2. Grave Shortcomings
of the Upper Hierarchy
The opinion of Father Alonso, expressed on many occasions and with increasing firmness right up until his death on December 12, 1981, must hold our attention here. In 1969, he thought that the third Secret of Fatima predicted the crisis of Faith within the Church. But in 1976, in The Secret of Fatima: Fact and Legend, he added another element of the highest importance to his exposé:
«It is therefore completely probable that the text (of the third Secret) makes concrete references to the crisis of faith within the Church and to the negligence of the pastors themselves.»9 He speaks further of «internal struggles in the very bosom of the Church and of grave pastoral negligence by the upper hierarchy,»10 of «deficiencies of the upper hierarchy of the Church.»11
Surely Father Alonso did not put down such serious words in black and white without carefully considering the whole impact. On this point the evolution in his thinking is noteworthy: he can hardly be accused of being an a priori “integralist”. In 1967, he had gone along with the declaration of Cardinal Ottaviani concerning the third Secret:
«It is a Secret addressed to the Holy Father,» (he wrote at that time), and it would be «impertinent and useless to hypothesize about its content.» He added: «Moreover, everything leads us to believe that this final Secret does not contain any new themes but simply a pressing appeal along with a grave admonition to today’s world to practice penance and interior conversion through the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.»12
In 1976, he had totally changed his mind. Now we are sure that in the meantime he had seen Sister Lucy often; we know that during his work on the critical edition of the documents on Fatima, he had opportunities to question her on several occasions. As the official expert appointed by Bishop Venancio, would he have adopted this new position on such a burning question without being certain of at least the tacit accord of the seer? He gives us reason to believe that he knows much more about the subject than he is able to say:
«… Does the unpublished text speak of concrete circumstances? It is very possible that it speaks not only of a real crisis of the faith in the Church during this in-between period, but like the secret of La Salette for example, there are more concrete references to the internal struggles of Catholics or to the fall of priests and religious. Perhaps it even refers to the failures of the upper hierarchy of the Church.
«For that matter, none of this is foreign to other communications Sister Lucy has had on this subject.»13
These lines have a precious value for us, for two reasons. For in addition to the solid induction of Father Alonso, which he established using numerous bits of evidence — «I have the texts,» he declared — they indirectly reveal to us the thoughts of the seer herself, such as they appeared in all clarity to a theologian without any prejudice. Indeed if Father Alonso had been mistaken about the content of the final secret, we can be sure that Sister Lucy — who had no qualms about refuting fantastic theories on several occasions — would have found a way to let him know.
Now Everything Is Explained
If the third Secret predicts not only a near universal apostasy, but also reveals the grave shortcomings of consecrated souls — priests and religious — but especially the highest members of the hierarchy and the Sovereign Pontiffs themselves, giving concrete but easily understood details — this would suddenly explain an impressive collection of diverse and independent facts concerning the mysterious Secret. Without this key, these facts would remain for us as so many incomprehensible enigmas.
Three Months Of Insurmountable Agony
In the first place, we see how the very contents of the Secret held back Sister Lucy’s pen, preventing her for several months from writing down the text in spite of the express order of her bishop.14
«Moreover (Father Alonso writes), how are we to understand Lucy’s great difficulty in writing the final part of the Secret when she has already written other things that were extremely difficult to put down? Had it been merely a matter of prophesying new and severe punishments, Sister Lucy would not have experienced difficulties so great that a special intervention from Heaven was needed to overcome them.15 But if it were a matter of internal strife within the Church and of serious pastoral negligence on the part of high-ranking members of the hierarchy, we can understand how Lucy experienced a repugnance that was almost impossible to overcome by natural means.»16
As a matter of fact, Sister Lucy surely realized that by writing these twenty or so lines, she was inaugurating an event which would have a formidable impact in the history of the Church and the world. For in the school of the Most Blessed Virgin, Lucy was used to judging all things in the light of God: thus in her eyes war, cataclysms and famine, the spread of the communist Gulag to the whole planet, the annihilation of several nations — all these things are infinitely less serious than the apostasy within the Church herself and the apostasy of her Pastors.
