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By Father Stephen Somerville

Is Father Gruner a prophet or a madman? Born in 1942, his biography has appeared 55 years later. There has been time to assess him. Casual knowledge of Father Gruner is often vague, mistaken, and unfavorable. He is "that priest who’s always talking about Fatima, always asking for money, ... He’s in disobedience ... His work is not authorized ... He’s a maverick." But St. Thomas Aquinas has written: "God sends prophets to every generation, not to give a new doctrine, but to remind the faithful what they must do to save their souls" (p.276). Writer Francis Alban has assembled the facts on the life of this most unusual priest. Ordained in 1976, in Avellino, Italy, and receiving his bishop’s permission to work on Marian devotion in Canada, he returned to Canada, and was invited in 1978 to help in Ottawa with the work of the National Committee for the National Pilgrim Virgin of Canada, that is, Our Lady of Fatima. Named its Executive Director, Father Gruner made it grow enormously as the Fatima Crusader Apostolate (now headquartered in Fort Erie, Ontario), with a regular magazine, radio and TV programs, Website and other outreaches, including an orphanage and medical center in India and food for children in Brazil.

Having long pondered the Message of Fatima and the grave collapse of Catholic piety and faith and discipline after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Father Gruner became convinced that the Consecration of Russia (by name) by the Pope simultaneously with every Catholic diocesan bishop around the world, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was the key to the Conversion of Russia and world peace. This theme runs tirelessly through the book; at times tediously. But Alban makes his case well, with all relevant documents and ample citations from Father Gruner’s own words. These tell us lucidly that the eternal salvation of millions, even hundreds of millions, is depending on this consecration conversion. To resist it or ignore it is a grave sin, especially for the Pope and his bishops, unless they have serious reasons for delaying.

What might these reasons be? The principal one seems to be the secretly begun "Ostpolitik" of the Vatican. This is the agreement between the Vatican and Moscow just before Vatican II opened (1962). Russia would send Orthodox Church observers to the council if the Vatican agreed not to condemn communism at the Council. This "friendly" policy of the Vatican toward Eastern (communist) Europe has persisted. In 1993, after the apparent collapse of communism in the East ("ost") there was a danger that oriental Catholics would demand the restoration of their churches and Catholic faith throughout the Soviet empire. Having been forced into the Orthodox Church decades earlier, and thus having become a puppet of the communist authorities, there was every reason for the Catholic Church to welcome such Catholic restoration. But ostpolitik friendliness prevailed and a new and shocking Vatican-Orthodox agreement in 1993 was achieved in Balamand (Lebanon) whereby the Vatican would agree, for unity’s sake, that there be "no question of conversion of people from one church to the other" (section 15). This meant preventing the return of Catholic Christians to the Catholic faith, and, for Father Gruner, means obstructing the "conversion of Russia," and insulting the expressed wish of Our Lady of Fatima through Sister Lucy (the surviving seer).

But why this opposition to Fatima, to Our Lady, to Her message? To read Alban is to conclude that dreams of a new age, of "one world religion," of so-called ecumenism, of unity-in-diversity, of collaboration with Masonry for a New World Order, all these are dominating the thinking of key Vatican bureaucrats and many Catholic bishops in the presence of an ongoing and frail Pope.

Of course this reveals gradual apostasy in the Church, starting from the time of Pope John XXIII and Paul VI, with roots in the modernism at turn-of-the-century. This also means spiritual collapse of the Catholic Church. This writer has long suspected that this collapse is spelled out in the Third Secret of Fatima, as well perhaps as horrifying chastisements. It is easy then to conclude that the Popes declined to reveal the Secret because the people would ask, "if you knew this collapse would happen, why did you not take the required spiritual measures to prevent it?", and also because even panic might set in, or despair, or - as Alban reports - against the Western Allies.

The extraordinary, sustained, and vicious opposition to Father Gruner’s crusade for the Consecration of Russia is recounted and documented by Alban in great detail. The Vatican Congregation for the Clergy appears to be the principal agent. Father Gruner was physically assaulted by thugs in Fatima who admitted they had orders to do this from the Shrine Rector. The complex politics behind all this makes for fascinating reading. Hamish Fraser (d 1986) is cited as maintaining that Ostpolitik has resulted in many bishops being modernist and resentful about Our Lady of Fatima’s warnings against unchastity and communism, such that many would refuse to do the consecration, and perhaps provoke open schism.

Is Father Gruner disobedient? He was ordered to return to the diocese of Avellino. He appealed the order twice, citing unjust factors. Eventually he became lawfully incardinated in the archdiocese of Hyderabad, India, with the Archbishop’s permission to continue his apostolate. There seems to be no documented and sustained case of his disobedience. Does he teach false doctrine? Read the thrilling account of seminarian Gruner’s search at Rome and around Italy in the 1970s’ to secure a faithful, Catholic theological training while modernism was taking over the seminaries all around. Young Gruner proved himself a leader, an organizer, quick-thinking, fearless, with a keen sense of politics and justice and Catholic truth. Is he alarmist and exaggerating and obsessed in his pursuit of the Consecration of Russia? Before reading this book, I wondered about this. The book has deeply reinforced my respect for Father Gruner’s perception of Church and Mary and history. I recommend the book urgently to all Church leaders and serious Christians. Father Gruner is not a madman but a faithful prophet, servant of Our Lady of Fatima.

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