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Author: Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.
Which Pope said this?

Which Pope said this?

«For me it is a “sign of the times” the fact that the idea of ​​the mercy of God should become more and more central and dominant — starting from Sister Faustina, whose visions in various ways reflect deeply the image of God held by the men of today and their desire for the divine goodness.

(…)

It is mercy that moves us towards God, while justice frightens us before Him.

In my view, this makes clear that, under a veneer of self-assuredness and self-righteousness, the man of today hides a deep knowledge of his wounds and his unworthiness before God.

He is waiting for mercy.»

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Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Fatima’s third secret – don’t shoot down the Pope

Fatima’s third secret – don’t shoot down the Pope

«When  asked: “Is the principal figure in the vision the Pope?”, Sister Lucia replied at once that it was. She recalled that the three children were very sad about the suffering of the Pope, and that Jacinta kept saying: “Coitadinho do Santo Padre, tenho muita pena dos pecadores!”(“Poor Holy Father, I am very sad for sinners!”). Sister Lucia continued: “We did not know the name of the Pope; Our Lady did not tell us the name of the Pope; we did not know whether it was Benedict XV or Pius XII or Paul VI or  John Paul II; but it was the Pope who was suffering and that made us suffer too”.»

 — Conversation between Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone and Sr. Lucia, about the Third Secret


As I have explained on my last article, the apparitions of Fatima have been misused by people who want to sow division in the Church, separating faithful Catholics from the Pope. This, of course, is not Fatima’s fault, since the seers always spoke with reverence toward the Holy Father. However, the propagation of these falsehoods makes it all the most urgent to dispel them, especially since there has been a disproportionate backlash against Fatima by those who are indeed faithful to the papacy.

There are 3 main ways Fatima is weaponized by dissenters:

  1. The Consecration of Russia
  2. The Third Secret
  3. The letter Sister Lucia (one of the visionaries) sent to Cardinal Caffarra

As far as points no. 1 and 2. are concerned, Mike Lewis has already expounded on them at length on this article (please check the section on Cardinal Burke). To summarize, Our Lady of Fatima had asked for the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Hear (at a time when Russia was on the grip of Communist ideology) and also revealed to the little shepherds a secret in 3 parts, that should only be uncovered in due time. From Mike’s article:

«Unfortunately, this authentic and official apparition has been hijacked and distorted by conspiracy theorists, many of whom are radical traditionalists. The most prominent leader in what became a movement was the late Fr. Nicholas Gruner, a suspended priest originally from Canada who ran the Fatima Center in New Jersey. He and his followers campaigned for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the pope (as requested by Mary in one of the apparitions), as well as for the revelation of the contents of the so-called “Third Secret” of Fatima.

The Church’s position is that the consecration was successfully carried out in 1984 and the contents of the third secret were revealed in 2000 by St John Paul II. Yet even after these actions were carried out by the pope and affirmed by Sr. Lucia (the lone surviving Fatima visionary), Gruner and his followers refused to accept the consecration as legitimate or the third secret as revealed in its entirety. Up until his sudden death in 2015, Gruner continued to campaign for the consecration to be done using what he believed was the correct formula, and for the “full” third secret (which he believed to predict dark days for the Church and apostasy in the hierarchy) to be released.

The use of the word “apostasy” — especially when applied to the highest levels of the Church — is particularly relevant in this discussion of Cardinal Burke. While the term appears often in the claims and writings of the Fatima conspiracy theorists, the word appears neither in the Church-approved messages of Fatima or in any of the subsequent elocutions or statements by Sr. Lucia. The idea of an apostate pope is employed specifically by those who have bought into the conspiracy theories about the third secret. Indeed, the approved third secret speaks of the pope himself enduring the persecutions that the Church will face in the future, along with the faithful, not abandoning the Church. »

However, conspiracy theorists will not be convinced by the Church’s official stance on these matters. They will go on fostering the idea of an alleged and widespread Church apostasy, making them the only true remnant of Catholicism in an era where even the Pope is untrustworthy.

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Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Reclaiming Fatima

Reclaiming Fatima

«I don’t know how it happened, but I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him.»

— St. Jacinta Marto, as quoted in Sister Lucia’s memoirs


One day, a patient of mine told me during his appointment that he had been on pilgrimage to Fatima. He had an incurable tumor, so it made sense he would do so: Fatima is a place where many sick people find solace. So far, so good. There was a bit of a surprising detail, though… this man was a self-proclaimed atheist. Not of the kind an apologist is used up to… not an atheist which makes it a hobby to engage in endless debates in high intellectual circles, or even in fiery comboxes in social media and blogs. No. He was an atheist (so had he explained previously to me and other fellow patients) because he didn’t trust the Church… and also, he didn’t trust God, even if He existed.

I then proceeded to ask him, if he didn’t trust the Church or God, why would he trust Our Lady of Fatima? He replied he didn’t know… he simply trusted her. And so, even if he wasn’t expecting for a miracle, he decided to go there just to feel her maternal embrace.

