Let Us Hear the Witness, for Heaven’s Sake
If there is nothing to hide concerning the Message of Fatima, why is the only living eyewitness to the Fatima revelations never allowed to speak to the faithful in person? And why does the recent secretly conducted, two-hour interview with Sister Lucy — for which no transcript is provided — contain only 44 words from the visionary herself concerning the Consecration of Russia and disclosure of the Third Secret?
by Christopher A. Ferrara, Esq.
Much has already been written about the latest secret interview of Sister Lucy behind the walls of the convent in Coimbra. The interview was conducted on November 17, 2001 by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone (Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), but for some reason its results were not revealed for more than a month. It was not until December 21, 2001 that L’Osservatore Romano (Italian edition) published Bertone’s brief communiqué about the interview, entitled "Meeting of His Excellency Mons. Tarcisio Bertone with Sister Maria Lucy of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart." This was followed by an English translation in L’Osservatore Romano’s English edition on January 9, 2002.
The substance of the communiqué is that, according to Bertone, Sister Lucy says that the 1984 consecration of the world sufficed for a consecration of Russia, and that "everything has been published; there are no more secrets." The former statement contradicts everything Sister Lucy has said to the contrary for the better part of seventy years. The latter statement is presented as Sister Lucy’s answer to a question about the Third Secret - but the question, oddly enough, is not provided.
Now, when a newspaper or magazine publishes an interview with a person of note, the reader rightly expects a series of complete questions followed by complete answers, so that the reader can see for himself — in its full context — what the interviewee had to say in his or her own words. Not in this case. Although we are informed that Bertone and Sister Lucy conversed for "more than two hours," Bertone provides only his summary of the conversation, sprinkled with a few words attributed to Sister Lucy herself. No transcript, audiotape or videotape of the two-hour session has been produced. In fact, as I will show, less than ten percent of what Sister Lucy is quoted as saying has anything to do with the stated purpose of the interview, which was to address continuing doubts in the minds of millions of Catholics about the Consecration of Russia and the completeness of the Vatican’s disclosure of the Third Secret.
I suppose we should have become accustomed to suspicious irregularities in the way the Vatican apparatus handles Sister Lucy, and this belatedly disclosed, elliptical “interview” is no exception. The Bertone communiqué demonstrates that Sister Lucy is still being treated as if she were a member of the federal Witness Protection Program. Yes, of course, she is a cloistered nun. But an interview is an interview, and two hours of talk is two hours of talk. Where is the interview, and what happened to the two-hour conversation? And how can we square this curious substitute for a real interview with the claim that Sister Lucy has told us everything there is to know about the Message of Fatima? If she has told us all she knows, then there is nothing to hide. And if there is nothing to hide, why not publish everything she was asked and all that she answered during those two hours? Indeed, why not simply allow Sister Lucy to speak to the world herself for as long as she wishes, and lay all the questions to rest?
But despite publication of the commentary The Message of Fatima by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Bertone on June 26, 2000 — a document which assures us that Russia has been properly consecrated and that all the events contained in the Third Secret now "belong to the past" — Sister Lucy is still being kept far away from open microphones and neutral witnesses. She was completely invisible during Bertone/Ratzinger’s revelation of the vision contained in the Third Secret and the publication of their Commentary. And she remains invisible today, even though (all together now) "Fatima belongs to the past."
The First Obvious Falsehood
I will address in short order the particulars of the “interview” of last November — including the grand total of forty-four words attributed to Sister Lucy herself about the matters in controversy during an alleged two hours of conversation. But first I must note that Bertone’s communiqué undermines its own credibility almost immediately with the following assertion, unsupported by any quotation from Sister Lucy: “Going on to discuss the problem of the third part of the secret of Fatima, she [Sister Lucy] says that she has read attentively and meditated upon the booklet published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [i.e., The Message of Fatima], and confirms everything it says.”
Everything? Every contention? Every word? In that case, just for starters, Bertone would have us believe that
- Sister Lucy “confirms” the Commentary’s contention that the vision contained in the Third Secret incorporates images Sister Lucy “may have seen in devotional books” and her own “intuitions of the faith.”
- Sister Lucy “confirms” Cardinal Ratzinger’s praise of the modernist Jesuit Edouard Dhanis as an “eminent scholar” on Fatima, even though Dhanis dismissed as “unconscious fabrications” every prophetic aspect of the Message of Fatima - from the vision of hell, to the prediction of World War II, to the consecration and conversion of Russia. (This is discussed more fully below.)
- Sister Lucy “confirms,” in essence, that she is a very sincere and pious fake, who only imagined that the Virgin Mary called for the consecration and conversion of Russia, so that the Commentary was quite correct in treating these key elements of the Message of Fatima as if they do not exist.
Now, let us be sensible about this. When a Vatican functionary, no matter what his stature, comes out of a locked convent and declares that a 94-year-old nun inside “confirms everything” in a forty-page document he has co-authored, reasonable minds expect a bit more in the way of corroboration. All the more so when the forty-page document politely suggests that the nun in question is a pious liar.
On these grounds alone one must conclude that the latest secret Sister Lucy interview is yet another attempt to manipulate and exploit a captive witness, who has yet to be allowed to come forward and speak at length to the faithful in her own unfiltered words. No, the last surviving Fatima visionary is still being subjected to closeted interviews during which she is surrounded by handlers, who then report her “testimony” in little bits and pieces — an answer without the question, a question without the answer. And now we are asked to believe that Sister Lucy agrees with “everything” in 40 pages of neo-modernist “commentary” which, as even the Los Angeles Times could see, “gently debunked the Fatima cult.” I don’t think so.
While it is clear enough already that this “interview” is highly suspect, there is still an obligation to demonstrate the point more amply for the historical record. First, some background is in order.
