I found this to be interesting and thought I'd share it with you all, perhaps it may spark some discussion on this issue, any way I thought it was interesting!
http://www.unicorne.org/orthodoxy/articles/alex_roman/marionology.htmQuestion: What is the Orthodox position on the visitations by the Holy Theotokos to Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje? Do we view them as true visitations by the Mother of God? If so, how much importance to we place on them.
Answer: The Orthodox Church has no official position on Lourdes, Fatima or Medjugorje as these events associated with devotion to the Mother of God are within the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church as they involve RC faithful.
Miraculous Icons and other issues of Marian (in the East, "Theotokological") devotion come under the same rules as does the veneration of Saints. For example, the Roman Catholic Church would not canonize someone who was not a member of her communion. As one writer once pointed out, to do so would be "poaching." In the same way, the Roman Catholic Church is responsible for the investigation of all events connected to Marian devotion, including apparitions, that involve members of her own communion.
The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, has a great veneration for the Most Holy Mother of God that is both beautiful and rooted solidly in the theology of the Incarnation and liturgical prayer. The Orthodox Church constantly honours the Mother of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ in her daily Horologion, with Canon prayers and Akathists (the forerunner of the Catholic litany) and through such private devotions as the 150 "Hail Mary's" as practiced by St Seraphim of Sarov.
There are, in fact, more than one thousand miraculous Icons of the Mother of God that are venerated both universally and locally by the Orthodox Church, including several western icons such as that of "Our Lady of the Scapular" in Horodyschenske in Ukraine (at a former Roman Catholic monastery), "The Three Joys," "The Immaculate Mother of God" and, yes, one actually called the Icon of "Mezhehirya" or, in Croatian, "Medjugorje" near Kyiv, which was no relation to the events at Medjugorje today.
Miraculous appearances and apparitions of the Mother of God are well-known in Orthodoxy, especially the dramatic rescue of cities and monasteries through apparitions where Our Lady extends Her Mantle or Pokrova of protection over the people. Many miraculous Icons, in fact, are associated with such apparitions.
There have been Orthodox faithful who have been devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes, especially Russian Orthodox emigres who were also inspired by the pentitential devotion of La Salette and of St Therese of Lisieux while in France. However, one should remember that the Orthodox Church has no doctrine of the Immaculate Conception since She does not believe that Original Sin involves contracting the actual guilt of Adam's Sin, but only the consequences of that sin. A number of Russian Orthodox who were at Lourdes therefore understood the words, "I am the Immaculate Conception" to refer to the Immaculate Conception of Christ Himself in the Womb of the Mother of God, which, as our Horologion signs, became "More spacious than the Heavens for it contained Him whom the universe cannot contain." This was therefore a private devotion for some Orthodox faithful.
At Fatima, three children (two of whom are now Catholic saints of the "Blessed" category), experienced apparitions of the Mother of God who told them to do penance for sin and for Russia's conversion. The problem for the Orthodox with Fatima is the view of some traditionalist Catholics that the Mother of God wants to "convert" the Orthodox to Catholicism. This attitude on the part of Fatima devotees has been a definite "turn-off" for Orthodox Christians with respect to Fatima. Some Orthodox writers even go so far as to discredit Fatima completely for this reason, even attack it as a false apparition etc.
One Orthodox priest who, one could say, accepts the Fatima apparitions as legitimate, stated that the words of Our Lady at Fatima have already come true, as the Orthodox Church is now free in the lands formerly dominated by communism and is growing with her members approaching the sacraments and participating in the liturgical life of the Church.
The evidence regarding Fatima is clear: there is nothing in the reported apparitions to suggest the "conversion" of the Orthodox to Roman Catholicism. If anyting, the reverse is true, since one report states that the Slavic Orthodox lands will be the place where the Mother of God will be most honoured throughout the world, something repeated again at Medjugorje.
There is even a Byzantine-Style Icon of Our Lady of Fatima which, so the tradition holds, first appeared in Russia itself before the Revolution and even before the apparitions at Fatima! It shows the Mother of God in white in the traditional pose of the "Oranta" with hands uplifted in prayer and, interestingly enough, with not a rosary, but a prayer rope in Her hand . . .
If anything, then, Fatima speaks about conversion to traditional Orthodoxy, not Catholicism!
The same holds true regarding the apparition in the west to Simon Stock of the Carmelites in Aylesford, England. Being a western Christian, he was unfamiliar with the Eastern devotion to the Protective Mantle of Our Lady.
When he saw a vision of Our Lady holding Her mantle, and with it the accompanying words, "Whosoever dies under this will not suffer eternal fire," he assumed that Our Lady was asking his monks to actually wear this Mantle, like a polystavrion of the East, front and back, from which the Scapular devotion developed.
But the East is well acquainted with this, and to an Eastern Orthodox Christian these reported words of Our Lady would mean, "Whosoever dies under the protection of and devotion to My Heavenly Mantle will not suffer eternal fire" for the Christian who lives under this protection will surely be preserved from hell in the next life!
There are also Roman Catholics who accept neither Lourdes, nor Fatima, nor Medjugorje, including Croatian priests living within the diocese in which Medjugorje is situated! But no one may impose on any Christian devotions or beliefs that can only be accepted on piety after the Church has determined they are not opposed to faith.
One final thing, however. There is an historical marked contrast between Roman Catholic lay piety and that of the Orthodox Church. Catholic piety has, until recently, been largely rooted in the private revelations of individuals. Catholic devotions are often those associated with visions and apparitions of people, which tend to dominate Catholic prayer-books.
Orthodox lay piety is firmly rooted in the Divine Office, the Psalter and the Scriptures and Fathers.
Orthodox laity say the same prayers that are said by Priests (with some changes), monks and nuns. They are expected to and many actually do pray the Hours and Psalms and other services from the public prayer life and liturgy of the Orthodox Church. Private devotions have their place, but they do not dominate the spiritual lives of the faithful as they have and still do in the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican Council II was very concerned about this, tried to get Catholics to pray the Psalms and the Office and read the Bible. Efforts in this regard are still underway.
Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje, at least how they have been represented by Catholics, are in that unfortunate category of private devotion that is often pushed ahead of the public liturgical prayer life of the Church which should be the first priority and mainstay of all Christians.
I personally have no problem any of these three Marian apparitions insofar as they teach the need for penance, the place of the Mother of God in developing a solid devotion to the Incarnation of Christ, a return to the Sacraments and living the life of the Church which is participation in the Body of Christ. On the other hand, as an Eastern Christian, all these things, especially devotion to Our Lady, are already an integral part of Byzantine spirituality, quite independently of these apparitions. The more fantastic teachings of people who promote these apparitions for personal or ideological ends I reject completely.
Dr. Alexander Roman