Part 2 of 3
The Message of Fatima
The Secretary of State Targets the Message of Fatima
This brings us to the precise role of the Secretary of State in imposing the Party Line with respect to Fatima. As we have noted, this process would involve the Message of Fatima in general and, in particular, perhaps its foremost proponent in the Church: the Fatima apostolate of Father Nicholas Gruner.
As early as 1989, the Secretary of State at the time, Cardinal Casaroli (the great "architect" of Ostpolitik) had communicated to Father Gruners bishop at the time, His Excellency Gerardo Pierro of the Diocese of Avellino, Italy, what the Bishop had called "worried signals" about Father Gruners Fatima apostolate. Father Gruner had been ordained in Avellino in 1976 for a Franciscan community that did not form as expected. Since 1978 he had been residing in Canada with the Bishops permission, where he had become the leader of a small Fatima apostolate that had since grown into the largest of its kind in the world. But after the Party Line concerning the "consecration" of 1984 had been imposed by the anonymous order of 1988, it was inevitable that Father Gruners apostolate and the Secretary of State would collidejust as the traditional orientation and the new orientation of the Church have collided after Vatican II.
The basic technique for trying to get rid of Father Gruner had been to create a bogus canonical scenario in which, having been ordered to find some other bishop to incardinate him outside of Avellino, Father Gruners incardination anywhere else would be blocked through unprecedented arm-twisting behind the scenes, so that Father Gruner would be forced to "return" to Avellino and abandon his apostolate. Having blocked Father Gruners incardination by three successive benevolent bishops who were friends of Fatima, the Vatican apparatus (in a complex proceeding beyond the scope of this book24) had finally lowered the boom: Father Gruner must "return" to Avellino or be "suspended" for "disobedience." In essence, Father Gruner was under a threat of "suspension" for having failed to do what his very accusers had systematically prevented him from doingnamely, find another bishop to incardinate him.25
As Father Gruners various canonical appeals from these unprecedented actions against him wended their way through Vatican tribunals, his Fatima apostolate continued to flourish. By the year 2000 the apostolate, particularly through its journal The Fatima Crusader, had become the strongest and most persistent voice in the Church for both the Consecration of Russia and disclosure of the Third Secret.
Furthermore, the Pope himself had complicated the Fatima picture with his decision to beatify Jacinta and Francisco in a ceremony at Fatima on May 13, 2000. His intention to beatify the two children was made known as early as June of 1999, and this development had clearly triggered an internal struggle within the Vatican apparatus. This is shown by the curious on-again, off-again nature of the beatification ceremony, which is most unusual for the Vatican. First, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, announced in October 1999 that the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco would take place on April 9, 2000 in St. Peters Square, along with four other beatifications. The Patriarch of Lisbon is quoted in the Portuguese press as having been informed by the Vatican that it was "quite impossible" for the Pope to come to Fatima for the childrens beatification and that the question was "closed." The Patriarch told Portuguese journalists that he was convinced this "impossibility" of the Pope coming to Fatima was exclusively due to a decision by none other than the Vatican Secretary of State.
But the Pope had other ideas. In November of 1999 His Holinessobviously bypassing Cardinal Sodanoinformed Bishop Serafim, the Bishop of Fatima, directly that he should announce that the Pope would indeed come to Fatima on May 13 to perform the beatifications. Bishop Serafim did not make the new announcement until December 1999. And then, in March of 2000, the Bishop also let it slip that "the Pope will do something special for Fatima." This prompted furious speculation in the press that the Pope was, at last, going to reveal the Third Secret. Bishop Serafim was immediately rebuked in public by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, possibly under orders from somebody in the employ of the Vatican Secretary of State, who did not wish anyone to know that the Pope was contemplating revelation of the Secret. But the proverbial cat was out of the proverbial bag.26
And so the Pope went to Fatima on May 13, 2000 to beatify Jacinta and Francisco. The papal appearance was a kind of living demonstration of the conflict between the two visions of the Church we have been discussing. Evoking the Church of all time, the Pope delivered a sermon after the beatifications. In this sermon many things the Church seemed to have forgotten over the past forty years were suddenly recalled again:
The Popes direct linkage of the Message of Fatima with the Book of the Apocalypse, and his likening of the Fatima seers encounter with God to that of Moses before the Burning Bush, comprised a stunning papal authentication of the Fatima apparitions as divinely given prophecies for our time. All of a sudden, Fatima was squarely before the eyes of the whole Church again.
