Has the Church approved or condemned the apparitions in Medjugorje?
The apparitions are
neither approved nor condemned and further consideration is required by the Church.
Summary of the Church's current position
The official Church position on the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje is that they are neither approved nor condemned; the apparitions approval or condemnation is not determined at this time. This is a neutral position by the Church. The Church currently says neither "yes" nor "no." In other words, Medjugorje is not a closed case from the Church's point of view.
Local Bishop of Mostar
Initially in 1981 the local Bishop, Pavao Žanić, was positive towards the apparitions in Medjugorje, however by 1982, the Bishop received increasing pressure from the communist authorities and also became concerned that the local Franciscans were using the apparitions and the visionaries to gain advantage in a long running regional dispute between the diocese of Mostar and the local Franciscans.
Normally, in the case of apparitions, the local Bishop issues the official ruling on their authenticity. However, in 1986 due to the complexities of Medjugorje, the official Church decision concerning the validity of the apparitions was removed from the local Bishop of Mostar (and his successors) by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was at that time the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The local Bishop and the diocesan commissions he had set up were then released from any further investigations into Medjugorje. The Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference was then ordered by Cardinal Ratzinger to appoint a new commission under its direction.
Bishops' Conference of the former Republic of Yugoslavia
The neutral decision (Non constat de supernaturalitate) was issued on the 10th of April 1991 by the Bishops' Conference of the former Republic of Yugoslavia and still stands today as the official and current position of the Catholic Church. This decision does not prevent the possibility that the alleged apparitions could be approved or condemned in the future by the Church.
When ruling on the authenticity of apparitions the Church uses one of three terms in Latin to declare its official position. It is important to be familiar with each of these terms and have the correct understanding of them when considering the official Church status of any apparition.
(1) Constat de non supernaturalitate
Consists of the non-supernatural therefore condemned.
(2) Non constat de supernaturalitate
No agreement about the supernatural, therefore neither approved nor condemned - not determined – a neutral judgement, that does not rule out a verdict of approval or condemnation in the future. [This is the current Church status with regards to the apparitions at Medjugorje.]
(3) Constat de supernaturalitate
Consists of the supernatural therefore approved.
In Catholic theology the term supernatural refers to that produced by God, while preternatural refers to that produced by the angelic or demonic etc.
The Ruini commission
From 2010 to 2014, the Vatican conducted an investigative commission headed by Cardinal Ruini. The report containing the commission's findings, commonly known as "The Ruini Report," was submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The report separated the apparitions into two time periods: the earliest apparitions and the events afterwards. It is believed that the report records that the majority of the commission voted to approve the first apparitions between the 24th of June and the 3rd of July 1981.
However, the commission had some mixed views concerning events after that date, both positive and negative. Therefore, for events after the 3rd of July 1981, the majority of the commission voted at that time to suspend making an overall judgment of these later events. It is important to note that the decision on the later events is, in effect, a neutral verdict where more time for discernment is required.
The final decision concerning the Apparitions now rests with the Vatican.
Pope Appoints Archbishop as Special Envoy to Medjugorje
In 2017, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Henryk Hoser to Medjugorje as a special Vatican representative.
In 2021, Pope Francis, following the death of Archbishop Henryk Hoser, appointed the Italian Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, a former Apostolic Nuncio, as a special Apostolic Visitor to the parish of Medjugorje.
Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, upon his arrival in Medjugorje, told the Sarajevo Times Newspaper his primary task was to talk to the Franciscan friars.
"They are the ones I first met. And I saw that they love this place. They gladly confess, they gladly preach, they are at the disposal of the grace of God. And that is very positive. This morning I saw the church, the places where people come, and I always get one deep question: Why do so many people come here? And there is one deep "why." They don't come for fun, but for other reasons. I have always noticed that they come with the desire to meet the Lord, to pray, and to be in the company of the Virgin Mary."
Pope Permits Official Pilgrimages to Medjugorje
In 2019, Pope Francis announced that dioceses and other Catholic institutions are now permitted to organise official pilgrimages to Medjugorje. This was not done to signify official recognition of the apparitions but to assist with the pastoral needs of the Pilgrims. Prior to this announcement, only private pilgrimages were permitted to Medjugorje.
In the meantime, the usual precautionary measures continue to apply. The faithful are not permitted to participate in Church meetings, conferences, or public celebrations during which the credibility of the alleged apparitions is taken for granted.