I sincerely think we may be on the cusp of witnessing the end of the Medjugorje intoxication, ort at least its end as a quasi-legitimate place of devotion within the Church. Rumors have been circulating that the Vatican is about to take the matter into its own hands and issue some sort of condemnation of the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje within the coming months. Of course, the regional bishops already declared years ago that there was no evidence of supernatural activity at Medjugorje (and this, in the end, is what this is about: supernatural activity, not whether people go to confession or repent of their sins). Furthermore, as the seers grow older and continue to heap new messages upon the original locutions, the credibility of the apparitions lessens because, as Cardinal Ratzinger himself once said, there comes a point when the sheer amount of messages to the seers begins to border on the absurd.
As often happens with these type of mystical movements in their final days, some in the Medjugorje crowd have been unable to resist themselves and have taken to prognosticating dates and times for different judgements of God, including the Second Coming itself. Case in point: Ronald L. Conte, Jr., editor and owner of the website Catholic Planet. Besides his speculations on the dates for different judgments of God, Mr. Conte also speculates that the Virgin Mary was not simply Assumed into heaven, but actually died and then was Resurrected and was then taken into heaven alive, and he furthermore says that there is inequality within the Trinity (click here to see what he means by this) and goes on to say that we need another five mysteries to the Rosary in addition to the Luminous Mysteries, which he calls the "Hidden Mysteries." These opinions (which he acknowledges are speculative in nature) are contained in a book of his aptly titled "New Insights into the Deposit of Faith."
But I digress. What about Medgujorje? Conte bases his date setting upon the assumption that both Garabandal and Medjugorje are true, valid apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Starting from this premise, he takes certain statements of the seers (who themselves did not set dates, but gave hints that made it possible for others to do so) and attempts to come up with an end-times chronology. The good news? The first eschatological event, "The Warning" or the "Day of Repentance" is set to occur within one year from today: April 10th, 2009. Let's see what Conte predicts.
First, what is the Day of Repentance? Conte says that this day is mentioned both in Garabandal and Medjugorje and that the two events are one and the same. Here is what we can expect for April 10, 2009 (taken from Conte's website) my emphases:
It begins with an event in the sky. This event is not natural, but supernatural. This event is not the Warning itself. This event has no effect on nature or on the planet. This event is not a comet, nor an asteroid, nor any other natural event. The purpose of this event is to get everyone's attention, and to awaken anyone who is sleeping. It is very brief, even momentary...Everything will stop during the brief time needed for the Warning (minutes, not hours). Electronics and vehicles will not function, except in cases of necessity [?]. People who are asleep will be awakened for it. The Warning is entirely supernatural. Each person will find themselves alone in their mind and heart with God. God will touch each person's soul. God will speak to each person's soul in a way that is fitting to the uniqueness of each individual. God will speak to each person's conscience within the limits of their own knowledge and experiences. People will understand their sins and the negative consequences of their sins. Every single human person on earth without exception will experience the Warning. Every single human person on earth will be offered grace and mercy directly from God...
[This] is the Day of Repentance, when God touches each and every human soul on earth. Generally, this experience takes the form of an illumination of the conscience, revealing to each person their own sinfulness...Mirjana [one of the seers] said: “Ten days before the first secret and the second secret, I will notify Father Petar Ljubicic. He will pray and fast for seven days, and then he will announce these to the world”. Since the first secret occurs on April 10th, ten days before is March 31st; on that day, she will tell Fr. Peter the first and second secret. Then from April 1 to April 7, inclusive, he will fast and pray. Then on April 7th, three days before the first secret, he will reveal both the first and second secrets. (April 7th is the true historical date of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.) The first secret coincides with Good Friday, and the second secret coincides with Easter.
