MANILA, Philippines?Controversy continues to surround the so-called Third Secret of Fatima, what it is and why the Catholic Church has been allegedly withholding most of it.
In a 2009 documentary on the famous Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, the History Channel explored the message of warnings and prophecies in the letter of Sister Lucia containing the third of the three secrets revealed to her and her cousins by the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917.
Three young Portuguese shepherds?Lucia Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto?witnessed six miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary between May and October of 1917 in Fatima, Portugal. This event is popularly known as Our Lady of Fatima, and is officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a miracle.
The secrets of Fatima were the Blessed Virgin?s prophecies expressed in symbolic images. Fatima scholars have interpreted the first secret as predicting the cataclysmic events of World Wars I and II.
The second involved Mary?s request for the consecration of communist Russia to God. The apparition of the Blessed Virgin warned that if Russia were not consecrated, nations will be destroyed. Many Catholics believe that the destruction of churches and the murder of thousands of civilians in the former Soviet Union were a result of the failure to fulfill this request.
It is the third and final secret of Fatima that has given rise to much speculation, mainly because more than half of it has remained secret.
In 1941, Lucia fell ill. Fearing that the secret would be lost if she died, the Bishop of Leiria asked her to write down the third secret of Fatima in a document.
This letter was sealed and Lucia requested that the secret be revealed in 1960 or after her death. The letter remained in the Vatican vault for decades.
Despite Lucia?s declaration that it should be released to the public after 1960, saying that ?by that time, it will be more clearly understood,? the Vatican withheld the third secret until June 26, 2000.
According to the History Channel documentary, only 25 out of the 62 lines of the third secret of Fatima, handwritten by Lucia in Portuguese, were ever revealed. The rest of the prophecy, the last 37 lines, remains a mystery to this date.
The text of the third secret released by the Vatican to the public in 2000 referred to a cataclysm of fire, which Fatima scholars believed to have referred to the Cuban Crisis, a disaster which was prevented through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, a nonfulfillment of a third-secret prophecy.
In 1961, the Cuban missile crisis was the closest mankind ever got to a potential nuclear confrontation, that is, between Russia and the United States.
The text of the third secret also referred to a ?bishop in white? who would be killed. Fatima scholars believe this referred to Pope John Paul II, who survived two failed assassination attempts, the first in the Vatican in 1981, the second in the Fatima church itself in Portugal.
For the second time, this nonfulfillment of a third secret prophecy was attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.
While recuperating from the first assassination attempt in 1981, Pope John Paul II asked to re-examine the sealed letter of Lucia that contained the prophecy of the third secret. Perhaps he did believe that he was the ?bishop in white? referred to in the letter as he eventually decided to reveal the third secret in 2000 after decades of silence from about a dozen Popes for the 62 years since the apparitions.
Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian Pope for centuries, is indeed the ?Fatima Pope.? He died in 2005 two months after Lucia died, their perceived roles in the Fatima messages seemingly fulfilled.
In 1984, the Pope consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, one of the messages in the second secret of Fatima as a precondition for world peace. After that, for the first time, a Russian leader, Gorbachev, visited the Papacy, where he was touched by his dialogue with Pope John Paul II.
3 important events
Three important events happened after this. First, Gorbachev instituted détente as a unilateral policy toward establishing peace with the Western world. This led to the eventual breakup of the Russian empire and the end of the Cold War.
Second, Gorbachev opened up the churches in Russia and ended decades of suppression of the Church. Third, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the last of many events easing tensions between the United States and Russia. Again, for the third time, Fatima scholars believed the Blessed Virgin had intervened in preventing a possible future US-Russia confrontation.
This nonfulfillment of third secret prophecies on three counts leads us to conclude that perhaps prophecies have an ?if.? They are premised on the fact that man fails to return to the Lord. If he returns to the Lord, if he continues praying, prophecies are either reversed or deferred.
Two biblical events demonstrate this fulfillment and nonfulfillment of prophecies. First was Sodom and Gomorrah, where the Lord said that, if there was but one holy person, He would spare the twin cities. He destroyed them in fulfillment of a prophecy. Second was the affluent trade city of Nineveh, the New York City of biblical times, where the Lord spared the city after people repented their ways, a nonfulfillment of a prophecy.
Disaster or salvation
Fatima scholars believe that the last portion of the third secret, which remains a secret to this day, if this is really true, may refer to the destiny of mankind, with two possibilities?disaster or salvation. Either disaster, a global cataclysm related to what the Book of Revelation, the last chapter of the Bible, refers to as ?the end times,? or salvation, what Revelation refers to as a thousand-year ?era of peace? after a period of ?tribulations.?
Disaster may take any form, from World War III, perhaps triggered by an Arab-Israeli or Pakistan-India confrontation, to an asteroid from outer space that astronomers say is a distinct possibility, to the reversal of the Earth?s polar magnetic flux due to the alignment of the Earth and the sun to the super-black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, which ancient Mayans predicted to occur on December 12, 2012, the end point of their 26,000-year calendar cycle.
Astronomers have confirmed the alignment, but not the disaster, which some people today attribute to the alignment. They say such a polar reversal will trigger a dramatic global climate change and famines. The mildest possibility is global warming melting the ice caps and flooding populated shores worldwide.
Whatever it is, a global cataclysm that would easily wipe out two-thirds of mankind looms as a possible unrevealed third-secret prophecy. There have been many prophets of doom, many unfulfilled prophecies, which have made us all indifferent. The third secret is similar to the story of the boy who cried wolf, or the 10 virgins who were left out of the wedding.
The third secret hovers in the back of our consciousness, forgotten, shelved, inconsequent to the way we live our lives. As we try to discern mankind?s destiny, we have to keep in mind that prayers and prophecies are inextricably intertwined, so are good will and global peace, so are greed of oil firms and Wall Street and world wars.