Comprehending Medjugorje : Original Documents And Conversations with Arnaud Dumouch
Reference (French Edition) :
Daria Klanac, Comprendre Medjugorje : Regard historique et théologique, avec la collaboration du théologien Arnaud Dumouch, Informativni centar Mir, Medjugorje, en coédition avec les Éditions Sakramento, Paris, 2012, 2e éd. (1re éd. 2008, ISBN 978-2-915380-19-4 & 978-9958-36017-6), annexe ii, pages 219 à 229.
English Translation by Duško Čondić
In the long history of apparitions, the visionaries of those apparitions were never subjected to such a variety of investigations as those in Medjugorje. As early as the 27th and 28th of June, 1981, the Medjugorje visionaries were sent off to be examined by doctors and psychiatrists in both Čitluk and Mostar. Despite a communist regime that was not exactly favorable to such things, their doctors concluded that the children are physically and mentally sound.
As already stated, from the very start of the apparitions in Medjugorje, the visionaries were the subject of numerous investigations. The most important and most fundamental among them were the ones that follow:
1. Under the leadership of Dr. Henri Joyeux, a group of French investigators conducted six varied experiments in 1984 and 1985.
2. Under the leadership of Luigi Frigerio, a group of Italian investigators conducted two investigations. One was experimental, namely, that of September of 1985, and that of a psychiatric evaluation conducted in March of 1986.
3. Under the leadership of Father Yves Saint-Arnaud, a Canadian group conducted their investigations in 1988.
4. Under the leadership of the Bishop of Mostar, the Medical Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Jugoslavia conducted their investigation in 1988.
5. Under the leadership of Dr. Marc Margnelli and Dr. Giorgi Gagliardi, a group from Milan, conducted their investigations in 1998.
6. Under the leadership of Dr. Henri Joyeux, another French group conducted their investigations in 2005.
The results of the investigations cited above, can be found in the following works:
– Études médicales et scientifiques sur les apparitions de Medjugorje, sous la direction de H. Joyeux et R. Laurentin, Œil, Paris, 1985.
– Dossier scientifique sur Medjugorje, sous la direction de L. Frigerio, L. Bianchi et G. Mattalia, ARPA (Association Reine de la Paix), Paina di Giussano, 1986.
A meticulous scientific evaluation of the physical and psychological particulars collected in Medjugorje as well as a detailed discussion as to the characteristics of the state of ecstasy on the part of the visionaries is the subject of various discussions by M. Margnelli and G. Gagliardi, of which we cite the following:
– Le apparizioni della Madonna, da Lourdes a Medjugorje, Riza Scienze, Milano, 1987.
– L’estasi, Sensibili alle Foglie, Rome, 1996.
– I Veggenti di Medjugorje : Ricerca psicofisiologica 1998, Resch Verlag, Innsbruck, 2000.
Below, we will offer condensations of the investigations of various groups.
1. The French Group, 1984—1985. (Medjugorje I)
The investigators of the French Group, whom we have herein designated as being group Medjugorje I, concluded their report with the following words:
1. The state of ecstasy is neither a state of sleep nor that of a dream-like state. The apparitions are not hallucinations in the pathological sense of that word. These states were excluded as possibilities based on electroencephalographs and clinical observation. Nor are the apparitions of a collective hallucinatory nature as was suggested by a false insinuation spread throughout the world media. The very idea of a “collective hallucination” is, in itself, contradictory or perhaps a psychiatric invention. As regards the visionaries of Medjugorje, it makes no sense.
2. It appears that the state of ecstasy is a functional state in which the regular sense of perception is temporarily suspended so as to benefit the visual sense of perception on the part of a person who does not interfere with the choices and intentions of the visionaries nor does that person in any manner disturb their lives. The state of ecstasy is incorporated into their daily life without difficulty, without crossover, and without interruption.
3. The state of ecstasy is not pathological in nature and is fully coherent and beneficial in nature for the visionaries. It does not diminish their personal identities or their differences as persons. The state of ecstasy unites them; it elevates these adolescents [Vicka said: neither better or worse] to human and spiritual heights that cause one to stand in awe of all who observe (except those observers who systematically attempt to frighten them so that their sincere and artless spontaneous reports as seen as being falsehoods).
