Pope Francis has appointed a Polish archbishop to study the pastoral needs of the pilgrims flocking to Medjugorje and the people who live in the town.

The Pope chose Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga as his special envoy to Medjugorje, the Vatican announced this week.

The Vatican announcement said: “The mission has the aim of acquiring a deeper knowledge of the pastoral situation there and, above all, of the needs of the faithful who go there in pilgrimage, and on the basis of this, to suggest possible pastoral initiatives for the future.”

Archbishop Hoser’s assignment has “an exclusively pastoral character”, the Vatican said, making it clear that his task is separate from the work of a commission set up in 2010 by Benedict XVI to investigate the claims of six young people who said Mary had appeared to them daily beginning in 1981.

Some of the six say Mary still appears to them and gives them messages each day, while others say they see her only once a year now. Benedict XVI had named retired Italian Cardinal Camillo Ruini to chair the group studying the apparitions.

In June 2015, Pope Francis told reporters that Cardinal Ruini had given him the group’s report and that it would be studied by the cardinals and bishops at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At the time, Pope Francis said: “We’re close to making decisions” – although nothing has been announced in the 20 months since.

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