In a statement issued on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (or the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – depends where you live), the Holy See Press Office announced that the Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser, who has previously been named the Special Envoy of the Holy Father for Medjugorje, is now named the “Apostolic Visitator of special character for the parish of Medjugorje for an indeterminate time and ad nutum Sanctae Sedis (at the disposition of the Holy See)”. His mission is, the statement explains, “to ensure a stable and continuous accompaniment of the parish community of Medjugorje and of the faithful who go there on pilgrimage” (full English translation here).
The diocese of Mostar-Duvno, other than publishing the statement on its website, did not comment on the news. But the archbishop of Vrhbosna, Cardinal Vinko Puljić, a member of the Ruini commission, said to the Medjugorje radio station that he “expected that the Holy Father will finally make a decision” because, he says, “that is the same stance that the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia had when it decided that pastoral side of the event in Medjugorje needs to be watched over”. “This is not an extraordinary decision”, he stressed, “but an ordinary one”. “[The decision is] most important for the pilgrims who come to this place to pray, to do penance, to receive sacraments: this is actually a guarantee of the Church, trying to put it into legal framework because there are some associations there that are illegal”. “The duty of the current visitor is to try to follow it and put it into a legal framework”, Cardinal Puljić pointed out.
Croatian website Bitno.net reports that the Archbishop Hoser, speaking for the Polish news agency PAP right after the nomination, said his mission starts in July and that he does not know how long it will last. “Medjugorje is a prophetic and charismatic place of prayer for world peace”, Hoser said adding that his assignment will be “to help the local pastors in improvements and changes which goal is to provide pilgrims with better conditions for a spiritual experience of their pilgrimage”. Furthermore, he pointed out the three main pastoral needs Medjugorje has: lack of confessors in foreign languages, lack of the liturgical space and the lack of accommodation for pilgrims.
It appears, as some reports suggested, that the Holy See has taken into it own hands not just the decision over the doctrinal matters in Medjugorje case but also the full pastoral administration of the St. James parish in Medjugorje. Although the Vatican has finally decided to take care of the chaos there (disobedience, religious communities stationed there without permission etc.), naming a person who has openly spoken in favor of Medjugorje phenomenon puts it at odds with the diocese of Mostar (which has always openly spoken against alleged Medjugorje apparitions). Does this show the way in which the Holy Father will go in his decision?