Let Us Hear the Witness,
Few revelations have been as unconvincing as the Vatican's version of the Third Secret of Fatima. Those who thought, or hoped, that the June 2000 unveiling of the CDF's booklet, The Message of Fatima ended matters are probably surprised by the recent tumult over Fatima in the press. There should be no surprise. For over forty years nearly every tactic—silence, intimidation, bad theology, disinformation—has been used to bury the real Message of Fatima. Yet the cork continues to bob to the surface. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 triggered a chain reaction of Fatima stories. The buzz in the press and on the Internet was that the attacks were part of the Third Secret of Fatima, which had still not been fully revealed.
How exasperating for the drafters of the CDF's The Message of Fatima (TMF), who insist the entire secret of Fatima is contained inside its covers. They simply are not believed, in part because they are not believable, but also because of a certain collective awareness, a shared sense of our impending doom. Deep down we know that a “civilization of love” is utopian nonsense. It has never existed. The real Message of Fatima implicitly confirms this: hell is real and many souls are going there because there is no one to pray and make sacrifices for them. Heaven's remedy is not well-publicized inter-religious prayer meetings, but the consecration and conversion of Russia, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Rosary. The real Message of Fatima is not a request for more papal apologies. It is a plea to Jesus to “forgive us our sins,” to “save us from the fires of hell”. We are not experiencing the new advent of humanity. We are on the Titanic as it slides into the blackness, and the world senses the impending doom even as it continues to heap judgment on itself.
Yet not even the events of September 11, 2001 had deterred the Vatican apparatus from implementing Sodano's Party Line that Fatima “belongs to the past.” On the contrary, the effort to impose the Sodano Interpretation of Fatima on the Church only intensified, as if Cardinal Sodano, et al. had recognized that the events of September 11 might actually jolt Catholics into an awareness that—just a moment!—Fatima is not finished, because we are obviously not witnessing anything like the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the promised period of peace. Some sort of bold action to reassert the Party Line was needed.
On September 12, 2001, literally within hours of the fall of the Twin Towers, the Vatican Press Office released its top bulletin for the day: a “Declaration” from the Congregation for the Clergy concerning, not the terrorist attacks, not the horrendous scandals erupting almost daily from the ranks of the priesthood, not the profusion of heresy and disobedience among the clergy over the past forty years, but Father Nicholas Gruner, “the Fatima priest.” The Declaration stated that it had been issued “by mandate of a higher authority”—Vatican-speak for the Secretary of State, Cardinal Sodano, not the Pope (who is the highest authority).
The Declaration warned the entire Catholic world about a serious threat to the good of the Church; a threat of such magnitude that the Congregation for the Clergy could not even wait until the dust had settled over the former Twin Towers. The threat consisted of a conference on world peace and Fatima in Rome, sponsored by Father Gruner's apostolate.
Yes, the Vatican's top priority within hours of the worst terrorist attack in world history was to tell everyone to shun a conference on world peace and Fatima. Why? Because, said the “Declaration”, the conference “does not enjoy the approval of legitimate ecclesiastical authority.” Of course, the issuer of the Declaration knew quite well that no “approval” for conferences of clergy and laity is necessary under Church law. The Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II (Canons 212, 215, 278, 299) recognizes the natural right of the faithful to meet and discuss issues of concern in the Church today without any “approval” by anyone. Indeed, the Vatican issues no announcements about the lack of “approval” for innumerable conferences conducted by advocates of women's ordination and uncountable other heresies, even though the participants in these conferences are abusing their natural right and causing grave harm to the Church. One might as well say that the apostolate's Rome conference had not been approved by the American Medical Association. What of it?
But that was not the worst of it. The Declaration also stated that Father Gruner had been “suspended” by the Bishop of Avellino. Suspended for what? For nothing, apparently, since no grounds were stated. The reason for this curious omission was clear to anyone with a knowledge of Father Gruner's canonical proceedings: the “grounds” were so flimsy that to state them publicly would be to invite laughter.
As we have already noted, the only pretext ever given for the “suspension” was that Father Gruner must return to Avellino, Italy (where he was ordained in 1976) or be suspended. Why? Because he had “failed” to find another bishop to incardinate him. But the “Declaration” failed to mention that three successive friendly bishops had offered to incardinate Father Gruner with express permission to continue his apostolate, and that all three incardinations had been blocked (or declared “non-existent”) by the same Vatican bureaucrats who had now announced the resulting “suspension”. That is, Father Gruner had been “suspended” for failing to “obey” an order his accusers themselves had prevented him from obeying. (Not to mention that the Bishop of Avellino by September 12, 2001 had absolutely no authority over Father Gruner—since Father Gruner was now incardinated in another diocese.)
Nearly forty years after the “springtime” of Vatican II began, the Consecration of Russia—not the world, not “youth in search of meaning,” not “the unemployed,” but Russia —remains undone. The world is convulsed by regional wars, Islamic terrorism and the holocaust of abortion, as it becomes clearer by the hour that we are heading for an apocalypse. The Islamic fundamentalists, whom Vatican diplomats now like to call “our Muslim brothers”, hate us and wish to subjugate or kill us in accordance with the dictates of their Koran. After forty years of utterly useless “ecumenical dialogue,” the Protestant sects are even more decrepit than when they began, and the Orthodox are more adamant than ever in rejecting submission to the Vicar of Christ. The Church is gravely wounded by heresy and scandal in dioceses throughout the world, where She has lost all credibility because of the corruption of Her human members. The new orientation of Vatican II is a total debacle; a ruinous failure. Yet in the midst of all this death, chaos, heresy, scandal, and apostasy, all now reaching their respective apogees, the Vatican had considered it imperative—right now!—to alert the world to the “menace” of Father Nicholas Gruner.
