The Third Secret of Fatima
Has It Been Completely Revealed?
By Rev. Father Gérard Mura
This article is an excerpt from a soon-to-be published work treating more extensively of Fatima and its message. Here Father Mura calls into doubt the recent assurances of an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the effect that there is nothing more to the Third Secret than the text already published by the Vatican.
The Italian theologian Fr. Cagliari has stated that the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima represent the “most important event of the Twentieth Century”. Over and above the immediately publicized message of Fatima there exist three so-called ‘secrets’, or three parts of the secret message of Fatima. It is clearly a matter of great importance, therefore, to know the essential content of the Third Secret, that part of the message which was kept hidden the longest at Our Lady’s express wish. On June 26, 2000 the Vatican released it to the public.1 Contrary to expectation, the publication of this text did not put an end to the questions which it had raised. Despite Vatican assurances to the effect that nothing has been concealed, there are, as I aim to show in this article, serious grounds which give us reason to think that the Third Secret has not yet been completely revealed.
"In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc."
On reading the by now familiar words of the publicized text of the Third Secret we are left with mixed feelings. Many things do not fit smoothly into the rest of the Fatima story and Secret. Even if the published text fully meets all expectations of what constitutes a genuine vision, one cannot rid oneself of the impression that there is something missing. The Immaculate Heart of Mary, for example, which is at the center of the whole Message of Fatima, is not even mentioned at this culmination of the three Secrets. We learn simply of an enormous and unparalleled chastisement for the Church, of faithful and hierarchy alike. No indication is given as to why this unique punishment is to visit us, nor how we might avert it by our conversion: Divine prophecy normally always has the character of a warning. Furthermore, we are shown a fearful chastisement without any real and victorious resolution of this terrible crisis of persecution for the Church. Thus there are a number of points which make one suspicious and doubt whether the text we possess is complete.
Towards the end of 2001 rumors were in circulation — particularly in the Italian Press — that the Vatican had only revealed part of the text. In order to put an end to all such speculation, Archbishop Bertone of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith himself conducted an interview with Sr. Lucy on November 17, and which was made public on December 20. According to the published text, Sr. Lucy told him that "all has been revealed; there is no more Secret."
In her Fourth Memoir2, Sister Lucy added the following sentence to the words spoken by Our Lady on July 13 which had been hitherto unrevealed: "In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc." From this we know for certain that these words of Our Lady have a continuation. Even the "etc." comes from Sr. Lucy’s pen. We cannot reasonably ascribe it to Our Lady. Rather, Sr. Lucy herself shows here that Our Lady spoke further, but that what She said is not here being revealed, or at least not yet.
If, according to Archbishop Bertone, then, Sr. Lucy is supposed to have said that “all has been revealed”, and that “there is no more Secret”, then we are confronted with what is quite simply a contradiction.
Nor can one argue that it is not at all certain whether the words to which the “etc.” refer belong to the Third Secret or not. Obviously we would still be faced with a contradiction if they belonged to the first or second parts and Sr. Lucy now tells us that "there is no more Secret". This contradiction is so patent that it actually casts serious and well-founded doubt on the words of Archbishop Bertone.
Our reservations grow when we consider the fact that Rome was clearly concerned to draw attention away from the above-mentioned sentence concerning the dogma of the Faith. In the document which accompanied the publication of the Third Secret the text of the first two Secrets is also reproduced. Strangely enough, and without any reason being stated, they are given in the version found in Sr. Lucy’s Third Memoir, although that of the Fourth Memoir is completed by several remarks. Accordingly the sentence "In Portugal … etc." is only mentioned in a footnote. Why? It seems that this sentence is a thorn in someone’s side, referring as it does to a further part of the Secret. It would probably have drawn even more attention to the words to have omitted them entirely. Paradoxically, by its inclusion in an official Roman document, the sentence is better attested to than any of Our Lady’s words in La Salette or Lourdes!
