- WHY FATIMA
- FATIMA CENTER
- PRAYER & DEVOTION
by John Vennari
Tied to the future opening of the new concrete basilica at Fatima (see below), scheduled to be completed by 2007, a special conference was held in Fatima on the weekend of Sister Lucy’s translation, February 17 and 18. It was entitled: “The Sanctuary — Divine Initiative in Favor of Men”, and hosted by Rector Guerra.
It was a Friday evening, all-day-Saturday affair boasting about eight speakers. I attended part of it, and a Portuguese-speaking co-worker attended the entire event.
The apparent purpose of the conference was to increase the number of volunteers at the Shrine; for the existing structures, as well as for when the new church opens. It was not an inter-religious event, so it did not contain the interfaith craziness that bobbed up at the 2003 Fatima Congress I attended.1 Some of what was said was interesting and edifying. Other statements were troublesome.
As for what was good: we learned that 90% of the pilgrims who come to Fatima are Portuguese, and 10% are foreigners. We also learned that there are still many peregrinos (the Portuguese word for pilgrims) who make the pilgrimage on foot.
Bishop Dom Augusto Cesar, of whom I otherwise know nothing about, said that the Eucharist is the center of the Apparitions, that pilgrims should return home spiritually changed, that they should come to the Shrine looking for silence, and that the Shrine is not a place to be entertained. He also spoke of the three Fatima children’s dedication to the conversion of sinners.
In fact, another speaker actually spoke of sin as an offense against God, rather than something that merely degrades the inherent dignity of the human person, as is the current humanistic trend. He also spoke of the traditional formula, “To Jesus through Mary.”
(Left) The hideous new modernistic concrete basilica at Fatima, now nearly complete, looks more like a maximum security prison than a church. (Right) In fact, the building shown at the right is a prison located close to Sister Lucy's convent in Coimbra. So in painful irony, we have a prison that looks like a church, while Rector Guerra's new "church" looks like a prison.
Sadly, there were also disturbing statements that issued from the mouths of some speakers. Friar Lopez Morgado, OFM, for example, gave a lecture in which he sought to find a Scriptural basis for a system of thought regarding welcoming and hospitality to the sanctuary (his theme). In the course of this presentation, he tried to justify an inter-religious approach, saying that as Christ ate with the gentiles, our churches can extend hospitality to those who do not pertain to our Catholic religion.
This statement is misleading and seems to deliberately lack precision. On the one hand, no Catholic church or shrine closes its doors to any non-Catholic who wishes to enter the church to observe Catholic ceremonies, see the church interior, or privately say a prayer. But the Catholic Church has always forbidden opening its doors to non-Catholics for the purpose of having their own ceremonies, or for a retreat for Anglican ministers, or for any sort of non-Catholic prayer service, such as Hindus in the sanctuary. The Church also forbade any kind of prayer-gathering wherein Catholics would pray in public with non-Catholics.
The reason the Church always acted thus was not for mere disciplinary reasons that can legitimately change over time. Rather, it is because the Catholic Church is the one true religion revealed by God, and cannot in any way be put on the same level as false and man-made religions.
For example, Pope Leo XIII taught in his encyclical Libertas that it is “contrary to reason that truth and error should have equal rights.” Yet ecumenism place error and truth as “equal partners in dialogue”, as the modernist Father Jacques Dupuis said at the Fatima inter-religious Congress hosted by Rector Guerra in October 2003.
Pope Leo XIII said further in his encyclical Immortale Dei that it is “unlawful to place the various forms of divine worship on the same footing as the true religion”. Along the same lines, Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas bemoaned the fact that governments had placed the “true religion of Christ on the same level with false religions and ignominiously in the same category with them.” If it is bad enough for governments to adopt this indifferentism, how much worse is it when it occurs through ecumenical and inter-religious initiatives in Catholic churches or on Catholic property?
Our Lord died on the Cross, shedding every drop of His Precious Blood giving birth to the Catholic Church alone, with Her hierarchical structure and with Her seven sacraments. All other religions are not simply good systems that are less perfect than Catholicism. Rather, they are counterfeit religions, that is, they are false religions that give the false impression of leading people to God and to salvation. These false religions are set up against the manifest will of Christ, no matter what the subjective intentions of their adherents.
Once the Catholic Church opens its doors to members of false religions publicly praying within its walls, it give the false impression that these religions are good enough for salvation, and that members of these false religions need not convert to the one true Church Christ established for salvation. Present-day inter-religious activity goes completely against the infallible dogma of the Catholic Church defined at the Council of Florence that all Catholics must believe with divine and Catholic Faith:
“The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”2
Likewise, Blessed Pope Pius IX, faithful to perennial Catholic doctrine, taught in his Syllabus of Errors that it is an error to believe that “Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion.” Yet today’s ecumenism, in effect treats Protestantism as nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, the very error rightly condemned by Blessed Pope Pius IX.
Today’s ecumenism and inter-religious practice advocated at Fatima, is thus contrary to the clear papal teaching throughout the centuries condemning such activities (see Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Mortalium Animos), and is a proven breeding ground for scandal and for the heresy of religious indifferentism consistently condemned by the Popes.
Friar Lopez also gave voice to another error. He claimed that the Bible in his room has the presence of God as much as the Eucharist has the presence of God in the Church.
This is patently false, since it is in the Holy Eucharist alone that Jesus Christ is sacramentally present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. There is no transubstantiated Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Bible. We do not place the Bible in a monstrance and conduct Benediction. We do not need consecrated hands to hold the Scriptures, in the manner that only the consecrated hands of the priest are supposed to touch the Sacred Host. Our Lady of Fatima did not teach the three children, “My God, my God, I love Thee in the Bible”. No, She taught them “My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament”. The Angel of Fatima spoke of the Blessed Sacrament as the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in the tabernacles of the world.
Yet Friar Lopez was simply repeating an error many of us have heard since Vatican II, a kind of “equalization of the presence of God” in the Eucharist, in the Bible and (though Friar Lopez didn’t say this), in the Assembly. This false three-fold equalization is essentially a Protestant concept that has taken hold with too many Catholics.
No one at the Congress, including Rector Guerra, corrected these erroneous statements. They were allowed to be absorbed without contradiction by the 200 or more attendees, mostly laity.
In any event, the purpose of the Conference, as stated, was to canvass for more Shrine volunteers, and to announce a three-month extensive training session on how to be a welcomer at the Shrine. The exact nature of what is this extensive training remains to be seen.
Yet when one recalls the alleged hospitality Rector Guerra gave to the 3000 Catholics in last August’s Pilgrimage of Reparation, sending Sisters out to interrupt their prayers with their own hymns, and attempting to drive praying Catholics from the esplanade by cranking music over loudspeakers at full volume, one may wonder what type of hospitality training these volunteers will receive.
1. See “Fatima to Become Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who was There, J. Vennari, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 75 Winter 2004. On the web at archive.fatima.org/news/newsviews/sprep111303.asp.
2. Pope Eugene IV, The Bull Cantate Domino, [Council of Florence], Denzinger 714.