So, one day after September 11, 2001, Father Gruner—who had committed no offense against faith and morals, who had kept his vows for the entire 25 years of his priesthood, who had not molested any altar boys or women, who had not stolen any money or preached any heresy—was publicly condemned before the entire Church in a Declaration that gave no grounds for the condemnation, and which cited the “mandate” of an anonymous “higher authority” who did not even have the courage to name himself. In the living memory of the Church, nothing like this had ever happened to a faithful Catholic priest. The Secretary of State's obsession with destroying Father Gruner—symbol of resistance to the Party Line—had reached the level of obscenity.
Why? It could only be a deep-seated antipathy toward the Message of Fatima and all that it implies for the new orientation of the Church, which Cardinal Sodano (friend of Gorbachev) and his collaborators implement so unswervingly. Fatima, it seems, alarms them more than the current state of the Church and the world. And yet the state of the Church and the world would surely change radically for the better if only Father Gruner's persecutors would simply do what Our Lady requested at Fatima: “If My requests are granted, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”
But Cardinal Sodano had surely miscalculated. The issuance of this baseless condemnation of “the Fatima priest” within hours of September 11 had such a stink about it that many who might otherwise have been disposed to accept the “Declaration” at face value began to wonder about its grotesquely inappropriate timing. In a Church being undermined and disgraced by clerical traitors in every nation, why was the Vatican apparatus so concerned about this one priest, who was not even accused of any specific wrongdoing?
The scapegoating of Father Gruner would be no more successful than the other anti-Fatima stratagems. Contrary to what some Vatican prelates seem to be hoping, the Fatima controversy cannot be reduced to the status of one priest. In the weeks following the “Declaration” on Father Gruner, other prominent Catholics began to express serious doubts about Sodano's Party Line on the Third Secret. It was not only Mother Angelica who believed that “we didn't get the whole thing.”
On October 26, 2001, the story “broke wide open”, as reporters say, when Inside the Vatican news service (along with various Italian newspapers) ran an article entitled: “The Secret of Fatima: More to Come?” The article reported that: “News has just emerged that Sister Lucia dos Santos, the last surviving Fatima visionary, several weeks ago sent Pope John Paul II a letter reportedly warning him that his life is in danger. According to Vatican sources, the letter, claiming that events spoken of in the ‘Third Secret’ of Fatima had not yet occurred, was delivered sometime after September 11 to John Paul by the bishop emeritus [retired] of Fatima, Alberto Cosme do Amaral.”
When asked about the letter, the current Bishop of Fatima, Serafim Ferreira de Sousa, “did not deny that Sister Lucia had sent a letter to the Pope, but said [drawing a Jesuitical distinction] ‘there are no letters from the seer that express fear for the life of the Pope.’” The Inside the Vatican report further revealed that “Sources have also suggested that Sister Lucia's letter encourages the Pope to fully reveal the Third Secret,” and that Sister Lucy's letter to the Pope “is said to contain this warning: ‘Soon there will be great upheaval and punishment.’”
The Inside the Vatican article reports on yet another secret encounter with Sister Lucy behind the convent walls—only this one does not follow the Bertone/Ratzinger line. According to Inside the Vatican, an Italian diocesan priest, Father Luigi Bianchi, “claims to have met Sister Lucia dos Santos last week at her cloistered Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal.” Echoing the suspicions of Mother Angelica, Father Bianchi “speculated on the possibility that the Vatican did not reveal the full secret to avoid creating panic and anxiety in the population; to not scare them.”
Concerning Bertone/Ratzinger's ludicrous “interpretation” of the Secret as a prophecy of the 1981 attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II, Father Bianchi stated that “The message doesn't speak only about an attempt on the pontiff, but speaks of ‘a Bishop dressed in White’ who walks amongst the ruins and bodies of murdered men and women … This means that the Pope will have to suffer greatly, that some nations will disappear, that many people will die, that we must defend the West from becoming Islamicized. That is what is happening in these days.”
Inside the Vatican was careful to point out, as has The Fatima Crusader, that Sister Lucy “is not allowed to speak with anyone who has not received prior permission from the Vatican …” Accordingly, Inside the Vatican hedged its bets by stating that “it is not immediately clear whether Bianchi received that approval, circumvented the need for it, or did not actually meet Sister Lucia as he maintains.” But no one, including Sister Lucy herself, has ever denied that the meeting with Father Bianchi took place.
That at least some of Inside the Vatican's sources are within the Curia itself was suggested by Cardinal Ratzinger's response to these developments. Inside the Vatican quoted him as having said that the “recent rumors of a letter are only the continuation of ‘an old polemic fed by certain people of dubious credibility,’ with the objective of ‘destabilizing the internal equilibrium of the Roman Curia and of troubling the people of God.’” Notice, however, that neither does Cardinal Ratzinger actually deny the existence of the letter from Sister Lucy to the Pope.
Cardinal Ratzinger's remark is quite telling. How could people of “dubious credibility” destabilize the “internal equilibrium of the Roman Curia”? If their credibility is so dubious, the Roman Curia would hardly be destabilized by what they say. And just who are these people of “dubious credibility”? The Inside the Vatican piece suggested that Cardinal Ratzinger might have been referring to Father Gruner. But what about Mother Angelica? What about Father Bianchi? What about Inside the Vatican itself, whose editor, Robert Moynihan, is, if anything, beholden to the Vatican apparatus, as the title of his magazine suggests? And what about the millions of other Catholics who harbor the well-founded suspicion that Msgr. Bertone and Cardinal Ratzinger are not being entirely forthcoming in their claim that the prophecies of the Message of Fatima, including the Third Secret, “belong to the past,” and that its warning of a great chastisement of the Church and the world need no longer concern us? Indeed, what serious Catholic really believes this in his heart, given the perilous state of the world today?
