NEWS for Monday-Tuesday, June 26-27, 2000
BREAKING NEWS: FULL TEXT OF THIRD FATIMA SECRET
On Monday, June 26, the Vatican released the
full text of the "third secret" of Fatima, complete with a commentary by
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The "third secret was written down by Sister Lucia, the only survivor among
the three children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima in 1917.
Sister Lucia-- now a Carmelite nun-- wrote down the text in 1944, at the
request of the local bishop. The following is the full text of the "third secret"
in its original translation:
I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his
Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and
"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 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
aspergilium 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.
CARDINAL RATZINGER COMMENTS ON FATIMA MESSAGE
In his theological commentary on the "third
secret" of Fatima, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger emphasizes that the key to
understanding the Fatima message lies in the words attributed to the Virgin
Mary: "Penance, penance, penance!"
Cardinal Ratzinger adds that a second crucial aspect of the Virgin's message
is her reassurance that "my Immaculate Heart will triumph."
In the first part of his commentary, the cardinal-- who is the prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith-- carefully places the Fatima
message in its proper context, as a "private revelation." He explains that
private revelations must be distinguished from the definitive public
revelation which is contained in the Scriptures as interpreted through the
Tradition of the Church.
"In Christ, God has said everything--that is, he has revealed himself
completely-- and therefore Revelation came to an end with the fulfillment of
the mystery of Christ as enunciated in the New Testament," the German
However, private revelations may and do continue, in the form of various
apparitions, admonitions, and messages. A private revelation, Cardinal
Ratzinger explains, " is a help to this faith, and shows its credibility precisely
by leading back to the definitive public Revelation."
The Church, through her hierarchy, judges the authenticity of private
revelations. In some cases-- such as the Fatima apparitions-- the Church
offers a public approval of the message. In such cases, Cardinal Ratzinger
writes, the message can be "a genuine help in understanding the Gospel and
living it better at a particular moment in time; therefore it should not be
disregarded. It is a help which is offered, but which one is not obliged to
Turning to the content of the "third secret," the cardinal writes that the
prophetic vision which was disclosed to the three young children who saw
the Virgin Mary at Fatima was a preview of the 20th century, the cardinal
writes. "In the vision we can recognize the last century as a century of
martyrs, a century of suffering and persecution for the Church, a century of
world wars and the many local wars which filled the last fifty years and
have inflicted unprecedented forms of cruelty."
That vision is coupled with Mary's plea for prayer and penance, Cardinal
Ratzinger continues. And taken as a whole, the Fatima message is a strong
reminder that the crises of the world must finally be resolved not through
armed force but through prayer, and reliance on God's grace. Thus despite its
violent imagery and its strong warning tone, the Fatima message concludes
with a note of confidence: "my Immaculate Heart will triumph."
"To understand the signs of the times," the cardinal writes, "means to accept
the urgency of penance, of conversion, of faith. This is the correct response to
this moment of history, characterized by the grave perils outlined in the
images that follow."
Cardinal Ratzinger discloses that he spoke with Sister Lucia-- the sole
surviving Fatima seer-- about the content of the entire Fatima message. He
reports that "Sister Lucia said that it appeared ever more clearly to her that
the purpose of all the apparitions was to help people to grow more and more
in faith, hope, and love-- everything else was intended to lead to this."
In the "third secret," Sister Lucia writes about the vision of an angel with a
flaming sword. That image, Cardinal Ratzinger notes, is a common one from
the Book of Revelations, and it represents "the threat of judgment which
looms over the world." During the 20th century, when warfare threatened
millions of people with instant annihilation, that threat of judgment became
particularly immediate, he observes.
However, the cardinal continues, the threat is balances by the image of "the
splendor of the Mother of God." And in her message to the children of
Fatima, the Virgin Mary emphasized the need for prayer and penance.
"In this way, the importance of human freedom is underlined," Cardinal
Ratzinger writes. The dangers which threaten the world can be avoided, if
people answer Mary's call to penance. In short, the cardinal explains, "the
vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them."
"In the vision we can recognize the last century as a century of martyrs, a
century of suffering and persecution for the Church, a century of World Wars
and the many local wars which filled the last 50 years and have inflicted
unprecedented forms of cruelty," Cardinal Ratzinger writes.
However, he concludes, the vision ends with a powerful expression of hope,
echoing the Virgin's promise that "my Immaculate Heart with triumph." This,
the cardinal points out, is a reminder of a basic tenet of faith. "The 'fiat' of
Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it
brought the Savior into the world." In his analysis of the message, Cardinal
Ratzinger directly addresses the theories which have been put forward by
many amateur theologians, suggesting that the Fatima message-- and, in
particular, the "third secret"-- contained extraordinary news about the end
of the world or about apostasy within the Church. Those analyses were
wrong, writes the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Cardinal Ratzinger writes: "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
FATIMA SECRET: "EVIL DOES NOT HAVE LAST WORD"
Cardinal Ratzinger Answers Questions on Mary's Revelations
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26 (ZENIT.org)
"A careful reading of the
text of the so-called third secret' of Fatima, published here in
its entirety long after the fact and by the decision of the Holy
Father, will probably prove disappointing or surprising after all
the speculation it has stirred," Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger says
at the beginning of the his commentary on the content of Mary's
revelations, which was published today.
