The Fatima message, interpretive key for our time
The message of Fatima is the key to interpreting the dramatic events of the last two years, and in particular what is happening in Ukraine.
It is understandable that this perspective should be foreign to the contemporary man immersed in relativism, but what is most striking is the blindness of so many Catholics, incapable of rising to those heights which are the only ones that allow us to understand events in the dramatic hours of history. And we, after the Covid pandemic, are experiencing the dramatic hour of war.
The collaborationist front
The facts are these: on February 21 2022, Russian president Vladimir Putin, in a speech to the nation, announced the recognition of the independence of the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, and then ordered that troops be sent to the Donbas region with the aim of “ensuring peace.” On February 24 Putin declared in another speech that he had authorized a “special military operation” not only in Donbas but also in eastern Ukraine. The Russian invasion of Ukraine soon turned out to be much broader and more tragic than expected, causing throughout the world a climate of profound apprehension.
What has been the reaction of Italy and the West in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine? On the one hand there has been an explosion of sentiments of indignation and of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. On the other hand, however, a sentiment of affinity for Putin’s initiative has developed, which has led to the creation of a front that I call “collaborationist.”
The term ‘collaborationism’ indicates, in political language, ideological support for an invading foreign state. This term was coined during World War II to indicate collaboration with the Nazis in the territories they occupied. Collaborationism is not just an act of collaboration: it is an ideology, explicit or implicit, which in the case of the Russian invasion of Ukraine deserves to be analyzed in the three different expressions it has taken on so far.
Better defeated than dead?
The first position is that of those who say, or think, that Putin is absolutely wrong, but he is winning and resisting him leads Ukraine and Europe to greater evils than does the invasion. According to the Italian journalist Vittorio Feltri, for example, “Zelensky is worse than Putin, to whom he has handed over his unprepared people for the slaughter”; the Ukrainian leader should have surrendered and not resisted. In fact: “Better defeated than dead.”
Behind the slogan “Better defeated than dead” there is a philosophy of life, which is that of those who place their own particular interest before any other consideration of a higher order. There are no values or goods, however high, for which it is worthwhile to sacrifice and die. If the Russian invasion is to be preferred over resistance against it, this means that life, a material life, as peaceful and long as possible, is the supreme and essential good.
This is the philosophy of life of the pacifists who in the 1980s, when the Soviets were installing their SS.20 missiles against Europe, opposed the missiles of NATO with the slogan “Better red than dead.” It is the philosophy of life of those who, in 1939, wondered if it was right “To die for Danzig,” according to a slogan launched by the French socialist deputy Marcel Déat (1894-1955) to maintain that it was not worth risking war to defend the city of Danzig, with the conquest of which Hitler’s ambitions would presumably be satisfied. The socialist Déat would go on to found a party of National Socialist inspiration and represent a typical example of collaborationism.
If this is the position that must be taken in the face of an aggressor, Putin’s requests would have to be granted in order to prevent the death and suffering of a people, even if after Ukraine he were to invade the Baltic countries and, under nuclear blackmail, part of Western Europe. The logic is this.
The Ukrainian men who are not leaving their country, or are returning to fight after securing their families’ safety in the West, are expressing with their choice an opposite philosophy of life, one abandoned by relativist and rootless Europe. The philosophy of those who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their faith, for the love of the freedom and independence of their homeland, for the love of their own honor and personal dignity. True progress, true development in the life of peoples is intimately linked to this spirit of sacrifice. It is from here that are born the epitomes of holiness and heroism.
Does Putin have his reasons?
The second collaborationist position can be formulated in these terms: Putin has erred, but the wrongs are not his alone. Or, which amounts to the same thing: Putin also has his reasons. What are these reasons? For example, the fact that after the fall of the Berlin Wall the West supposedly humiliated Russia by surrounding its territory with NATO troops.
This seems like a reasonable argument, but if we want to be reasonable to the core we must remember that NATO was born as a system of defense against the troops in Warsaw; that Russia did not win but lost the Cold War, and that the Cold War between the two superpowers arose from the unfortunate Yalta peace treaty of February 1945, when with the consent of the Western governments Europe was partitioned into two zones of influence and Soviet communism became absolute master of Eastern Europe.
The peace of Yalta, which redefined the borders of Europe after World War II, was in turn the fruit of the Treaty of Versailles, which charged Germany with responsibility for World War I, imposed heavy sanctions on it, and handed over to Poland the corridor of Gdansk. Should we say that Hitler had his reasons for invading Poland, because the city of Gdansk was no less German than Donbas is Russian?
Whatever his reasons, Hitler had a plan that was just as expansionist as Putin’s, and today’s historian, just like yesterday’s politician, does not agree with Neville Chamberlain, who on September 30 1938 returned triumphantly from Munich with a fragile peace in hand, but with Winston Churchill, who said: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”
Is Putin Fighting a Just War?
