The tiny village of Medjugorje in what is now Bosnia & Herzegovina (formerly Yugoslavia) remains one of the visited places in Europe for Catholic pilgrims, attracting hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year….an estimated 35 million since the apparitions were first reported in 1981. It still lacks Vatican approval, however, and still has many detractors as well, which makes it somewhat controversial.
It was assumed that Pope John Paul II was a believer in the apparitions and he reportedly asked to fly over the village whenever traveling in that area. With his devotion to our Blessed Mother, Pope Francis might be assumed to be favorable toward the apparitions as well, since when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires he approved the visits of one of the visionaries (Ivan) to his diocese. Back in the late 1990’s he received Fr. Jozo, who was parish priest at the time the apparitions were first reported. It was reported that he asked Father Jozo to bless him during his visit.
A new development is the announcement this week that he has granted an audience to a delegation from Medjugorje that includes the pastor of the parish as well as other priests here. We wonder if the decision might be near to grant Medjugorje Shrine status. It is not quite approval of the apparitions themselves, but certain a step along that road.