For a full explanation of the restriction regarding any Medjugorje meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of the apparitions would be taken for granted, please read Dr. Mark Miravalle’s letter. Below are a few excerpts.
Medjugorje devotees must follow the stellar example of St. Pio during his some ten year prohibition by the Church from saying Mass publicly in light of the temporary Vatican and diocesan rejection of his reported mystical phenomena. During his time of prohibition, Padre Pio never denied the authenticity of his stigmata, bilocation, or other authentically supernatural wonders (how could he?—they were true!).
He simply obeyed.
Recall as well the Church prohibition, both from the local diocese and from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, of the apparitions of Jesus to St. Faustina, which now constitutes the universally-approved and celebrated Divine Mercy devotion. Such is the sometimes imperfect process of the Church in the difficult task of evaluating what Blessed John XXIII called “those supernatural lights.” This prohibition was finally lifted in 1979 by the intercession of Bl. John Paul II, but only after many years during which Divine Mercy devotees had to obediently cease public celebration or distribution of the heavenly message of God’s infinite mercy.
They too obeyed.
This new restriction (which is nothing like a formal prohibition) can, in fact, become a providential opportunity to show the world that the great majority of Medjugorje followers live and breathe at the heart of the Church, in full obedience to the Church, and are not “fringe fanatics” whose faith hinges only on an alleged apparition, as some critics may at times assert.
The proof is obedience.
To the larger public, I would say: be clear and beware not to take the new restriction for what it is not: a definitive Church statement against Medjugorje’s authenticity. The CDF has a right, for whatever reason, to implement further restrictions while the ongoing Vatican Commission completes its study, which will ultimately go before Pope Francis for final judgment.
But the fact remains, the Church process is not over. Medjugorje has not been declared “constat de non” by the U.S. Nuncio letter, and any conclusion or promulgation at this time that Medjugorje has been officially condemned would be its own form of disobedience to proper Church authority. To do so would be to usurp the role of the CDF and ultimately of Pope Francis himself to make the final discernment of the authenticity of Medjugorje—a critical and historic discernment which belongs to the Church’s Magisterium alone.
Dr. Mark Miravalle
Dr. Mark Miravalle is a professor of Theology and Mariology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.