In this context it is most significant to note the Vatican’s purpose in publishing the Third Secret. Thus the Vatican spokesman Navarro-Valls: “The publication of the Third Secret signifies in no way papal support for that anti-ecumenical traditionalism which has unjustly appropriated certain aspects of the message of Fatima to itself […]. The decision to reveal it proceeds from the conviction that Fatima should not remain a guarantee for this undermining position.”3 In fact Traditional Catholics have been saying for years that the Third Secret speaks about the Crisis in the Faith. Their well-founded claims have obviously annoyed the Roman authorities. Now it is an important fact, as we hope to show, that this conviction of many Catholics stems principally from the words “In Portugal … etc.”, and on that account the Vatican should have had a great interest, given its admitted motivation behind the publication, in showing just how wrong Traditional Catholics have been in the conclusions which they — along with most Fatima experts — have drawn from this sentence. But instead of this all we had was an attempt to conceal the sentence somewhat so that no notice is taken of it! And not even an attempt at an explanation as to why the theologians of Fatima were so wrong for so many years.
When one takes into account the insidious methods adopted by Vatican officials to persecute the movement of Traditional Catholics in the 70’s and 80’s, then it should come as no surprise if they have not scrupled to use a falsehood (anew) in this particular anti-traditionalist operation. Pope Paul VI, for example, was deliberately deceived by those who assured him that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was making his seminarians take an oath against the Pope. This lie was only exposed at a — long postponed — meeting of the Pope with Msgr. Lefebvre in 1976.
It should also be considered whether, in the case of Msgr. Bertone’s published interview, Sr. Lucy might somehow have said something out of obedience to the Roman authorities which she might otherwise never have said. As we shall see, once before she seriously altered the words of Our Lady in a letter to Pius XII when under obedience to Bishop da Silva of Leiria-Fatima. And it is a demonstrable fact that the ecclesiastical hierarchy has particularly stressed the primordial value of obedience to her in recent years.
On April 13, 2000 the current Bishop of Leiria-Fatima interviewed Sr. Lucy on Portuguese television. Citing St. Augustine, the bishop stressed that “whoever obeys can never be deceived”. Sr. Lucy resolutely agreed. We can safely assume that great moral pressure has been exerted on Sr. Lucy. All seems to indicate that the enclosed Carmelite sisters are influenced by misinformation. Thus Sr. Lucy could claim in her well-known interview with Carlos Evaristo on October 11, 1992 that the Russian President Gorbachev had knelt before the Pope and asked him for forgiveness — this was subsequently expressly denied by the Vatican!4
No Words of Our Lady
Our argument is still further strengthened in that the text published by Rome on June 26, 2000 matches the sentence "In Portugal … etc." neither grammatically nor in terms of its content. Still more incongruous is the fact that these words come from the lips of Our Lady Herself. In the published text, however, not a single word comes from Our Lady; it is the description of a vision. There seems to be no way around this unanswerable discrepancy.
When on February 8, 1960 the Vatican announced in a somewhat unusual manner (i.e. through the Portuguese agency A.N.I. in Rome) that the Third Secret would not be revealed, it was stated that "the letter on which Sr. Lucy wrote down the words confided to her as a secret by Our Lady would probably never be [publicly] opened" [emphasis added]. Where are Our Ladys words?5 We know that Our Lady had specified that the Secret be revealed by 1960 at the latest. That year saw the beginning of the prophesied crisis in the Faith.
The Story of the Secret
The Fatima Secret in its entirety has represented a stumbling-block to many right from the beginning. Heaven was requiring the Church’s hierarchy to do or say something which appeared to be inopportune, especially from the diplomatic and progressivist perspective. In any case we can observe how the representatives of the hierarchy have undertaken to adapt and change the Secret of Fatima in a manner both unfitting and dishonorable. In this they have not scrupled to use objective falsehoods!
In 1925 Our Lady came to announce — as She had said She would on July 13, 1917 — Heaven’s request that the devotion of the First Five Saturdays in reparation to Her Immaculate Heart be practiced, promising eternal salvation to all who would do so. Bishop Da Silva only decided to approve the devotion on September 13, 1939, when World War II had already broken out as Sr. Lucy had foretold him.6 Unfortunately the bishop misrepresented the four conditions for the fulfillment of the first Saturdays.7 He believed that the fifteen minutes of meditation keeping Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart company was already included in the Rosary, whereas Heaven had required a quarter of an hour over and above the recitation of the five decades.