This Day of Warning sounds a bit subjective...the type of thing where even if nothing happened on that day, the Medjugorje enthusiasts could claim that it did (like the JW's saying that Jesus came "invisibly" in 1914). Conte includes a lot of disclaimers as to what not to expect:
It will not reveal all knowledge about religion or about morals. It will not make all non-Catholic Christians realize that Catholicism is the truest form of Christianity. It will not make all non Christians realize that Christianity is the truest form of religion. It will not give the very young the understanding of adults. It will not speak to each person beyond the limits of their own knowledge, understanding, and experiences. It will not provide people with a complete understanding of wrong and right. It will not provide people with a complete understanding of their entire life.It will not show each person their entire life.It will not show each person the good things that they have done in their life. It is restrained by the limits inherent to each person's mind and heart and life.
Sounds really subjective. So, how can we be sure that it really happened? Fortunately, Conte suggests that every person on earth will be aware that at least something has happened, even if they are not sure what. Even better, there are geo-political results from this warning. A great upheaval follows, which is the result of this sudden illumination of minds...
This upheaval is a political and social upheaval, where evil persons, enraged and terrified by this blessed act of God in the first secret, and realizing that they are in danger of quickly losing power to good persons, gather all their supporters, and then fight to overthrow the nations in one particular area of the world, an area where evil is particularly strong: the Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa.
Now the Muslims come in, and notice how he talks about Islam in this first paragraph...
These evil persons, these extremists, are not true devout Muslims who sincerely worship the One God; they are not even the moderate Arab/Muslims who are rather worldly and who seek to bring western ways to the Middle East. Many of these extremists use religion as a pretext for their rise to power, but they are not even sincerely misguided. They are deliberately choosing evil, and deliberately feigning religious devotion. However some number of these extremists are very worldly, and do not even offer the pretense of being devout. The nations involved in this upheaval are Iran and Iraq and the other Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa. In those nations, when the event of the first secret occurs, many persons will repent and seek God in true sorrow for their sins, including very many Muslims. However, a significant number of persons in that area of the world will instead reject this gift from God.
These evil persons, newly spurred on by the terror of knowing their own sinfulness and by the fear that good persons might prevail in their nations, and also deeply enraged by this act of God itself, make a sudden concerted effort to take power in these nations...The upheaval consists of coups, insurrections, and outright war. If they cannot take over a nation's political and military power by coups and insurrections, then from those areas over which they do gain control in this way, they launch sudden attacks of warfare against the nations that they cannot capture internally. There is war and battles, chaos and killing, the disorganized and desperate acts of a loosely-knit group of persons bound by their rejection of God. It is an all or nothing gamble that they are taking. And they win. They succeed in conquering all of the Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa, from Iran and Iraq, throughout the Middle East (but not the holy land of Israel).
The upheaval will occur over just a few months, beginning and ending in the year 2009. By the end of that short period of time, extremists who have chosen evil over good, many of whom use the mask of religion to cover their sinfulness, will have taken power in all of the Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa. Of these nations, all led by extremists, the leader of Iran and the leader of Iraq (whoever emerges as the leaders of those nations out of the upheaval) will have the most power and control and influence over the other nations of that group. One of these leaders will be a secular (military/political) leader; the other will claim to be a spiritual leader of some kind.
How does all this effect the Catholic Church? Besides growing in holiness, Conte predicts a vast number of persons returning to Confession:
In the days and weeks after the Warning [so, we should see this by May-June, 2009], very many persons will flock to the Catholic Church for guidance and for the forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament of holy Confession. Priests will be overwhelmed with the number of repentant sinners who want to confess. (Prudent Catholics will go to confession frequently in the months and weeks prior to the Warning!) Even non-Catholics will want to go to Confession. The lines for confession will stretch even out the doors of many churches. Only Catholics will know about this event in advance, and be able to explain its meaning, and be able to properly advise people as to how to be reconciled to God. Even Catholics who are not holy and not knowledgeable will be sought out by non-Catholics for whatever little guidance or knowledge they might be able to offer.
Now Conte has Pope Benedict doing something that all true Catholics would shudder at...