Despite a determined effort to impose Sodano's Party Line (an effort that now included a Soviet-style declaration that Father Gruner is to be regarded as a “non-person” in the Church), Catholics the world over continue to wonder what has happened to the words which follow the key phrase “In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc.” Why had TMF run away from this phrase by removing it from the Message of Fatima and placing it in a footnote? What has happened to the missing words of the Virgin? Where is the promised conversion of Russia? Why has there been no period of peace in the world, as the Virgin promised?
In the face of these questions that would not go away, the Vatican apparatus made yet another attempt to put a lid on the rising speculation of a cover-up, before the pot boiled over and became uncontainable. Indeed, Cardinal Ratzinger's statement about a destabilized curia would indicate that the Party Line on Fatima was now meeting with resistance from within the Roman Curia itself, perhaps in view of the increasing destabilization of the world at large, which hardly squares with the Ratzinger/Bertone/Sodano notion that Fatima's warnings belong to the past.
The stratagem this time would be another secret interview of Sister Lucy in her convent in Coimbra. The interview was conducted on November 17, 2001 by Archbishop Bertone, but for some reason its results were not revealed for more than a month. It was not until December 21, 2001 that L'Osservatore Romano (Italian edition) published Msgr. Bertone's brief communiqué about the interview, entitled “Meeting of His Excellency Mons. Tarcisio Bertone with Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart.” This was followed by an English translation in L'Osservatore Romano's English edition on January 9, 2002.
The substance of the communiqué was that, according to Msgr. Bertone, Sister Lucy says that the 1984 consecration of the world sufficed for a consecration of Russia, and that “everything has been published; there are no more secrets.” As we demonstrated in Chapter 6, the former statement contradicts everything Sister Lucy has said to the contrary for the better part of seventy years. The latter statement is presented as Sister Lucy's answer to a question about the Third Secret—but the question, oddly enough, is not provided.
Now, when a newspaper or magazine publishes an interview with a person of note, the reader rightly expects a series of complete questions followed by complete answers, so that the reader can see for himself—in its full context—what the interviewee had to say in his or her own words. Not in this case. Although we are informed that Msgr. Bertone and Sister Lucy conversed for “more than two hours,” Msgr. Bertone had provided only his summary of the conversation, sprinkled with a few words attributed to Sister Lucy herself. No transcript, audiotape or videotape of the two-hour session has been produced. In fact, less than ten percent of what Sister Lucy is quoted as saying had anything to do with the stated purpose of the interview, namely, to address continuing doubts in the minds of millions of Catholics about the Consecration of Russia and the completeness of the Vatican's disclosure of the Third Secret.
Perhaps we should have become accustomed to suspicious irregularities in the way the Vatican apparatus handles Sister Lucy, and this belatedly disclosed, elliptical “interview” was no exception. The Msgr. Bertone communiqué demonstrates that Sister Lucy is still being treated as if she were a member of the federal Witness Protection Program. Yes, of course, she is a cloistered nun. But an interview is an interview, and two hours of talk is two hours of talk. Where is the interview, and what happened to the two-hour conversation? And how can one square this curious substitute for a real interview with the claim that Sister Lucy has told us everything there is to know about the Message of Fatima? If she has told us all she knows, then there is nothing to hide. If there is nothing to hide, why not publish everything she was asked and all that she answered during those two hours? Indeed, why not simply allow Sister Lucy to speak to the world herself, and lay all the questions to rest?
Yet despite publication of TMF, which was supposedly the last word on Fatima, revealing all that remains to be known, Sister Lucy was still being kept far away from open microphones and neutral witnesses. She was completely invisible during the process of “revealing” the Third Secret in May-June of 2000, and she remains invisible today, even though—so the Party Line goes—Fatima “belongs to the past.”
Before addressing the particulars of the “interview” of November 2001—including the grand total of forty-four words attributed to Sister Lucy herself during an alleged two hours of conversation about the matters in controversy—it must be noted that Msgr. Bertone's communiqué undermines its own credibility immediately with the following claim: “Going on to discuss the problem of the third part of the secret of Fatima, she [Sister Lucy] says that she has read attentively and meditated upon the booklet published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [i.e., The Message of Fatima (TMF)], and confirms everything it says.”
This could not possibly be anything but a deception. To begin with, Msgr. Bertone is asking the faithful to believe all of the following:
One must be sensible about this. When a Vatican functionary, no matter what his stature, comes out of a locked convent and declares that a 94-year-old nun inside “confirms everything” in a forty-page document he has co-authored, reasonable minds expect a bit more in the way of corroboration. All the more so when the forty-page document politely suggests that the nun in question concocted a pious fable that has held the Church in suspense, needlessly, for more than 80 years.
On these grounds alone one must conclude that the latest secret Sister Lucy interview is but another attempt to manipulate and exploit a captive witness, who has yet to be allowed to come forward and speak at length to the faithful in her own unfiltered words. The last surviving Fatima visionary is still being subjected to closeted interviews during which she is surrounded by handlers, who then report her “testimony” in little bits and pieces—an answer without the question, a question without the answer. And now the faithful were being asked to swallow the whopper that Sister Lucy, the divinely chosen seer of Fatima, agrees with “everything” in 40 pages of neo-modernist “commentary” which, as even the Los Angeles Times could see, “gently debunks the Fatima cult.”
While it is clear on these grounds alone that the “interview” of November 17, 2001 is highly suspect, there is still an obligation to demonstrate the point more amply for the historical record.
