For 25 years, most Catholics have been left wondering about the possible Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, looking for something that might confirm or deny the authenticity of the visions there.
There have been good fruits in Medjugorje, such as possible healings, an apparent increase in conversions and renewed attention to prayer and the sacraments. But there have also been numerous bad fruits -- including the following situation, described last weekend by the local ordinary, Bishop Ratko Peric:
[I]n this local Church of Mostar-Duvno, there exists something similar to a schism. A number of priests that have been expelled from the Franciscan OFM Order by the Generalate of the Order, due to their disobedience to the Holy Father, for years now have been forcefully keeping a few parish churches and rectories along with church inventory. They have not only been illegally active in these parishes, but they have also administered the sacraments profanely, while others invalidly, such as Confession and Confirmation, or they have assisted at invalid marriages.
This type of anti-ecclesial behaviour is shocking to all of us. At the same time, this scandal of sacrilegiously administering the sacraments, especially of the Most Holy Body of Christ, must shock all the faithful as well who invalidly confess their sins to these priests and participate in sacrilegious liturgies. We pray to the Lord that this scandal and schism be uprooted as soon as possible from our midst.
Fortunately, Bishop Peric has just given us all a way to judge for ourselves:
Therefore I responsibly call upon those who claim themselves to be "seers", as well as those persons behind the "messages", to demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish. In this fashion they shall show their necessary adherence to the Church, by neither placing private "apparitions" nor private sayings before the official position of the Church.
It's a simple litmus test in the Church, confirmed by centuries of practical experience: if the apparitions are true, they'll stop now.
(Hat tip to Jimmy Akin. The full text of Bishop Peric's homily can be found at http://te-deum.blogspot.com/2006/07/homily-of-bishop-ratko-peric-of.html.)