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On November 22, 2006, Antonio Socci’s Il Quarto Segreto di Fatima (The Fourth Secret of Fatima), hit bookstores in Italy. The author, after much investigation, comes to the conclusion that the Vatican has not formally released the entire Third Secret.
The importance of this book cannot be overemphasized. Mr. Socci is a famous, mainstream Italian author and TV anchorman, not associated with any “traditionalist” group. In fact, he began the project firmly believing the Vatican had released the entire Secret on June 26, 2000. Yet the more he investigated, the more he became convinced that the entire Secret was not revealed.
Socci writes in the book’s Introduction that he was intrigued by an article published by Italian journalist Vittorio Messori at the time of Sister Lucy’s death: “The Fatima Secret, the Cell of Sister Lucy Has Been Sealed”. Here Messori spoke of the many writings and “Letters to the Popes” that Sister Lucy would have left in her cell. Messori then mentioned the Vatican’s June 26, 2000 revelation of the secret “which instead of solving the mystery, has opened other ones: regarding its interpretations, its contents, and about the completeness of the revealed text.”
This launched a burst of questions in Socci’s mind. Why would Messori, “a great journalist, extremely precise ... the most translated Catholic columnist in the world”, cast such suspicion on the Vatican? How could a person like Messori, so close to the Vatican ambient, be persuaded that the official version of the Third Secret was not convincing?
This was especially puzzling because five years previously, with the release of the Vision of the Secret, Messori expressed no reservations about what the Vatican published. Now he seems to have doubts. Now he seems to have questions.
Socci responded by engaging in a courteous journalists’ dispute with Messori in which Socci defended the Vatican position. But then, says Socci, “I was hit by an article written by a young Catholic writer, Solideo Paolini”, which appeared in a traditionalist magazine that entered the debate between Socci and Messori.
Socci says Paolini “listed a series of arguments against the official Vatican version (which was mine too, at the time).” Paolini argued that the Vatican is still holding the principal part of the Third Secret from being revealed “due to its explosive content”. Mr. Paolini had researched the subject of Fatima intensely, and had written a book on the Third Secret, Fatima, Don’t Despise Prophecies, which was published in Italy. To his own surprise, Socci found Paolini’s arguments worthy of consideration.
Mr. Socci expresses his view that it was a mistake of the Curia and the Catholic media to ignore the challenge of traditional Catholics who argue that the Third Secret was not fully released. “For instance,” he writes, “in the book edited by Father Paul Kramer [The Devil’s Final Battle] which united the works and articles of various authors, there is the denouncement of the failure by the Vatican to heed the requests of Our Lady of Fatima, and it is affirmed that ‘the price of indecision in the Vatican could well be extremely high and will be paid by mankind’.”
In short, Socci recognized that there were many questions left unanswered, many points about the Secret that were enigmatic.
Socci’s misgivings only intensified when he sought answers from the Vatican hierarchy, especially from Cardinal Bertone, who had coauthored with Cardinal Ratzinger the June 26, 2000 document on the Secret, “The Message of Fatima”.
Socci writes, “I’ve searched many influential authorities inside the Curia, like Cardinal Bertone, today Secretary of State in the Vatican, who was central to the publication of the Secret in 2000 … The Cardinal, who actually favored me with his personal consideration, having asked me to conduct conferences in his former diocese of Genoa, didn’t deem it necessary to answer my request for an interview. He was within his rights to make this choice, of course, but this only increased the fear of the existence of embarrassing questions, and most of all, that there is something (extremely important) which needs to be kept hidden.”
He closes his Introduction saying that he had not expected to find such a “colossal Enigma” regarding the Third Secret. And while he may not subscribe to each and every theory on this subject contained in traditionalist literature, “in the end I had to surrender”, he said, to the conclusion that there exists two texts of the Secret, one of which has yet to be revealed to the world.
Cardinal Bertone did not respond to Mr. Socci’s request for an interview.
