Vatican to investigate Medjugorje

Rome Reports, er… reports that Pope Benedict XVI has formed a commission to look into the alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at Medjugorje. The formation of such a commission had been rumoured recently, but it now seems that concrete steps are being taken.   

Cardinal Ruini

The commission will be presided over by Camillo Cardinal Ruini, vicar general emeritus of the Diocese of Rome, and will be part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The goal of the commission is simply to find out what exactly happened at Medjugorje, if it still continues to happen and to remove the doubts that still linger.  

At the moment, the Church has not issued any official statements about Medjugorje. That means that people are free to go there on pilgrimage, but that the Church will not support it as a pilgrimage site. It is, after all, unclear if it really us one. Local bishop Ratko Peric has spoken regularly against the supernatural origin of the Medjugorje phenomenon.

The travelling pope

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the United States during a previous trip abroad

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the United States during a previous trip abroadPope John Paul II was of course the greatest travelling pontiff of all time, making 104 trips to 129 countries in his 26-year pontificate. That is more visits abroad than all the other popes combined. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, being rather older at the start of his pontificate and of a more private nature, doesn’t come near to that, and very likely has no intention of doing so. But that doesn’t mean he’ll automatically turn down invites to come and visit a place or country. This year he has no less than five trips abroad planned.

The first trip will be a short two-day visit on 17 and 18 April to Malta, where he’ll obviously meet with local dignitaries of state and Church, and he’ll also pray at the cave where St. Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome, as mentioned in chapter 28 of the Acts of the Apostles.

In May, the Holy Father will be in Portugal from 11 to 14 May. He’ll visit Fatima there, the site where the Blessed Virgin appeared to three children in 1917.

The Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, the Sagrada Família, still under construction

In June he’ll go to Cyprus, in part to hand the Middle Eastern bishops the working documents of the Synod on the Middle East to be held in October.

The September trip to the United Kingdom is highly anticipated, partly because rumour has it that the pope will personally beatify the Venerable John Henry Newman, and also because of the recent document Anglicanorum Coetibus on the relations with the Anglicans. There are visits planned to sites in both England and Scotland.

The fifth trip was only recently announced: in November, the pope will travel to Spain to visit Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona. He’ll be in Santiago because of the 900th anniversary of the dedication of the basilica there, and in Barcelona he will consecrate the Sagrada Família, Antoní Gaudi’s massive church that has been under construction since 1882. That consecration Mass should be something to behold.

Over the course of each trip the pope will speak publically at various locations and I expect that a fair few of these addresses will stir up the media. I look forward to offering at least a sampling of those texts and issues here, both in English and in Dutch.