If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone


Christian Order Magazine

February 2012



The majority of the pious public has naively fallen victim of the great propaganda. These people themselves have become the greatest propaganda for the events. They do not even stop to think that the truth has been hidden by deliberate falsehoods.
Msgr. Pavao Žanić, former bishop of Mostar
The numerous absurd messages, lies, falsehoods and disobedience associated from the beginning with the events and apparitions" of Medjugorje, all refute every claim of authenticity.
Msgr. Ratko Perić, present bishop of Mostar


Pithy judgements from the legitimate authorities, verified expertly and comprehensively by their episcopal conference. Case closed.

In our dreams! Thirty years and 40,000+ "messages" later, the Mother of All Bogus Apparitions rages on. A post-conciliar case-study, Medjugorje both exemplifies and fuels the diabolic disorientation of our time. Consider the familiar pattern:

Instead of backing Bishops Žanić and Perić to the hilt from the outset, Rome preferred weasel-words and wrist-slaps as the Medj circus of globe-trotting "seers" ran amuck on John Paul II's watch, shoring up a lucrative industry of visions-on-demand. Then, belatedly, the damage to episcopal authority, approved Marian apparitions and Catholic piety already done, a 20-man investigative Commission led by Cardinal Ruini was set up in March 2010 to look into the matter. Two years on we still await its assessment. Moreover, despite the transparency of the scam, as repeatedly documented in these pages over the years [cf. Nov. 1998; May 2002; Oct. 2004; Aug/Sept 2008] and confirmed by the studious 'thumbs down' delivered by a national episcopal commission lauded by Cardinal Ratzinger, it is far from certain that Ruini's team will finally deliver the cast-iron negativedecision — constat de non supernaturalitate; ruling out any supernatural element whatsoever in the "apparitions" — that is sorely required to restore Marian peace, order and sanity to local Churches everywhere.  


As we shall later explain, the only certainty is the impossibility of a positive ruling in favour of supernaturalness. Yet while this seems reassuring, simply regurgitating the current "non-resolution" — i.e. non constat de supernaturalitate; a negative but non-definitive ("wait-and-see") verdict — is a frightening prospect considering the swathe of destruction Medjugorje has cut in the Church. Indeed Medjugorje calls to mind the analogous phenomenon of Storm Chasers. These hunt down violent tornados and hurricanes and put themselves in harm’s way for thrills or scientific observation. But in doing so they endanger only themselves and their bodies. Vision Chasers who pursue signs and wonders, on the other hand, place not only their own souls in peril but also those of "the pious public" who "naively" follow their "great propaganda" en masse, as Bishop Žanić noted. In this cumulative way, uprooting truth, objectivity and all commonsense, Medj madness has sucked untold millions into the corrupting vortex of Apparitionitis, acting as a gateway to a multitude of other private revelations by pseudo-seers with their snouts in the same money trough.

Nowadays, an editor's Inbox is a repository of this endless delusion. "For the last 10 years Jesus and Mary have been appearing in Elyria, Ohio requesting a return to the tradition of faith and support of the Holy Father," ran a typical e-mail of March 2009. "Here are a couple recent messages about stem cells and abortion." I wanted to reply that our local visionary "Patricia" of Surbiton had already cornered the abortion market. But it would've only encouraged the sender to seek out and sign up to her Vatican-censured Community of the Divine Innocence!

Some months later another email arrived, headed: "What happened at Knock last Sunday, 11th October 2009." An Irish reader filled me in:

A fellow by the name of Joe Coleman predicted an apparition by our Lady on that date. Many thousands turned up and witnessed something like the miracle of Fatima. Some also claimed to have seen  our Blessed Mother.  I have spoken with one witness, a pious and sober lady whom I know well, whose account was of a spectacular show, many people breaking into applause.

The reason so many people turned up at Knock was because Mr Coleman also  claims to have regular contact with Our Lady, and also he predicted an apparition of Our Lady at a place called Kerrytown (not far from me in Donegal). Some fifteen people claimed to have seen her and other various phenomena. He has said that Our Lady will appear a "few more times before Christmas"!

A note of alarm though. I have read of Mr Coleman "channeling", and one small newspaper referred to him as a medium!

On 8 November 2007, Mystic Joe himself posted this account of his September 2007 Kerrytown experience: 

.... During the first 10 minutes I noticed the face of Mary change to her Son Jesus, it then changed to Padre Pio, then back to Jesus, and then back to Mary. ... She was very beautiful.... I got very emotional. and the tears started to flow down my face. ... unconditional love came from Mary as she shone her beautiful light out among the crowd, ... she said she was very sad that our young people are not saying the rosary. ... She said that there are great changes coming to the earth and we must pray and ask for guidance and help on our earthly journey. ... She told me I am very special to her, ... I talk with Mary every day.

Directly under this 'testimony' we learn more about Joe Coleman: 

Since he was a child, he has been able to see spirits. He did not pay much attention to them for years. He had an accident at work. On the 1st of January 1986, while in hospital he had a near death experience, when his heart stopped momentarily. When he came to, he was able to communicate with the spirits. He was able to sense things in the present, past and future, that he had no way of knowing anything about. His family were surprised and amazed, and none more so than Joe himself. ... Early on, he began to help find missing people. ... In order to develop his "gift" he studied spiritual healing, clairvoyance and animal communications. He learned to work through the Holy Spirit. ... In 2004, he set up a clinic in Ballyfermot ... Few fail to be impressed with how accurately he can tell them about their lives. He also teaches classes, in spiritual awareness, and meditation. Joe feels people need to become more open-minded in order to accept and benefit from the help of the Holy Spirit, the Angels and the Saints.

In that disturbing light, an otherwise puzzling Mayo News report that even sceptics observed inexplicable events during Joe's 2009 Knock appearance, makes absolute sense! (We will return to this diabolic dimension of false visions.)   

"Visionary" League Tables 

Most readers would be familiar with periodic mailings and happenings of the above variety. But they may not appreciate the scale of the problem: that behind the top tier Premier League "visionaries" — led by Medjugorje's Ivan and Vicka — lie hundreds, if not thousands of similar Second Division "seers" peddling equally ludicrous "messages": all of which sully true Marian devotion, damage Catholic faith, belief and piety, and undermine the credibility of the Church.   

In Ireland, Second Division players like Joe Coleman feed off the widespread credulity flagged by a nation that boasts arguably more Vision Chasers per square mile than any other country on earth, America included. "Ireland has taken to Medjugorje in a big way and it's very unpopular to say anything derogatory about the so-called 'visions'," reads a typical lament from an Irish subscriber. "I work in an organisation that is full of Medj people who regularly go there and want everybody they know to do the  same. I don't have the courage to say much as they are very strong in their belief."

Though alert to the situation, even sceptical Irish prelates seem to share this reluctance to confront the ferocious "little children" of the divisive "Queen of Peace". "I would guess that none of the bishops take any active stand against Medjugorje, or, in any case, they are unwilling to express their real thoughts about it," mused an American subscriber who had forwarded 32 Irish bishops a copy of a letter she wrote to Cardinal Ruini. "But I am encouraged that at least some are thinking about it," she added in light of the unprecedented number of responses she had neither requested nor expected to receive: eight in all, five of which "seemed to feel the need to say more." These variously state that Medjugorje is neither visited nor promoted by the relevant bishops, that "no official pilgrimage from the diocese has visited there," and that they are aware of and "look forward to the findings of the Cardinal Ruini investigation." One, written and signed by the bishop himself, reads:

Many thanks for your interesting letter with copy of letter you sent to Cardinal Ruini. I have never visited Medjuguorje and have no desire or inclination to do so. Some years ago an Irish priest — a good and learned man — wrote a book setting out background in a fair and balanced manner, even though he was an advocate of the visions. He included a very trenchant memo from Bishop Zanic and also a response from Fr. Barbaric (I think) — one of the Franciscan priests involved with the 'visionaries'.  His response amounted to a very personal and unjust attack on the Bishop, ignoring the points he made.  It convinced me of the validity of the Bishop's judgement — endorsed by Bishop Peric.

This is all to the good, but a bit late in the day. Instead of "softly, softly, catchee monkey," these bishops should have voiced their private views loudly and often, backed up by firm action aimed at scuppering the whole Medj gravy train. Like bishops worldwide who have openly supported the "seers," the febrile atmosphere fuelled by complicit silence and inaction has not only undermined Bishop Perić and their own episcopal authority, it has encouraged local wannabes. Christina Gallagher was symptomatic.

Piggy-backing the apparition gold-rush sparked by Medjugorje, for many years Gallagher was the lone Irish representative in the Premier League. A former housewife turned self-proclaimed seer in the 1980s, she drew huge crowds after claiming to receive messages from Our Lady, quickly founding the usual pious prop: a House of Prayer. As ever, it was the accumulation of ostentatious wealth that finally brought the scam undone. In early 2008 revelations emerged about "the House of Prayer's multimillion euro property portfolio and the lavish mansion in Malahide, north Dublin, which is at Ms Gallagher's disposal." By June it was reported that her outfit was "being investigated by the gardai [police] and the taxman." Among the several formal complaints were "an elderly couple who claim they are impoverished after donating their €90,000 life savings to the House of Prayer, at the request of Ms Gallagher's associates." Although no action was taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions, large out of court settlements were reportedly made to aggrieved donors. The Archbishop of Tuam duly circulated a damning statement on Gallagher's movement to parishes across Ireland, as well as America and the Philippines.