Readers will recall that on May 13, 2000, during the Pope’s beatification of Jacinta and Francisco at Fatima, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, then Vatican Secretary of State, announced that the Third Secret would be revealed, and disclosed what he claimed was a portion of it. Sodano announced that the Secret speaks of “a bishop clothed in white” who, while making his way amid the corpses of martyrs, “falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire.”
Cardinal Sodano went on to indicate that this was a prediction of the 1981 assassination attempt against John Paul II.
Though most of the crowd applauded Sodano’s speech, some were immediately skeptical. The May 13, 2000 Associated Press quoted Julio Esteleo, 33, a Portuguese car salesman: “What they said all happened in the past. This isn’t a prediction. It’s disappointing, I think there’s more.”
Indeed, many Catholics said, “I think there’s more.”
Then on June 26, 2000, when the Vision of the Secret was finally published, we learned that Cardinal Sodano had not told the truth. The Secret does not say that the Pope falls “apparently dead”, but says that he is killed.
Even the Washington Post noted the discrepancy in its July 1 report: “Third Secret Spurs More Questions: Fatima Interpretation Departs from Vision”:
“On May 13, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a top Vatican official, announced the imminent release of the carefully guarded text. He said the Third Secret of Fatima foretold not the end of the world, as some had speculated, but the May 13, 1981, shooting of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square.
“Sodano said the manuscript … tells of a ‘bishop clothed in white’ who, while making his way amid corpses of martyrs, ‘falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire.’
“But the text released Monday (June 26) leaves no doubt about the bishop’ fate, saying that he ‘was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him.’ Everyone with the pontiff also dies: bishops, priests, monks, nuns and lay people. John Paul survived his shooting at the hands of a single gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, and no one in the crowd was harmed in the attack.”
This secular newspaper cannot help but look at Cardinal Sodano with a jaundiced eye, since it is clear that Cardinal Sodano gave a falsified picture of the Third Secret to which he force-fit a faulty interpretation.
Concerned Catholics immediately contrasted what the Vatican revealed as the complete Third Secret with what Cardinal Ratzinger had said about it in 1984. In his famous interview with Vittorio Messori, Cardinal Ratzinger said the Secret concerns “the dangers threatening the faith and life of the Christian, and therefore the world. And also the importance of the last times (novissimi).” The Cardinal further explained that “things contained in this Third Secret correspond to what is announced in Scripture and are confirmed by many other Marian apparitions …”
Yet the vision of a Pope being killed by soldiers does not necessarily reflect the “dangers threatening the faith”, nor does it necessarily correspond to the “last times”. Further, one can search “other Marian apparitions” in vain to find any reference to prophecy of a pope being shot by a group of soldiers. Nor is there any reference to such an event in Scripture.
Speculation was compounded by the fact that noted Fatima scholars, such as Father Alonso and Frère Michel of the Holy Trinity, deduced from extensive study of what has been previously said about the Third Secret, that the contents concerned the prophecy of a great crisis of Faith in the Catholic Church.
Of Fatima’s Third Secret, Cardinal Oddi remarked:
“It has nothing to do with Gorbachev. The Blessed Virgin was alerting us against the apostasy in the Church.”
The late Father Joaquin Alonso (+1981), who for sixteen years was the official archivist at Fatima, and who had many interviews with Sister Lucy, testified as follows:
“It is therefore completely probable that the text makes concrete references to the crisis of faith within the Church and to the negligence of the pastors themselves [and the] internal struggles in the very bosom of the Church and of grave pastoral negligence of the upper hierarchy …
“In the period preceding the great triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, terrible things are to happen. These form the content of the third part of the Secret. What are they? If ‘in Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved,’ … it can be clearly deduced from this that in other parts of the Church these dogmas are going to become obscure or even lost altogether. …
“Does the unpublished text speak of concrete circumstances? It is very possible that it speaks not only of a real crisis of the faith in the Church during this in-between period, but like the secret of La Salette, for example, there are more concrete references to the internal struggles of Catholics or to the fall of priests and religious. Perhaps it even refers to the failures of the upper hierarchy of the Church. For that matter, none of this is foreign to other communications Sister Lucy has had on this subject.”
