So just why has Pope Francis entrusted Archbishop Henryk Hoser to go to Medjugore as a Special Envoy of the Holy See?
The Vatican press statement released on Saturday explains: “The mission has the aim of acquiring a deeper knowledge of the pastoral situation there and above all, the needs of the faithful who go there on pilgrimage, and on the basis of this, to suggest possible pastoral initiatives for the future. The mission will therefore have an exclusively pastoral character.”
However, the appointment is primarily a result of Pope Francis responding to a recommendation made in the dossier submitted to him in January 2014 by Cardinal Ruini, president of the Vatican Commission investigating the Medjugorje phenomenon.
The provision of pastoral care was pointed out by Vatican Insider’s Andrea Tornielli reporting on the handover at the time.
“Some of the Commission’s members have highlighted the need for a change of pace in the provision of pastoral care to millions of faithful who come to Medjugorje from all over the world. The Commission and Cardinal Ruini himself, thanks to visits by people close to him, have noticed that people really are converting to the faith or returning to the sacraments – what the Church refers to as spiritual fruits – in a significant way.”
With this appointment by Pope Francis we see his first and very positive response to the significant study on Medjugorje undertaken by the Commission appointed by Benedict XVI in March 2010 – an unspoken but visible sign that the Holy See is not intent on cutting down the tree that produces good fruit in abundance.