Messages, Signs, Wonders --
April 30, 2003
By Toby Westerman
Copyright 2003 International News Analysis Today
A variety of seers claiming messages from God and the Blessed Virgin Mary are siphoning off large amounts of money and considerable numbers of potential volunteers from the pro-life movement, according to a well-known California pro-life activist.
The pro-life activist, who requests anonymity, stated in an exclusive interview with International News Analysis Today that billions of dollars are flowing away from worthy causes to an ever-widening circle of questionable seers and mystics.
In turn, the legion of mystics has inspired a series of investigations, as well as an appeal to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to examine the financial records of seer-inspired religious organizations.
The visions attributed to the seers of Medjugorje, a small village in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina, are particularly troubling, according to the pro-life activist.
The activist's concerns are also shared by long-time pro-life leader Fr. Paul Marx, who in a recent interview with International News Analysis Today bluntly described Medjugorje as a "hoax."
Despite warnings from Church authorities, Medjugorje visions and revelations continue unabated, with millions of devotees worldwide.
Of those inspired by Medjugorje, some develop visions of their own, while millions of dollars from the faithful have turned the village of Medjugorje into a hot tourist attraction, with every amenity a pilgrim could desire.
For those who find that they are having their own visions, advance men are used to make arrangements for would-be seers, while handlers are used to keep would-be seers away from any troubling or embarrassing questions of non-believers, the pro-life activist told INA Today.
Local churches are used to "spread the word," while the local media are usually kept in the dark about public appearances of the would-be visionary, the activist said.
The pro-life activist cited Vassula, a still-active visionary despite Vatican warnings about her "messages," as an example of how a well-organized visionary works, and specifically mentioned her visit to the Roman Catholic cathedral in San Francisco. The activist was present at Vassula's appearance, and provided INA Today with a description of the event.
Advance men worked with local Catholic parishes to bring some 5,000 people to the event, and set up the required state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, while Vassula's front men fended off curious individuals asking questions about Vassula's contradictory past statements, according to the activist. The local media were neither invited nor welcomed to her event.
Small packets of information were handed out to devotees as they arrived; included in the packets were pictures of Jesus. During the event, Vassula stood in the sanctuary, bearing a striking similarity to the image of Jesus handed out to those arriving.
Above the bishop's throne, a large image of Vassula
was projected, while the crowd was warned that, at times,
Vassula takes on the image of Christ.
While modern-day visionaries often avoid the press, they do appreciate comfort, and will often stay at the homes of wealthy supporters. Vassula, and at least one of the Medjugorje seers, resided at the California home of Phillip and Ardie Kronzer, who at that time were both devotees of Medjugorje.
Ardie Kronzer developed a close relationship with Marcia Smith, a Medjugorje believer, who would later experience visions of her own. Both Ardie and Marcia worked with other Medjugorje groups, known as MIR [peace] centers. Although both Phil and Ardie were devoted to Medjugorje, Ardie, with her three children grown, immersed herself totally into Medjugorje spirituality.
Eventually Ardie would divorce Phil, and purchase a home with Marcia. Ardie would go on to donate millions of dollars to a variety of Medjugorje groups.
Phil Kronzer's bitter experience following his encounter with Medjugorje and sundry other visionaries led to his establishment of the Kronzer Foundation to expose religious fraud.
One possible tool the Kronzer Foundation is considering using against fraudulent religious practices is the auditing authority of the Internal Revenue Service.
In an exclusive interview with INA Today, Jim Rothstein, a private investigator working with the Kronzer Foundation, stated that he continues to urge IRS involvement in cases of suspected fraud by religious charities.
The IRS, however, is reluctant at present to launch aggressive audits of religious-based charities.
Despite IRS hesitancy, Rothstein, along with Kronzer Foundation support, continues to explore possible fraud in religious charities, especially Medjugorje-related groups.
Rothstein's efforts extend to the village of Medjugorje itself, where SFOR [Stabilization Force] authorities and the Bosnian High Commissioner have called into question some of the financial dealings of the Franciscans who stand behind the Medjugorje seers.
Rothstein told INA Today that he is ready to follow his investigation wherever it leads, whether to Bosnian and money laundering operations or child relief agencies.
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