4. As regards the apparitions, convergent facts lead one to believe that we are dealing with what is essentially an objective perception, as much by its causality as by its intent. This does not exclude the element of “sign” that is a characteristic of all human knowledge, nor does it exclude the limitations and singularities of such a sign as a function of the capabilities of the one who receives it. The visual perception of the apparition is more real than the perception of ordinary people. Just as the real world is more real than that of a dream-world, the Virgin is more real to the visionaries than is the real world. She in no manner is seen to be unreal; rather, she is seen to be supra-real She is not part of our time-space continuum. She appears within that time space dimension without in any manner interfering with their sense of free-willed choice precisely because she belongs to another dimension of time: to that of God’s eternity.
5. The state of ecstasy projects the visionaries into a temporal dimension that is of a particular sort, one that is different from the one we use to measure time units. The visionaries lose all sense of time in the usual sense of the word. Hence, at moments of such ecstasy, they are immersed in prayer so as to establish close and deep contact with God and the saints.
6. Definitions used to clarify the state of ecstasy [or to refute them], as being a type of hallucination, a manifestation of the sub-conscious, or the like, do nothing to clarify the situation but, in fact, stand as contradictions to the object of the apparitions. Sincerely put, they encounter insurmountable obstacles. The most obvious clarification is the one given by the visionaries themselves, namely, when they state that they saw the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
7. The disengagement of the senses during the time of ecstasy, as well as the synchronized behavior of the visionaries at the time of ecstasy imposes the supposition of a spiritual [as well as real], communication of one person with another person. This perception that appears in the manner that is different from ordinary perceptions, indicates a consonance [individual as well as collective], between the perceptions and the reactions that follows from them such that it imparts to them a sign of objective reality.
8. Catholic theology stresses a particular nature of apparitions: it is a question of rare events which, in the history of the Church and the Communion of Saints, differ among themselves through a sign given to a specific time and place. The standard of measure used by theology and in mystical experiences leads one to the assertion that the perceptions of the visionaries of Medjugorje have as their object the Virgin that they recognize, and to which the quantity of spiritual fruits give witness as to their identity and her reality.
The 2005 French group
Twenty years after his first set of investigations, Dr. Henri Joyeux returned to Medjugorje along with Dr. Phillippe Loron and a multi-disciplinary group of experts, in 2005. They found themselves back at the site of apparitions. They reported: “Our conclusion is clear: that which is occurring in Medjugorje is of a serious nature that must be taken seriously. We visited the site twice so as to determine if there was some sort of fraud taking place, and to determine if circumstances were similar to those we encountered in other places. Our investigations in 2005 were new and conducted in a pronounced critical manner. We video-taped Marija and Ivan before, during, and after their state of ecstasy. The equipment used was far better and more advanced than that of twenty years ago. Our conclusion remained the same and did not change after these twenty years. We were not deceived. The Church is permissive towards these occurrences since they are of such a serious nature; however, in the manner of the Church, it has not, as of yet, expressed a definite opinion since the events continue to unfold.”
2. The Italian group of 1985—1986. (Medjugorje II.)
The Italian group that we have desiganted as Medjugorje II, concluded the following:
1. During the time of the apparitions when the visionaries were in the state of ecstasy, they were, according to the norms and characteristics of Catholic mystical theology, in a state wherein they lost the ordinary use of their normal senses, and, as well, sustained a complete loss of any apparent tie to the reality of world about them.
2. The experimental indicators of the above two elements were achieved through an analysis of their ability to feel pain and tactile stimulation that ceased during their state of ecstasy. We also studied their reactions to electrical stimulation of the skin of those same stimuli spoken of above. These also were not present as one would ordinarily expect.
3. The data related to their heart rhythms, perspiration, and vaso-constriction of the peripheral arteries precedes a state of ortho-sympathic activation that can be compared to a state of shock.
4. This observation allows that another element be added to the classically recognized symptomatology of ecstasy, namely, sympathetic activation which makes possible the explanation and clarification of a great number of somatic symptoms described in the previous depositions.
