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Medjugorje: Making Sense of the Father Tomislav Vlasic Episode

 
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Originally Published July 30, 2009 A.D.
 

A decision of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith is being used by the enemies of Medjugorje as disinformation. Medjugorje devotees are the first to obey the Church. The renewal in the Church is coming through Our Lady Queen of Peace apparitions in Medjugorje. Those who are devoted to Our Lady Queen of Peace know that to defy the Church in any jurisdiction it has over Medjugorje, or its followers, would be against the whole of the message of Medjugorje.
 

Catholic News Service and others have printed incorrect and disinformation concerning Medjugorje, Fr. Vlasic, and a decree the Church placed in regard to Fr. Tomislav Vlasic.
 

Catholic News Services has repeatedly proved itself to be an enemy of Medjugorje and very poor in reporting. The headlines of its writing, dated July 27, 2009:

“Pope Defrocks Priest Over ‘Visions’ of the Virgin Mary.”

First, Vlasic was not “defrocked” over visions of the Virgin Mary. This is a direct and purposeful lie to use a legitimate action by the Church against Vlasic to discredit, and by proxy, to condemn Medjugorje. He has been laicized and will be known from now on as Mr. Tomislav Vlasic. The Decree against Fr. Vlasic and resulting actions has nothing to do with the apparitions, but rather Vlasic’s actions. Medjugorje, the apparitions, the parish, is not in any way being decreed, sanctioned or disciplined by the Vatican. In fact, the Vatican did quite the opposite. It actually took steps that protect Medjugorje. Vlasic has been ordered by the Vatican under pain of excommunication:

 

“…absolute prohibition from releasing declarations on religious matter, especially regarding the ‘phenomenon of Medjugorje.’1


The fact that the Holy See, the Vatican, imposed a penalty of excommunication on Vlasic to have nothing to do with Medjugorje is a protection on Medjugorje and is a very positive sign. Yet, it is twisted by Medjugorje’s enemies and news organizations as a “condemnation by proxy” of Medjugorje.


Second: In regard to the Catholic News Service Headline “Pope Defrocks Priest Over ‘Vision’ of the Virgin Mary.” Vlasic was not defrocked, stripped, or carried to the guillotine as such words used seem to insinuate, or incite the unknowing faithful to believe that the Medjugorje Movement is disobedient. The words used by the Vatican were quite compassionate while the penalty for any future violations, even in the lay state is severe. The Vatican did not come out with a hangman’s noose or even a whip to scourge him, rather the following words of the Decree clearly shows the Catholic News Service’s description is sensationalism, distortion, and disinformation by comparison of the Vatican’s straight-forward and clear decrees.
 

“…the Holy Father granting the request of Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, Ofm, (who is) responsible for conduct detrimental to ecclesial communion, both within the doctrinal and the disciplinary ambit (the bounds or limits of a place or district) and having incurred the censure of interdict, (discipline imposed January 25, 2008) granted him the grace of reduction to the lay state and the dismissal from the order. Moreover, the Holy Father has granted the petitioner (Vlasic), forgiveness of the incurred censure (again, imposed disciplinary sanctions on January 25, 2008) and the grace of dispensation from religious vows and all charges related to the sacred order, including celibacy.” 2


Does the Vatican Decree in any way sound like “Pope Defrocks Priest Over ‘Vision’ of the Virgin Mary.”?3

No it does not.

This is not written to minimize the seriousness of the action of the Vatican in its decree, but rather show it in the proper light. Again, as the book, Look What Happened While You Were Sleeping shows, one must not base one’s view, thought, opinion on the present sources of information, even those labeled Catholic or Christian, but rather go to the sources, to the voices who are the news, not the news who report the news. The action of the Vatican follows:

 

Father Tomislav Vlasic – Time Line of Vatican Actions


January 25, 2008:

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issues a Decree, imposing severe cautionary and disciplinary measures on Fr. Vlasic. These cautionary disciplinary measures, when in light of a study of the case of news that were well grounded, and worthy of investigation concerning Fr. Vlasic and his associates called Queen of Peace, Totally Yours Through Jesus and Mary.

February 16, 2008:

The Decree was handed over to Fr. Vlasic in Rome. Fr. Vlasic did not respond, even partially, to the demands of ecclesiastical obedience from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fr. Vlasic was reported to the Congregation “for the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders and charges contra sectum”. Because of Fr. Vlasic’s non-response, specific ecclesiastical sanctions and the Censure of Interdict were imposed.