To begin with, the Bertone interview was expressly conducted to squelch growing doubt among the faithful about the Vatican's blatant campaign to consign the Message of Fatima to the dust-bin of history. As Msgr. Bertone's communiqué admits:
We recall here that the Message of Fatima contains both promises, if the Virgin's requests are obeyed, and warnings about the consequences of a failure to obey:
If Russia is consecrated to the Immaculate Heart—
If Russia is not consecrated to the Immaculate Heart—
While the eventual fulfillment of the Fatima prophecies is inevitable—“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to mankind”—the question for us today is whether the world will first have to suffer the predicted chastisements in full, including the annihilation of nations, an event clearly suggested in the half-ruined city outside of which the Pope is executed in the Third Secret vision. We recall Sister Lucy's warning to the Pope (one year after the assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square) in the purported letter dated May 12, 1982, reproduced in TMF itself:
The Bertone interview, however, had failed to address continued public concern in the Church concerning the Fatima warnings. Quite the contrary, Msgr. Bertone had staked his entire position, and indeed the fate of the world, on the Party Line, to which he had adhered quite faithfully with his preposterous claim in TMF (his own commentary) that “The decision of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to make public the third part of the ‘secret’ of Fatima brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil …” Thus, the Bertone interview had one aim: to persuade the world that peace is at hand, that the Fatima saga is over and can now safely be considered a part of history.
Let us examine the circumstances of the interview with reference to the standards of credibility even godless civil tribunals require for the acceptance of testimony from an important witness. We do not suggest that Sister Lucy ought to be subjected to anything like the indignity of a civil trial, but only that the proponents of “Sister Lucy's” latest “testimony” should be held to these minimal standards in asking us to believe it.
Suspicious Circumstance #1: Although Sister Lucy is available to testify in person, she has never been produced by the party who controls access to her, namely Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The Bertone communiqué reveals that Sister Lucy could not even speak to Archbishop Bertone without permission from Cardinal Ratzinger. This confirms what The Fatima Crusader has been reporting for years and what the aforesaid article in Inside the Vatican also noted: no one may speak to Sister Lucy without the Cardinal's permission. That is a very curious restriction on the liberty of a witness who, so we are told, has nothing to add to what she has already said.
Under the minimal standards of trustworthiness in civil proceedings, witnesses are required to testify in person if they are available, so that the parties to the case, whose rights may be affected by the testimony, will have the opportunity to pose questions to the witness. If one party has control over a witness but fails to produce him or her, civil judges instruct juries that they may draw the conclusion that the witness' testimony would have been unfavorable to that party. This is only common sense: a party would not fail to produce a favorable witness, but would very likely fail to produce an unfavorable one.
Sister Lucy is available to “take the stand” before the bar of history in the Fatima Case. She is not bedridden, crippled or otherwise unable to make an appearance. On the contrary, the Bertone communiqué claims that on the date of the secret interview Sister Lucy “appeared in great form, lucid and vivacious.” Why is this lucid and vivacious witness, who is available to testify, never produced by the party who controls all access to her? Why was her latest “testimony” obtained behind closed doors and presented second-hand in a communiqué from Archbishop Bertone?
What would happen in a civil case if one of the parties offered a fragmentary report of a key witness' testimony when the witness herself could readily testify in person? The jury would rightly conclude that something was being hidden. In the Fatima Case, the inference can and should be drawn that Sister Lucy has been kept “off the stand” because her live, uncontrolled testimony would contradict Sodano's Party Line. If Sister Lucy could be counted on to hew to the Party Line, then she would have been produced long ago to testify in person, and at length, before the Church and the world. Instead, it is Msgr. Bertone, not the witness herself, who testifies.
But even if we assume that Sister Lucy were bedridden or otherwise unavailable to testify, the other circumstances of the purported interview could not fail to raise suspicion in the mind of any reasonable person. Let us proceed.
Suspicious circumstance #2: The interview of this 94-year-old nun was conducted in secret by Archbishop Bertone, an authority figure with a clear motive to manipulate the witness.
In a civil law context, undue influence is presumed when someone in a position of authority or dominance over a very elderly person extracts a statement from that person, such as a will or power of attorney. In this case, Archbishop Bertone is clearly a dominant party with the imposing authority of a Vatican title, whereas Sister Lucy is not only very elderly but has vowed to submit in holy obedience to the requests of her superiors, by whom she was surrounded during the two-hour session.
Furthermore, Msgr. Bertone was clearly intent on using the “interview” to defend his own credibility against mounting public skepticism toward the Party Line that Fatima is finished. Given recent world events, Archbishop Bertone was obviously suffering a massive loss of face over his utterly indefensible statement in TMF that the decision to publish the Third Secret vision “brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil …” Msgr. Bertone, being only human, would have every motive to induce Sister Lucy to confirm his ridiculous claim of a world at peace due to the great “fulfillment” of the Third Secret in 1981, when the Pope survived the assassination attempt. (Even the secular radio commentator, Paul Harvey, was openly contemptuous of the Ratzinger/Bertone “interpretation” of the Third Secret.)
Under these circumstances, Msgr. Bertone conducting the “interview” and then reporting its results was akin to a prosecutor interviewing a key witness and then testifying in place of the witness, who is kept out of the courtroom. Objectively speaking, Msgr. Bertone was the last person who should have conducted the interview. The Church and the world are entitled to hear from this vital witness directly, rather than receiving reports from a partisan interrogator with an axe to grind.
Suspicious Circumstance #3: The Bertone communiqué is extremely brief, occupying a mere quarter-page in L'Osservatore Romano. Yet the communiqué states that the interview went on “for more than two hours.”
What did Bertone and Sister Lucy discuss for more than two hours, given that the entire communiqué can be read in less than two minutes? By way of comparison, a one-hour address delivered at a normal rate of speech would require roughly 14 single-spaced typewritten pages to transcribe; a two-hour address would require about 28 pages, or approximately 14,000 words.
Yet Bertone's communiqué concerning an alleged two-hour interview provides a mere 463 words3 purportedly from the mouth of Sister Lucy herself. These 463 words break down as follows:
Here we are asked to believe that Sister Lucy now “confirms” that when Our Lady of Fatima predicted four future events—“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”—She was referring to the Annunciation in 1 B.C.! Bertone's Lucy apparently also “confirms” Cardinal Ratzinger's removal of the key words “In the end” from Our Lady's prophecy.