Bishop Amaral, the third Bishop of Fatima, said the following about the Secret in a speech in Vienna, Austria, September 10, 1984:
“Its content concerns only our faith. To identify the [Third] Secret with catastrophic announcements or with a nuclear holocaust is to deform the meaning of the message. The loss of faith of a continent is worse than the annihilation of a nation; and it is true that faith is continually diminishing in Europe.”
Then there is the famous quote from Luigi Cardinal Ciappi, personal theologian to four Popes up to and including Pope John Paul II:
“In the Third Secret it is foretold, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church begins at the top.”
Catholics had good reason to believe that there was still part of the Secret — a second text yet to be revealed — that contained “explosive content” regarding massive apostasy in the Church.
Catholics also had good reason to suspect the existence of a second text because of evidence from Bishop Venancio at Fatima.
In 1957, when Cardinal Ottaviani’s Holy Office requested the Bishop of Fatima send the Secret to the Vatican, Fatima’s Bishop da Silva entrusted the task to auxiliary Bishop Venancio. At one point when Bishop Venancio was alone with the Secret, he held the envelope up to the light. He could discern that in the Bishop’s large envelope Sister Lucy’s smaller envelope. And inside this envelope was an ordinary sheet of paper with margins on each side of three quarters of a centimeter. Frère Michel points out that Bishop Venancio “took the trouble to note the size of everything.” It is from Bishop Venancio that we learn the final Secret was written on one small sheet of paper containing about 25 to 30 lines.
Yet the Vatican’s June 26 Third Secret was written by Sister Lucy on four sheets of paper and contained 62 lines. Here again, we encounter evidence of two texts of the Secret.
This evidence was confirmed in a remarkable manner this past summer.
Mr. Socci had been in contact with Mr. Solideo Paolini, the young journalist who had originally challenged Socci about the Secret. Paolini generously turned over to Mr. Socci his findings about the Third Secret that came from the former secretary of Pope John XXIII, Archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla.
I will adhere strictly to the chronology of events as it appears in Mr. Socci’s book.
Solideo Paolini visited Capovilla on July 5, 2006 in the Archbishop’s house in Sotto il Monta. After some preliminary conversation, Paolini told Capovilla that the reason for his visit derives from his journalistic research on Fatima. “Since you are a first degree source of information”, said Paolini, “I’d like to ask you some questions”, particularly on the Third Secret.
Archbishop Capovilla initially responded: “No, really, to avoid misunderstanding, because it has been revealed officially, I adhere to what has been said. Even if I would know more about it, we must stick to what is said in the official documents.”
This is a fascinating admission that gives a glimpse of how the Vatican operates. The Vatican presented its “official revelation” on the subject, and a retired Vatican prelate insists that he must adhere to the official documents, “even if I would know more about it.” It tells Mr. Paolini how policy is normally pursued in such matters, and it also lifts a curtain. It is a hint from the Archbishop, “Yes, I do know more about it!”
The Archbishop smiled at this point and said, “Please write to me your questions and I will answer them.” He said he would check through his papers, if he still had them, since he had already donated practically everything to a museum. He then told Paolini, “I’ll send something, maybe a phrase … just write and wait.”
A phrase?, thought Paolini, what could he mean by “I’ll send you a phrase”?
Three days later, Paolini mailed Archbishop Capovilla a list of questions. On July 18, Paolini received a package from Capovilla containing his answers and some papers from his archives.
Paolini writes, “Alongside of my questions regarding the existence of an unpublished text of the Third Secret which would have yet to be revealed, whose existence is highly probable due to a massive amount of clues, Msgr. Capovilla (who, as it is known, read the Third Secret), wrote literally, “I know nothing.”
Paolini was stunned. Archbishop Capovilla had read the Secret, he knew its contents, he was in a position to state unequivocally that the entire Third Secret was released in the year 2000 and there was nothing else to be revealed. Yet he had said, “I know nothing!”
This expression, opinioned Paolini, was “ironically hinting to a certain ‘omertà siciliani’” … a kind of mafia law of silence.