May 30, 2008:

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith authorized and asked Bishop Peric to make known the contents of the declaration by the Congregation regarding Fr. Tomislav Vlasic. He then informed the Diocese of Mostar, Duvno and surrounding areas of Fr. Vlasic’s Canonical status.

March 10, 2009:

Evidently, to put an end to the situation, Fr. Tomislav Vlasic requested to be laicized. A letter from Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, Ofm – Minister General was sent to all the Provincial Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Italy, stating that Pope Benedict had accepted the request of Fr. Tomislav Vlasic to be reduced to the lay state and dismissal from the order. He stated that “In addition, the Holy Father has granted the petitioner, motu proprio, the remission of the censure incurred as well as the favor of dispensation from religious vows and from all the responsibilities connected with sacred ordination, including celibacy.”




Motu proprio means, "of the Holy Father's own initiative and bearing his signature." While we do not know the exact contents of Fr.Vlasic's letter to the Vatican, nor his exact request of the Holy Father, we do know that the "remission of the censure incurred as well as the favor of dispensation from religious vows and from all the responsibilities connected with sacred ordination..." were motu proprio, of the Holy Father's own initiative. The Holy Father could have answered Fr. Vlasic's request in another way, but most importantly and significantly chose the above.

So what are we to learn of this whole situation? First, it is not important to go into detail of the charges against Vlasic, it can only make us become what the media sources are today – Scandal-makers. The Vatican itself sets that example with forgiveness and stopping the study of the Vlasic case, as a result of his request to be laicized. Yet, what can we learn as participants of Our Lady’s great plan through Medjugorje for the salvation of the world?

 

First, in Jude, Verse 9, in a dispute between satan and the Archangel Michael over the body of Moses. Michael would not even pass judgment on the devil, deferring the case to God as the judge. If Archangel Michael will not even judge satan, should man make judgments about why a heart does what it does? This is not to say that actions are not punishable, even by man as the Vatican has done. But only God knows the eternal judgment.

For whatever went wrong, for whatever God’s judgment is in this whole situation with Vlasic, it is for God’s judgment and we must defer that judgment to God. Forgoing judgment does not mean that we are not to look at this situation, as there is an important teaching to this whole episode that all the Medjugorje Movement can learn from, as well as benefit from.

Without question, satan’s plan is to make and cause the saints, the apostles of Medjugorje, of which you are also called, to fall. To start with:

1. Vlasic was never the head pastor of the parish of Medjugorje.

2. Vlasic was not there in the beginning of Medjugorje. He did not come until September, 1981, after Fr. Jozo, the pastor was arrested by the Communists. Fr. Pervan became the next pastor.

3. Vlasic did not create the Medjugorje Movement. Vlasic has been totally divorced from the Medjugorje Movement for over 21 years as of July 2009, living in Italy with no contact with the visionaries. Vlasic did not know any of the visionaries before he arrived when he was assigned to the parish.

4. As has often happened with conversion through Medjugorje and Our Lady’s apparitions, Vlasic, in the beginning, was known to be on the road to sanctity, especially known for his detachment of the world and his deep inner strength.

As we all also know, satan attacks those who are on the path of sanctity in a particular way. We can learn and protect ourselves through the lessons of Medjugorje, just as we learn from Scriptures and those who surrounded Jesus, stayed with Him, betrayed Him, or weren’t strong enough to continue with Him.

There were at least five messages of Our Lady concerning the then Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, beginning October 6, 1981 until April 21, 1982. In the first message we can read that Our Lady, as She does with everyone, wants one to pray, for that individual to become a saint no matter if they have been a great sinner be it a priest or lay person. Our Lady said:

October 6, 1981

"The evening Mass must be kept permanently. The Mass of the sick must be celebrated on a specific day, at a time which is most convenient. Father Tomislav must begin with the prayer group. It is very necessary. Have Father Tomislav pray with fervor."

It is clear anyone in the position of influence, with the visionaries or in the Medjugorje Movement, that Our Lady would want them especially to pray with great fervor to grow in holiness, but also for defending oneself from the deceptions and temptations of satan that certainly come. Our Lady said in Medjugorje on January 28, 1987:

“…Whenever I come to you my Son comes with me, but so does satan…”

As one reads the following second message concerning Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, one can see delusion on Vlasic’s part in regard of self-importance, perhaps thinking the apparitions were in regard to his role, through himself, to change the Church and the world. We can gain insights and lessons of what we allow to slowly germ in our hearts by thinking more of ourselves than what God’s plan is for us. In the following message, Our Lady gives a very gentle admonishment to Fr. Vlasic.