So Christina Gallagher's global star has fallen. But the second-tier of Irish visionaries go on, ably led by "The Two Patricks." Being Irish, this vaudevillian double act could be mistaken for one man channelling St. Patrick, but is, in fact, two men, both named Patrick, channelling Jesus — just to be clear. Having spurned their holy patron and the crowded "Three Patricks" moniker he would require, "The Two Patricks" act instead as spokesmen for "Jesus" and his "Messages of Love." The fruit of their labour includes a large HQ in Northern Ireland with every mod con, accommodation, Medj-friendly bookshop and a bizarre chapel featuring a tabernacle sans Blessed Sacrament. There is also property in Northern Spain. We are assured, of course, that money for the latter "miraculously arrived when most needed" because Jesus asked them to establish a House of Prayer in Garabandal. The ability to fleece the credulous year after year is a perverse miracle of sorts, I suppose, though clearly not one that impresses the Archbishop of Armagh. In September 2007 he notified a CO reader that 

The Two Patricks operate out of Cookstown, County Tyrone, which is in the diocese of Armagh but The Two Patricks do not have my approval or the approval of my predecessor. 

I do not receive any literature from them and I have not given them permission for Mass to be celebrated in their premises in Cookstown. I hope that this information is of assistance to you.

+ Seán Brady

"Seers" Inc.

While not all countries are as chronic as Ireland, Apparitionitis is a universal disease, easily contracted in our troubled, apocalyptic nuclear age. And though the toll is always dreadful, it has its comic side. Not least "Seers" Inc., the labyrinthine network that ties it all together. Typical of this twilight world of interconnected bogus mystics, Australia's notorious "Little Pebble" (aka William Kamm) once took issue with "The Two Patricks" over a "Message of Love" from "Jesus." Condemned by the Holy See and his local Ordinary in 2002, the "Pebble" wrote to his brethren in May 2005:

Dear brothers in Christ, "The Two Patricks",

I was much surprised at your public statement of 11 May 2005 and more so by the words of Jesus as so claimed. To say Pope Benedict XVI is the Anti-Pope, Anti-Christ: Dear sons, you have been fooled by the evil one because you received a locution that is not true. You cannot have all the Seers in the World (except for some) claim he is the true Pope you saying "No".

Your previous Message — that the next Pope will be the Anti-Pope was true. ... Pope John Paul II will return, after Benedict XVI dies. ... 

Discern the spirits, my friends. Once again I call you to unite with me.

The Little Pebble (God's Prophet)

Only Vision Chasers fail to laugh as The Pebble, The Patricks, Vassula et.al., channel Jerry Seinfeld in these hilarious exchanges. Yet within five months of this fraternal correction, William Kamm was sentenced to five years in prison for a string of sexual attacks including aggravated sexual assault on a 15-year-old girl living within his "community." Not so funny. And, tragically, not uncommon. (He claimed to have received advice from Our Lady that this girl should be chosen as one of 12 queens and 72 princesses who would all become his mystical wives.) 

Doubtless unaware of his sexual proclivities, this criminal con artist was once supported by numerous fellow "mystics" like Veronica Leuken (Bayside, N,Y), Mama Rosa Quattrini (San Damiano, Italy), Marguerite of the Little Souls (Belgium) and others. Such incestuous encouragement fuels the many-headed hydra of copycat "visionaries" who ape the true and the good. Historical precedents abound.


The abundance of false signs and wonders in and around Lourdes immediately after the original apparitions is well documented. The Catholic Encyclopaedia also relates that "the principal obstacle" to the recognition of St Joan of Arc's own inspiration "has been found in the circumstance that several other visionaries, of whom Catherine of La Rochelle was the most noted, claimed similar Divine missions at about the same period. ... [T]here certainly were a number of such impostors, both male and female; and in particular five years after the Maid was burnt at the stake another woman impersonated her, was received at Orléans as the true Joan of Arc, and found influential supporters in that character for more than three years."

In our day, Medjugorje is the perverse template, spawning countless imitations; notably the 1988 Scottsdale apparitions in Phoenix, Arizona, where nine children claimed to receive regular instruction from Jesus. One of the most prolific of these, Gianna Talone Sullivan, moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland at Our Lady's request, where she continued to receive weekly lessons from Our Lord. Unsurprisingly, as related in this extract from the testimonial of a recovering Medj addict (available at Emmitsburg.net), it transpired that Gianna had met Vicka:

"Coincidental" similarities between Medjugorje and Emmitsburg jumped out at me the more I read, revealing disturbing copycat mentality among these and other visionaries. Signs that were supposed to appear, but didn't. Secrets and doomsday pronouncements provoking a constant atmosphere of suspense, fear and drama. Creation of divisions among Catholics, the Church and clergy. Private revelations superseding Church doctrine and resulting in subversive activities, disobedience among laity and clergy, and broken marriages. As I continued to read, I grew increasingly disturbed by the predictably similar parallels between the apparition experiences of Vicka, one of the Medjugorje visionaries, and Gianna:

"Paolo Apolito lists the following individuals as being amongst those claiming to have started to receive their own revelations either following a visit to Medjugorje, or through some more general contact with it: … Fr. Jack Spaulding [Gianna's former pastor in Scottsdale]; Gianna Talone [Sullivan]…. And he also makes the very pertinent point, that whereas prior to the modern era, with its explosion of visionary claims, individuals claiming such experiences would almost certainly have been shunned by the average Catholic, now they could expect be treated as celebrities" [Donal Foley, Understanding Medjugorje - Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion, 2006, p. 218].

"... In June of 1988, Gianna was the rookie and Vicka was the veteran. ... On the eighth of June, Gianna visited Vicka [in Medjugorje], who was standing on the steps of her porch, surrounded by a host of admirers. But as Gianna approached, the people parted, like mere mortals making way for sainted souls, and she easily approached her counterpart.

"'The Blessed Mother sent me', Gianna said" [Dom Forker, Our Lady of Emmitsburg, 2000, p. 13].

In a decree dated 7 June 2003, after due investigation and consultation with Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF, Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore informed Gianna's parish priest that her alleged apparitions are clearly and definitively not miraculous ("constat de non supernaturalitate") and, therefore, "there is to be no public activity in the churches, oratories and other properties of the Archdiocese of Baltimore relating to the alleged apparitions and locutions."

In keeping with her modus operandi following earlier denunciations of her apparitions by the archdiocese, however, Gianna feigned to accept the definitive 2003 judgement while continuing her activities with impunity: 

In the summer of 2004 Gianna began to hold a monthly meeting at a farm outside of Taneytown, Maryland, and in 2005, moved her meetings to the Lynfield Complex just north of Frederick, Maryland.

Questions began to be raised about the appearance of disobedience to the Archdiocese. Specifically, people wondered how Gianna could advertise her experiences as supernatural at public events, when the cardinal had already judged those same experiences as non-supernatural. In response, Gianna’s supporters were always quick to point out that she was in fact being thoroughly obedient: that the only thing she needed to worry about was not to stage her séances on Church property.

On 24 June 2011, meanwhile, Gianna's parish priest in Scottsdale, Fr Jack Spaulding, to whom she and her comrades had first revealed their direct line to "Jesus", was suspended and put on administrative leave. A dossier on EWTN host Fr Spaulding, who also began to receive messages and hear voices, was forwarded to Rome in December, detailing several accusations of sexual abuse against him going back to the 1970s (allegations he strongly denies).

Brother Gino

It is easy to tut-tut the hapless victims of all these spiritual frauds, especially those easily fooled by the second-raters. (At least one normally sober English commentator gave a quick thumbs up to the 2009 Knock happening.) But truth be known, many of us have been "burnt," to a greater or lesser degree, at one time or another.

The outstanding Fatima priest Fr Robert Fox, for example, was a prominent promoter of Fr Gino Burresi (known as "Brother Gino"). Originally a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, an order founded in 1816 by Italian priest Bruno Lanteri, Burresi became a devotee of the Fatima revelations in the 1950s, and was the driving force behind the creation of a Marian sanctuary in San Vittorino, outside Rome.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Burresi acquired a worldwide reputation as a mystic. He was alleged to bear the stigmata, to have the "odour of sanctity," to be able to read souls and also produce paintings and other artwork miraculously. Not ordained until 1983, in his early fifties, Fr Burresi left the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in 1992 to found a new order, the Congregation of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This included an order of nuns, whose entire formation he personally controlled with an iron hand. According to intrepid 'vision-buster' Rick Salbato, who had investigated Burresis for ten years and blew the whistle early on, "over 8,000,000 people" worldwide believed him to be a prophet. As donations poured in, "hundreds of persons from Italy and beyond came to him every day seeking comfort, including high-ranking prelates, politicians, and ambassadors. From the faraway Philippines, then-president Corazon Aquino sent one of her messengers to have a rosary blessed by this man in the odor of sanctity." 

Impressed with the fact that a priest of Fr Fox's standing had penned The Call of Heaven: Bro. Gino, stigmatist (1982), I myself used his book periodically as an evangelical tool, handing several copies to friends and family in the mid-80s. Lacking experience and knowledge, I didn't pause to reflect on the convenient propaganda that presented Burresi as the spiritual son and successor of Padre Pio; his having purportedly acquired the stigmata on the very day Padre Pio died. I cringe at my youthful credulity. After all, what were the odds of God raising up, Hollywood-style, another priest-stigmatist immediately upon the demise of the only such priest in the entire history of the Church? ... D'oh!

