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Portuguese Press Reports:
Editor’s Note: As a result of The Fatima Crusader and other Catholic journals reporting repeatedly on the scandal of Rector Guerra’s ecumenical follies, the Vatican has finally intervened as explained in the report below.
by John Vennari
Correio da manhã the second largest newspaper in Portugal, ran the front page story on February 12, 2006: “Fatima Rejects Control by Pope”. It was subtitled: “Bishop Carlos Azevedo guarantees that the Vatican will never control the Shrine and Bishop Januário Torgal reinforces that ‘Fatima does not need any theological police’.”
This report came the day after the February 11 Expresso, another prominent Portuguese daily, published that the Fatima Shrine will be changing its statutes due to direct intervention of the Vatican. The Shrine now will be “run by four bishops and greater control will be had by the Holy See”. The newspaper further claimed that Fatima will have a permanent delegate of the Vatican appointed to the task of “theological vigilance”.
“The motivation for this change according to what Expresso verified from several sources in the hierarchy”, said Expresso, “is the fact of the present Rector having opened up the Shrine to the worship of other religious confessions. In 2001, this happened with the visit to Fatima of the Dalai Lama — who prayed in the Little Chapel of the Apparitions — and more recently, with the realization of an ecumenical congress about shrines and various religions and a visit of a group of Hindus to the Cova da Iria in 2004.”
The Hindus did more than visit. In fact, they were allowed to conduct a pagan prayer chant at the altar in the sanctuary of the Little Chapel of the Apparitions.1 Expresso reported that the Vatican demanded explanations from the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Dom Serafim Ferreira e Silva, regarding these actions which went beyond even today’s loose standards of interreligious activity.2
Until now, the Fatima Shrine had been run exclusively by the Rector, who is named directly by the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima. The Rector enjoyed full power in pastoral and administrative decisions. “This is no small thing” said Expresso, “when considering that in 2004, the last year in which the amounts grossed by the Shrine is known, and to which Expresso had access — Fatima registered ‘profits’ of more than nineteen million euros and an expenditure of more than seven million. Investment, on which the shrine spent eleven million euros in that year alone, is in great part due to the construction of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity”, the modernistic concrete basilica now being built at Fatima.
Under the new arrangement the administration of Fatima is shared by three Portuguese Archbishops from the Archdioceses of Braga, Évora and Lisbon. The administration will also include the Bishop of Fatima, but the Rector will be named no longer by the Bishop of Fatima, but by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (PEC). Clearly, the Bishop of Fatima and the Rector have had their wings clipped, even though many Catholics wonder if the new administration will handle things any better.
More than 60 articles in the Portuguese daily press appeared around the time that Sister Lucy’s mortal remains were transferred from the city of Coimbra to Fatima. As recorded in this article, you can see that the Vatican is intervening to reign in the bizarre tactics of the Bishop of Fatima and Rector Guerra. Some Portuguese clergymen are trying to stop the Pope from controlling the Fatima Sanctuary.
The Portuguese Episcopal Conference (PEC) responded to this report with wailing and gnashing of teeth. The February 12 Correio da manhã, cited earlier, quoted Bishop Carlos Azevedo, spokesman for the PEC, saying: “The Statutes of the Fatima Shrine will be changed, but not because of a direct or imposition from the Vatican. That would make no sense.”
Bishop Azevedo confirmed that the “Shrine will henceforth be run by the Archbishops of Braga, Évora and Lisbon — in the latter case, the Cardinal Patriarch — in addition to the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima”. But the bishop downplayed this change, asserting that this new administrative set-up for Fatima “had already been foreseen in the 1950s. In practice, what we are going to do is reactivate the norm.”
Bishop Azevedo’s claim that the Fatima Shrine happens to be suddenly reviving 50-year-old statutes strains credibility. Many Fatima-watchers have been expecting a move like this for more than a year.
In September 2004, the same Correio da manhã reported on its front page “The Vatican is Shocked with Fatima”. It explained, “Rome has already made known to the Portuguese Episcopal Conference that it must change the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, D. Serafim Ferreira e Silva (with the excuse that he is at the end of his career), and replace the Rector of the Sanctuary, Monsignor Luciano Guerra. Otherwise, the Vatican will take over direct management of Fatima.”3
The Fatima Shrine Rector, along with the Bishop of Fatima, denied or downplayed this report, claiming that the Vatican “is not shocked with Fatima”.4
Rector Guerra also announced at the time that he would be available to remain at his post until 2007, when the new modernist basilica is complete. He said it would be “too weighty a job” for his successor to hand over the Shrine in the middle of this “complex process”.5
Nonetheless, a year and a half later, while we do not see a clear Vatican takeover, we see a change in structure that wrests a certain amount of power and autonomy from the Bishop of Fatima and the Shrine Rector — an upset substantial enough to rank it as front page news in the Portuguese press. This is too much to be mere coincidence.
As for the new administration including a representative from the Holy See to ensure “greater theological vigilance”, an unnamed high official of the Portuguese Catholic Church told Correio da manhã, “There won’t be anybody in here. Not on their lives.”
Dom Januário Torgal Ferreira, Bishop of the Portuguese Armed Forces, was likewise adamant: “The Shrine has no need for a theological policeman sent by the Holy See. No foolishness, no deviancy, has ever taken place there. That would be an absurd and unacceptable situation. Any vigilance would give support to the radicals …”
The “radicals” that Bishop Torgal Ferreira refers to are simply faithful Catholics who adhere to what the Church always taught against Catholics engaging in any sort of interreligious activity with non-Catholics, such as praying in public with false religions, or more specifically, allowing Hindus to commandeer a Catholic sanctuary for a pagan chant. It was no doubt these “radicals” who raised their voices against the recent inter-faith madness at Fatima, and brought worldwide attention to these profanations.
