Fatima 100 Years later. A Marian call for the whole Church


The message of Fatima is aimed at the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is its essence, as Father Joaquin Alonso (1938-1981) [1], Father Serafino Lanzetta[2] and other authors have grasped well. The prophecy contained in the message of July 13th 1917 has its culminating point in the promise: “In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph”. It’s important to emphasize that this promise is unconditional[3].

However, there is another dimension, no less important, which deserves our attention and which I intend to focus on. It‘s the prophecy, that says, if the world doesn’t convert a great chastisement will befall it. Fatima isn’t a generic call to prayer and penance, it is, above all, the announcement of a chastisement and the final triumph in history of Divine Mercy.

In the vast horizon of private revelations, the Fatima apparitions have their own characteristic: their very close relationship with history. The great apparitions of Our Lady in the 19th century – Rue du Bac (1830), Sant’Andrea delle Fratte (1842), Lourdes (1858) while shedding light on their times, don’t have direct historical references.

“Man – affirms Dom Prosper Guéranger /1805-1875) – has been called by God to a supernatural destiny, this is his end; the history of humanity must offer testimony to this” [4]. Fatima reminds us that history must be judged not on the basis of criteria of a geopolitical or socio-economic nature, but from God’s point of view, since history is a creature, and as such, is ordered to the glory of God.

The Revelation of Fatima is therefore a theology of history which has as its object, God’s supernatural plan in the history of the 20th and 21st centuries. “It is – Father Ramiro Saenz writes – a divine intervention in a specific historical circumstance to correct its course”[5]. “From every standpoint, – notes Plinio Correa de Oliveira (1908-1995) – for the nature of their content and the dignity of the One who revealed them, the Fatima Revelations thus surpass all of what Providence has said to mankind in the impending cataclysms of history. Hence, it can be stated categorically and without fear of being contradicted, that the Apparitions of Our Lady and the Angel of Peace at Fatima, constitute the most important and most thrilling event of the 20th century” [6].

The heart of the Fatima prophecy is the Message of July 13th 1917. This Message is divided into three parts – also called secrets – but there is a single leading thread and each part is linked harmoniously with the other. The Fatima tryptich, writes Father Alonso “forms a compact, perfect unity, in which it is not possible to separate one part from another” [7].

The first part of the message consists in the vision of hell, which is the punishment for individual souls if they die impenitent. In the second part the chastisement is extended to the sins of nations. A nation doesn’t only commit sin when most of its members transgress the Divine Law, but most of all when it publically contradicts this Law in its institutions. The chastisement of nations, which don’t have eternal life, is their material and spiritual annihilation.

The third part of the secret extends to the Church. The sin of the men of the Church, who have the mission of guiding the faithful to eternal life, is not only their moral decadence but – in its most profound aspect – their apostasy from the faith. When Churchmen cease preaching the truth and condemning errors, they abdicate their role as pastors and commit a sin against the faith. The vision of the third secret offers us a symbolic image of the chastisement of the Church: the ruin of the Civitas Dei and the persecution of Her Pastors and faithful.

In the three secrets of Fatima each part is explained by the preceding one and Sister Lucy states, in a letter to John Paul II on May 12th 1982, that the tragic picture of the Third Secret refers to the words of Our Lady: “Russia will scatter her errors throughout the world” [8], that is, to the second part of the Message.

But why is this central role attributed to Russia and what are her errors? Not one of the scholars of Fatima have any doubt about this. Russia’s error is Communism, which, from 1917 onwards started to spread throughout the world. The sin of nations and of the Church consists principally in having embraced this error. The chastisement is in the sin itself committed, according to what the Book of Wisdom teaches: “per quae peccat quis, per haec et torquetur” (Wisdom, XI, 17).Communism is the hell of nations and the Church Herself will be the victim of this infernal machine.

Russia will spread her errors throughout the world

On October 26th 1917, three months after the July 13th message, Vladimir Ilic Lenin (1870 -1924), conquered Russia with a coup d’etat. Russia became the source of an ideology diametrically opposed to Catholicism. “The philosophy of Marxism – Lenin proclaimed – is integral philosophical materialism” [9]. Integral materialism is also defined as dialectic materialism. Everything, according to Communism, is matter which is transformed and evolves. The soul of the universe is dialectic evolution, which denies at the roots, all stability of Being. All of the permanent institutions in society – the family, private property, the State, Religion – are destined to be swallowed up in the incessant fight of their opposites[10]
Yet, Communism is not only a philosophical idea, but an organization of apostles of error, who propose changing society with their revolutionary action. In his second thesis on Feuerbach, Karl Marx states that man must find the truth of his ideas in their praxis, and, in his eleventh thesis, he states that the task of philosophers is not that of interpreting the world but of transforming it[11]. The philosopher is substituted by the revolutionary and the revolutionary must demonstrate the power and effectiveness of his thought in the praxis. “Which means – as the philosopher Augusto Del Noce (1910-1989) points out – that it is impossible to treat Marxism independently from its historical implementation, precisely because it cannot place its criteria of truth in anything but its historical verification” [12].

The word Russia then, doesn’t have a merely geographical significance: it refers to the ideological sect that has been governing the former Empire of the Czars since 1917. The revolutionaries, writes Lenin, are men “who don’t dedicate only their free time to the Revolution, but their entire life”[13], “men whose profession is revolutionary action”[14]. The Bolshevik Revolution, in its author’s intents, is not limited to a nation, but is universal and permanent. In 1919, in Moscow, Lenin founded the Third International, or Comintern, the international organization for Communist parties. At its July-August 1920 Congress in Moscow, it publicized its programme for the upcoming “Worldwide Revolution”.