It turned out, of course, that Burresi was a wicked fraud. His own superiors finally brought charges against him but a Vatican investigation cleared him, reprimanding the superiors instead — small wonder when some investigators were supporters of Burresi! These included then-secretary of the Congregation for Religious, and future cardinal, Vincenzo Fagiolo ("He came to me often for confession," Burresi revealed). In a three-page appeal to John Paul II against this cover-up, dated 22 November 1988, the superiors listed their accusations: consummated homosexual acts with numerous young men, kidnapping for sexual purposes, violation of the seal of the sacrament of penance.

Another investigation dismissed the appeal, this time sacking the superiors! Fr. Burresi was to remain in the diocese of Volterra (Tuscany) to continue his work, with the sole stipulation that he could no longer work with young men pursuing vocations. "Five years later, however, in 1997," writes Salbato, "the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith opened another investigation on him. The case was concluded on May 10, 2002, with a decree signed by Ratzinger... The sentence takes into consideration the fact that the accusations were made past the statute of limitations, so it neither condemns nor punishes Fr. Gino Burresi. But the 20-page report accompanying the decree [signed by the four investigating prelates]... lists the accusations against the priest: violation of the seal of the confession, the illegitimate use against the penitent of confidential information revealed during confession, defamation, violation of the right to privacy, incitement to disobedience against superiors, false mysticism, and claims of apparitions, visions, and supernatural messages." The sexual abuse was also factored in and contributed to the final judgement, Vatican sources confided. 

This unresolved case, apparently filed away forever, "was reopened, and a much more severe conclusion was reached – with the presiding judge being Ratzinger, who has since become pope."  On 27 may 2005, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the decree against the 73-year-old Fr. Burresi, The decree announced by the Italian bishops conference, revoking his faculties and removing him from public ministry, drew remarkably little public notice considering his fame and notoriety. Pope Benedict confirmed the decree in forma specifica i.e. he made its conclusions his own, and no appeal is possible.

Satanic inspiration

Some were perplexed by Gino's trickery — like his ability to discern hidden secrets about people that nobody could have known. It seemed to surpass the mere hypnotic control he exercised over his nuns. Yet whether preternatural or not, the fact that Satan was busily at work all the while was signalled by a fundamental feature of his scam. Rick Salbato summed it up thus: "If you want to go to San Giovanni Rotondo and see the home of Padre Pio, you must go to Rome and take a train south. If you decide to see Gino, you must go to Rome and take a bus north. If you go to San Vittorino, you will never get to San Giovanni. For many years there were tours of Fatima, Lourdes, and San Giovanni. Then these tours became Fatima, Lourdes, and San Vittorino. Get the point?"

This mirrors Medjugorje. For 30 years, inestimable numbers of Catholics have travelled to Bosnia-Herzegovina, often repeatedly at enormous cost, instead of journeying to major shrines like Lourdes and Fatima. Next to the fostering of disobedience, this distraction/diversion, especially undermining the awareness, understanding and practise of the crucial Five First Saturdays of reparation requested by the Blessed Mother via Sister Lucia, is a monumental strike against Heaven's guaranteed plan for world peace. For according to Sr Lucia, "Whether the world has war or peace depends on the practice of this devotion, along with the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is why I desire its propagation so ardently, especially because this is also the will of our dear Mother in Heaven" [19 March 1939].

Voila! the corrosive role of Medjugorje's "Queen of Peace." While Medj devotees have preoccupied themselves with "her" 40,000 puerile "messages," Our Lady's actual message of peace, dependent in large part on reparation for the five offences and blasphemies committed against Her Immaculate Heart [see June/July 2008], goes unheeded.

The Devil is clever and crafty but also stupid insofar as he always gives himself away with such transparently wicked tactics! The endless mendacity is another giveaway signal of the handiwork of "the father of lies" [Jn 8:44].

In his painstakingly referenced 2007 work "Ces 10 jours qui ont fait Medjugorje", documenting the first ten days from 24 June to 3 July 1981, French historian Joachim Bouflet reveals how the originally recorded accounts by the "seers" have been modified. During those first days, the late disgraced Fr Jozo Zovko rigorously interviewed the "seers" and was not convinced they saw their so-called "Gospa" [Lady]. He said: "There is NO message, there is NO sign; you must have seen SATAN." Yet he soon became a confidant of the visionaries and central director/manipulator of the whole affair, insisting that the "seers" should have their "apparitions" inside the church and insinuating that he himself should tell people what the "Gospa" had said. Before long, Zovko had been stripped of every faculty and expelled three times from Medjugorje by Bishop Perić and the Vatican. 

Fr Tomislav Vlašić succeeded Zovko as the one who "through Divine Providence guides the seers of Medjugorje," as he wrote in a letter to John Paul II of 13 April 1984. Thereafter the "messages" became more biblical and Franciscan. And totally supportive of one Tomislav Vlašić! Hardly surprising when Friar Tomislav would talk to the "seers," the "seers" would talk to Friar Tomislav, the discussions then being attributed to the Blessed Virgin. Typical of these regular commendations was that recorded in Vicka's diary manuscript of 28 February 1982: "The Gospa came at 6, 3 minutes, she looked kindly at us. Then the Gospa spoke about Tomislav, first she looked at him, and then said: 'you can thank Tomislav very much because he is guiding you so well'."

In July 1988 Marija, another "seer," candidly admitted this mendacious manipulation by Vlašić. After Vlašić stated that the "Gospa" had told Marija "she" approved of a mixed religious community he had founded in 1987, Marija wrote: "Everything that can be understood as a confirmation or approval of this Work of Fr. Tomislav ... on the part of the Madonna through me, absolutely does not correspond to the truth and furthermore the idea that I had a spontaneous desire to write down this testimony is also not true."

"We know that no lies can correspond to the truth," wrote the Chancellor of the Mostar-Duvno diocese, summarising Vlašić's history. "Yet one can see from this how the notorious lies of Medjugorje have also been attributed to the Madonna, which Bishop Žanić painstakingly struggled against in order to defend the honour and dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary!"

Indeed everything points to the creepy Vlašić as the diabolic source of the entire deception:

Fr. Vlašić went to Rome for an international congress of leaders of the Charismatic Movement. During the congress he had asked some of those present to pray with him for the healing of the Church in Yugoslavia. A religious, Sister Briege McKenna, who was united with those in prayer, had a vision: she saw Fr. Vlašić seated and surrounded by a great crowd of people facing him, and from the place where he was seated, there flowed rivers of water. Another religious there, Fr. Emile Tardiff, OP, said in prophecy, "Do not be afraid, I will send you my Mother." After a couple of weeks, the Madonna began to appear in Medjugorje. [Official Bulletin, 2/2008, p. 80, quoting from Rooney - R. Faricy, Mary the queen of peace, Milano, 1984, p. 34.]

Inevitably, in January 2008, the CDF decreed that Fr. Vlašić had "fallen into a censure of interdict latae sententiae," accused of "the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders and charges contra sextum [i.e., violation of the Sixth Commandment]." Subsequently, in 2009, 28 years after the first "apparition," this veritable Father of Medjugorje and manifest instrument of the "father of lies" was finally defrocked by Pope Benedict. (Reduced to the lay state, Vlasic was thus theoretically free to marry the former nun with whom he had fathered a child prior to the "apparitions.")

Aiders and abetters

Pervasive and persistent, Medj mendacity is not all about a small clique of arrogant, rebellious, unscrupulous, disobedient Franciscans. They have been aided and abetted at every turn by the likes of René Laurentin, who had defended Vlašić as a "great charismatic leader." Bouflet proves the modification of the "messages" by comparing many successive versions of books written by Medjugorje advocates like Laurentin. Others who have studied the deception in depth over several decades concur. "He altered the truth a least 100 times in order to defend the pseudo-apparitions," said Belgian writer Mark Waterinckx. "A friend of mine told me he could fill an entire encyclopaedia with the lies of René Laurentin." He points to an official but "little known" document dated 24 October 1997, in which the Bishop of Mostar himself lists "5 cases of disinformation by our 'great Mariologist' [Laurentin], who has destroyed his credibility by defending indefensible 'apparitions'." Underlining this unearthly propensity for falsehood, Waterinckx adds: "Yet in a 26 May 2004 article in the Italian journal Avvenire, Laurentin dares to write that he had never said that the Virgin appeared in Medjugorje!"(1).

Clearly, once Laurentin embraced the "apparitions" he found himself forced into covering up the endless absurdities in the "messages." One of the most ridiculous involved altering the date of Our Lady's birthday (8 September). On 22 August 1984, Fr Vlašić wrote to Bishop Žanić informing him that the Madonna’s 2000th birthday was to be held that same year on 5 August! Neither the Bishop nor the Holy See nor anyone with half a brain  took this seriously. But sure enough, on 4 and 5 August 1984, a large group of people gathered in Medjugorje to "celebrate" the Madonna’s "birthday."  The Chancellor of the Mostar diocese later observed that "The 'Mladifest' (Youth festival) that is usually held at the beginning of August, is probably attached to this Medjugorje invention of Rev. Fr Tomislav Vlašić."

