“Medjugorje is a place of grace, and the fruits - the many conversions - are a proof for it” (Mons. Giovanni Battista Pichierri)
Bruno Volpe spoke with Mons. Giovanni Battista Pichierri, Bishop of Trani, in Puglia, who declared, “I think that the prudent position of the Church on the topic is just and legitimate. The visionaries continue to speak, therefore, it is necessary to wait. But if the faithful are coming in such a great numbers, there must be a positive reason for it”.
The position of the Church is however very cautious. “This is true. There is a directive that prohibits the pilgrimages led by the Bishops and diocesan priests, but lately - in front of the extent and the evidence of the phenomenon - this rigidity is being a little attenuated”.
Excellence, do you have personal knowledge of people and faithful from your Diocese who have been converted and have changed their life or their lifestyle thanks to Medjugorje? “Off course, and I have no reason to deny it. I know good people who, before the visit to Medjugorje, were not true and authentic Christians, and they returned from there literally transformed. From this point of view, it seems to me appropriate to speak of a place of grace”.
What do you mean when you speak of a place of grace? “Conversion, accepting the sacraments that were rejected or abandoned for a long time, is a grace. I can affirm that this happens in Medjugorje, and with certain permanence. Conversions may also happen in other places, but if they are recorded in such abundance, I think that the hand of God is at work, his mighty will”.
Why is the Church so prudent? “It must be said that - concerning Marian apparitions - the Church leaves us free to believe or not to believe, for they are not a dogma of faith. The Church has given approval to many apparitions. Concerning Medjugorje, precisely because the visionaries - that I think healthy of mind continue to speak, which means that the visions are not closed - the Church has decided to defer the judgment. But postponement in itself does not mean denial”.
Some malicious tongues have even spread the suspicions of presumed religious business. “This seems to me exaggerated and unfair. I do not exclude the presence of some cunning ones, but this phenomenon is very diverse and often present around Shrines and Basilicas. I do not understand why some underline this when they speak about Medjugorje, and pretend that it does not happen in others places. All together, if there are those who draw economic benefit in a dubious way, they will answer in front of their conscience, but my opinion is that if this is happening, it is happening not only in Medjugorje”.
A famous retired Archbishop, an exorcist, wrote that it could be a matter of a satanic deceit. “With all the respect for my brother bishop and friend, whom I esteem, I do not agree with him. I think that this is an exaggeration. Many conversions happen in Medjugorje, which means that people come closer to God. Satan is doing exactly the opposite, he is dividing. In this case, Satan would toil against himself, which seems to me little credible indeed”.
Let us speak about Mary, who is this sweet creature? “The daughter of Zion, free from original sin, designed from God for the plan of salvation. She is the woman who said YES, she is contributing to the plan of salvation, restoring and repairing the negative act committed by Adam and Eve. Mary is indeed the Holy One, and a sure way that makes us reach the grace of God”.