In Russia and in the countries where Communism has taken power, the method of the Revolution is Terror. On December 20th 1917, Lenin created the CEKA, the secret police with the task of repressing any “counter-revolutionary” demonstration. Its headquarters, in Lubianka Street, became the symbol of a political terror unknown to the world. According to the decree of September 5th 1918, all that was necessary was to ask any person what his origins were, his education, his profession and where he lived. Based on the answers to these questions, if it turned out he belonged to the middle-classes, his fate was sealed[15]. General Alexander Orlov (1895-1973), who abandoned the Communist Secret Police to pass over to the West, estimates that the number of individuals shot between 1917 and 1923 reached more than one million, eight hundred thousand[16], not counting those who died of hunger and destitution. A year after the Revolution in Moscow, people wandered around in rags and dropped dead in the snow as a result of severe privation. Stalin made use of hunger and famine to exterminate entire populations, like the “Kulaki”.

The Beginning of Ostpolitik

From the outset, few understood the significance of this tragedy. Unfortunately the Supreme Pastors of the Church, Benedict XV (1914 – 1922) and Pius XI (1922-1939) did not understand it [either]. As the historian Anthony Rhodes (1916-2004) notes: “It may seem strange today to realize that the new Soviet rulers of Russia in 1918 were at first regarded by the Vatican without undue apprehension”[17].

The principle on which Benedict XV and Pius XI based their politics was that of the ralliement of Leo XIII (1878-1903) with the Third French Republic[18]: it is necessary to accept the established power[19]. And the power in Russia was Lenin, just as at the time of Leo XIII’s ralliement, the power in France was Freemasonry. For Leo XIII and for his diplomatic school, personal piety, even of a high level, had not to get mixed up in political action, reserved for diplomatic science, of which the Church was Master. Like Leo XIII, another contemporary historian, Philippe Chenaux writes: “Benedict XV and Pius XI thought they would be able to bring the Soviet authorities to a sort of concordat agreement”[20].

An Italian scholar, Laura Pettinaroli, documented the intense diplomatic activity of the Holy See regarding Bolshevism, beginning with the Genoa International Conference held in April-May 1922[21]. The Holy See’s Archives of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, which I consulted, confirm that in 1923 negotiations began for an eventual recognition of the Soviet Government by the Holy See. The same Archive documents that, in December 1923, a cardinals’ commission discussed the possible acknowledgement of the Soviet government by the Holy See[22].

Yet, the Archives contain not only a vigorous and prophetic letter of protest sent to Pius XI during the Genoa Conference, by the National Committee of the Russians in exile, presided by the Orthodox theologian Anton Vladimirovitch Kartachoff (1875-1960)[23], but, above all, an impressive note of 1923-1924 from a Bolshevik source on the Red Army plans for expansion in Europe, and the Middle East[24].

The mystery is thickened by the fact that, between 1922 and 1933, in the span of over ten years, Pius XI placed unconditional confidence in an ambiguous character, Father Michael d’Herbigny (1850-1957)[25], a member of the Company of Jesus, to whom he entrusted the office of Dean at the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

Father d’Herbigny, on behalf of the Holy See, carried out several missions in Russia between 1925 and 1926. In a pamphlet published in France he recounted his impressions of the first trip he made in 1925. According to the French religious, the churches in Moscow were open, religious liberty was openly proclaimed, the Orthodox clergy went about in their church attire and there was no trace of violence, even if scientific propaganda against religion was on the rise[26]. During his second trip he stopped in Berlin where he was secretly consecrated bishop by Monsignor Eugenio Pacelli, in the chapel of the Nuncio’s residence. In turn, Monsignor d’Herbigny consecrated three clandestine bishops.

D’Herbigny’s activity had a twofold purpose: the attempt to reach an agreement with the Soviets and the creation of a clandestine hierarchy in Russia. On his return to Rome, in August 1926, Pius XI entrusted him with the direction of a Pontifical Commission Pro Russia, which absorbed the competences of the Oriental Congregation. In 1929, the Pontificium Collegium Russicum was created. Monsignor d’Herbigny appeared to be close to receiving a cardinal’s hat when his ecclesiastical career suffered a sudden and mysterious collapse. Questions of a political nature linked to his secretary’s spy activity in favour of the Soviet Union (Alessandro Deubner 1899-1946), seem to be the cause of his downfall. In fact he lost all of his offices, and in 1937 he was even stripped of his title as bishop and banished to France. All of the bishops secretly ordained by Monsignor d’Herbigny were subsequently imprisoned, exiled or executed. His project was chimerical, but for ten years he incarnated the Holy See’s politics.

Sister Lucia’s new revelations

The life of Sister Lucia (1907-2005), the only surviving Fatima visionary, after the death of Francesco (1919) and Jacinta (1920), witnessed the unfolding of these events. In October of 1925, Lucia entered the Institute of St. Dorothy as a postulant, taking the name Maria de los Dolores. She would spend 27 years in this institute, first in the Monastery of Pontevedra and then in the Monastery of Tuy. On March 25th 1948, she left this religious order to enter Carmel in Coimbra, where she spent the subsequent 57 years.

In the twelve years that followed the apparitions of July 13th 1917, Lucia received two important revelations. The first at Pontevedra, in 1925; the second at Tuy on June 13th 1929.

In the Message of July 13th 1917, Our Lady had said: “I will come to ask the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays” [27]. On December 10th 1925, Lucia was in her cell at Pontevedra when the Most Blessed Virgin appeared, promising to assist at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, “all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me” [28].

