Pope knew early about Medjugorje

I told Benedict XVI about Medjugorje from soon after the apparitions began. The Pope is well-informed, but cautious, says Fr. Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist for years. He further calls it normal and even necessary that a certain commercialization has sprung up in Medjugorje.

fr father gabriele amorth chief senior vatican exorcist rome medjugorje pope benedict xvi 16 cardinal joseph ratzinger

Fr. Gabriele Amorth (born 1925) was ordained a priest in 1954 and became an exorcist in 1986. Until 2000 he served as chief exorcist for the Diocese of Rome, and he has remained active since his official retirement. In 1990 he founded the International Association of Exorcists whose president he was until his retirement in 2000, now being honorary president for life. Throughout the years Fr. Amorth has embraced Medjugorje, and he has called the place “a great fortress against Satan”

Information about Medjugorje was given to the current Pope Benedict XVI from the first Summer of the apparitions in 1981 when he, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, served as Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Cardinal Ratzinger was being informed by Fr. Gabriele Amorth who was not yet an exorcist then, but would later became chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome.

In a new interview Fr. Amorth tells that he visited Medjugorje very soon after the first reports of apparitions in June 1981, that his visit in October 1981 was already his second – and that he kept Cardinal Ratzinger informed from the start.

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Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger by the time when the apparitions began in Medjugorje, and he was being informed by Fr. Gabriele Amorth

“At the time when he was the head of CDF, he had to be very, very careful, and he has upheld the same attitude. When I first came to Medjugorje, I immediately went to him, to tell about Medjugorje” Fr. Gabriele Amorth tells the Croatian news magazine Globus.

“He listened to what I had to say, very carefully, but he did not comment on anything. Nothing, not one word. He just listened. He was accustomed to speak only when the time is right, and when he had made a decision which he considered definitive, or had formed his attitude” says Fr. Gabriele Amorth.

The next formal statement of the Catholic Church on Medjugorje will be issued by Pope Benedict XVI, when he has received the final report from the Vatican Commission that he announced on March 17th 2010.

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Fr. Amorth in the 1980s, with visionary Vicka Ivankovic in Medjugorje

In the interview, Fr. Gabriele Amorth agrees with what has long been the dominant expectation: that the Church will neither recognize nor deny the authenticity of the apparitions by a time when the visionaries say they are still going on.

“While the apparitions still occur, the Church is not about to be determined. In addition, not all the visionaries know all 10 secrets yet. No one except the visionaries know when the secrets will be revealed to the world” says Fr. Gabriele Amorth.

“I think the Vatican cannot be too far ahead in its investigation of the apparitions in Medjugorje, and cannot make any final conclusion as long as there are still apparitions.”

Fr. Amorth okays sales in Medjugorje

The famous exorcist further states that Medjugorje should not be criticized for the commercial aspects that have followed the Virgin Mary’s apparitions. They will always come when a place is being sought out by great numbers of pilgrims in need of accommodation, he says.

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The modern, urbanized Medjugorje

“It has emerged that there are hotels, restaurants, shops, and inns. This is quite logical and normal. When I went to Fatima after World War II, it was also a deserted place where there were no shops or hotels or restaurants. People who had a car or had come by bus, they slept there. Those who had nothing were literally sleeping on the ground” tells Fr. Gabriele Amorth.

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Medjugorje when the apparitions began in 1981

“The number of pilgrims was so massive that the infrastructure had to be developed. And so it is in Medjugorje. It does not surprise me. Even the fact they sell souvenirs and products is quite normal. People want to take some memories home.”

“Know about Medjugorje that even the existing number of hotels is too small because you have to book accommodation in advance. (Earlier) we often slept in Capljina near Medjugorje because there was nothing. Now it is different” he says.

“There is no such place as Medjugorje”

Unlike the current Pope, the now 87 years old exorcist never kept hidden what he thinks about Medjugorje. In Globus, he states his position once more:

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Fr. Gabriele Amorth

“I think that the apparitions are authentic. Young and old come to Medjugorje and return changed, enlightened. Young people are becoming believers. Medjugorje has the highest number of confessions. People are fascinated by the miracles that occur. I think that those who go to Medjugorje get what they need there, in terms of belief. Those who go there receive a clear signal” says Fr. Gabriele Amorth.

“There is another reason why I believe in the apparitions. People from within the Church, we should be much more cautious about these things. But after a pilgrimage, after visiting the site, they so believe in Medjugorje, they are so enthusiastic and loud about what you find in Medjugorje that my optimism and faith truly surpass expectations.”

“Medjugorje is therefore a very positive, strong phenomenon. In today’s world there is no such place like Medjugorje when it comes to religious enlightenment of the people and practice of their religion” he says.

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