Thousands of enthusiastic believers have made pilgrimages to the little village of Medjugorje in Yugoslavia since a group of young people reported their vision and conversations with the Blessed Mother.

Dozens of books have been written and several magazines now report regularly on the apparitions there.

Now comes a report - somewhat delayed because it was not announced publicly by either the Yugoslavian bishops or the Vatican - from a special late-November meeting of the Yugoslav bishop's conference regarding Medjugorje and the apparitions. Catholic News Service has provided this translation from the Croatian text:

'From the very beginning, the bishops have been following the events of Medjugorje through the local bishop, the bishops' commission and the commission of the Bishops' Conference of Yugoslavia for Medjugorje.

'On the basis of studies that have been made to this moment, it cannot be confirmed that supernatural apparitions and revelations are occurring here.

'Yet, the gathering of faithful from various parts of the world to Medjugorje, motivated by reasons of faith, requires the pastoral attention and care of the bishops. Therefore, in the spirit of church communion, our bishops' conference is willing to assist the diocesan bishop in organizing the pastoral activity in Medjugorje so that a proper liturgical and sacramental life may be promoted, and so that manifestations and contents which are not in accord with the spirit of the Church may be prevented and hindered.'

So, while withholding approval of the reported apparitions, the Yugoslav bishops have treated the matter gently and without pouring cold water on the devotional life which has sprung up there.

The Vatican also has discouraged church-organized pilgrimages, but thousands of Catholics continue to flock there, and, as the Catholic News Service notes, 'Many describe it as a place of spiritual conversion.'