Since 1960, Catholics all over the world have been speculating
about the contents of that secret, which John XXIII decided not
to make public. The interest in the visions has led to a
proliferation of fanciful "recreations" of the secret, none of
which correspond to the simplicity of the message revealed today.
The complete English text is included in today's issue. Images of
the original Portuguese text in Lucia's handwriting are available
on the Vatican web page at www.vatican.va. [Just click on "Latest" and then "The Message of Fatima."]
The essence of the third secret is a vision that the three little
shepherds of Fatima received after their vision of Hell and the
prediction of World War II. An angel shouted out, "Penance,
Penance, Penance!" and the children saw a mountain topped by a
cross. A bishop dressed in white, whom the children identified as
the Pope, led a group of bishops, priests, religious, and lay
people up a steep mountain. Along the way, he prayed for the
dead. Upon reaching the cross at the summit, he was shot down.
Angels came down to sprinkle the blood of the martyrs on the
souls going up to Heaven.
In commenting on the "secret," the German Cardinal answers the
most common questions that have been circulating for decades on
the Fatima apparitions.
Cardinal Ratzinger first makes a distinction between "public
Revelation" and "private revelations." The term 'public
Revelation' refers to the revealing action of God directed to
humanity as a whole and which finds its literary expression in
the two parts of the Bible: the Old and New Testaments. It is a
revelation of God and, therefore, it is a matter of faith for
Christians. However, the Holy See presents the message of Fatima
as "private revelation," "which refers to all the visions and
revelations that have taken place since the completion of the New
"Private revelation is a help to this faith," explained the
Cardinal, "and shows its credibility precisely by leading me back
to the definitive public Revelation... The Flemish theologian E.
Dhanis, an eminent scholar in this field, states succinctly that
ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation has three
elements: the message contains nothing contrary to faith or
morals; it is lawful to make it public; and the faithful are
authorized to accept it with prudence. Such a message can be a
genuine help understanding the Gospel and living it better at a
particular moment in time; therefore, it should not be
disregarded. It is a help that is offered, but which one is not
obliged to use."
In the first two secrets, the means offered to save souls was
devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Cardinal Ratzinger
explained that "in biblical language, the heart' indicates the
center of human life, the point where reason, will, temperament,
and sensitivity converge, where the person finds his unity and
his interior orientation. According to Matthew 5:8, the
'immaculate heart' is a heart that, with God's grace, has come to
perfect interior unity and, therefore, sees God.' To be
devoted' to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means, therefore, to
embrace this attitude of heart, which makes the fiat -- your
will be done' -- the defining center of one's whole life."
In the actual text of the third secret, Cardinal Ratzinger noted
that "the Pope seems to precede the others, trembling and
suffering because of all the horrors around him. Not only do the
houses of the city lie half in ruins, but he makes his way among
the corpses of the dead. The Church's path is thus described as a
Via Crucis, as a journey through a time of violence, destruction,
and persecution. The history of an entire century can be seen
represented in this image."
Thus, the Pope in the vision becomes an image for all of the
Popes of this century, each of whom had to carry a heavy cross.
"Here it would be appropriate to mention a phrase from the letter
that Sister Lucia wrote to the Holy Father on May 12, 1982,"
continued the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith. " 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.' "
In the vision, the Pope too is killed along with the martyrs.
When, after the attempted assassination on May 13, 1981, the Holy
Father had the text of the third part of the secret' brought to
him, it was all but inevitable that he should see in it his own
fate. In fact John Paul II said at that time, "It was a mother's
hand that guided the bullet's path, and in his throes the Pope
halted at the threshold of death."
The concluding part of the secret is a consoling vision, which
seeks to open a history of blood and tears to the healing power
of God. Beneath the arms of the cross angels gather up the blood
of the martyrs, and with it they give life to the souls making
their way to God.
Finally, the Cardinal cleared up some misconceptions. He denied
the idea that Ali Acga was a mere instrument of God in the
assassination attempt. The Turkish national has been making
statements of this sort since Cardinal Angelo Sodano revealed the
first bits of the third secret on May 13.
"Those who expect exciting apocalyptic revelations about the end
of the world or the future course of history are bound to be
disappointed," concluded Cardinal Ratzinger. "Fatima does not
satisfy our curiosity in this way, just as Christian faith in
general cannot be reduced to an object of mere curiosity. 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
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