This was not the end of the surprises.
The package sent by Capovilla contained some official papers and a small autographed card which read as follows:
“July 14, 2006
“Dear Solideo Paolini,
“I am sending you some papers from my archive. I suggest that you purchase the Message of Fatima booklet, published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, year 2000.”
What a strange suggestion! Surely Archbishop Capovilla was aware that Mr. Paolini had researched the subject of the Third Secret extensively and already owned the June 26 document. It was clear to Paolini that this was yet another hint from the Archbishop. It was as if Capovilla said, “Read the June 26 document again, but this time, in light of the documents I am sending now!”
Sure enough Paolini found the ticking bomb inside the documents.
“By comparing that booklet published by the Vatican with the archive documents that the secretary of John XXIII sent me,” said Paolini, “a very telling contradiction comes immediately to the eyes of the author in ‘the reserved notes’, with a stamp of approval on it [official seals]. It is certified that Pope Paul VI read the Secret on the afternoon of Thursday, June 27, 1963, while the official June 26, 2000 Vatican document affirms, ‘Paul VI read the content on March 27, 1965, and sent the envelope to the Sant’Uffizio’s archives, deciding not to publish the text.”
So we have a discrepancy of dates. Capovilla’s official Vatican documents said Paul VI read the Secret on June 27, 1963, while the official June 26 Vatican document claimed the same Pope read the Secret on March 27, 1965.
Paolini immediately telephoned Archbishop Capovilla to seek an explanation on the contradiction of dates. Capovilla was a bit evasive in his answer, with statements such as “we’re not talking about Scripture”. Paolini immediately responded, “Yes, Excellency, but my reference is to an official written text (the official Vatican document), which is clear and is based on other archive documents!” Msgr. Capovilla responded, “Well, maybe the package Bertone [June 26 document] is not the same as the package Capovilla …”
At this point, a light shone in Paolini’s mind, and he ventured the $64,000 question: “So both the dates are correct because there are two texts of the Third Secret?”
After a brief pause, Archbishop Capovilla answered, “precisely so!”
This red hot piece of evidence, published for the first time in Mr. Socci’s book, is the first time a Vatican official, albeit a retired one, admitted that yes, there exists in Socci’s words: “a Fourth Secret, or, better, a second part of the Third Secret (evidently the continuation of the words of Our Lady interrupted by that ‘etc.’), which has not yet been revealed, and which took a different path inside Vatican walls.”
Those Catholics who for the past six years have endured ridicule and contempt for insisting that the Vatican had not released the entire Secret, who insisted there are two texts, are vindicated by the findings published in Socci’s Fourth Secret of Fatima.
In the same chapter, Socci raises other points that suggest two different texts of the Secret. One of the most striking concerns the reported “dialectical Portuguese expressions” that the Secret contains.
Socci notes that Cardinal Ottaviani had said that when John XXIII opened the envelope [containing the Secret] and read it, he understood it completely even though it was written in Portuguese. Yet Frère Michel of the Holy Trinity, author of The Whole Truth About Fatima, points out that the Pope had engaged a certain Msgr. Tavares to help him understand certain Portuguese expressions. Archbishop Capovilla also testifies that since the text contained expressions of Portuguese dialect, “a priest was called named Msgr. Tavares.”
Socci insists this discrepancy can only be understood if there are two texts of the Secret, one that John XXIII could read without assistance from Msgr. Tavares, and another that required his aid.
Mr. Socci tested this theory by consulting Mariagrazio Russo, an expert in the Portuguese language, who conducted an accurate analysis of the Vision of the Secret released by the Vatican in 2000. Not only did Russo conclude there were many inaccuracies in the official Vatican translation of Sister Lucy’s four-page Portuguese text (which is curious in such an important Vatican document), but she found no regional or “dialectical expression”. This can only mean that what the Vatican revealed is different from the text read by John XXIII containing “dialectical expressions” for which he required a Portuguese assistant.
