«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:
- The Consecration of Russia
- The Third Secret
- 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.
The fact that the word “apostasy” doesn’t appear in the approved apparitions, nor in Sr. Lucia’s memoirs, is not a problem for the conspiracy theorists. In this, as in any conspiracy theory, the conclusion is a given… the evidence follows the conclusion, not the other way around.
So, according to the conspiracy theorists, Fatima must talk about an apostasy of the Church. That’s the conclusion. Anything will be used to prove this conclusion. If there is no evidence of any apostasy claim on the officially released Third Secret… it must be because the secret was not fully undisclosed, so that the apostate Church may cover up Her own apostasy. Absence of evidence becomes evidence for the cover up. And the more evidence piles up against their claims, the more suspicious they become that there is a conspiracy going on.
It is a tragic intellectual trap out of which it is very difficult to get out of. I then urge my readers who may be so interested to study Fatima at length, but only the parts that are approved by the Church and to be very careful with the sources they consult.
As for the apostasy claim, allow me to restate the argument I formulated here:
«The Church does not impose on the faithful that they have to believe in any particular private revelation. It does, however, say that we should be guided by the Church’s teachings, with submission to the authority of the Roman Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him.
It is, therefore, extremely illogical for me that we should heed any particular revelation warning us of a general apostasy involving the Roman Pontiff. Since we are not bound to believe any particular revelation, but are bound to the teachings of the Pope, it would seem a low blow from God’s part that my salvation should hinge on me heeding a private revelation commanding me to disobey the Pope’s teachings.»
But there is still a third way the dissenters use to sow division… the letter Sr. Lucia sent to Cardinal Cafarra, one of the dubia cardinals. I will deal with it on my next article.
For now, let me just reiterate the official third part of the secret of Fatima.
«After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.»
Anyone who uses Fatima to shoot down the Pope can not really be honoring Our Lady’s Third Secret, quite the opposite.
[Photo credits: Fatima Sanctuary’s official FB page]
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.