Growing Doubt Among the Faithful
As I have noted, this latest interview was expressly conducted to squelch growing doubt among the faithful about the Vatican’s recent blatant campaign to consign the Message of Fatima to the dust-bin of history. As Bertone’s communiqué admits:
In recent months, above all after the sad event of the terrorist attack of last September 11th, in foreign and Italian newspapers have appeared articles regarding presumed new revelations of Sister Lucy, announcements of warning letters to the Supreme Pontiff, apocalyptic reinterpretations of the Message of Fatima. Moreover, emphasis has been given to the suspicion that the Holy See has not published the integral text of the third part of the ‘secret’, and some ‘Fatimist’ movements have repeated the accusation that the Holy Father has not yet consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. For this reason … it was considered necessary to organize a meeting with Sister Lucy.
Indeed, widespread skepticism about the fullness of the Vatican’s disclosure of the Third Secret had surfaced in the “mainstream” Catholic media by May of 2001, when Mother Angelica, speaking for millions, declared on live television:
As for the Secret, well I happen to be one of those individuals who thinks we didn’t get the whole thing. I told ya! I mean, you have the right to your own opinion, don’t you, Father? There, you know, that’s my opinion. Because I think it’s scary. And I don’t think the Holy See is going to say something that does not happen, that might happen. And then what does it do if it doesn’t happen? I mean the Holy See cannot afford to make prophecies.
The Real Fatima Secret Cannot Remain Buried
Then, on October 26, 2001, the story “broke wide open”, as reporters say, when Inside the Vatican news service ran an article entitled: “The Secret of Fatima: More to Come?” The article reported that: “News has just emerged that Sister Lucy dos Santos, the last surviving Fatima visionary, several weeks ago sent Pope John Paul II a letter reportedly warning him that his life is in danger. According to Vatican sources, the letter, claiming that events spoken of in the ‘Third Secret’ of Fatima had not yet occurred, was delivered sometime after September 11 to John Paul by the bishop emeritus [retired] of Fatima, Alberto Cosme do Amaral.”
When asked about the letter, the current Bishop of Fatima, Serafim Ferreira de Sousa, “did not deny that Sr. Lucy had sent a letter to the Pope, but said [drawing a Jesuitical distinction] ‘there are no letters from the seer that express fear for the life of the Pope’.” The Inside the Vatican report further revealed that “Sources have also suggested that Sr. Lucy’s letter encourages the Pope to fully reveal the Third Secret," and that Sister Lucy’s letter to the Pope “is said to contain this warning: ‘Soon there will be great upheaval and punishment’.”
It must be noted immediately that in the Bertone interview Sister Lucy is not asked about an urgent letter to the Pope and does not deny that she sent such a letter through the retired Bishop of Fatima. We are perfectly entitled to conclude from this glaring omission that such a letter exists; and its existence only further undermines the credibility of the “interview,” as I will demonstrate shortly. Let us demark this Glaring Omission #1.
The Inside the Vatican article reports on yet another secret encounter with Sister Lucy behind the convent walls — only this one does not follow the Bertone/Ratzinger line. According to Inside the Vatican, an Italian diocesan priest, Father Luigi Bianchi, “claims to have met Sr. Lucy dos Santos last week at her cloistered Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal.” Echoing the suspicions of Mother Angelica, Fr. Bianchi “speculated on the possibility that the Vatican did not reveal the full secret ‘to avoid creating panic and anxiety in the population; to not scare them’.”
Concerning Bertone/ Ratzinger’s manifestly dubious "interpretation" of the Secret as a prophecy of the 1981 attempt on the life of John Paul II, Bianchi stated that “The message doesn’t speak only about an attempt on the pontiff, but speaks of ‘a Bishop dressed in White’ who walks amongst the ruins and bodies of murdered men and women … This means that the Pope will have to suffer greatly, that some nations will disappear, that many people will die, that we must defend the West from becoming Islamicized. That is what is happening in these days.”
Inside the Vatican was careful to point out, as has The Fatima Crusader, that Sister Lucy “is not allowed to speak with anyone who has not received prior permission from the Vatican …” Accordingly, Inside the Vatican hedged its bets by stating that “it is not immediately clear whether Bianchi received that approval, circumvented the need for it, or did not actually meet Sister Lucy as he maintains.” But no one, including Sister Lucy herself, denies that the meeting with Father Bianchi took place. Indeed, Sister Lucy was not asked about the meeting with Father Bianchi during her alleged two-hour conversation with Bertone. This is Glaring Omission #2.
That at least some of Inside the Vatican’s sources are within the Curia is suggested by Cardinal Ratzinger’s response to these developments. Inside the Vatican quotes him as having said that the “recent rumors of a letter are only the continuation of, ‘an old polemic fed by certain people of dubious credibility,’ with the objective of ‘destabilizing the internal equilibrium of the Roman Curia and of troubling the people of God’.” Notice, however, that neither does Ratzinger actually deny the existence of the letter, about which Sister Lucy was asked nothing during the Bertone interview.
Ratzinger’s remark is quite revealing. How could the “internal equilibrium of the Roman Curia” be destabilized by people of “dubious credibility”? If their credibility is so dubious, the Roman Curia would hardly be destabilized by what they say. And just who are these people of “dubious credibility”? The Inside the Vatican piece suggests that Cardinal Ratzinger may have been referring to Father Nicholas Gruner. But what about Mother Angelica? What about Father Bianchi? What about Inside the Vatican, whose editor, Robert Moynihan, is, if anything, beholden to the Vatican apparatus, as the title of his magazine suggests? And what about the millions of other Catholics who harbor the well-founded suspicion that Bertone and Ratzinger are not being entirely forthcoming in their claim that the prophecies of the Message of Fatima, including the Third Secret, “belong to the past,” and that its warning of a great chastisement of the Church and the world need no longer concern us. What serious Catholic really believes that, given the perilous state of the world today?
