Pope Francis Faces Uphill Battle
with Church Officials
Pope Francis, within weeks following his election, telephoned the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Jose de Cruz Policarpo, to ask His Eminence to consecrate his new papacy to Our Lady of Fatima. He then called a second time with the same request, according to the Cardinal. (See: “Pope Francis asks to Consecrate His Pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima”.)
It seems pertinent to ask: why did he have to ask twice? Would not one personal phone call from the Vicar of Christ be sufficient to gain assured compliance from a Cardinal of the Church? Yet we are told that two phone calls were placed by the Pope to ask for the same thing. As the text of the ceremony was left up to the Cardinal, along with its venue and the participants, if any, there would seem to be few details the Pope would have had to work out. It seems more likely Pope Francis was trying to make certain that Cardinal Policarpo would follow through.
Follow through Cardinal Policarpo finally did. Addressing the Portuguese bishops in their 181st Plenary Assembly, he announced the Pope’s request for this consecration and he expressed his own desire that “all the episcopal conference [would join] itself to the realization of this request.” The Portuguese bishops accordingly decided to make this collegial act at the conclusion of the Mass of the International Anniversary Pilgrimage on May 13th, the 96th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s first apparition.
The international pilgrimage was presided over by Brazilian Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, and (as Zenit News Agency reports) drew crowds of close to 570,000 people during its two-day celebrations, with more than 37,000 pilgrims walking to the holy site from various points of the country. A strong representation of clergy (including 37 bishops and 290 priests) was also in attendance.
At the end of the Mass, Cardinal Policarpo led the Portuguese Episcopal Conference in consecrating our Holy Father’s pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. “Most Holy Virgin,” he began, “We, the Bishops of Portugal and this crowd of pilgrims, stand at Your feet, on the 96th anniversary of Your apparition to the little shepherds, in this Cova da Iria, to fulfill the clearly expressed wish of Pope Francis to consecrate to You, Virgin of Fatima, his ministry of Bishop of Rome and Universal Shepherd.” The Cardinal went on in this prayer of consecration (lasting about six minutes) to ask Our Lady of Fatima for all the graces of discernment and courage that the Holy Father will need to “overcome, in charity, the trials that the renovation of the Church will bring him.”
“Most Holy Virgin, We, the Bishops of Portugal and this crowd of pilgrims, stand at Your feet, in the 96th anniversary of Your apparition to the little shepherds, in this Cova da Iria, to fulfill the clearly expressed wish of Pope Francis to consecrate to You, Virgin of Fatima, his ministry of Bishop of Rome and Universal Shepherd. … Thus, we consecrate to You, Our Lady, You Who are the Mother of the Church, the Ministry of the new Pope.”|
The local ordinary of Leiria-Fatima, Bishop Antonio Marto, commented on the significance of this consecration. At a May 12th press conference, he noted: “To consecrate the Ministry of the Pope to Our Lady of Fatima ... means ... to entrust to Mary his person, his Ministry, and his intentions for the spiritual reform of the Church....”
Bishop Marto also addressed the pilgrims after the act of consecration, reading a message of thanks communicated to Cardinal Policarpo from Pope Francis through the Apostolic Nunciature in Portugal. “The Holy Father expressed his pleasure over the initiative and his profound gratitude for the realization of his wish, in union of prayer with all the pilgrims of Fatima, to whom he grants his heartfelt Apostolic Blessing,” said Bishop Marto.
After the act of consecration of the pontificate of Pope Francis to Our Lady of Fatima, Bishop Antonio Marto of Leiria-Fatima read to the pilgrims the message addressed by the Apostolic Nunciature in Portugal, in which the Nunciature stated: “The Holy Father expressed his pleasure over the initiative and his profound gratitude for the realization of his wish, in union of prayer with all the pilgrims of Fatima, to whom he grants his heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.”|
Unfortunately, however, the consecration ceremony did not raise a ripple in the constantly churning sea of Catholic bloggers, nor in the Catholic or secular press. It was, in terms of its accompanying publicity, a non-event. Again, we must ask “Why?’” It was as though the whole affair were an embarrassment that might be best passed over. But the consecration of a papacy is no small event in the history of the Church. Such silence about so significant an event had to have been deliberate and orchestrated. By whom? For what end? Some clues are contained in the text of Cardinal Policarpo’s prayer of consecration.
The Cardinal’s text emphasizes the need for a “renovation” of the Church. But these references to renewing the Church mark a subtle but complete change of emphasis from the need for reforming the scandal-ridden curia that has been so widely discussed lately (especially in light of Pope Benedict’s resignation). “Renewal” is long-established code for the Vatican II reform of the Liturgy and the doctrinal vagaries of the past 50 years that have wrought so much destruction and confusion in the Church. So even the Pope’s desire to have his papacy consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima appears to have been hijacked and made into a call for staying the course on the post-conciliar disasters. This cannot have been what Pope Francis had in mind.