October 7, 1981

In answer to Father Tomislav regarding founding a community like that of Saint Francis of Assisi:

"God has chosen Saint Francis as His elected one. It would be good to imitate his life. In the meantime, we must realize what God orders us to do."

We can see somewhat of a path perhaps incorrectly beginning here that Our Lady wishes to correct. The apparitions of Our Lady were not understood correctly by Vlasic, rather a focus upon something more grand through himself. Our Lady warns of this danger when She said, on July 25, 2000, “…leave egoism…”

In the next message concerning Vlasic, we cannot know the human heart, nor judge it, but Our Lady again encourages Fr. Vlasic to follow God’s designs and not what he may want. After being in Medjugorje for only approximately four months, a reassignment of Fr. Vlasic is in question. Perhaps God’s plan is to protect Fr. Vlasic from the path that has now manifested in regards to the Vatican’s discipline.

January 20, 1982

"If it is in God’s design that he (Father Tomislav) depart as has been the case with Father Jozo, have him abandon himself to the will of God. He must think very much and you must pray for him."

Our Lady asked the visionaries to pray for him. Is this because of his struggle with abandoning everything to God instead of himself? This is a problem with everyone who follows Our Lady but particularly for those truly wishing for the path of saintliness as some perceived in Fr. Vlasic.

Fr. Vlasic was commended by Our Lady in his next message for guiding the visionaries well.

February 28, 1982

"Thank Tomislav very much for he is guiding you very well. Go in the peace of God, my angels!"

In light of the event presently with the Vatican and his being laicized does not change history. Fr. Vlasic gave sound direction in his association with the visionaries. He also gave very profound and powerful sermons in those days in Medjugorje that are recorded in what is known as the Grey books, a series of Medjugorje homilies. They are in harmony with the Church and are of value – good advice and lessons for all of us. We must realize lucifer was not always a bad angel. he once was magnificent and holy before God, admired by his peers and in love with God. But it was the great light of lucifer and his importance that allowed a small, very small germ of pride to enter his being, which grew and matured into a war that took place in Heaven, resulting in his and his followers being cast out. As a sea wall is constantly battered by water, it needs maintenance. So does the spiritual life. Evil never rests in its constant battering of the spiritual life. The forces of evil, therefore, will never allow us to stop to rest, once we gain the spiritual life. This is a central principle of evil vs. good. The devil created evil and hell was created as his abode. The king of darkness neither stops nor tires of taking from God those who God loves. Many, who were on the path to becoming saints have ended up in hell. The lesson here is abandoning oneself to God’s designs, not our own. This is not said to cast judgment on Vlasic. He still could even become a saint in front of God and even by the Church, living a reformed, repentant heroic sacrificial life, doing God’s will. Rather, this is to show how satan wants to make one fall, and not get back up and be wed to the most horrid, unimaginable eternal existence, in pain, the greatest being a total absence of God.

In the last recorded message we have concerning Fr. Vlasic, Our Lady still reaches out, encouraging him to not be impatient, perhaps for Vlasic, being inclined to forge ahead with his plans, we cannot know. Our Lady clearly speaks of the development of God’s plans and tells him to do penance and convert.

April 21, 1982

To a question asked by Father Tomislav Vlasic, Our Lady answers:

"Be patient! Everything is developing according to God’s plan. His promises will be realized. May one continue to pray, to do penance, and to be converted."

In Genesis 16:1- 4, Abraham and Sarah knew she was to have a child who all the communities of the earth would issue forth from. Sarah became impatient and arranged for Abraham to lay with her maid servant, who gave birth to Ishmael/Arab. They did not wait for God’s promise of Sarah becoming pregnant with Isaac/Jews. This one sin of impatience split the world and incredibly continues to this day in the Middle East between the Isaac/Jews and Ishmael/Arabs/Muslims. This great division was through the impatience of Sarah not abandoning herself to God’s will but, rather, to her plan. To be involved with Our Lady, to follow Her and not abandon one’s will, to have desires to change the world through our plan is opening ourselves up to satan coming along and sweeping God’s plan for us away. Our Lady said on January 25, 1987:

“…You are not able to comprehend how great your role is in God’s design. Therefore, dear children, pray so that in prayer you may be able to comprehend what God’s plan is in your regard…”

Our role in Our Lady’s plans should be according to God’s design. We discover it through prayer, abandoning our wants to God. We cannot want more than what God wants for us. When our ego combines with pride, we can fall under delusion and believe that our own plans are God’s plans and cannot think anything could be bigger than our thoughts. But God’s design is far greater and more fruitful than you could ever imagine and will exceed in fruit above anything you conceive for yourself.

