A Catholic priest who says he has seen the original text of the "third secret" of Fatima disputes the official interpretation of the secret released by the Vatican.
The Catholic Church says the Virgin Mary passed the secrets of Fatima to three Portuguese children in 1917. The third secret is the final one to be released.
For decades, speculation about the third secret has resulted in a spate of theories that it predicted the end of modern times -- the world as it is now known -- as well as other apocalyptic visions of despair.
According to the Vatican's interpretation, however, the third secret differed substantially from what it was believed to contain by many in the so-called "mainstream" community and Church.
Church traditionalists say it also differs from information -- much of it leaked over the years -- about what they know and believe is contained in the secret, which was finally published more than 40 years after the Vatican was supposed to release it.
Now that it has finally been published, Catholics in the traditionalist faction say the version published differs from the original. Critics include a priest who says he has seen the original third secret text.
Rev. Dr. Gommar A. De Pauw
Rev. Dr. Gommar A. De Pauw, founder of the Catholic Traditionalist Movement, told WorldNetDaily earlier this week that while attending the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council -- held between 1962 and 1965 -- he was shown a copy of the third secret.
Fr. De Pauw, a Belgian-born priest who attended the Council as an adviser, said that although he had to "let the Vatican's interpretation sink in," his first impression of the 27-page document explaining the third secret and placing it in context of the other two was, "Thanks, but no thanks."
Missing from the Vatican's explanation, he said, was a portion of the secret that predicted the fall of the modern Catholic Church.
"While at the (Second Vatican) Council, I was given the text -- the supposed text -- of the third secret of Fatima," Fr. De Pauw said. "Journal reporters -- journalists -- gave it to me" and a few others in attendance.
"They left it for me in a strange way, really," he said. "At my desk, in front of me, in the press room." Besides serving the Vatican in various functions and manners over the years, Fr. De Pauw said he was also an "accredited journalist," which, he said, explained his presence in the press area.
Fr. De Pauw, who couldn't remember the reporter's name, said, "word got out among the journalists" that a copy of the text was "floating around."
"Reporters would increasingly ask me, 'Is this real? Is it genuine?'" he said.
But when he attempted to ask key people in the Vatican about the text, "they were always reluctant to say anything -- particularly because, supposedly, the only ones who had seen it were the pope, John XXIII, and Cardinal [Alfredo] Ottaviani," who headed the Vatican's Holy Office.
"That text -- which I accepted as authentic -- was totally different from what they are coming up with now," De Pauw said. "It's going to take a while before these 27 pages sink in and it's not clear to me what conclusion I should reach. To me, it demands, almost, a total rejection of the whole so-called Fatima devotion. But that's my first impression."
Nevertheless, Fr. De Pauw said, the main impetus of the "original" secret he viewed over 35 years ago was a prediction by the Holy Virgin that there would be, mainly, "an unbelievable, total doctrinal and moral ... spiritual ... collapse of the establishment Catholic Church" -- something Vatican officials are "not going to admit," he said.
"I do not accept [the Vatican's] interpretation," he added.
A spokesman for the U.S. Catholic Conference told WorldNetDaily that its parent organization, The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, "accepted fully" the Vatican's explanation and interpretation of both the third secret and the two which proceeded it.
The third secret avoids any mention of a collapse of the Church and, instead, focuses on "penance." While the translated text offered by the Vatican said that "the Holy Father" -- the pope -- "was killed by a group of soldiers" as he and other religious figures within the Church climbed "up a steep mountain," the interpretation focuses on an encouraging message.
According to the Vatican's interpretation, "other key words are 'my Immaculate Heart [Virgin Mary] will triumph,' and '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."
Fr. De Pauw admits that his statements "are a little radical," but, he said, not without merit.
Besides the differences in text, Fr. De Pauw said the Vatican's summary of all three secrets "also does not make any reference to the 'Miracle of the Sun,' which took place Oct. 13, 1917." He said that event -- which was described by observers as a "dancing sun" -- was "witnessed not simply by the three children but by thousands of people, including dozens and dozens of very skeptical journalists. But no one is making any reference to that."