On June 13th 1929, Lucia who was now in the convent at Tuy, received a new revelation from Our Lady, who said to her: “the moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to make the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means” [29].
On May 29th 1930, Sister Lucia transmitted the request to her spiritual director[30], Father José Bernardo Gonçalves (1894-1967), who asked her to respond to some questions related to the heavenly communication she had received. Replying to the questionnaire the nun confirmed “Our good Lord promised “to end the persecution in Russia”, if the Holy Father, himself was to make a solemn public act of reparation and consecration of Russia and “would approve and recommend” the devotion of the first fives Saturdays of the month[31]. The two requests of Pontevedra and Tuy are intimately linked and directed towards one outcome: the conversion of Russia and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

On June 13th Father Goncalves transmitted the letter to the Bishop of Leira, Monsignor José Alves Correia da Silva (1872-1957), who, in turn, had it sent to Pius XI. On April 13th 1930, Monsignor da Silva approved the report of the Diocesan Canonical Commission, which established the supernatural nature of the events[32] and on October 13th of the same year in his pastoral letter A Divina Providência, he officially recognized the cult of devotion to Fatima[33].

At that time Stalin was at the peak of his power. The Cristeros war in Mexico had reached its climax and conclusion. In Spain, in 1931, an atheist and Masonic Republic was declared which opened up the way for anarchy and Communism. Our Lady, however, had entrusted the great remedy against Communism to the men of the Church. The Pope was requested to make, and to have made, the Consecration of Russia and promote Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. All the faithful were called to respond to the Fatima appeal, but nothing could be done without the Pope. And the Pope at that time was Pius XI, convinced of being able to bend dictatorships through engaging agreements with them.

Anthony Rhodes concludes his book dedicated to “The Age of Dictators” by stating: “There is no doubt however that mistakes were made by the Vatican in “the Age of Dictators”. Pio XI’s belief that a series of concordats with the Dictators would promote the Church’s apostolic activity more effectively than would Catholic parties appears to have been, on the whole, mistaken” [34].

On August 29th 1931, Sister Lucia transmitted a terrible message from Our Lord to the Bishop of Leira. She had received an intimate communication which said: “They didn’t want to pay attention to my request. Like the King of France, they will repent and do so, but it will be too late. Russia will already have spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer!” [35]

The reference is to Louis XIV, who, in 1689, failed to respond to the request that had been transmitted to him by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to enthrone the Sacred Heart solemnly and publically and consecrate his reign to that same Heart. The request would be answered, but too late, on June 15th 1792 by Louis XVI, in the Temple prison[36]. Father Alonso underlined the close resemblance existing between the two great unfulfilled promises: the one of Paray-le-Monial and that of Fatima[37].

Under the reign of Pius XI there would be no consecration to Russia and the devotion of the First Five Saturdays would neither be approved nor encouraged. The Holy See was fully aware of the spread of Communist errors in the world. The Archive of the Congregation for Special Affairs contains a report sent on April 14th, 1932 by the Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli to nuncios and apostolic delegates of 48 countries about communist propaganda being spread worldwide[38].

However, during those same years Communism raised its ferociously anti-Catholic head in Spain. Most of the martyrs of the 20th century that have been beatified, go back primarily to the first six months of the Spanish Civil War, from July 1936 to January 1937[39].

The Spanish War opened the Pope’s eyes. On March 19th 1937 he published the encyclical Divini Redemptoris, the first articulated analysis of the Communist doctrine, defining it as “intrinsically perverse” [40].

Yet, in the decade between 1929 to 1939, the remedy proposed by Our Lady to halt the Divine punishment was not fulfilled. Pius XI died on February 10th 1939 not having complied with the requests of Fatima. On March 2nd his Secretary of State, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, was elected Pope with the name of Pius XII (1939-1958). He had been consecrated Bishop in Rome on May 13th 1917, the precise day and hour of the Fatima theophany.

When the Second World War broke out, preceded by the heavenly sign preannounced at Fatima, Lucia saw this as a tragic consequence, because of the Church hierarchy’s failure in not fulfilling the requests of Our Lady.

For their part, they had lacked the act of utmost trust in Our Lady’s promise. “By this act – the seer writes to Father Goncalves on January 21st 1940 – He would have appeased His justice and forgiven the world the scourge of war which Russia is promoting from Spain through to other nations” [41]. Russia, in the words of Sister Lucia, is considered the promoter of both wars, the Spanish one, just ended, and the European one still in progress.

On December 2nd 1940, with the authorization of her spiritual director who corrected the letter, Sister Lucia, wrote to Pius XII. Her letter is a historical text, not only because it was the first time the seer of Fatima addressed a Pope directly, but because it sums up the history of the apparitions in an exhaustive manner. Sister Lucia recalls the two explicit requests received after the message of July 13th 1917: the first, in 1925, concerned the devotion of the first five Saturdays of the month, and the second, in 1929, concerned the consecration of Russia, adding that: “In several intimate communications, Our Lord has not stopped insisting on His request” [42].

On October 31st 1942, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the apparitions, Pius XII consecrated the Church and humanity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We know from Sister Lucia that this act obtained a shortening of the war, but not the conversion of Russia, because it was “incomplete”: it lacked, in fact, an explicit mention of Russia[43].