Fr. Vlasic clung to his idea of a St. Francis Community. He left Medjugorje and moved to Italy in 1984. By 1987, he had begun to form a community, trying to get the Medjugorje visionary, Marija Pavlovic, to join with him. By then, a woman from Germany, Agnes Heupel, who claimed to be having apparitions of Our Lady, started giving Fr. Vlasic messages. These messages fit his desire. Agnes grew closer to Vlasic because her visions preyed on his openness to her because she patronized him, saying what he (Vlasic) wanted rather than God’s will, abandoning himself and his plans to God’s will. Pressure was put on Marija while she was with the community. Marija, herself, was discerning what Our Lady’s plans were for her, traveling to Italy with the prayer group. She grew uncomfortable with Agnes. Agnes’ visions became a dominant form in the community, guiding Vlasic. Marija prayed for discernment if she should stay. Agnes’ influence had Marija doing Adoration time at 3:00 a.m. in the night while Agnes was always at the convenient time in the later part of the morning of 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. Marija grew more fervent in her prayers for discernment. Marija always says she must pray like everyone else, that she too must discern that Our Lady doesn’t always give her an answer to her questions. Marija prayed harder in front of the Blessed Sacrament. One night, she was at her 3:00-4:00 a.m. Adoration hour. She fell into a slumber like sleep, but was not asleep. She had a dream which, though she felt she was asleep, was very real. In her dream, she had a vision of the devil, horrid in his appearance. In her dream, she had walked past a column and saw behind the column the devil standing straight up against the wall. Naturally unnerved by this, she “awoke” and at 4:00 a.m., she headed back to her room, down the dark hallway. As she walked, she saw a column arching down the wall to the floor. She realized she had just seen this column in her dream. As she approached the column, she naturally was drawn to look. There standing just in the same posture as in the dream, Marija saw something that shook her. There standing against the wall, looking straight ahead at 4:00 a.m. in the darkened hallway, stood Agnes Heupel, the ‘visionary’ who now influences all the events concerning Vlasic. He had become convinced Agnes was something of a St. Claire and he paralleled something like St. Francis. They were to found this community, through a ‘spiritual marriage’. They had already tried to get and pressure Marija to confirm this community, even misconstruing what Marija never intended. Marija, after realizing this slumber and vision was an answer to her prayer, when she saw Agnes standing where the devil himself was in the vision, wasted not a moment in leaving to go back to Medjugorje.

In Medjugorje, Marija immediately refuted and repudiated the claims of Fr. Tomislav and Agnes Heupel. In a statement in Italian and Croatian, dated July 11, 1988 and signed by her, Marija Pavlovic stated.

Declaration of Marija Pavlovic

I feel a moral obligation to make the following statements before God, Our Lady, and the Church of Jesus Christ.

1. From the texts of “An Appeal in the Marian Year” and “My Declaration” which bears my signature, it follows that I have brought the answer of Our Lady to a certain question of Father Tomislav Vlasic. That answer would be, “That is the plan of God.” In other words, it follows that I have brought from Our Lady to Father Tomislav Vlasic confirmation and explicit approval of this undertaking and the program begun in Italy with the prayer group from Medjugorje.

2. Now I declare that I have never asked Our Lady for any approval for this undertaking begun by Father Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes Heupel. I have never explicitly petitioned Our Lady concerning whether I should participate in this undertaking and I have never received from Our Lady any instructions regarding this group, except that each one of us should remain free in choosing his own way of life.

3. From the text and testimonies which bear my signature it follows that Our Lady communicated to me that the community and the program of Father Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes Heupel are the way God intended for me and the rest of us. Now I repeat that I have never received from Our Lady nor have I given to Father Tomislav Vlasic, nor to any other individual, any such approval or instructions from Our Lady.

4. The first declaration, as published in Croatian and Italian, does not correspond to the truth. I personally had no desire to give any sort of written declaration. Father Thomislav Vlasic kept suggesting to me, stressing over and over again, that I as a seer should write the declaration which the world* was waiting for.

5. I also have to say that the contents of “My Declaration” as is presented bearing my signature pose some questions. For the time being, I can give this unequivocal answer, which I do before God, Our Lady, and the Church of Jesus Christ: “Anything in my statement which might be construed as Our Lady’s approval of the undertaking of Father Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes Heupel is absolutely not in conformity with the truth, and in the same way, the idea that I had a spontaneous desire to write my declaration of April 1988 is also not in conformity with the truth.”