In short, as Catholic journalist Mark Fellows has so aptly put it, (in his article on page 3 of this issue) “the cork keeps bobbing to the surface.” Concerning the Third Secret, millions of Catholics continue to wonder what has happened to the words which follow the key phrase “In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc.” The phrase is an integral part of the text of the Message of Fatima as recorded in Sister Lucy’s fourth memoir. The “etc.” was in Sister Lucy’s own handwriting, and could only indicate additional words of Our Lady of Fatima, since the Queen of Heaven would not say “etc.” Every reputable Fatima scholar has viewed this phrase as the beginning of the Third Secret, because it is clearly out of context with the first two parts of the Fatima message, which say nothing about preservation of dogma. The patent implication of the phrase is that in other places — in many other places — the dogma of the Faith will not be preserved.
The Commentary itself publishes this key phrase (which it could hardly avoid), but curiously removes it from the integral text of the Message and buries it in a footnote, thereby evading any discussion of it. But the question will not go away: What has happened to the missing words of the Virgin? Are we expected to believe that the Message of Fatima ended in the middle of a thought? Bertone’s secret interview never touches on the subject of the missing words, even though he certainly knows that millions of Catholics are troubled by them. That makes Glaring Omission #3.
In any event, the Vatican apparatus felt it had to do something to put a lid on the rising speculation of a cover-up before the pot boiled over and became uncontainable. Ratzinger’s statement about a destabilized curia would indicate that the Party Line on Fatima is now meeting with resistance from within the Vatican apparatus itself, perhaps in view of the increasing destabilization of the world at large, which hardly squares with the notion that Fatima’s warnings are no longer of any concern.
The Bertone interview was also directly targeted at Father Nicholas Gruner, perhaps the most prominent representative of that very large constituency in the Church which continues to believe that the saga of Fatima is far from over. Quite apart from justified skepticism about whether we have received the whole of the Third Secret, millions of Catholics remain attached to the eminently reasonable proposition that a consecration of Russia really needs to mention Russia. That the consecration of the world did not "take" in Russia is demonstrated by that nation’s accelerated spiritual, moral and material decomposition since the 1984 ceremony — from which, as we have recently learned, any mention of Russia was quite deliberately excluded for the sake of ecumenism and Vatican diplomacy.
That Bertone’s Lucy (as John Vennari rightly calls her, see his article "It Doesn't Add Up") contradicts everything Sister Lucy has said for seventy years about the requirements for a valid Consecration of Russia — first and foremost that Russia be mentioned — has been abundantly documented time and again in this publication, and even, tellingly enough, on the pages of L’Osservatore Romano, the Pope’s own newspaper, wherein Sister Lucy emphatically denied that the Virgin had ever requested a consecration of the world as opposed to Russia. I will not revisit that question here.
For the remainder of this article I would like to examine the recent interview with one overriding thought in mind: Sister Lucy is a crucial witness in an important case — the most important case in the history of the world since 1917. If Sister Lucy is a credible witness to the Fatima apparitions — and that she certainly is — then we know for certain that what is at stake in the Fatima Case is nothing less than the fate of the human element of the Church and the whole world in our time. Let us remind ourselves of some of the facts which demonstrate this.
While the Commentary pretends it never happened, the faithful will never forget that God Himself authenticated the Message of Fatima with a public miracle the likes of which has never been seen in human history — the Miracle of the Sun, witnessed by 70,000 people, both believers and unbelievers alike. Never before in salvation history has a visionary predicted months in advance that a public miracle would occur at a precise time and place. Yet that is exactly what Sister Lucy was enabled to do by God Himself. The Miracle of the Sun could have had only one purpose, without which it would have been nothing but a pointless spectacle. The purpose of the Miracle was to demonstrate beyond doubt that Sister Lucy’s testimony concerning the Message of Fatima was utterly reliable. It borders on blasphemous to say, as the Commentary insidiously suggests, that God chose an unreliable witness whose testimony would be an admixture of certain things she did actually see and hear and others she later invented — and how would anyone be able to know which is which? No, the Miracle of the Sun confirms the Message of Fatima in its entirety and that it was reliably transmitted to and recorded by the surviving visionary, whom God would not allow to mislead the Church or the world.
Despite the Commentary’s attempt to “gently debunk the Fatima cult”, we must assume, therefore, what Pope John Paul II has assumed: that the Message of Fatima is a totally authentic and credible prophetic message for our time. And we must reject absolutely the thesis of Dhanis that the Message of Fatima is largely an “unconscious fabrication” — a thesis the Bertone “interview” outrageously attempts to have validated by Sister Lucy herself.
The Message of Fatima being completely authentic, it follows that Sister Lucy is the only living witness to heavenly warnings and promises which, although the Commentary completely ignores them, could not be more important for us. Although they are well known, I recapitulate them here in order to bring the point more clearly into view:
If Russia is consecrated to the Immaculate Heart —
- the Immaculate Heart will triumph,
- Russia will be converted,
- many souls will be saved from hell (which the three seers were shown in a terrifying vision),
- and a period of peace will be granted to mankind.
While the eventual fulfillment of the Fatima prophecies is inevitable — “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 mankind.” — the question for us today is whether the world will first have to suffer the predicted chastisements in full, including the annihilation of nations, an event clearly suggested in the half-ruined city outside of which the Pope is executed in the Third Secret vision. As Sister Lucy warned the Pope in a letter dated May 12, 1982:
“The third part of the secret refers to Our Lady’s words: ‘If not [Russia] will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated’ (13-VII-1917).
“The third part of the secret which you are so anxious to know is a symbolic revelation, referring to this part of the Message, conditioned by whether we accept or not what the Message itself asks of us: ‘If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, etc.’.
“Since we did not heed this appeal of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled, Russia has invaded the world with her errors. And if we have not yet seen the complete fulfilment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it with great strides.”
The Commentary published these words of Sister Lucy’s letter while completely ignoring their import.
If Russia is not consecrated to the Immaculate Heart —
- Russia will spread its errors throughout the world,
- raising up wars and persecutions against the Church;
- the good will be martyred,
- the Holy Father will have much to suffer,
- and various nations will be annihilated.