On May 4th 1944, Pius XII instituted the Feast of the Immaculate Heart, to be celebrated on August 22nd and on May 13th 1946, he had the image of the Virgin crowned by his legate, Cardinal Benedetto Aloisi Masella. On October 13th 1951, the Pope closed the Holy Year by sending Cardinal Federico Tedeschini to Fatima as Papal legate. In his speech the Cardinal revealed that on the eve of the definition of the dogma of the Assumption, October 30th 1950, Pius XII had seen in the Vatican gardens , the same “dance of the sun” which 70,000 pilgrims had witnessed at Fatima on October 13th 1917. The miracle was repeated before the eyes of Pope Pacelli on October 31st and November 8th of the same year.

On July 7th 1952, the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavic populations, Pius XII with his Apostolic Letter Sacro Vergente Anno, consecrated all the peoples of Russia to the Immaculate heart of Mary. Once again, according to Sister Lucia, this was an incomplete act, because, even if Russia was named, the solemn union of Catholic bishops from all of the world was missing.

Following the Conference of Yalta in 1945, communism had extended its dominion to Oriental Europe. Great figures of Catholic prelates, like the Archbishop of Leopoli in Ukraine, Joseph Slipyi (1803-1984); the Archbishop of Zagreb, Alòjzije Stepìnac (1898-1960); the primate Cardinal of Hungary, Josef Mindszenty (1892-1975), bore witness to the Catholic faith against Communism during those years.

In 1949, Mao tse Tung proclaimed the People’s Republic of China, thus inaugurating an age of terror in China. On January 18th 1952, Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Letter Cupimus imprimis[44], did not hesitate in comparing the situation of the Catholics and the entire population of Communist China to that of the Christians in the first persecutions of the Roman era. The condemnation of Communism on the part of the Holy See was inflexible during these years, sanctioned by the Decree of excommunication from the Holy Office on July 1st 1949[45].

In the meantime, the year 1960, when the Third Secret ought to have been divulged, was fast approaching. In 1958, Sister Lucia wrote to Pius XII explaining why he should have opened the letter in 1960. “In 1960, Communism will reach its peak, which can be reduced in duration and intensity and this must be followed by the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Reign of Christ”[46].

However, on October 9th 1958, Pope Pacelli died. He was succeeded by John XXIII, who, on January 25th 1959, announced the convocation of a Council which had a pastoral character. In the same month of January, the Communist Revolution conquered Cuba, which became the propelling center for the diffusion of Communism in Latin America. Communism arrogantly expressed its imperialist program by banging a shoe on a table, as Nikita Kruschov the new President of the Soviet Union did at the United Nations. It was October 13th 1960. On August 13th 1961, once again the fateful date of the 13th, the Communist government of East Germany raised the Berlin Wall. In October 1962, the world was on the brink of nuclear war because of the installation of Russian missiles in Cuba.

On August 17th 1959, John XXIII opened the sealed envelope which contained the Third Secret of Fatima. After reading it, he limited himself in dictating a note to his secretary Monsignor Loris Capovilla, attesting: “that the Pope had examined the content and passed it on to others – his successor? – leaving him the task of making a statement”[47].

In the vota of bishops gathered in Rome for the anti-preparatory phase of the Council, Communism appeared to be the most serious error to be condemned[48]. The Second Vatican Council would have been a great occasion to reveal the Third Secret, solemnly condemning Communism, consecrating Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and publically promoting the First Five Saturdays devotion. None of this took place.
Jean Madiran in the review “Itinéraires” of February 1963, brought to light the existence of a secret agreement, sealed, in August of 1962, in the small French town of Metz[49], between Cardinal Tisserant, a Vatican representative and the Russian Orthodox Archbishop, Nikodim (1929-1978)[50]. On the basis of this agreement, the Patriarch of Moscow, with close ties to the Kremlin, had accepted John XXIII’s invitation to send his representatives to the Council, while the Pope guaranteed the Council would have refrained from condemning Communism. In my book The Second Vatican Council, a history never written[51], I offer a further confirmation of this agreement.

On February 3rd 1964, the Bishop of Leiria delivered to Paul VI a petition signed by more than seven hundred bishops, wherein they pressed for the Consecration of Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart. In 1964, during the Council, 319 archbishops and bishops from 78 countries signed a petition wherein they asked the Pope, in union with the Council Fathers, to consecrate the entire world and in a special way Russia, as well as all the other nations dominated by Communism, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Council Fathers, however, did not grant the request.

The failure to condemn Communism at the Second Vatican Council can be traced back, along with the diplomatic agreements, to the new pastoral direction that had followed the death of Pius XII. It is in this period that a new climate emerged of “a thaw” between the Church and Communism. Ostpolitik was born – the politics of the Vatican’s opening to Eastern Communist countries, symbolized by the then Monsignor Agostino Casaroli (1914-1998) [52].

Ostpolitik picked up on the heredity of Leo XIII’s ralliement and of the political concordats of Pius XI, but added something more. Both Leo XIII and Pius XI, even if seeking on the political level, a modus vivendi with the enemies of the Church, had firmly condemned the philosophical principles of the modern world. Ostpolitik attributed a positive value to modernity, of which Communism appeared to be the ultimate expression. Communism wasn’t to be condemned, but purified of its atheism and reconciled with Christianity.

In this perspective the consecration of Russia was inconceivable. Since the 1950s the theologian, Edouard Dhanis (1902-1978) member of the Company of Jesus, had sought to relativize the message of Fatima, by reducing it to the recommendation for “prayer and penance” [53]. In 1963, Paul VI, nominated the Jesuit theologian Rector of the Gregorian university and in 1967, chose him as “special secretary” to the first Synod of Bishops.

