|Marko Semren OFM|
Auxiliary bishop of Banja Luka
Marko Semren is the 58-year-old Franciscan auxiliary bishop of the Banja Luka, a neighbouring diocese of Mostar-Duvno in Bosnia Herzegovina. He became the first Franciscan bishop to serve in B+H in 70 years when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in July 2010.
He currently serves as the Guardian of the Franciscan friary of Livno Gorica and is a professor at the Franciscan Theological Institute of Sarajevo.
The question of shrine status for Medjugorje is certain to feature high on the Holy See’s agenda when the CDF and the Holy Father consider the completed work of the commission investigating the Medjugorje phenomenon.
Before the Yugoslavia Episcopal Conference ceased to exist, its president, Cardinal Franjo Kuharic stated in August 1993: “We bishops, after a three-year-long commission study, accept Medjugorje as a holy place, as a shrine.”
However, it is probable that the necessary statutes were not finalised by the bishops at national level before the termination of the YEC soon after the announcement was made.
The matter of shrine status was referred to the Bosnia & Herzegovina Episcopal Conference in 2006, but passed over and the commission handed back to Rome two years later. In March 2010, the Holy See announced a new international commission. Four months later Marko Semren was made a bishop.
As part of its investigation into the Medjugorje phenomenon the Holy See will have considered the question of shrine status. If the Yugoslav bishops were in the process of approving statutes, what is there to prevent the Holy See from following through with this recognition, granting status at international level and therefore free to appoint its own guardian and/or rector to administer the territory and protect the tree that is producing so much good fruit?
According to Canon Law, recognition of apparitions, messages and visionaries are not prerequisites for granting shrine status.