There was, first of all, the Popes astonishing reference to the Message of Fatima as a Biblical moment, the very fulfillment of chapter 12, verse 1 of the Apocalypse, which speaks of the "Woman clothed with the sun." Here Pope John Paul II echoed Pope Paul VI, who, in his apostolic letter Signum magnum, delivered at Fatima on May 13, 1967, declared:
Even more astonishing, in his sermon Pope John Paul II had explicitly linked the Message of Fatima to Apocalypse, chapter 12, verse 4, which prophesies that the "tail of the dragon" will sweep one-third of the stars from Heaven and cast them down to the earth. As Father Gruner would later note: "In the language of the Bible, the stars of Heaven are those who are set in the heavens to illumine the way for others to go to Heaven. This passage has been classically interpreted in Catholic commentaries to mean that one-third of the clergyi.e. Cardinals, bishops, priestsfall from their consecrated state and are actually working for the devil." For example, the Haydock Commentary to the Douay-Rheims Bible notes that the image of one-third of the stars of Heaven has been interpreted to refer to "bishops and eminent persons who fall under the weight of persecution and apostatized The devil is always ready, as far as God permits him, to make war against the Church and the faithful servants of God."
In this connection Father Gruner, Gerry Mataticsthe Catholic Biblical scholar (and former Presbyterian minister)and others have cited the commentary on Apoc. 12:3-4 by Father Herman B. Kramer, in The Book of Destiny. This work was published with an imprimatur, providentially enough, in 1956, only six years before the opening of Vatican II. In reference to the symbol of one-third of the stars of Heaven, Father Herman Kramer notes: "This is one-third of the clergy" and that "one-third of the stars shall follow the dragon"meaning one-third of the clergy, who are the "stars", the consecrated souls in the Church.27 That is, one-third of the Catholic clergy will be in the service of the devil, working to destroy the Church from within. Father Herman Kramers commentary points out that the red dragona sign of the devil which could also symbolize Communism because red is Communisms emblematic colorbrings the Church into great distress by undermining it from within.
The commentary goes on to say that, by means of these apostate clergy, the devil will probably enforce upon the Church "the acceptance of unchristian morals, false doctrines, compromise with error, or obedience to the civil rulers in violation of conscience." In addition, he suggests that "The symbolic meaning of the dragons tail may reveal that the clergy who are ripe for apostasy will hold the influential positions in the Church, having won preferment by hypocrisy, deceit and flattery." The clergy who will follow the dragon i.e. the devil would include those "who neglected to preach the truth or to admonish the sinner by a good example, but rather sought popularity by being lax and the slaves of human respect," as well as those "who fear for their own interests and will not remonstrate against evil practices in the Church" and bishops "who abhor upright priests who dare to tell the truth".28 Father Herman Kramer also observes as follows concerning the state of the Catholic Church in the times prophesied by Apoc. 12:3-4:
But none of this is mentioned in those parts of the Message of Fatima which have thus far been revealed. Had the Pope, then, with his startling reference to Apocalypse 12:3-4, just given the world a glimpse into the contents of the Third Secret? Would he now reveal the Secret in its entirety?
