Holy See’s special envoy to Medjugorje Archbishop Hoser finished his mission (or at least the first part of it) today. He arrived in Medjugorje last Wednesday which makes little more than a week he stayed in Medjugorje parish. This first part of his mission was “to acquire a profound understanding of the pastoral situation” or, in other words, examining everything going on in Medjugorje’s St. James parish, seeing the work of the Franciscans, from liturgies to (I presume) finances. Second part, therefore, is writing a report to Pope Francis suggesting “possible pastoral initiatives for the future” as the statement of the Holy See explained. Although his mission is over, Archbishop Hoser did not exclude the possibility of coming back to Medjugorje one more time before presenting his findings and suggestions to the Holy Father in June.
During his stay in Medjugorje, among other things (like walking up the so-called Apparition Hill and meeting the visionaries), Pope’s envoy celebrated mass in St. James parish church. “I would like to encourage all of you, on behalf of the Pope, as his Envoy: let us spread peace throughout the world through conversion of hearts” he said in the homily. It should be noted that the Archbishop is visibly impressed with Medjugorje’s pastoral situation, especially with the number of confessions happening there: “I spent many years working in the western countries, in Belgium and in France, and I can tell you that confessions vanished from there: the confession has practically disappeared in the western world, with some exception here and there.”
He repeated it again at a press conference yesterday. “In many of the old Christian countries today, individual confessions do not exist… in many countries, there is no Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament… in many countries today, there is no Way of the Cross… there’s no praying of the rosary… In Brittany, France they told me the last time they prayed the Way of the Cross was 30 years ago.” Because of that, he suggests, Medjugorje attracts more than 2 million “pilgrims” a year.
Other than the good liturgical work of the Franciscans, there are various humanitarian organizations run or supported by the Franciscans like Domus Maria and Cenacolo, Hoser pointed out, and said everyone should come in Domus Pacis on a spiritual retreat. Come to the light here, he urged. “People come [to Medjugorje] because they do not have that at home“, Archbishop said, revealing the main reason for popularity od this small Herzegovinian town. “Those who come to Medjugorje discover something extraordinary” and “from a religious point of view, Medjugorje is a fruitful land“, he continued.
Asked about his personal opinion on the authenticity of the alleged apparitions he said that, same as everyone else, he’s expecting a final decision of the Ruini commission and Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and, of course, the Pope. “I refrain from expressing my judgement because that is not my mission. That was the work of Cardinal Ruini’s commission.” “I do not know what the Pope is thinking [about Medjugorje]. He did not speak with me about that. The Pope has to look at the conclusions of the Commission. But I think, considering the weight it has in the context of new evangelization, this too will surely influence the final judgement” Pope’s envoy stated.
In an exclusive interview to Bitno.net, Croatian most-read religious website, Hoser said we have to separate the two aspects of the question of Medjugorje. First one being the pastoral and second one being the (in)authenticity of the apparitions. The latter is not the reason of his mission and research. “We have to separate these two aspects that indeed coexist together. I am here because of the pastoral aspect of Medjugorje whose importance the Church sees and recognizes, and which my visit proves. I am here to explore the pastoral situation and offer possible solutions so it can be more effective“, Archbishop pointed out.
Moreover, asked by Bitno.net editor if we can theologically divide Medjugorje’s potential for evangelization and the alleged apparitions, Hoser says that “the question of the apparitions is not a finished story. The investigation of the Church is ongoing and she will soon give her opinion. At the same time, it is impossible to stop this great movement from happening, this great wheel that turns and, it seems, develops into a healthy and ecclesiastical Marian cult that has its place and, to say it like that, its rights“.