To be sure, the Church has the promises of eternal life, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. The infallibility of the Pope will never be compromised. For it is certain that never will any Pope be able to teach error in the exercise of his infallible magisterium, whether ordinary or extraordinary. Nevertheless, the shortcomings of the Pastors in the areas where they are not infallible can still have the most disastrous consequences. Through their fault, the faithful can lose their Faith, resulting — along with the frightful injury done to God by this collective apostasy — in the eternal loss of millions of souls. This is where the third Secret is connected with the first one, concerning the vision of hell. And in this aspect, in its insistence on the responsibilities of Church leaders, the third Secret undoubtedly seemed to Lucy the most terrible one, and above all the most difficult to transmit. For Lucy was a humble religious, accustomed at all times to looking on her superiors as the authentic representatives of God. Now that she found herself suddenly ordered by Heaven to communicate such severe warnings to them, such sharp reproaches regarding their conduct, it was an extremely painful mission for her.
We have already seen how on June 12, 1941, Our Lord commanded her to pass on a similar message to the bishops of Spain. For more than a year, Sister Lucy hesitated, and could not bring herself to inform the Bishop of Tuy. As we recall, it was a severe admonition concerning the internal disorders of the Church in Spain, for which the bishops were responsible. They were expected to apply the remedies and use firmness in doing so. If they failed to do this, they would draw down a chastisement on their country once again.17
We ought to reread this whole chapter of the history of Fatima, which undoubtedly places us in the atmosphere of the third Secret. For we know that the numerous revelations and divine communications received by Sister Lucy throughout her life were always in close connection with the great prophetic Secret of 1917, only they came at the providential hour to make more explicit a particular request of Our Lady. Thus it is clear that the message to the bishops of Spain was directly related — being an application to a particular instance — of the themes developed in the third Secret on the subject of the universal Church.
Some Revealing Admissions
We know that the third Secret explicitly concerns the Pope, from several indications in the writings and statements of Sister Lucy.
On March 2, 1945, she wrote to Father Aparicio, her former confessor, who was then a missionary in Brazil:
«Do they pray for the Holy Father over there? It is necessary to pray unceasingly for His Holiness. Days of great affliction and torment still await him.»18
Father A.M. Martins, who quotes this text, notes down judiciously: «An unconscious reference to the crisis in the Church?»19 Indeed we see in this a proof that the sufferings of the Holy Father mentioned by the Secret cannot be identified — as many commentators think — with the afflictions of Pius XII during the Second World War. No, in 1945 Sister Lucy shows us that the great tribulations of the papacy are still to come. If the third Secret is precisely the prophetic announcement of these tribulations, the reflection of Sister Lucy and her pressing invitation to pray unceasingly for the Holy Father is perfectly understandable.
Here is another echo of the private disclosures of Sister Lucy: we know that Father Schweigl, once he decided to go to Portugal to conduct a detailed investigation on Fatima, was entrusted by Pius XII with a secret mission concerning the seer. On September 2, 1952, he interrogated Sister Lucy at the Carmel of Coimbra. Although the Holy Office did not authorize the publication of this interrogation,20 on his return to the Russicum Father Schweigl confided this to one of his colleagues who questioned him on the Secret:
«"I cannot reveal anything of what I learned at Fatima concerning the third Secret, but I can say that it has two parts: one concerns the Pope. The other, logically (although I must say nothing) would have to be the continuation of the words: In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved." Regarding the part that concerns the Pope, I had asked (our witness continues): “The present Pope or the next one?” To this question Father Schweigl made no reply.»21
If Pope Pius XII already had, through Father Schweigl, a veiled indication of the subject matter of the third Secret, this would explain many things. Among other things, it would explain the mission of Cardinal Ottaviani in May 1955, his meeting with Sister Lucy and the fact that he questioned her on the third Secret. Perhaps it would also explain why in 1956 or the beginning of 1957, Rome demanded the transfer of this document to the Holy Office. It would also explain why Pius XII, already knowing enough to surmise the gravity of the events predicted in the Secret, preferred to wait, putting off till later on the awesome decision to read it.
We might also reread the declarations of Sister Lucy to Father Fuentes in December, 1957.22 We will not find a single word there which does not fit perfectly well with everything we have said about the most probable content of the third Secret. On the contrary, the anguished thought of the crisis of the Church which was approaching, and the grave defects of the Shepherds, seems to be underlying everything she said in this conversation, from beginning to end.