In December 1940 Sr. Lucy wrote to Pius XII with Bishop da Silva’s permission. But the bishop required of the visionary that she set out the conditions for the consecration of the world and that of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and describe the heavenly promises attached to each act otherwise than had been revealed to her. His aim was to simplify the matter on a diplomatic level, in order not to provoke the Pope’s displeasure. Thus he attached the promise of the conversion of Russia to a consecration which was effected without the co-operation of the bishops.8 This was a serious falsification, which was to cause false hopes and disappointment as a result.
In 1942 the first two Secrets of Fatima were made public for the first time in two books published in Italian by Fathers da Fonseca and Moresco. Sadly, these works contained a threefold serious falsification of the Second Secret: the consecration of Russia was replaced by the consecration of the world, the errors of Russia by “impious propaganda”, and the conversion of Russia became the fruit of the world consecration. Pope Pius XII appears to have approved the alterations for diplomatic reasons. As a consequence of all this, paradoxically, the Message of Fatima was soon instrumentalized by the belligerent parties as a propaganda tool.9
The Fr. Fuentes Fiasco
On December 26, 1957 Fr. Augustine Fuentes interviewed Sr. Lucy in the Coimbra Carmel. She spoke to him of a severe chastisement hanging over both the Church and the world. With regard to the Church, she hinted of a forthcoming crisis in the hierarchy itself (which in fact began soon afterwards with Vatican II). Fr. Fuentes had spoken officially with Sr. Lucy on a number of occasions in order to prepare himself for his future work as postulator for the cause of beatification of Jacinta and Francisco. The above-mentioned interview was first published in 1958; it bore the imprimatur and all other marks of ecclesiastical approval, including the approbation of the Bishop of Fatima. Then on July 2, 1959 the curia of the diocese of Coimbra published a statement insisting that the interview had been nothing but an invention of Fr. Fuentes. An ecclesiastical interrogation of Sr. Lucy was cited verbatim in which she, too, gave assurance that she had not spoken at all with Fr. Fuentes about the subjects discussed in the published interview. Even then certain bishops defended the truthfulness of Fr. Fuentes, but the latter was dismissed from the work on the beatification cause and replaced by Fr. Kondor. Simultaneously Sr. Lucy became practically inaccessible to visitors from that moment onward. She had apparently said too much. Even her former confessor of long standing, Fr. Aparicio, was no longer permitted to speak with her on his return from South America. It appears clear that the diocesan curia of Coimbra — and at the behest and with the support of the Vatican — had published what was in fact a lie: a verbatim transcription of an interview with Sr. Lucy which never happened! Is Msgr. Bertone’s interview simply the latest edition, an update of the same trick? There are many indications that this is the case.
The Cover-up Continues!
In fact, where Fatima is concerned, it seems that worldly churchmen and the officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in particular have no qualms about falsehoods and fabrications. Take Cardinal Seper, for example, Cardinal Ratzingers predecessor as prefect of the same congregation. He told Fr. Antonio Maria Martins in March 1980 that the Third Secret concerned "the war of liberation in Africa".11 Consequently we should exercise the greatest caution in reading Vatican statements concerning Fatima!
What happened when the Bishop of Fatima and a renowned mariologist independently stated their conviction that the Third Secret concerned the crisis in the Faith is equally illustrative of our point.
