Against the Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

by Father Paul Leonard

Once again I am compelled, in the interest of the truth, justice and the message of Fatima, to denounce and deplore the deliberate and despicable attempts of various depraved individuals who, having falsified Our Lady's Message, have abandoned all restraint in their malicious and slanderous campaign against Father Gruner. Those wretched disseminators of falsehood have stepped up their immoral campaign of lies, distortions and slander as a means of retaliation against Father Gruner and The Fatima Crusader, whose only "crime" has been to tell the whole truth about Fatima without distortion or misrepresentation.

The campaign to falsify Our Lady of Fatima's Message has already been well demonstrated in The Fatima Crusader (Issue 20, 22). In Issue No. 20, it was demonstrated that the "interview with Sister Lucy", which John Haffert published in Soul Magazine was a hoax and a fraud. Haffert has never denied the charge. In April-May 1987 (Issue No. 22), it was pointed out that Haffert had not retracted the bogus interview, and it was further proved that "Mr. Haffert is guilty of a deliberately perpetrated fraud."

The response that appeared in the July-August 1987 issue of Soul is a tacit admission of guilt, since they could do no better than to evasively skirt the issue saying that it is not their intention to "respond directly to the criticisms". This is a morally unacceptable response, since the accusation concerns a very grave public misconduct: an attempt to deceive the public and to publicly misrepresent Sister Lucy. Two years have passed, and John Haffert still refuses to deny that he has perpetrated this public act of criminal misconduct.

The fact, however, that the editors of Soul do not "respond directly" to the charges, does not mean that they have not made any response. They have answered in a manner which, for them, is already very predictable: more lies and smears against Father Gruner and The Fatima Crusader.

It is important to recall that Sister Lucy issued her official and public statement to the Apostolic Nuncio on March 19, 1983, saying that the Consecration of Russia has not been made as Our Lady has demanded. In spite of this, Soul Magazine has continued to deliberately misrepresent Sister Lucy. Father Peter Leoni S.J., in a cold-blooded and naked act of deliberate deception, stated in Soul (July-Aug. 1987), that the consecration of the world (May 13, 1982), along with the consecration of the world done on March 25, 1984, were done by "the Holy Father and the bishops of the world in answer to Our Lady of Fatima's request to have Russia and the whole world consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart." This statement is a compound lie which contains several falsehoods:

1) all the bishops of the world did not participate,

2) Our Lady of Fatima never asked for the consecration of the whole world,

3) the consecration of the world performed by John Paul II was not done in answer to Our Lady's request for the consecration of Russia. The Holy Father himself twice acknowledged this fact on March 25, 1984.

In an attempt to deliberately deceive his readers, Father Leoni appeals to what he fraudulently claims to be "Sister Lucy's opinion" when he refers to the bogus Soul interview which has already been exposed as a hoax.

Father Leoni claims to have met with the alleged interviewer, who still remains anonymous. According to Father Leoni, the alleged anonymous interviewer thinks that Sister Lucy was satisfied with the Holy Father's consecration at Fatima. It is important to consider the fact that Leoni does not produce any quotations of Sister Lucy to this effect, but only cites the anonymous individual's opinion. The reader is supposed to believe that Sister Lucy is satisfied with the 1982 consecration because some unidentified person thinks that Sister Lucy is satisfied with that consecration!

It is abundantly evident that Father Leoni is attempting to deceive the readers of Soul. Father Leoni and the editors of Soul know very well that it is an indisputably proven fact that Sister Lucy stated to the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Portalupi: "the Consecration of Russia has not been made as Our Lady has demanded."

Nevertheless, Father Leoni would attempt to have us believe that Sister Lucy is "quite satisfied" with that consecration because some unidentified man, who claims to have spoken with Sister Lucy, thinks that she is satisfied with it.

It is also worthy of note to recall the fact that at approximately the same time as the alleged Blue Army anonymous interview, Bishop Pavol Hnilica spoke with Sister Lucy and she told Bishop Hnilica that the Consecration of Russia requested by Our Lady has not yet been done.