But, alas, the sermon ends. It is not the Pope who will discuss the Third Secret. As quickly as it began, the Popes momentary return to the vision of the Church of all time is over, and a chief exponent of the new vision rises to his feet. It is Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of Statethe same Cardinal Sodano who had tried, but failed, to prevent the Pope from going to Fatima to beatify Jacinta and Francisco. For some strange reason it is Sodano, not the Pope, who will announce that the Pope has decided to reveal the Third Secret of Fatima:
And then what had seemed so strange suddenly became quite explicable. Cardinal Sodanos task would be to prepare the faithful to accept the notion that the Message of Fatima, including the Third Secret, was now to be considered a thing of the past. The process would begin with the Cardinals "interpretation" of the Third Secret:
As the faithful will soon learn, this is simply a lie. The "Bishop dressed in White" in the vision is not "apparently dead" but is killedas the text of the vision clearly statesin the manner of a military execution, along with many bishops, priests and religious, outside a half-ruined city.
Why, then, insert the word "apparently" into the "interpretation"? Cardinal Sodano immediately tips his hand:
Quite simply, Sodano was preparing the way for an "interpretation" of the Message of Fatima that would bury it once and for all: the Message culminated with the 1981 assassination attempt and the "fall of Communism" in 1989events which "now seem part of the past." To insure this result, a "commentary" would be prepared before the actual text of the Third Secret would be released:
But why had this commentary not been ready in time for the May 13 ceremony? After all, news of the Third Secrets impending disclosure had been circulating since at least March of 2000. In that month, Bishop Serafim had announced that the Pope had told him during a visit to Rome that the Pope would "do something special for Fatima"30 when he went there for the beatification ceremony in May 2000.
Curiously enough, the Pope had urged Bishop Serafim to say nothing about this while he was in Rome, but to wait until he returned to Fatima. But the subject was on the Popes mind since the previous November, so why had no "commentary" been prepared during the period November 1999 to May 2000? Surely, such a commentary could easily have been completed in that time.
Two conclusions suggest themselves. Either the Pope had not told Cardinal Sodano of his intention concerning disclosure of the Third Secretin which case the Pope does not trust Sodanoor the Pope did tell Sodano, whereupon Sodano assumed that he would somehow be able to prevent disclosure at the May 13, 2000 ceremony. This would explain why Sodano had not arranged for a commentary beforehand: he thought it would not be needed because he would be able to prevent any disclosure of the Third Secret. But the Pope had pressed ahead, and now the Secret had to be "managed" in such a way that the question of Fatima could be laid to rest.
A Press Conference to Announce the Sodano Party Line
We thus arrive at the fateful date of June 26, 2000. On this date the Third Secret is "disclosed" at a Vatican press conference, along with a commentary prepared by Cardinal Ratzinger and Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of the CDF, entitled The Message of Fatima (hereafter referred to as TMF). In TMF the Party Line on Fatima would be officially promulgatedby the direct command of Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
First of all, the faithful were told that the following text of a vision seen by Sister Lucy is all there is to the Third Secret of Fatima:
The immediate reaction of millions of Catholics could be summarized in two words: Thats it? Clearly, something was amiss, since nothing in this text corresponded to what Cardinal Ratzinger himself had said about the Third Secret in 1984a point to which we shall return shortly. Nor did it contain anything that would have explained its mysterious suppression since 1960.
Most important, this obscure vision, written down on four sheets of notebook paper, contained no words of Our Lady. In particular, it contained nothing that would complete the famous phrase spoken by Our Lady at the conclusion of the recorded portion of the Message of Fatima as faithfully transcribed by Sister Lucy in her memoirs: "In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved etc." Sister Lucy had added this phrase, including the "etc.", to her fourth memoir as part of the integral text of the Message. This addition had led every reputable Fatima scholar to conclude that it signaled the beginning of the unrecorded Third Secret, and that the Third Secret pertained to a widespread dogmatic crisis in the Church outside of Portugal. Clearly, the Virgin had more to say that was not written down because Sister Lucy had been instructed to keep it secretuntil, as we have seen, 1960.