6. I consider it a moral obligation to repeat anew before God, Our Lady and the Church the following statements:

After seven years of daily apparitions, after having the most intimate experiences of the gentleness and wisdom of Our Lady’s advice and Our Lady’s answers to my personal questions, I can affirm that the idea of the Heavenly plan and the numerous messages given in Medjugorje cannot be construed as supporting the undertaking and program initiated in Italy by Father Tomislav Vlasic and Agnes Heupel.

It is also necessary to add to this declaration that the daily apparitions are continuing.

I am signing this declaration in front of the Blessed Sacrament and I am sending it to all those who are, at heart, connected with the world of Our Lady in Medjugorje.

Marija Pavlovic
July 11, 1988

* Further indication of Fr. Vlasic’s delusion that the apparitions were for a grand plan through him as with St. Francis



In regard to Vlasic, we must remember he started out sincere, he fell, and he can end up sincere. No one can condemn nor even judge his heart or eternal outcome, we can only take lessons for ourselves and grow in holiness. We must also remember God sometimes allows great men to fall, to mold them into a different being. It happened to Peter amidst the most important night of Jesus ministry and he became a different man. We should all pray one fervent Rosary for Mr. Tomislav Vlasic and God’s design for him, who is now firmly rooted in the fertile brokenness of where he is, let not this become a victory for the devil but grow into something for Our Lady.

Lastly, Fr. Vlasic did not create Medjugorje nor is it placed in the hands of any order. Medjugorje is placed in the hands of Our Lady. Our Lady created it. Our Lady has protected it. Our Lady has nurtured it, and Our Lady has mothered Her plans every single day for 28 years as of July 2009. No one should make any mistake about it. Medjugorje belongs to the Holy Virgin Mary and not to man, who fails or who saintly leads, does it depend upon. By the initiation of God, an immense plan is underway of which will cause the whole world to go down on its knees in awe and wonderment of the Woman who is Love and Goodness, who God will ‘create’ from Her womb, a reborn world into holiness, as it was when Noah stepped out of the Ark on to the purified, holy earth. Her womb will accomplish this. Our Lady said:

March 25, 1990

“…As I bore Jesus in my womb, so also, dear children, do I wish to bear you unto holiness…”

Only the most vile and wicked will not love Her when She triumphs with Her Immaculate Heart, causing a new Springtime for Christianity. It will parallel renewal of creation with an amphitheater of its sweet sounds of spring. From the singing of the birds to the silence of the plains and deserts, to the roaring sounds of the sea to the whistling of wind through the mountains, all will serve as the backdrop of sound and visual of a new time. A time of Mary – O’ wondrously privileged is the humble man who sees and toils for what is coming. The human heart who possesses and comprehends the true reason for Her coming is not disturbed by scandals or attacks nor of Medjugorje not being approved. The whole world will approve Medjugorje. O’ little man, so little do you understand that when it is over and the spring is here, you will not only look back in wonder and awe of what passed you by, but also in lamentation and weeping of missing the time of grace. You're gonna miss this.

In the Love of Our Lady,
A Friend of Medjugorje



P.S. We must realize God allows adversity and all will work towards His glory. We should see the whole of the Fr. Vlasic affair will serve God’s plan in the end – both as an example of the road not to travel and the hope that in every situation, man can repent and become a friend of God again. Hope.

On a last note, we are about to release in the next two weeks a new major button on Medjugorje.com titled: “Church Approval.” It is very surmountable for God to give the grace for Bishop Peric of Mostar to believe, if God wanted to. The fact he has not, should speak with clarity to the whole Medjugorje Movement. This is a lay led movement. The first time in Church history that the Church will be renewed, not through a religious, not through a religious order, but by the people. It is Our Lady who comes to lead us, ‘the people’ who are the Church, who said on August 29, 1982:

“…I am the Mother who has come from the people…”

Be on watch for this very thorough new section which will be a tool for you to help explain to other Medjugorje status.

Also, don’t forget Sunday is the 2nd of the month, a day for non-believers. Radio Wave broadcast August 3, 2009.

A Friend of Medjugorje


1 Fr. Jose Rodriquez Carballo, Ofm, - Minister General. Rome, March 10, 2009; Prot. N. 098714 Ordo Fratrum, minorum Minister Generalis (A letter to the Provencial Ministers of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, and Italy.
2 Ibid.
3 Catholic News Service July 27, 2009


 
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