We note that the verbatim quotation (of 165 words) from TMF includes Cardinal Ratzinger's parenthetical citation to John 16:33. Either Sister Lucy has developed a photographic memory at age 94, or someone added the entire quotation to her “answer”—along with the parenthetical Scripture citation. (Or perhaps TMF was placed in front of Sister Lucy for her to read aloud in “obedience” to her superiors.)
The Bertone communiqué informs us that this is “an unpublished particular” which Sister Lucy has added to the Message of Fatima. That is very interesting, but what does it have to do with the subject of the interview for which Bertone traveled to Portugal on such an emergent basis?
Notice also that the Bertone communiqué announces this new detail with great excitement—in italics, no less. Suddenly, Sister Lucy is the reliable visionary again, as opposed to Cardinal Ratzinger's impressionable child who makes things up from what she has read in devotional books. Of course, this detail is a calculated distraction from the issue at hand.
Again, this is beside the point. But at any rate, Bertone's Lucy gives this rather flippant answer: “How could I pray during the day if I did not rest at night?” Obviously, no one had actually claimed that she never sleeps at all. Another distraction.
Sister Lucy is said to have added: “How many things they are putting in my mouth! How many things they make me seem to do!” Yes, but who is it that is falsely putting words in Sister Lucy's mouth and ascribing to her actions she has never taken? The objective witnesses we have previously quoted, who spoke to Sister Lucy openly and during unguarded moments, or the authority figures who surrounded Sister Lucy during Bertone's secret two-hour interrogation?
The reader will notice that Bertone's Lucy never denies that she is very worried about recent events. Who in his right mind would not be? Most tellingly, she is never asked about her urgent letter to the Pope (we mark this as the First Glaring Omission in the interview) or her face-to-face meeting with Father Bianchi, during which, according to Bianchi, she cast doubt on the Bertone/Ratzinger interpretation of the Third Secret (this is Glaring Omission #2).
What do these reminiscences have to do with the stated purpose of the emergency secret interview in the convent? Sister Lucy has covered this subject exhaustively in her voluminous memoirs. For this a Vatican functionary traveled to Portugal for a two-hour encounter?
Oddly enough, while Bertone's Lucy denies any further revelations from Heaven, in the same communiqué she declares—contrary to all her prior testimony—that the 1984 consecration of the world “has been accepted in Heaven.” (See her alleged words regarding this on a later page in this chapter under the heading “21 words on the Consecration of Russia”.) How would she know this, absent any new revelations?
What of it? What about the Consecration of Russia? Is it done or not?
Thus far we have accounted for 419 of the 463 words attributed to Sister Lucy in the communiqué's purported verbatim quotations. Only 44 words remain to deal with the questions being posed by millions of Catholics.
Yes, incredibly enough, the loudly trumpeted Bertone communiqué contains only forty-four words of “Sister Lucy” concerning the very matters—the Consecration of Russia and the disclosure of the Third Secret—that supposedly prompted Bertone to travel all the way to the convent in Coimbra on an emergent basis. Here is how the forty-four words break down:
The question that elicited this answer is not provided. Instead, Bertone's communiqué declares: “To whoever imagines that some part of the secret has been hidden she replied: …”—followed by the nine quoted words.
Replied to what? What exactly was Sister Lucy asked about the Vatican's disclosure of the Third Secret? What was the full context of the question and the answer? And why was Sister Lucy not asked the one question millions of people around the world were asking: Where are the words of Our Lady which follow the phrase “In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc.”? We mark this as Glaring Omission #3.
Notice also that here, at the very crux of the matter, we are not shown that Sister Lucy was asked even one precise question, such as:
All such particulars are studiously avoided. We are not even given the wording of the one question that was asked. This is Glaring Omission #4.
Here Sister Lucy allegedly denies press reports that she expressed doubts to Father Luigi Bianchi and Father Jose Santos Valinho about TMF's interpretation of the Third Secret. Yet Bertone never asked Sister Lucy about her letter to the Pope, as reported by Father Bianchi, nor does she deny that she met face-to-face with Father Bianchi at the convent in Coimbra and that they discussed Sodano's interpretation of the Third Secret.
We are thus expected to believe that Lucy agrees that the Third Secret was fulfilled with the failed assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981, even though her own letter to the Pope on May 12, 1982—a year later—says nothing about the attempt but rather demolishes the Party Line by warning that “we have not yet seen the complete fulfillment of the final part of this prophecy.” And, once again, in the same letter Sister Lucy makes no connection between the assassination attempt and the Third Secret.
These words were allegedly uttered by Sister Lucy in answer to the question: “What do you say to the persistent affirmations of Father Gruner who is gathering signatures in order that the Pope may finally consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which has never been done?”
First of all, that the Secretary of the CDF would travel to Coimbra to obtain comments about Father Gruner for publication to the entire Church is a dramatic demonstration that the Vatican apparatus views Father Gruner's apostolate as a prime locus of opposition to the Party Line.
Furthermore, what does “Sister Lucy” mean by the curious affirmation that a consecration of the world was “accepted” in Heaven as a consecration of Russia? Is “Sister Lucy” seriously claiming that Heaven “accepted” a compromise imposed by Vatican diplomats? Since when does Heaven accept a human substitute for a precise act that God has commanded? Further, how would “Sister Lucy” know what Heaven has “accepted” if, as Msgr. Bertone claims, she also said there have been no new revelations to her?
Now, it may be that God “accepts” our refusal to comply with His will in the sense that He will allow us the freedom to disobey Him in this life. But that does not mean that what God has “accepted” is pleasing to Him.
