He was born in 1941 in Montreal, Canada. After high school and classes at McGill University, established in 1821 in Quebec Province's largest city, he entered the novitiate and seminary and completed his studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He was ordained at Our Lady of Good Counsel Shrine in Frigento, Italy in August 1976 at the age of 35. After two years of parish work, he received permission from his bishop to begin the Fatima Crusader a publication dedicated to the Message of Fatima with the emphasis on taking the Fatima message literally. Some believe too literally. Since 1978 he has spent almost every waking moment in this mission. He has spoken in over thirty nations, preaching in over 500 churches and cathedrals throughout the world. Besides his magazine he ventured into authoring and radio/television. He published his book World Enslavement or Peace, then in 1987 began a daily radio show entitled "Heaven's Peace Plan." That same year his television program "Fatima: The Moment has Come" hit the airwaves. His organization claims that the Fatima Crusader is the largest journal in the world devoted to Fatima.
The controversy began swirling in 1978. Never one to embrace Vatican II, he steadfastly to this day has worn the cassock and celebrates Mass in Latin. After some initial problems the Archbishop of Ottawa granted him partial faculties to preach and hear confessions. Thus began his preaching career across Canada. In 1981 however, the Pro Nuncio to Ottawa Archbishop Palmas complained to the Secretary of State at the time Cardinal Oddi that Fr. Gruner was disrupting things. Whether he was or not, the mark had been made and Fr. Gruner would forever carry this label with him. Fr. Gruner lays the blame on the fact he was warning all about Russia and it was interferring with the United State's efforts at petroika with the Soviet Union. According to Fr. Gruner, the more popular he became, the more the Vatican bureaucrats came down on him. Rather than sit down and talk with the powers that be within the Holy See he defied them and intensified his ministry. This did not sit well with Rome.
In 1989 papers were published which documented Sister Lucia's confirmation that the consecration had been made. The Holy Father himself confirmed this and we can confirm, knowing for a fact, that he dispatched Bishop Paolo Hnilica, S.J. on the Feast of the Annunciation - March 25, 1984 to Moscow where the bishop, an auxiliary of Rome, smuggled his missal and Mass utensils into the bowels of the Kremlin, hidden within the Soviet paper Pravda which means "Truth." Truly the Bishop was bringing the Truth to Russia and there, in a secret room Monsignor Hnilica consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary while at the same time in Rome John Paul II was doing the same thing at St. Peter's. True there has not been a collegial consecration of all the bishops of the world which is nigh unto impossible and Our Lady accepted this endeavor from her chosen Pope-son who is dedicated to her - Totus Tuus. After all, the Blessed Mother only asks that we try. She realizes man has a free will and even the Pope cannot force wills to change. He realizes that and prays for enlightenment for the entire world. Nevertheless, Fr. Gruner put all his efforts into discrediting the documents attributed to Sister Lucia and with that action, angered not only the Holy See but other Fatima ministries such as the Blue Army and the Fatima Family Apostolate, two organizations striving to live the messages imparted by Our Lady at the Cova in 1917.
The more Fr. Gruner opened his mouth, the deeper he dug his own grave, so to speak. Bishop after bishop were scared away from granting him faculties because they realized the Vatican could discipline them as well. It must be pointed out here, that never has Fr. Gruner preached schism regarding the teachings and doctrines of the Church, but his aggressive attitude and verbal attacks on Vatican officials and other bishops and priests won him few friends. It's also true that some of those attacked or under pressure responded in kind, spreading false rumors and engineering smear campaigns against Fr. Gruner. It was a case of tit for tat and it wasn't pretty, nor was it in keeping with the Christian attitude or what Our Lady wanted. In fact, in defending himself, his ministry of the Fatima Crusader became more of a defensive mechanism to exonerate Fr. Gruner and place the blame on others. In retrospect, it was not a wise decision for it only made more enemies. The better part of valor would have been to ignore the attacks, turn the other cheek so to speak and respond with love.
Fr. Gruner ran into more trouble in 1992 when he organized the largest conference of bishops ever held at Fatima. His intent, noble though it was, was to inform the bishops of what he was really trying to do and beg them to take the Fatima Message literally. But in the process he angered the Bishop of Fatima and the Director of the Fatima Shrine. There followed an assault on Fr. Gruner in the sacristy at Fatima by two youths. Fr. Gruner accused the Bishop and Director of planning the attack; they countered by publicizing that Fr. Gruner staged it for publicity to gain sympathy for he was losing credibility in the heart of the place he had devoted his life to. There could easily be some truth in both claims. Regardless, it was a sad event that reduced his effectiveness and caused the attrition of many of his followers who had placed their trust in him. Even they could see the futileness of what was happening and besides, they were torn by this division within the Church.
But Fr. Gruner did not give up. Rather than retreating in prayer and humility to examine his tactics, he sought out whatever bishop he could find for empathy and, believe it or not, organized another conference for the world's bishops in 1994, this time at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City. Naturally the feud started anew and bishops began receiving letters from papal nuncios warning them this was not a sanctioned conference. The bishops began fighting amongst themselves, accusing this one or that one of subterfuge. Again, no way to bring the peace-oriented message of Fatima to anyone. After a disappointing turnout that Fr. Gruner blamed on a "smear campaign by the Secretariat of State," he set his sights on meeting with the Holy Father. Not having the prestige to be able to meet with the Pope privately, he took the sensational route, publishing a full page "Open Letter" in Rome's largest daily Il Messaggero in hopes John Paul II would sit up and take notice and open his door immediately to the embattled priest. That didn't happen. Fr. Gruner let it be known in the same letter, which the Italian media had a field day with, that he was planning a third bishops' conference in 1996 in Rome. Had his complaint to the Pope had any credibility don't you think the Holy Father would have summoned Fr. Gruner to meet with him? Surely he read the letter, everyone else did. But the silence was deafening from Papal Quarters and this did not help Fr. Gruner's cause. Rather, it exposed him further as a "crackpot" as many within the Curia referred to him. Since then Fr. Gruner has bounced around the world trying to find a bishop who would incardinate him. At last report he has, but his prestige and impact has greatly diminished, the attrition rate in subscribers suffering and his survival tactics called under scrutiny.
We are sure Fr. Gruner is a good priest who has made his share of enemies and they have retalilated. It is one man against the world in Fr. Gruner's perspective. He wants to spread the Message of Fatima but he has spent more time defending himself, which diminishes the message. The message he is harboring is more of the message of LaSalette when Our Lady foretold, "Yes, the priests are asking vengeance, and vengeance is hanging over their heads. Woe to the priests and to those dedicated to God who by their unfaithfulness and their wicked lives are crucifying my Son again! The sins of those dedicated to God cry out towards Heaven and call for vengeance, and now vengeance is at their door, for there is no one left to beg mercy and forgiveness for the people. There are no more generous souls, there is no one left worthy of offering a stainless sacrifice to the Eternal for the sake of the world." Fr. Gruner and all those priests and bishops embroiled in this "smear" campaign must take into account the Blessed Mother's words at La Salette revealed by the visionary Melanie on October 7, 1899 long before Fatima, "The Vicar of my Son will suffer a great deal, because for a while the Church will yield to large persecution, a time of darkness and the Church will witness a frightful crisis."
It is not up to anyone to interpret what Our Lady is referring to, but rather to take it in prayer, asking discernment of the Holy Spirit so that this bickering will stop. When Fr. Gruner realizes you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar and softens his stance, calling upon the Mercy of God, then hopefully saner minds and hearts can come together in humility and reconciliation as the Holy Father is calling for. Surely Fr. Gruner should realize this for he was awarded the St. Louis de Monfort Prize in 1996 and received personal blessings from the Pope in 1993 "for his sixteen years' priestly service and for his very important apostolic work with the Fatima Crusader." No matter how intense he is toward defending himself and getting the message out, retreating in prayer and humility would be the better part of valor in healing the divisions no matter who started them. While Fr. Gruner has many followers who swear by him and may even take umbrage at this biography written here - even though most of the material for this piece was taken directly from his own web site - we remind him and his enemies that Padre Pio was persecuted as well, but he was obedient and humble and in the end, those virtues bore the greatest fruit. We pray he will read between the lines of the Fatima messages and see that's exactly what Our Lady wants for all her children: unity and love, not division and hate!
Ever been in a Fun House's Hall of Mirrors? You see yourself in the mirror, short and wide. Your head is bigger than your body. Your eyes tell you that you look like that, but you know, by reason, that you don't. In magic acts, our eyes see women being cut in half, turning into tigers, or disappearing from being locked in a container of water. We see this, our eyes, our reason tells us that this actually occurred, but we know that it's only an illusion, a trick.
We also see other areas where faith and reason mix. Has anyone actually seen an atom? Or the particles that make it up? Yet we know that they exist? Why? Because we have faith in the scientists who, due to their study, education, etc, have told us they are there. The ancients had all sorts of theories, myths, as to how we get wind. Yet we know that it comes from the rotation of the earth coupled with pockets of warm and cold air, and other factors. To the ancients, this explanation would sound absurd, and pure simple logic would point to some 'god' making the air move. And as for air, we don't see it, but we feel an 'invisible' force moving around us, and we have no way of knowing the various gases that make it up simply by looking at it. No, we believe and trust in these things because 'experts' have told us they are there and how they occur.
One other example. For centuries, people accepted Euclid's statement that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. Very logical, almost simply so. However, what about on a globe? Ah, the shortest line may not be a straight line. That's why many flights from NYC to London go via Greenland rather than directly to their destination. So, simply 'thinking' for ourselves can lead to errors, mistakes.
Let's say that you see a table and it appears to be an oval. You see the oval, therefore, by reason, you say it's an oval table. But someone else tells you that it's square. Is he wrong? Not if he can show you. Now imagine he takes you for a closer look, and the table you thought was an oval was actually a square one under a covering with an oval opening. Or how many times have you mistaken a dark navy blue for black?
