"As the local bishop, I maintain that regarding the events of Medjugorje, on the basis of the investigations and experience
gained thus far throughout these last 25 years, the church has not confirmed a single apparition as authentically being the
Madonna," he said. He then called on the alleged visionaries and "those persons behind the messages to demonstrate ecclesiastical
obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish."
"In this fashion they shall show their necessary adherence to the church, by placing neither private apparitions nor private
sayings before the official position of the church," he said.
"Our faith is a serious and responsible matter," he added. "The church is also a serious and responsible institution."
The bishop made his comments June 15 during a homily at a confirmation Mass in Medjugorje's St. James Church. The diocese
published the homily in English and Italian July 3.
On June 25, thousands of pilgrims converged on Medjugorje to mark the 25th anniversary of the onset of the alleged apparitions.
Since June 24-25, 1981, the alleged visionaries together claim to have received more than 30,000 messages.
But Bishop Peric said in his homily that "so-called apparitions, messages, secrets and signs do not strengthen the faith,
but rather further convince us that in all of this there is nothing either authentic or established as truthful."
He said in February that Pope Benedict XVI expressed similar doubts when they discussed Medjugorje during the Bosnian bishops'
visit to the Vatican.
Bishop Peric told the congregation that because the church did not accept the claims of the visionaries it was illicit
for priests to "express their private views contrary to the official position" during Mass, in acts of popular piety or in
the Catholic media.
He said Catholics were forbidden from making pilgrimages to Medjugorje if by such visits "they presuppose the authenticity
of the apparitions or if by undertaking them attempt to certify these apparitions."
Bishop Peric said his views, and those of his predecessor, Bishop Pavao Zanic, who was also opposed to the claims, were
supported by the pope. He expressed appreciation to Popes Benedict and John Paul II, "who have always respected the judgments
of the bishops of Mostar-Duvno, of the previous as well as the current bishop, regarding the so-called apparitions and messages
of Medjugorje, all the while recognizing the holy father's right to give a final decision on these events."
He also warned his audience of a schism emerging in the region between the church and more than a dozen Franciscan brothers
and priests who have been expelled by the generalate of the Order of Friars Minor in Rome because of their disobedience to
He said that the expelled Franciscans "have not only been illegally active in these parishes, but they have also administered
the sacraments profanely... or they have assisted at invalid marriages."
Bishop Peric said he shared the view of Bishop Zanic that the visions and the Franciscan "schism," which began under Pope
Paul VI in the 1970s, are linked.
Throughout the 1980s, Franciscan Father Jozo Zovko acted as "spiritual adviser" to the visionaries.
But three church commissions failed to find evidence to support their claims, and in 1991 the bishops of the former Yugoslavia
declared that "it cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations."
A short while later Father Zovko was stripped of his faculties to exercise any priestly functions by Bishop Zanic in a
decree upheld by Bishop Peric.
Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops