DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     February 18, 1999     vol. 10, no. 34

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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POPE PLANS VISIT TO FATIMA

          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II has indicated a desire to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima this year, although no date has been set.

          Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva of Fatima has disclosed that he invited the Holy Father to visit on May 13-- the date of the first apparition by the Virgin Mary to the children at Fatima. The invitation was signed by most of the bishops of Portugal.

          While the Pope accepted the invitation in principle, the date of his visit has not been fixed. In addition to May 13, the Vatican is also considering dates in August and October-- times when thousands of pilgrims annually flock to the Marian shrine.

          There are several reasons for the Pope's interest in visiting Fatima this year, on what would be his third pilgrimage to the shrine. He may use the occasion to consecrate the 21st century to the Virgin Mary-- making that consecration at a shrine which has been particularly dear to him. Or-- since the message of Fatima carries special importance for Russia-- he may reiterate his desire for closer ties between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox world.

          Finally, it is possible that the visit could coincide with an announcement about the cause for beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, two of the three children to whom the Virgin appeared at Fatima. A committee of physicians working with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recently examined the case of a woman who was cured after making a novena to Jacinta and Francisco; the doctors found no medical explanation for the cure. A committee of theologians will now be appointed to determine whether or not the case qualifies as a miracle.

          Pope John Paul has consistently said that he credits the Virgin of Fatima for his survival of the assassination attempt which took place on May 13, 1981. His last visit to Fatima was in May 1991, at which time he made a public expression of thanks to the Virgin for guarding his life.


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February 18, 1999       volume 10, no. 34
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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