It is perhaps to avoid this easy objection that collaborationism falls into a third formulation, more coherent but at the same time more aberrant than the first two. Quite simply: Putin’s war is a just war. And if it is a just war, the resistance of the Ukrainian people is unjust and the Western sanctions on Russia are unjust, because sanctions are applied to those who are wrong, not to those who are right.
Why would Putin be right? Why would his be a just war? Not only because he is defending the national interest of his country, mortified by the West, but because his war has an ethical dimension, as the Russian Orthodox Church assures us in the words of Moscow patriarch Kirill, who has said that Putin is fighting against a depraved West that authorizes Gay Pride. Putin himself, moreover, has often presented himself as a defender of the family and of the traditional values abandoned by the West. However, in his speech to the Valdai Club on October 22 2021, in which he attacked gender theory and cancel culture, Putin admitted that Russia experienced, long before the West did, the moral degradation that he is now denouncing. On December 7 1917, a few weeks after the Bolsheviks seized power, divorce was introduced in Russia; abortion was legalized in 1920; it was the first time in the world that this was done without any restrictions. And it was in Russia that the transition from Political Revolution to Sexual Revolution was implemented, with the experimental nursery school of Vera Schmidt (1889-1937), created in 1921 in the center of Moscow, where children were initiated into precocious sexuality.
The brakes were applied to divorce, abortion, the Sexual Revolution, not by Putin but by Stalin, in 1936, when he realized that his power politics would be undermined by the collapse of morality in Russia. Putin is in this vein. Today Russia is a country characterized by abortion and divorce, with the highest divorce rate in the world, even if it bans Gay Pride. And what are the traditional values from which Putin takes his inspiration? They are those of the Moscow Patriarchate, which today relies on Putin just as yesterday it relied on Stalin. Putin, like Stalin, in turn relies on the Moscow Patriarchate. The Moscow Patriarchate uses political power to defend the primacy of Orthodoxy; the state avails itself of the Church to consolidate the Russian people’s sense of identity and patriotism.
Russia’s “imperial mission” does not correspond only to Putin’s geopolitical ambitions, but also to the request of Patriarch Kiril, who has entrusted to Putin the mission of creating the Eurasian “Third Rome,” on the ruins of the second Catholic Rome, destined to disappear like all of the West. Can a Catholic accept this perspective?
It is deeply regrettable that an eminent Catholic archbishop such as Carlo Maria Viganò should present Putin’s war as a just war to defeat the West. The West is the firstborn son of the Church, today increasingly disfigured by Revolution, but still the firstborn. A European who disowns it on the pretext of fighting the New World Order is like a son who disowns his mother.
Moreover, the New World Order is an old utopia that has been replaced with that of the New World Disorder. Vladimir Putin is, like George Soros, an agent of world disorder. Putin, as the international analyst Bruno Maçaes observes, is convinced that chaos is the fundamental energy of power and that with good reason “he can be considered as the Yaldabaoth, the Gnostic demiurge, Son of Chaos and leader of the spirits of the underworld”.
The Church and the fall of the Western Roman Empire
The New World Disorder reminds us of the one experienced by the Western Roman Empire under the impact of the barbarian invasions. Among the dates that have gone down in history is December 31 406, when a mass of Germanic peoples crossed the frozen Rhine River and broke through the borders of the Empire.
One of these peoples, the Vandals, swept into Gaul, scaled the Pyrenees, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, devastated the provinces of Roman Africa.
The Roman Empire was steeped in relativism and hedonism, as the West is today. One of the leading centers of corruption was Carthage, the capital of Roman Africa, which enjoyed the reputation of being the “paradise” of homosexuals. A contemporary Christian author, Salvian of Marseille (400-451), writes that “the barbarians’ arms clashed about the walls of Carthage while the Christian congregation of the city raved in the circuses and wantoned in the theaters. Some had their throats cut without the walls, while others still committed fornication within”. The Vandals instead, like the Germanic peoples described by Tacitus, lived “in reserved modesty, not corrupted by the seduction of public shows or the stimulation of banquets. (…) Because their vices are not smiled upon and corrupting and being corrupted is not called fashion.”
What should the Christians have done? Opened the gates to the Vandals?
A few kilometers from Carthage was the city of Hippo, the bishop of which was St. Augustine, who was meditating precisely on the invasion of the barbarians when he composed his masterpiece, The City of God. The governor of Roman Africa was Count Boniface, a faithful friend of St. Augustine, whom Procopius of Cesarea, together with Flavius Aetius, called “the last true Roman.”
The bishop of Hippo did not call for surrender, but for resistance against the barbarians, writing to Boniface: “Peace is not sought to provoke war, but war is waged to obtain peace. Therefore, be inspired by peace so that in victory you may lead to the good of peace those you conquer.”
Boniface entrenched himself in the citadel of Hippo besieged by the Vandals. During the siege, which lasted for 14 months, St. Augustine died in August of 430, at the age of seventy-six. It was only when his voice fell silent that the Vandals conquered the city. The resistance of Boniface allowed the eastern troops to land in Africa and to join their forces with those of Boniface.