So it is with so much of Church teaching, with Scriptures. In the late 60's and 70's, a cult of young 'Christians' (calling themselves the Children of God) said that true Christians had to denounce their parents, that their parents were their enemies. Their basis for this was logical from Scripture.
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me;" (Matthew 10:34-37).
Simple isn't it? There it is in black and white. For a Christian to love and honor their parents, to not renounce their parents is against Scripture. But that's not what Christ was talking about was it? After all, did that mean that God's command to "Honor your father and your mother" was now null and void? If this is so, then the charge that Scripture is full of contradictions is true. However, St. Augustine writes: "No error is to be admitted in the Bible, not even concerning things of but little importance….If any statements should seem contrary to truth, we must not accuse the Author of the Book of falsehood: we should rather conclude, either than (a) the text is defective; or (b) that the interpreter has mistaken the meaning; or (c) that we have misunderstood."
To discern what the passage means, we need to go further into the Scriptures, and even history. "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also" (John 15:18-20).
As just one example of many, we see how St. Francis of Assisi's father denounced his son before all of Assisi. We know of many who, coming to faith, were rejected by their parents, their friends, etc. Indeed, their 'enemies' became those in their own houses.
But these are simple examples. There are far more complicated things. When a 'born again' Christian tells you that the Holy Spirit guided him in his reading of Scriptures, we may ask, did He do so 'before' he was saved and imbued with the Holy Spirit? If not, may he not be mistaken? And if he was, why did he need to declare himself to be saved if he already had the Holy Spirit?
St. Justin Martyr tells us around 150 AD: "Neither by nature, nor by human thought can men recognize such great and divine truths, but the gift which came down from above upon the holy men, who needed neither art of words, nor skill in captious and contentious speaking, but only to offer themselves in purity to the energy of the Divine Spirit, in order that the divine power of itself might reveal to us the knowledge of divine and heavenly things, acting on just men as a plectrum on a harp or lyre."
God gave His Holy Spirit, as a gift, to a few, to write His revealed wisdom for all men. And foremost is Christ Himself. But if we question the Apostles 'authority' to teach, can we not also question Christ's? After all, to those present, He was a man, just another preacher. "A Pharisee in the council named Gamali-el, a teacher of the law, held in honor by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a while. And he said to them, 'Men of Israel, take care what you do with these men. For before these days Theudas arose, giving himself out to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.' " (Acts 5:34-39).
Hardly a statement of faith. But it shows that beside Christ, there was Theudas and Judas the Galilean (among others I'm sure) who people thought was more than they were. Why would Jesus be seen any differently? "For I have not spoken on My own authority; the Father who sent Me has himself given Me commandment what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden Me" (John 12:49-50).
Some believed Him and confessed it, some believed Him but were afraid to confess it, and others didn't believe. So many accept Christ's authority, but go no further. But Christ gave His authority to His Apostles, the 'hierarchy' of His Church, to teach and guide His Church for all men, in all places, for all time (ref. Matthew 28:16-20).
Christ commissioned some of His disciples to teach in His name (ref. Luke 10:16) so to hear them was to hear Him, and to reject them was to reject Him. And likewise, His Father.
We have faith through reason, that Christ is the Son of God Who came to earth to reveal God's love and and to establish a Church to teach this love. And then to die and redeem us. But when faced with challenges that the Church is full of fallible 'men' who have changed the teachings to suit them and their quest for power, we must, again, turn to faith in Christ.
St. Clement of Alexandria wrote: "The heretics do away with the true doctrine of the Lord, not interpreting and transmitting the Scriptures agreeably to the dignity of God and of the Lord. For the understanding and the cultivation of the pious tradition, agreeably to the teaching of the Lord through His Apostles, is a deposit to be rendered to God….For neither the prophets nor the Savior Himself announced the divine mysteries so simply as to be easily comprehended by all persons whatever….All things are right to them that understand, says the Scripture: to those, that is, who perfectly preserve His revealed interpretation of the Scriptures, according to the Church's rule."
As Scripture shows us: "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
But it also warns us: "Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures" (2 Peter 3:15-16).
And St. Augustine wrote: "If you find someone who does not yet believe in the Gospel, what would you answer him when he says, `I do not believe'? Indeed, I would not believe in the gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so."
Or as St. Paul tells us, the Church, not the Scriptures, is the pillar and bulwark of truth. (ref. 1 Timothy 3:15), though the Scriptures are 'profitable' (useful) for teaching, etc.
So, when faced with questions we cannot answer, or our logic seems to conflict with the teaching of the Church, 'reason' tells us to submit to the teachings of the Church, who teaches with His authority. If we refuse to do this, we may well become like the disciples who fell away (ref. John 6:60) and not like the Apostles who said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68-69).
...Believed and come to know that He is the Holy One of God, faith and reason. Reason for what we can see and understand, faith for that we cannot.
Pax Christi, Pat