Friday, October 03, 2008
The U.K. Spectator is running a four-part report about Medjugorje written by Simon Caldwell, on their website. The following is the first part:
The Medjugorje story begins early in 1976 when a Franciscan monk in the former Yugoslavia, Father Tomislav Vlasic, starts an affair with a nun who becomes pregnant. Frightened he will be exposed as the child’s father, Father Vlasic persuades her to move away to Germany. She hopes he will honour his promise to leave the ministry and marry her. She writes a sequence of increasingly anxious letters when this does not happen, telling her former lover she is so miserable that she is praying she will die in childbirth. But he piously orders her to ‘be like Mary’ and accept her destiny in a foreign land — and never to tell a soul who the father really is.
Unfortunately for him, some of his letters fall into the hands of the woman’s landlord who, scandalised, copies them and sends them to a friend in the Vatican.
Six years later Father Vlasic is ‘spiritual leader’ of six children who say the Virgin Mary appears to them daily in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the local bishop is having none of it. The priest writes to Pope John Paul II to say that Satan is working through the bishop and to request direct intervention against him. But, worse luck, the Vatican official with copies of his love letters takes an interest in the case and sends them to the bishop in question.
Disgraced, the priest then heads for Italy where, with a new mistress, he sets up a mixed-sex religious community devoted to the apparitions and continues to party like a bad dog for the next 17 years until the Vatican official who ruined everything for him becomes Pope Benedict XVI.
Part 2 contains the de facto schism within the Franciscans out of which Medjugorje grew; the Croatian nationalist from the second world war, Father Miroslav Filipovic, who sided with the Nazis and who was dubbed "the Butcher of Jasenovac"; and Father Jozo Zovko, a rebel friar.
In Part 3 can be found another priest, Father Iveca Vego, who also made a nun pregnant, and who Bishop Zanic believed was "puppet-master to the seers and a principal source of the messages imparted by the apparitions", and who turned Medjugorje into a worldwide cash cow. Also in part 3 is Agnes Heupel, who claimed to be cured from paralysis at Medj, and who, together with Vlasic, "founded their community in Parma in 1987" and who "shared a room together [with Vlasic] which was locked at night."
Part 4 discusses the various investigations into the phenomenon, the various misinterpretations of official statements, the wealth of the seers and the claim that "All the evidence indicates that the phenomenon is a calculated and cynical con." Part 4 concludes with the following:
So while those involved in the Medjugorje industry fight a rearguard action, Vlasic stews in a monastic cell pondering whether to confess all or to remain obstinate until the end. It would be best if he confessed. Of course wonderful things happen at Medjugorje and many good people have an incredible time. But if it’s based on a lie, it’s best exposed.
Whatever Vlasic decides, he will not have Miss Heupel at his side. Evidence of a split emerged in 2004 when she entered a debate on a Dutch online chat-room in which Catholics were discussing an alleged Marian apparition in Amsterdam. She proclaimed that ‘Our Lady of Medjugorje is NOT TRUE ...with love from Medjugorje, Agnes Heupel.’
Well, she should know.
Continue reading the article with part 2 which can be found here.