Thousands of Catholics Raise Their Voices in Protest Against Hindu Rituals at Fatima Shrine


SIC, the Portuguese national television network, covers the inter-faith Fatima ceremonies, live.

Catholics by the thousands are up in arms against a recent unprecedented event at Portugal’s Fatima Shrine.

On May 5, 2004, a Hindu prayer ritual was conducted at the altar in the Little Chapel of the Apparitions, the chapel built over the spot where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three children at Fatima in 1917.

SIC television, a national station in Portugal, broadcast the event the same day it took place. The Fatima Center has obtained a copy of the broadcast, and is now circulating photographs of the event.

The ceremony was conducted by a Hindu priest accompanied by 60 Hindus from Lisbon. Catholics are most disturbed by the fact that the ritual was enacted with the approval of the Fatima Shrine Rector and the Bishop of Fatima.

Faithful Catholics regard this as a desecration. It is a sacrilege for a Catholic sanctuary — a sacred place consecrated for the worship of the one true God — to be used for worship of false gods.

The Hindus bring a gift of flowers. For them, Our Lady of Fatima is a manifestation of one of their gods.

"From the time of Christ", said Catholic Family News editor John Vennari, "Catholic teaching always forbade pagan worship inside a Catholic Church. Even in Old Testament times, it would have been unthinkable for heathen ceremonies to be permitted inside of Jerusalem’s holy temple."

Father Nicholas Gruner, the Fatima Center’s International Director, said, "Pure and simple, this is an outrage. It is an insult to every believing Catholic in the world, to say nothing of a most grave sacrilege. We intend to use every means at our disposal to raise public awareness and to stop further outrages like this one from ever occurring at Fatima again!"

Shrine Rector Guerra receives a shawl covered with verses of the "sacred book" of Hinduism, whose basic message is that all of life is an illusion.

Since October 2003, when it was announced that the Fatima Shrine would be turned into an "inter-faith center," Father Gruner and the Fatima Center have been leading the struggle to prevent what they fear will be the "sure and certain destruction" of the Fatima Shrine, unless many Catholics pray and react vigorously to prevent this disaster.

To date, thousands of petitions, letters and e-mails of protest have been sent to both Fatima and Rome. The Fatima Center has also published ads in several major Portuguese newspapers, calling for the Pope and Portuguese bishops to intervene, and for the Shrine’s Rector to resign. Since the campaign began, the Fatima Center web site ( has been deluged with inquiries from angry Catholics around the world, as well as by thousands of pledges of support and e-mails of encouragement.

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