Crackdown on Medjugorje
Daily Mail –
The Pope has begun a crackdown on the world’s largest illicit Catholic shrine – by suspending the priest at the centre of claims that the Virgin Mary has appeared more than 40,000 times.
Benedict XVI has authorized ‘severe cautionary and disciplinary measures’
against Father Tomislav Vlasic, the
former ‘spiritual director’ to six children who said Our Lady was appearing
to them at Medjugorje in
The Franciscan priest has been suspended after he refused to cooperate into claims of scandalous sexual immorality ‘aggravated by mystical motivations’.
He has also been accused of ‘the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism and disobedience towards legitimately issued orders’, and is suspected of heresy and schism.
Father Vlasic was a central figure in promoting the apparitions that allegedly began in 1981 and continue to this day.
In 1984 he boasted to Pope John Paul II that he was the one ‘who through divine providence guides the seers of Medjugorje’ and the visionaries even said that the Virgin had told them he was a living saint.
But the Bosnian cleric later took a back seat when it emerged that he had fathered a child with a nun called Sister Rufina, and that he refused to leave his order to marry her but instead begged her not to expose him.
Father Vlasic then moved to
Medjugorje has grown to become the biggest unapproved pilgrim sight, but the local bishops are convinced the claims are bogus and in 2006 complained directly to Pope Benedict.
This led to
has now been suspended by the
The decree confirming his suspension was signed with the Pope’s approval by Cardinal William Levada, head of CDF, and Father Jose Carballo, the Minister General of the Franciscan Minor Order.
Father Vlasic to a Francisan monastery in
He is banned from making public appearances, preaching and hearing confessions and he will be required to make a solemn profession of the Catholic faith.
was taken earlier this year but was made public this week by the Bishop of
Mostar, Ratko Peric, at the
request of the
Father Vlasic is the second spiritual adviser to the seers to be suspended from his ministry. The other, Father Jozo Zovko, was suspended by Bishop Peric in 2004.
represents a massive blow to millions of Medjugorje followers worldwide who
were hoping that the
year, Italian Bishop Andrea Gemma denounced the
Medjugorje claims as the ‘work of the
Demon’ and predicted that ‘soon the
The phenomenon began on 25 June 1981 when six children – Mirjana Dragićević, Marija Pavlović, Vicka Ivanković, Ivan Dragićević, Ivanka Ivanković and Jakov Colo – told a priest they had seen the Virgin on a hillside near their town.
commissions failed to find evidence to support their claims and the
bishops of the former
In 1985 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict – banned pilgrimages to the site, but this has been widely ignored.
Instead the seers have grown wealthy as a result of their claims – and so has their town, which has boomed as a result of the ‘Madonna gold rush’.
Some today own smart executive houses with immaculate gardens, double garages and security gates, and one has a tennis court.
They also own expensive cars and have married – one of them, Ivan Dragicevic, to an American former beauty queen.