On March 27th 1965, Paul VI read the Third Secret, and, like his predecessor, he sent back the envelope to the Archives of the Holy Office, having decided not to publish it[54]. On May 13th of the same year, he sent the Golden Rose to Fatima as a sign of veneration. Two years later, on May 13th 1967, Paul VI went as a pilgrim to Fatima. He was the first Pope to visit the Marian Sanctuary. During the Solemn Pontifical Mass, Sister Lucia received Holy Communion from him, but at the end of the ceremony when she asked if she could meet him privately, she heard from his lips a categorical “no”.

The presence of Paul VI at Fatima could have been the historic occasion to reveal the Third Secret and to begin fulfilling Our Lady’s requests, but it didn’t go that way. On January 30th 1967, in the Vatican, the Pope welcomed the Soviet President, Nikolaj Podgornyi (1903-1977). Ostpolitik, reached its peak in the 1970s, causing lively opposition between Catholics on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

In his book “Le passé d’une illusion”, the French historian Francois Furet (1924-2006) outlined a history of the attraction and success of the Communist idea, whose diffusion in the world had been much greater than Communist power. It in fact “a vécu plus longtemps dans les esprits que dans les faits; plus longtemps à l’ouest qu’à l’est de l’Europe”[55].

The Communist errors were spread throughout the world thanks to scientifically organized propaganda. The so-called “dossier Mitrokhin”[56] documented what had always been known; that is to say, that the Soviet Union, through the KGB, was conducting a systematic work of disinformation, using the mercenary services of politicians, journalists and even Churchmen. In his biography of John Paul II, George Weigel relied on documents from the archives of the KGB, of the Polish Służba Bezpieczeństwa (SB) and of the East German Stasi that confirm the fact the Communist governments and secret services of the East-bloc countries had penetrated the Vatican so as to promote their interests and infiltrate the highest ranks of the Catholic hierarchy[57].

The election of John Paul II (1978-2005), appeared to signal a turning point. Pope Woytjla was, like Pius XII, one of the Popes tied closest to Fatima. After being seriously wounded on May 13th 1981 in St Peter, he attributed his survival to the miraculous intervention of Our Lady of Fatima and was impelled to study the message more deeply. Thus, while he was in Rome’s Policlinico, he had his Polish friend Wanda Poltawska read the Documentos de Fatima, which Monsignor Pavel Hnilica (1931-2006) had obtained for him. Then, on May 13th 1982, he went as a pilgrim to the shrine in Fatima, where he entrusted and consecrated to Our Lady “those men and nations that are particularly in need of this entrustment and consecration”, with no explicit reference to Russia. On that occasion, he met Sister Lucia who spoke to him of the need to consecrate Russia in union with all the bishops of the world. There are many difficulties – the Pope had replied – but we’ll do all we can that is within our power[58].

On March 25th 1984, in St. Peter’s Square, in the presence of the statue of the Virgin, brought purposely from Portugal, John Paul II consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Pope had written to the bishops of the world asking them to unite with him, but very few answered this appeal. Not even on this occasion was Russia expressly named. There was only one reference “to the peoples for whom You expect our consecration and our entrustment”. Shortly after the act of consecration, the Pope explained to bishop Paul Josef Cordes, Vice-President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, that he had avoided naming Russia for fear that his words would have been interpreted by Soviet leaders as a provocation[59].

Sister Lucia, at least until 1989, said that she was dissatisfied with this consecration, but subsequently changed her mind and said she considered John Paul’s act to be valid[60]. It is difficult to understand, however, why this consecration was valid and the ones of Pius XII – just as incomplete – were not. John Paul II was the first Pope to have a meeting with Sister Lucia and we can imagine that perhaps he had convinced her the prophecy of Fatima would have been fulfilled under his pontificate. The Perestroika of Gorbachev (1985-89) and the spectacular auto-dissolution of the Soviet regime (1991), with no insurrections and revolts, seemed to confirm this interpretation.

In reality, what had been dissolved was not the nucleus of Communism’s errors, but the application of them that had occurred over the span of seventy years in the Soviet Union and its satellite countries. In his message to the XVIII Italian Communist Party Congress on March 30th 1989, Gorbachev declared that “the profound sense of perestroika was in the rebirth of the original values of the October Revolution”. These values were never officially condemned as criminal in Russia, not even after the fall of the Soviet Regime[61].

John Paul II entrusted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the task of making the third part of the Secret public, with an “appropriate comment” by Cardinal Ratzinger. The secret was divulged on June 26th 2000, causing lively controversies[62]. On October 8th of the same year, John Paul pronounced a third act of entrustment of the Church and humanity to the Virgin.

Benedict XVI (2005-2013) who succeeded John Paul II in 2005, was in Fatima between May 11th and 14th 2010. On May 12th, kneeling before the image of Our Lady in the Chapel of the Apparitions. There he raised a prayer of entrustment to Her, asking for the liberation of “every danger hanging over us”, with no other references. Yet, in his Theological Comment on the Message of Fatima Cardinal Ratzinger had made the same affirmations as Cardinal Sodano, according to which “the events to which the third part of the ‘secret’ of Fatima refers, seem now to be part of the past” [63], whereas on May 12th 2010, on his visit to the Sanctuary of Fatima, he stated that “we would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete”[64].

Pope Francis has demonstrated indifference to Fatima and is skeptical about apparitions in general. In his Marian act of October 13th 2013, he did not use the word ‘consecration’, and did not mention the Immaculate Heart, nor the world, nor the Church and least of all, Russia. On May 13th 2017, Pope Francis made a brief visit to the shrine of Fatima, but ignored once again Our Lady’s requests.

