Medjugorje critics parrot old Communist lies

In an attempt at compromising Medjugorje priest Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, the Communist power-holders of the then Yugoslavia invented slanderous stories about him, claiming he had fathered a child. Though the accusations were proven false long ago, Medjugorje critics still repeat the claim whose Communist origin is now coming to the light in a new documentary book that details how the official Yugoslavia sought to destroy Medjugorje.

Fr. Tomislav Vlasic during his time in Medjugorje: Old, invented accusations against him still linger on today

Governed by an atheistic one-party system, the old Yugoslavia did all in its might to suppress and quench Medjugorje. And one of the more successful attempts  still echoes today – in books, blogs and websites of Medjugorje critics.

In the new book “Misterij Medugorja” (“The Mystery of Medjugorje”) four Croatian journalists present the results of years of research into the archives of the secret Yugoslavian police, known in its time as State Security Service (SDB). Large amounts of documents classified as confidential or even state secrets are being presented to the public for the first time, revealed by the Intelligence and Security Agency of Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Part of the Communist strategy was attempting to compromise central figures in and around Medjugorje, most notably the Franciscan priests Fr. Jozo Zovko (codename: Lujo) and Fr. Tomislav Vlasic (codename: Otto) – along with Pavao Zanic, the then Bishop of Mostar (codename: Pius).

Entitled “Of hostile activities of Fr. Jozo Zovko and a plan of measures”, this memo of the secret police is dated July 23rd 1981, one month after the first apparition. This excerpt accuses Fr. Jozo of having participated in “clero-nationalistic activities” and for having expressed “hostile” points of view during a sermon in Medjugorje. Three weeks later Fr. Jozo was arrested

The strategy worked best in the case of Fr. Vlasic who left Medjugorje for Italy in 1987. Up to that point he had fought against slanderous accusations of having fathered a child, a claim that was soon revealed to be baseless, but none the less has been repeated ever since.

Unknowingly, Fr. Vlasic had been a main target of an operation code-named “Black Soil”. An SDB memo to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bosnia and Hercegovina dated November 17th 1987 reveals this operation – along with the simulteneous “Operation Crnica” – to be ranking among the most successful means undertaken by the Communists against Medjugorje. The document is classified as a state secret:

“The current implementation of planned measures in general combined with Operation Crnica achieved significant results in terms of compromising Otto, after which he came to passivity in the enemy’s activities and a complete withdrawal as a religious worker and propagandist of the Medjugorje apparitions,” the document reads.

Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar - unwittingly used as an instrument by the Communists, but also himself a candidate for later compromising on behalf of the regime

Part of the strategy on behalf of the secret police was informing the then Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar about the accusations against Fr. Vlasic.

Bishop Zanic reacted by broadcasting the accusations against Fr. Vlasic all around the world – but still the secret document of  November 17th 1987 ends with a detailed proposal for further compromising not only Fr. Jozo Zovko, but also the Bishop.

According to the press material, the new book also contains a series of  “special information about the enemy activities” of Fr. Jozo Zovko and information about the contacts between the state authorities and the then Provincial of the Franciscan Order in Hercegovina. With the book fresh out in print, all further details on these points are yet to come to the surface.

Zarko Ivkovic, Robert Bubalo, Zvonimir Despot and Sinisa Hancic: “Misterij Međugorja”, Vecernji List 2011