January 3, 2004
vol 15, no. 3

A Rebuttal Statement by John Vennari to ZENIT's 'Fatima Report'

   Zenit news posted on January 1 the article "What is Happening in Fatima?" in which the alleged plan to turn Fatima into an Interfaith Shrine was discussed. The article contained various falsehoods that call for an immediate response.

   Reporter Delia Gallagher says that Zenit received a three-page fax from Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva dated December 28, in which the Shrine Rector at Fatima alleged that Father Nicholas Gruner was responsible for the original November 1 Portugal News report "Fatima to Become an Interfaith Shrine".

   "It is our conviction", said Fatima Shrine Rector Msgr. Guerra, "that the article in Portugal News has been guided by some members of the group led by Father Nicholas Gruner".

   Msgr. Guerra's assumption is completely false. I can state categorically that Father Gruner has absolutely no connection with Portugal News and is no way responsible for the November 1 report.

   I attended the Fatima Interfaith Congress at the request of Father Gruner's organization and filed my own report on Father Gruner's web page "Fatima to Become and Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who Was There". It was also published in the journal of which I am editor, Catholic Family News.

   In that report, I quote the Portugal News article, and I also quote a local newspaper from Fatima, Noticias de Fatima, that ran the headline "Sanctuary for Various Creeds" But absolutely no one from Father Gruner's organization had anything to do with the articles appearing in the two above-mentioned journals.

   Zenit also claimed that Father Gruner was involved with the "We Resist You to the Face" statement. This is not true. The Resistance statement was a collaboration between Atila Sinke Guimar„es, Michael Matt, Marian Horvat and myself. Father Gruner did not know of or read the "We Resist You to the Face" statement until after it was first published in the May 30, 2000 issue of The Remnant.

   It is also interesting that Zenit was able to receive a response from Fatima authorities, whereas other Catholic reporters were not. Christopher Ferrara, on behalf of The Remnant, contacted the Shrine to pose questions about Fatima's new pan-religious initiative and asking Msgr. Guerra to confirm or deny the quotations attributed to him in Portugal News and Noticias de Fatima. Msgr. Guerra did not respond to Mr. Ferrara's e-mail of November 10, nor to his fax of November 23, nor did anyone else from the Shrine. The reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that the Monsignor does not deny the quotations attributed to him, nor did he deny them in his statement to Zenit.

   What is clear from the Zenit report, however, is that Fatima is now committed to the post-Conciliar pan-religious initiative. Msgr. Guerra contends that "the Fatima apparitions were exhortation to interreligious dialogue" This is preposterous since the ecumenism practiced since the Council contradicts 2000 years of Catholic teaching and practice.

   Further, eleven years after the Fatima apparitions, Pope Pius XI issued the 1928 encyclical Mortalium Animos which condemns the same ecumenism that has been nurtured since Vatican II.

   It is worth noting that Inside the Vatican's December 2003 issue publishes the whole of Mortalium animos in running columns beneath its own extensive story on the Fatima Shrine controversy.

   In this encyclical, Pope Pius XI wrote that the Holy See has "always forbidden" Catholics to take part in interreligious assemblies. Pius rightly insisted, "unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief, one faith of Christians." Pius also wrote that the "fair and alluring words" of the pan-religious orientation "cloak a most deadly error subversive to the Catholic Faith".

   Msgr. Guerra is the same man who applauded Father Jacques Dupuis, a modernist speaker who said at the recent Fatima Congress, "There is no need to invoke here that horrible text from the Council of Florence," thus exhorting the audience to reject defined dogma of the Church. It is little wonder that Msgr. Guerra attempts to subvert the Fatima Message to his distorted, pan-religious vision.

   A fuller commentary on this Zenit report will be published in the February, 2004 Catholic Family News.

John Vennari

For past articles in FOCUS, see FOCUS ARCHIVES

    January 3, 2004
    vol 15, no. 3