Bertone’s interview fails to address even one of these divinely dispatched warnings. Quite the contrary, Bertone has staked his entire position, and indeed the fate of the world, on his claim that none of the warnings of Fatima apply any longer. As Bertone declared in the Commentary: “The decision of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to make public the third part of the ‘secret’ of Fatima brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil, yet pervaded by the merciful love of God and the watchful care of the Mother of Jesus and of the Church.”
It defies belief that a Vatican prelate could make such an affirmation in view of the current state of the world. Moreover, if all it took to bring an end to “human lust for power and evil” was a press conference to publish the ambiguous vision of “a Bishop dressed in White,” why did the Vatican wait some forty years to do so?
So, the Message of Fatima is authentic, and the stakes in the Fatima Case could not be higher: the salvation of souls and the sparing of entire nations from annihilation. And the single most important witness in the Fatima Case is Sister Lucy of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart, who currently resides in the convent in Coimbra.
Having covered the necessary background, I will now focus on the troubling facts surrounding the Bertone interview — the "indicia," as lawyers say, of the interview’s untrustworthiness. Let us examine the circumstances of the interview with reference to the standards of credibility even godless civil tribunals require for the acceptance of testimony from an important witness. I do not suggest that Sister Lucy ought to be subjected to anything like the indignity of a civil trial, but only that the proponents of “Sister Lucy’s” latest “testimony” should be held to these minimal standards in asking us to believe it.
Suspicious Circumstance #1: Although Sister Lucy is available to testify in person, she has never been produced by the party who controls access to her, namely Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.
The Bertone communiqué reveals that Sister Lucy could not even speak to Archbishop Bertone without permission from Cardinal Ratzinger. This confirms what The Fatima Crusader has been reporting for years and what the aforesaid article in Inside the Vatican also noted: no one may speak to Sister Lucy without the Cardinal’s permission. That is a very curious restriction on the liberty of a witness who, so we are told, has nothing to add to what she has already said.
Under the minimal standards of trustworthiness in civil proceedings, witnesses are required to testify in person if they are available, so that the parties to the case, whose rights may be affected by the testimony, will have the opportunity to pose questions to the witness. If one party has control over a witness but fails to produce him or her, civil judges instruct juries that they may draw the conclusion that the witness’ testimony would have been unfavorable to that party. This is only common sense: a party would not fail to produce a favorable witness, but would very likely fail to produce an unfavorable one.
Sister Lucy is available to “take the stand” before the bar of history in the Fatima Case. She is not bedridden, crippled or otherwise unable to make an appearance. On the contrary, the Bertone communiqué claims that on the date of the secret interview Sister Lucy “appeared in great form, lucid and vivacious”. Why is this lucid and vivacious witness, who is available to testify, never produced by the party who controls all access to her? Why was her latest “testimony” obtained behind closed doors and presented second-hand in a communiqué from Archbishop Bertone?
What would happen in a civil case if one of the parties offered a fragmentary report of a key witness’ testimony when the witness herself could readily testify in person? The jury would rightly conclude that something was being hidden. In the Fatima case, the inference can and should be drawn that Sister Lucy has been kept “off the stand” because her live, uncontrolled testimony would hurt the position of Bertone/Ratzinger that Fatima “belongs to the past.” If Sister Lucy could be counted on to hew to the Party Line, then she would have been produced long ago to testify in person, and at length, before the Church and the world. Instead, it is Msgr. Bertone, not the witness herself, who testifies.
But even if we assume that Sister Lucy were bedridden or otherwise unavailable to testify, the other circumstances of the purported interview could not fail to raise suspicion in the mind of any reasonable person. Let me proceed.
Suspicious circumstance #2: The interview of this 94-year-old nun was conducted in secret by Archbishop Bertone, an authority figure with a clear motive to manipulate the witness.
In a civil law context, undue influence is presumed when someone in a position of authority or dominance over a very elderly person extracts a statement from that person, such as a will or power of attorney. In this case, Bertone is clearly a dominant party with the imposing authority of a Vatican title, whereas Sister Lucy is not only very elderly but has vowed to submit in holy obedience to the requests of her superiors, by whom she was surrounded during the two-hour session.
Furthermore, Bertone was clearly intent on using the “interview” to defend his own credibility against mounting public skepticism of the Party Line that Fatima is finished, and that (as Bertone put it) publication of the Third Secret vision with the Commentary “brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil …" Bertone cannot be without embarrassment over the widespread criticism of his absurd claim that the world is now at peace and that the Message of Fatima was gloriously fulfilled twenty years ago when the Pope survived the 1981 assassination attempt. (Even the secular radio commentator, Paul Harvey, was openly contemptuous of the Ratzinger/Bertone “interpretation” of the Third Secret.)
Under these circumstances, Bertone conducting the “interview” and then reporting its results is akin to a prosecutor interviewing a key witness and then testifying in place of the witness, who is kept out of the courtroom. Objectively speaking, Bertone is the last person who should have conducted the interview. The Church and the world are entitled to hear from this vital witness directly, rather than receiving reports from a partisan interrogator with an axe to grind.
Suspicious Circumstance #3: The Bertone communiqué is extremely brief, occupying a mere quarter-page in L’Osservatore Romano. Yet the communiqué states that the interview went on “for more than two hours.”
What did Bertone and Sister Lucy discuss for more than two hours, given that the entire communiqué can be read in less than two minutes? A one-hour address I delivered recently required 14 single-spaced typewritten pages to transcribe; a two-hour address would have required about 28 pages, or approximately 14,000 words.
Yet Bertone’s communiqué concerning an alleged two-hour interview provides a mere 463 words purportedly from the mouth of Sister Lucy herself. These 463 words break down as follows:
• 165 words: A verbatim quotation of Cardinal Ratzinger’s opinion in the Commentary that the phrase “My Immaculate Heart will triumph” - from which the Cardinal conspicuously deletes the words “In the end” - does not refer to future events but to Mary’s fiat in consenting to be the Mother of God 2,000 years ago.