A rigorist might claim that this man had a distorted image of Mary, if he kept distrusting God while venerating her. However, as Francis points out both in Amoris Laetitia and in Gaudete et Exsultate, we should not revile these small imperfect acts that move the soul toward God, for God may very well use them to bring about a more perfect conversion for the sinner’s soul. Who’s to say that the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, borne out of the imperfect piety from this atheist, might not be decisive for his salvation? We have it as a solidly established fact that Mary intercedes for the souls of sinners, especially those who are in most need of mercy…

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Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Which Pope said this?

Which Pope said this?

«The Pope is the guardian of dogma and of morals; he is the custodian of the principles that make families sound, nations great, souls holy; he is the counsellor of princes and of peoples; he is the head under whom no one feels tyrannized because he represents God Himself; he is the supreme father who unites in himself all that may exist that is loving, tender, divine.

It seems incredible, and is even painful, that there be priests to whom this recommendation must be made, but we are regrettably in our age in this hard, unhappy, situation of having to tell priests: love the Pope!
 .
And how must the Pope be loved? Non verbo neque lingua, sed opere et veritate. [Not in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth – 1 Jn iii, 18] When one loves a person, one tries to adhere in everything to his thoughts, to fulfill his will, to perform his wishes. And if Our Lord Jesus Christ said of Himself, “si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit,” [if any one love me, he will keep my word – Jn xiv, 23] therefore, in order to demonstrate our love for the Pope, it is necessary to obey him.
 .
Therefore, when we love the Pope, there are no discussions regarding what he orders or demands, or up to what point obedience must go, and in what things he is to be obeyed; when we love the Pope, we do not say that he has not spoken clearly enough, almost as if he were forced to repeat to the ear of each one the will clearly expressed so many times not only in person, but with letters and other public documents; we do not place his orders in doubt, adding the facile pretext of those unwilling to obey – that it is not the Pope who commands, but those who surround him; we do not limit the field in which he might and must exercise his authority; we do not set above the authority of the Pope that of other persons, however learned, who dissent from the Pope, who, even though learned, are not holy, because whoever is holy cannot dissent from the Pope

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Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Mary, Mother of Mercy

Mary, Mother of Mercy

«She [the Virgin St. Mary] is the Mother of mercy, because she bore in her womb the very Face of divine mercy, Jesus»

Pope Francis, Homily on the Opening of the Holy Door of Mercy at Archbasilica of St. Mary Major, Jan 1st 2016


Last February, Aleteia has circulated a story which has been making the rounds on social media for some years now, appearing and resurfacing now and then. I think the first time I heard about this story, it was apocryphally attributed to Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen, but I can’t ascertain its accurate provenance.

Either way, it’s not as important where it came from, as it is what it says. According to this story, St. Peter came to Jesus, very alarmed since he saw a lot of souls entering Heaven without coming across the pearly gates where he stood guard with his keys. Jesus, on the other hand, tells him not to be concerned with that, for those souls were coming through another entrance opened by His Mother, through the prayer of the rosary.

I believe I heard this story in some way even before Pope Francis was elected. At the time, it was not very controversial. Nor is it now, don’t get me wrong…

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Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Which Pope said this?

Which Pope said this?

«Piety, however, grew cold, and especially afterward because of the widespread plague of Jansenism, disputes began to arise concerning the dispositions with which one ought to receive frequent and daily Communion; and writers vied with one another in demanding more and more stringent conditions as necessary to be fulfilled. The result of such disputes was that very few were considered worthy to receive the Holy Eucharist daily, and to derive from this most health-giving Sacrament its more abundant fruits (…) To such a degree, indeed, was rigorism carried that whole classes of persons were excluded from a frequent approach to the Holy Table

(…)

The poison of Jansenism, however, which, under the pretext of showing due honor and reverence to the Eucharist, had infected the minds even of good men, was by no means a thing of the past. The question as to the dispositions for the proper and licit reception of Holy Communion survived the declarations of the Holy See, and it was a fact that certain theologians of good repute were of the opinion that daily Communion could be permitted to the faithful only rarely and subject to many conditions.»

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Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Pope Francis, Pro-life Champion (part 3)

Pope Francis, Pro-life Champion (part 3)

Note: This is part 3 of a 3-part series

In part 1 of this series I have spoken about Francis’ actions in the name of the pro-life cause as a pope . In part 2, I have fleshed out his pro-life teachings on his encyclicals and apostolic exhortations. I would like now to talk about the wealth of speeches and letters where the Holy Father has advocated for the rights of the unborn child. I don’t vouch to have exhausted here all of Pope Francis’ references to abortion or euthanasia, since it would be a herculean task to peruse every single one of his talks and writings… but I think I have gathered a representative sample that may allow my readers to have an informed opinion.