5. All the manifestations noted in Medjugorje confirm the theoretical model suggested by the Department of Physiology of Roland Fischer (1971). They reveal a clear distinction between the “ecstasies” of the East and West (as, for example yoga or “Samadhi”).
6. One such fact reveals that the state of ecstasy is a “predictable” manifestation in the sense that the same symptomatology must be repeatable in the same person, from incident to incident, and that it must be repeatable in the same manner during the state of ecstasy in other persons. In other words, that fact imparts the status of its being an independent and distinct manifestation.
7. The visionaries were not pretending nor could they have learned to control their psycho-physiological reactions.
8. The state of ecstasy was not accompanied by neurological manifestations, as, for example, epileptic seizures, or functional illness, as, for example, the state of integral disjuncture, nor did it have any harmful consequences to the health of the visionaries despite all the negative neuro-vegetative symptomatology.
3. The 1988 Canadian Group
Father Yvon Saint-Arnaud, O.M.I. who is a psychotherapist, professor at the University of Saint Paul in Ottawa, (Canada), and a noted lecturer, came to Medjugorje in 1988. He was accompanied by a five-member group of experts so as to subject the visionaries to a series of psycho-social tests to evaluate their behavior. Herein is presented an excerpt of his report:
“I was surprised by what I discovered during my stay in Medjugorje. Truly, I had no particular expectations since I tend to be skeptical toward that which appears to be unusual. Therefore, I did not read anything about Medjugorje in advance, and, accordingly, also did not gather any existing information about the manifestation. Besides, the group of experts responsible for my trip there gave me a very precise task, namely, to uncover any signs of psycho-social health or its absence. Such a task, before all else, demanded a respectful behavior, and an unconditional approach to the young “visionaries.” This, then, is the reason why all of encounters with them took place either in a familial setting, or else, in their natural interactions with their parents, brothers, and sisters, neighbors, in the company of same-aged boys and girls, and with men and women who comprise their psycho-social and faith community.
My first surprise was to establish beyond the shadow of doubt:
– That no one in the village accorded them any particular attention;
– That the “visionaries” themselves do not seek any sort of privileged attention;
– That, to the contrary, they, in fact, spontaneously integrate into the crowd, and participate in the same liturgical rites such as the mass, the rosary, confession, etc. lived by all in the community.
Neither I, nor the five experts with me noticed any sort of behavior on the part of the visionaries that would suggest they sought to call attention to themselves. Their real behavior confirms their sincere desire to be “no different than anyone else”—a desire that no one failed to mention to us during our conversations.
The quality of such social integration into the socio-religious life of the ambient they lived in does not seem to be compatible at all with any sort of deleterious mental state in this particular territory.”
In brief, the psycho-social characteristics that were confirmed to exist among the visionaries by Father Saint-Arnaud, and that he developed in his study are, as follows: sincerity; truthfulness; spontaneity; a sense of humor; realism; respect towards others; a sound sense of judgement; and an openness towards others. Still other characteristics that further delineate the psycho-social integrity of the visionaries are: evidence of religious maturity; awareness of the importance of the Will of God; an awareness of their own freedom of choice to respond to God’s invitations; an awareness of salvific redemption from sin; the need to correct their own imperfections; the superiority of collective prayer and fundamental formulae in prayer; a joyful sense of loyalty; and intensive and discrete sense of the importance of communal celebrations; an awareness of the distinct difference in their personal state of piety and that which they experienced during the apparitions; a sense of peaceful and confident surrender to Divine Providence; a discrete fervor; submission to religious authorities; and a realistic incorporation of their personal religious experience into everyday life.
Father Saint-Arnaud concludes:
“Nothing learned from our test during our encounters with Jakov, Ivan, Marija, Vicka, and Ivanka, nor from their socio-cultural and socio-religious behavior that we observed, led us to believe that there was even the slightest intent on their part to compete with each other, to exhibit signs of hysteria, hallucinations, or any diminution of the most ordinary role of reality at the personal, social, or religious levels.