As well as the inanities, Laurentin and his fellow deceivers have also had to gloss over the endless flip-flopping of the "seers" — Vicka Ivankovic in particular! Living proof of the dictum: "To err is human, to persevere is diabolical" (Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum), her blatant fabrications and fantasies are routinely followed by distortions of her earlier declarations. Even contributors to a Medjugorje blog were disconcerted by one online interview in which Vicka said the "Gospa" had told her that unborn babies who are killed by abortion become angels in heaven. The old staples —"mistranslation" and "misunderstanding" — were duly trotted out to defuse things. But when the blog administrator agreed with Vicka things became heated, the heretical idea being contested and labelled ludicrous. The thread finished with a blogger lamenting that "issues like this give ammunition to anti-Medjugorjeans to attack followers." You might say!

The endemic deceit reverberates outwards and downwards to the grassroots. It has got to the stage where the outpourings of the talkative "Gospa" are even being sanitised on parish posters that carry them! In one such case discussed on another Medj blog, a parish was accused of editing the (presumably idiotic) published "message" after people complained that "the original message and the published one were so 'starkly' different."

Angel of Light?

It all begs the most intriguing and fundamental question: is the Medjugorje "Gospa" just a money-spinning fabrication, or an Angel of Light [2 Cor. 11:14]?

As an ardent disciple of the "Gospa," renowned exorcist Fr Gabriele Amorth would clearly not entertain either question. "I always understood Medjugorje as a continuation of Fatima," he said in July 2002. On the contrary, Andrea Gemma, Bishop-Emeritus of Isernia-Venafro, one of the greatest living exorcists, has bluntly stated that "the seers are lying under the inspiration of Satan to enrich themselves economically":

"It is a phenomenon which is absolutely diabolical, ... this whole sham is the work of the Demon. ... These persons who claim to be in contact with Our Lady, but who in reality are inspired solely and exclusively by Satan, are creating tumult and confusion among the faithful for absolutely deplorable interests and advantages. ... Behold why I speak of a mixture of interests, personal and diabolical; the false seers and their helpers’ pocket money, and the Devil creates discord between the faithful and the Church."

Asked what the "seers" would be seeing if they really believed Our Lady was appearing — Marija, for instance, speaks of "having the most intimate experiences of the gentleness and wisdom of the Madonna's advice and the Madonna's answers to my personal questions" — the Bishop replied:

"In reality they would see Satan under one of his disguised forms. Because Satan has every interest in splitting the Church, pitting the two currents of ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ Medjugorje. And it would not be something new: Saint Paul himself asserts that the Devil can also appear as an Angel of Light and that he can disguise himself. ... But beyond his travesties, the Evil One has already intervened and I can assure you that it his he who has been inspiring the false seers since the beginning with the lure of easy money." [Interview with Petrus. See CO, Aug-Sept 2008]

His explanation certainly gels with this snapshot by Mark Alessio: 

The details of the "apparitions" themselves border on the grotesque. Here is a "Madonna" who allows people to tramp on her veil, who once became "blackened" as the result of being pawed by sinners and who appeared on another occasion sporting a "dark, hideous face," a devil’s head, according to "seer" Mirjana Pavlovic! In his must-read booklet, Apparitions at Medjugorje?, Bro. Michael of the Holy Trinity described the atmosphere of Medjugorje as "unwholesome." The apparition "burst out laughing" while speaking of the turmoils that have divided local clergy and the Church hierarchy; little children are "seized with panic and began to cry" after the apparition causes a ball of light to explode; an "appalling noise" is heard coming from the mountain of the apparitions; the "Virgin of Medjugorje" alternately laughs, threatens, scowls and sometimes terrifies those in her vicinity [The Remnant, 30/9/08].

Bishop Gemma's take is also strengthened by his accurate forecast in the same interview, that "soon the Vatican will intervene with something explosive to unmask once and for all who is behind this deceit." Within a month, Rome had notified the Bishop of Mostar of its suspension of the aforementioned Fr (now Mr) Tomislav Vlašić. What Bishop Gemma was alluding to was the occult aspect of the Vlašić downfall. Referred to by Bishop Žanić in 1984 as a "mystifier and charismatic magician," and accused of "suspected mysticism" in the Vatican file that brought him down, authentic documentation testifies that while in Medjugorje he conjured up evil spirits. (Also telling is the bold and perverse way he tried to turn the tables and shift suspicion, by casting his antagonist, the local bishop, as the Devil's agent instead. In a January 1985 letter he sent to one of his contacts in the Vatican, asking for protection from the bishop, he wrote: "We have to admit that Satan can also work through the structures of the Church.")

This dark side lends credence to the personal testimony of Mark Waterinckx. On several occasions between 1984 and 1995, during his 22 pilgrimages to Medjugorje, he encountered cases of real demonic possession:

In one case I was even able to make a very remarkable tape recording of the event wherein, as I later understood, the prince of darkness already in 1989 announced the coming civil war in Bosnia.

But in Medjugorje lying and cheating prevail. All the exorcisms which occur there, take place without permission of the local bishop and are therefore not valid. It is therefore understandable that Satan does not let himself be driven out of possessed persons in Medjugorje. In such a situation of manipulation, lies, fraud and disobedience to Church authorities, he would be completely at ease.

He recounts two episodes:

• In the front garden of Vicka’s house a group of people were trying to exorcise an Italian lady in July 1987. Five people (under whom was Vicka) were required to subdue the woman. I recognised this case as authentic and drove by car to the presbytery to obtain the assistance of a priest.  Father Ivan Dugandzic, a theologian and former member of the second bishop’s commission on Medjugorje, refused to come.  His explanation was frightening: "Some time ago, together with 5 Franciscan priests we tried to exorcise a person over 14 days, while fasting on bread and water, …without result! We were exhausted...."

• In July 1989 the same thing occurred. At the "Christus vincit" in the church, there was terrifying screaming. The young Italian woman was brought outside behind the church and a number of people began to exorcise her. Some pilgrims came to look, others came to join in prayer and others made fun of it. From a distance I heard some fragments of words:  … sono maledetto (I am damned)… la voleva Satana (Satan wanted this)… quanto vi odio (how much I hate you)…. I quickly got my tape recorder and without anybody noticing I recorded the following:  sono il principe della superbio (I am the prince of pride)… ti odio (I hate you)… non voglio vedere quella croce (I don’t want to see that cross)… sono Beëlzebub (I am B.)… salo (filth)… sono il maëstro solo (I am the only master)… fano malo (they do evil)… All screaming: … ho paura della croce (I am scared of the cross)… ho paura della luce (I am afraid of the light)… ho paura dell'amore (I am afraid of love)… Satana e qui (Satan is here)… Threatening: la bataglia sara destruciendo (the battle shall be destructive)!

The last sentence could refer to the spiritual battle for souls, or to the Apocalypse.  But, when two years later in 1991, the war broke out, first in Slovenia, then in Croatia and later in Bosnia Herzegovina, I began to think differently. 

The following day I spoke with the [possessed] Italian lady in all calm. She quietly took the rosary out of her pocket and said determinedly: "Jesus and Mary are stronger than satan. Together with them I shall overcome in the end."

Naturally this tape-recording is a remarkable testimony.  I therefore waited six years (from 1989 to 1995) before publicising this incredible fact. In my view it is proof of the Christian dogma that evil exists as a person and not just as a concept. In fact it proves much more. Such tape recordings are not uncommon, but in this case I have not received it as a copy, as for example in the case of Anneliese Michel from Klingenberg [see "The Monumental Struggle," CO April & May 2010 - Ed.]. I experienced it myself and recorded it in great secrecy. That the last prophecy has come true is common knowledge. Two to three hundred thousand dead and about 3 to 4 million refugees in ex-Yugoslavia.

As for the "Gospa" herself, in a 2009 interview with Michael Jones, conducted just after the defrocking of Tomislav Vlašić (a decision that vindicated everything Jones had exposed decades before), Waterinckx suggested that only self-designated mediums claim to see the Virgin Mary while pilgrims "communicate" with her, "believing in what they actually don't see." Among the first to stand up to the intimidating, all-powerful Medj industry and reveal the ugly truth about the "seers" and their Franciscan handlers, Jones demurred:

First of all, I disagree with you when you say that the pilgrims who have gone to Medjugorje have never seen anything. Shortly after the publication of The Medjugorje Deception, I got a call from a Unitarian from Boston who had gone to Medjugorje with a number of pious Italian ladies from Boston. He then related the following incident: While standing in his room waiting to go down to dinner, he saw a naked woman walk through the open doorway to his room. She then walked across the room and then walked through the wall. Medjugorje, I learned from a priest who heard confessions there for years, is infested with evil spirits. This charge came out one year ago when the bishop of Mostar released his dossier on Tomislav Vlašić. In addition to sexual improprieties, Vlasic was also guilty of trafficking in spirits. Hence, the demonic infestation at Medjugorje. 

As St. John of the Cross said,"The devil rejoices when people seek private revelations."  That is so because they are so easy to fabricate.

