Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has faxed a letter of apology to Bishop Ratko Perić following the cardinal's well-publicized visit to Medjugorje. Bishop Perić, whose diocese includes the famous site of alleged Marian apparitions, had previously issued a statement expressing his displeasure at not being informed of the cardinal's visit.
At the end of December 2009, Cardinal Schönborn made what was called a private visit to Medjugorje, where the Virgin Mary has supposedly appeared on a daily basis for over twenty years. The Austrian cardinal's personal secretary said the visit was “private” and not intended to “make a statement” about the authenticity of the apparitions, which do not have Vatican approval.
However, on January 2, 2010, Bishop Perić wrote an open letter to the Viennese Cardinal, saying that the visit could not be considered private because published articles by Kath.net and CNA had made the visit very public.
The bishop also emphasized that the alleged apparitions have caused turmoil in his diocese, including the presence of unapproved religious communities and openly dissenting priests. Cardinal Schönborn’s presence aggravated these problems, Bishop Perić said in his statement.
Bishop Perić also expressed his shock and disappointment at the fact that Cardinal Schönborn had failed to observe the courtesy brother bishops pay of informing the local ordinary of a diocese their plans to visit.
In its most recent statement, the Diocese of Mostar noted on its website that Cardinal Schönborn had a private audience with Pope Benedict in Rome on January 15, and shortly thereafter, the cardinal faxed a handwritten letter of apology to Bishop Perić.
The beginning of the letter reads: “ Your Excellency, Dear Brother in Christ. I have received your letter from January 2 of this year. I regret if you have the impression that my pilgrimage to Medjugorje did a disservice to peace. You can be sure that this was not my intention.”
The contents of the rest of the letter are withheld, but it concludes: “The Mother of God and her divine Son will certainly lead all things towards that which is good. In this trust, I greet you fraternally united in the Lord and remain, Yours, + Christoph Card. Schönborn O.P.”