What is more, by saying that the act of consecration of the world in 1984 was “accepted”, is not Sister Lucy saying nothing more than that it was “accepted” in the same sense as the 1942 consecration by Pius XII, which shortened WWII even though it did not fulfill the request of Our Lady of Fatima? Was Sister Lucy perhaps attempting to answer the question in a way that satisfied her questioner, Msgr. Bertone, yet still signaling that while what was “accepted” might confer some benefit on the world, it would not be the period of world peace that the Virgin of Fatima promised if Her precise request were honored? Indeed, where is the period of peace She promised? That we have not seen it only demonstrates that even if Heaven “accepted” the 1984 ceremony for what it was worth, Heaven has not deemed that ceremony to be the fulfillment of Our Lady of Fatima's specific request. No matter what the authority of Msgr. Bertone and his Vatican collaborators, they cannot simply declare the existence of something that our own senses tell us does not exist: the conversion of Russia and the worldwide epoch of peace that would follow a proper consecration of that nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In any case, we have already demonstrated abundantly that Sister Lucy testified repeatedly, in widely reported statements, that the consecration ceremonies of 1982 and 1984 did not suffice to honor Our Lady's request, because on neither occasion was Russia mentioned, nor did the world episcopate participate. According to the Bertone interview, however, the witness has reversed her testimony, and now testifies that the 1984 consecration ceremony “has been accepted in heaven.”
What “accepted in heaven” means is anybody's guess. Did Heaven decide to “accept” something less than what Our Lady of Fatima had requested after negotiations between Heaven and Cardinal Sodano?
In any case, notice that Sister Lucy is not questioned about her many prior statements to the contrary, and is not asked to explain her purported change of testimony . This is Glaring Omission #5. We are evidently supposed to assume that nothing Sister Lucy ever said before carries any weight, and that only when she speaks in secret to Msgr. Bertone does she tell the truth about this matter.
Quite significant is that Bertone's Lucy does not tell us when, where or to whom she has “already said” that the 1984 consecration she once deemed unacceptable is now acceptable. Why such vagueness, when Msgr. Bertone had every opportunity to nail down this issue by eliciting specific testimony? Why did he not ask her, for instance, to authenticate any of the various computer-generated letters which began mysteriously to appear over her purported signature in 1989, the letters which assert the consecration had been accomplished in 1984?
And this is most suspicious: As we have noted, TMF relies entirely on one of these dubious letters, dated November 8, 1989, as proof that the consecration has already been accomplished. We noted also that this letter's credibility was extinguished by its false statement that Pope Paul VI consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart during his brief visit to Fatima in 1967—a consecration that never happened. Why did Bertone make no effort to have Sister Lucy authenticate this hotly disputed letter, when it was the only evidence cited in TMF?
Most telling in this connection is that Father Gruner's Fatima apostolate had published proof that the letter (whose addressee, Walter Noelker, is not even revealed in TMF) is an obvious fake. The proof was published in Issue No. 64 of The Fatima Crusader, of which there were some 450,000 copies in circulation as of the date of the Bertone interview in November of 2001.
Now Msgr. Bertone was surely aware that The Fatima Crusader had exposed the fraudulence of the 1989 letter, yet he failed to ask Sister Lucy to authenticate the letter and thereby deliver a serious blow to the credibility of Father Gruner's apostolate. This failure could not have been an oversight, since an attempt to refute the position taken by Father Gruner and his apostolate was the very reason Msgr. Bertone had conducted the interview of Sister Lucy in the first place.
Why would Msgr. Bertone pass up a golden opportunity to use Sister Lucy, his “star witness”, to refute Father Gruner's claim that the 1989 letter was a fake? Obviously, because Msgr. Bertone must have known that it was a fake, and thus he would not have dared to ask Sister Lucy to authenticate it during the interview. We must mark this is as Glaring Omission #6.
This, then, is the sum total—forty-four words—of what Sister Lucy is alleged to have said during a two-hour interview on one of the greatest controversies in the history of the Church. We are asked to accept these forty-four words from a closeted witness as the end of the story of Fatima. These words are supposed to allay all the doubts, questions and fears of millions of the faithful—even though Russia has manifestly failed to convert and the gathering forces of violence and rebellion against God and His law loom larger by the day.
Suspicious Circumstance #4: No tape recording or transcript of the interview has been made available.
Why has no transcript, audio tape, video tape or any other independent record of the interview been produced in order to show the precise questions Msgr. Bertone asked, the full answers Sister Lucy gave, the sequence of the questions and answers, and any comments or suggestions Msgr. Bertone and others might have made to Sister Lucy during the “more than two hours” they were in the same room together? Where is the give and take one always sees in published interviews?
Further, why did Msgr. Bertone require more than two hours to extract forty-four words from Sister Lucy about the matters at issue? Assuming it took Sister Lucy a full minute to utter those 44 words, what did she say, and what did Msgr. Bertone, Father Kondor and the Mother Superior say, during the remaining 119 minutes of the encounter? Was Sister Lucy reminded of her duty of “obedience”? Was it implied that the whole Church was depending on her to give the answers that would end this “divisive” controversy? Was it suggested that loyalty to “the Holy Father” required that she accept the Party Line, even though her own purported 1982 letter to the Pope contradicts it? Was she told how important it was to the Church that she assure everyone that Russia has been consecrated, despite everything she has said to the contrary throughout her life? Was she given the impression that to say otherwise would be to contradict the Pope himself?
Or did Sister Lucy perhaps give many answers that were unsatisfactory to her questioner, only to be asked the same questions repeatedly and in different ways until she got the answers “right”? To what subtle, or not-so-subtle, importuning was the witness subjected during the two hours she was surrounded by imposing authority figures in a closed room?
