Which one are we to believe?
COIMBRA, PORTUGAL - This past week [late in December last year], the Vatican Information Service (VIS) released details from an interview between Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone and Sister Lucy, the sole remaining Fatima seer. The meeting was held in order to "obtain clarification and information directly from the surviving visionary". She is reported as saying no further revelations have been received:
To those who speak and write of new revelations she said: "There is no truth in this. If I had received new revelations I would have told no-one, but I would have communicated them directly to the Holy Father."
1. Vatican Information Service, "Sister Lucy: Secret of Fatima Contains No More Secrets" (12/20/2001) [VIS]
Further revelations have been the subject of much rumor and speculation and their authenticity is hard to establish with any certainty. Had the report stopped there, it would be of little interest. But the conversation then turned to Fr. Gruner and his positions. "Sister Lucy" claims not only that the Third Secret was fully revealed: To whoever imagines that some part of the secret has been hidden, she replied: "Everything has been published; no secret remains."
(emphasis mine here and throughout)
but also that the Consecration of Russia has already been accomplished:
"I have already said that the consecration that Our Lady desired was accomplished in 1984 and was accepted in heaven."
Given the inconsistencies between these new claims and what Sister Lucy has publicly said on these subjects, one is faced to accept one of two conclusions: either Sister Lucy has changed her position or the report is fraudulent. The evidence seems to point to the latter for at least three primary reasons:
In the officially released version of Third Secret, there were no words of Our Lady. This means the message from Heaven ended with "In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc."
The promised conversion of Russia has not taken place and the 1984 "Consecration of the World" did not even fulfill the requirements Sister Lucy herself put forth in 1983.
Sister Lucy is still unexplainably barred from talking publicly on these matters and only "says" such things as these in secret, unverifiable meetings.
There also remain a number of other inconsistencies which do not go away simply by claiming Sister Lucy's agreement. It is important to remember that behind these issues lie objective truths. Either the Third Secret was fully revealed by the Vatican or it was not. Either Russia has been consecrated to Mary's Immaculate Heart or it has not. While Sister Lucy's consistent restatement of the requirement of mentioning Russia by name provides support to those who make the same claim, it is not the cause of such a belief. The inherent nature of a consecration provides enough rationale for one to come to this conclusion on his own. So even if Sister Lucy had never been asked on the matter, it would still be evident that Russia's mention is necessary.
While it is questionable whether Sister Lucy has changed her mind, the demonstration of such is not, in itself, proof that the consecration was done. The heart of the debate is the objective occurrences, not necessarily Sister Lucy's position. Certain inconsistencies and unanswered questions would still need addressing. The Vatican party line that "it's consistent with the past because we say it is," which seems to be extending to many aspects of Church governance and policy, is just as unacceptable in this case.
Truth on trial
Considering for a moment solely the issue of Russia's consecration, pretend the whole of this debate to be in the context of a courtroom trial.
4. With apologies to my lawyer friends for this amateur attempt at a legal allegory.
An attorney who is making the case that Russia has not yet been consecrated to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart calls on Sister Lucy as a witness. She proceeds to testify that the mentioning of Russia by name is a requirement of Russia's consecration (obviously), and any consecration attempt that fails to do so does not fulfill heaven's request. Sister Lucy said as much in 1983 with regards to the 1982 "almost consecration".
In response to this testimony, the defense attorneys use their influence to bring about the silencing of that witness. Sister Lucy is no longer able to appear in the courtroom and legally prevented from so much as speaking on the subject. The trial must go on without her.
Next, the defense calls up an "expert witness" who says he recently spoke to the silenced Sister Lucy and she told him that the 1984 consecration met heaven's demands, even though no mention of Russia was made. Since the first lawyer certainly knows that Heaven's requirements have not been relaxed and just heard a man contradict direct testimony with hearsay, he requests Sister Lucy be called to verify the claim and explain such an alleged reversal of her position. But the defense has made her unavailable for such a clarification, so all we have to go on is the unverifiable claim of a nonobjective man who is affiliated with an organization which zealously believes the consecration of Russia has been done and has taken extreme and illegal attempts to silence anyone who disagrees.