From 1917 to 2017, nine Popes have acknowledged Fatima. All of them, following Benedict XV, approved of the devotion. Six of them visited the Sanctuary, as popes or cardinals. Some of them, like Pius XII and John Paul II, manifested great devotion to the 1917 apparitions. Not one of them, however, complied with our Lady’s insistent requests.

The bloody toll the Communist ideology inflicted on the world has taken place in the space of a terrifying century. The publication in France at the end of 1997 of Livre noir du communisme revealed only a part of the largest massacre in history[65]. We are talking here of two hundred million dead, distributed amongst the October Revolution, the subsequent civil wars in Russia, Mexico and Spain, the Stalinist dictatorship, the Chinese Revolution, the Cambodia of Pol Pot, the Cuba of Fidel Castro and North Korea. To these numbers we must add the forty-five million dead in the Second World War, and an immense number of victims caused by the legalization of abortion, which is also linked to the relativist ideology springing from Communism. Russia, in fact, was the first country in which abortion was officially authorized by the Communists in power (1920).

Yet Communism, before being a crime, is an ideological error which has pervaded the mentality and customs of all social levels. The atmosphere of relativism and secularization which today pervades the West, corresponds fully to the plan of “cultural hegemony” outlined by the founder of the Italian Communist Party, Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937).

Today in Russia, Stalin is still celebrated as one of the fathers of the nation. In Moscow the embalmed body of Lenin continues to be venerated in the heart of Red Square. The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, opposed the removal of Lenin’s mausoleum, to avoid acknowledging that generations of citizens had followed a perverse ideology over the course of 70 years of Soviet Regime.

China is a People’s Republic in which power continues to be exercised solely by the Communist Party, governing since 1949. The greatest threat to peace in the world comes from the last heir of the first Communist dynasty in history – that of Kim – which for more than 70 years has been governing North Korea in a brutal, repressive manner. Even Islam has adopted the teachings of Lenin and Gramsci in their two strategic expressions of conquest: the soft-jihad and the hard-jihad.

It is not Communism that has been dissolved, but anti-Communism, in which the Catholic Church ought to be the soul. The errors of Communism frontally oppose Catholic truth guarded by the Church, which has Her universal tribune in the Chair of St. Peter. But there has been a Pope sitting on this Chair since 2013 who believes Communists think like Christians, and so Christians ought to think like Communists[66]. The mainstream media of the entire world have defined Pope Francis from time to time as a Marxist, a socialist, and leader of the international left[67].

Even many of Pope Francis’ opponents see the main enemy of the Church – not in the errors spread by Russia starting from 1917, but in the United States, and they acclaim Putin a new Constantine, in the same way Gorbachev was acclaimed on December 1st 1989 in the Vatican, when, according to newspapers like the “Corriere della Sera” his visit had opened up “the possibility of a new Constantine, not pagan, but head of a Communist, Atheistic State, which would contribute positively to a renewed ecumenical approach between the two great souls of Christianity”[68].

The Third Secret

These considerations lead us to some final reflections.

The Third Secret released in 2000, consists in the vision of a chastisement which involves all of mankind, but which first of all strikes the Pope, bishops, priests and religious.

This chastisement is manifested in persecution. But we today know the scene of the Third Secret is not this concluding tragic picture. There is another dramatic scene, which isn’t part of the message, but is part of revelations received by sister Lucia.
In her biography, compiled by Carmel in Coimbra on the basis of documents unknown until then, conserved in its archives, a vision is recorded which Lucia had in the convent chapel at Tuy in front of the tabernacle on January 3rd 1944. Our Lady, after having prompted her to write the text of the Third Secret, showed her a scene which Lucia describes in this way:

“I felt my spirit inundated by a mystery of light that is God and in Him I saw and heard the point of a lance like a flame that is detached touch the axis of the earth and it trembles: mountains, cities, towns and villages with their inhabitants are buried. The sea, the rivers and clouds exceed their boundaries, inundating and dragging with them in a vortex, houses and people in a number that cannot be counted; it is the purification of the world from the sin in which it is immersed. Hatred, ambition, provoke the destructive war. After I felt my heart racing and in my spirit a soft voice that said: ‘In time, one faith, one baptism, one Church, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. In eternity, Heaven!’ This word ‘Heaven’ filled my heart with peace and happiness in such a way that, almost without being aware of it, I kept repeating to myself for a long time: Heaven, Heaven!!”[69].

This vision seems to depict a subsequent scenario to the one of the Third Secret. The Third Secret shows us a terrible persecution against the Church, but the flame bursting out of the sword of fire which the Angel holds, is extinguished when it comes into contact with the light radiating from Our Lady’s right hand. Here instead, the point of the Angel’s lance is like a flame which reaches forth until it touches the axis of the earth. Our Lady, has been unable to avoid the supreme chastisement because mankind has rejected Her appeal for penance, but also because the Shepherds of the Church have not fulfilled Heaven’s requests.

True, complete and infinite happiness can only be reached in Heaven. Yet, Heaven exists even here on earth: in the Catholic Church, which, like Her Founder, is the only Way, the [only] Truth and the [only] Life. “In eternity – Heaven, says Our Lady but in time: “one faith, one baptism, one Church, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic”.

The reasons for the failed Consecration to Russia, do not only lie in the will not to meddle in the politics of a foreign country. The reticence of recent Popes in consecrating Russia explicitly is also due to the concern of harming the ecumenical reunification between Christians of the East and West. Thus, as Professor José Barreto notes, “ The Post-Communist, Russian Episcopate, accused of proselytism, sustains that the Fatima message of the conversion of Russia, doesn’t consist in making Russia a Roman Catholic country”[70].

