MEDJUGORJE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNS) — While he said he had no authority or expertise to discuss the authenticity of the alleged apparitions of Mary at Medjugorje, Pope Francis’ envoy to the town said it was clear “there is a special spiritual climate here.”
Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga, named by Pope Francis in February to study the pastoral situation in the small town and the needs of pilgrims, held a news conference April 5 after a week in Medjugorje.
The archbishop repeatedly told reporters he could not respond to questions about the authenticity of the claims of six young people who said Mary had appeared to them daily beginning in 1981. Some of the six say Mary still appears to them and gives them messages each day, while others say they see her only once a year now.
“It is not my task to discuss whether these phenomena are true or not, because the church has not yet defined them. This is the work of the commission,” which now-retired Pope Benedict XVI established in 2010.
Archbishop Hoser told reporters he hoped “the ultimate decision of the commission and of Pope Francis” would be published soon.
However, he did tell reporters, “the biggest miracle of Medjugorje are the confessions” of hundreds of people each day.
Evangelization obviously is occurring in Medjugorje, the archbishop said, and that is clear from the packed celebrations of the Mass, eucharistic adoration, conversion stories and the reports of hundreds of Catholics who cite an experience in Medjugorje as key in their following a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.
The archbishop confirmed that he had met with the six so-called seers, as part of his look at the pastoral needs of the townspeople and pilgrims, but not to discuss the authenticity of the apparitions.
According to the six, he said, “the phenomena still persist, which present difficulties in making a final judgment.”
Archbishop Hoser also met with Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, whose diocese includes Medjugorje. In a statement released two weeks after the archbishop’s appointment, Bishop Peric affirmed his belief that nothing supernatural occurred or was occurring in Medjugorje.
“Taking into account all that was examined and studied by this diocesan curia, including the study of the first seven days of the presumed apparitions, one calmly can affirm: The Virgin Mary has not appeared in Medjugorje,” he said.