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Papal envoy praises ‘special spiritual climate’ at Medjugorje

Medjugorje is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the Catholic world (CNS)

Pope Francis’s envoy to Medjugorje has said “there is a special spiritual climate” in the town.

Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga, Poland, who was appointed by Francis in February to study the pastoral situation in the small town and the needs of pilgrims, held a press conference after a week in Medjugorje.

The archbishop told reporters he could not respond to questions about the authenticity of the claims of six young people who said Mary had appeared to them daily beginning in 1981. Some of the six say Mary still appears to them and gives them messages each day, while others say they now see her only once a year.

“It is not my task to discuss whether these phenomena are true or not, because the Church has not yet defined them,” he said. That task belonged to the commission which Benedict XVI established in 2010, he said.

Archbishop Hoser told reporters he hoped “the ultimate decision of the commission and of Pope Francis” would be published soon.

But he said “the biggest miracle of Medjugorje are the confessions” of hundreds of people each day. Evangelisation was obviously occurring in Medjugorje, the archbishop said, and that was clear from the packed celebrations of the Mass, Eucharistic adoration, conversion stories and the reports of hundreds of Catholics who cited an experience in Medjugorje as key in following a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

The archbishop said he had met the six so-called seers as part of his look at the pastoral needs of the townspeople and pilgrims. According to the six, he said, “the phenomena still persist, which present difficulties in making a final judgment”.

Archbishop Hoser also met Bishop Ratko Perić of Mostar-Duvno, whose diocese includes Medjugorje. In a statement two weeks after the archbishop’s appointment, Bishop Perić affirmed his belief that nothing supernatural had occurred at Medjugorje: “Taking into account all that was examined and studied by this diocesan curia, including the study of the first seven days of the presumed apparitions, one can calmly affirm: the Virgin Mary has not appeared in Medjugorje.”