|The Medjugorje visionaries|
EWTN talk show host the Rev. Mitch Pacwa, who has been to Medjugorje and did a documentary about it with actor Martin Sheen, said the Vatican will look carefully at the reported messages. For example, early on, there was a dispute between Franciscans based in Medjugorje and a regional bishop, who was skeptical of the Marian apparitions. "Some of the visionaries took a stance and said the Virgin Mary is on the side of the Franciscans," Pacwa said. "That's odd. That's inappropriate. The church does not want the visionaries to ask questions trying to get answers. If it's from God, God is going to take the initiative." EWTN, the Catholic broadcasting network based in Irondale, Ala., welcomes Catholics who visit Alabama to go to Caritas, but does not take a stand on the apparitions or make recommendations to pilgrims. Pacwa said there is no chance for the visions to get approval while they're still going on, and it's a long shot even after they stop.
One quirk that emerged was when two of the Medjugorje visionaries said the Virgin Mary endorsed a book, "The Poem of the Man-God," that had been condemned by the Vatican. The fanciful 1940s biography of Jesus by Maria Valtorta contains details like a dancing girl brushing up against Jesus, Joseph giving young Jesus an anachronistic tool kit with screwdrivers and the Virgin Mary making statements such as "man disgusts me," Pacwa said. "The book had been condemned by the church in 1959 because it said a lot of silly things that contradicted what was in the gospels," Pacwa said. "The church rejected it. Any vision must be judged by revelation that exists in the gospels. You can't say anything you want." What may be the unraveling of the Medjugorje visions is the lack of any spiritual depth to the messages, Pacwa said.
"That is a much more pointed critique," he said. The writings of Sister Faustina, now a saint, describe visions from Jesus. "As you kept reading, a new depth of spiritual life began to show itself," Pacwa said. "You can see definite growth over the years in her spiritual messages. I don't see that with the messages of Medjugorje. They tend to be the same thing over and over again. Something I would look for is a growth in spiritual depth. I haven't sensed it." Pacwa said Vatican theologians will take all that into account and that Medjugorje in the end may be denied church approval. "I don't have a sense this is going to go swimmingly. I am very impressed with a number of the positive things I have experienced there. I have a lot of respect for the good things that have occurred. But I'm not going to be naive about some of the problems. It has to be dealt with, with full integrity."
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