Now, when initial reactions settled and all the fuss around Pope Francis’ words on Medjugorje and Tornielli’s report on Ruini commission findings eased, it is time to analyze it and share with you some of my thoughts on it.
Let us first see what the Holy Father said on Medjugorje during in-flight conference on return from Fatima. I transcribed it from the video of TV2000 and translated it to English.
Medjugorje. All the apparitions or the presumed apparitions belong to the private sphere. They are not part of the public ordinary Magisterium of the Church. [A good thing to keep in mind.] Medjugorje. On Medjugorje a commission was made, presided by Cardinal Ruini. Benedict XVI made it. I, at the end of 2013, the beginning of 2014, received from Cardinal Ruini the result. [It was on 23 January 2017. Cardinal Ruini came in audience. As it can be seen from the photos, Ruini was carrying an envelope with him. Another, bigger and sealed, envelope could be seen on the Pope’s desk.] It was commission of good theologians, bishops, cardinals. But good, good. And the commission and the Ruini report was very, very good. Then there were some doubts in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [doubts regarding Ruini report or doubts regarding the authenticity of the apparitions?], and the Congregation judged it opportune to send to each of the members of the congress, of this feria quarta, all of the documentation, even the one that seemed to be against the Ruini report. [Interesting. Was it the documentation that was part of the Ruini commission investigation or all the documentation CDF has of Medjugorje?] I received a notification. I remember that it was Saturday evening, late evening, and it did not seem right. It was like putting up for auction, forgive me the word, the Ruini report which was done very well. And Sunday morning the Prefect had received a letter from me asking him to instead of sending it to the feria quarta, to send to me personally the opinions. [So, Ruini report was given to CDF and instead of discussing it and voting on it at feria quarta, members of the feria quarta had written their opinions that were later sent to Pope Francis.] These opinions were studied [By who? Did the Pope studied them himself or was someone else involved?] and all of them underline the density of the Ruini report. And yes, principally, we have to distinguish 3 things:  The first apparitions when they were kids. The report more or less says that it has to continue to be studied.  The apparitions, the presumed current, apparitions. The report has its doubts. I am personally more naughty. I prefer the Madonna Mother, our Mother, and not a Madonna head of a telegraphic office, who everyday sends a message at such hour and more. This is not the Mama of Jesus. And these presumed apparitions don’t have that much value. I say this as a personal opinion. [Yes, it’s his personal opinion. But remember, he is the head of the Church who later has to say a verdict on it.] But it is clear. Who thinks that the Madonna said: ‘come because tomorrow at such time I will say a message to that seer’? No. We have to distinguish between the two apparitions.  The third. The core of the Ruini report. The fact, the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact. People who go there convert, encounter God, who change their lives. But this… there is no magic wand there. And this spiritual, pastoral fact cannot be ignored. And now, to see this with all this data, with the answers that the theologians sent me, I appointed this good, good bishop, because he has experience, to see how the pastoral part is going. And at the end a word will be said.
And then the Holy Father’s words on doubting authenticity of Medjugorje apparitions were soon minimized by Italian vaticanista Andrea Tornielli’s report on the findings of the Ruini commission. And I have a number of issues with it.
First of all, we have to wonder on which basis did Tornielli write his report. Someone who’s seen the report told him about it? A commission member or a theologian in CDF? Did he write it on basis of the rumors he heard in stanze vaticane? Or did he actually see the report? How could a journalist (with great ties in the Vatican, but nevertheless someone who was not involved in the proceedings) come about a secret document or know about its content when all of those involved are tied by the pontifical secret?!
Secondly, Tornielli has proven not to be objective when writing about Medjugorje. In 2011 he wrote an article where he suggested that the communists were manipulating the local bishop Pavao Žanić (a calumny repeating these days in the movie From Fatima to Medjugorje). Mostar diocese (in Croatian) and Louis Belanger (in English) answered him then. He had once again in 2012 written a dubious piece (Belanger’s response part 1 and part 2). There was an article in 2014 which Diane from Te Deum blog discussed.
And thirdly, more importantly, there are huge inaccuracies in his report (Italian, English). Right at the beginning of the article, Tornielli writes that there were “thirteen votes in favor of recognizing the supernatural nature of the first seven appearances in Medjugorje, one vote against and one “suspensive” ballot“. He repeats that later on saying that the commission “decided to issue two distinct votes on the two different phases: the first seven presumed appearances between June 24 and July 3, 1981, and all that happened later”. There are two key mistakes here. Firstly, first seven apparition happened in first seven days, from 24 June to 30 June, not in first ten days as Tornielli states. Secondly, there are 14 people, 16 if we include two secretaries (which I believe had no right to vote; there were there to organize meetings, help the members, write a record during meetings, pull out files from CDF…) in the Ruini commission. 10 members, 4 experts and 2 secretaries. And 13 votes for, 1 against and 1 suspensive equals 15. That means we are either missing one vote or there is one additional vote that is not supposed to be there.
Further more, Tornielli claims that on the second part of the apparitions (46 993 of them) the commission voted two times. In first vote they were “taking into account the spiritual fruits of Medjugorje but leaving aside the behaviors of the seers“. They voted, as Tornielli states: “3 members and 3 experts say there are positive outcomes, 4 members and 3 experts say they are mixed, with a majority of positive, effects and the remaining 3 experts claim there are mixed positive and negative effects“. That’s 6 people for, 7 people mixed for and against, but leaning for, and 3 people for and against. Strange, very strange that this sort of division will be made. It should be either for or against or suspended like in previous voting, don’t you think? Plus, if you count all votes it turns out to be 16 people. And in previous voting there is 15. What is also strange that votes turn out to be 7 members and 9 experts. And there were actually 10 (+2) members and 4 experts in the Ruini commission. Hm…
That’s not all. In second vote, when “the behavior of the seers is also taken into account“, Tornielli claims 8 members and 4 experts said “that an opinion cannot be expressed” and 2 members “voted against the supernatural nature of the phenomenon“. 14 in total. Although there is again a discrepancy with the numbers of the previous voting, this sounds more likely.
Later on in the article, Tornielli states that, when the report was handed to CDF, “during meeting [feria quarta], members were asked to give their opinions“. We know, from Pope Francis’ words, that the feria quarta never actually took place.