28-July-2009 -- Catholic News Agency |

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Priest Connected to Alleged Medjugorje Apparitions Defrocked

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2009 (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI has approved the defrocking of Fr. Tomislav Vladic, a priest leading the claims that the Virgin Mary has been appearing in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje. The priest has reportedly decided to leave the priesthood and his religious order.

The action follows an investigation into concerns surrounding the alleged apparitions, the Mail Online reports.

When the apparitions allegedly began in 1981, Fr. Vlasic was named as the "creator" of the phenomenon by the local Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, Pavao Zanic.

During a dispute with the bishop and the Vatican, the priest had predicted that the Virgin Mary would appear in Bosnia.

Months later, six local children said they had seen the Virgin on a nearby hillside. Fr. Vlasic soon announced he had become "spiritual advisor" to the alleged visionaries. The children now claim that the Virgin Mary has visited them 40,000 times over the last 28 years.

The priest was suspended last year by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. An inquiry was made into his conduct after three commissions failed to find evidence to support the visionaries’ claims. He was also investigated for sexual immorality after he reportedly made a nun pregnant, the Daily Mail says.

The priest refused to cooperate with the investigation from the beginning. He was banished to a monastery in L’Aquila, Italy and was forbidden to communicate with anyone without the permission of his superior.

On Sunday it emerged that Fr. Vlasic has chosen to leave the priesthood and his religious order.

Pope Benedict secretly approved his defrocking in March, stripping him of his priestly status.

According to the Daily Mail, several of the alleged Medjugorje seers now live in wealthy conditions and own expensive cars. One seer, Ivan Dragicevic, has married a former American beauty pageant queen.

The shrine at Medjugorje has attracted an estimated 30 million pilgrims. Millions of Catholics had hoped the Vatican would one day legitimize the alleged apparitions.

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