Saturday, May 28, 2016


Of all the Marian apparitions throughout the ages, I think Our Lady's messages at Fatima are the most powerful among believing Catholics. I know that this is true of my generation of Catholics. Apparitions played a powerful role in our childhood catechesis until these were denigrated in the late 1960's and 70's. But Fatima and other apparitions have returned to the Church's lexicon with a vengeance since the 1980's and today. Think of Medjugorie and Conyers (both a bit disputed).

But Fatima is the apparition with keeps on giving because of its third secret which wasn't completely (or was it) revealed until the early 1990's to the disappointment and incredulity of many at the time. No one believed what was said about this third message by then Cardinal Ratzinger--there was something contrived about it as he claimed its apocalyptic aspect referred to Pope Saint John Paul's assassination attempt in 1981. It sounded a bit self serving.

Let's fast forward to the current papacy. As God's grace would have it for me, I was on sabbatical in Rome in the fall of 2013. Pope Francis celebrated a huge outdoor Mass at which I was able to distribute Holy Communion, where the actual statue of Our Lady of Fatima was present and Pope Francis consecrated or reconsecrated the entire world to our Lady under this title. The night before I attended an outdoor devotion where her statue was processed throughout Saint Peter's Square to the faithful waving white handkerchiefs. It was wonderful.

And now fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. This story from Catholic News Service is quite interesting to say the least:

Vatican tries to snuff out Fatima conspiracy theories

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service May 28, 2016

VATICAN CITY — When then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger met the press in 2000 for the formal release of the so-called Third Secret of Fatima, he said he knew many people would be disappointed.

Almost 16 years later, at the beginning of a yearlong preparation for the 100th anniversary of the apparition of our Lady of Fatima in 2017, now-retired Pope Benedict XVI is still dealing with people not convinced the secret is really out.

An online journal called OnePeterFive published an article May 15 claiming that shortly after then-Cardinal Ratzinger released the secret and his commentary, affirming that it was the complete text, he told a German priest that, in fact, it was not.

“There is more than what we published,” the article claimed the cardinal told Father Ingo Dollinger. The article went further: “He also told Dollinger that the published part of the secret is authentic and that the unpublished part of the secret speaks about ‘a bad council and a bad Mass’ that was to come in the near future.”

A statement released May 21 by the Vatican press office said Pope Benedict “declares ‘never to have spoken with Professor Dollinger about Fatima,’ clearly affirming that the remarks attributed to Professor Dollinger on the matter ‘are pure inventions, absolutely untrue,’ and he confirms decisively that ‘the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima is complete.’”

The Vatican’s publication of “The Message of Fatima” in 2000 included a photocopy of the text handwritten in 1944 by Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, the last survivor of the three children who saw Mary at Fatima in 1917.

Speculation naturally swirls around secrets, and when a secret is held for decades, the assumptions gain ground and followers.

The common message of Marian apparitions throughout the centuries has been: pray and convert. But a message read only by a few popes and their closest aides? There had to be something more to it to justify keeping it so secret, many people thought.

When Ratzinger presented the text in the Vatican press office June 26, 2000, he told reporters that the choice of St. John XXIII and Blessed Paul VI to withhold publication and St. John Paul II’s decision to delay it was not a “dogmatic decision but one of prudence.”

But, he said, “looking back, I would certainly say that we have paid a price” for the delay, which allowed the spread of apocalyptic theories about its contents.

Meeting the press that day, the first words out of his mouth were: “One who carefully reads the text of the so-called third secret of Fatima will probably be disappointed or surprised after all the speculation there has been.”

The text, he said, uses “symbolic language” to describe “the church of the martyrs of the century now past,” particularly the victims of two world wars, Nazism and Communism.

But what was most difficult for many to believe after the secret spent more than 40 years in a Vatican vault was what the text did not contain.

“No great mystery is revealed,” Ratzinger said. “The veil of the future is not torn.”

In a 1996 interview with Portugal’s main Catholic radio station, the cardinal — who already had read the secret — tried the reasonable, tradition-based approach to pointing out what was and was not in the message.

“The Virgin does not engage in sensationalism; she does not create fear,” he said. “She does not present apocalyptic visions, but guides people to her Son.”

Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI five years after the text was published. If there was more to the secret, he had eight years of complete freedom as supreme pontiff to share what supposedly was withheld.

Marianist Father Johann Roten, a former student of then-Father Joseph Ratzinger who for years headed the Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton, said “no doubt there is truth” in what many Fatima devotees see as “the moral decline in the church.”

“The difficulty is in the method” many of them choose to convince others of the need for conversion and prayer, Roten said in an email response to questions.

“The method tends to be magico-ritualistic, based on the conviction that a particular act,” such as the consecration of Russia performed in a particular way, “will solve all problems,” he said.

“Apparitions always stress the message of Christ,” Roten said. Mary urges “prayer, conversion and practical manifestations of one’s faith.”

“Warnings are part of the message, not always, but especially in times of imminent social catastrophe,” including Fatima before the Russian Revolution, he said.

“Unfortunately, these general messages are frequently overlooked. Instead the attention is given to sensationalism — a rosary turning golden — or apocalypticism — doomsday warnings — which never represent the essential part and reasons of such events,” Roten said.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Fatima in 2010, Pope Benedict repeated what he had said 10 years earlier: The text was open to interpretation, but the heart of the Fatima message was a call “to ongoing conversion, penance, prayer and the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity.”

Yes, he said, the church constantly is under attack — “attacks from within and without — yet the forces of good are also ever present and, in the end, the Lord is more powerful than evil and Our Lady is for us the visible, motherly guarantee of God’s goodness, which is always the last word in history.”


Anonymous said...

What more persuasive confirmation of a wild rumor than its quick and firm denial by the Vatican Press Office (such is the credibility of that office these days)?

