In mid-February, 2020, Italian writers David Murgia and Saverio Gaeta published the Final Report on the International Commission of Inquiry on Medjugorje. News of its impending publication had reached the English-speaking world prior to the publication. Unfortunately, neither Gaeta or Murgia published the text with translations into other languages. My own interest of many years in Medjugorje compelled me to make available this text to the English-speaking world. I have done so here and the present writing is to introduce the text.
I am indebted to Richard Chonak (USA), Marco Corvaglia (Italy), and Dan Marcum (USA) for their assistance in making this translation possible. The text is to be considered a “working” translation and respectful suggestions on how to improve it are humbly and gratefully accepted.
Since Medjugorje’s inception in June, 1981, what began in a tiny hamlet in a remote corner of the world has taken on a world-wide character. Much ink has been spilled both in defense of the phenomenon as well as in criticism. Within this dynamic, the Holy See, then in the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, decided to intervene in the matter. The Church and the world was notified of the formation of an International Commission of Inquiry. This news came on March 17, 2010 via the Vatican’s daily bollettino.
About a month later, on April 13, the Holy See released the names of the Members and Experts that comprised the committee via the same bollettino service. The Members and Experts were given as follows:
- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar General emeritus of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome
- Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples;
- Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Vrhbosna, President of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
- Cardinal Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb, Vice-President of the Counsel of the Episcopal Conference of Europe;
- Cardinal Julián Herranz, President-emeritus of the Pontifical Counsel for Legislative Texts;
- Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints;
- Monsignor Tony Anatrella, Psychoanalyst and specialist in Social Psychiatry;
- Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri, Docent of Fundamental Theology at the Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Settentrionale;
- Father A. Maria David Jaeger, O.F.M., Consultor of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts;
- Father Zdzisław Józef Kijas, O.F.M.Conv., Relatore of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints;
- Father Salvatore M. Perrella, O.S.M., Docent of Mariology at the Pontifical Theological Faculty “Marianum;”
- Reverend Achim Schütz, Docent of Theological Anthropology at the Lateran Pontifical University, in the capacity of secretary.
- Krzysztof Nykiel, Official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, acting as associate secretary.
- Participating in the works of the Commission are some Experts:
- Reverend Franjo Topić, Docent of Fundamental Theology in a Sarajevo;
- Father Mijo Nikić, S.I., Docent of Psychology and Psychology of Religion at the Philosophical and Theological Institute of the Company of Jesus in Zagreb;
- Father Mihály Szentmártioni, S.I., Docent of Spirituality at the Pontifical University Gregorian;
- Sister Veronica Nela Gašpar, Docent of Theology in Rijeka.
The Commission held its first session on March 26, 2010 and held its last on January 17, 2014. It was advisory, not authoritative, meaning that its conclusions were not binding and left to the Holy Father to decide.
Since the inception of the Commission, many speculations appeared in the public forum. What would the Commission’s conclusions be? Believers and skeptics alike awaited some word. Then, in May, 2017, Pope Francis made some remarks and heightened expectations.
While travelling back from Fátima, the Holy Father was asked about Medjugorje from reporter Mimmo Muolo. The Pope proceeded to give a quick summary of the conclusions of the Commission. He described the Final Report as “very, very good” but that there were some “doubts” at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) about the Report. The Holy Father proceeded to state that he intervened in the inter-Dicastery discussion of the matter, saying that all opinions were to be sent to him. Pope Francis then relayed the heart of the Report.
In short, a distinction was made by the Commission. There were the first seven alleged apparitions and then everything that came afterward. The Holy Father stated that concerning the first several apparitions, “the report more or less says that the investigation needs to continue.” The later alleged apparitions, however, the Holy Father expressed grave reservations. He believed, however, that people go to Medjugorje and that there is a “spiritual” and “pastoral fact” that “people go there and are converted, the people who meet God, who change their lives.” This fact “cannot be denied,” thus the Holy Father was going to appoint a Bishop to oversee this pastoral aspect, after which time a decision will be made.
In the three years that have intervened since Pope Francis’ comments, there has been much hope that Medjugorje will be approved. The Bishop that the Pope mentioned in 2017 was Archbishop Henryk Hoser (Poland). First, Hoser was nominated as Special Envoy (2017) to Medjugorje, and then as Apostolic Visitor (2018). Presently, he oversees Medjugorje in this capacity and in the name of the Holy Father. No decision, however, has been officially promulgated by the Holy See as to the character of Medjugorje. The existing ban, though, on official pilgrimages was lifted in May, 2019, furthering hopes of an eventual approval.
Now that the Commission’s Report is available to the general public, it is now possible to discuss both its form/structure as well as its findings.
As to the form of the Report, it is divided into two principal parts, prefaced with some introductory “considerations.” The first part is entitled “The Question of the Supernaturality of the Phenomenon,” and has two sections, each further divided into 4-5 sub-sections. The second part is “Suggestions for the Practical Management of the Phenomenon” and is divided into four sections, each with two sub-sections. At the end of the document is a “Summary” with three sections, the third of which is a “Testimony” from a Dr. Darinka Šumanović-Glamuzina who was present at one of the first seven alleged apparitions. To see the outline, please visit my web site.
As to the findings of the Commission, the publication of the Commission’s Report through Saverio Gaeta and David Murgia marks a new point in the timeline of Medjugorje’s history. People are able to look at the findings of the Commission and draw conclusions. The Italian writer Marco Corvaglia wrote a notable article that identifies and questions various aspects of the Commission’s findings. As of this time, owing to the lack of the Report’s availability in English, no such commentary can be found in the English-speaking world. Owing to time constraints, it is my hope to add my own commentary in the coming days.
Until then, please enjoy the text and study it carefully: