Private Letters by Pope John Paul II
Private letters between the late Pope John Paul II and a couple in Krakow, Poland, appear to confirm, for the first time, in writing, that the pontiff had a positive view of Medjugorje and even a daily devotion attached to the site of apparitions in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
The letters, dated March 30, 1991, May 28, 1992, December 8, 1992, and February 25, 1994, and addressed to Zofia and Marek ("Z. M.") Skwarniccy, make several references to Medjugorje (in Polish, "Medziugorje") by name.
"And let everything be well on the journey to Medjugorje-Rome," wrote John Paul II at the end of the first note, which is signed in what appears to be the Pope's handwriting, when compared to his formal signatures readily seen on photographs or in handwriting samples from books such as Crossing the Threshold of Hope. Most distinctive are the way "Js" and "Ps" are written, in close resemblance and signed from "Watykan," or Vatican.
A translation provided by a source in Europe has been confirmed by a Polish priest in the United States who was shown the letters.
It is in the second letter of May 28, 1992, that perhaps the most striking language is used.
"I thank Zofia for everything that regards Medjugorje," the Pope apparently wrote. "I am also going there every day in prayer: I join everyone who is praying there or who derives the call to prayer from there. Today we have understood this call better."
Previously, the Pope's feelings on Medjugorje had been limited to hearsay evidence from priests, bishops, and cardinals who related positive remarks from the pontiff during ad limina visits to Rome. It appears that the Pope's own letters not only confirm what bishops have long claimed, but in some ways portray a startling depth to the Pope's attachment to the site of apparitions -- which one bishop said the Pope referred to as "the fulfillment of Fatima."
In the February note to the Polish couple, John Paul II allegedly makes reference to the war in former Yugoslavia and expresses gratitude once more. "Thank you very much for both letters," he wrote. "Zofia writes about the Balkans. Now we can better understand Medjugorje. We can better understand this mother's 'insistence' today, when we have the magnitude of such danger before our eyes. Equal is the answer of special prayer, prayer for the people of the whole world. It gives us a hope that here goodness will win, that peace is possible. That was the main idea of the prayer day, January 23."
It will take handwriting experts to confirm, but the notations appear, to match the handwriting of John Paul, as presented in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope and in photographs with his signature (the "J" and "P" distinctive).
Could they be forged? Anything can be forged. Indications at this point are that they are not, and if they are not -- if these indications are correct -- this is a big story. It was during the reign of John Paul II that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now Pope himself, intervened to save Medjugorje from a local bishop's denunciation. It remains unknown, however, exactly how the current pontiff views the apparitions, and no one has previously documented John Paul II's view of the situation in the public arena.