Pope Francis will reportedly soon appoint a special administrator of the Holy See for Međugorje. The unofficial information has not yet been confirmed, but it is assumed that the Vatican could take over in the next few months. It is assumed that this would mean that Međugorje would get a status of a shrine which would be managed by the pope's administrator, while the parish of Međugorje and pastoral activities would remain in the hands of the Franciscans of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province, reports Večernji List on July 3, 2016.
It would seem that the decision would be a win-win situation for everybody. Herzegovinian friars would lose a part of their autonomy in decision-making, but they will no longer have to deal with the local bishop because the Vatican would take over all responsibilities. Međugorje would become “extraterritorial” in a way, which would mean the end of 35 years of problems in relations between local bishops and the Međugorje phenomenon. On the other hand, the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno Ratko Perić can also be satisfied, because the authority of the Vatican would guarantee that there would be no deviations in Međugorje.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Georg Muller, recently issued a ban to the visionaries to host meetings with the faithful throughout the world, including at Međugorje. The visionaries accepted the decision, but no one could prohibit the faithful to gather at the Apparition Hill.
A lot has changed in Međugorje in all these years, including the local economy which has profited from the number of pilgrims coming there. “All this annoys and bothers people so internet websites write negatively about Međugorje”, said a local resident. Until four to five years ago, Međugorje was dominated by small hotels which could accommodate 50 to 60 pilgrims. However, with the arrival of about a million and a half pilgrims a year, investors appeared who have built large hotels that can accommodate about 200 people, which encouraged many rental owners to expand their capacities as well. However, many of the hotels are empty. “Foreigners came with money, and our people took out loans, and now many are drowning in debt. Apparently, banks have already taken over some smaller hotels”, said a local inhabitant.
However, money is certainly not the most important issue for the Vatican. What the Vatican administrator will first see are the fruits of Međugorje in these 35 years, and these are changes to the lives of many people who came to Međugorje. Many of them found there that for which they longed, and for them Međugorje changed their lives and opened up new horizons of faith. Of course, places like Međugorje will always have their opponents and advocates, both in the Church and outside it. The Church always responds in the same way, never in haste, but patiently waiting for the results and fruits. It has once again confirmed that it does not intend to rush with the decision on the Međugorje phenomenon.