Pope Benedict XVI, who will respond to the Warning by suggesting that three places of worship (tabernacles) be established in Jerusalem: one for Christianity, one for Judaism, and one for Islam, that is, a Church, a Temple, and a Mosque. And that all three religions worship God together in peace, with the city of Jerusalem as an example to the world of peace between religions...But the Pope's suggestion will not happen for many years. Instead there will be war. And not until after the first part of the tribulation will there be three places of worship in Jerusalem for the three religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam); and not until then will there be a yearly celebration, at the same time of year, for worshipers from all three religions to worship together in peace in the city of peace.
Does he suggest that Muslims will convert because of this?
The Muslims who are devout and sincere in seeking God will accept repentance and conversion, becoming holier worshipers of God. They will not generally change to Christianity as a result of the Warning. But their respect for Jesus and Mary will deepen. Muslims who are not devout, but who merely use Islam as an excuse for violence, if they do not repent with great sorrow and penance, will become very much more sinful and more prone to violence. As a result, there will be conflict between the devout moderate Muslims and the violent extremist Muslims.
It goes on an on after this. He goes on to predict that Hillary Clinton will be elected President in 2008, an prediction he still is affirming as true. You can view the entire corpus of his predictions here.
So (1) There will be a cosmic, supernatural sign in the sky that everybody will see, (2) all electronics everywhere will fail, (3) everybody's consciences will be enlightened in some way that is undeniable, (4) millions will come to the Catholic Church and pack the Confessionals, (5) a cadre of Islamic militants will conquer and unite the entire Muslim world, from Iraq to Morocco, led by the leaders of Iran and Iraq, (6) a devastating war will occur, (7) Pope Benedict will propose the building of a mosque, a Church and a temple in Jerusalem, (8) Hillary Clinton will win the 2008 election, (9) all these things will take only a matter of months; they will be "beginning and ending in the year 2009."
A few things to point out: first, those Medjugorje supporters who insist that Medjugorje does not teach indifferentism and syncretism, look at Conte's drivel about Muslims "sincerely worshipping the true God" and saying that these warnings will help them to become better Muslims. Conte is well-versed in the messages of Medjugorje and Garabandal, has a theology degree from Boston College and studied under Dr. Peter Kreeft. If he gets that interpretation out of them, then I think you ought to consider that Medjugorje really is teaching syncretism. We also must wonder what Conte's view of the Church and the papacy is if he sees Benedict suggesting the building of mosques as somehow praiseworthy.
Another thing: thank God that these people cannot help themselves when it comes to date setting! Perhaps this really will happen on April 10, 2009. That'd be great if it did (except for that stuff about Benedict building a mosque and all). But, if April 1o comes and nothing happens, then we have irrefutable proof that Conte, and his whole Medjugorje-Garabandal based chronology, are faulty. This doesn't disprove the apparitions, but it makes the followers of such apparitions look a lot more foolish.
But then what happens when (as is likely), the day comes and nothing happens? Perhaps many in the Medjugorje movement will come to their senses and realize that this is all baloney, demonically inspired as the former cheif Vatican exorcist recently said. But, given the modern spirit of disobedience and dissent (which is exemplified at Medjugorje by the disobedience of the excommunicated Franciscans who run the place), I predict that the Medjugorje enthusiasts will pull a Jehovah's Witness move on us and claim that the Day of Warning really did happen, but that it was in the spiritual realm and consequently only those who were looking for it (i.e., them) noticed its occurence. Then more odd prognostications will follow, and eventually outright heresy will crop up there (although it could be argued that it has already).
Although, perhaps Conte will admit that he was wrong. In 2005 he predicted the next pope after John Paul II would be black, and he readily admitted he was in error about that. Perhaps he will simply admit that he was wrong on his calculations, but like others in the date-setting business, insist that nevertheless the things he described will indeed come to pass, just a little later than we thought. Alright. We'll keep waiting.
In the meantime, is anyone willing to bet against me that anything at all will happen on April 10, 2009?