Father Leoni has attempted to defend the preposterous claims of the Blue Army leadership, not by telling the truth or presenting a rational argument, but by slandering The Fatima Crusader. Father Leoni accuses The Fatima Crusader of having a "fanatic spirit", and he attempts to substantiate this defamatory charge by falsely and slanderously stating that The Fatima Crusader has "the audacity of reproaching him (the Holy Father) for weakness." The Fatima Crusader has never reproached the Holy Father and has never accused him of weakness.

It is also noteworthy to consider that Father Leoni's malicious and reckless criticism of Father Gruner appears to rest on a principle of doubtful orthodoxy: the statement, "the audacity of reproaching the Holy Father" strongly suggests that it is a sinful act of presumption whenever anyone criticizes or corrects the Pope. This proposition is contrary to Catholic moral doctrine. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that "even prelates must be corrected," … fraternal correction which is an act of charity, is within the competency of everyone in respect of any person … provided there be something in that person which requires correction." (Summa Theol. II-II 33.4)

St. Thomas goes on to say that "if the faith were endangered, a subject must rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter's subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says in Gal. 2:11, Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray away from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects."

The leaders of the Blue Army continue to brazenly and deliberately falsify Our Lady of Fatima's Message. I have already demonstrated this in previous articles of The Fatima Crusader, and notably in Issue No. 22, (April-May 1987), there appeared the article entitled: "The Blue Army Leadership has Followed a Deliberate Policy of Falsifying the Fatima Message".

Now this is a very serious accusation, and the contents of that article proved that the charge is true, but did the Blue Army leaders ever deny it? NO. To date they refuse to deny or answer the charge. They refuse to give any direct answer to specifically enumerated charges while they continue to demonstrate their intention to obstinately persist in the practice of publishing falsehoods and distortions about Fatima.

For five years Father Gruner and The Fatima Crusader have attempted to correct the leaders of the Blue Army from their wicked practice of falsifying the Fatima Message: first in private, and then publicly but without naming the Blue Army and its leaders in public, for the sake of charity. However, charitable and fraternal attempts to correct that group of cold-blooded and calculating deceivers proved to be futile.

After four years of such attempts, it became manifestly evident that the Blue Army leaders were deliberately and obstinately misleading that portion of the faithful who read their publications. Charity and justice demand, for the sake of the common good, both spiritual and temporal, that the practice of falsification and deception be exposed.

In order to protect the reading public from the deception practiced by this gang of very adept professional liars who hypocritically masquerade as apostles of Our Lady, The Fatima Crusader has published such articles as "The Plot to Silence Our Lady", and similar articles.

To date, the Blue Army leaders have not demonstrated the slightest compunction or remorse for their having deliberately published lies, distortion and slander. Quite to the contrary, and oblivious to all correction, it is "business as usual" for the leaders of the Blue Army, who continue to unabatedly spew forth lies, and distortions.

In the July-August 1987 issue of Soul, John Haffert says: "A change in Russia now comes too late to turn back the tide of evil …" Haffert is saying that we can no longer believe what Our Lady of Fatima promised. Our Lady promised that when the Pope and the bishops will have consecrated Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, then by the means of that consecration, Russia will be converted and a period of peace will be given to the world.

Haffert, however, says that this is not the case: it is too late — consecration or no consecration — it's too late to turn back the tide of evil. By making this statement, Haffert has clearly demonstrated that he no longer has any faith in Our Lady's word. John Haffert remains obstinately and impenitently 'semper infidelis'.

It is a foolish lie, a cruel insult and a gesture of betrayal to all the victims of Russian Communist tyranny to say that the conversion of Russia is already taking place. The Catholic Church remains fiercely and fiendishly persecuted in the Soviet Union and in Soviet occupied lands. On June 12, 1930, Sister Lucy wrote "the persecution in Russia will end if the Holy Father will himself make a solemn public act of reparation and consecration of Russia … and order all the Catholic Bishops to do the same…"

John Haffert does not believe Our Good Lord's promise: "a change in Russia", says Haffert, "comes too late to turn back the tide of evil and hatred…." In spite of this, out of the other side of his mouth, Haffert announces that the conversion of Russia is already taking place! Not only has Soul Magazine (under Haffert's leadership) been publishing this preposterous claim for some time, but we see the same drivel repeated in the May-June 1988 issue of Soul.

