The Demon of Medjugorje: Part One
It is important that we first explore the priests involved in the Medjugorje "apparitions". Once we have done so, ask yourself whether these men have the holiness of life necessary to be the recipients of such miraculous events. This particular group of Franciscan priests had been a problem in their diocese for some time. They refused to accept the appointment of diocesan clergy to local churches, instead demanding their own priests fill the positions. In fact, they illegally held churches under their own authority in defiance of the local bishop. Many of these Franciscans had ties to the Ustasha (a Croatian terrorist organization), who were responsible for the murders of approximately 600 Serb men, women and children in 1941.1 This, then, is the group of men who installed themselves as mediators between the public and the children claiming to have witnessed the apparition. The four priests most closely associated with the claims are also part of a movement within the Franciscan order that has adopted Charismatic practices. That is, a claim to "speaking in tongues", prophetic utterances, healings, etc. This not only places them on the fringe of Roman Catholicism, but on the extreme end of Evangelical Christianity. These four are: Tomislav Vlasic, Jozo Zovko, Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina. It is worth noting that all four are now laicized-defrocked for a number of behaviors that are anything but Christian. Of these, Vlasic became the central figure, serving as spiritual guide to the children, controlling access to them, holding exclusive authority over the information shared with the public and generally handling the affairs of the so-called "seers". Vlasic is a study in the worst religion has to offer. In 1976 he was serving as a priest in the nearby town of Capljina, where he would hold secretive events described as "spiritual renewals". These were by invitation only and included other priests, nuns and laity. One of the nuns involved was drawn into a sexual affair with Vlasic that lasted until she became pregnant, at which time he sent her away to live alone in Germany as a layperson. He used his position as a priest in an attempt to convince her to keep the illicit affair a secret and promised her that in doing so she would be abundantly blessed, comparing her having been impregnated by him with Mary's conception of Christ.2 Fornication, concubinage, lying and blasphemy are just a few of the sins we see here.
Interestingly, after this sinful affair, in May 1981, during a Charismatic gathering at the Vatican, another Charismatic priest claiming to be channeling the voice of Christ, prophesied to Vlasic, "Do not be afraid, I will send you my mother." It was just a few weeks later (in June) that the first claims of the apparitions were reported to Vlasic. Now, one might be led to think that such a miracle would be cause for Vlasic to repent of his sinful ways and begin to live a holy life. This, however, was not to be the case. By September of 1981 he had abandoned his church in Capljina without permission and gone to live in Medjugorje. The local bishop, who was suspicious of the claims, was attacked mercilessly by Vlasic and company, and not surprisingly, even the messages to come from the spirit being in the apparitions attacked him. He was vilified as a Communist who hated truth and hated God, so he was opposing the apparitions. This rhetoric matched that of these same Franciscans previous to the apparitions, which is at the least suspicious. That same autumn, Vlasic's accomplices, Vego and Prusina organized and led a violent insurrection against the clergy appointed by the bishop, physically beating them and taking over the church they served. The bishop suspended them as an act of discipline, but they simply went to Medjugorje where they sought and received the support of the spirit being manifesting as Mary. The spirit said that the bishop was "to blame for the disorder", that he "has no real love of God in his heart", and that these rebellious Franciscans should ignore his efforts to silence or stop them because they "have no faults".3
Later, when this bishop was replaced by another, these Franciscans engaged in yet another act of violence and terror. During the Bosnian war of 1992-95, these so-called holy men employed a group of Croat militia members to kidnap this new bishop. He was only freed when the United Nations sent military forces in to secure his freedom, but not before the Franciscans had him severely beaten.4 Despite the spirit being appearing to these children having said Vego and Prusina had no faults, it was soon revealed that Vego had also engaged in a sexual affair with a nun, and she had gotten pregnant as well. Zovko, the fourth "holy man" of this group, was likewise found to have been molesting female visitors to the Medjugorje shrine. Both men were laicized.5
Despite Vlasic's efforts to hide his own fornication, letters between himself and his lover made their way to the Vatican, where they were examined by then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. Vlasic was ordered to cease his activities at Medjugorje and to leave the shrine immediately. He simply refused.
If the rebellion, violence and illicit sexuality is not enough to demonstrate something is very wrong with the claims of the miraculous at Medjugorje, then be prepared for even more concerning activity. In 2008, diocesan authorities released a report on their investigation of Vlasic and Medjugorje. This statement claims that Vlasic had "conjured up evil spirits in Medjugorje" and was a "magician", in the sense that he practiced dark magick. Vlasic had indeed started a theosophical oriented organization based on Medjugorje, focusing on the "Light" and "Father of Light".6 While using Christian sounding language, the actual teachings are theosophical in nature. At the same time, he established a relationship with Agnes Heupel, who herself claimed a miraculous event at Medjugorje. The two traveled together, claiming they were a modern St. Francis and St. Clare, working to establish a new religious order of their own making. One of the children who was experiencing the visions of this spirit being claimed that the being told her the order was "God's plan". She later recanted that statement, saying the being never said it. This religious order promotes many occult ideas and practices. Among them, a belief in aliens, psychic communication with alien life forms, and mystical architectural features, such as the "Door of Light". Once the order member passes through this door, they are changed spiritually, having truly died to the self and entered the world of Light.
Vlasic operated fairly unopposed until Ratzinger became the pope. Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, launched a thorough investigation of Vlasic, Medjugorje and claims of the miraculous apparitions. In 2009, this investigation concluded that Vlasic was motivated by "mystical motivations", and was guilty of schism, heresy and adultery. He was subsequently excommunicated from the Catholic Church completely.7
The fact of occult activity in the Medjugorje shrine explains why there are many reports of outright demonic attacks there. For example, Archbishop Henryk Hoser, who was appointed special apostolic visitor to Medjugorje, stated that there is a very real demonic presence at the shrine. "Yes, it's true, there are cases of demonic manifestations", he says. "..sometimes you can hear someone screaming or ranting, even in gatherings of ten thousand people."8
Given these facts, my reader will not be at all surprised that the spirit appearing at Medjugorje has taught religious indifferentism. For example, Ivanka Ivankovic (one of the seers of the spirit), states the apparition as saying, "One cannot truly believe, be a true Christian, if he does not respect other religions as well.", and that "the people of all religions are accepted by her Son."9
Oddly, the demonic manifestations are looked upon by devotees of Medjugorje as confirmation that the miraculous apparition is holy. One Franciscan nun reports that on September 2, 2017:
..a rather common phenomenon occurred once again. But on this day, it was on a scale I had never seen before. People in large numbers began to howl blasphemies and yell like animals.."10
Lest my reader think this is an exaggeration, I include here actual video of such an event at Medjugorje. What you are about to see is one of the seers of this apparition in the midst of interacting with it, while people throughout the crowd scream in demonic fits.
This does not at all fit the biblical reality and model of miraculous events. Rather, this does fit the reports we have throughout the history of Christianity of demonic activities, especially those associated with witchcraft. In part two we will examine the seers and the apparitions themselves more closely.
-To be continued
9.The Apparitions of Our Lady of Medjugorje, Franciscan Herald Press, 1984