The Vatican has confirmed that the international Vatican commission investigating the events at Medjugorje is ready to submit its findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In a statement released Saturday, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed that the 4-year old commission “held its last meeting on 17 January.”
“The commission, created by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini,” the statement added. “The commission has reportedly completed its work and will submit the outcomes of its study to the Congregation.”
Once the CDF has examined the commission’s findings, they will be given to the Pope who will have the final say. There is no indication at the moment how long it will be until a final decision is known.
The commission, formed in 2010, is made up of an international panel of cardinals, bishops, theologians and other experts. Their investigation covers mainly the first phase of apparitions that began in 1981. These apparitions are said to continue regularly to this day, attracting hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year.
The local hierarchy has sought to discourage the “Medjugorje phenomenon” which prompted the Vatican to carry out the investigation. Pope Francis met Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Vrhbosna, Sarajevo, in private audience last Thursday.
Although many conversions have been witnessed in Medjugorje and countless people helped in their faith, the authenticity of the apparitions remains highly contentious. Last November CDF prefect Archbishop Gerhard Mueller unsettled devotees of the pilgrimage destination when he sent out an instruction to US bishops warning against allowing ‘seer’ Ivan Dragicevic to go on a speaking tour of the country.
Donal Foley, an expert on Medjugorje and author of the widely acclaimed Medjugorje Revisited – 30 Years of Visions or Religious Fraud, told ZENIT Jan. 20 that it is “very difficult” to know exactly what the Pope’s ruling will be.
“There have been some signs that a negative verdict, of some sort, may well be forthcoming,” he said, and noted Pope Francis’ recent comments, in particular that Our Lady is a Mother “not a postmaster of the post office sending out messages every day.”
But he added that a “compromise verdict” is still possible that could allow Medjugorje to continue to be a place of pilgrimage without approval.
The Vatican currently does not forbid anyone visiting Medjugorje, but visitors are asked not to engage in public celebrations that take for granted the authenticity of the apparitions.
Some have argued that the Vatican cannot complete an investigation on apparitions that are still continuing. Foley said this isn’t true as the Holy See condemned alleged visions in the 1950 taking place at Heroldsbach in Germany even while they were continuing.
“If this wasn’t possible then it would mean that alleged visionaries could effectively hold the Church to ransom by making such claims,” Foley said.