The Blessed Virgin Mary has purportedly been appearing at Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1981. Many Catholics believe these apparitions are genuine, whereas others consider them fake or even spiritually dangerous.
There have been countless purported Marian apparitions throughout the centuries. Only a few were officially recognized by the Church.
What makes Medjugorje such a tough case is its huge following. Even many priests believe the apparitions are real.
What should a Catholic think about this? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. The Church hasn’t officially recognized these apparitions.
Christ gave the Apostles and their successors authority to guard the faith of the People of God. When it comes to apparitions, it’s best to defer to the judgment of the bishop who oversees the area where the event purportedly took place. If the pope rules that an apparition is not authentic, you should steer clear of it.
The early bishops of the region did not approve the apparitions. The pope hasn’t either and doesn’t want public devotion to them. On the other hand, he hasn’t condemned them, so private pilgrimages can be made there, which allows the Church to maintain jurisdiction over the site.
This means that the status of the Medjugorje apparitions is in limbo. If you’re inclined to believe them, reserve judgment until the Church issues an official ruling.
2. Catholics are not required to believe in any Marian apparitions.
Even if the Church approves an apparition of Our Lady, it doesn’t require you to believe it. You can still be saved. If you think you need to accept apparitions to be saved, that’s a sign of a spiritually unhealthy mindset.
3. Make sure your faith is grounded in Scripture and Church teaching, not apparitions.
Christ’s revelation comes to us through Scripture and Tradition, as officially interpreted by the Church’s magisterium. That’s it. Even though the Church accepts that private revelations can happen, it’s adamant that the Deposit of Faith is complete. It warns us against purported visions that claim to add, subtract or correct what was given to us by Christ.
If you look at the approved apparitions, you’ll notice they simply help Catholics live the fundamentals of the faith in a particular period in history. They don’t introduce any new doctrines.
If you stick to Scripture, Church teaching, and the sacraments, your soul is in a good place!