THE ARGENTINIAN BISHOP TO MEDJUGORJE
On the occasion of his visit to Medjugorje, in February 1995, the Argentinian bishop Rubeir H.di Monteo had this to say:
"I came to know about Medjugorje reading the messages of Our Lady. I felt deeply that this was Our Lady's way of speaking. The direct motive of my coming to Medjugorje was the deep conversion of my two cousins which took place on the occasion of their visit to Medjugorje. One of them had been a communist and the other a fascist. It was really these fruits which pushed me to come and see what's really happening here. The theology of Our Lady's messages here seems to me to be sound and healthy and I understand it to be a continuation of Fatima. Even over the last century we can see a whole process of Our Lady's activities: Rue de Bac, Lourdes, Fatima and if you ask me, Medjugorje as the focal point of her deeds which she started at Rue de Bac. She invites to a change of heart. Here where there is so much suffering, prayer and reconciliation through the sacrament of confession, we are offered the possibility of this. In Medjugorje, we find a deep spirit of conversion, prayer and penance. Our Lady's messages are evangelical; prayer, fasting and conversion. Living Christ's messages of peace, a change of heart becomes possible through conversion and prayer and in turn eases divine justice.
The messages of Medjugorje are messages of hope. Many of today's events and happenings make this world a worse place. I am giving myself over to supernatural hope, because human hope is not enough."
ARCHBISHOP FRANE FRANIC'S POSITION ON MEDJUGORJE
Franjo Franic is well known in the life of church and the Croatian people. His voice is always listened to with interest.
He became a Bishop in 1950. He participated in the second Vatican Council. As an Archbishop he directed the archdiocese of Split- Makarska (until 1988). It is the archdiocese which neighbours the one in which Medjugorje is to be found.
In an offficial journal of his archdiocese," The Herald of the Split-Makarska archdiocese" 1985, he concisely expressed his position about Medjugorje. He recalled his first visit to Medjugorje before Christmas in 1981. He had wanted to see with his own eyes, that which he had read and heard about. He was convinced of the supernatural origins of the apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje and he immediately began to compare them with Fatima. He said that Medjugorje throws great and new light on the prophesy of Fatima. In the same way it substantiates the teaching of the second Vatican Council about ecumenism.