During those same years other bishops urged resistance against the barbarians. St. Nicasius went to his death at the cathedral of Reims; St. Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse, resisted the Vandals until his deportation; St. Lupus defended Troyes, of which he was bishop; St. Aignan, bishop of Orléans, organized the defense of his city against the Huns, allowing Aetius’s Roman legions to reach Attila and defeat him.
The Catholic bishop did not say: “Better Barbars than dead”.
The cause of the war according to the message of Fatima
If we want to remove the war we must remove the causes of the war. And the true and profound cause of the war, of the pandemic, and of the economic crisis that is taking shape on the horizon are the sins of humanity which has turned its back on God and his law.
In the apparitions of Fatima in 1917, Our Lady said that the European peoples’ departure from God leads to the divine punishment of war:
“[God] is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, of hunger, and of persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this I come to ask the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If they listen to my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not she will scatter her errors through the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and it will be converted and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.”
The message of Fatima is not a generic invitation to prayer and penance, it is above all the announcement of a chastisement and of the final triumph of divine mercy in history.
Did John Paul II consecrate Russia?
There are those who think that the consecration to Russia has already been made by John Paul II, when on March 25 1984, in St. Peter’s Square, he consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with a reference to “the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting.”
Sister Lucia initially said she was dissatisfied with this consecration in which Russia was not explicitly mentioned, but later changed her mind, considering the act of John Paul II valid.
Sister Lucia’s opinion is certainly authoritative, but it is in contrast with the more authoritative words of Our Lady that the same sister Lucia reports to us.
On August 29 1931, in fact, Sister Lucia sent to the bishop of Leiria a terrible prophecy of Our Lord. She had received an intimate communication according to which: “They did not wish to heed My request. Like the King of France, they will repent and do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church; the Holy Father will have much to suffer.”
It has been 38 years since March 25 1984. The spectacular self-dissolution of the Soviet regime without insurrections or revolts in 1991 seemed to be, and perhaps was, a partial result of that consecration. However Russia did not convert and communism did not die. Vladimir Putin is a national-Bolshevik who has not disavowed the errors of communism, and China is an officially communist nation that on March 7 2022 declared that its friendship with Russia is “rock solid.”
Yet even among Catholics there are those who consider Putin a Kathéchon, a obstacle to the realization of the New World Order, a shield against the antichrist which is the West, which is the Rome of Peter. The war, it is said, has extended the pandemic’s state of emergency, and this cannot be a coincidence.
We reply that this is true: the coming of the war on the heels of the pandemic, with the consequent emergency regime, cannot be a coincidence because there is no such thing as coincidence, but the one who holds the threads of the universe is not the Big Brother of Orwell, a god all-knowing and all-powerful like the evil god of the Gnostics. What rules the universe and orders everything to the glory of God is Divine Providence. From this come the punishments that are scourging unrepentant humanity today: epidemics, wars, and tomorrow a planetary economic crisis. All this is not preparatory to the advent of the antichrist, but is the realization of the unheeded prophecy of Fatima.
The Ukrainian bishops have asked Pope Francis to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We eagerly join this appeal that comes from Kiev under the bombs.
No light of hope is coming from Moscow. Could a light of hope come from Kiev?
In Fatima Our Lady prophesied the conversion of Russia, but conversion is a return to the origins, and the origins of Russia date back to the conversion of St. Vladimir, Prince of Kiev. Kievan Rus’ was one of the first nations to enter into medieval Christendom, before passing under the domination of the Mongols and then of the Muscovite princes who took up the anti-Roman inheritance of Byzantium. A part of the Ukrainian people kept the Catholic faith and in the councils of Florence (1439) and Brest (1595) found their way back to Rome. Pius XII in the encyclical Orientales omnes Ecclesias of December 23 1945 urges the Ukrainians to persevere in their fidelity to Rome: “Expose the cunning wiles of those who promise men earthly advantages and greater happiness in this life, but destroy their souls,” because “He who secures his own life will lose it; it is the man who loses his life for my sake that will secure it” ( Mt 10:37ff).
In the fifth century the Goths, the Vandals, and the Huns invaded the Roman Empire to divide its spoils. Today Russia, China, Turkey, and the Arab world want to seize the rich heritage of the West, which they consider, as has been said, “terminally ill.”
Someone may say: where are you, Stilicho who resisted to the Goths; where are you, Boniface who defended Africa from the Vandals; where are you, Aetius who defeated the Huns? Where are you, Christian warriors who took up arms to defend a world that was dying?
We answer that against the attacking enemy we have powerful weapons. Against the nuclear bomb of sin, Our Lady has put in the hands of the Pope the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and has put in our hands the rosary and the devotion of the first Saturdays of the month.
But above all she has put in our hearts the desire for the triumph of the Immaculate Heart over the rubble of the Putin regime, the Chinese communist regime, the Islamic regimes, and those of the corrupt West. Only she can do it; of us she asks an unshakable trust that this will happen, because She has infallibly promised it. This is why our resistance continues.