However any form of false reunification between the Churches of the East and West is condemned by the Blessed Virgin’s words. The conversion of Russia proclaimed by Our Lady is not only a purely political or generically moral conversion; it is a religious conversion; it means not only the total collapse of the Communist ideology in Russia and the world, but also the end of the centuries-old schism in which Russia is immersed. A nation is converted when its laws and institutions profess the true religion. Russia will convert when it returns into the bosom of the One True Church: One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman.

The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, which is also the Reign of Mary announced by many saints and privileged souls, is nothing other than the triumph of the Church and the natural Christian order, protected by Her. Today it is this order which is violated, denied and overturned. It is this order we want to respect, affirm and restore.

[1] Fr. Joaquín Alonso, Doctrina y espiridualidad del mensaje de Fatima, Arias Montano Editores, Madrid 1990, pp. 167-202.
[2] Fr. Serafino M. Lanzetta, Fatima. Un appello al cuore della Chiesa, Teologia della storia e spiritalità oblativa, Casa Mariana Editrice, Frigento 2017. Cfr. also Padre Stefano Maria Manelli, Fatima tra passato, presente e futuro, in “Immaculata Mediatrix, 3 (2007), pp. 299-341.
[3] Guido Vignelli, Fatima e il trionfo del Regno di Maria: significato e portata di una profezia incompresa, Conference held at the Fondazione Lepanto, July 4, 2017.
[4] Dom Prosper Guéranger, Il senso cristiano della storia, Società Editrice Il Falco, Milan 1982, p. 9.
[5] Fr. Ramiro Saenz, Fatima. Geografia, Historia, Teologia y Profecia, Gladius, Buenos Aires 2017, p. 56.
[6] Plinio Correa de Oliveira, Prefazione a Antonio Augusto Borelli Machado, Fatima: Messaggio di tragedia o di speranza? Con la terza parte del segreto, it. tr. Luci sull’Est, Rome 2000, p. 6.
[7] Fr. J. Alonso, Doctrina y espiridualidad, cit., p. 43.
[8] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Message of Fatima, Vatican City 2000, p. 8.
[9] Vladimir Ilic Lenin, Tre fonti e tre parti integranti del marxismo, in Opere scelte, Editori Riuniti-Progress, Rome s.d., vol. I, pp. 42-44.
[10] Fr. Gustave Wetter, Storia della teoria marxista (private use), Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome 1972.
[11] Karl Marx, Tesi su Feuerbach, it. tr. in Feuerbach-Marx-Engels, Materialismo dialettico e materialismo storico, edited by Cornelio Fabro, La Scuola, Brescia 1962, pp. 81-86.
[12] Augusto Del Noce, Lezioni sul marxismo, Giuffré editore, Milan 1972, p. 79.
[13] V. I. Lenin, I compiti urgenti del nostro movimento, in Opere, vol. IV, Editori Riuniti, Rome 1957, p. 406.
[14] V. I. Lenin, Che fare, in Opere scelte, Progress, Moscow 1947, vol. I, pp. 213-214.
[15] Antonio Caruso, Il comunismo al potere, Oltrecortina, Milan 1964, pp. 127-128.
[16] Alexandre Ouralov, Stalin al potere, it. tr. Cappelli, Bologna 1953, p. 6.
[17] Anthony Rhodes, The Vatican in the Age of the Dictators 1922-1945, Hodder and Stoughton, London 1973, p. 131 (pp. 131-140).
[18] Cfr. Roberto de Mattei, Il ralliement di Leone XIII. Il fallimento di un progetto pastorale, Le Lettere, Florence 2015.
[19] Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, Toute la Vérité sur Fatima, Editions Contre-Réforme Catholique, Saint Parres-les-Vaudes 1984-1985, vol. II, pp. 361-362.
[20] Philippe Chenaux, L’ultima eresia. La Chiesa cattolica e il comunismo in Europa da Lenin a Giovanni Paolo II (1917-1989), it. tr. Carocci, Rome 2011, p. 27.
[21] Laura Pettinaroli, La politique russe du Saint-Siège (1905-1939), Ecole française de Rome, Rome 2015.
[22] AA.EE.SS, Russia, Pos. 659, fasc. 38-41 (1923).
[23] AA.EE. SS, Russia, pos. 625, fasc. 10, ff. 3-8.
[24] AA.EE. SS, Russia, Pos. 626, fasc. 16, ff. 64-72.
[25] Antoine Wenger, Rome et Moscou 1900-1950, Desclée de Brouwer, Paris 1987.
[26] Michel d’Herbigny s.j., L’aspect religieux de Moscou en octobre 1925, Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, Rome 1925.
[27] Memorias et cartas da Irma Lucia, ed. by Antonio Maria Martins s.j., Porto 1973, p. 341.
[28] Fatima in Lucia’s own words. Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, ed. by Fr Louis Kondor SVD, Postulation Center, Fatima 1976, p. 192.
[29] Fatima in Lucia’s own words, cit., pp. 198-199.
[30] Memorias et cartas, cit., p. 405.
[31] Ivi, p. 411 (pp. 407-411).
[32] Documentazione critica su Fatima. Selezione di documenti (1917-1930), Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, Vatican City 2016, pp. 451-529.
[33] Ivi, pp. 517-522.
[34] A. Rhodes, The Vatican in the Age of the Dictators, cit., p. 355.
