ROME – For the second time, Pope Francis is sending a special envoy to the famed site of Medjugorje, in this case to care for a local parish that sees millions of pilgrims arriving each year because of what some believe are apparitions of Mary Our Lady Queen of Peace at the Bosnian-Herzegovinian location.
The Vatican announced Thursday that Archbishop Henryk Hoser, now retired as the Archbishop of Warsaw in Poland, has been appointed Apostolic Visitor “for an undetermined time” to the Saint James parish of Medjugorje, which is run by the Franciscan friars.
His missions, according to a statement released by the Holy See’s Press Office, will be to “guarantee a stable and continuous accompaniment of the parish community of Medjugorje and the faithful who arrive in pilgrimage, whose demands require special attention.”
It also says that the appointment is “exclusively pastoral,” and a continuation of the mission Hoser began in February 2017 and which concluded in recent months.
Hoser was appointed by the pope in February 2017 to study the pastoral care given to the town’s residents and visiting pilgrims.
The original mission entrusted to Hoser was not to determine the veracity of the alleged apparitions, and he has said it has a “supplementary character” to a study conducted by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was led by Italian Cardinal Camillo Ruini in 2010-14.
Last year, Hoser told Poland’s KAI Catholic news agency that “from a pastoral point of view, there is a very positive result.”
“My mission was not to make a judgement on Medjugorje, but to evaluate whether the pastoral ministry was proper and consistent with the doctrine and teaching of the Church, and effective and well-organized. I concluded that this is the case,” the archbishop said.
He said the site had the same character as Fatima, Lourdes, Lisieux and Czestochowa.
“The biggest phenomenon is confession,” Hoser told KAI.
There are over 50 confessionals in the Saint James church, with priests from all over the world hearing confessions and continuous lines of penitents, even if it’s raining.