Here we are asked to believe that Sister Lucy now “confirms” that when Our Lady of Fatima predicted four future events - “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.” - She was referring to the Annunciation in 1 B.C.! Bertone’s Lucy apparently also “confirms” Cardinal Ratzinger’s removal of the key words “In the end” from Our Lady’s prophecy.
I note that the verbatim quotation from the Commentary includes Cardinal Ratzinger’s parenthetical citation to John 16:33. Either Sister Lucy has developed a photographic memory at age 94, or someone added the quotation to her “answer” - along with a parenthetical scripture citation.
• 100 words: The significance of the heart Sister Lucy saw in the left hand of the Virgin during the apparitions at Fatima.
The Bertone communiqué informs us that this is “an unpublished particular” which Sister Lucy has added to the Message of Fatima. That is very interesting, but what does it have to do with the subject of the interview for which Bertone traveled to Portugal on such an emergent basis?
• 69 words: Sister Lucy denies press accounts that she is “very worried about recent events” and that she “can no longer sleep and is praying night and day.”
Again, this is beside the point. But at any rate, Bertone’s Lucy gives this rather flippant answer: “How could I pray during the day if I did not rest at night?” Well, of course no one actually claimed that she never sleeps at all. She is said to have added: “How many things they are putting in my mouth! How many things they make me seem to do! Let them read my book: in it are all the recommendations and appeals that correspond with Our Lady’s wishes. Prayer and penance, together with great faith in God’s power, will save the world.”
The reader will notice that Bertone’s Lucy never denies that she is very worried about recent events. Who in his right mind would not be? And, again, she is never asked about her urgent letter to the Pope or her face-to-face meeting with Father Bianchi, during which, according to Bianchi, she cast doubt on the Bertone/Ratzinger interpretation of the Third Secret.
• 39 words: The effect the Fatima apparitions had on Sister Lucy’s life.
What does this have to do with the stated purpose of the emergency secret interview in the convent? Sister Lucy has covered this subject exhaustively in her voluminous memoirs. For this a Vatican functionary traveled to Portugal for a two-hour encounter?
• 34 words: Sister Lucy denies that she has received any new revelations.
Oddly enough, while Bertone’s Lucy denies any further revelations from Heaven, in the same communiqué she declares — contrary to all her prior testimony — that the 1984 consecration of the world “has been accepted in Heaven.” (See her alleged words regarding this below under the heading “21 words on the Consecration of Russia”.) How would she know this, absent any new revelations?
• 12 words: Sister Lucy says the Carmelite community has rejected the petition forms Father Gruner’s apostolate is circulating for the Consecration of Russia.
What of it? What about the Consecration of Russia? Is it done or not?
Thus far we have accounted for 419 of the 463 words attributed to Sister Lucy in the communiqué’s purported verbatim quotations. That leaves only 44 words.
The Forty-Four Words of Sister Lucy
Yes, incredibly enough, the loudly trumpeted Bertone communiqué contains only forty-four words of “Sister Lucy” concerning the very matters - the Consecration of Russia and the disclosure of the Third Secret - that supposedly prompted Bertone to travel all the way to the convent in Coimbra.
Here is how the forty-four words break down:
• 9 words concerning (so we are told) the Third Secret: “Everything has been published; there are no more secrets.”
The question which elicited this answer is not provided. Instead, Bertone’s communiqué declares: “To whoever imagines that some part of the secret has been hidden she replied: …” - followed by the nine quoted words.
Replied to what? What exactly was Sister Lucy asked about the Vatican’s disclosure of the Third Secret vision? What was the full context of the question and the answer? And why was she not asked the one question millions of people around the world are asking: Where are the words of Our Lady which follow the phrase “In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc.”?
Notice that it does not appear that Sister Lucy was asked any precise questions about this issue, such as:
• Were any words spoken by Our Lady to explain the vision of the bishop in white seen in the Third Secret?
• Does the Third Secret include a separate text which explains the vision of the bishop in white?
• What do you say about the testimony of numerous witnesses (including the Bishop of Fatima and Cardinal Ottaviani) that the Third Secret was written on a single sheet of paper, as opposed to the four sheets on which the vision of the bishop in white is written?
All such particulars are studiously avoided. This is Glaring Omission #4. We are not even given the wording of the one question that was asked.
• 14 words on the Bertone/Ratzinger interpretation of the Third Secret: “That is not true. I fully confirm the interpretation [of the Third Secret] made in the Jubilee Year.”
Here Sister Lucy allegedly denies press reports that she expressed doubts to Father Luigi Bianchi and Father Jose Santos Valinho about the Commentary’s interpretation of the Third Secret.
We are expected to believe that Lucy agrees that the Third Secret was fulfilled with the failed assassination attempt against John Paul II on May 13, 1981, even though the Commentary itself includes Sister Lucy’s purported letter to the Pope on May 12, 1982 — a year later — in which she warns that “we have not yet seen the complete fulfilment of the final part of this prophecy.” As noted, in the same letter Sister Lucy makes absolutely no connection between the assassination attempt and the Third Secret.
Also very curious is Sister Lucy’s use of the phrase “The third part of the secret that you are so anxious to know (que tanto ansiais por conhecer)” in the purported 1982 letter to the Pope. Why would the Pope be “so anxious to know” the third part of the Secret if he already had the text in his possession at the Vatican, where it has been lodged since 1957? Why would His Holiness be “so anxious to know” what he had already read in 1981 (as Bertone/Ratzinger claim), or as early as 1978, as papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told the Portuguese press?