Material motivations

Related in the ensuing article, the sixteenth-century case of Magdalena of the Cross is essential reading for those who argue that even Satanic inspiration could not keep the fraud alive for so long. At least one of the "seers" or their extended family would have broken ranks and spilled the beans, they say. Yet even without a preternatural element, with so much money at stake, both personally and corporately, it would take a brave person to fess up to such an epochal deception tied to myriad vested interests. Fr Philip Pavich, an American Franciscan who worked for eleven years in Israel before securing a transfer to Bosnia to be close to Medjugorje, is in no doubt about this powerful motivation to maintain the Big Lie.

"I believed the apparitions when I came. If anybody wanted it to be true, I did," he once told writer Bill Sammon. Watching people go partially blind by staring at the "miracle of the sun" and observing "professional visionaries" who are "living off the profits" of the booming tourist trade opened his eyes to the truth. "Medjugorje has spawned 400 visionaries in the United States," said Pavich, "They got 'em in every state. It's a ridiculous, pandemic situation. It's totally out of control. I mean, it is a sick visionary world. Canada, the United States, Australia … everybody that has touched Medjugorje has spawned a whole new petri dish of visionaries."

Pavich grew especially disenchanted with the six original visionaries. "Oh man, they bring home lots of money. People give unbelievably. It's like a cult. They're like little cult leaders, little cult characters. And they collect, man, big time. They've got second houses; they've got perks. They're professional visionaries who are living off the profits."

"Some wealthy Croat tour leader will put down 80,000 bucks, build a house for a visionary, and then she'll sucker her pilgrims into coming by saying 'When you come you'll get to stay with a visionary'," said Pavich, who noted the beauty of the visionaries' houses. "They're a scandal to a lot of people because they (the visionaries) are in on the take — big time. ... They don't work, they never work. They just collect money."

Indeed they do, whenever and wherever they can, also enriching others in the process. One of the "seers," Marija Pavlovic Lunetti (married with four children and living in Milan) is now a regular at "Caritas" in Birmingham, Alabama. Run by former landscaper Terry Colafrancesco, she has her regular visions in a bedroom or a field on his farm — with the retina-burning "miracle of the sun" thrown in — pulling crowds and cash for Terry. A 20 March 2011 report by the Birmingham News revealed all:

Colafrancesco, who said he met with a sympathetic Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1997, doesn't worry about church approval. "Our Lady does not have time to go through commissions for these messages and secrets," he said. "This is above that right now. It's for the whole world."

... [Marija] makes occasional public appearances, talking to pilgrims and sometimes having her daily visions under a pine tree in a pasture next to a Virgin Mary statue. She has most of her visions privately in the house, with Caritas officials offering recaps of the message, which can often be as simple as "pray, pray, pray."

Since 1988, Lunetti has had more than a hundred of her visions on the Caritas property. That makes it a car-friendly version of a Medjugorje pilgrimage for Americans from Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Michigan and elsewhere.

Pilgrims are encouraged to pray the rosary daily in the field where Lunetti has had past visions. They also browse in the Caritas bookstore.

Caritas hasjustspent more than $8 million on expansionat its main building on Shelby County 43 about six miles off U.S. 280 near Chelsea. The four-story Tabernacle of Our Lady's Messages contains a massive publishing operation that produces 500,000 booklets a week sent worldwide to promote the visions. "We're getting ready for a huge evangelization of the whole world," said Colafrancesco, who writes many of the booklets under his pen name, "A Friend of Medjugorje."

Colafrancesco on Thursday pointed out a new $2.2 million binding machine churning out booklets. "We pay as we go," he said. "We don't borrow money."

Despite the recession, annual donations to Caritas have tripled from a few years ago, to between $3 million and $4 million, he said. 

Caritas has upgraded its website, www.mej.com, to handle world traffic. "When the secrets are released, the whole world's going to want to get in," Colafrancesco said.

Ah yes, the obligatory "secrets"! How short-lived false apparitions would be without them! The report explains that

One of the most intriguing attraction for tourists is the notion that Mary told the children - who ranged in age from 10 to 16 when the visions began - that she would impart to them ten secrets that cannot be revealed to the world until she gives them a sign. The two visionaries who know longer see apparitions already know the ten secrets. The remaining four visionaries only know nine.

As Fr Pavich said some years ago: "They're playing a game. Now they're on nine secrets for 10 years already. I don't like it. I mean, why don't they bingo out and finish the ten secrets? Because if they did, then the jig is up."

Quite. And since we are dealing with hot-blooded Croatians, when the jig peters out, it could get very messy back home for Marija, Vicka, Ivan and the gang.

"If this thing falls apart," warned Pavich, "there's gonna be murder around here. They've invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate that demands a flow of pilgrims and if they don't come" — Pavich whistles — "I don't wanna be around here. The locals have milked this thing for millions of dollars; therefore, they have a very big vested interest. For them this is a lifeline, a boomtown, an industry driving the whole thing."

Pavich is not exaggerating. In an interview on the Medjugorje phenomenon with Die Tagespost, the chairman of the German Mariological society, dogmatic theologian Professor Manfred Hauke recalled a chilling precedent:

Medjugorje is often cited as an "oasis of peace" during the civil war at the beginning of the '90s. Yet there are also uncomfortable facts that disturb the harmonious view. When revenue from the pilgrimage industry went down in 1992, there were press reports in the wake of a violent conflict among three family clans that served pilgrimage businesses. In a "cleansing action" about 140 inhabitants of Medjugorje were killed, while 600 others had to flee. "This was all kept secret from the outside world, since it naturally could not be brought into accord with belief in the Queen of Peace" (R. Franken, A Journey to Medjugorje, 2000, p, 45).

Millionaire "seer"

Contrary to the view of badly misled Medj advocate Fr Amorth, the "visionaries" have indeed grown rich alongside these brutal vested interests. "None of the seers were ever enriched thanks to the apparitions," insists Fr Amorth. "Whoever can provide documentary proof to the contrary, let him do it; otherwise, shut up."

The Italian website L' Impertinent abAteo picked up this gauntlet thrown down by Fr Amorth. After research based on "clear and incontrovertible" documentation, it produced a report detailing the small fortune "seer" Ivan Dragicevic has made (in cahoots with travel agencies) from his "visions."

"Pilgrimage to Medjugorje with accommodations at the home of Ivan Dragicevic!" advertises "206 Tours," setting out the specific dates from May to September 2012 when Ivan is in residence (the 'off season', October-April, he now spends in America). The pilgrimage package includes: "Conversations with Ivan in the chapel of our house; Breakfast and dinner served by Ivan and Family; Ivan will lead the group on Apparition Hill to pray and meditate; There will be many opportunities to talk with Ivan during your stay." In addition, the "Dragicevic family will do their best to make as much as possible your stay pleasant and comfortable."

Careful scrutiny of this tourist operation revealed that a separate entity, "Prayer Experience" (run by Ivan and his wife), sells the selected tour package through the agency "206 Tours." Consequently, on the basis of  a stated maximum of 28 pilgrims per pilgrimage,  multiplied by the number of available dates (10), L' Impertinent abAteo, calculated a Dragicevic profit of $171,360 — "Not to mention the offerings that pilgrims and visitors will leave the beloved 'seer'."

This first part of the investigation more than suffices to refute

Fr Amorth's false contention. Part two, on Ivan's real estate wheeling and dealing, is the coup de grace. Anyone with some idle time to kill can view the full report at L' Impertinent abAteo. Here is the final reckoning, based on public records of the State of Massachusetts:    

In just 5 years the "seer" Ivan Dragicevic has bought properties worth a total of 1,566,000 U.S. dollars, equivalent to 1,470,953 euros. ... The average American, in 5 years would have earned $198,508 gross, 195,336 euros gross .... almost 10 times lower than the amount spent by the "visionary".

The other "seers" and their relatives also possess properties (pensions) in Medjugorje, and also advertise "travel packages."

With the greatest respect to the otherwise admirable Fr Amorth, when it comes to Medjugorje, perhaps he should take his own advice and just zip it. Why defend the indefensible? The truth will always out, as complicit Vatican functionaries have repeatedly discovered in recent times. 

Deflating precedent

In this regard, the Gino Burresi condemnation set the pattern of resurrecting 'cold cases.' Next on Benedict's checklist was Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. While not involving alleged supernatural gifts and goings-on, it was analogous in many ways to Burresi: the founder of a religious order accused of sexually abusing his followers; violating the seal of the confessional; fooling everyone for decades in the process of exercising cultish control of his lucrative fiefdom.

Another comparable and troubling element was the partiality of investigators. In both cases, attempts to derail and whitewash the investigations were due to a conflict of interests: two prelates working in the Secretariat of State, Angelo Tognoni and Donal Corry, belonging to Fr Burresi's order and the Legionaries of Christ respectively. In addition, the Secretary of State himself, the notorious Cardinal Sodano was a renowned supporter of Maciel, who easily 'purchased' such weighty Vatican pals. The extent of his influence was revealed after a press article first raised the prospect of an enquiry into the accusations against him. The Legion foolishly issued an unsigned fax bearing the stamp of the Secretariat of State denying that Maciel would be investigated! Fortunately, the CDF was in charge of the investigation and it proceeded, though the outcome did not satisfy everyone. 

Although duly denounced, many considered the punishment meted out to Maciel as insufficient for his crimes and smacking of false charity. In view of his advanced age he was merely forced to live out his remaining years in private. Nor do the feeble and fudging noises emanating from the review of the dysfunctional Legion itself inspire much confidence in Vatican investigations. As the Associated Press reported last October:

When Pope Benedict XVI took over the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order last year, expectations were high that heads would roll over one of the greatest scandals of the 20th century Roman Catholic Church.