The headline reads: "It is Really Happening in Russia". However, despite the inferences of the article to the effect that the conversion of Russia is already taking place, what is really described in the article is not the conversion of Russia, but an account of how the faithful in Russia continue to be threatened by Communist persecution. We must, for the sake of truth, insist that the conversion of Russia has not and is not even now taking place. Russia is in a state of rebellion, of apostasy against God. It continues to persecute the Church.

The conversion of Russia will take place when the godless government of Russia will have turned to God in faith and ceased to be apostates who persecute the faithful. In LA QUESTION DU MESSIE ET LE COUNCIL DU VATICAN (P. 101), the Fathers Lémann explain that "Before God a nation has apostatized when its government has posited an act of apostasy, though many members of that nation may have remained faithful."

The mere fact that some individual Russian citizens may be returning to God does not at all mean that the conversion of the Communist government of Russia from its national apostasy is taking place. For that to take place, the government must cease to be officially atheistic.

The conversion of Russia will consist in that act by which the rulers of Russia will officially and publicly abolish state atheism and declare Russia to be a Christian nation. Our Lady of Fatima has promised unconditionally that when the Pope and bishops will have consecrated Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, the conversion of Russia will take place and a period of peace will be given to the world.

It is Our Lady and Our Lord who promise these things. Those faithless fools who falsify and oppose this message have set themselves in opposition to Jesus and Mary.

It is inexcusable that Haffert and the editors of Soul refuse to answer the serious charges against them regarding their published falsehood, distortions and slander. While it is understandable that Haffert does not dignify with an answer the personal slurs of such ruthless and amoral smear merchants as James Donovan, it nevertheless remains morally untenable for Haffert and the Soul editors to refuse to account for their criminal behavior.

Now, regarding James Donovan and E. Michael Jones: having written and published allegations that are false and slanderous, these hard core hypocrites are guilty of perpetrating a most despicable crime of defamation against Father Gruner. These infamous scoundrels have lost all sense of justice and decency in their blatant and utterly malicious display of calumny and slander. Donovan is so bold as to make the false public accusation that Father Gruner is a liar: Donovan the sleaze-monger says, "Father Gruner lies about his credentials."

Now Father Gruner published a statement wherein he said that he is a fully ordained priest with full priestly faculties in the diocese of St. Catharines. Saying this, Father Gruner made an entirely truthful and correct statement.

1) Father Gruner is a fully ordained Roman Catholic Priest. I was personally present at Father Gruner's ordination in Frigento, Italy in the diocese of Avellino. Donovan himself cites Bishop Fulton's statement to the effect that Father Gruner was ordained and is incardinated in Avellino, Italy, and was released by his bishop a decade ago to work in another diocese.

2) Father Gruner has never claimed to be incardinated in any other place than Avellino. He never hinted or suggested that he was incardinated in Canada, and it is perfectly licit and quite common for priests to be incardinated in one place while working in another.

3) It should be mentioned here that although Father Gruner's faculties have been given periods of 1 month, 3 months or 6 months, he has had faculties in Canada continuously from April 1981 til June 1988 (this being written in June 1988).

4) "With full priestly faculties in the diocese of St. Catharines" Father Gruner made this statement in his letter of Ash Wednesday, February 17, 1988. Bishop Fulton's letter of January 14, 1988 proves that this statement is correct. In that letter Bishop Fulton says: "By this letter I wish to extend the faculties which I have granted you to March 1, 1988…" This clearly demonstrates that Donovan's quotation of Bishop Fulton is a false and slanderous fabrication.

Donovan says, "Father Gruner lies about his credentials in his magazine." This statement is a clear example of a criminally libelous charge which is deliberately defamatory and slanderous.

Father Gruner said that he is incardinated in Avellino and Bishop Fulton confirmed that fact.

Father Gruner said that he had full priestly faculties in the diocese of St. Catharines, and Bishop Fulton's letter proves that this is also correct. These were temporary faculties but they were without any restriction and therefore full faculties. Quite obviously it is not Father Gruner but James Donovan who is lying.