In a much publicized speech at a university in Vienna, Bishop Amaral stated on September 10, 1984: "The Secret of Fatima does not concern atom bombs or nuclear warheads, nor Pershing or SS-20 missiles. Its content concerns our Faith alone. To identify the content of the Secret with prophecies of catastrophes or a nuclear holocaust is to misconstrue the sense of the message. The loss of Faith of a continent is worse than the annihilation of a nation. And it is true that in Europe the Faith is continually in decline."12
In January 1986, however, he denied making these remarks. What the bishop had said was a matter of public record, and the French Fatima expert Br. Michel de la Sainte Trinité tried to confront him with proof: all to no avail. Ten years later, however, there was no longer any problem. The bishop had retired, and was no longer vulnerable. "Before I asserted in Vienna that the Third Secret concerned only our Faith and the loss of Faith I had consulted Sr. Lucy and obtained her approval", he stated in an interview on March 2, 1995.13 The denial of a decade before was entirely forgotten! Furthermore, Sr. Lucy’s approval of the bishop’s assertion shows us that there is more to the Secret.
In 1997 the mariologist Canon René Laurentin also advanced the theory that the Third Secret concerns the Crisis in the Church. When he afterwards retracted his statement, it was clearly as a result of pressure from the ecclesiastical authorities. But then in May 2000, shortly before the publication of the Third Secret was expected, he found the courage to express his original conviction once more.14
Can We Trust Msgr. Bertone?
Let us turn back to Archbishop Bertone. Whether or not there is a part of the Third Secret yet to be revealed (and we believe that there is), nevertheless, it appears that either he or another prelate is not quite telling us the truth. Msgr. Loris Capovilla, the former private secretary of Pope John XXIII, is considered to be one of the few people whom that Pope acquainted with the contents of the message. Msgr. Capovilla stated first in 1997 and then in May 2000,15 that the Third Secret concerned a manifestation of the supernatural and an absolutely exceptional event in the life of the Church. Now a Divine intervention such as the miraculous conversion of Russia and perhaps other nations would fit the bill here, but the events described in the text published by Msgr. Bertone hardly correspond to such positive description. It seems that unless Msgr. Capovilla is adding to the disinformation about Fatima, something is missing: either way, more reason for suspicion!
The documentation accompanying the publication of the Third Secret on June 26, 2000 itself gives cause to doubt Msgr. Bertone’s credibility. With regard to the Second Secret, Msgr. Bertone is clearly concerned to prove that Sr. Lucy believes that the Consecration of Russia was accomplished as required in 1984, and accordingly he publishes a letter supposedly written by her in Portuguese on a computer and dated November 8, 1989. Surprisingly, despite the importance of the letter as evidence, he omits to mention its addressee, notwithstanding the fact that, as research shows, it is precisely one of five ‘Sr. Lucy letters’ in circulation, the authenticity of which has publicly and seriously been called into question.16
It contains manifest falsehoods. Thus we read that the consecration attempt supposedly made by Paul VI at Vatican II was invalid because the bishops with whom he performed it should not have been united with him in a council but rather in their dioceses. Now Sr. Lucy has never stipulated such a requirement, and has indeed stated expressly the opposite, along with all theologians who have studied the question and the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima. Moreover, the ‘consecration of Russia’ which, according to the letter, Paul VI is supposed to have performed in Fatima in 1967, is a pure invention.17 In the letter ‘Sr. Lucy’ claims that she, too, had maintained from the beginning that the 1984 consecration was valid, which is demonstrably false.
And then, one wonders, why Archbishop Bertone had to quote such a dated and dubious letter when both he and the Pope had just spoken to Sr. Lucy in person? Was there no better evidence to hand than this questionable document? And why should we put more confidence in Msgr. Bertone in 2002 than we did in 2000?
If the Vatican text is all there is to the Secret, then why is it that, approximately since the time of the Fr. Fuentes interview, Sr. Lucy has been watched over so strictly that, with the exception of Cardinals, no one, not even the Bishop of Fatima, could speak with her without the special permission of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? And why does this regulation remain in force today, when, officially, “there is no more secret”?
If it is clear that we have good grounds for serious doubt where Msgr. Bertone’s testimony is concerned, as well as for our opinion that a part of the Third Secret has not yet been revealed, then, naturally, we shall continue to reflect what the remainder of the message says. In this article there is no scope to analyze this problem further, but it will surely not be out of place to note the general consensus of Fatima experts on the subject matter of the Secret, since this helps us to understand the reticence and refusal of the hierarchy to make it public.