But whether or not an unreleased part of the "Third Secret" says that apostasy will come from the top of the Church, an Italian cardinal recently asked "What difference does it make now?" (Suggesting that those who have eyes can already see it happening, whether or not foretold in advance.)

rcg said...

Thought: what if the turmoil in the Church today is punishment for not consecrating Russia, or at least not doing it properly?

Rood Screen said...


The implication is that some new 20th century commandment has been added onto the Apostolic Tradition, and that sin against this supposed commandment is so much graver than sins against the other commandments that Christ will punish His own bride with mass apostasy and rampant heresy. It all sounds more diabolical than evangelical.

Anonymous said...

If what was released as the secret truly is the real Third Secret that was withheld all these years then Fatima is a fraud.

Rood Screen said...


How do you figure?

rcg said...

Dialogue, if we are headed towards a cliff and do not heed a warning to change direction, we cant blame the warner whom we ignored.

rcg said...

I don't agree with Anon's conclusion but the reluctance to release the relatively mild 'secrets' is puzzling. The best I can come up with is that the Vatican was concerned people would try to shoehorn their pet events into the prophecy.

Anonymous said...

No, no, no. The joke is: The third secret of Fatima has been revealed: Lourdes was a hoax.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading at the time that the third secret was disclosed that when questioned about it Cardinal Ratzinger said that the full secret had been disclosed but that it had to be read in conjunction with the reading of that day. So I took it that part of the secret was read but the rest of it was hidden/contained in the reading of the day, and so Cardinal Ratzinger felt able to say and still does that the full secret had been revealed because of the way it was done. So it seems the part still claimed not to be disclosed resides in that particular reading.

Pope Benedict on the plane trip from Fatima in May 2014 answered a question on Fatima:

"Lombardi: Holiness, what significance do the apparitions of Fatima have for us today? And when you presented the text of the Third Secret, in the Vatican Press Office, in June 2000, it was asked of you whether the Message could be extended, beyond the attack on John Paul II, also to the other sufferings of the Pope. Is it possible, according to you, to frame also in that vision the sufferings of the Church of today for the sins of the sexual abuse of minors?

Pope Benedict: Beyond this great vision of the suffering of the Pope, which we can in substance refer to John Paul II, are indicated future realities of the Church which are little by little developing and revealing themselves. Thus it is true that beyond the moment indicated in the vision, one speaks, one sees, the necessity of a passion of the Church that naturally is reflected in the person of the Pope; but the Pope is in the Church, and therefore the sufferings of the Church are announced…. As for the novelty that we can discover today in this message, it is that attacks on the Pope and the Church do not come only from outside, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from sins that exist in the Church. This has always been known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from enemies outside, but arises from sin in the Church."

Anonymous said...

This commentary was published on Catholic Culture regarding the Church approved visions of Our Lady of Akita:

"The 1973 Message from Akita

Further clarification of the Fatima message can be gained if one studies the messages of Our Lady to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa in 1973 at Akita, Japan, the vicinity of the two nuclear holocausts, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The reliability of Our Lady's messages to Sr. Agnes seems to be recognized by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the head of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith. Bishop John S. Ito, D.D., then Ordinary of Niigata, Japan, visited with Cardinal Ratzinger about his pastoral approving a message given by Our Lady to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa on Oct. 13, 1973 (the 56th anniversary of the Fatima miracle of the sun). While the Vatican did not give official approval to Bishop Ito's pastoral (which would have taken years of examination), the Vatican did say "there are no objections to the conclusions of the pastoral."11

Bishop Ito stated in his pastoral that Our Lady said to Sr. Agnes that "'The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops."12 Furthermore, Our Lady stated:

As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful."13

Bishop Ito has stated that "the message of Akita is the same as that of Fatima."14 But, the above Akita messages are not found in the revealed Fatima messages. So, they must be found in the third secret which was given to Pope to be read by his successor in 1960, but which was never officially revealed.15 In fact, when people at Fulda, Germany asked John Paul II if the third secret of Fatima contained a threat from God, the Pope responded:

If there is a message in which it is said that the oceans will flood entire sections of the earth; that, from one moment to the other, millions of people will perish...there is no longer any point in really wanting to publish this secret message.

Many want to know merely out of curiosity, or because of their taste for sensationalism, but they forget that "to know" implies for them a responsibility. It is dangerous to want to satisfy one's curiosity only, if one is convinced that we can do nothing against a catastrophe that has been predicted ...

(At this point the Holy Father took hold of his Rosary and said:) Here is the remedy against all evil! Pray, pray and ask for nothing else. Put everything in the hands of the Mother of God!16"

Rood Screen said...


That there were long delays and extended discussions lasting years without results is a description one could apply to just about everything they do at the Vatican. The only real job cardinals have is to elect a pope every few years, but they have to be locked in a room together just to get them to do that.

Rood Screen said...

If there is wide-spread heresy and lack of piety among practicing Catholics--and there certainly is--then this situation was created deliberately from the top down. That's obvious enough. Will God punish the whole Church for the failures of his wayward shepherds?

Jenny said...

@Dialogue 7:26 AM: YES!! A priest who isn't afraid to tell the truth...bless you!

rcg said...

Dialogue, the parable of the blind man teaches otherwise. We are taught endure suffering patiently; one assumes while putting some thought to fixing the situation. If there are others responsible, as you imply, they may find themselves answering to both God and the people they have wronged.

rcg said...

Oops, not a parable. The man who was blind since birth.

rcg said...

Dialogue, had some moments to collect the thought: God does not provide nish the entire Church for the sins of a single clergyman although they may suffer for it. That is the way all things in life and why the person aware of his deeds is most careful about what he does. Original sin.