Last week 30,000 Italians from all over Italy gathered in Sicily to attend Mass at an outdoor sports area.
The Catholic faithful were at the football stadium to hear the homily and accept the graces of the Eucharist of course, but they were also in attendance to be near Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti, a Medjugorje seer of the Virgin Mary. Marija, before an enthralled, devoutly Catholic crowd, experienced an apparition of the Virgin Mary shortly before Mass.
A few weeks before the event in Sicily, over a two day period, nearly 70,000 Catholics, Christians, even Moslems attended Mass in Lebanon, again to be near the visionary from Medjugorje. Hundreds of priests participated in the events including bishops of the Catholic Church.
The phenomena of Medjugorje is becoming better known each day, and significantly, it is getting to be known for the unique spiritual fruits that find their way into people's hearts. Medjugorje, it is said, returns people back to God and to the Catholic faith in a lasting way.
At the root of the spiritual movement of Medjugorje are special messages that come from the Virgin Mary. These messages are meant to bring the world closer to God and are made known to the world by the testimony of six people who personally encounter the Mother of Christ. These six “seers”, four women and two men, humbly accept their duty to be examples to the world. For thirty years the “seers” from Medjugorje have demonstrated how to live a devout Christian life in today’s demanding modern and secular world. Despite being poked and prodded and scrutinized by a skeptical and frustrated press, the six Medjugorje “seers” have represented the Catholic faith in a distinctive way for three decades and because of their example millions of Catholics look to Medjugorje for spiritual renewal.
But across the “Pond” in the United States there is a different view of Medjugorje and the gate keepers of Catholic opinion seem to work almost in a conspiratorial manner to quell any interest or trust in Mejdugorje. The who’s who of Catholic opinion makers, journalist and bloggers are eerily similar in their skepticism and condemnation. Two things the opinion makers have in common – 1. They have never been to Medjugorje and 2. They are all men.
Patrick Madrid, Patrick Coffin, Mark Shea, Greg Kandra, Pat &Matthew Archbold, Jim Akin, Kevin Knight at New Advent, and the editors of Catholic Culture and the National Catholic Register.
I speak with some authority on this issue. Perhaps no other reporter of Catholic news in the United States has personally reached out individually via e-mail or phone calls to prominent opinion makers who write about Medjugorje than Ministryvalues.com . What I have found is that they all talk to each other and they all have basically the same reasons for being “against” Medjugorje . They are against Medjugorje because - 1. To them the issue is one of disobedience against the local Bishop who has jurisdiction over Medjugorje and 2. One of the “Seer’s (Ivan) has a nice house and worst of all he married a Massachusetts beauty pageant contestant.
So why do I make the point that sexism is at work when it comes Medjugorje in the United States? Forgetting the point for a minute that after persistent questioning about the roots of their negative views on Medjugorje, the U.S. Catholic opinion makers, almost to a man, in frustration, have blurted out to me: “Well you know, Ivan married a beauty queen” They hate themselves for reaching so low but honestly they can’t help themselves. But lets’ forget that for now. I make the charge because Medjugorje has been, to a large degree, defined by the activities, testimony and evangelization of four extraordinary women - Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti , Mirjana Soldo, Vicka Ivankovic-Mijatovic and Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez and the boys can never seem to write about this.
Through the works of these four women (following the advice and messages of the Mother of Christ of course) and the example found in the way they conduct their lives, these four women have created a spiritual movement unequalled in the Catholic Church in modern times. SSPX, the schismatic , i.e disobedient, Catholic group, is much smaller in size in terms of impacting the lives of everyday Catholics, yet gets much more press here in the U.S. than Medjugorje.
The four women of Medjugorje are humble yet charming; they are devout but sparkle with humor and life. They radiate truth and spirituality yet are approachable and “normal”. Randall Sullivan author and journalist -he wrote for the Rolling Stones magazine at one time - once said he had no trouble when he interviewed the Dali Lama but was speechless when he found himself in a room for an interview with visionary Vicka Ivankovic-Mijatovic who radiates spirituality and joy like no other.
Millions of people find something good in Medjugorje - a movement led by women – most importantly by the Mother of Christ and the remarkable example of the Medjugorje “seers” is all but ignored by American Catholic punditry. Football stadiums are filled with Catholics, including bishops and priests who come to pray alongside a woman who claims to see the Virgin Mary.
A story that is widely reported overseas is met with a cone of silence by a cabal of Catholic men who are charged by the faithful with restoring the vitality of the Catholic faith yet strangely ignore the greatest spiritual revival on earth.
By Stephen K. Ryan