The Pope’s second in command last night sought to debunk the conspiracy theories around the Fatima prophesies, including that the Virgin Mary opposed the Second Vatican Council.
In a homily for a Mass late last night at the Portuguese Marian shrine, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the “faithful, bishops, the Pope” responded to the requests of “Mother of God” which were delivered to the three shepherd children who witnessed the apparitions a century ago.
Known as the secrets of Fatima, conspiracies have been rife that the Vatican was withholding information regarding the third prophesy, which was officially released in 2000. Some have argued that this included a warning against the reforms of Vatican II and as a result the Church hierarchy wants to conceal the full details of the third secret.
But Cardinal Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, sought to draw a line under the speculation, particularly the calling into question of the council.
“From East to West, the love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary has won a place in the heart of peoples as a source of hope and consolation. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council met in order to renew the face of the Church, and presented itself essentially as the Council of love,” the Cardinal explained in a homily prepared for the occasion.
Another issue for Fatima devotees is Mary’s message about the conversion of Russia and he request the country be dedicated to her Immaculate Heart. Some say this request has not been fulfilled even though St John Paul II performed a consecration of the whole world.
“The faithful, the bishops, the Pope did not fail to heed the requests of the Mother of God and of man: the whole world was consecrated to her,” Cardinal Parolin stressed. “Everywhere groups and communities of believers continue to grow. Awakening from yesterday’s apathy, they now work to show to the world the true face of Christianity.”
Before travelling with Francis to Fatima, the cardinal criticised the “useless speculation” around the secrets and that the message of Mary from the 1917 apparitions has been revealed “publicly and openly.”
Last night, the cardinal said the key message of Fatima was for Christians to be work for peace in through “conversion, reparation and trust”, and being willing to make sacrifices in order to combat corruption.
“If someone passes us a counterfeit banknote, a spontaneous and even logical reaction could be to pass it on to somebody else. This shows us how ready we are to fall into a perverse logic that takes over and makes us spread evil,” the cardinal said.
“I was an innocent victim when I received the counterfeit banknote, a victim of the evil of others. But once I decide to pass the counterfeit notes to someone else, I am innocent no longer. I have been won over by the seductive power of evil, creating a new victim. I have become an agent of evil, now responsible and guilty. The alternative is to halt the advance of evil, but that happens only by paying a price, by keeping the counterfeit banknote and thus freeing others from the advance of evil.”
He went on: “This is the only reaction that can stop evil and prevail over it. Human beings win this victory when they are capable of a sacrifice that becomes reparation.”
The Pope is in Fatima to mark the centenary of the apparitions and to canonise two of the child seers Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were aged seven and nine at the time of the visions. Their 10-year-old cousin, Lucia dos Santos, was also a witness. She became a Carmelite nun and it was she who transcribed the Fatima secrets. Sister Lucia, who died aged 97, wrote down the third secret in 1943 ordering it not to be opened until 1960. It was St John Paul II who 40 years later ordered it to be released. This prophesy was an apocalyptic vision of a persecution of Christians including a “bishop dressed in white”, taken to be the Pope, who comes under heavy fire from bullets and arrows and is killed.
This was taken to be a prophesy of the 1981 assassination attempt on the Polish Pope, although in Fatima yesterday, Pope linked himself to that prophesy while applying it to all baptised Catholics.
“I gaze at your robe of light and, as a bishop robed in white, I call to mind all those who, robed in the splendour of their baptism, desire to live in God and tell the mysteries of Christ in order to obtain peace,” he prayed.