Could this case possibly be closed? Does the recent hearsay refute the earlier direct testimony? What if you were a judge hearing this case? Would it be enough that a man of uncertain reliability claimed Sister Lucy's position to be reversed, or would such a claim need some sort of collaboration? Such a new and contradictory claim would either be dismissed out of hand or the cause of a certain degree of uncertainty. It would not be simply taken on its face and the previous direct testimony ignored. This is the situation in which we currently find ourselves with regards to the Mysteries of Fatima.
If this revised version of Fatima is so clearly Sister Lucy's position, as a number of Vatican diplomats so desperately want us to believe, why can't she announce it to the world, or at least to an unbiased group of people? If the goal is to completely debunk Fr. Gruner and his claims, would not the most effective and permanent way be to put him in front of Sister Lucy and have her tell him directly that he is wrong on all counts.
5. Yes, I know a translator would be needed.
Why is Sister Lucy still bound to silence on the subject of Fatima? Why would the Vatican not address the many swirling and mysterious questions rather than disseminate contradictory information and persecute those searching for the answers? Does it not further fuel the fire that such tactics continue to this day? Does it not allow people like me to write about all this in a skeptical manner without looking completely insane? Why not shut all of us up once and for all? I say they cannot. If they could have, they would have done so long ago and not be so fearful of the traditional Fatima message.
The fact is that Sister Lucy was silenced because her claims did not correspond to the revisionist version of Fatima. Most likely, it is for the same reason that she is still silenced to this day and will probably remain so to her death. Unfortunately, this most recent article has the unsettling tone of a last will and testament for the 94-year-old Carmelite nun. It would seem the Vatican wanted to have "her" on record as verifying their claims before she is physically unable to answer any further questions. Instead of describing her as of "sound mind, memory and understanding," the Vatican release claims her to be "in good health, lucid and vivacious."
Disturbing as it seems, this may be regarded as her final word on the subject before her death.
Secret meetings and other such tactics
This sort of "secret communication" has been a favorite tactic of the Fatima revisionists for years. The first attempt was a typed letter dated November 8, 1989 and sent by "Sister Lucy" to one Mr. Noelcker, telling him the consecration of Russia had been accomplished. This "letter" was so clearly exposed as a fraud, that no one since has been able to use it as a source, except in vague or indirect terms (as Cardinal Ratzinger did during the "release" of the Third Secret). Another attempt was a pair of secret interviews with Sister Lucy conducted on October 11, 1992 and October 11, 1993 by Carlos Evaristo.
Both the "letter" and the "interviews" suffer from numerous factual mistakes and details that, at very least, bring their authenticity into doubt. It appears that the Fatima revisionists have learned from such mistakes and are aware of the pitfalls of revealing too much information. As such, the most recent release was kept as short as possible, but still contained some items that raise more unanswered questions to accompany the already daunting list:
"Sister Lucy" makes the claim "I have already said that the consecration that Our Lady desired was accomplished in 1984..."
When did she say that? To whom? Is she verifying the typed letter and the inaccuracies it contains (which include an alleged consecration of Pope Paul VI that never took place)? Is "she" using the same vague allusion that was made when the Third Secret was "released" to avoid the inevitable refutation?
"Sister Lucy" follows up the previous statement with the claim that the 1984 consecration "...was accepted in heaven."
How was she made aware of this acceptance if there have been no further revelations?
The release goes on to say that "Sister Lucy" had "...attentively read and meditated upon the booklet published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and confirmed everything that was written there."
What about the booklet was it necessary to "meditate upon" in order to confirm its accuracy? Does confirming "everything" written in the booklet mean that she verifies the Vatican's interpretation which they said no one was bound to accept? How fortunate and convenient for Archbishop Bertone.
Finally, "Sister Lucy" says that "...Everything has been published; no secret remains "
What are the words that come after "In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc." and why don't the count as a remaining secret? Have they ever been published? Why not?
There are still a number of answered questions which are not addressed by the most recent claim and should not be ignored by the "Fatima finita" crowd. The questions address the authenticity of the Vatican's (and now "Sister Lucy's") two main claims: the Consecration of Russia was done in 1984 and the Third Secret was fully revealed. These questions have been (and should continue to be) repeated ad nauseam, since no one has been willing to address them. I challenge any Vatican official, the new "Sister Lucy", a representative of any Fatima revisionist group, or any Catholic in general to account for the following questions. To do so would put the nails in the coffin of such "errant" interpretations that are running rampant among traditionalists. Why wouldn't people making a career out of resigning Fatima to the past jump at such an opportunity?
