Some very critical things have been said about Pope Pius XII by certain authors, accusing him, for instance, of aiding the suppression of the Third Secret by ordering all the Fatima documents to be sent to Rome in 1957. However, there is no hard evidence that this was done to suppress the Secret. There were repeated indications during the time of Pope Pius XII that the Third Secret would indeed be revealed in 1960. Again, some have criticized Pope Pius XII because, they say, he did not read the Secret when invited to do so by Sister Lucia. But there is no hard evidence for this assumption either. The fact that it has been reported that the envelope (or one of them) was still sealed after the death of Pope Pius XII proves nothing. Even wax seals are easily resealed, and it would have been imprudent to leave such envelopes unsealed.
All the hard evidence concerning the suppression of the Secret points to one person: John XXIII. To understand clearly the history of the suppression, however, one must look to an event which occurred near the end of the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII. This was the publication of an interview conducted by Fr. Augustín Fuentes with Sister Lucia. Fr. Fuentes was the postulator of the cause of the beatification of the Fatima visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. He spoke with Lucia on the day after Christmas of 1957. The conversation was published, with ecclesiastical approval, in the United States in 1958 in the magazine, Fatima Findings, and again on June 22, 1959, in the Portuguese daily, A Voz. Poor Fr. Fuentes was to pay dearly for his zeal. Let us see what it was that occasioned such a firestorm of reaction after the death of Pope Pius XII.
It should be noted that this interview took place only three weeks after the death of Bishop da Silva on Dec. 4, 1957. It is easy to understand that Sr. Lucia was very much saddened, not only by the death of her Bishop, but by his apparent failure to read the Third Secret, in spite of her urgings to do so. But her anxiety obviously goes much further than that. We have already given an excerpt from this text in the first part of this series. Here is the entire text, with Fr. Fuentes giving his comments in italics:
"I wish only to tell you about the last conversation which I had with Sister Lucia on the 26th of December last year. I met her in her convent. She was very sad, very pale and emaciated. She said to me:
"Father, the Most Holy Virgin is very sad because no one has paid any attention to Her message, neither the good nor the bad. The good continue on their way but without giving any importance to Her message. The bad, not seeing the punishment of God actually falling upon them, continue their life of sin without even caring about the message. But believe me, Father, God will chastise the world and this will be in a terrible manner. The punishment from Heaven is imminent.
"Father, how much time is there before 1960 arrives? It will be very sad for everyone, not one person will rejoice at all if beforehand the world does not pray and do penance. I am not able to give any other details because it is still a secret. According to the will of the Most Holy Virgin, only the Holy Father and the Bishop of Fatima are permitted to know the Secret, but they have chosen not to know it so that they would not be influenced.
"This is the third part of the Message of Our Lady, which will remain secret until 1960.
"Tell them, Father, that many times the most Holy Virgin told my cousins Francisco and Jacinta, as well as myself, that many nations will disappear from the face of the earth. She said that Russia will be the instrument of chastisement chosen by Heaven to punish the whole world if we do not beforehand obtain the conversion of that poor nation..."
"Sister Lucia also told me: Father, the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. And the devil knows what it is that most offends God and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus, the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way, the devil will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them.
"That which afflicts the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Heart of Jesus is the fall of religious and priestly souls. The devil knows that religious and priests who fall away from their beautiful vocation drag numerous souls to Hell. ...The devil wishes to take possession of consecrated souls. He tries to corrupt them in order to lull to sleep the souls of lay people and thereby lead them to final impenitence. He employs all tricks, even going so far as to suggest the delay of entrance into religious life. Resulting from this is the sterility of the interior life, and among laypeople, coldness (lack of enthusiasm) regarding the subject of renouncing pleasures and the total dedication of themselves to God.
"Tell them also, Father, that my cousins Francisco and Jacinta sacrificed themselves because in all the apparitions of the Most Holy Virgin, they always saw Her very sad. She never smiled at us. This sadness, this anguish which we noted in Her, penetrated our souls. This sadness is caused by the offenses against God and the punishments which menace sinners. And so, we children did not know what to think except to invent various means of praying and making sacrifices...
"The other thing which sanctified my cousins was to see the vision of Hell.
