Official pilgrimages to Medjugorje are now permitted, the Polish archbishop in charge of assessing the pastoral situation at the shrine has said.
Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga, who was sent to Medjugorje by Pope Francis, told Aleteia: “The devotion of Medjugorje is allowed. It’s not prohibited, and need not be done in secret.”
Until now, official church groups were not allowed to organise pilgrimages to the shrine, although individual Catholics could make them privately or through independent organisations.
However, the archbishop said: “Today, dioceses and other institutions can organize official pilgrimages. It’s no longer a problem.”
“The decree of the former episcopal conference of what used to be Yugoslavia, which, before the Balkan war, advised against pilgrimages in Medjugorje organized by bishops, is no longer relevant,” he added.
He also said that Pope Francis recently asked an Albanian cardinal to give his blessing to Catholics in Medjugorje.
In terms of the pastoral situation, he said he was “full of admiration” for the Franciscans working at the shrine.
“With a relatively small team – there is only a dozen of them – they do a huge job of welcoming pilgrims. Every summer they organize a youth festival. This year, there were 50,000 young people from around the world, with more than 700 priests.”
The archbishop said there is a “massive” number of confessions at the site. “They have about 50 confessionals, which are not enough. These are very deep confessions.”
“This is a phenomenon. And what confirms the authenticity of the place is the large amount of charitable institutions that exist around the sanctuary. And another aspect as well: the great effort that is being made at the level of Christian formation. Each year, they organize conferences at different levels, for various audiences (priests, doctors, parents, young people, couples …)”
However, the Pope will still have to make the final decision as to the authenticity of the apparitions.
“The file is now at the Secretariat of State. I believe the final decision will be made,” the archbishop said.