The first set of questions concern the Consecration of Russia. These concern an issue that should be pretty clear. Sister Lucy repeatedly said two things needed to happen: the participation of the world's bishops and specific mention of Russia. The nature of the first requirement is debatable but at very least, the second criteria was never met.
Why are Sister Lucy's reasons for why the consecration didn't happen in 1982 (which include the mention of Russia) no longer relevant for the success of the 1984 consecration?
How can Russia be consecrated when it is purposely not mentioned for political reasons, as reported in Inside the Vatican on November 30, 2000?
What signs of Russia's conversion exist in a country plagued with abortion, prostitution and child pornography, and is much worse socially, morally and spiritually than in both 1917 and 1984? How can Russia convert when proselytizing is outlawed?
What harm would come to performing the consecration "again" according to Sister Lucy's two basic criteria? Is all this effort worth the avoidance of mentioning one single word?
With regard to the Third Secret, the issues are a little less clear (since we're dealing with a secret) but there still exist a number of reasons to believe we haven't heard it all:
Why was the Third Secret not revealed in 1960 as was requested by Our Lady? What became "more clear" about the Third Secret in 1960?
Why have "the words" of Our Lady been mentioned by those who have read the Third Secret but were not contained in the "release" by the Vatican?
What are the words that come after "In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc."? Did Mary say the words "et cetera"? Were the other words forgotten? If she had nothing more to say, why was "etc." placed at the end? Do not these words not qualify as a secret yet to be revealed?
Why do several commentaries about the Third Secret (Sister Lucy, Cardinal Ratzinger) mention dangers to the Faith and apostasy, but the vision and commentary refer to an assassination attempt?
Why do these same commentaries by Sister Lucy and Cardinal Ratzinger after the shooting refer to serious and tragic future events rather than a minor single event that has already happened?
If the Third Secret referred to the assassination attempt on Our Holy Father, why was it kept secret for the next 19 years?
And finally, there are questions relating to the actions of certain Vatican officials concerning Fatima.
Why is there so much urgency to consign the message of Fatima to the past? How does a firm belief in the words and prophesies of Fatima harm the Church?
Why has Fr. Nicholas Gruner been the subject of over a decade of persecution rather than be convinced of his supposed errors through reason or due process — a right even enjoyed by liberals and heretics?
Why wasn't Sister Lucy publicly asked during the Vatican "release" on the Third Secret whether the consecration of Russia had been accomplished? Why instead was an unnamed letter cited as evidence of her support? Can she only be counted on to say the "right thing" when no one else is around?
Why does "Sister Lucy" say things privately to certain individuals which are completely contrary to what Sister Lucy has said publicly? Why is no explanation given as to what made "her" reverse her position? Why is no acknowledgement even made of the discrepancy that exists?
Why was Sister Lucy silenced on the subject of Fatima and only allowed to speak with the explicit permission of Pope John Paul II or Cardinal Ratzinger? Why does that restriction exist to this day??? If Fatima really contains "no more mysteries," why can't she say so publicly? If Sister Lucy is so clearly of one mind on this issue, what is there risk of her saying?
Who are we to believe?
Are we to believe the same men who have tried to conceal the Third Secret, revise the requirements of Russia's consecration, silence Sister Lucy on the subject, ignore or suppress all legitimate questions (like the above) and persecute those priests and individuals asking them? Or are we to believe the words of Sister Lucy repeatedly spoken to unbiased journalists, which are in complete accordance with our own common sense?
Is the silence placed on Sister Lucy going to remain until she dies or is will she have an opportunity to contradict (or verify and explain) the claims that have been attributed to her? Is a claim that Sister Lucy has completely reversed her position deserving of any sort of belief when the same men making the claim prevent her from saying so herself? To ask the question is to answer it.
Fittingly, the Vatican concludes their release with the following words of "Sister Lucy":
"How many things are attributed to me! How many things I am supposed to have done!"
How many things indeed.
EDITOR'S NOTES: We have received the gracious permission of Peter Miller, editor of the Seattle Catholic to reprint various articles he has written on the dichotomy of what Eternal Rome has always taught and what Modern Rome now pushes on the faithful.