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What is generally called the "Third Secret" is, in actuality, the third and final part of the full prophetic Secret which the Blessed Virgin gave to three child seers on July 13, 1917. The other two sections of the Secret (the vision of hell and the rise of Communist Russia) were publicly revealed with the publication of Sister Lucys Memoirs in the 1940s, the final part of the revelation remains in the possession of the Vatican and has not yet been disclosed to the world.
It was under the direct order of her bishop and, with the assistance of Our Lady, that Sister Lucy dos Santos wrote the third part of the Secret down on January 2, 1944. Speaking to Sister Lucy, the Queen of Heaven told her that it was Gods Will that she commit the Secret to paper and entrust it to her bishop and, through him, to Pope Pius XII. At that time, the Blessed Virgin also indicated that this part of the Secret was to be revealed to the Faithful no later than 1960.
Upon learning that her bishop was unwilling to open the envelope containing the Secret, Sister Lucy "made him promise," in the words of Canon Galamba, "that the Third Secret would be opened and read to the world upon her death or in 1960, whichever would happen first." If her bishop died first, it was agreed that the Secret would be confided to the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon. Despite this agreement, the Secret was, in fact, delivered to the Vatican where it has remained undisclosed to the public for over fifty years.
"Dangers threatening the faith and life of a Christian ... and therefore the world."
Since 1960 when, after reading the Secret, Pope John XXIII decided not to reveal the contents publicly, there has been growing speculation concerning what it contains. While in the past, speculation often identified the Secret with all sorts of cataclysms and disasters, more recent scholarship has indicated that it most likely concerns the widespread chaos, confusion and loss of faith that has gripped the Roman Catholic Church over the last three and a half decades.
In an interview conducted in November 1984, Cardinal Ratzinger (of the Holy Office) confirmed that, with the Popes permission, he had read the Secret and that it concerns, in his words, "a radical call to conversion, the absolute gravity of history, the dangers threatening the Faith and the life of a Christian, and therefore the world. And also the importance of the last times." The Cardinal went on to explain that "if it is not published ... it is to avoid confusing religious prophecy with sensationalism. But the things contained in the Third Secret correspond to what has been announced in Scripture and are confirmed by many other Marian apparitions."
While the precise wording of the Secret remains unknown to the public, the labors of such famous Fatima scholars as Father Joachin Alonso (former official archivist of Fatima) and Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité have nevertheless provided invaluable insights into its meaning and contents. The latters monumental 850-page work, The Third Secret is particularly noteworthy in this regard.
"The devil has succeeded in bringing in evil (to the Church) under the guise of good and the blind are beginning to lead others."
In his book, Frère Michel reports that, when questioned about the Secret, Sister Lucy said: "Its in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse, read them!" He notes that she then particularly indicated Chapters VIII through XIII of the Apocalypse (Chapter XIII specifically concerns the rise of the Antichrist). In his study of the Third Secret, Frère Michel builds a powerful and compelling case that the Third Secret is a grave warning of apostasy within the Catholic Faith and a serious indictment of those in the Church hierarchy who have promoted dissent and outright heresy.
Although Sister Lucy is not permitted to reveal the final Secret of Our Lady until the Holy Father himself deems the moment opportune, nothing has prevented her from giving her opinion on the crisis in the Church as an individual person. In a series of letters written between 1969 and 1972, Sister Lucy reacted vigorously against modernists and others in the Church, in particular those who seek to minimize the importance of the Rosary. "This disorientation is diabolical," she wrote, and "it is sad that so many people let themselves be dominated by the diabolical wave sweeping over the world! And they are blinded to the point where they are incapable of seeing error! Their principal fault is that they have abandoned prayer." The saddest part of all, according to Sister Lucy, is that so many priests, religious and bishops are swept away in the confusion. "The devil has succeeded in bringing in evil (to the Church) under the guise of good and the blind are beginning to lead others, as the Lord tells us in His Gospel."
In the conclusion to his study of the Third Secret, Frère Michel sums up his findings as follows:
"Having reached the end of our inquiry, we are able to discern, with near certainty, the essential elements of Our Ladys final secret: While in Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, in many nations, perhaps in almost the entire world, the Faith will be lost. The pastors of the Church will fail gravely in the duties of their office. Through their fault, consecrated souls and the Faithful in great number will let themselves be seduced by pernicious errors spread everywhere. This will be the time of the decisive battle between the Blessed Virgin and the devil. A wave of diabolical disorientation will be hurled over the world. Satan will introduce himself even to the highest summit of the Church. He will blind the minds and harden the hearts of pastors. And God will deliver them to themselves as a chastisement for their refusal to obey the requests of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This will be the great apostasy predicted for the last times; the False Lamb and False Prophet will betray the Church to the profit of the Beast, according to the prophecy of the Apocalypse."