PART ONE OF THIS FIVE PART SERIES on Medjugorje provided an historical overview which documented a clear pattern of disobedience on behalf of the Franciscan community of the Diocese of Mostar. Part One further pointed out that this pattern of disobedience includes the Franciscan clergy most closely associated with the seers; it provided a detailed account of the responses given by Bishops Zanic and Peric as well as the Yugoslavian Bishops’ Conference and the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), whom the Franciscans also disobeyed. This disobedience, as demonstrated in Part One, was sanctioned by the “Our Lady of Medjugorje”. Parts Two through Four will present the six seers and the continued pattern of disobedience arising among them as well as other factors contrary to the “criteria” established by the CDF for judging the authenticity of alleged apparitions also presented in Part One and reiterated below:
Criteria established by CDF for the Discernment of Apparitions
A) Positive Criteria:
a) Moral certitude, or at least great probability of the existence of the fact, acquired by means of a serious investigation;
b) Particular circumstances relative to the existence and to the nature of the fact, that is to say:
- Personal qualities of the subject or of the subjects (in particular, psychological equilibrium, honesty and.rectitude of moral life, sincerity and habitual docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority, the capacity to return to a normal regimen of a life of faith, etc.);
- As regards revelation: true theological and spiritual doctrine and immune from error;
- Healthy devotion and abundant and constant spiritual fruit (for example, spirit of prayer, conversion, testimonies of charity, etc.).
B) Negative Criteria:
a) Manifest error concerning the fact.
b) Doctrinal errors attributed to God himself, or to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or to some saint in their.manifestations, taking into account however the possibility that the subject might have added, even unconsciously, purely human elements or some error of the natural order to an authentic supernatural revelation (cf. Saint Ignatius, Exercises, no. 336).
c) Evidence of a search for profit or gain strictly connected to the fact.
d) Gravely immoral acts committed by the subject or his or her followers when the fact occurred or in connection with it.
e) Psychological disorder or psychopathic tendencies in the subject, that with certainty influenced on the presumed supernatural fact, or psychosis, collective hysteria or other things of this kind.
At the time of the first apparition in 1981, the Medjugorje seers consisted of one child Jakov Colo (age 10) and five teenagers: Vicka Ivankovic (16), Mirjana Dragicevic (16), Marija Pavlovic (16), Ivan Dragicevic (16) and Ivanka Ivankovic (15).
Ivan is one of the three visionaries who continue to have daily apparitions; this same group of three has been given only nine “secrets” out of a total set of ten. The other three seers have had all ten secrets confided to them. Consequently, according to the Virgin Mary (referred to by the teenagers as the “Gospa”), those who have received all ten no longer receive daily visits and messages. Since Ivan still receives daily messages, he remains in a position to attract attention and to raise money given by those who come to hear his message or those who are willing to pay him to have an apparition in their homes or other gathering places around the world where Our Lady appears to him as scheduled.
Ivan was born May 25, 1965 in Mostar. After finishing elementary school, he attempted one year of secondary school at Čitluk, but failed to pass. When his prefect asked about this failure, Ivan responded that it was due to the impact of Medjugorje. Since the apparitions did not begin until the summer after the completion of his first year, it is hard to grasp his meaning. Nonetheless, later in the same year, The Gospa indicted to Ivan and the others that she would like them to become priests and religious:
“I would like for you to become priests and religious, but only if you yourselves, would want it. It is up to you to decide” (August 1981).
Just four months later (December 8, 1981) she repeated her desire:
“I would like for all of you to become priests and religious, but only if you desire it. You are free. It is up to you to choose.”
In the fall of the same year, Ivan presented himself as a seminary candidate for the Franciscan province of Herzegovina. He performed as well at the seminary as he did in the high school, viz., after one year, he was asked to leave:
“He preferred the visions and the prayer meetings over his ordinary scholastic duties and it is no wonder that he finished the school year with a negative grade. He had a retry: he was re-examined twice, in June and September 1982. He didn’t pass, so he was dismissed from the seminary at Visoko.”
After failing to master his studies at another school in Dubrivnik, Ivan finally settled on a diploma in the catering business – something directly related to the apparitions and his future business plans, which were apparently contrary to those of the Queen of Heaven; in fact, none of the seers honored her request to become priests and religious.
Instead of becoming a priest, Ivan dropped out of the seminary, started a hotel/catering business, and married a beauty queen, Miss Massachusetts, Loreen Murphy, who experienced some type of conversion through Medjugorje, which eventually resulted in her marriage to the seer. Today, they live in a luxury villa in the Medjugorje countryside from which they entertain Medjugorje pilgrims. Ivan “resides in both, the village of Medjugorje and the US, equally separating his time at each residence.” Making money is not a sin, but making it off of alleged apparitions from which a person directly profits might indeed be a sin, a very grievous and deadly sin.