"Father, that is why my mission is not to indicate to the world the material punishments which are certain to come if the world does not pray and do penance beforehand. No! My mission is to indicate to each one of us the imminent danger we are in of losing our immortal souls for all eternity if we remain obstinate in sin."
"Sister Lucia also said to me: Father, we should not wait for an appeal to the world to come from Rome on the part of the Holy Father, to do penance. Nor should we wait for the call to penance to come from our bishops in our diocese, nor from the religious congregations. No! Our Lord has already very often used these means, and the world has not paid attention. That is why now it is necessary for each one of us to begin to reform himself spiritually. Each person must not only save his own soul but also help all the souls that God has placed on our path...
"The Devil does all in his power to distract us and to take away from us the love for prayer...
"Father, the Most Holy Virgin did not tell me that we are in the last times of the world, but She made me understand this for three reasons.
"The first reason is because She told me that the Devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the Devil. There is no other possibility.
"The second reason is because She said to my cousins as well as to myself that God is giving two last remedies to the world. These are the Holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These are the last two remedies, which signify that there will not be others.
"The third reason is because in the plans of Divine Providence God always, before He is about to punish the world, exhausts all other remedies. Now, when He sees that the world pays no attention whatsoever, then, as we say in our imperfect manner of speaking, He offers us 'with a certain trepidation' the last means of salvation, His Most Holy Mother. It is 'with a certain trepidation' because if you despise and repulse this ultimate means we will not have any more forgiveness from Heaven because we will have committed a sin which the Gospel calls the sin against the Holy Ghost. This sin consists of openly rejecting with full knowledge and consent, the salvation which He offers. Let us remember that Jesus Christ is a very good Son and that He does not permit that we offend and despise His Most Holy Mother. We have recorded through many centuries of Church history the obvious testimony which demonstrates, by the terrible chastisements which have befallen those who have attacked the honor of His Most Holy Mother, how Our Lord has always defended the honor of His Mother."
"Sister Lucia told me: The two means to save the world are prayer and sacrifice.
"Regarding the Holy Rosary, Sister Lucia said: Look, Father, the Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Holy Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations that we cannot resolve through the recitation of the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.
"Finally, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Most Holy Mother, consists in considering Her as the seat of mercy, goodness and pardon and as the sure door through which we are to enter Heaven." (La Verdad sobre el Secreto de Fatima, Fr. Joaquín Alonso).
Between the first publication of this interview in Fatima Findings, and the second in A Voz, Pope Pius XII had died and John XXIII had begun his plans for Vatican Council II—the council of "no condemnations." Nevertheless, on July 2, 1959, the Chancery of Coimbra published an extremely harsh, but anonymous, condemnation of Fr. Fuentes:
Father Augustín Fuentes, postulator of the cause of beatification for the seers of Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta, visited Sister Lucia at the Carmel of Coimbra and spoke to her exclusively about things concerning the process in question. But after returning to Mexico, his country—if we can believe an article in A Voz of last June 22, and a translation by M. C. de Bragança published on July 1 by the same journal—this priest allowed himself to make sensational declarations, of an apocalyptic, eschatological and prophetic character, which he declares that he heard from Sister Lucia's very lips.
Given the gravity of such statements, the chancery of Coimbra believed it its duty to order a rigorous investigation on the authenticity of such news which persons too avid for the extraordinary have spread in Mexico, in the United States, in Spain, and finally in Portugal.
For the peace of mind of those who have read the documentation published in A Voz and have taken alarm at the thought of fearful cataclysms which, according to such documentation, are to come upon the world in 1960, and still more, in order to put an end to the biased campaign of "prophecies," whose authors, perhaps without realizing it, are provoking a storm of ridicule, not only where they themselves are concerned, but also with regard to things reported as having been said by Sister Lucia, the Diocese of Coimbra has decided to publish these words of Sister Lucia, given in answer to questions put by one who has the right to do so:
"Father Fuentes spoke to me in his capacity as Postulator for the causes of beatification of the servants of God, Jacinta and Francisco Marto. We spoke solely of things connected with this subject; therefore, whatever else he refers to is neither exact nor true. I am sorry about it, for I do not understand what good can be done for souls when it is not based on God, Who is the Truth. I know nothing, and could therefore say nothing, about such punishments, which are falsely attributed to me."