The Experts Agree ...
The Spanish Claretian mariologist Fr. Alonso was, from 1966 until his death in 1981, the official archivist of the Fatima documentation. Already in 1976 we find him defending the interpretation that the Third Secret warns of a crisis in the Faith: “‘In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved’. This sentence clearly implies that the Faith will be in a critical condition from which other nations will suffer, i.e. that there will be a crisis of Faith […] In all clarity, therefore, one can conclude, that this dogma will either be obscured or even lost in other parts of the Church. It is, therefore, completely probable that in this intermediate period [i.e. after 1960 and before the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary], the text refers in a concrete fashion to the crisis of Faith in the Church and to the negligence of the Pastors themselves.”18
Now despite the unpopularity of such a message, this interpretation established itself as the general consensus among the theologians of Fatima until the release of the official text in June 2000. In addition to the statements by Msgr. Amaral (Bishop of Leiria-Fatima from 1972 to 1993) and Canon Laurentin, referred to above, we can cite Fr. Antonio Maria Martins and Fr. Messias Dias Coelho as being of the same opinion. Furthermore, Canon Dr. José Galamba de Oliveira, Msgr. João Venancio (Bishop of Leiria-Fatima from 1957 to 1972) and Fr. Louis Kondor all held the same opinion in a slightly more moderate form.19 The late Cardinal Silvio Oddi stated in 1990 that “the Blessed Virgin warns us of apostasy in the Church”,20 while Cardinal Mario Luigi Ciappi was even more precise: “In the Third Secret it is foretold, amongst other things, that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top!”21 It is even known that Msgr. Luciano Guerra, Rector of the Fatima Sanctuary, publicly expressed this opinion (on March 14, 1992).22 Most recently, Sr. Lucy’s nephew, Fr. José dos Santos Valinho, expressed the same view in the book by Renzo and Roberto Allegri entitled Reportage su Fatima [Milan, 2000] which appeared just before the release of the Vatican text. Finally, this interpretation echoes perfectly the warnings of Sr. Lucy in the letters she wrote at the beginning of the 1970’s.
Two Parts to the Third Secret?
One can understand, then, why the authorities would want to suppress any part of the Secret which might speak of the crisis in the Faith, but how is it possible to assert that something has not been revealed when Rome has published a photocopy of Sr. Lucy’s manuscript original? Here, the testimony of the Austrian Jesuit Fr. Joseph Schweigl is decisive: the Third Secret consists of two parts, be they two clearly defined elements differing in terms of content or even two separate documents.
“We know that Fr. Schweigl, who had decided to travel to Portugal in order to conduct a thorough investigation about Fatima was entrusted with a secret mission to Sr. Lucy by Pius XII. On September 2, 1952 he interrogated her in the Coimbra Carmel. The Holy Office did not permit him to publish this interview, but on his return to the Russicum Fr. Schweigl answered thus the questions of one close to him concerning the Secret: ‘I may not reveal anything with regard to the Third Secret, but I am able to say that it has two parts: One part concerns the Pope. The other part is the logical continuation — though I may not say anything — of the words: In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc.’”23
This shows that one part consists exactly in that which was recently revealed by the Vatican. It clearly refers to the Pope (though not to him alone). And, according to Fr. Schweigl’s words, the other part concerns precisely that which we had good reason to expect: the continuation of the sentence about Portugal, and consequently a reference to the crisis of Faith in the Church. It should be noted that the testimony of Fr. Schweigl dates from the 1950’s, and so we cannot suspect that anyone is motivated by the bias of hindsight to read more into his words than there actually is. Nor at that time would he have been trying to make a statement in the context of controversy between Traditionalists and Progressives in the Church.
Interestingly enough, Fr. Schweigl’s description of the two parts of the Third Secret corresponds to Cardinal Ratzinger’s words to the journalist Vittorio Messori in 1984 (shortly after he had read the Secret for the first time) concerning the “dangers which threaten the faith and the life of Christians …” to which it makes reference.24 The dangers to Christians lives are evident in the scene of martyrdom depicted in the released text, but the dangers which threaten their faith seem rather to be the subject of the “logical continuation of the words In Portugal …”.