This conclusion, it seems to us, is not only justified, but is also of great methodological importance. It would be erroneous to speak of the “mental” health or lack thereof in the case of the visionaries, of their religious maturity or immaturity based on speculative analyses that conform to some theory as opposed to making use of credible and confirmable facts. Truly, there is no lack of believable and confirmed models of investigations for such manifestations as these. I, as well as the members of our team, noted that the responses and behavior of the “visionaries” correspond to the majority of solidly confirmed investigatory instruments that are recognized in the area of personality disorders as well as in the areas of, socio-cultural and socio-religious investigations.”
4. The Bishops’ Conference of the Former Jugoslavia
The Medical sub-Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the Former Jugoslavia, issued the following report on the 14th of May, 1988:
The Bishops’ Conference of Jugoslavia’s Report on Medjugorje
The report of the Medical-psychological sub-commission for the confirmation of the psycho-physiological status of the “visionaries” in Medjugorje, issued after a study of previous medical documentation and following an examination of the following persons:
1. Vicka Ivanković
2. Ivan Dragičević
3. Mirjana Dragičević
4. Marija Pavlović
5. Ivanka Ivanković
6. Jakov Čolo
And, in keeping with the standing criteria of the Congregation for the Faith, dated the 25th of March, 1978, the following was established:
1. All subjects questioned proved to be psychologically well-balanced.
2. No psychological or pathological tendencies exist that would constitute a positive influence on the postulated supernatural event. Also, no evidence of any sort of psychosis or collective hysteria or similar manifestations are present.
The members of the sub-commission submit their own personal thoughts about the subjects investigated.
Given in Zagreb, the 14th of May, 1988.
Members of the sub-commission:
Dr. Prof. Vladeta Jerotič, neuro-psychiatrist
Dr. Josip Palić, neuro-psychiatrist
Dr. Albin Novak, certified psychologist
Dr. Ante Korljan, medical public health specialist
Dr. Branimir Šubić, neuro-psychiatrist
Dr. Mihaly Syentmartoni, clinical psychiatrist, and Professor at the Gregorianum in Rome
5. The Milanese group of 1998, (Medjugorje III)
The following questions needed to be asked of the visionaries from Medjugorje in their psycho-physiological examinations so that they would meet the current methodological standards of investigation, namely, as they relate to the cited states of ecstasy and their accompanied religious visions/apparitions in Medjugorje. These questions are to be put to the following subjects: Marija Pavlović—Lunetti, Ivan Dragičević, Vicka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragičević—Soldo, Ivanka Ivanković—Elez, and Jakov Čolo:
– Did the subjects fall prey to manipulation on the part of some third party who, through his influence, brought on some sort of suggestive experience that subsequently induced a collective state of ecstasy/visions?
– Did the subjects initially have a deep and spontaneous experience such as a spiritual change in awareness that was free of any outside influence?
– Did the subjects, after their initial experience of ecstasy/visions/apparitions, continue to assert their shared experience through a repetition of their behavior simply so as to defend that which they previously asserted regarding the matter?
A suitable working group of experts was formed so as to gain adequate response to the above cited queries.
The subjects under investigation, through their individual case-histories and examinations conducted with various medical instruments, yielded the following results:
– That they had undergone an unusual and decisive experience followed by a change in their state of consciousness of the type that would suggest an ecstatic state accompanied by visions that registered less intensive properties;
– That their experiences always evoke changes of certain measurable biological indicators;
– That their behavior during their altered state of consciousness did not reveal (within the limits of the investigation) any prevalent properties of hypnosis; rather it assumed the characteristics of a changes in the state of consciousness of the type present in states of ecstasy accompanied by visions/ apparitions;
– That the supposition of intentional fraud and hoax has no basis in fact or psycho-neurophysiologic basis as well.
The impressively rich and abundant variety of scientific disciplines represented in the composition of this group must be stressed: theology, physiology, psychiatry, psycho-physiology, psychiatry, psycho-neuro-physiology, general medicine, psychoanalysis, ophthalmology, gynecology, and professors of medicine, internal medicine, and neuro-surgery.
Following such extensive investigations and examinations, how is it possible that one can still find laymen who hold such naïve opinions that suggest the visionaries sustained “collective hallucinations”, “piously induced experiences”, “an elaborate adolescent farce”, “the fabrication of charismatic priests”, “the work of the devil”, “a general sort of psychological anomaly”, and other such suppositions?