One year later, none of the Legion's superiors has been held to account for facilitating the crimes of late founder Rev. Marcial Maciel, a drug addict who sexually abused his seminarians, fathered three children and created a cult-like movement within the church that damaged some of its members spiritually and emotionally. An Associated Press tally shows that disillusioned members are leaving the movement in droves as they lose faith that the Vatican will push through the changes needed. ....

Confirming worst fears, Cardinal de Paolis insists that the pope tasked him only with guiding the Legion and helping rewrite its norms — not "decapitating" its leadership or righting wrongs. "I don't see what good would be served" by further inquiry into a cover-up, he said. "Rather, we would run the risk of finding ourselves in an intrigue with no end. Because these are things that are too private for me to go investigating."

This mentality reflects the same cowardly copping out that avoided the awful truth about Maciel (and Burresi) in the first place! Considering the trail of human wreckage he left in his wake, and the twisted Legion empire he created to cater for his unspeakable double life, is it any wonder that "Critics," according to the AP report, "including some Vatican officials, contend De Paolis has an obligation to uncover the truth and take more radical action." Like suppressing the entire Order, for instance! Thereby expunging the lingering spirit of its perverse founding father once and for all.

Alas, we won't hold our collective breath.  

Hopeful signs

Although this doesn't augur well for a robust condemnation of Medjugorje, there are some promising indicators. Firstly, the nomination of Cardinal Ruini to head the investigation; the prelate who overturned the positive diocesan verdict on the "bleeding statue" of Civitavecchia [see summary herein]. Also the fact that there are several known Medjugorje critics on the commission, such as Cardinal Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo, and Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

In 2004, Puljic complained that Medjugorje was a "source of divisions in the Church." Accepting the negative (non constat de supernaturalitate) judgement of the 1991 Zadar Declaration of the Episcopal Conference of Yugoslavia, he said in November 2009 that "The doctrinal problem of the Medjugorje phenomenon is resolved, but its pastoral significance must still be taken into account."

For his part, Amato not only signed the letter authorizing Bishop Perić to notify the public about the canonical sanctions against Fr Vlašić, it was he who informed the Bishops of Tuscany  during their 2007 ad limina visit to read a 2006 homily of Bishop Perić and to share it with their priests so that the faithful may be enlightened.

One also dares hope that the psychoanalyst on the commission, Msgr. Tony Anatrella, professor at the University of Paris and an adviser to the Pontifical Council for the Family, will examine the renowned video of Vicka's patently fake "ecstasy" and her infamous attempt to explain it away under the gaze and guidance of her Franciscan handlers. That farcical episode alone is evidence enough to bring down the whole house of cards.    

While breathing credibility into the investigative process, these sceptics also flag the most hopeful sign of all: the clear-headed approach of the man who appointed them, Pope Benedict himself, who takes Apparitionitis very seriously indeed. As Prefect of the CDF, he warned that private revelations pose a threat to the unity of the Church and warrant an "exemplary pastoral response." This understanding and approach is evident in his curt dismissal of the relentless disinformation put about by Medj advocates, linking himself and John Paul II favourably to the "apparitions." As  reported in the 6 January 1999 issue of Der Schwarze Brief, a respected German newsletter:

On April 19, 1998, the publisher of the Schwarzer Brief sent documentation on Medjugorje to Cardinal Ratzinger, including 14 quotes from various Medjugorje books by people like René Laurentin and Bishop Paolo Hnilica, in which the impression was given that the pope and Cardinal Ratzinger had repeatedly recognized the authenticity of the apparitions. In response Cardinal Ratzinger wrote on July 22, 1998: "Thank you for sending the Claus Peter Clausens memo. He is well known to me as the publisher of the Schwarzer Brief. I can only say in response that the quotes endorsing Medjugorje which have been attributed to me and the Holy Father have been made up out of thin air" ["frei erfunden sind"].

Although it is clear that the Cardinal had discussed the issue with the Holy Father, it is nonetheless true that John Paul II himself fuelled this endless speculation by allowing Medjugorje to spiral out of control. Michael Jones referred to this unfortunate fact in his 2009 interview with Mark Waterinckx:

When I met with then ordinary of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, Bishop Pavao Žanić, in 1988 he told me that Cardinal Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI, was in complete agreement that the so-called apparitions of Medjugorje were a hoax orchestrated by the renegade order of Franciscans in his diocese. Bishop Žanić then told me that he presented the same evidence to Pope John Paul II. "And what did the pope say?" I asked. "The pope said nothing," Žanić replied. This confirms what I learned in my meetings with Cardinal Ratzinger. He was convinced that Medjugorje was a hoax from the beginning. The main reason for the inactivity in Rome was Pope John Paul II. The main reason for recent activity is Pope Benedict XVI, not new evidence.

Bishop Perić has confirmed the truth of all this. In a summary of an ad limina visit to Rome, he wrote that Pope Benedict had once commented to him that, when head of the CDF, he and his colleagues could never understand how anyone could believe in apparitions that had been going on day after day for so long.

Medj madness

And so we can appreciate why Benedict turned to Cardinal Ruini to oversee the investigation, rather than his increasingly disreputable and bizarre friend, Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna.

Bedazzled by Medjugorje, Schönborn states that "as long as the phenomenon is still ongoing, it is normal that a final decision of the Church will not take place." On the contrary, Ruini commission member Fr Salvatore Perrella states that "the pope wants a decisive conclusion made" by the commission even as the "visions" go interminably on! Yet this anomaly would not disturb Cardinal Schönborn because he embodies the divisive spirit Ruini must exorcise once and for all.

At the end of 2009, for example, Cardinal Schönborn turned up unannounced in Medjugorje to argue for "an integration of the Medjugorje phenomenon into normal pastoral practice." The provocative visit caused a public firestorm which ended in his penning a public apology to Bishop Perić at Rome's insistence. A true son of the "Gospa," despite having wilfully shattered collegial concord he wrote that he had no intention of "harming peace"! 

Ever more diabolically disoriented, Schönborn even hosted and praised Ivan and Marija in his Vienna cathedral in September 2010, and Ivan again last November. “Dear Marija, dear Ivan, thank you – first of all – that you came!" he gushed in 2010. "Thank you for your service across so many years, for your work, for your service of being messengers of Our Lady. You bring us – children of this world, children of humanity – her love and her presence and may God pay you back one hundred fold for what you are doing tirelessly!"

I'm not sure that God will reward anyone for tirelessly pursuing filthy lucre; for worshipping Mammon! But then Cardinal Schönborn himself sold out and embraced the material world and its crass agenda long ago. His sacrilegious discotheque and balloon Masses, with flashing fluorescent lights and female acolytes, famously testify to it every passing day on You Tube. Not to mention his error-strewn YOUCAT Youth Catechism, the sacrilegious art (including a homoerotic depiction of the Last Supper) on display in his cathedral, and the banning of the pro-life Bishop of Salzburg from speaking in his Archdiocese. We could go on. As one exasperated soul wrote: "His recent behaviour is totally inexplicable. All evidence suggests that Cardinal Schönborn has gone insane, or has otherwise been possessed."

Yet if the Cardinal is a "subject of interest" for exorcists and white-coats, then, as we have seen, he is also a perfect front man for Medj madness. The trouble is, there aren't enough asylums to cope! Take the excruciating spectacle of these non-existent "apparitions" that he oversees in his cathedral each year. Streamed live on the internet — in English and Spanish by MaryTV, and in German by Kathnet — in 2010 this lunacy attracted 398,546 viewers on MaryTV alone! All of these whipped into a fervour by MaryTV President Denis Nolan, who assured them that "Ivan told us that those connected through the internet are prayed over by Our Lady the same as those kneeling right next to him during the apparition. And the religious items they have with them that they would like Our Lady to bless are blessed the same as the religious items placed right in front of her during the apparition."

Nurse! Straightjackets!!  .... And a jumbo-sized collection plate, wired for cyberspace punters, while you're at it!

"Vicka tells me she is praying every day for MARY TV's television station in Medjugorje to become a reality," Mr Nolan duly announced. "It's been 12 years since Our Lady spoke with her about MARY TV's project, Our Lady telling Vicka that we should get ready slowly, she herself would tell us when to begin! Please consider spreading our appeal, and sending a monthly contribution.... Mary TV is tax-exempt.  You can donate by sending a check or by credit card through PayPal using the button on our home page. Bank wire transfers are possible." 

Never mind the possibility of bank transfers! If you can attract 400,000 suckers to view a millionaire "seer" faking an "apparition," streaming live from the cathedral of a cardinal archbishop taught and mentored by the reigning pontiff — anything is possible!

Diplomacy, politics & foot-shooting

We glimpse here the seemingly intractable situation facing Cardinal Ruini's team: delusion and exploitation that knows no bounds. Nonetheless, a definitive judgement against the endemic nuttiness high and low would at least set us on the long and difficult path back to sanity; to regularised Marian piety and practice. 