[35] Memorias et cartas, cit., p. 465.
[36] Fr. Jean-Baptiste Rovolt, Les Martyrs Eudistes, J.de Gigord, Paris 1926, pp. 52-56.
[37] Fr. J. Alonso, Doctrina y espiridualidad, cit., pp. 221-235.
[38] AA.EE. SS, Circa la propaganda comunista nel mondo, in Stati Ecclesiastici, Pos. 473-474, fasc. 475, ff. 23-29.
[39] Vicente Cárcel Orti, Buio sull’altare. 1931-1939: la persecuzione della Chiesa in Spagna, Città Nuova, Rome 1999; Mario Arturo Jannaccone, La repressione della Chiesa in Spagna fra Seconda Repubblica e Guerra Civile (1931-1939), Lindau, Turin 2015.
[40] Pius XI, Encyclical Divini Redemptoris of March 19, 1937, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 29 (1937), p. 96 (pp. 65-106.)
[41] Memorias et Cartas, cit., p. 419.
[42] Ivi, p. 437.
[43] Ivi, p. 446.
[44] Pius XII, Apostolic Letter Cupimus imprimis of January18, 1952, in AAS, 44 (1952), pp. 153-158.
[45] AAS, 41, 1949, pp. 427-428.
[46] Fr. R. Saenz, Fatima, cit., p. 341.
[47] Giovanni XXIII nel ricordo del Segretario Loris F. Capovilla, Edizioni San Paolo, Rome 1995, p. 115.
[48] Cfr. Vincenzo Carbone, Schemi e discussioni sull’ateismo e sul marxismo nel Concilio Vaticano II. Documentazione, in “Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia”, vol. XLIV (1990), pp. 11-12.
[49] Jean Madiran, L’accord de Metz ou pourquoi notre Mère fut muette, Via Romana, Versailles 2006.
[50] È stato documentato che Boris Georgievic Rotov fu un funzionario del KGB (cfr. Gerhard Besier-Armin Boyens-Gerhard Lindemann, Nationaler Protestantismus und Ökumenische Bewegung. Kirchliches Handeln im kalten Krieg (1945-1990), Duncker und Humblot, Berlin 1999).
[51] Roberto de Mattei, Il Concilio Vaticano II. Una storia mai scritta, Lindau, Turin 2010, pp. 174-177.
[52] See also, Hansjacob Stehle, Eastern politics of the Vatican 1917-1979, Ohio University Press, Athens 1981; Alessio Ulisse Floridi, Mosca e il Vaticano, La Casa di Matriona, Milan 1976 and the documents collected by Giovanni Barberini, L’Ostpolitik della Santa Sede. Un dialogo lungo e faticoso, Il Mulino, Bologna 2007; Id., La politica del dialogo. Le carte Casaroli sull’Ostpolitik vaticana, Il Mulino, Bologna 2008.
[53] Edouard Dahnis s.j., Sguardo su Fatima. bilancio di una discussione, in “La Civiltà Cattolica”, 104, 2 (1953), pp. 392-406.
[54] Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Il Messaggio di Fatima, Città del Vaticano 2000, p. 4.
[55] François Furet, Le passé d’une illusion. Essai sur l’idée communiste au XX siècle, Robert Laffont /Callman Levy, Paris 1995, p. 13.
[56] The Mitrokhin dossier reconstructed the history of the KGB and its operations in Europe and in United States through thousands of documents that came directly from Moscow and were brought to Great Britain by the former Soviet spy Vasili Mitrokhin and catalogued by the University of Cambridge historian Christopher Andrei.
[57] George Weigel, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, Doubleday, New York 2010, pp. 65-67.
[58] Carmelo de Coimbra, Um Caminho sob o olhar de Maria, Ediçoes Carmelo, Coimbra 2012, p. 417.
[59] Perché il Papa non ha nominato la Russia, in “Madre di Dio” (June 1985), p. 7.
[60] Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima. Joie intime, événement mondial, Editions de la Contre-Réforme Catholique, Saint-Parres-Les-Vaudes, 1991, pp. 372-382. In a letter to her sister Bélem of August 29, 1989, Lucia declared that the consecration done by the Pope on March 25, 1985, satisfied the requests of Our Lady.
[61] Mickail Gorbaciov, Perestrojka. Il nuovo pensiero per il nostro paese e per il mondo, it. tr. Mondadori, Milan 1987, p. 309.
[62] Cfr. Cristina Siccardi, Fatima e la Passione della Chiesa, Sugarco, Milan 2012.
[63] Benedict XVI, Theological commentary of the Message of Fatima, in Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, The message of Fatima, Vatican City 2000, p. 43.
[64] Benedict XVI, Insegnamenti, VI, 1 [2010], p. 699.
[65] Aa. Vv., Le Livre noir du communisme, Robert Laffont, Paris 1997, it. tr. Mondadori, Milan 1998.
[66] Interview with Eugenio Scalfari, “La Repubblica”, November 11, 2016.
[67] George Neumayr, The Political Pope: How Pope Francis Is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives, Hachette Book Group, New York 2017; Antonio Socci, Bergoglio è il leader della sinistra mondiale, “Libero”, November 13, 2016.
[68] Francesco Margiotta Broglio, Costantino in casa Wojtyla, in “Corriere della Sera”, February 2, 1990.
[69] Carmelo de Coimbra, Um Caminho sob o olhar de Maria, p. 267.
[70] José Barreto, Russia e Fatima, in Enciclopedia di Fatima, a cura di Carlos Moreira Azevedo e Luciano Cristino, tr. it. Cantagalli, Siena 2007, p. 430.