ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PORTUGAL (CNS) – While the investigations into the very first alleged apparitions at Medjugorje must continue, Pope Francis said he has doubts about claims that Mary continues to appear in the village of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Asked May 13 about the authenticity of the Marian apparitions, which reportedly began in 1981, the pope referred to the findings of a commission chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the retired papal vicar of Rome.

“The report has its doubts, but personally, I am a little worse,” the pope told reporters traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal. “I prefer Our Lady as mother, our mother, and not Our Lady as head of the post office who sends a message at a stated time.”

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The sun sets behind a statue of Mary on Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this 2011 file photo. Photo provided by CNS

 

“This isn’t Jesus’ mother,” he said. “And these alleged apparitions don’t have much value. I say this as a personal opinion, but it is clear. Who thinks that Our Lady says, ‘Come, because tomorrow at this time I will give a message to that seer?’ No!”

Three of the six young people who originally claimed to have seen Mary in Medjugorje in June 1981 say she continues to appear to them each day; the other three say Mary appears to them once a year now.

A diocesan commission studied the alleged apparitions in 1982-1984 and again in 1984-1986 with more members; and the then-Yugoslavian bishops’ conference studied them from 1987 to 1990. All three commissions concluded that they could not affirm that a supernatural event was occurring in the town.

Despite his personal doubts, the pope said that the “spiritual and pastoral facts cannot be denied: People go there and convert, people who find God, who change their lives. There isn’t magic there.”

In February, Pope Francis appointed Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and the thousands of pilgrims who flock to Medjugorje each year. He told reporters those people deserve spiritual care and support.

The commission that now-retired Pope Benedict XVI established to study the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje, reportedly voted overwhelmingly to recognize as supernatural the first seven appearances of Mary in 1981.

However, according to a report published by the website Vatican Insider, the commission was much more doubtful about the thousands of alleged visions that have occurred since July 4, 1981.

Two of the 17 commission members and consultants thought the alleged visions after the period of June 24-July 3, 1981, were not supernatural, while the other members said it was not possible to make a judgment.

The commission said it was clear that the six alleged visionaries and a seventh who claims to have begun receiving messages from Mary in December 1982 were not given adequate spiritual support.

Vatican Insider published its piece on the report May 16, three days after Pope Francis spoke to journalists traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal.

The Vatican press office May 17 declined to comment on the Vatican Insider piece.