I must confess to being a bit confused by Cardinal Schönborn’s recent actions. I was entirely prepared to believe that his recent comments on sexual orientation and clerical celibacy were misunderstood by the media which of course often likes to take a line which shows up the differences of opinion between Catholics. Yet, according to Rorate Caeli which has picked up the story from various other sources, he has repeated his error of January and become again embroiled with the “visionaries” of Medjugorje. This time, they have visited his own Cathedral and, bizarrely, brought Our Lady with them. At a precise time, one blog reports, the “apparition” occurred right there for the cameras. Not only does Our Blessed Lady follow her seers around the world, but she also encourages public disobedience and is available to make her TV appearance with greater punctuality than the most precisely planned live sports match!
I wonder if the Cardinal isn’t, in a manner of speaking, too closely tied up with a certain stream of Austrian life and history – after all he is actually Christoph Maria Michael Hugo Damien Peter Adalbert Graf von Schönborn-Wiesentheid, the scion of an old, regal house deeply embedded in Austrian society; and although there is nothing wrong with that per se, it may take more effort for such a person not to become taken up with pleasing the world.
Of course, it may be that the Cardinal is working for the good of the Church, for the difficulty she faces with Medjugorje is a very pronounced one: there are many hundreds of thousands of the Faithful who are convinced that the visions are true and that the Mother of God indeed appears to the seers at the times and in the ways they describe. Those people who are believers are often very strongly convicted about the truth of the events at Medjugorje and even invoke Our Lady with the name, “Our Lady of Medjugorje”, and believe that many graces come from the visions. Indeed, they often have little time for those who question the truth of the phenomena – I was once told that my doubts came purely because I was a new Catholic!
On the other hand there are also many of the faithful who regard, as I do, Medjugorje as an abberation entirely alien to the Catholic faith and who would have great difficulty were the Church to find that the so-called revelations were “worthy of belief” in the same way as, say, Our Lady’s appearances at Fatima, or Lourdes. Yet I suspect those on my side of the argument would be more willing to accept the decision of authority. Indeed, I think this is shown by our patience with the investigation and the abuses which are at the moment tolerated while a verdict can be reached. Meanwhile, despite all kinds of instructions from the local Bishops’ Conference, the intimations of the Holy See, and the grave scandal caused by their disobedience, many priests, bishops and the seers themselves, continue to promote the phenomenon and are not prepared to wait patiently for the Holy Spirit to speak to the Church clearly and for her to hear what He is saying through the objective examination of the facts of the case. This seems to me very unfortunate, for it creates just the problem which I have outlined above in that which ever way the judgement falls, someone will be confused and have his faith troubled.
In all, it should at least be admitted that some good has come from Medjugorje, but whether this is attributable to the so-called phenomena or simply to the return to the sacraments is not known. Obviously, I favour the latter conclusion. Yet at the same time something may produce good fruit and yet not be good in itself – the felix culpa of our father Adam proves this: “where sin abounded, grace did more abound” (Rom. V:20).