Asked by journalists about the alleged appearance of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje, Pope Francis said the original apparitions more than three decades ago deserve further study, but voiced doubt in the supposed ongoing visions.

He stressed the need to distinguish between the two sets of apparitions, referencing a report submitted to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by a commission set up to study the apparitions by Benedict XVI in 2010.

“The first apparitions, which were to children, the report more or less says that these need to continue being studied,” he said, but as for “presumed current apparitions, the report has its doubts.”

“I personally am more suspicious, I prefer the Madonna as Mother, our Mother, and not a woman who’s the head of an office, who every day sends a message at a certain hour. This is not the Mother of Jesus. And these presumed apparitions don’t have a lot of value.”

He clarified that this is his “personal opinion,” but added that the Madonna does not function by saying, “Come tomorrow at this time, and I will give a message to those people.”

While pope, Benedict XVI established a commission headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini to study the topic in further detail.

In January 2014, the commission completed their study on supposed apparitions’ doctrinal and disciplinary aspects, and was to have submitted its findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The congregation has yet to submit its final document to the Pope for a final decision.

Pope Francis told journalists that Cardinal Ruini’s report was “very well done,” and that there are three main takeaways that must be kept in mind when thinking of the report.

First, he stressed the importance of studying the first apparitions of 1981 as their own entity, and attached to this was the second point on the need to be wary of the alleged ongoing appearances, always distinguishing between the two.

Third, he emphasized the need to also look at the pastoral and spiritual dimensions of Medjugorje, because “people go there and convert. People encounter God, change their lives.”

This isn’t a result of “magic,” he said, but is a valid spiritual and pastoral fact that “can’t be ignored.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.