Ban on Medjugorje Tours

Author: EWTN


EWTN Staff

Press reports of letters from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to bishops regarding Medjugorje have suggested that the ban in place against official pilgrimages to the site of the alleged apparitions extends to private persons and groups. In one publicized letter, to a French bishop, the Congregation's Secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, quoted the 1991 statement of the former Yugoslavia's bishops' conference which said that "it cannot be confirmed that supernatural apparitions or revelations are occurring here" (in Medjugorje). Archbishop Bertone also repeated the bishops' acknowledgement that the number of Catholics traveling to the site requires the Church to arrange for their pastoral care. He then wrote, "From what was said, it follows that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, should not be organized either on a parish or diocesan level because it would be in contradiction with what the bishops of the ex-Yugoslavia said in their declaration cited above."

Speaking on Aug. 21st 1996 in Rome Vatican Press Office spokesman, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, sought to clarify the status of pilgrimages to Medjugorje. He noted,

"You cannot say people cannot go there until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want ... When one reads what Archbishop Bertone wrote, one could get the impression that from now on everything is forbidden, no possibility" for Catholics to travel to Medjugorje. But, in fact, "nothing has changed, nothing new has been said ... The problem is if you systematically organize pilgrimages, organize them with the bishop and the church, you are giving a canonical sanction to the facts of Medjugorje ... This is different from people going in a group who bring a priest with them in order to go to confession ... I was worried that what Archbishop Bertone said could be interpreted in too restricted a way. Has the church or the Vatican said no (to Catholics visiting Medjugorje)? NO. ... The difference, in the terms of canon law, is that an official pilgrimage, organized by the diocese with the bishop, is a way of giving a juridical sanction to the facts; you are saying this is true."

While this statement does not address the prudence of going to Medjugorje  as a place of alleged apparition, which rests on its credibility according to the norms of reason, it does lay to rest the question of whether it is disobedient in the mind of the Church to do so.