Bishop Torgal Ferreira cannot be taken seriously when he says “no foolishness, no deviancy, has ever taken place there.”
Foolishness and deviancy were manifest since October 2003, when Rector Guerra held an interfaith Congress at Fatima that contained express denials of defined Catholic doctrine.
It was at this conference that the heretical Father Jacques Dupuis denounced the infallible decree from the Council of Florence, “outside the Church there is no salvation”. He told the audience, “We need not invoke here that horrible text from the Council of Florence.”
This is an explicit repudiation of a defined dogma of the Catholic Church, which would have resulted in Father Dupuis’ condemnation by every Pope before 1958.
Dupuis also said at Rector Guerra’s interreligious Congress that all religions — Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist — are positively willed by God and these religions are all part of the “Kingdom of God”.
This statement defies the traditional Catholic dogmas that the Kingdom of God is the Catholic Church alone, not a conglomeration of Christ’s true Church with false, man-made religions, many of whose central tenets deny the divinity and centrality of Jesus Christ, and all of which contradict defined Catholic doctrine in one way or another.
Father Dupuis said further that the purpose of interreligious dialogue is not to convert non-Catholics to the Catholic Church, but rather, so that “the Christian will become a better Christian, a Hindu a better Hindu.”
This is a clear denial of the Divine Mandate given by Our Lord to His apostles: “Go, therefore, and teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 28:19) “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)
Yet Father Dupuis’ speech at this Congress received grand applause from all participants, including Rector Guerra. (I know because I attended the three-day Congress and sat beside him during Jacques Dupuis’ lecture.)6
Rector Guerra has not distanced himself from Father Dupuis’ ravings. Rather, he castigates concerned Catholics who call him to task for allowing such blatant heresy at his Fatima Congress.
Later, on May 5, 2004, SIC, a national television station in Portugal, broadcast that a group of Hindus from Lisbon were allowed to commandeer the Shrine for a pagan prayer chant, with the Hindu “priest” standing at the Catholic altar invoking false gods in the cause of peace, while the Hindu congregation in the Little Chapel chanted a response.
This is a desecration of the sanctuary, since Sacred Scripture teaches “the gods of the Gentiles are devils” (Psalm 95:5). Faithful to this Biblical truth, Saint Francis Xavier, apostle to India, who knew Hinduism intimately, taught “All the invocations of the pagans are hateful to God because all their gods are devils”.7 It is also a public sin against the First Commandment, “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.”
No foolishness? No deviancy? If Bishop Torgal Ferreira cannot recognize the foolishness, deviancy, and even heresy of the above-mentioned interreligious words and actions, then he is not fit to be in a position of power in the Portuguese Church, or anywhere else. In fact, only 50 years ago anyone this spiritually blind would not even have been allowed to become an altar boy.
As for interfaith ceremonies at the Shrine, Bishop Azevedo told Correio da manhã that there will never be an ecumenical celebration at Fatima, and that the Shrine is, and always will be an exclusive space of the Catholic Church, but that it is also “obviously open to meetings with other religions”.
Correio da manhã reported that Bishop Serafim Ferreira e Silva, Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, and Msgr. Guerra, Fatima Shrine Rector, refused to comment on the matter of the new administration of Fatima.
The closest to any comments from the bishop on the situation came during the February 19 Sunday Mass for the translation and internment of the body of Sister Lucy. Here, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Bishop Ferreira e Silva, defended ecumenical and interreligious orientation of the Shrine during his homily.
“We want to be better”, said da Silva, “we want to lend a hand, even in interreligious and ecumenical dimensions, to establish the reign of truth, justice, love and peace. We want to be more happy and more saintly.” He said this over the remains of Sister Lucy and before a crowd of over 100,000 pilgrims attending the Mass at the Fatima Shrine. Correio da manhã reported the bishop’s words under its February 20 headline, “The Altar of the World Wants Interreligious Dialogue.”
The bishop also said that by May 13, 2006, he will “no longer participate in the ceremonies as bishop in residence, but as a devotee of Fatima and resident of the area”.8 This can only mean that by May 13, Dom Serafim Ferreira e Silva will no longer be Bishop of Leiria-Fatima.
What the future holds remains to be seen. What is known so far is that there has indeed been a shake-up at the Fatima Shrine, doubtlessly due to the protests of concerned Catholics around the world against the new ecumenical orientation rearing its head at Fatima.
1. For story and photographic evidence, see “Pictures of a Desecration, Photo Report of Hindu Ritual at Fatima”, J. Vennari, published by the Fatima Center on the web at: http://archive.fatima.org/news/newsviews/0704desecrep.asp.
2. Expresso claims that it was then-Cardinal Ratzinger who leaned on the Bishop of Fatima, while the newspaper Publico claimed last year that the Vatican request for an explanation of the interfaith happenings at Fatima was issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship. (Publico, October 13, 2004).
3. “The Vatican is Shocked with Fatima”, Correio da manhã, September 29, 2004.
4. See “Vatican Calls for Resignation of Bishop of Fatima and Shrine Rector”, J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, November, 2004. Also published by the Fatima Center on the web at: http://archive.fatima.org/news/newsviews/120804vatican.asp
6. “Fatima to Become an Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who Was There”, J. Vennari, The Fatima Crusader, Winter 2004, Issue 75. On the web at: http://archive.fatima.org/news/newsviews/sprep111303.asp
7. Saint Francis Xavier, James Brodrick, S.J., (New York: Wicklow Press, 1952), p. 135.
8. “Bishop Admits Seers’ Tombs to be Transferred to Mausoleum”, Diário de Coimbra, February 20, 2006.