Dragicevic Family Home and Villa
Recently, Ivan’s apparitions were proscribed in the United States when on October 21, 2013 at the request of Cardinal Gerhard Muller (current Prefect of the CDF under Pope Francis), Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (Apostolic Nuncio to the United States) forwarded a letter regarding Medjugorje and Medjugorian seer Ivan Dragicevic, to Msgr. Ron Jenkins, Secretary of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The nuncio iterated the CDF’s acceptance of the 1991 Yugoslavian Bishop’s Conference ruling (The Zadar Declaration) as normative until the CDF makes its own final determination.
“As you are aware, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is in the process of investigating certain doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of the phenomenon of Medjugorje. For this reason, the Congregation has affirmed that, with regard to the credibility of the “apparitions” in question, all should accept the declaration, dated 10 April 1991 (The Zadar Declaration).”
In this same letter conveyed to the USCCB the nuncio expressed his “wishes to:
“…inform the (US) Bishops that one of the so-called visionaries of Medjogorje [sic], Mr. Ivan Dragicevic, is scheduled to appear at certain parishes around the country, during which time he will make presentations regarding the phenomenon of Medjogorje.”
“It is anticipated, moreover, that Mr. Dragicevic will be receiving ‘apparitions’ during these scheduled appearances.”
The expectation of Marian visitations at the prompting/scheduling of Ivan Dragicevic is problematic in itself. More problematic is the fact that the entire issue is still undergoing scrutiny by the CDF in cooperation with Bosnian Bishop’s Conference. Like his Franciscan mentors, Ivan seems to have a problem with obedience (see Part One). In 1996 Secretary Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, like the Papal Nuncio, made it clear that the CDF made its own the 1991 Yugoslav Bishop’s pronouncement that stated:
“On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations….It follows, therefore, that clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such ‘apparitions’ are taken for granted.”
In other words, the issue is still under scrutiny; nonetheless, both the seers and the public often accept the credibility of the apparitions as taken for granted, when the Church has ruled that they cannot be taken for granted. To meet the normative Zadar guidelines, Ivan (et al) would have to preface his engagements with statements such as the following:
“The Virgin Mary might be appearing at Medjugorje and if she appears here tonight, the whole thing might be a fabrication, or a ruse, or due to my own mental incapacity or for a profit motive; these things cannot be discounted nor can anything I say or experience be taken for granted as true; I might be a fraud – we will not know until the Church has finalized her investigation.”
Statements such as the above work to preclude presumptions leading the faithful taking the visions for granted. Nonetheless, like the Franciscan priests who served as his first spiritual mentors, Dragicevic does not seem to think much of Bishop’s statements or those issued by the CDF. He continues to travel back and forth between Bosnia and the U.S. speaking at various churches and experiencing visions almost on demand, in violation of the Yugoslavian Bishop’s (and CDF’s) ban on such “meetings, conferences or public celebrations” wherein the credibility of such ‘apparitions’ is taken for granted and advertised as such by both the seer and his supporters .
On the website advertising a stay in Ivan’s home, “pilgrims” are told that they will be able to,
“Follow the path up Apparition Hill where the visionaries first encountered Our Lady. Touch and pray before the cross that commemorates the spot where Mary first appeared to the visionaries.” Further, they are told that, “The apparition take place at 6:40 daylight savings time”.
On July 13, 2015, after accompanying them to Podbrdo to pray the rosary, Ivan boosted his business by inviting tour guides to his home to experience an apparition; at 18.40. Our Lady appeared on schedule with a special message for the tour guides. Ivan described the encounter:
“I would like also today with some words to bring you closer to this encounter with Our Lady this evening….The beauty of Her love, of Her gaze… all these years. This evening when Our Lady came… Her gaze… Her eyes… when she looked at us all here… always the feeling of Her joy makes you want to cry when you see it, how can you describe Her voice… Her smile… But believe me, the beauty of Our Lady is very difficult to transmit, through statues, through images, through words. This evening Our Lady came joyful. She greeted us all with her maternal greeting:
“Praised be Jesus my dear children!”
“After this, Our Lady continued again to pray for all present – you tour guides present because I recommended you all to Her in a special way: your work with the pilgrims and your mission, and to live the messages of Our Lady… this mission that you all have…. After, Our Lady gave the maternal blessing and blessed all. I recommended all of you, and like I said in a special way I recommended you tour guides and your families, all that you have brought in your hearts.”
“The Medjugorje Guides are locals that have devoted their lives and vocation to guiding pilgrims around the history of the area. They have trained, studied and qualified on Church history, Local history, History of the Medjugorje phenomenon, Vatican, languages, interpreting and many topics.”
Events such as these are not only good business promotions, they are also public pronouncements that presume the authenticity of events contrary to clear directives given by the local bishops, the Yugoslavian Bishop’s Conference and the Holy See itself!