Fr. De Pauw said, in fact, that Vatican officials had, at times, actually attempted to downplay the event "as nothing more than the imagination of three visionary children."
Newspapers of the time, however, did cover the event, he said.
Other prominent Catholic groups were perplexed by the Vatican's delays in releasing the text of the third secret.
"We're puzzled as to why we must wait for an official commentary," said Fr. Paul Kramer, a priest at the Fatima Center, a Canada-based Catholic organization that promotes the Message of Fatima. "The first two parts of the secret are quite clear in what they say and predict. It does not seem likely that the third part is so obscure that it requires deciphering by a team of experts."
"Our Lady of Fatima did not speak in riddles," he said in a statement.
The late Catholic author Fr. Malachi Martin has also alluded to the secrets in his numerous best-selling books that were labeled fiction, "but contained 80 percent truth," according to friend and advisor, Fr. Charles Fiore, who lives in the Diocese of Madison, Wis., and belongs to the priestly fraternity of St. Peter. [Ed. Note: Fr. Fiore has passed away since this article was written]
In an interview last year, Fr. Fiore told WorldNetDaily that Fr. Martin's last book, which was not yet finished before he died last July 29 in New York City, was "a nonfiction piece about Vatican power as the Church approaches the third millennium."
Regarding that book, "Primacy: How the Institutional Roman Catholic Church Became a Creature of the New World Order," Fr. Fiore said Fr. Martin believed it would be "his most controversial and important work."
Far from being fiction, Fr. Fiore said, the book was dealing exclusively "with power and the papacy," and would have "analyzed the revolutionary shift in the ancient dogma of primacy that lies at the heart of what many now see as the first breakdown of papal power in two millennia."
The book would have highlighted Malachi Martin's uncanny ability to see through and predict the hidden geopolitics of the Vatican and its "complex global dealings with governments and nations," Fr. Fiore said.
"The battle that concerns Martin is the fundamental survival of belief in God -- and the struggle that supercedes our individual faiths is the one between us and those who would destroy all faiths," wrote author Alan Caruba for The Jewish Future -- an observation that keenly matches Fr. De Pauw's interpretation and, oddly, portions of the version of the third secret interpreted by the Vatican, Fr. Fiore observed.
Last month, however, the Vatican pre-empted at least some speculation about the contents of the final secret by announcing, finally, its impending release -- an act ordered by Pope John Paul II, Vatican officials said.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano announced in Fatima, Portugal, May 13 that the Holy See intended to release the text of the third secret. The pope had gone to Fatima to beatify -- or make saints of -- the two shepherd children who, with Sr. Lucia, received the three secrets over 85 years ago.
During his statement, which was delivered in Portuguese, Cardinal Sodano said the third secret contained "a prophetic vision similar to those found in Sacred Scripture, which do not describe with photographic clarity the details of future events, but rather synthesize and condense against a unified background events spread out over time in a succession and a duration which are not specified.
"As a result," he added, "the text must be interpreted in a symbolic key."
Offering a glimpse of what the secret contained, Cardinal Sodano said, "The vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheist systems against the Church and Christians and it describes the immense suffering endured by the witnesses to the faith in the last century of the second millennium.
"It is an interminable Way of the Cross led by the popes of the twentieth century," he added, with no mention of any text that symbolically or otherwise described the version Fr. De Pauw has claimed to see.
John Paul credits the Virgin Mary with saving his life after an assassination attempt May 13, 1981 in St. Peter's Square by a Turkish nationalist -- 64 years to the day after the Holy Mother first appeared to the three Portuguese children. And, the Vatican says, he believes because of her divine intervention, the vision of a pope being killed by gunfire in the third secret was thwarted.
John Paul wrote shortly after the attempt on his life that it was "a motherly hand which guided the bullet's path," enabling the "dying Pope" to halt "at the threshold of death."
For past columns in The Daily Catholic on THE FATIMA FILE, see ARCHIVES