The chancery of Coimbra is in a position to declare that since up to the present Sister Lucia has said everything she believed it her duty to say about Fatima, she has said nothing new and consequently has authorized nobody, at least since February 1955, to publish anything new that might be attributed to her on the subject of Fatima."
Fr. Fuentes was literally being accused of lying, and Sr. Lucia appeared to be confirming the accusation! But Fr. Fuentes was not without his defenders. Archbishop Manuel Lopez of Veracruz maintained that Fr. Fuentes "had preached nothing that would contradict the message of Fatima, nor had he attributed frightening prophecies to Sr. Lucia." The Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal José Garibi y Rivera, also insisted that Fr. Fuentes "had predicted nothing terrible in his preachings." Indeed the text quoted above, while it contains serious warnings, makes no specific prophecies. Sr. Lucia merely reminds us that the "punishment from Heaven is imminent" and lists the reasons for which she believes we are in the "last times." So what was the Chancery of Coimbra referring to?
Fr. Fuentes was replaced
as postulator by Fr. Louis Kondor, who reportedly took this photo of Sr. Lucia
for the cover of her soon-to-be-published memoirs in April, 1963 -- less than 5½ years after Fr. Fuentes
described her as "sad, very pale and emaciated."
In spite of the efforts of his defenders, Fr. Fuentes was soon relieved of his functions as postulator for the cause of beatification for Francisco and Jacinta Marto, a decision which surely had to have come from John XXIII. After all was not Fr. Fuentes—and Sr. Lucia for that matter (and Our Lady of Fatima Herself)—amongst the "prophets of doom" that John XXIII had denounced at the opening of Vatican II (see photo right)? There he had said, on October 11, 1962:
In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we often have to listen, with sad ears, to the voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not overly endowed with a sense of discretion or judgment. In these modern times they see nothing but calamity and ruin. They say constantly that our era, in comparison with the past, is growing steadily worse; they behave as if they have learned nothing from history, the teacher of life. They act as if former councils were evidence of complete victories for the Christian ideal of life and for true religious liberty. We, however, are of a completely different opinion from those prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster as though the end of the world were at hand. In the present development of human events, through which mankind appears to be entering a new order, one must, rather, discern a hidden plan of Divine Providence...
The truth about this shocking event would not come out until 1976. But he who revealed the truth would also pay a price.
Fr. Joaquín Alonso had been entrusted by Bishop da Silva's successor, Monsignor Venancio, with the task of archiving and editing all of the documents concerning Fatima. Early on he had adopted the criticism of the Chancery of Coimbra concerning Fr. Fuentes. But by 1975, and after much painstaking research, he had completely reversed his opinion. In his work, published in English in 1976 as The Secret of Fatima: Fact and Legend, he tactfully revealed the truth:
Who was right in this lamentable affair? Father Fuentes, the Coimbra diocesan spokesman, or Lucia? We would like to offer an explanation, giving our own modest opinion:
1. What Father Fuentes says in the genuine text of his conference to the Mexican religious community... (in May of 1958) corresponds no doubt in its essentials to what he heard during his visit to Sister Lucia, for although the text is mingled with the preacher's own oratorical embellishments, and although it is adjusted to conform to a literary pattern, these texts say nothing that Sister Lucia had not said in her numerous published writings. Perhaps the principle defect lay in the presentation of these texts as coming from Lucia's own mouth, and formally and expressly given as "a message from her" addressed to the world. Sister Lucia did not have this intention.
2. The genuine text, the only one that can be justly attributed to Father Fuentes, does not, in my opinion, contain anything that could give rise to the condemnatory notice issued from Coimbra. On the contrary, it contains a teaching most suited to edify the piety of Christians.
3. The diocese of Coimbra, and through it Sister Lucia, have made no distinction between the genuine text which alone can be justly attributed to Father Fuentes, and the vast "documentation" to which we have already referred. An error of judgment was thus committed, for everything was included in one single all-embracing condemnation.