In a curious maneuver, however, TMF had avoided any discussion of the telltale phrase by taking the text of the Message of Fatima from Sister Lucys third memoir, where the phrase does not appear. TMF justifies this as follows: "For the account of the first two parts of the secret, which have already been published and are therefore known, we have chosen the text written by Sister Lucia in the Third Memoir of 31 August 1941; some annotations were added in the Fourth Memoir of 8 December 1941." Annotations? The key phrase concerning the preservation of dogma in Portugal was no "annotation" but an integral part of the spoken words of Our Lady, after which She had said: "Tell this to no one. Yes, you may tell Francisco."
Having deceptively mischaracterized an integral part of the Message of Fatima as an "annotation", TMF then buries it in a footnote that is never mentioned again: "In the Fourth Memoir Sister Lucia adds: In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved, etc. ...."
Why are Sodano/Ratzinger/Bertone so leery of this key phrase that they would so obviously go out of their way to avoid it by using an earlier and less complete memoir of the text of the Message? If there is nothing to hide in this phrase, why not simply use the Fourth Memoir and attempt an explanation of what the phrase means? Why did the authors of TMF so obviously pretend that the phrase is a mere "annotation", when they know full well that it appears in the integral text as part of the spoken words of the Mother of God? We shall return to this suspicious behavior in a later chapter.
Another grounds for suspicion was that the vision of the "Bishop dressed in White" was not at all the one-page "letter in which Sister Lucy wrote down the words which Our Lady confided as a secret to the three shepherds of the Cova da Iria"as the Vatican itself had described it in the aforementioned 1960 press release. The text of the vision spans four pages of what appear to be ruled notebook paper.
Another suspicious circumstance is that on June 26 Cardinal Sodanos falsehood of May 13 was clearly exposed: the Pope is killed by soldiers who fire upon him as he kneels at the foot of a large wooden Cross outside a half-ruined city. The Pope is not "apparently dead", as Sodano had falsely asserted in May; the Pope is dead. The vision, whatever it means, clearly has absolutely nothing to do with the 1981 assassination attempt. The faithful had already been duped in May, and now the process of duping them was clearly continuing.
The dozens of discrepancies raised by this textprompting Catholics around the world to doubt that we have received the Secret in its entiretywill be addressed in a later chapter. For now, we consider the Ratzinger/Bertone "commentary" in TMF on the Fatima Message as a whole.
Cardinal Sodano Dictates the "Interpretation" of the Third Secret
First of all, TMF is a virtual admission that the "interpretation" of the Message of Fatima which Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone will "attempt" (to use Cardinal Ratzingers word) has been dictated by none other than Cardinal Sodano. No fewer than four times, TMF states that it is following Sodanos "interpretation" of the Third Secretnamely, that Fatima belongs to the past:
And just in case the reader still has not gotten the point, the basic aim of TMF is driven home once again:
Is it not curious that the interpretation of the Virgin of Fatimas vital message to the world had been given over, not to the Pope, nor even to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (which was merely aping Cardinal Sodanos opinion), but to the Vatican Secretary of State? What authority does Cardinal Sodano have to impose his view upon the Church? None, of course. But Cardinal Sodano had arrogated that authority to himself in keeping the overall post-conciliar ascendancy of the Vatican Secretary of State to the status of de facto Pope when it comes to the daily governance of Church affairs.
Here it would be opportune to provide another very telling example of this usurpation of authority by the Secretary of State. In an article entitled "The Pope, the Mass and the Politics of the Vatican Bureaucrats" (The Latin Mass magazine, Winter Supplement, January 2002), Italian journalist Alessandro Zangrando recounts an incident in which the Vatican Secretary of State blocked publication in LOsservatore Romano of the Popes praise of the traditional Latin Mass. The praise had been expressed in a papal message to an assembly of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: "In the Roman Missal of St. Pius V, as in many Eastern liturgies, are very many beautiful prayers with which the priests express the most profound sense of humility and reverence before the Holy Mysteries, the prayers revealing the Substance Itself of each Liturgy."
