Wandering through the tropical rain forest that is the internet today, I came across a startling reference linking Medugorje and the isse of same sex marriages. But before I get to that point, I need to meander a bit.
I've been trying with the best of intentions to complete my reflections of the Marian shrine of Litmanova, but keep getting detoured, either by whimsy, an overactive imagination or grace. Today I posted two very interesting articles on Marian devotion in Czech-o-Slovakia and on the Marian apparitions to a middle aged peasant man on the mountain of Okruhla outside the Northern Slovakian village of Turzovka in 1958. I highly recommend this article because the story of the peasant of Turzovka, who endured months of torture and imprisonment under the communists because of his visions of the Blessed Mother, is so moving and inspiring. Turzovka has now become a major pilgrimage site and bears striking similarities to the shrine of Litmanova. Both shrines, like Lourdes, contain sacred springs that have been the occasions of healings. Both apparitions are also linked with Garabandal and Medugorje in that they contain calls to prayer and sacrifice, a return to the sacraments with purity of heart and intention. a renewed call to prayer, a request for fasting on bread and water on Wednesday and Thursday, warnings of 'future chastisements' if the world does not repent from it's sins, and the explanation that prayer, penance, sacrifice and fasting when undertaken with purity of heart, are capable of healing a sinful world.
This is just the simplest of summaries. Litmanova, however, contains the very striking and unusual condemnation of the first Gulf War in 1991, with the Lady of the visions saying, "This was not God's will. Nations have simply come under the sway of sin." At first I was tempted to believe this might be an embellishment on the part of the visionary, tempted to insert her own commentary on the times, until I read her disclaimer that (at the age of 12) she hardly understood the conflict at all or what Our Lady was referring to. When one considers what we now know to be fact, that contrary to US assertions, diplomatic solutions to the crisis of the invasion of Kuwait had not even been attempted, let alone exhausted, that Sadam Hussein was desperate for a diplomatic solution to get himself out of the mess he had stumbled into through his own folly, but that "Bush needed to bomb," it casts a special light on this Marian statement. We should add to this the figures from UNESCO that over half a million Iraqi children died as a direct result of the first Gulf War, largely from having drunk the poisoned water supplies because the US air force bombed all of the water treatment and sewage disposal plants of all of Iraq's major cities, a major war crime under the Geneva conventions, which the US brazenly denied in 1994, and then just as brazenly admitted in 1999. In light of that now established fact, the condemnation of the Lady of Litmanova does not seem all that startling. And in light of the revelations of sexual abuse within the clergy, all the way to the top, not to mention the financial corruption at the heart of the Vatican, one need not be surprised by this statement from Conchita Gonzales, the lead visionary of Garabandal. "Our Lady says that many cardinals, bishops and priests are on the way to perdition." Conchita found this statement so shocking that when she first transmitted it, she edited it to say, "Many priests are on the way to perdition," rationalizing to herself that Cardinals and bishops were also priests. She then felt reprimanded interiorly and told to relay the statement exactly as she had heard it. Indeed.
And yet...and it is a big 'and yet'...when one goes on line and accesses some of these Marian sites devoted to the apparitions of Garabandal and Medugorje, statements like the latter from Conchita Gonzales are almost immediately tied to the wicked Cardinals, Bishops and priests who engineered Vatican II, who are soft on abortion and approving of homosexual relations and same-sex marriage. I came across one spirited discussion that went something like this.
Referring to the 'warnings' of future chastisements if the world does not repent, one woman said,
"Well, Our Lady did say the chastisements could be mitigated if the world repented. Has the world repented (in 2009, the date of this discussion)?
Her chat companion: Not at all. It's worse than ever.
1st Woman: You're right there and the two biggest evils in the world are abortion and homosexuality.
This is only a small example of what's out there, and I don't recommend wading through this stuff, because much of it is very toxic. But it does explain why so many 'progressives' are so turned off of these Marian apparitions. They seem to be 'owned' by the radical right wing of the Church, who make the loudest noises, and use the apparitions as a big club to beat over the head anyone who disagrees with their limited vision of the church. I suppose this is why it is so important that 'outsiders' such as myself witness to the many graces we have received through these Marian sites, graces that include unconditional and loving acceptance of our gay natures and our gay vocations to love others of the same sex.
And that brings me to the point of the title of this post. Wandering around on line, I came across a number of sites asserting that Medugorje is an evil invention of the devil and that the proof of this is that many known pedophiles, convicted molester priests, defrocked priests and fake priests have gone to Medugorje and in some cases led pilgrimages of young boys to Medugorje. The level of toxic hate displayed on some of these sites is beyond shocking.