Now, it is important to note that in many of those interventions (though not all, as we shall see later), Francis likes to tie abortion to other injustices and attacks against human dignity. This usually displeases the pro-life crowd, but it is consistent with what Pope Francis has advocated on Gaudete et Exsultate (GE) #101-102. I have dealt with that in part 2.

What matters now is that Pope Francis is accused of spending a disproportionate amount of time rallying in favor of the immigrant and the poor, but here he places the unborn child as someone who also needs to be defended, besides just the immigrant or the poor. The problem is for those who pit the defense of the unborn against the defense of other people who suffer injustice (or vice-versa), not for those who defend the unborn per se. The pontiff wishes to illustrate this by consistently putting the unborn on the list of human lives who need to be protected. Let’s have a look at them (the emphases are mine):

«However, the world economy will only develop if it allows a dignified way of life for all human beings, from the eldest to the unborn child»

Letter to President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on the occasion of the G20 St. Petersburg Summit, Sept 4th 2013

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Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Which Pope said this?

Which Pope said this?

Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations of profound suffering, loneliness, a total lack of economic prospects, depression and anxiety about the future. Such circumstances can mitigate even to a notable degree subjective responsibility and the consequent culpability of those who make these choices which in themselves are evil

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Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Pope Francis, pro-life champion (part 2)

Pope Francis, pro-life champion (part 2)

Note: This is part 2 of a 3-part series

In part 1, I have talked about how conventional pro-life media, namely LifeSiteNews (LSN) have unfairly attacked the Pope through guilt by association, when His Holiness has demonstrated commitment to the pro-life cause.

But on this article I would wish to focus on the Pope’s contributions to the pro-life movement through his teaching office as the Vicar of Christ, to whom every Catholic owes assent of will and intellect.

It is noteworthy that every single encyclical or apostolic exhortation written by Pope Francis mentions abortion, without exception. Condemnation of euthanasia figures in one of them too.

It’s interesting that the most polemic mention of abortion on an official papal document is also the latest one. This happened many years after a section of the pro-life movement started their anti-Francis campaign, by arguing that he was not pro-life enough for focusing too much in other issues.

«Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.

 We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children»

 — Gaudete et Exsultate #101-102

Many pro-lifers think that this seems to downplay the importance of abortion relatively to other political problems of the day. However, if it would be so, Pope Francis would not have said that our defense of the unborn should be “clear, firm and passionate”, or that abortion puts the “dignity of a human life” (which is “always sacred”) “at stake”.

What Pope Francis seems to be discussing here is not pro-life activism, but how some may use said activism to oppose Church Social Doctrine in some other issues, namely the humane treatment of migrants. But this is very different from saying that we shouldn’t fight abortion. In fact, such an erroneous interpretation is plainly contradicted by Francis’ call for a “clear, firm and passionate” “defense of the innocent unborn”.


However, the question remains: has Francis made a clear, firm and passionate defense of the innocent unborn, as he urges us to do? Well, let’s see the other papal documents, namely the much defamed Amoris Laetitia (AL):

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Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

Pope Francis, pro-life champion

Pope Francis, pro-life champion

«Pope [Francis] is known for his strong defense of the right to life

— LifeSiteNews; “Pope surprises, delights 40,000 Italian pro-lifers, joins March for Life”; May 12th 2013


Note: This is part 1 of a 3-part series

Soon after Pope Francis’ election, LifeSiteNews (one of the most well-known pro-life news outlets) ran a story about how the newly elected pontiff had, in an almost unprecedented way, attended a pro-life march in Rome. The tone with which they described Francis at the time was very optimistic, and they highlighted his pro-life credentials as a cardinal who opposed the legalization of abortion in Argentina.

Sadly, all that optimism has faded away. Nowadays, LifeSiteNews (LSN) gets busy planning webcasts about how the pope is “subverting Catholic tradition… and what we can do to resist his agenda”.

Before that, they created a “Catholic Edition” besides their “Standard Edition” on their site which is highly critical of the Pope. They actively publicize books bashing Francis. They published blog posts accompanied by subliminal pictures reminiscent of comic book supervillains to illustrate the “climate of fear” coming from the Vatican. They interviewed a Protestant scholar who indicted the Pope on being a Protestant instead of a Catholic. They reported that a nude image evocative of the Work of Mercy to clothe the naked, on display some feet away from the Sistine Chapel, was tied to homosexual activism. They even went so far as – I kid you not! – claiming as a bad omen that Francis had scared off a colony of seagulls.

If this seems to you as a desperate way to dig up any possible excuse to make Pope Francis look bad (no matter how much they claim to “love him and pray for him”), then you agree with me. However it is not the purpose of this article to explain the reasons behind this shift on Pope Francis’ LSN coverage… but rather to check if this shift is fair given his actions as a pope. This is important, because many pro-lifers have started to oppose Pope Francis on account of all this bad rep in classical pro-life media. (more…)

Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.