Zangrando noted that while papal messages to Vatican congregations are routinely published soon after their release, this one was not. It was only after the Popes praise of the traditional Mass was published in the secular Italian newspaper Il Giornale that the Vatican Secretary of State suddenly (within 24 hours) released the text of the Holy Fathers message through the Vatican Press Officemore than a month after its issuance by the Pope. But to this day, and contrary to normal practice, the Popes message to the Congregation has not been published in LOsservatore Romano, the Popes own newspaper. Zangrando quoted the conclusion of the renowned "Vaticanista" (specialist in Vatican affairs) Andrea Tornielli: "The very fact that 24 hours after the publication of the article [in Il Giornale] the Vatican Secretariat of State made public the text of the Holy Fathers letter, proves that a real attempt had been made at censoring the Popes words... The operation backfired with unintended results"that is, the Popes praise of the traditional Mass ended up gaining even wider publicity in the secular press.
Here we see how another key element of the Churchs new orientationthe abandonment of Her traditional Latin liturgywas enforced by the Secretary of State, who tried to censor the Popes praise for the traditional Mass. Who knows how many other papal utterances have been censoredsuccessfullyby the Vatican Secretariat of State? This incident is only typical of the way Church governance operates today, especially given the Popes declining physical health.
To be continued ...
24. See Francis Alban and Christopher A. Ferrara, Fatima Priest, Fourth Edition (Good Counsel Publications, Pound Ridge, New York, 2000), Chapters 12, 14, 17-22; App. I, App. II.
25. For the details of the long and tortuous "proceedings" to silence Father Gruner, the reader may consult: Fatima Priest (Fourth Edition), A Law for One Man (both available from the Fatima Center, 17000 State Route 30, Constable, New York 12926) or visit the Fatima web site at www.fatima.org.
26. Regarding the on-again, off-again beatification ceremony and related matters, see: the daily newspaper Correio da Manhã of 14 October 1999, the article on p. 12; the weekly newspaper Jornal de Leiria of 14 October 1999, p. 24; the weekly newspaper A Ordem on 21 October 1999, p. 1; the official weekly of the Patriarchate of Lisbon Voz da Verdade on 31 October 1999, on p. 6, the article entitled "The Beatification of the Little Shepherds Definitely Will Be At Rome"; the official weekly of the Patriarchate of Lisbon Voz da Verdade on 5 December 1999, entitled "The Pope Will Return to Portugal; Fatima is the Place of the Beatification"; article in Euronoticias on 24 March 2000, p. 8, entitled "Bishop of Leiria-Fatima" March 21 press conference; weekly Euronoticias of 24 March 2000, on p. 8, "Crisis: The Bishop of Leiria-Fatima Creates A Mystery Around the Visit of the Pope Without Telling the Patriarch What It Concerns, Will the Pope Reveal the Third Secret?"; Euronoticias of 24 March, an article on p. 9 entitled "Analysis: Persons Who Have Studied the Apparitions Say That the Third Secret Could Concern the Destruction of the Faith. A Crisis in the Interior of the Church Would be the Third Secret".
27. Father Herman Bernard Kramer, The Book of Destiny, (first published 1955, republished by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, Illinois, 1975) pp. 279-284.
30. On this point we refer the reader again to the following articles: in Euronoticias on 24 March 2000, p. 8, entitled "Bishop of Leiria-Fatima" March 21 press conference; weekly Euronoticias of 24 March 2000, on p. 8, "Crisis: The Bishop of Leiria-Fatima Creates A Mystery Around the Visit of the Pope Without Telling the Patriarch What It Concerns, Will the Pope Reveal the Third Secret?"; Euronoticias of 24 March, an article on p. 9 entitled "Analysis: Persons Who Have Studied the Apparitions Say That the Third Secret Could Concern the Destruction of the Faith. A Crisis in the Interior of the Church Would be the Third Secret".