By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The priest who served as the spiritual director to six visionaries who claim to have been visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary nearly 40,000 times in Medjugorje has been officially laicized by Pope Benedict XVI.
London’s Telegraph.co.uk is reporting that Father Tomislav Vlasic has left the priesthood a year after he was placed under investigation for having exaggerated the alleged apparitions and on suspicion of having had sexual relations with a nun.
In addition to these charges, he was also under investigation for alleged “dubious doctrine, the manipulation of consciences, suspect mysticism and disobedience towards legitimately issued orders.”
Fr. Vlasic, a Franciscan, is said to have refused to cooperate with the investigation of the apparition site throughout the past three decades and was eventually sent to a monastery in L’Aquila, Italy where he was forbidden to communicate with anyone without the permission of his superior.
Fr. Vlasic’s decision to leave the priesthood has brought the investigation to a halt.
Even though the Vatican has never officially spoken on the authenticity of the apparitions in Medjugorje, an estimated 30 million pilgrims have visited the site since the alleged visitations began in 1981.
New of Father Vlasic’s defrocking will come as a blow to Medjugorje followers worldwide who were hoping that the Vatican would one day legitimise the controversial shrine.
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