It is very telling that the phrase “you are so anxious to know” is deleted from every Vatican translation of the original Portuguese letter in the various language versions of the Commentary. Even the Portuguese language version of the Commentary omits the phrase “you are so anxious to know” from the Portuguese typeset reproduction of the original letter. Clearly, the Vatican apparatus wanted to avoid a storm of questions about how the Pope could be anxious to know something he already knew. But by the time reporters could compare their translations with the original Portuguese letter, the press conference was over and no further questions could be asked.
It seems to me that only two conclusions are possible: the letter was not really written to the Pope, or there was something more to the Secret which the Pope really did not know as of May 12, 1982, the date of the purported letter. Oh what a tangled web we weave.
• 21 words on the Consecration of Russia: “I have already said that the consecration desired by Our Lady was made in 1984, and has been accepted in Heaven.”
These words were allegedly uttered by Sister Lucy in answer to the question: “What do you say to the persistent affirmations of Father Gruner who is gathering signatures in order that the Pope may finally consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which has never been done?”
Now, it is beyond dispute that this witness has said repeatedly in widely reported statements that the consecration ceremonies of 1982 and 1984 did not suffice to honor Our Lady’s request, because on neither occasion was Russia mentioned, nor did the world episcopate participate. But according to the Bertone interview, the witness has changed her testimony, and now testifies that the 1984 consecration ceremony “has been accepted in Heaven.”
But notice that Sister Lucy is not questioned about her many prior statements to the contrary, and is not asked to explain her purported change of testimony. We are evidently supposed to assume that nothing she said before carries any weight, and that only when she speaks in secret to Archbishop Bertone does she tell the truth about this matter.
Quite significant is that Bertone’s Lucy does not tell us when, where or to whom she has “already said” that the 1984 consecration she once deemed unacceptable is now acceptable. Why such vagueness, when Bertone had every opportunity to nail down this issue by eliciting specific testimony? Why did he not ask her, for instance, to authenticate any of the various computer-generated letters which began mysteriously to appear over her purported signature in 1989, the letters which assert the consecration had been accomplished in 1984? This is Glaring Omission #5.
And this is most suspicious: The Commentary itself relies entirely on one of these dubious letters, dated November 8, 1989 (to an unidentified recipient), as proof that the consecration has already been accomplished. But the letter’s credibility is extinguished by its false statement that Pope Paul VI consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart during his brief visit to Fatima in 1967 — a consecration that never happened, as Sister Lucy certainly knew because she witnessed the entire visit. Why did Bertone make no effort to authenticate this hotly disputed letter — the Commentary’s only evidence — during a lengthy interview with the very woman who supposedly signed it? This is Glaring Omission #6.
This, then, is the sum total — forty-four words — of what Sister Lucy is alleged to have said during a two-hour interview on one of the greatest controversies in the history of the Church. We are asked to accept these forty-four words from a closeted witness as the end of the story of Fatima. These words are supposed to allay all the doubts, questions and fears of millions of the faithful — even though Russia has manifestly failed to convert and the gathering forces of violence and rebellion against God and His law loom larger by the day.
Suspicious Circumstance #4: No tape recording or transcript of the interview has been made available.
Why has no transcript, audio tape, video tape or any other independent record of the interview been produced in order to show the precise questions Bertone asked, the full answers Sister Lucy gave, the sequence of the questions and answers, and any comments or suggestions Bertone and others might have made to Sister Lucy during the “more than two hours” they were in the same room together. Where is the give and take one always sees in published interviews?
Further, why did Bertone require more than two hours to extract forty-four words from Sister Lucy about the matters at issue? Assuming it took Sister Lucy a minute to utter those 44 words, what did she say, and what did Bertone, Father Kondor and the Mother Superior say, during the remaining one hour and 59 minutes of the encounter?
Was Sister Lucy reminded of her duty of “obedience”? Was it implied that the whole Church was depending on her to give the answers that would end this “divisive” controversy? Was it suggested that loyalty to “the Holy Father” required that she accept the Bertone/Ratzinger interpretation of the Message of Fatima, even though her own purported 1982 letter to the Pope contradicts it? Was she told how important it was to the Church that she assure everyone that Russia has been consecrated, despite everything she had said to the contrary throughout her life? Was she given the impression that to say otherwise would be to contradict the Pope himself?
Or did Sister Lucy perhaps give many answers that were unsatisfactory to her questioner, only to be asked the same questions repeatedly and in different ways until she got the answers “right”? To what subtle, or not-so-subtle, importuning was the witness subjected during the two hours she was surrounded by superiors in a closed room?
Surely, if there was nothing to hide Bertone would have made certain that such a crucial interview with the only surviving witness of the Fatima apparitions, now age 94, was recorded on audio or video tape, or at least transcribed verbatim by a stenographer so that the witness’ testimony could be preserved in case of her death - which at her age is certainly very near. I would wager, however, that there is no recording, no transcript, no independent record whatsoever of the entire Bertone interview. For it seems there is a terrible fear of allowing this witness to speak at length, in her own words, in response to a series of simple and direct questions. Every one of the forty-four words from Sister Lucy which appear in the Bertone communiqué is carefully measured out, as if from an eyedropper.
No doubt the risk of creating such a record was too great. What if Sister Lucy consistently gave the “wrong” answers? What if the answers she did provide had to be extracted through leading questions or subtle persuasion by the interviewer or the others in attendance? What could be done with a record that revealed such things? How could it be kept from the public or only partially released? How could it be hidden or destroyed once it was created?
I would be happy to be proven wrong. Perhaps there is a tape or transcript of the entire two-hour session. But if there is, it will be most telling if the Vatican refuses to produce it.
Suspicious Circumstance #5: The Italian communiqué purports to be signed by both Bertone and Sister Lucy, but the English version drops her “signature.”
In the first place, why is Sister Lucy signing Bertone’s statement in Italian about what she allegedly told him in Portuguese? Why is Sister Lucy not making and signing her own statement in her own language? If Sister Lucy really spoke with Bertone for more than two hours, why not simply prepare a faithful transcript of her own words in Portuguese and then have her sign that, instead of Bertone’s self-serving communiqué?