Conspicuously absent from the Cardinal’s prayer of consecration was any mention of the specific content of the Fatima Message and Our Lady’s requests. The impression the Cardinal gave was that Fatima was a call to prayer as a means of “conversion.” But whose conversion? What sort of prayer? And why would an apparition of Our Lady and a spectacular public miracle be required for a general exhortation to pray?
The Cardinal did not mention the consecration of Russia as a condition for the conversion of that nation and an ensuing period of world peace. Russia is most assuredly not converted and world peace seems a present impossibility, barring a miracle. But it is precisely such a miracle that Our Lady has promised, if Her conditions are met. You will never discover this from the Cardinal’s remarks on May 13.
Yes, prayer is needed for conversion, but a very specific prayer by specific persons for a specific nation (see: “Only the Right Prayer Can Protect Us from Asteroids”). The Pope and the bishops, together, must consecrate Russia, by name, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Then, Russia will be converted and peace will come to the world. Not otherwise. No way.
Cardinal Policarpo thought it best not to mention any of this. It is a fact both sad and ludicrous, and an indication that Pope Francis will have to battle those within his own hierarchy who are holding fast to Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s position that Fatima concerns past events; that the consecration requested by Our Lady was satisfied by a 1984 consecration of the world, made by Pope John Paul II with no mention of Russia, without the bishops’ participation and with no subsequent conversion or period of peace; and that the full Third Secret has been revealed.
And why does the present Pope feel such a sense of urgency about having his papacy consecrated, not to Our Lady only, but to Our Lady of Fatima? Did Pope Francis read the undisclosed part of the Third Secret (now referred to in the Roman media as “the attachment”) before he telephoned Cardinal Policarpo? Something prompted the Pope’s action. Fatima simply will not go away, much as some would like it to go away (see: “The Unsinkable Message of Fatima”).
We know that Pope Francis is a man with the heart of a child devoted to his Heavenly Mother. But Cardinal Policarpo, like so many other high-ranking churchmen today, is known as a “progressive” prelate and no friend of Tradition (see: “More on the Consecration of Pope Francis’ Pontificate on May 13”). We must pray with all our hearts that the Holy Father’s devotion to Our Lady will triumph in the end. Meanwhile, we should do all we can to hasten the moment of that triumph (see: What You Can Do To Help).
We must work and pray ever more fervently that the Holy Father and the bishops will heed the requests of Our Lady of Fatima. (See: Petition to Our Holy Father — The Consecration of Russia and Petition to Our Holy Father — The Release of the full Third Secret.)
We must also keep informed. Read the recent “Fatima Perspectives” articles listed below.
Latest Fatima Perspectives
How the Pope Can Change the World — On May 12, 2013 a good number of supporters of the Fatima Center in Rome participated in the Italian March for Life. The Fatima Center representatives were part of a crowd of 30,000 which included “Large groups of young priests, seminarians and religious in cassocks and habits; families; and people of every profession including politicians and doctors, gathered to march against abortion, legalized in Italy in 1978 and which has seen millions of children killed.” But during the Italian March for Life we saw something that should be a model for the future of Catholic social action: the personal participation of the Pope.
The Unsinkable Message of Fatima — In one of his columns from Rome during the conclave that elevated Cardinal Bergoglio to the Throne of Peter, Christopher Ferrara wrote: “In these early stages of the new pontificate, we cannot overlook the Marian dimension of the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires. And it is the Marian dimension of the Roman Pontiff that will be decisive for what must be done to bring the current ecclesial crisis to an end while averting the ultimate calamity depicted in the vision of the ‘Bishop dressed in White.’” The Marian dimension of the new Pope has manifested itself most dramatically in favor of Fatima.
Only the Right Prayer Can Protect Us from Asteroids — Regarding the possibility of an asteroid colliding with the earth, U.S. Rep. Bill Posey of Florida last month asked NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, at a March 19 Science Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, “What would we do if you detected even a small one like the one that detonated in Russia headed for New York in three weeks? What would you do?” Bolden replied: “The answer to you is, if it’s coming in three weeks, pray.”
On the Upcoming Consecration of Pope Francis’ Pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima — Cardinal Jose Policarpo, Patriarch of Lisbon and president of the Portuguese Bishops Conference, announced during his opening remarks at their Conference’s 181st Plenary Assembly on Monday, April 8 that Pope Francis had requested him to consecrate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. The Portuguese bishops have decided that this will take place on the upcoming feast of Our Lady, Monday, May 13th at the Shrine.
A Prelude to the Consecration of Russia? — Rorate Caeli reports that, in response to the personal request of Pope Francis, the bishops of Portugal will “consecrate the Pope’s Pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima” and that the bishops… have just decided that this consecration be made next May 13.” So, yet again, Fatima comes to the fore of a pontificate, just as it did with Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, the latter three of whom made pilgrimages to Fatima during their respective reigns, thus keeping this “private revelation” firmly implanted in the public consciousness of the Church.
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