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Court of Mirrors - Part 2

A number of readers have inquired about the inner workings of Vatican tribunals’ treatment of faithful priests and their God-given rights, as exemplified in Father Gruner’s case. The last and newest chapter taken from the 3rd edition of Fatima Priest, just recently published, gives an accurate, fascinating summary of what is really going on.

In Part One, the authors meticulously dealt with the immoral and illegal shams perpetrated against priests by Vatican bureaucrats. We were left with two questions: (1) Will the highest Tribunal of the Holy Catholic Church tolerate a proceeding in which the judges are allowed to act secretly as adverse parties against the very priest they are judging? (2) Will this tribunal allow to stand, clearly erroneous findings of fact and law which have resulted in part from the failure of two of its own certified advocates to perform their most basic duty? [Note: The subtitles to this article have been added by the Editor of The Fatima Crusader.]

by Francis Alban and Christopher A. Ferrara

On March 28, 1998 Allan Kershaw, Father Gruner’s legal representative, submitted his appeal to the Plenaria. Five days after Kershaw had lodged the appeal to the Signatura, the Second Open Letter to the Pope appeared in the major Roman daily Il Messaggero. The first of the twenty bishops whose signatures appeared in support of Father Gruner was that of Archbishop Saminini Arulappa, the Archbishop of Hyderabad. Two months later the Archbishop would write to praise Father Gruner for his help in building the orphanage the apostolate was subsidizing, and to express his good wishes to both Father Gruner and the apostolate. It did not appear that the Archbishop considered himself to have been “defrauded” by Father Gruner, as the “promoter of justice” had speciously asserted in his “findings of fact”. One could imagine the promoter's reddened face as he viewed the Archbishop's signature in Il Messaggero, or on the 2,000 posters of the Open Letter on display around the Vatican — every poster putting the lie to his concocted accusation. What would the judges of the Signatura make of this? Only time would tell.

Double Standard in Vatican Courts Deplored

The Open Letter expressed with firmness and respect the signers' plea to their Pope for even-handedness, at last, in the case of Father Gruner:

    “Your Holiness, Father Gruner has given voice to the concerns of many of these loyal Catholics, including all of us. Can we not be heard in a matter which concerns the good of the Church and the salvation of souls? Or will it really be the case that the ever-multiplying voices of dissent continue to be tolerated, while Father Gruner is mercilessly hounded, exiled and silenced for preaching the Message of Fatima?”

The signers' reference to the invidious double-standard of justice in the post-conciliar Church was borne out with exquisite timing by none other than Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State. Only a week before the Open Letter was published, Sodano had delivered a heavily publicized address in which he praised the writings of Hans Kung, the most notorious dissident “theologian” of this century. The address was delivered at the Lateran, the official cathedral church of the City of Rome and a site of immense importance in Catholic history. The choice of venue was clearly no accident.

Kung has questioned every Catholic doctrine from the divinity of Christ to the Real Presence, and has called for women priests and Church approval of divorce and contraception. Yet Kung has remained a priest in good standing — even though, in addition to his public heresies, he has condemned John Paul II for “rigid, stagnating and despotic rule in the spirit of the Inquisition”.3 While the Pope, acting through Cardinal Ratzinger, had declared in 1979 that Kung could no longer claim to be a Catholic theologian, Sodano had pointedly described Kung in his address as “the Swiss theologian” who has written “beautiful pages dedicated to the Christian mystery”. It was as if Sodano regarded the Pope as already dead and buried, and was jockeying for access to the papal throne with his conspicuous appearance at the Lateran. That indeed is how the press would “spin” Sodano's brazen public tribute to the Pope's avowed enemy:

Pope's Right-Hand Man
Stakes His Claim to Throne

London Times Foreign News Service

    “The Pope's right-hand man yesterday attempted to emerge from the shadow of the ailing pontiff and raise his profile as a potential successor by declaring that the Roman Catholic Church needed urgent and continuous reform under a strong papacy for the new millennium. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, astonished Vatican-watchers by praising Hans Kung, the Swiss theologian and the fiercest liberal critic of the Pope ... Kung's views are anathema to the Pope ...”4

A renegade priest from Switzerland, who denies dogmas of the Faith and condemns the Pope as a despot, had not only retained his good standing as a priest but had received lavish public praise from the Vatican Secretary of State. Yet an orthodox Catholic priest from Canada, devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, had been ordered into permanent exile under threat of suspension from the priesthood. Sodano had confirmed everything the Open Letter would say about the state of the Church today.

