.- The Italian media is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI authorized an official inquiry into the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje. The commission to examine the case is said to be led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini.
According to the Italian weekly magazine "Panorama," the Pope has made the decision to go ahead with the investigations, nearly 30 years after the first reported apparition of Mary to the visionaries of Medjugorje took place. Long time collaborator and former cardinal vicar of Rome as well as ex-president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Camillo Ruini is said to be leading the investigation.
There has been no confirmation from the Vatican on the formation of the commission.
Despite never having received an official blessing from the Vatican, the site has become a major pilgrimage destination, hosting more than a million visitors a year and witnessing thousands of conversions.
Reflecting on the time that has passed since the first apparitions between June 24 - 26 of 1981, Panorama cited the words of Italian journalist and writer Saverio Gaeta, who said, "It's time to make it clear: it is either the most colossal blunder in the history of humanity or the most important event in the history of Christianity after the Resurrection of Christ."
Gaeta wrote the book, "Medjugorje. It's all true" in 2006.
Medjugorje has been in the news recently after Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna visited the visionaries and celebrated Mass over New Years, which was met with the indignation of Bishop Ratko Peric of the Diocese of Mostar, within the bounds of which the Bosnia-Herzegovinian town is found.
Bishop Peric released a statement following the cardinalâs visit explaining that though the apparitions have not been recognized by the Vatican, his diocese unwillingly hosts a number of ânew communities and associations of the faithful who, in disobedience, live at Medjugorje.â These communities, he said, âmay become encouraged in their ecclesial disobedience because of the cardinalâs visit.â
Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo and President of the Bishopsâ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina denied press reports in November claiming that the Vatican was creating a similar commission to investigate the apparitions.
However, he remarked, âat any given moment, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could establish an International Commission in order to study the case of Medjugorje.â