Surely, if there was nothing to hide Msgr. Bertone would have made certain that such a crucial interview with the only surviving witness of the Fatima apparitions, age 94 at the time, was recorded on audio or video tape, or at least transcribed verbatim by a stenographer so that the witness' testimony could be preserved in case of her death—which at her age is certainly very near. We would wager, however, that there is no recording, no transcript, no independent record whatsoever of the Bertone interview. For it seems there is a terrible fear of allowing this witness to speak at length, in her own words, in response to a series of simple and direct questions. Every one of the forty-four words from “Sister Lucy” which appear in the Bertone communiqué is carefully measured out, as if from an eyedropper.
No doubt the risk of creating such a record was too great. What if Sister Lucy consistently gave the “wrong” answers? What if the answers she did provide had to be extracted through leading questions or subtle persuasion by the interviewer or the others in attendance? What could be done with a record that revealed such things? How could it be kept from the public or only partially released? How could it be hidden or destroyed once it was created?
We would be happy to be proven wrong. Perhaps there is a tape or transcript of the entire two-hour session. But if there is, it will be most telling if the Vatican never produces it.
Suspicious Circumstance #5: The Italian communiqué purports to be signed by both Msgr. Bertone and Sister Lucy, but the English version drops her “signature.”
In the first place, why is Sister Lucy signing Msgr. Bertone's statement in Italian about what she allegedly told him in Portuguese? Why is Sister Lucy not making and signing her own statement in her own language? If Sister Lucy really spoke with Msgr. Bertone for more than two hours, why not simply prepare a faithful transcript of her own words in Portuguese and then have her sign that, instead of Msgr. Bertone's self-serving communiqué?
Further, why was Sister Lucy's “signature” dropped from the English translation of the communiqué? In fact, to what document was her “signature” actually affixed in the first place—the Italian communiqué or a Portuguese original of the same document that has not yet been produced?
Of what value, in any case, is Sister Lucy's “signature” on a document written in a language she does not speak, which partially quotes her testimony, but only in Italian translation (Sister Lucy does not speak Italian) and without setting forth the full questions she was asked or the full answers she gave?
The inescapable conclusion is this: Msgr. Bertone and the Vatican apparatus have no intention of ever allowing Sister Lucy to give her own statement at length, entirely in her own words, about the major questions which remain concerning the Message of Fatima. This is borne out by the next suspicious circumstance.
Suspicious Circumstance #6: Sister Lucy's just-published 303-page book on the Message of Fatima completely avoids any of the subjects supposedly covered in the secret Bertone interview.
In October 2001 the Vatican Library publishing house published a book by Sister Lucy entitled The Appeals of the Message of Fatima. Sister Lucy's introduction to the book, which was reviewed and approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, states that it is intended to be “an answer and a clarification of doubts and questions addressed to me.” The preface, by the current Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, likewise observes that Sister Lucy had asked the Holy See's permission to write a book on Fatima in order to “answer multiple questions in a global manner, not being able to answer every person individually.”
Yet despite the book's stated purpose, its 303 pages fail to address any of the prevailing “doubts and questions” about the Message of Fatima. The errors of Russia, the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, the consecration and conversion of Russia, the period of peace promised by the Virgin as the fruit of the Consecration, and the Third Secret are not even mentioned in the book, let alone discussed. Not even the vision of hell is mentioned in Sister Lucy's discussion of eternal life and seeking God's pardon. In short, the book presents a thoroughly expurgated Fatima message, stripped of every one of its prophetic and admonitory elements—precisely in keeping with the Party Line. The version of Fatima presented in this book hardly required a Miracle of the Sun to confirm it.
Now this is very curious: When Sister Lucy is allowed to write a 303-page book to address “doubts and questions” concerning the Message of Fatima, she says nothing about the doubts and questions millions of people really have. Only when she is interviewed in secret by a self-interested questioner, who happens to be an imposing authority figure, is “Sister Lucy” allowed anywhere near these doubts and questions. But even then her answers are fragmentary and do not come from her directly, in her own language. Instead, they are conveyed by Archbishop Bertone, who provides us with forty-four relevant words out of two hours of conversation with his captive witness.
Now let us sum up the suspicious circumstances surrounding the handling of the key witness in the Fatima Case:
Archbishop Bertone and Cardinal Ratzinger are men with high offices in the Church. With all due respect to their offices, however, nothing can overcome the reasonable suspicion that these circumstances and glaring omissions engender in reasonable minds. No court on earth would accept the testimony of a witness fraught with so many indications of unreliability. Surely in the Church we can expect at least that measure of openness and disclosure a civil judge would require. Let us hear the witness, for Heaven's sake!
We must, in candor, state the conclusion that would be obvious to any neutral observer of the mysterious handling of Sister Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart: There is every reason to believe that a fraud is being perpetrated; that a key witness—in fact the last surviving witness—is being tampered with. This fraudulent witness tampering is another element of the crime at issue.
But why? Beyond the motive we have already demonstrated—that of furthering at all costs the new orientation of the Church, which collides with the Message of Fatima—we believe a further motive exists, at least in the case of Cardinal Ratzinger. We base this conclusion on what we discussed in Chapter 8: Cardinal Ratzinger's express approbation in TMF of the views of Edouard Dhanis, S.J.—the neo-modernist “debunker” of Fatima. With his endorsement of Dhanis as an “eminent scholar” on Fatima, Cardinal Ratzinger has made it perfectly clear that he, with Dhanis, holds that the prophetic elements of the Message concerning Russia and so forth—again, what Dhanis belittled as “Fatima II”—are little more than fabrications by a simple and well-intentioned, but seriously misguided person.
