Pope Francis has authorised the organisation of pilgrimages to the Marian shrine of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Vatican has announced.
The decision is, however, not to be interpreted as an authentication of the alleged apparitions, "which still require an examination by the Church," papal spokesman Alessandro Gisotti made clear in a statement on 12 May.
He said that anyone leading pilgrimages to the site should avoid creating "confusion or ambiguity from a doctrinal aspect," including priests who intend to celebrate Mass there.
Gisotti said the decision had been made on account of an acknowledgment of the "abundant fruits of grace" that have come from Medjugorje and to promote those "good fruits."
He added that, as a result of this decree, the Vatican’s Apostolic Visitor to the site, Archbishop Henryk Hoser, “will have greater facility—together with the bishops of these places—of establishing relations with the priests who organise these pilgrimages” to ensure that they are “sound and well prepared”.
In June 1981, six children in Medjugorje said they began to see apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Three of the six “seers” claim to still receive apparitions almost daily from Our Lady. A fourth to claims to see them on the second day of every month, while the remaining two say they receive them once a year.
Some 40,000 apparitions have been claimed since 1981 at Medjugorje.
A Vatican commission concluded a nearly four-year-long investigation in January 2014 on the Medjugorje apparitions, and submitted a document to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The report has not been made public, but some of its points were revealed after Pope Francis spoke about the commission's work.
Pope Francis acknowledged that pilgrims to the Marian site deserve spiritual care and support, but he also expressed doubts about claims of the continuing apparitions of Mary in Medjugorje.
Archbishop Hoser was appointed apostolic visitor to Medjugorje by Pope Francis in May 2018. His directive is to oversee the pastoral needs at the site of the alleged Marian apparitions.
Read about the Camino Augustine, the new pilgrimage route in southern England.