Mary is likely not appearing to the Medjugorje visionaries anymore, though she may have appeared to them when they were children, Pope Francis said during his in-flight presser on his way home to Rome from Fatima on May 13th.

It doesn’t appear the pontiff meant this statement as an official ruling on their validity, however: “This I say as a personal opinion.”

Like the Fatima apparitions, the 100th anniversary of which he was celebrating in Portugal, a group of children in Medjugorje, Bosnia in 1981 claimed to have been visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Francis seemed to indicate he was open to the idea that Mary really did visit the children, but he also cited a Vatican report saying the matter “must continue being studied.”

But unlike Fatima, the Medjugorje visionaries say they have been visited by Mary on a regular schedule ever since, even in front of crowds. It’s this ongoing claim of private messages over the course of nearly four decades of which Pope Francis is skeptical.

“…I prefer the Madonna as Mother, our Mother, and not a woman who’s the head of a telegraphic office, who everyday sends a message at such hour. This is not the Mother of Jesus.”

He also said he thinks the supposed messages are lacking in significant content. “And these presumed apparitions don’t have a lot of value. This I say as a personal opinion. But, it’s clear.”

But he acknowledges that people have positive spiritual experiences in the town of Medjugorje.

“The third… the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact. People go there and convert. People who encounter God, change their lives.”

But even on this point, he offers caution: “but this…there is no magic wand there.

You can read his full remarks in context here.

What do you make of Pope Francis’ words on Medjugorje? Let us know in the comments!

[See also: How You Can Pray Pope Francis’ “5 Finger Prayer”]

[See also: Pope Francis Reveals the Prayer He Prays Every Night Before Bed]

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