Why the Public Entreaty was Necessary

This second Open Letter aroused even greater interest in the Italian press than the first, not least because 20 bishops had subscribed to it. But the aim of the second Open Letter, like the first, was not publicity for its own sake or a public exchange with the Vatican. The aim was to convey an urgent message to the Pope in the only forum left open to the apostolate and its supporters. Perhaps, this time, the message would bear fruit. Perhaps, just once, a group of faithful orthodox Catholics would be able to obtain redress by the same sort of public entreaty the liberals had been using so effectively since the Council to pressure the Vatican for everything from communion in the hand to altar girls, with the Vatican caving in every time.

Only a few months before the second Open Letter appeared in Il Messaggero, public protests by liberals in the diocese of Chur, Switzerland, had resulted in the Vatican ordering the transfer of its conservative bishop, whose principal “offense” was to rid the diocese of its plethora of women “ministers” and lay “preachers”.5 And only two months after the Open Letter was published, the leader of Austria's “We Are Church” movement would be invited to sit in the V.I.P. section at the outdoor papal Mass, next to the Pope himself. The dissident would impudently reject the offer because the Pope had not yet agreed to change Church teaching in accordance with his demands. Yet Austria's Cardinal Schoenborn had extended the invitation as part of his effort “to make peace in Austria's church by engaging in dialogue with Catholic dissidents”.6

The Fatima Message is the Real Target

There had been no peace overtures in the war against Father Nicholas Gruner and the apostolate, nor any offer of “dialogue”. The double-standard decried in the Open Letter was alive and well. For it was evident that what Father Gruner and the apostolate were promoting was far more disturbing to certain members of the Vatican apparatus than the heresy and apostasy flourishing throughout the Church. What Father Gruner and the apostolate were promoting was a teaching that simply could not exist in “the civilization of love”; the teaching Our Lady had given to three peasant children standing before a holm oak tree at Fatima:

    “You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart ... In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world ...”

In the “civilization of love” there was no longer to be any talk of poor sinners going to hell, or souls being saved from hell through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, or the conversion of nations, or the triumph of the Immaculate Heart throughout the world. None of this had any place in the negotiations and endless concessions by Vatican diplomats to men who reject the one true religion — a process that had begun with Ostpolitik and was continuing now with the emergence of the New World Order.

Secretary of State Endangers
the Rights of all Catholics

Three months after his public praise of Hans Kung, Cardinal Sodano would meet privately at the Vatican with U.N. General Secretary General Kofi Annan.7 The topic of their discussion was the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) under the auspices of the United Nations. The ICC was to have the power to indict the citizens of any nation for various “crimes against humanity”. It was a safe bet that the list of “crimes against humanity” would never include the holocaust of abortion, which the U.N. subsidizes throughout the world.

Curiously enough, the ICC conference was being held in Rome. Sodano's apparatus had already expressed its enthusiastic support for this newest expansion of U.N. authority: Archbishop Martino, the Vatican's permanent observer at the United Nations, declared in L'Osservatore Romano that “the creation of an International Criminal Court is a very important initiative which will touch upon the rights and lives of nations and communities ... May almighty God bless our efforts so that future generations will look upon this Court as a substantial contribution to respect for law and for the rights of all men and women in the world ...”8 On July 12, 1998, the ICC treaty was approved by the overwhelming majority of the nations represented at the conference, including the Vatican City-State. The United States, however, rejected the treaty as a threat to national sovereignty. The Vatican hailed the monster it had helped to create as “an historic step” that would afford “ever greater protection and wider expansion of human rights”.9 It was far from apparent how “human rights” could be protected and expanded by an international version of the same godless courts which had already “legalized” genocide of the unborn in every nation. Nor was it apparent why the U.N., which was promoting that genocide throughout the world, should be looked upon by the Vatican as a trustworthy guardian of human rights.

Pro-Lifers Especially at Risk

The feminist proponents of the ICC had demanded that any effort to restrict abortion be prosecuted by the new super-court as a form of “enforced pregnancy”. The Vatican was pleased to announce, however, that after intense negotiations the term “enforced pregnancy” would be limited to rape. At least for now.10 It is diplomatic “victories” like this for which the Vatican settles today; the pruning of a twig or two from the bad tree of the New World Order. More than twelve hundred years ago, St. Boniface picked up an axe and struck the “Tree of Thor” again and again. When the oak totem crashed to the ground the conversion of Germany began. Today, Vatican representatives clamber about in the branches of a vastly larger bad tree, looking for twigs to remove. It does not seem to occur to them that the tree itself must be toppled in the name of Christ the King. The Kingship of Christ which sounded out in every blow of the axe wielded by St. Boniface has been replaced by the timid snip-snip of the Vatican's pruning shears.

