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Medjugorje seers to speak at Vienna cathedral

Pilgrims at the shrine of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Two of the alleged Marian seers from the Bosnian town of Medjugorje have been invited to speak at Vienna’s Catholic cathedral.

Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti and Ivan Dragicevic will speak tomorrow at the Stephansdom in Vienna as part of a peace initiative organised by the Community “Oasis of Peace”. They are two of the six seers who have reportedly had Marian apparitions since 1981. Miss Pavlovic-Lunetti allegedly receives messages from the Virgin Mary every month. Since the first sighting, she has reportedly appeared to the seers over 40,000 times, imparting hundreds of messages.

The authenticity of the Marian apparitions in Bosnia-Herzogovina is currently under review by the Vatican. A report in July from the Italian news agency ANSA said that the commission, established in March this year and run by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, was considering interviewing the alleged seers.

Annually about one million pilgrims travel to Medjugorje even though the place has not been declared a shrine and “official” pilgrimages are forbidden by the Vatican. The 1991 Zadar declaration, made by the bishops of former Yugoslavia, ruled that the apparitions were “not established as supernatural” and could therefore not be authenticated.

Earlier this year, the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, caused some controversy after travelling to Medjugorje and celebrating Mass there. He said his visit was in part to “de-dramatise” the “Medjugorje phenomenon”. He said the alleged Marian apparitions were secondary to the “school of normal Christian life”.

He said he had gone to Medjugorje to see the tree which bore fruits such as Cenacolo, a community which helps rehabilitate drug users.

Cardinal Schönborn, who leads the Austrian bishops’ conference and is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), said he did not want to pre-empt the Vatican’s ruling by visiting.

Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno is strongly opposed to the phenomenon and expressed his dismay at the cardinal’s visit in January.

The event at St Stephen’s Cathedral also includes Sister Elvira Petrozzi, the founder of the Cenacolo community, and will be followed by Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. Organisers expect hundreds of young people to attend.

Cardinal Schönborn took part in the event last year and told the press he was moved by the number of people who had come to the cathedral, to rediscover the sacraments.

The Medjugorje Commission, appointed by the CDF, includes the Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Cardinal Julian Herranz, and Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect for the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and former secretary of the CDF.