Was Fr. Schweigl referring to two parts of one text or to two different documents? If we assume the first possibility, then we are confronted with the photocopy of the manuscript which the Vatican has published on the Internet. Technically speaking there would have been no great difficulty to remove unwanted text and touch up the document accordingly with the aid of a computer.
Or are there two separate documents? In that case the question arises as to why one single document has always been spoken about. Are there any concrete references to two texts? The Bishop of Fatima suggested to Sr. Lucy through Canon Galamba that she might write the Secret down in either a spiritual notebook (which she kept under obedience) or in an envelope sealed with wax. After she had written it down, Sr. Lucy sent it to Bishop da Silva on January 9, 1944, with an accompanying letter: “I have written what you have asked me to; [… the text] is sealed in an envelope which is in the notebook.”25 Sr. Lucy seems to have combined the two options. Now surely she wrote something in that notebook, otherwise why would she have sent it to the bishop?
So, it seems that one part of the Third Secret (which we already have) describes the vision and the other (which we do not yet have) gives the explanation of the vision by Our Lady (i.e. the reason for the unprecedented chastisement: the apostasy which has preceded it). This parallels the first two parts of the Secret, which consist, respectively, of Sr. Lucy’s description of a vision (the terrible vision of hell) and Our Lady’s explanatory words (“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 … etc.”).
In conclusion it seems certain that, despite the earnest assurances of Msgr. Tarcisio Bertone to the contrary, there is still more to the Third Secret than that which the Vatican has released. We have serious reasons to fear that Msgr. Bertone has simply added another item to the already long list of ecclesiastical cover-ups where the Secret of Fatima is concerned. He may even have outdone his predecessors, but one thing is certain as in the case of the Shroud of Turin, the truth cannot be concealed for long! “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
1. All references to the document The Message of Fatima refer to the document published by the Congreation for the Doctrine of the Faith on June 26, 2000.
2. Fr. L. Kondor (ed.), Fatima in Lucia’s own words, Fatima, 1976 (Postulation Centre).
3. Portuguese monthly Christus, June 2000, p.27.
4. Catholic World News Service, March 2, 1998.
5. Cf. The Fatima Crusader issue 64, p. 5.
6. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima (WTAF) Vol. 2, pp. 719-720, Immaculate Heart Publications.
7. WTAF, Vol. 2, p. 720.
8. WTAF, Vol. 2, pp. 736-742.
9. WTAF, Vol. 3, pp. 504-508.
10. WTAF, Vol. 3, pp. 138-140.
11. WTAF, Vol. 3, ch. V, Ap. II, footnote #6, p. 743.
12. FJI, p. 400.
13. CRC [Contre-Reforme Catholique] journal, December 1997.
14. Father Laurentin, theologian: “the crisis of the faith will turn upside down the great Catholic nations”, in: Il Messaggero, May 14, 2000.
15. Corriere de la Sera, 14.5.2000.
16. To Walter Noelker, cf. FJI, p.377; CRC, May 1990, p. 8ff; The Fatima Crusader issue 64, p. 53.
17. CRC, ibid.
18. WTAF Vol. 3, ch. IV, p. 687.
19. Ibid. & ff.
20. Il Sabbato, Mar. 17, 1990; translated into English in The Fatima Crusader issue 33, p. 14.
21. Personal communication to Prof. Baumgartner, Salzburg.
22. CRC, August/September 1992, p. 7.
23. WTAF, Vol. 3, p. 710.
24. WTAF, Vol. 3, ch. 8, Ap. I, p. 822.
25. WTAF, Vol. 3, pp. 46-47. cf. Father Joaquin Alonso, Fatima 50, Oct. 13, 1967, p. 11.
Fr. Mura is Professor of Philosophy at the SSPX Sacred Heart Seminary in Zaitzkofen, Germany.