BY CINDY WOODEN IN ROME
THE VATICAN commission studying the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina has held its first meeting.
While the Vatican press office provided no details about the meeting, it published the names of the commission members.
The Vatican had announced on March 17 that, at the request of the bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had established an international commission to investigate the claims of six people who said the Virgin Mary appeared to them daily beginning in 1981.
Although the alleged apparitions are apparently continuing, passing the 40,000 mark, and thousands of people travel to the small town each month to meet the alleged seers and to pray, the Vatican has never made a formal declaration about the authenticity of the apparitions – though the bishops of the former Yugoslavia ruled in 1991 that there was nothing supernatural in the claims.
The CDF appointed retired Cardinal Camillo Ruini, former papal vicar of Rome, to head the commission.
The Vatican said the commission members include: Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples; Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Spanish Opus Dei Cardinal Julián Herranz, retired president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, and Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and former secretary of the CDF.
The other commission members are French Mgr Tony Anatrella, a psychoanalyst, Mgr Pierangelo Sequeri, a theology professor in Milan, Franciscan Fr David Jaeger, a canon lawyer, Conventual Franciscan Fr Zdzislaw Jozef Kijas, an official at the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Marianist Fr Salvatore Perrella, a professor of Mariology in Rome, and Fr Achim Schutz, a professor of theological anthropology in Rome.
Polish Mgr Krzysztof Nykiel, an official at the doctrinal congregation, was named secretary of the commission.
The four consultants assisting the commission are: Fr Franjo Topic, a professor of theology in Sarajevo; Jesuit Fr Mijo Nikic, professor of psychology at the Jesuit university in Zagreb, Croatia; Jesuit Fr Mihaly Szentmartoni, a professor of spirituality in Rome, and Sister Veronika Nela Gaspar, a professor of theology in Rijeka, Croatia, and a member of the Daughters of Divine Charity.