Donovan makes another malicious and slanderous defamation directed against the person of Father Gruner when he states that "Father Gruner used the statue for financial gain by misleading the readers of his magazine that this statue was blessed by Pope John Paul II." Father Gruner has never stated that the statue was blessed by any other Pope than Paul VI. He has published in over 600,000 copies of Our Lady's Urgent Appeal that it was blessed by Paul VI.

The inference to the contrary imagined by Donovan is not only irrational but is an entirely malicious and dishonest deduction.

Donovan reveals himself to be a totally unscrupulous character assassin of boundless iniquity when he accuses Father Gruner of exercising his Marian apostolate for the purpose of personal financial gain. It is in this criminally sacrilegious gesture that Mr. Donovan displays within himself what appears to be the soul of a materialist.

It seems that Mr. Donovan is incapable of understanding how a priest of God could be exercising his ministry for the holy and honorable purpose of making Our Lady and Her most urgent Fatima Message known and loved.

It is the same sacrilegious and demonic spirit which prompts Mr. Donovan to say that Father Gruner is fighting for "the Fatima Market" and "we're going to see more and more aggressive marketing on Gruner's part as he tries to increase his share of the Fatima market."

Donovan makes another vile and slanderous charge when he says that "the statue Gruner had was blessed by Paul VI in 1967, but even that statue doesn't exist anymore. Sources told me that the statue was destroyed in a car accident more than three years ago, yet Father Gruner carries it with him, gruesomely enough, in a metal casket while on speaking engagements. No one has asked Father Gruner to open up the casket." The statue was indeed blessed in 1967 by Pope Paul VI, but everything else that is stated in that passage is absolutely false — it is a malicious and slanderous fabrication.

The beautiful pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady of Fatima has been in the custody of Father Gruner since 1978 and has never been destroyed. While on speaking engagements, Father Gruner not only opens the case but displays the statue so as to be seen and venerated by all present.

My first inclination was to attribute this totally ludicrous and absolutely incredible fabrication to the imagination of Anne Cillis, since she hysterically maintains that the statue is still in her custody and control. However, Cillis told directors of the National Committee for the National Pilgrim Virgin of Canada (from which board she was previously expelled by all members present at the meeting in November 1977, this took place before Father Gruner was even elected Director) that she is not the source of this bizarre tale. Therefore, it seems reasonable to me to surmise that the story was hatched in James Donovan's criminal mind.

Donovan lies when he says that he made a call to Father Gruner. The Fatima Crusader has no record whatsoever of any such attempt. Contrary to all accepted journalistic practice, Mr. Donovan at no time spoke to Father Gruner nor to any other Director or Officer of this Fatima Apostolate. Father Gruner did however telephone Mr. Jones, protesting that the "Broken statue in a casket" story is a complete fabrication.

Now it is important to bear in mind that Father Gruner personally telephoned E. Michael Jones (publisher of Donovan's slanderous lies), and explained to him that the broken statue story was false. In addition to that, several members of Mr. Jones' board of advisors themselves saw the Pilgrim Virgin Statue as recently as April 16, 1988 at the Roman Forum.

It was on the podium for more than five hours. In spite of all this, Mr. Jones had the reckless and ruthless audacity to publish in May 1988, Mr. Donovan's slanderous and irreverent comment that "a closed casket of a statue that is broken is gruesome in that it shows a morbid preoccupation with religious objects." These facts demonstrate Jones' deliberate intent to criminally and sacrilegiously defame Father Gruner.

May God save the clergy from such misguided hypocrites who fancy themselves to be defenders of the faith. To what depths of iniquity these vile wretches have sunk in their fanatical devotion to falsehood and their sacrilegious passion to destroy priestly reputations.

Under the hypocritical pretense of Catholic journalism, Jones and Donovan have perpetrated public crimes of slander and sacrilege. Crimes which make them public sinners and enemies of the Church. Such crimes as these require public reparation since the injustice is public.

If they refuse to do this, then by their refusal they would thereby demonstrate themselves to be public enemies of the Church.

Ut inimilos sanctae ecclesiae humiliare digneris, Te rogamus audi nos. That You would deign to humble the enemies of Holy Mother Church, we beseech You to hear us.