Here again it seemed that the Vatican's representatives had overlooked questions which would have been obvious to pre-conciliar Churchmen:

If the civil judicial systems of the various nations had already created what John Paul II decries as a “culture of death”, including abortion and mercy-killing, how could the cause of “human rights” be advanced by erecting an international super-court staffed by the same godless judges?

When this super-court inevitably expanded its jurisdiction to add such things as “hate crimes” against homosexuals or pro-life activism to the list of “crimes against humanity”, how was the Vatican going to protect the rights of Catholics who might be unjustly accused of these newly-minted “crimes”? Would Vatican bureaucrats be able to prevent the arrest of Catholics in their homes, and their deportation for a trial at the Hague or wherever else the super-court directs?

In America, for example, pro-life protesters are convicted of “racketeering” in federal lawsuits brought by abortionists who kill children for a living. What guarantees was the Vatican prepared to give that such suits would not find their way into the new super-courts? What protection would the Vatican be able to offer Catholics indicted in such cases? Could the Vatican be counted on even to issue a statement deploring the unjust prosecution by the very court the Vatican helped to create?

The Social Doctrine of the Church and
the Reign of Christ the King Under Attack

And what of the Church's constant teaching on the Catholic principle of “subsidiarity” in such encyclicals as Quadragesimo Anno by Pius IX? Subsidiarity requires that governmental functions be conducted at the lowest possible level, not the highest, in order to decentralize power, prevent injustice and to secure the right of appeal. What had possessed the Vatican to abandon this principle and support a godless, international super-court from which there would be no appeal?

The Vatican's support for the ICC was yet another symptom of the Great Amnesia documented so extensively in the apostolate's publications. Surely it was no coincidence that the same Vatican Secretariat of State which helped give birth to the ICC was also the source of the “worried signals” first received by the Bishop of Avellino in 1989, when the Plan to neutralize Father Gruner and his apostolate was first divulged by Cardinal Agustoni. At that time the Vatican Secretary of State was Cardinal Casaroli, the great architect of Ostpolitik, but he had turned the reins over to Cardinal Sodano in 1991. Casaroli would not live to see the latest triumph of Vatican diplomacy: A month before the ICC treaty was approved and the Vatican was committed to supporting a godless international criminal court, Casaroli would die of unexpected complications from minor surgery.11 A glowing obituary in the New York Times would note approvingly that “Casaroli signed a concordat in 1984 under which Roman Catholicism ceased to be the state religion of Italy”.12

Even in Italy, the Social Kingship of Christ was no longer acceptable to the Vatican bureaucracy. Neither, obviously, was the triumph of the Immaculate Heart prophesied at Fatima. Nor could there be any acceptance in the current scheme of things for any priest or apostolate whose work stood as a constant reminder that the Church of Our Lady of Fatima was not the Church of the “civilization of love”.

The Court of Mirrors in Session

By the time the ICC had become a reality, Father Gruner had returned to Canada. The canonical strategy for his final appeal had been decided, the papers filed, the second Open Letter published. Once again, there was nothing more for him to do but pray and wait.

At the Piazza della Cancelleria, in their offices above the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, the executors of the Plan pondered their next move. They sat, as always, in their figurative Court of Mirrors — mirrors facing mirrors, in an infinite regression of images. And in the mirrors could be seen the faces of the accusing witnesses, the adverse parties, the judges, the jury and the executioners in the case of Father Nicholas Gruner. But the faces were all their faces. The executors of the Plan were looking only at themselves.

The next few days, or months, would tell whether the door to this Court of Mirrors could be opened, so that the truth of Father Gruner's case could at last escape into the light of day outside the chamber where it had been imprisoned for so long. But for now there was only prayer and waiting.

In Canada, the sun descended beneath the edge of the Niagara escarpment as Father Gruner prayed the Divine Office in Latin, fulfilling one of the duties of the state to which God had called him more than twenty years before. Those who have opposed Father Gruner's work for so long know that the grace of his priesthood sustains him. When the sun that had descended on Niagara rose in Rome, the battle over Father Gruner's priesthood would continue.


3. Richard Owen, London Times Foreign News Service, March 26, 1998.

4. Ibid

5. Reuters News Service report, December 21, 1997.

6. NY Times, June 22, 1998, pg. A-11.

7. “U.N. Chief Seeks Help for International Court”, EWTN news report, June 16, 1998.

8. L’Osservatore Romano, June 17, 1998.

9. “Vatican Greets International Court”, EWTN Vatican Update, July 20, 1998.

10. Ibid.

11. NY Times, June 10, 1998, pg. B-10.

12. Ibid.

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