Running a Bed and Breakfast or even a hotel/motel that provides meals for guests, is in itself a seemingly safe and legitimate business for a Catholic layman, even a seer. The problem is not the business per-se, the problem is with the its promotion and with the way that it is run contrary to one of the main “negative criteria” established by the CDF for the evaluation of authenticity:
“Evidence of a search for profit or gain strictly connected to the fact.”
Ivan does not simply run a bed and breakfast; he runs a motel built around the specific business and message of Medjugorje – the “fact“. He appears to be using the supposed apparitions as a tool to garner money- to make a lucrative living for himself and his family.
Anyone can book a trip online to stay at Ivan’s home for a $1000.00 a week, including a chance to talk to and pray with Ivan and his family. Tour guides even promise to “arrange meetings” with the other visionaries at their own homes… “pending their availability.” The Pilgrimage Trip Includes:
- Round-trip airfare
- All airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- 7 nights in the Dragicevic Family Home with private baths and air conditioning
- Breakfast daily and Dinner daily
- Wine with dinners
- Daily Mass
- Catholic Guides
- Transfers by private motor coach
- Spiritual activities
- Prayer and Group Meetings
Related to his Medjugore hotel-motel business, one of the more shocking facts about the whole affair is that it has become “a real money-spinner for the ‘seers”. How many simple Balkan peasants can afford a villa complete with a luxury pool for $800,000 payable in 6 months (May 24 to October 24) as indicated on the Mortgage Note below made out to Ivan Dragicevic?
In September 2009, a complete dossier containing real estate transactions made in the USA by Ivan Dragičević was made available.
It contains such data as the following: On May 15, 2002 Ivan signed a fourteen year mortgage contract in which he promised to pay $60,678 annually for the full term. He sold this property two years later and acquired a 14,000 square foot home and luxury pool in Peabody, Massachusetts for $800,000, which he paid off in one year.
Ivan has apparently remained consistent in his defiance of the bishops,
According to Bishop Zanic:
“In 1981, the parish of Medjugorje was governed by the Franciscans. On 19 December of that year, … Father Ivica Vego went to Medjugorje, spoke with the visionaries and consulted the Madonna, through them. And Our Lady, from this moment, in her messages began to defend with resentful words the rebel Franciscans.”
Nonetheless, the bishop endeavored to remove Friars Vego and Prusina from Mostar due to the disorder they were causing and for their disobedience. Vego defended himself, however, by defaulting to Our Lady who had advised him, via the seer Vicka, not to leave Mostar. On January 3, 1982 Our Lady stated to Vicka that:
“Ivica (Vego) is not guilty. If they expel him from the order, he must be courageous […] Let him remain! Ivica is not guilty […] The Bishop does not arrange the situation and therefore he is guilty. And then he will not always be the bishop. I will show the justice in Paradise.”
Our Lady, not Jesus will show the “justice.” Then, on 15 April 1982 Our Lady also told the priests not to obey the bishop:
“Do not obey anyone!” (Nemojte slušati nikogo!)”
With these words, according to the “visionary” Vicka, “Our Lady spoke to the two rebel Franciscans Ivica Vego and Ivan Prusina, inducing them to disobey the local ordinary and the general vicar of their order” (Patrick Madrid).”
To make matters worse, on 21 June 1983 Ivan Dragicevic, wrote a letter to the bishop, which contained a warning from Our Lady given during an apparition. Significantly, Father Ivica Vego was present at this apparition as he often was (He was also present when the Virgin Mary supposedly dropped the baby Jesus, to be examined later below).
“Excellency. These are the thoughts that she (the Virgin Mary) told me: ‘Tell the Bishop that I seek a quick conversion from him towards the happenings in Medjugorje, before it is too late. May he accept these events with plenty of love, understanding and great responsibility. I want him to avoid creating conflicts between priests and to stop publicizing their negative behaviours.”l
“The bishop is the spiritual father of all the parishes in Hercegovina. For this reason I seek his conversion towards these events. I am sending my second-last warning. If what I seek does not come about, my judgement and the judgement of my Son await the Bishop. This means that he has not found the way to my Son Jesus.”
Finally, on October 30, 1984 “Vego and Prusina were both suspended a divinis and reduced to the lay state (by the Vatican Congregation for Religious) and dismissed from the Order (by the General Curia in Rome).”
If Bishop Zanic was in error and had not found his way to Jesus as Ivan claims the “Gospa” told him, then the Holy See itself, operating through the Congregation of Religious, must also await the so-called dread “judgement” of the “Gospa” and of Her “Son”, for they dismissed the disobedient priests. It seems everyone is at fault according to Our Lady of Medjugorje except the disobedient friars and seers who continue to snub the episcopate by advertising, promoting and hosting visits of Our Lady in their homes and around the world in search of profit/gain strictly connected to the apparitions, something clearly prohibited by the Church.
GO TO PART 3: “Medjugore Saga Priests & Bishops to Seers & Advocates: Seers Continued”