Further, why was Sister Lucy’s “signature” dropped from the English translation of the communiqué? In fact, to what document was her “signature” actually affixed in the first place — the Italian communiqué or a Portuguese original of the same document which has not yet been produced?
Of what value, in any case, is Sister Lucy’s “signature” on a document written in a language she does not speak, which partially quotes her testimony in the language she does speak, but without setting forth the full questions she was asked or the full answers she gave?
The inescapable conclusion is this: Bertone and the Vatican apparatus have no intention of ever allowing Sister Lucy to give her own statement at length, entirely in her own words, about the major questions which remain concerning the Message of Fatima. This is borne out by the next suspicious circumstance.
Suspicious Circumstance #6: Sister Lucy’s just-published 303-page book on the Message of Fatima completely avoids any of the subjects supposedly covered in the secret Bertone interview.
In October 2001 the Vatican Library publishing house published a book by Sister Lucy entitled The Appeals of the Message of Fatima. Sister Lucy’s introduction to the book, which was reviewed and approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, states that it is intended to be “an answer and a clarification of doubts and questions addressed to me.” The preface, by the current Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, likewise observes that Sister Lucy had asked the Holy See’s permission to write a book on Fatima in order to “answer multiple questions in a global manner, not being able to answer every person individually.”
Despite the book’s stated purpose, its 303 pages fail to address any of the prevailing “doubts and questions” about the Message of Fatima. The errors of Russia, the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, the consecration and conversion of Russia, the period of peace promised by the Virgin as the fruit of the Consecration, and the Third Secret are not even mentioned in the book. Not even the vision of hell is mentioned in Sister Lucy’s discussion of eternal life and seeking God’s pardon. In short, the book presents a thoroughly expurgated Fatima message, stripped of every one of its prophetic and admonitory elements. The version of Fatima presented in this book hardly required a Miracle of the Sun to confirm it.
Now this is very curious: When Sister Lucy is allowed to write a 303-page book to address “doubts and questions” concerning the Message of Fatima, she says nothing about the doubts and questions millions of people really have. Only when she is interviewed in secret by a self-interested questioner, who happens to be an imposing authority figure, is “Sister Lucy” allowed anywhere near these doubts and questions. But even then her answers are fragmentary and do not come from her directly in her own language. Instead, they are conveyed by Archbishop Bertone, who provides us with forty-four relevant words out of two hours of conversation with his captive witness.
Now let us sum up the suspicious circumstances surrounding the handling of the key witness in the Fatima Case:
- No one may speak to the witness without the permission of one party to the case, who controls all access to her, even though we are told she has nothing further to say.
- When doubts arise about official versions of the witness’ testimony, she is subjected to a secret interview at the age of 94, conducted by an imposing authority figure who then presents her fragmentary answers to his questions in a communiqué to which her signature is affixed, even though the communiqué is not in her own language.
- One version of the communiqué purports to bear the witness’ signature below that of her interrogator, but her signature is removed from another version, on which only the interrogator’s signature appears.
- The communiqué fails to provide the full questions asked and the answers given by the witness, in their full context.
- Out of 463 words attributed to the witness in the communiqué, only 44 relate to the matters in controversy — out of two hours of conversation!
- No transcript or other independent record of the witness’ testimony is provided.
- The secretly elicited, fragmentary testimony contradicts many prior statements of the same witness.
- No effort is made by the witness, or anyone else, to explain her prior inconsistent statements.
- During the secret interview of the witness, no attempt is made to have her authenticate “letters” attributed to her whose authenticity is clearly in dispute, nor is any effort made to authenticate the very “letter” on which the interrogator himself has placed sole reliance as proof of the witness’ alleged change of testimony [regarding the Consecration of Russia].
- The secret examination of the witness avoids any specific questions about widely known major discrepancies in the case of which the witness has peculiar knowledge — including the six glaring omissions set forth in this article
- When the witness is allowed to publish an entire book to address “doubts and questions” she has received regarding the Message of Fatima, the book contains no references to any of the doubts and questions which actually concern millions of people, which doubts and questions are addressed only in a secret interview for which there is no transcript or other independent record.
Archbishop Bertone and Cardinal Ratzinger are men with high offices in the Church. With all due respect to their offices, however, nothing can overcome the suspicion that these circumstances cannot fail to engender in reasonable minds. No court on earth would accept the testimony of a witness under such bizarre restrictions. Surely in the Church we can expect at least that measure of openness and disclosure a civil judge would require. Let us hear the witness, for heaven’s sake!
A Fraud is Being Foisted Upon Us
In all candor, then, I must state the conclusion that would be obvious to any neutral observer of the mysterious handling of Sister Lucy of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart: There is every reason to believe that a fraud is being perpetrated.
I believe the answer is that Cardinal Ratzinger does not think that what he is doing is a fraud. I believe that he views the suppression of Sister Lucy’s full and unfettered testimony as a service to the Church. What I mean by this is that Cardinal Ratzinger does not really believe in the prophetic elements of the Message of Fatima concerning the need for the consecration and conversion of Russia and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in our time, or the disastrous consequences to the Church and the world in failing to heed these elements of prophecy. The Cardinal, therefore, would consider the suppression of these elements as the suppression of dangerous falsehoods which are “disturbing” the faithful, however much Sister Lucy may believe them to be true.
The recent disinformation campaign has Sister Lucy contradicting her statement of the past 70 yeas. Could Our Lady of Fatima have made a mistake in choosing an unreliable messenger? Did God make a mistake when He authenticated the Message with a miracle? What do you think?
This is not at all mere speculation on my part. With his endorsement of Dhanis as an “eminent scholar” on Fatima, Ratzinger has made it perfectly clear that he, with Dhanis, holds that the prophetic elements of the Message concerning Russia and so forth — what Dhanis belittled as “Fatima II” — are little more than fabrications by a simple and well-intentioned, but seriously misguided person.