As we noted earlier, Cardinal Ratzinger followed the line of Dhanis by stating in TMF (the Ratzinger/Bertone commentary) that the Third Secret itself may be largely a concoction: “The concluding part of the ‘secret’ uses images which Lucia may have seen in devotional books and which draw their inspiration from long-standing intuitions of faith.” If that were true of the Third Secret, it would also be true of the entire Message of Fatima. What other conclusion could the Cardinal have intended to suggest?
We recall also that the Cardinal himself reduced the culmination of the Message of Fatima—the triumph of the Immaculate Heart—to nothing more than the Virgin Mary's fiat 2,000 years ago. In like manner, the Cardinal deconstructed the Virgin's prophecy that “To save them [i.e. souls from hell], God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.” Under the Cardinal's interpretation (which would surely please Dhanis), devotion to the Immaculate Heart means nothing more than acquiring—and here we are confronted once again with a blasphemy—an “immaculate heart” of one's own. To quote TMF again: “According to Matthew 5:8, the ‘immaculate heart’ is a heart which, with God's grace, has come to perfect interior unity and therefore ‘sees God’. To be ‘devoted’ to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means therefore to embrace this attitude of heart, which makes the fiat —‘your will be done’—the defining centre of one's whole life.” It is Cardinal Ratzinger who removes the initial capitals from “Immaculate Heart” in order to reduce it to an ‘immaculate heart’ that anyone can have by simply conforming himself to God's will. With this exercise in clearly deliberate reductionism, the Cardinal completed his systematic removal of every bit of the Message of Fatima's explicitly Catholic prophetic content.
Here we arrive at the precise additional motive in the Cardinal's case: Given his evident disbelief in the authentic prophecies of the Message of Fatima—a disbelief he shares with Dhanis, the only Fatima “authority” the Cardinal cites—it would appear that Cardinal Ratzinger does not think that what he is doing is a fraud at all. He may well believe that the suppression of Sister Lucy's full and unfettered testimony is actually a service to the Church. What we mean by this is that Cardinal Ratzinger does not really believe in the prophetic elements of the Message of Fatima concerning the need for the consecration and conversion of Russia and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart in our time, or the disastrous consequences to the Church and the world in failing to heed these elements of prophecy. The Cardinal, therefore, would consider the suppression of these elements as the suppression of dangerous falsehoods that are “troubling” the faithful, however much Sister Lucy may believe them to be true.
It is clear enough from everything the Cardinal himself has said, that the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, like Dhanis, places little or no credence in the testimony of Sister Lucy that the Virgin requested the consecration and conversion of Russia in order to bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the world. The Cardinal evidently does not believe that with the Miracle of the Sun God authenticated this testimony beyond any doubt. What other conclusion can one draw from the Cardinal's prominent endorsement of the very “theologian” who attempted to debunk the entire Fatima prophecy?
Here, then, is a secondary motive for it all: In the Cardinal's mind, he is protecting the Church from the disruption caused for too long by a “private revelation” to which he, agreeing with Dhanis, gives no great weight. Thus, to revise or suppress Sister Lucy's testimony in these matters would not, from the Cardinal's perspective, be wrong. Quite the contrary, the Cardinal may well perceive it to be his duty. But then he owes it to the Church and mankind to be candid about his real intentions. It seems that the Cardinal may share the attitude of other “enlightened” Vatican insiders who think that the “simple faithful” are too stupid to appreciate what is best for them. This may explain why the Cardinal does not bother revealing his prejudices to the “unenlightened”, but rather expects that everyone will trust his “good” judgement.
In sum, it seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Message of Fatima is now in the custody of those who simply do not believe in it and who wish to have done with it once and for all, as they set their sights on the Vatican's new policies of ecumenism, “interreligious dialogue”, a world brotherhood of religions and a “civilization of love” under the guidance of the United Nations.
But as the world descends ever more quickly into violence and moral depravity, as the evidence of Russia's failure to convert mounts higher in the sight of an avenging God. Under these circumstances, the Catholic lay faithful, as well as priests and bishops, must continue to ask the simple questions and to work and pray for that day when the men who control the levers of power at the Vatican will finally allow the Pope to do precisely what the Mother of God requested of him 73 years ago. May God deliver the Church from their bad governance, and soon! To hasten that day we, the faithful, have the God-given right to petition the Supreme Pontiff for the removal from office of the accused and their collaborators in this debacle—a remedy we discuss in the final chapter.
Sister Lucy's diaries record that at Rianjo, Spain in August 1931 Our Lord, speaking of a protracted failure of His ministers to consecrate Russia, told her: “Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, like him they will follow him into misfortune.”
Jesus also said, “They will repent, and will do it, but it will be late.” How late it will be, how much more the world and the Church will have to suffer, depends upon those who have custody of the Message of Fatima and who control all access to the last surviving witness of its delivery from Heaven.
And to some extent it depends on each of us to do our part to expose and oppose the fraud that is being perpetrated on the world, endangering billions of souls and threatening the peace and security of entire nations.
That is why we have written this book.
1. On the contrary, as Father Alonso documents, Sister Lucy affirmed that “everything connected with the apparitions of the Lady was seen no longer as a simple recollection, but as a presence impressed upon her soul as though by fire. She herself points out to us these things remain impressed upon her soul in such a way that she could not possibly forget them. These reminiscences of Sister Lucia, therefore, are rather like re-reading inscriptions which are forever engraven in the deepest depths of the soul of the authoress. She appears to be ‘seeing’ rather than ‘remembering’. The ease of her ‘remembering’ is indeed so great that she has only to ‘read’, as it were, from her soul.” Father Joaquin Alonso, “Introduction”, Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, p. 13.
2. See footnote 48 in Chapter 8.
3. Occasionally, when referring to or quoting the Bertone communiqué, this chapter sometimes uses the Vatican Information Service English translation of the December 2001 Italian original. Other times, the English translation used in L'Osservatore Romano English edition of January 9, 2002 is used. And very rarely, our own translation of the Italian version is used.