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A west Belfast man said his faith in Medjugorje — a Bosnian town which is a popular site for Catholic pilgrimages — is unshaken despite the defrocking of a priest closely linked to reported apparitions.
Reggie Donnelly (70) vowed to continue bringing pilgrims to the town of Medjugorje, despite the controversy surrounding Father Tomislav Vlasic. He is running pilgrimages in August and September. Thousands from Northern Ireland visit the town each year.
Fr Vlasic reportedly fathered a child with a nun and has now been defrocked by Pope Benedict XVI.
His punishment is seen as a blow to the movement to have Medjugorje officially recognised as a place of pilgrimage for Catholics. Fr Vlasic became closely identified with the perceived holiness of Medjugorje through his support of the ‘seers’ from the town who first claimed to have experienced apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ in 1981.
Mr Donnelly said he had been visiting the site for 27 years. On his first visit he said he saw the words ‘mir’ — Croatian for peace — appear in the sky. “That was the beginning of my devotion,” Mr Donnelly said.