As Dhanis, “the eminent scholar” on Fatima, put it: “All things considered, it is not easy to state precisely what degree of credence is to be given to the accounts of Sister Lucy. Without questioning her sincerity, or the sound judgment she shows in daily life, one may judge it prudent to use her writings only with reservations. … Let us observe also that a good person can be sincere and prove to have good judgment in everyday life, but have a propensity for unconscious fabrication in a certain area, or in any case, a tendency to relate old memories of twenty years ago with embellishments and considerable modifications.” Dhanis, who refused to examine the official Fatima archives, cast doubt on every aspect of the Message of Fatima which did not accord with his neo-modernist leanings: the prayer taught by the Angel he called “inexact”; the vision of hell he called an “exaggeratedly medieval representation”; the prophecy of “a night illumined by an unknown light” heralding the advent of World War II he described as “grounds for suspicion.” And as for the consecration of Russia, Dhanis flatly declared that: “Russia could not be consecrated by the Pope, without this act taking on the air of a challenge, both in regard to the separated hierarchy, as well as the Union of Soviet Republics. This would make the consecration practically unrealizable…” Thus, Dhanis declared that the consecration of Russia would be “morally impossible by reason of the reactions it would normally provoke.”
Dhanis’ deconstruction of the Message of Fatima is a typical example of how modernists undermine Catholic truths based upon premises they themselves invent. Since (invented premise) the consecration of Russia is morally impossible, how could Our Lady of Fatima have requested it? Having thus stacked the deck against Sister Lucy, Dhanis states the “inevitable” conclusion: “But could the Most Holy Virgin have requested a consecration which, taken according to the rigor of the terms, would be practically unrealizable? … This question indeed seems to call for a negative response. … Thus, it hardly seems probable that Our Lady asked for the consecration of Russia …” Based entirely on the premise Dhanis invented, Sister Lucy’s testimony is pronounced a fraud.
These are the views which Cardinal Ratzinger endorsed by praising Dhanis as an “eminent scholar” on the Message of Fatima. And following in the line of Dhanis, Ratzinger himself states in the Commentary that the Third Secret itself may be largely a concoction: "The concluding part of the ‘secret’ uses images which Lucy may have seen in devotional books and which draw their inspiration from long-standing intuitions of faith.” Of course, if that is true of the Third Secret, it could also be true of the entire Message of Fatima. What other conclusion could the Cardinal be intending to suggest? Indeed, he himself reduces the culmination of the Message of Fatima — the triumph of the Immaculate Heart — to nothing more than the Virgin Mary’s fiat 2,000 years ago. The Cardinal accomplishes this revision of the Message by removing the words “In the end” from the prophecy “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” After all, what are a few words here or there, when in the first place (to quote Dhanis) “it is not easy to state precisely what degree of credence is to be given to the accounts of Sister Lucy”?
In like manner, the Cardinal deconstructs the Virgin’s prophecy that “To save them [i.e. souls from hell], God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.” Under the Cardinal’s interpretation (which would surely please Dhanis) the prophesied worldwide establishment of the explicitly Catholic devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is reduced to a generic prescription for piety and personal holiness: "According to Matthew 5:8, the ‘immaculate heart’ is a heart which, with God’s grace, has come to perfect interior unity and therefore ‘sees God’. To be ‘devoted’ to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means therefore to embrace this attitude of heart, which makes the fiat — ‘Your will be done’ — the defining center of one’s whole life." That is, anyone can have an "immaculate heart" by conforming himself to God’s will. Notice the confusion between the pure of heart, who have turned away from sin, and the one Immaculate Heart, which was conceived without Original Sin and has never sinned at all, even slightly. To suggest that the Immaculate Heart of Mary can be compared to the heart of any devout believer is a grievous insult to the Mother of God — and with it the Cardinal completes his systematic stripping away of every bit of the Message of Fatima’s uniquely Catholic prophetic content.
So it is clear that the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, like Dhanis, places little credence in the testimony of Sister Lucy that the Virgin requested the consecration and conversion of Russia in order to bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the world. The Cardinal evidently does not believe that with the Miracle of the Sun God authenticated this testimony beyond any doubt. What other conclusion can one draw from the Cardinal’s prominent endorsement of the very theologian who attempted to debunk the entire Fatima prophecy?
Here, then, is a probable motive for it all: In the Cardinal’s mind he is protecting the Church from the disturbances caused for too long by a “private revelation” to which he, agreeing with Dhanis, gives no great weight. Thus, to revise or suppress Sister Lucy’s testimony in these matters would not, from the Cardinal’s perspective, be wrong. Quite the contrary, the Cardinal may well perceive it to be his duty.
Meanwhile, it seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Message of Fatima is now in the custody of those who simply do not believe in it and wish to have done with it, as they set their sights on the Vatican’s new policies of eumenism, a world brotherhood of religious and peace through United States. But as the world spirals downward into violence and moral depravity, as the evidence of Russia’s failure to convert mounts higher in the sight of an everage God, we, the simple faithful, can only continue to ask the simple questions and to hope and pray for that day when men who control the levers of power at the Vatican will finally allow the Pope to do precisely what the Mother fo God requested of him seventy-three years ago.
Sister Lucy’s diaries record that at Rianjo, Spain in 1931 Our Lord, speaking of a protracted failure to consecrate Russia, told her: “They will repent, and will do it, but it will be late.” How late it will be, how much more the world and the Church will have to suffer, depends upon those who have custody of the Message of Fatima and who control all access to the last surviving witness of its delivery from Heaven.
Editor’s note to scholars: Occasionally, when referring to or quoting the Bertine communiqué, this article sometimes uses the Vatican Information Service English translation of the December 20th Italian original. Other times, the English translation used in L’Osservatore Romano English edition of January 9th is used. And very rarely, our own translation of the Italian version is used.