Why The Secret Was Not Disclosed
«The content of the third Secret must account for why it was not disclosed by Popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II.» This is one of four certain facts which we have solidly demonstrated at the beginning of our investigation.23
Since none of the hypotheses expressed up to now really satisfies this requirement, there is hardly any need for insistence to understand why the Popes, since 1960, have always obstinately refused — for different reasons which we will examine in a special chapter — to disclose this prophecy announcing … their own shortcomings and the tragic consequences which were to follow for the Church.
It is equally easy to understand why Cardinal Ottaviani, who tried in the name of Pope Paul VI to justify, for better or worse, the failure to disclose the Secret, declared insistently that the famous Secret «was intended for the Holy Father.»24 It was a half-truth … or a half-lie: intended exclusively and explicitly for the Pope? Certainly not! But directly concerning the Pope? Without any doubt.
Father Alonso understood quite well to what extent the content of the Secret, and this alone, prevented the Popes from revealing it. In his last article on the Secret of Fatima, written just a few weeks before his death, while he prudently gave the appearance of justifying Rome’s silence, he wrote these remarkable clairvoyant lines:
«An inopportune revelation of the text would only have further exasperated the two tendencies which continue to tear the Church apart: a traditionalism which would believe itself to be assisted by the Fatima prophecies, and a progressivism which would have lashed out against these apparitions, which in such a scandalous manner would seem to put the brakes on the conciliar Church’s forward progress … Pope Paul VI judged it opportune and prudent to delay the revelation of the text until better times. Pope John XXIII declared that the text did not refer to his pontificate … And the following Popes did not consider that the moment had come to lift the veil of mystery, in circumstances where the Church has still not overcome the frightening impact of twenty post-conciliar years, during which the crisis of the Faith has installed itself at every level.»25
Stupefying words: revealing Our Lady’s prophecies, the Fatima expert explains to us, would come to clearly vindicate the defenders of tradition and uphold them in their struggle, and on the contrary, restrain and disavow the supporters of the “Conciliar Reform” to the point of infuriating them against Fatima.
Now the question arises: how long will our Pastors choose to please the enemies of the Blessed Virgin by remaining faithful to the “conciliar orientations” on which they fall back — and which have led the Church to her ruin — rather than humbly place their trust in the Queen of Heaven’s prophecies, which are unquestionably opposed to the innovators? How long will they put off obeying such urgent requests of their Mother and Mistress, the Queen of Apostles, all-powerful Mediatrix of grace and mercy for the Church and the world?
(9) VSF, p.
(10) Literally: «… de altos Jerarcas», VSF (Span.) p. 75.
(11) Ibid., p. 73.
(12) Broteria, 1967, p. 22. Cf. História da literatura sobre Fátima, (p. 25) where Father Alonso repeats the same expressions.
(13) VSF, p. 80.
(14) Cf. supra, p. 37-48.
(15) We have related how on January 2, 1944, the Blessed Virgin Mary came Herself, through an apparition, to finally dispel the seer’s darkness and put an end to her sorrowful trial.
(16) VSF, p. 82.
(17) Cf. supra, p. 7-30.
(18) Documentos, p. 497-499; cf. supra, p. 233-234.
(19) In 1974, Father Antonio Maria Martins had publicly adopted Father Alonso’s thesis — which is also the thesis of almost all the Portuguese experts — on the third Secret. He wrote in the preface to one of his works: «Two thirds of the Secret are found in this Volume. The third part, which has not yet been published, deals only with what is called “the crisis of the Church”. It is time to put an end to the unhealthy fantasies, the irrational doubts …» (O Segredo de Fátima nas Memorias da Irma Lúcia, p. XVIII). Later on, subsequent to an interview with Cardinal Seper, Father Martins rallied to the thesis of Father Friere, (cf. Appendix II, p. 735-743).
(20) Cf. supra, p. 337-339.
(21) Letter to the author, November 30, 1984.
(22) Cf. supra, p. 503-508. (23) Ibid., p. 425-429. (24) Cf. infra, p. 488. Father Richard relates, «Cardinal Ottaviani told me himself that this Secret is very important, but that it is for the Sovereign Pontiff.» (Appel de Notre-Dame, January 1982).
(25) “De nuevo el Secreto de Fátima”, p. 93. Ephemerides mariologicae, 1982.