Of course, as Cardinal Puljic indicated and as we have observed throughout, there is far more to resolving this complex phenomenon than a final ruling against the "visions" and "messages" themselves. There are knotty pastoral and socio-political components. Even putting aside the potential local bloodletting a negative judgement might ignite, there is the fact that pilgrimages to the "Gospa" constitute the major source of foreign currency in Bosnia-Herzogovina. Such diplomatic and political dimensions might yet produce a damp-squib instead of the unequivocal and strictly enforced verdict that the faithful have a right to expect.     

And then there is the clear and present danger we constantly face: Vatican foot-shooting! Nowadays, Rome does not need external pressures to lose focus, backslide and compromise. It is perfectly capable of doing so for no good reason at all! Witness the diluted review of the Legionaries of Christ. Ditto the latest capitulation to the cultish Neocatechumenal Way. Instead of holding firm to constant (and constantly disobeyed) demands for the Neocats to abandon sacrilegious DIY liturgies and adhere to liturgical norms, on 20 January 2012 Benedict XVI formally sanctioned their liturgical "creativity." According to Italian writer Sandro Magister, this will only harm "the wise and patient work of reconstruction of the Catholic liturgy that Pope Benedict has been carrying out for years...."

The suicidal Neocat decree exemplifies the Vatican policy of rewarding disobedience and blind-eye turning; the leitmotifs of our postconciliar age. Especially in respect of large and wealthy groups like the Legionaries, Opus Dei and the Neocats, whose numerous vocations have blinded recent popes to their "negative fruits." Positive vibes emanating from the Ruini commission must be balanced against this ruinous pragmatism, not least because the problematic Charismatic Renewal movement is closely associated with Medjugorje and they, too, boast impressive numbers and sundry vocations. 

As ever, therefore, we temper our expectations; remaining hopeful but realistic. Not forgetting, for instance, that although Bishop Perić clearly stated he had sufficient evidence for a constat de non verdict that Our Lady was absolutely not appearing in his diocese, he was not afforded the possibility to execute that judgement by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The secretary of the CDF simply declared that the Bishop, the legitimate authority in the matter, was merely expressing his personal opinion! Noted Medjugorje analyst Louis Bélanger raised the pertinent questions: 

Have we seen the Secretary of the CDF express the same concern towards the Archbishop competent for Vienna after Cardinal Schönborn voiced, in Medjugorje, his televised conviction that the Virgin Mary is appearing in a place where he has no mandate — "The Mother of God is so patient with us that for nearly 29 years here, in a very direct way, she is showing her proximity and care for the parish of Medjugorje and numerous pilgrims"?

Have we seen the Secretary of the CDF express concern over the Archbishop of Vienna displaying his televised joy and conviction that the Virgin Mary has appeared in his cathedral without proper examination of that event and consultation with the CDF?

What kind of discernment was concealed under that behaviour? Does that depreciation of the non constat [negative decision of the local bishop and bishops' conference]enlighten the faithful? Last but not least: how will the teacher, Benedict XVI — who "wants a decisive conclusion made" in the light of truth — cope with his undisciplined [friend and pupil]?

Double standards? Maybe! Cardinal Schönborn is a member of the CDF and, according to The Trumpet, one of the two prime contenders for Cardinal Levada’s replacement as Prefect of the CDF…

Ah yes, curial politics! As Cardinal Ruini knows well, internal machinations will make the secular politics and diplomacy involved seem like a walk in the park! 

Of course the anti-collegial double-standard personified by Cardinal Schönborn apropos Medjugorje, and largely tolerated in his regard by Rome, is a major problem extending far beyond the incestuous curia. Just as criminal negligence by so many prelates fostered clerical sexual abuse until secret crimes exploded into public view, the egregious failure of far more to support the authoritative decision of their brother bishop in Mostar (e.g. saturation advertising of forbidden Medj pilgrimages in their newspapers and/or allowing the "seers" to perform in their dioceses), has fostered false hope and disobedience in equal measure. And since Rome tolerated that unconscionable dereliction of duty across the board — foot-shooting par excellence — it must accept the lion's share of the blame for helping turn the original scandal into the complex, multi-faceted crisis facing Cardinal Ruini today. One commentator rightly observed that

When Medjugorje became a worldwide phenomenon and continued to be believed by millions despite the negative judgment of the Ordinary of Mostar, the Vatican should have stepped in and moved on it so that there would be no doubts in the minds of believers. Medjugorje apologists could credibly “spin” the actions of the Vatican, which, to the average lay person, were vague and equivocal. However, had the Vatican done back in the early 1980s what the Vatican is now doing (the investigation and impending ruling), the scenario laid out by [Italian journalist Vittorio] Messori (“I have met and continue to meet so many people who have changed and for whom Medjugorje is the centre of their experience of faith: What would you say to them? It is an illusion, you have been the victim of a hoax? It would be a scandal because of the grandeur of the phenomenon of the last thirty years”) would have never happened.

Fruits vs Roots

Yet true to postconciliar form, it has happened. And all the positive and negative indicators notwithstanding, it will be impossible to resolve the situation if the Commission, in the time-honoured fashion of Medj propagandists, gives pre-eminence to purported "fruits," instead of separating these from the underlying truth which lies in the roots. Professor of dogmatics and patristics at Lugano, Manfred Hauke explained to Die Tagepost:

Good fruits alone are still no confirmation for the supernatural origin of a visionary phenomenon. In medicine placebo therapy also sometimes brings good results, but they aren't to be credited to the medicine as such. And even at a place, at which trickery happens or even the devil acts, it is possible that divine grace acts and people convert and find God. In the criteria for the supernatural credibility of Marian apparitions the fruits are to be connected with the examination of the phenomenon itself and its confirmation through miracles.

In Medjugorje there are, in addition, not only good fruits, but also a whole number of negative consequences that are connected with the phenomenon of the apparitions. One of those is the encouragement given to two Franciscan friars, who were urged by the seer Vicka in the name of the "Gospa" to set themselves against the canonically legitimate directives of the local bishop regarding their pastoral activity. At the repeated exhortations of the "Gospa" to disobedience (13 times), the ordinary at the time, Bishop Zanic, who had been originally inclined favourably to the Medjugorje phenomenon, reacted with very understandable rejection.

Without doubt the pastoral "collateral damage" of a final negative finding will involve those fooled by purported fruits with a seductive appeal ("come and touch the visionaries who see the Virgin Mary and talk with Her"), over the documented truth ("the phenomenon is not supernatural because no evidence has been found to prove the case"), as Louis Bélanger put it. When challenged by the true believers, Bélanger met their subjective appeals with commendable understanding and objectivity, separating their tragic deception from their deceivers:

I have an immense respect for the sincere individual/pilgrim who will find his/her experience edifying. Who am I to judge that person, especially if he/she has been abused by unscrupulous propagandists? My critique is aimed at persons and organizations that should be held accountable for that pastoral fiasco.

Some circumstances have led me to make a research that began in 1984 on the so-called ecstasies experienced by visionaries in Medjugorje and I have tried to reconstruct those events/phenomena.

... In doing so, I have witnessed wilful ignorance, concealment and falsifications of historical documented facts perpetrated by persons or organizations who were and are in a position of intellectual and pastoral responsibility toward potential pilgrims.

In spite of the documented proofs of falsifications of historical documents concerning the Lady of Medjugorje and of the enlightened conviction of the legitimate and competent authority, Mgr Ratko Peric, expressed in his constat de non supernaturalitate, the Medjugorje Franciscans have indeed mobilized misinformed priests, bishops, cardinals and millions of faithful, with the power of lies, a political agenda and a tremendous amount of money. 

As regards the preternatural disorientation that has made the hierarchy sitting ducks for Medj propagandists by blinding them to the elephant in the room — the cargo container of documented evidence emblazoned with "Infitialis Fructus!" ("Negative Fruits!") — Bélanger added: 

14 years ago, the Ordinary of Mostar expressed his hope that the Holy See would establish a Commission that should give a final judgement on the Medjugorje case. His voice has only been heard last year. What happened? Has the "sectarian self-importance with sometimes occult methods and syncretic mysticism" of the Medjugorje Franciscans seduced some higher authorities? Has the "confusion in the minds and ideas" of some higher authorities rendered them unaware of the tens of thousands of infantilizing messages addressed by the Lady of Medjugorje to her "dear little children" who are almost in their fifties?

Furious fallout

Whatever the case for the "higher authorities," those not-so-little children will not be denied their feel-good "Gospa"! Despite occasional mutterings that they will comply with the Ruini findings — "We're waiting for the Vatican and we will obey the Vatican," assured one prominent advocate — slaves to signs and wonders usually adopt the 'business/visions as usual' approach of condemned "seers" themselves, such as Gianna Talone Sullivan of Emmitsburg and "Patricia" of Surbiton. The latter's contrived response following her official condemnation is instructive and, sadly, reflective of the belligerent attitude expressed everywhere (certainly to the present writer whenever the truth about Medjugorje is presented in CO).

Under cover of a "Message given by Our Lord to Patricia de Menezes on 27th September 2007," she wrote: "I was praying for the situation we are in at the moment whereby following the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ‘concerns and observations’ regarding our constitution and the spirituality of the Family of Divine Innocence the Archbishop of Southwark, His Grace Bishop Kevin Mc Donald has said we cannot meet under the name of Our Lord’s Divine Innocence." Then followed a strident "Message given by Our Lord to Patricia de Menezes on 28th September 2007":

Patricia: Lord, they are saying that we cannot walk under your name of Divine Innocence. 

