A new diocese for Medjugorje?

Reports of a possible new diocese being formed to accommodate Medjugorje appeared in the Croatian press almost two weeks ago and was mentioned on this weblog. Now the Italian journalist and author Andrea Tornielli has also reported on this possibility, as the Catholic News Agency states today:

Rome, Italy, Mar 22, 2010 / 04:52 pm (CNA).- Following last week’s announcement that a commission is being formed to investigate possible Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, a typically well-informed Vatican journalist has reported that a new diocese could be formed in the area to include the Bosnian [and Herzegovina] city [village]. Taking territory currently under the jurisdiction of three other dioceses, including Mostar, where Medjugorje is located, the diocese would “permit a better administration of the flow of pilgrims.”

The veteran Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli reported in the Saturday edition of Il Giornale, an Italian newspaper, of the renewed possibility of the erection of a diocese that would make Medjugorje independent from the Diocese of Mostar, which is run by Bishop Ratko Peric. He has been vocal in his scepticism of the authenticity of the apparitions.

Tornielli wrote that the decision to create the new diocese, with a possible see in Makarska, was nearly made last September, but was put off in part by the opposition of Bishop Peric.

The new diocese would be created from territory currently falling within the dioceses of Dubrovnik, Mostar and Spalato.

Regarding the commission created by the Vatican to investigate the Medjugorje “phenomena” under presidency of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Tornielli has reported that other members include Cardinal Archbishop of Sarajevo Vinko Pulijc, Archbishop Josip Bozanic of Zagreb and Cardinal Julián Herranz, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts.

Tornielli also mentioned that others expected to sit on the commission are Archbishop Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Jesuit Father Tony Anatrella, a psychologist, and other experts in “Mariology.” According to his estimation, lay people will also be included in the approximately 20 person commission.

The reporter from Il Giornale wrote that it should be expected that the process of the commission will be slow and its results will not be a statement on the “supernatural nature” of the events, but rather a clearer picture of the “suspended” judgment by Yugoslav bishops after investigations on the matter 20 years ago.

The commission will make sure that there are no “scams, tricks, or diabolical facts” involved and could in addition provide “clear, precise and authoritative directions for pilgrims.”

Tornielli noted that the Holy See has never pronounced a judgement on a case of apparitions that are still in progress.

The Makarska mentioned in this report is based in Croatia and was refuge for many families during the Bosnian War. It is also a popular stop-off point for pilgrims making their way to and from Medjugorje as it is the location of a replica shrine of Lourdes known as “Little Lourdes”.

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