Catholic pilgrims pray at Podbrdo Hill, where the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared in an apparition in 1981, in Medjugorje, south of Sarajevo, October 8, 2010. REUTERS/Matko Biljak
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Pope Francis has approved pilgrimages to Medjugorje, a village in Bosnia that is steeped in controversy over whether the Madonna appears to local people, the Vatican said Sunday. A statement by spokesman Alessandro Gisotti, said, however, that the official approval should not be interpreted as Church authentication of the alleged apparitions, because more investigation and study was needed.Former Pope Benedict set up a commission of theologians and bishops to study the situation. Its report has not been published but was given to Pope Francis in 2014 .
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