Mr. Socci constructs a hypothetical account of what happened in 2000 behind Vatican walls. Socci believes that when John Paul II decided to release the Secret, a power-struggle of sorts erupted in the Vatican. He postulates that John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger wanted to release the Secret in its entirety, but Cardinal Sodano, then Vatican Secretary of State, opposed the idea. And opposition from a Vatican Secretary of State is formidable.
A compromise was reached that sadly reveals heroic virtue from none of the main players.
The “Bishop dressed in white” vision, which is the four pages written by Sister Lucy would be initially revealed by Cardinal Sodano, along with his ludicrous interpretation that the Secret is nothing more than the predicted 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.
At the same time, at the May 13, 2000 beatification ceremony of Jacinta and Francisco, Pope John Paul II would “reveal” the other part — the most “terrifying part” — of the Secret obliquely in his sermon. It was here that John Paul II spoke on the Apocalypse: “Another portent appeared in Heaven; behold, a great red dragon.” (Apoc. 12:3) These words from the first reading of the Mass make us think of the great struggle between good and evil, showing how, when man puts God aside, he cannot achieve happiness, but ends up destroying himself … The Message of Fatima is a call to conversion, alerting humanity to have nothing to do with the “dragon” whose “tail swept down a third of the stars of Heaven, and dragged them to the earth.” (Apoc. 12:4)
The Fathers of the Church have always interpreted the stars as the clergy, and the stars swept down by the dragon’s tail indicates a great number of churchmen who would be under the influence of the devil. This was Pope John Paul II’s way of explaining that the Third Secret also predicts a great apostasy.
It was an implicit revelation of the Secret. This way, the Vatican, and the Pope himself, could not be accused of lying to direct questions: “Has the Third Secret been entirely revealed?” Answer: “Yes, it all has been fully revealed.”
There are some who may find this hypothesis difficult or far-fetched. Normal people, they might object, just don’t act this way. I, however, find the hypothesis plausible.
First, we have the recent statement by Bishop Williamson of the Society of Saint Pius X, who relates that a priest acquaintance from Austria told him that Cardinal Ratzinger confided (to the Austrian priest) that he had two things weighing on his conscience. One was his mishandling of the Message of Fatima on June 26, the other was his 1988 mishandling of Archbishop Lefebvre. Cardinal Ratzinger is reported to have said that in the case of Archbishop Lefebvre, “I failed”, and in the case of Fatima, “my hand was forced.” Socci’s hypothesis supports Cardinal Ratzinger’s alleged statement on the forcing of his hand.
Second, anyone familiar with Vatican Romanita, should have no difficulty accepting the plausibility of such a hypothesis.
The Vatican is a Roman bureaucracy in place since the time of Charlemagne. It can be the most tactful and prudent at its best, or the most evasive and cunning at its worst. Romanita is a brand of power that is master of the understatement. It is adept at slipping out of awkward situations. It neither affirms nor denies. It responds to questions by asking its own questions. It evades with a disarming charm.
As we now live in a period when “the smoke of Satan has entered the Church”, we must painfully admit that the post-Conciliar Vatican, in most cases, has long abandoned the Gospel dictum “let your yes be yes and your no be no” (Matt. 5:37). This is one of the reasons the hard-hitting traditionalist publication in Italy called itself Si Si No No: literally Yes, Yes, No, No, since getting a straight yes or no from present-day Vatican officials — finding out what a Vatican official truly thinks — can prove an impossible task.
Two examples may help illustrate.
Pope John Paul II conducted his official “Papal Apology” on March 12, 2000 as part of his year-long Millennium celebrations. He asked Cardinal Ratzinger to prepare a theological defense of the Apology program to be issued from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Cardinal Ratzinger, who is certainly a progressivist, nonetheless did not approve of this program of apologies. So here is how he handled his commission. According to Vatican journalist Sandro Magister, one of the most pro-Ratzinger journalists in Rome, Cardinal Ratzinger constructed the arguments against the Apology program with great firmness and precision. He then constructed the answers to these arguments in a weak and vapid manner. This was the Cardinal’s way of stating, indirectly, that the program of Papal Apologies could not be defended theologically.