Jesus: You must walk for the Truth that I AM!  The Archbishop in this case is dividing family members who follow the way of My Divine Innocence ... They push you to go against the Truth that is written on the heart!  Quote this passage! ... Your heart is true in this case, it revolts against a lie.

This bolshie "Jesus" of Patricia's vivid imagination recalls the attitude of those who refused to accept the truth about Gino Burresi. "The nuns and the seminarians, who support Gino, will not even look at the evidence," wrote Rick Salbato. "Gino has become the last word. They will choose him over the Church. They will choose him over God." Indeed one nun blasphemously declared: "Even if the Pope said Gino was bad, I would not believe it. I would choose Gino over God."

Doubtless "the Gospa of Medjugorje" will be similarly preferred to any negative Roman judgement. One committed Medj supporter I met in 2007 was convinced of it. When I suggested that the devil will rejoice as people walk away from the Faith in droves after the Vatican finally denounces the thing, he looked at me in a very sad and intent way: "I'm very worried about that," he replied. He was not at all defiant but simply and quietly voicing his fear about that tragic outcome should Rome ever rule against his pet apparition. Yet typically, while he sensed the potential for massive loss of faith, he failed to appreciate that a genuine apparition could never implant and foster such a dreadful possibility.

While all Medj advocates share that gentleman's delusion and confusion, they are by no means all as civil and even tempered. Most often they react to the truth like a devil dunked in holy water. And that being so, their collective outcry will ultimately signal Vatican success or failure. Which is to say that if Medjugorje blogs and newsletters are not filled with self-righteous vitriol, if calm indifference reigns instead, it will likely signal that Cardinal Ruini and Pope Benedict have compromised and retained the status quo (i.e. a negative but non-definitive verdict).

 "Tormenting dilemma"?

It might be said that although futile and damaging, at least that outcome would be better than a reversal of the status quo. This is a spurious argument because there is no chance of a positive ruling.

Given that the previous findings were commended by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, we can be morally certain that those negative verdicts will not be overturned. Not for any reason. For were that to occur, notes Louis Bélanger, it would denigrate and humiliate not only Bishops Žanić and Perić, the bêtes noires of Medj promoters, but also "the 8-year work of more than three dozen experts and the endorsement of 19 out of the 20 members of the former Yugoslavian Bishops’ Conference, and the CDF itself which has endorsed the negative (non constat) ruling until today, and the pastoral directive attached to it."

"Moreover, last but not least," he continues, "we would have a 'humiliated' Pope Benedict XVI who praised the work of the Third Commission and endorsed its verdict as the Prefect of the CDF." On August 28th, 1991, at a Congress in Linz (Austria), after having specified that he had read all the protocols of the Third Commission, or their Italian abstracts for the Croatian ones, Cardinal Ratzinger commented:

“The investigation was, as I said, very thorough, very broad and very objective. And, consequently, one had to say: the supernatural character of the phenomenon is not established.” [Gebetsaktion, Nr. 22, 1991, p. 15]

To contradict all that would be tantamount to admitting that the mandated experts and theologians/priests/bishops have failed (to identify the authentic Virgin Mary), and a crisis of authority and theological "incompetence" would ensue. The victims would then be all those "humiliated" authorities and unfit institutions (not just Žanić and Perić, as the propagandists would have us believe), and the betrayed Catholic faithful who have waited so long to be pastorally enlightened and guided.

To find the "apparitions" and "messages" of supernatural origin, in other words, would constitute a catastrophe far greater than the millions of blogging Medj supporters we will find spitting venom online over the inevitable confirmation of the "Gospa's" non-supernaturalness, whether definitively or not.

So the idea put about by the likes of Vittorio Messori that the Holy See faces a "tormenting dilemma," is nonsense. In fact, as impossible as the tangled web appears, there is NO dilemma! There is simply hard evidence and truth, on the one hand; blind-eye turning and cowardly compromise, on the other. The latter means retaining the status quo of non constat de supernaturalitate; the former means proclaiming constat de non supernaturalitate, thereby eliminating all propagandistic wiggle room.

These are the lone choices. A "dilemma" will only arise if subjectivity trumps objectivity; if the myriad vested interests — spiritual, pastoral, financial, political, diplomatic and economic — obscure the crystal-clear conclusions already drawn from voluminously documented facts.    

Exorcism, liberation and reintegration 

Since Medjugorje continues to lead the assault on Catholic faith and life decried by John Paul II, the importance of the Ruini Commission's final ruling cannot be overstated. "Within the Church community, the multiplication of supposed 'apparitions' or 'visions' is sowing confusion and reveals a certain lack of solid basis to the faith and Christian life among her members," lamented Christ's Vicar in September 1996. In this he was dutifully echoing the words of the Head of the Church Himself, Who declared:

"It is an evil generation that looks for signs." 

Thanks largely to Medjugorje and the complicity of our fathers in the Faith, that would make our own generation very evil indeed! And so the Commission must not dilute its negative judgement on the Mother of All Bogus Apparitions by merely upholding the status quo. This would be an open invitation to the Medjugorje industry to continue on its mendacious way, ruthlessly exploiting Roman weakness, equivocation and false charity. Only by pronouncing "constat de non supernaturalitate" and telling the truth without fear or favour, like their Lord and Master, will it help exorcise and free an "evil generation" from the wiles of Satan.

Having done so, Our Lady will prevail on her Son to mollify the expected nuclear reaction and draw good from all the evil done in her name by this 30-year deception: a travesty of Marian devotion that has submerged her true apparitions and authentic messages under a deluge of lies, confusion, false signs and wonders. And as Donal Foley points out, since the major casualty has been her Fatima message, 

This means that somehow [any "good fruits" of Medjugorje] must be integrated into the overall Fatima apostolate, since Fatima has achieved such a prominent place in the Marian thinking of the Church now. Thus the apparently genuine conversions and spiritual good points coming from Medjugorje — for example the large numbers involved in receiving the Sacraments — and any other positive points coming from disputed apparitions, need to somehow be harnessed to the ordinary Fatima-led Marian "channels" which exist in the Church.

High Marian stakes

Until we reach that happy outcome the yearning for signs and wonders will remain as a terrible portent: for there are few things more ungodly or more dangerous — for souls, the Church and the world — than the undermining of genuine devotion to Our Lady. St. Don Bosco's famous vision speaks to this supernatural reality  and the urgent need, always and everywhere, to protect the Faith and the faithful from Apparitionitis.

"There will be an Ecumenical Council in the next [20th] century, after which there will be chaos in the Church," he warned. "Tranquillity will not return until the Pope succeeds in anchoring the boat of Peter between the twin pillars of Eucharistic Devotion and Devotion to Our Lady." His vision of the Bark of Peter in battle tells the story:

This stately vessel is shielded by a flotilla escort. Winds and waves are with the enemy. In this midst of this endless sea, two solid columns, a short distance apart, soar high into the sky: one is surmounted by a statue of the Immaculate Virgin at whose feet a large inscription reads: Help of Christians; the other, far loftier and sturdier, supports a Host of proportionate size and bears beneath it the inscription Salvation of believers….

The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs. They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons. The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on its course. At times a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole into its hull, but, immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.

... Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded. He is instantly helped up but, struck down a second time, dies. A shout of victory rises from the enemy and wild rejoicing sweeps their ships. But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place. ... The enemy's self-assurance wanes.

Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns and moors it to the two columns; first to the one surmounted by the Host, and then to the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin. At this point something unexpected happens. The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other. Some auxiliary ships which had gallantly fought alongside their flagship are the first to tie up at the two columns…

Many others, which had fearfully kept far away from the fight, stand still, cautiously waiting until the wrecked enemy ships vanish under the waves. Then, they too head for the two columns, tie up at the swinging hooks, and ride safe and tranquil beside their flagship. A great calm now covers the sea.

On 30 May 1862, after relating this dream to his boys and the young clerics he was training, Don Bosco explained that "The enemies of the Church are symbolised by the ships which strive their utmost to sink the flagship. Only two things can save us in such a grave hour: devotion to Mary and frequent Communion."

Together with a resumé of the Five First Saturdays devotion, this great prophetic vision should be handed to Cardinal Ruini and his team. It is a graphic reminder of what is at stake, and what is required: a definitive, watertight denunciation of the Medjugorje "Gospa" — the garrulous ape and antithesis of the heavenly Queen of Peace, who prefers to keep and ponder words "in her heart" [Lk 2:19]. This decisive outcome, upholding Our Lady's honour, will surely find favour with the Lord, Who will then renew devotion to His Mother's Immaculate Heart. For upon such authentic Marian piety hangs the peace of His Church, and the fate of mankind. 

Help of Christians, pray for us!


(1) This revisionist ruse is common to bogus visionaries. Father François-Marie Dermine O.P. has documented the "disappearance, cancellation, censuring and modification of messages" by Vassula Ryden, for instance. He has posted online photocopies of the original messages with the corrections done by the "seer." The intrepid Maria Laura Pio at www.infovassula.ch states that "These documents are part of the famous photocopies circulated by [ex-Medjugorje advocate] Father Pavich in the 1990s, where it is possible to see the deleted passages and the modification of words and sentences in view of the publication of the messages. You will also find a fax written by Vassula in which she confirms having two sets of notebooks and tries to justify the censuring done to the messages."