There’s no apocalypse in Fatima’s 3rd secretBy Quincy T. Ataviado
Philippine Daily Inquirer
(Editor’s Note: This article commemorates the 94th anniversary of the last of the series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, on Oct. 13, 1917, before three shepherd children in the small village of Fatima in Portugal. The events at Fatima gained renown because of the messages and warnings that Mary gave the three children, commonly referred to as the Three Secrets of Fatima.)
Was the consecration of Russia and the increased faith and piety seen in some sectors sufficient to appease the wrath of God that had apparently impelled the Blessed Virgin to warn humanity through the third secret of Fatima? Or would the feared apocalyptic event just suddenly and unexpectedly hit the world?
A first question, however, should be asked—is there really an apocalyptic prophecy or doomsday warning in the third secret as so many, including priests, believe?
There has been much speculation about the third and final secret of Fatima, largely because many believe that more than half of it has remained secret.
In 1941, Lucia, the last surviving shepherd, fell ill and was prevailed on to write the third secret in a document. The letter was sealed and Lucia requested that the secret be revealed in 1960 or after her death.
One or 4 sheets of text?
The Vatican withheld the third secret until June 26, 2000. The text released by the Vatican referred to a cataclysm of fire, believed to have referred to the Cuban Crisis of 1961, a disaster which was averted. The text also referred to a “bishop in white” who would be killed, which Fatima scholars believe referred to the failed assassination attempts on Pope John Paul II.
The rest of the prophecy has remained a mystery, giving rise to speculation that it may refer to either a disaster for mankind, or some kind of global cataclysm.
The Vatican has denied that there is such a prophecy, which was greeted with howls of disbelief and accusations of untruthfulness. Many claimed that the text revealed was not the real secret, but was just a part of it. One contention was that the true text was contained in one sheet of paper, not in the four sheets that the Vatican issued.
The text released also did not allegedly conform to the description of the message as written by Lucia. The real message reportedly carried quotes directly attributed to the Blessed Virgin. Also, the revealed message did not touch on the coming apocalypse and apostasy, and the satanic infiltration that would rend the Catholic Church.
But the Vatican has maintained that it has not withheld any pertinent detail or any secret, and there was no other document in its vaults. But somehow, the belief of a doomsday scenario has refused to die down.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, has coauthored a book, “The Message of Fatima,” with then Archbishop Tarciso Bertoni, stressing that the scanned copy of the real third secret was included in the June 2000 revelation made by the Vatican.
Bertoni, later made a cardinal and Vatican secretary of state, said that Lucia was asked, “Is this the only text of it?” She reportedly replied, “Yes, this is the third secret, and I never wrote any other.” Bertoni said the Virgin’s words were never censored as they “never existed.”
Bertoni called predictions that Rome would lose its faith and become the seat of the Anti-Christ as “absolutely crazy.” He said the Blessed Virgin would never allow that to happen, considering the popes’ great devotion to her and her proven love for the popes.
101 grounds for doubting
But the Vatican’s critics will not be appeased. One Christopher Ferrara, reportedly a Catholic lawyer, has come out with articles disputing the Vatican’s claims and also wrote a book which listed “101 Grounds for Doubting Cardinal Bertoni’s Account.”
And the doomsday belief has persisted. Even some Catholic priests are reportedly dismayed by a secret that did not talk of any huge coming catastrophe.
The speculations ranged from worldwide war to deep rifts in the Church, rifts that would reportedly give rise to rival papacies.
Akita and Fatima
Howard Dee, former Philippine ambassador to the Vatican who has studied the Fatima revelations, seems to see the warning of an apocalypse in the Fatima message. In an article published in the Inquirer last April, Dee said that three different Marian apparitions, including that at Fatima, have similar content.
The other Marian apparitions Dee referred to were at Amsterdam which occurred in 1945 and the 1973 ones at Akita, near the tsunami-devastated region of northeastern Japan.
Dee noted the similarities in the apocalyptic content of the warnings made by Our Lady of Akita with that of Our Lady of Fatima. Mary reportedly told Sister Agnes Sasagawa in Akita, that “if men do not repent and better themselves, God the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity … greater than the great flood, such as never seen before.”
She warned that “fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity.”
The Akita warnings reportedly included chaos within the Church. “One will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops,” and “churches and altars will be sacked” and many priests would leave the Church.
The way out
As at Fatima, the Virgin gave humanity a way out. She urged the daily recitation of the Rosary, along with sacrifices and repentance.
The text revealed by the Vatican in 2000, though it did not contain an apocalyptic warning, described a vision that could be interpreted as a warning of some impending tragedy involving the Church and of the attempted assassination of the Pope, which occurred in 1981.
The vision spoke of an angel brandishing a flaming sword. The flames threatened to set the world afire as the angel repeatedly cried, “Penance, penance, penance…” The radiance of the Blessed Mother, who stood by the angel, eventually subdued the flames of the sword.
Holy men and women, led by the Pope, were seen going up a mountain which had a big wooden cross at its crest. The procession passed a city in ruins. Corpses were strewn about.
Atop the mountain, soldiers gunned down and massacred the Pope and the other holy men and women. Two angels, who had stood beneath the cross, gathered their blood and sprinkled it on souls making their way to God.
Prayer is the answer
Ratzinger said the vision should mobilize change in the right direction. Discounting fatalistic explanations of the vision, he said the world can be saved from the danger it was facing. He emphasized prayer as a path to salvation, and the need to respond to summons to penance and conversion.
He stressed the vision did not indicate a fixed course for mankind. “We must discount fatalistic explanations of the secret such as that the would-be assassin of 13 May 1981 (of Pope John Paul II) was merely an instrument of divine plan … and could not therefore have acted freely …”
Always be prepared
It could be said that some predictions revealed in the Akita apparitions have occurred but not in the massive way expected by some. After the sexual revolution of the 1960s, many priests abandoned their vocations. A bishop and some priests were slain and churches and altars were sacked at the height of an insurrection in South America.
The widespread child abuse committed by Catholic priests in some countries could be attributed to satanic infiltration.
But the bigger question is about end of the world or of present civilization. The threat of a nuclear holocaust or a war bigger and more destructive than World War II seemed to have passed with the withering away of the Soviet Union—unless some terrorist country suddenly develops nuclear capability similar to that of the United States or the former USSR.
Or some natural or manmade calamity suddenly engulfs the world, like fire coming down from the skies.
The answer to that probably should come from Mary’s son, Jesus, who when He was on earth repeatedly said that only the heavenly Father knew the time of such things—and that it would be best to always be prepared.