But then, I came across this very interesting statement - highlighted in shocking red (which I tried to remove, but which remain stuck there like a virus!):
BISHOP CAWCUTT'S PORNO WEB SITE FOR PRIESTS
South African Bishop Has Ties to Medjugorje And Pornographic Website
Bishop Reginald Michael Cawcutt is listed in Denis Nolan's book as a Medjugorje supporter. Cawcutt is Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town, South Africa. According to news articles, "Bishop Cawcutt betrays no qualms about having an openly supportive stand for Dignity, an organization of active homosexuals which has been banned by the church". But that didn't stop the "Gospa" of Medjugorje from appearing in his church, just prior to mass, in January of 1997.
Fr. Slavko Barbaric states in his commentary, "Vicka and I took a long trip to South Africa." Slavko goes on to say, "All the while, Vicka had her daily meetings with Our Lady at the regular time, before the mass, and Mary always gave some advice, such as our needing to pray for the youth, for the church, for the Pope, for families." Slavko continues, "I can say that in these countries in Africa the message of Medjugorje is really being lived and passed on."
According to Slavko, "Many people there have accepted the message and we also met Bishop Reginald Cawcutt (who) celebrated the mass with us." The mass, according to Slavko, would have been said right after Vicka's visit with the "Gospa". What Slavko didn't comment on was whether or not Our Lady could have advised Vicka that, "The Archdiocese of Cape Town has a ministry to gay Catholics founded and headed by Cawcutt." Some people will say, "So what?" Well, here is so what!
Bishop Cawcutt has openly stated that he is in favor of same sex marriages. If we know that, wouldn't it be obvious that our Blessed Mother would know that? Why didn't she warn Vicka?
Back to me again:
Why indeed? I suppose it's simply too unthinkable for this commentator to consider the possibility that the "Gospa" of Medugorje is actually in favor of the Bishop's supportive stand both for Dignity and for same sex marriages. But as a believer in the apparitions of Medugorje and the core integrity of both the visionary Vicka and the exemplary Father Slavko, I glean a very different message from the fact that the Gospa graced his church with an apparition for Vicka. This is good news indeed, but it is yet another example of why Medugorje is so hated by so many virulent, right wing Catholics out there. It's just too open minded and tolerant.
Finally...what about the 'pornographic website?" I was going to post the link to it, but have decided not to. If anyone feels they absolutely have to view it and read the comments, they can email me and I will send them the link (though it is really old news from 2001). It is a support network for gay priests trying to come to terms with their sexuality, and many of the comments are quite open and frank. A few of them are salacious, most are deeply moving and heartrending, many of them are deeply spiritual ( a fact which sailed over the head of this outraged commentator), and a number of them testify to the fact that some of the priests are sexually active. It is, in fact, quite an extraordinary source of information about the tragic lives of many closeted gay priests in the church today. Some of the comments are a bit shocking, even crude, but most are not. The bishop's comments are clearly meant to offer support and encouragement and spiritual guidance, but because it is inter-familia - they are not the comments you would want the bishop to make at the local altar society tea. I have sat through many a pre dinner drinking session with parish priests, when I was a Jesuit, to immediately recognize the flavor of the comments. No better, no worse, but on the whole deeply moving and sad.
What about....shock, horror...the pornographic images. Well, our exposer of this horrendous site warns the viewers with throbbing giant capital red letters of "EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE PORNOGRAPHIC IMAGES: CLICK HERE." So of course, I clicked, and this is what I found.
The customary iconic image of St. Sebastian, hanging naked from the tree, body pierced with arrows - but a side view, nothing full frontal.
Three saucy men wagging their behinds in front of the camera.
Three beafy men wearing nothing but cowboy boots and silly grins, holding their cowboy hats over their groins.
One fit young man wading into the sea, presenting us with a view of his gistening buttocks.
And last but not least - shock, horror - a shot up a Scottish kilt, obviously censored by the sender of the photo, not our outraged commentator, who was so beside himself with rage that he spewed spittle all over the page (my little embellishment there).
However, to try and be balanced and fair, there is a link to another site, RCF, which acts as a watchdog on offending priests, especially high ranking prelates suspected of engaging in sexual activities. The site is clearly hostile to gays, but I can't say it's efforts are entirely reprehensible. There is a lot of 'stuff' out there that needs to come out into the open. The latest appeal on the site is for any information related to Archbishop Levada. Very interesting.
But to end on a positive note, I found the simple 'fact' of an apparition having taken place in the church of openly supportive Bishop Cawcutt, to be...well, not insignificant. Not a direct, positive affirmation, but an affirmation nonetheless. Here is a negative review from the Seattle Catholic, 2001, which one may interpret as one sees fit. Seems like a very sensible, wise pastor to me. But then, of course, I'm prejudiced.