Yet he dared not say this openly. One would never know without a special clairvoyance capable of reading the Cardinal’s mind that this was his intention. What the Catholic ended up with, however, was “Memory and Reconciliation”, one of the most ridiculous, doctrinally unsound documents the post-conciliar Vatican ever produced — it was delirium straight from the sickbed. Yet this document came from the man whose first duty was to ensure the integrity of doctrine.
Again, no one could here accuse the Cardinal of heroic virtue, but it gives a picture of how the Vatican operates. In the name of obedience, or at least in a certain compromise with obedience, Cardinal Ratzinger published a document on a doctrinal matter that misled Catholic faithful by the millions.
Then there is another sad example of less-than-admirable integrity from today’s Vatican, one that I experienced first hand.
Years ago, I was with a Tridentine Mass community who after 1988 had looked into the possibility of regularization. In January 1994, two of us traveled to the Ecclesia Dei office in Rome to discuss the possibility. As for “regularization”, the trip was a waste of time; but as for hard lessons on how today’s Vatican operates, it was invaluable.
At one point of our meeting, Father Arthur B. Caulkins from the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei office told us that it was our duty to obey! And if the commands are bad, the guilt does not fall on us, but falls on our commanders.
Father Caulkins was serious.
I could not believe my ears. This mode of blind obedience, advanced by a Vatican official, means that Catholic clergy, religious — and even Vatican functionaries — will carry out commands that are actually harmful to the Faith and harmful to souls, all the while telling themselves they incur no personal responsibility because “I was only following orders”; “It’s my superior’s fault, not mine!” The New Mass, altar girls, Communion in the hand, rock’n’roll World Youth Days, pan-religious activity with pagan religions, all of these affronts to the Catholic Faith are served up in the name of “obedience”; which is not true obedience, but cowardice and servitude.
If the Vatican now operates on this principle as a matter of policy, which is a perversion of the filial piety that the Catholic owes his religious superiors, then it is no wonder that official anomalies and malfeasances stampede throughout the Catholic world. It also helps to explain Mr. Socci’s hypothesis of the compromised release of the Third Secret.
Socci’s book contains many other points too numerous to detail here. He speaks of John XXIII’s and Paul VI’s mild contempt for Sister Lucy; the fact that the hidden part of the Secret predicts a grave crisis of Faith and probably contains negative warnings about Vatican II; the absurd November 17, 2001 closed-door interview with Sister Lucy by then-Archbishop Bertone in which he claimed that Sister Lucy agreed with everything in the June 26 document, even though the document undermined Fatima so severely that the Los Angeles Times headlined its article on it: “The Vatican’s Top Theologian Gently Debunked the Fatima Cult”.
Socci further says that the unpublished text of the Secret most likely contains warnings of immense natural disasters.
As for the Consecration of Russia, Socci concludes that it has yet to be accomplished. This is evidenced by simply looking at the decadent state of Russia. We can only applaud Socci’s common sense. Only the most irreligious and brain-dead commentators could insist that today’s Russia, now rampant with divorce, abortion, cults, and homosexuality, attests to the promised Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.
There is much more contained in the book’s 252 pages. As it is published by a major publishing house in Italy, it is likely to enjoy wide circulation and generate much discussion. A Catholic Family News contact in Rome tells us the book received mainstream reviews in all the major Italian newspapers (including il Corriere della Sera, La Stampa, Libero and Il Giornale) and it seems to be causing a good bit of turmoil inside the Vatican. As we go to press, (December 2006) the Vatican has issued no comment.
We can only hope the book will be published in English, and other major languages, as soon as possible.
The Truth Breaks Out in Italy - Christopher Ferrara on Mr. Socci's book
Fatima Revered or Reviled: The "Release" of the Third Secret
Does the Third Secret Consist of Two Distinct Texts?
It Doesn't Add Up: On the Alleged Consecration of Russia
Details on the Third Secret
The Devil's Final Battle
Fatima in Twilight by Mark Fellows
Video Online: "'A Bishop Dressed in White' - Commentary on the Third Secret" by Christopher Ferrara