In other words, Fr. Alonso was tactfully suggesting that Sister Lucia was shown some false documents (probably articles from the journal A Voz) which led to her statement of denial, if indeed the statement is even genuine. In the same work Fr. Alonso also gave his opinion on the probable contents of the Third Secret:
If 'in Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved,' ...it can be clearly deduced from this that in other parts of the Church these dogmas are going to become obscure or even lost altogether.
Thus it is quite possible that in this intermediate period which is in question (after 1960 and before the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), ...the text makes concrete references to the crisis of the Faith within the Church and to the negligence of the pastors themselves,... [to] ...internal struggles in the very bosom of the Church and of grave pastoral negligence by the upper hierarchy,... [and] ...deficiencies of the upper hierarchy of the Church.
Could Fr. Alonso have been referring to John XXIII and Vatican II? By this time Fr. Alonso had also finished his massive work, Fatima Texts and Critical Studies, consisting of 24 volumes of some 800 pages each. He referenced and archived 5,396 documents in this result of his ten years of research. However, the "upper hierarchy" would not let such criticism go by unnoticed. The new "bishop" of Leiria-Fatima, Alberto do Amaral, forbade the publication of the 24 volumes entirely! It was only after the death of Fr. Alonso, that two highly edited volumes were published. Apparently silencing the Third Secret itself was not enough.
Msgr. Capovilla, who has provided the best evidence for the existence of a second text of the Third Secret, has also provided us with a blow-by-blow account of the decision of John XXIII to suppress the Secret. On October 28, 1958—less than three weeks after the death of Pope Pius XII—Sr. Lucia, perhaps fearing what was to come, put aside her usual reserve and asked for permission to deliver a radio message to the world! In early January of 1959, a meeting was held to discuss this and the Third Secret. Cardinal Cento, who had brought the Third Secret to Rome in 1957, told Roncalli: "It is well that you take a look at it. Sr. Lucia has approached me. She could deliver a message to the world. I do not know if it is opportune..." Roncalli's answer: there would be no radio message; instead great restrictions were to be placed on the communications of Sr. Lucia. Eventually she was not permitted to speak to anyone (with very few exceptions) without the Vatican's permission.
On January 25, 1959, John XXIII was again advised to read the Third Secret immediately. But he decided to wait until he had announced the convocation of Vatican II (see photo left). Did he perhaps fear that the Third Secret contained a warning about the very thing he was determined to do? It was not until August 17 that he would read the Secret. Capovilla gives the details: "[John XXIII] after having spoken with everyone [the collaborators he had consulted] told me: 'Write.' And I wrote under his dictation: 'The Holy Father had received from the hand of Msgr. Phillipe this writing. It was decided to read it on Friday with his confessor. There being abstruse locutions, he called for Msgr. Tavares, who translated. He allowed his most intimate collaborators to see it. It was finally decided to reseal the envelope with this phrase: I do not give any judgment.' Silence before something that could or could not be a manifestation of the divine."
There followed, on February 8, 1960, the anonymous press release, from which we have already quoted in the first part of this Series. It would be good to recall here these words of the press release: "It is very probable that the letter in which Sr. Lucia wrote the words of the Virgin Mary addressed to the three shepherds at the Cova da Iria, will never be opened." After all that we have seen in this Series, these words become a glaring contradiction—for the "vision text" published in 2000 is not a letter and it contains no words of the Virgin Mary!
It is also worth noting that, at Vatican II, John XXIII invited two Russian Orthodox observers to be present, with the assurance that the Council would not formulate any condemnation of Communism or the Soviet system. "The initiative for the meetings (to make this unholy accord) was taken personally by John XXIII at the suggestion of Cardinal Montini..." (Roman Amerio, Iota Unum, 1985). After the silencing of Sr. Lucia and Our Lady of Fatima, who warned specifically that "Russia would spread her errors...", this action of Roncalli and Montini is seen to be all the more deliberate—and sinister.
There having been no condemnation of
Communism or the Soviet system -- in accordance with the
assurance made by John XXIII and the future Paul VI -- Russian Orthodox "Metropolitan" Nikodim
arrives in Rome with John XXIII's agent, Msgr. Willebrands, and Fr. Pierre Duprey from the
"Secratariat for Christian Unity," for the last day of Vatican II.
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