Remarks concerning the presentation of the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima
Given by Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, on June 26, 2000
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published, this morning, June 26 the third part of the secret of Fatima, also called the "third secret".
1. The original itself is photographically reproduced, and is accompanied by a translation. As for us, we do not have any reason to doubt that it really is the authentic text. It has been placed back in its context, on the one hand by the reminder of the first two parts, which have also been photographed or scanned and translated, and on the other hand by a historical commentary.
This is the text, as committed to paper by Sister Lucia, on January 3, 1944:
The third part of the secret revealed on July 13, 1917 at the Cove de Iria—Fatima.
I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through His Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through you Most Holy Mother and mine.
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 splendor 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 halted 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 there way to God.
2. The text of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith begins with a quite long historical presentation by Archbishop Bertone, in which great importance is given to the consecration of 1984 (but not to the preceding consecrations), together with the affirmation that:
Sister Lucia personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Our Lady wished… Hence any further discussion or request is without basis."
Then comes a very interesting extract from a letter of Sister Lucia to the Holy Father, dated May 12, 1982, which gives an interpretation of the Third Secret:
The third part of the secret refers to Our Lady’s words. 'If not (Russia) will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated ' (July 13, 1917).
The third part of the secret is a symbolic revelation, referring to this part of the Message, conditioned by whether we accept or not what the Message itself ask of us: 'If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not she will spread her errors throughout the world, etc.'
Since we did not heed this appeal of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled. Russia has invaded the world with her errors. And if we have not yet seen the complete fulfillment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little with great strides. If we do not reject the path of sin, hatred, revenge, injustice, violations of the rights of the human person, immorality and violence, etc."
And let us not say that it is God who is punishing us in this way. On the contrary, it is people themselves who are preparing their own punishment. In his kindness God warns us and calls us to the right path, while respecting the freedom he has given us. Hence, people are responsible.
Immediately after this quotation we read the following paragraph, in complete contradiction with that which had just been said:
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, yet pervaded by the merciful love of God and the watching care of the Mother of Jesus and of the Church."
3. After the texts of the secret comes the interpretative section, composed of the following parts:
- A letter from John Paul II to Sister Lucia, informing her of Archbishop Bertone’s visit in his name, to request more precise explanations from her.
- The report on the meeting between Archbishop Bertone, accompanied by the local bishop, and Sister Lucia, on April 27, 2000.
- The announcement made by Cardinal Sodano at Fatima on May 13, presented in the document as the correct interpretation of the secret.
- A theological commentary. This is composed of three unequal parts. The first is a reminder of the difference between private and public revelation, the second, briefer section, speaks of the anthropological structure of private revelations; the third is entitled an attempt to interpret the "secret" of Fatima.
It is clearly this last part that interests us. Cardinal Ratzinger begins with a good reminder of the vision of hell, of sin and of devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Here are some extracts from what follows:
Thus we come finally to the third part of the "secret" of Fatima which for the first time is being published in its entirety. As is clear from the documentation presented here, the interpretation offered by Cardinal Sodano in his statement of May 13 was first put personally to Sister Lucia. Sister Lucia responded by pointing out that she had received the vision but not its interpretation. The interpretation, she said, belonged not to the visionary, but to the Church. After reading the text, however, she said that this interpretation corresponded to what she had experienced and that on her part she thought the interpretation correct. In what follows, therefore, we can only attempt to provide a deeper foundation for this interpretation, on the basis of the criteria already considered.
'To save souls' has emerged as the key word of the first and second parts of the ‘secret’, and the key word of this third part is the threefold cry: 'Penance, Penance, Penance! '…
And so we come to the final question: What is the meaning of the 'secret’ of Fatima as a whole (in its three parts)? What does it say to us? First of all we must affirm with Cardinal Sodano: '…the events to which the third part of the secret of Fatima refer now seem part of the past.' Insofar as individual events are described, they belong to the past. Those who expected exciting apocalyptic revelations about the end of the world or the future course of history are bound to be disappointed. Fatima does not satisfy our curiosity in this way, just as Christian faith in general cannot be reduced to an object of mere curiosity….
I would like finally to mention another key expression of the 'secret' which has become justly famous: 'My Immaculate Heart will triumph.' What does this mean? The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Savior into the world—because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually, he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took, a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the world that prevails is this: 'in the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world' (Jn 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise."
In summary, the third secret would seem to predict the sufferings of the Church during the 20th century and in particular of the present Pope and of his attempted assassination. What remains?
What remains was already evident when we began our reflections on the text of the 'secret': the exhortation to prayer as the path of 'salvation for souls and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion.'
As for the apocalyptic elements in the third secret, inasmuch as particular events are represented, they supposedly henceforth belong to the past. What are we to think of all this?
A. We think that the message of Fatima, as it is presented above, has had its effectiveness profoundly changed: namely for the conversion of sinners. For Our Lady’s threatening and anguished appeal, an appeal for conversion, an appeal to do penance, is no longer linked to the threat… since the terrible events are supposed to already belong to the past.
B. It is to be noted that the texts of the first two secrets presented in the Vatican document are drawn from Sister Lucia’s Third Memoir (of August 31, 1941), and not from the Fourth Memoir, dated December 8, 1941, which contains the famous expression: "In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved." Despite the fact that Sister Lucia declared at the time that this sentence indicated the meaning of the Third Secret, it is not found in the secret. It is only with respect to the choosing of texts that this sentence is made mention of as a note, although it is an important indication for the understanding of the vision given in the third part of the secret.
Otherwise put, the reference to an internal crisis ("the dogma of the Faith") within the Church has disappeared. It is only exterior attacks that are now seen, and these are reduced to the atheistic communists who have henceforth disappeared…
C. How far we are, in this global presentation of the message of Fatima, from what Sister Lucia has said elsewhere!:
- "A diabolical disorientation that invades the world and deceives souls", in a letter of April 12, 1970 to Maria Teresa da Cunha;
- "It is painful to see such a great disorientation, and in so many persons who occupy places of responsibility!" in a letter of September 16, 1970 to Mother Martins;
- "The devil is in the process of entering upon a decisive battle with the Virgin, and as he knows that which most offends God and enable him in little time to gain the greatest number of souls, he does everything he can to gain souls consecrated to God…" in a meeting with Fr. Fuentes on December 26, 1957.
There is no mention of the prayer of the Rosary as means of salvation. This makes us think that not everything that Sister Lucia knows is in this secret.
As a conclusion, we could bring to mind these words of Sister Lucia to Fr. Fuentes, on December 26, 1957, at the same time as we hope that Heaven deign to look favorably upon recent acts concerning Fatima.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is very sorrowful, for nobody considers her Message as important, neither the good, nor the bad. The good continue along their course, but without taking notice of the message. The bad, not seeing at the present time God’s punishments fall upon them, continue a life of sin, without caring about the Message. But believe me, Father, God is going to chastise the world, and this will be in a terrible way."
1 Emphasis added. Note that there is nearly total contradiction between that which is written here and the interpretation now given by the Vatican: the third secret concerns the past.
2 Emphasis added.
3 Emphasis added.
4 Cardinal Ratzinger. Ibid.