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No student of the true Message of Fatima is surprised by the war now erupting between Georgia and Russia. For over twenty-four years since Pope John Paul II’s consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984, Father Nicholas Gruner’s The Fatima Crusader, and other concerned Catholics (including Catholic Family News), have insisted that Russia has not converted and we still await the period of peace promised by Our Blessed Mother.
The conversion of Russia and period of peace can only come about by the Pope, in union with the world’s bishops, on one day in a solemn public ceremony, consecrating Russia by name to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These simple conditions laid down by the Mother of God are not yet fulfilled.
Those who have warned for years that hostilities with Russia will break out at some future date were often laughed to scorn. “Russia is our ally now!”, they would insist.
Worse, too, many would retort, “I saw a report on EWTN that said the Consecration is accomplished, so there’s no further need to pester the Holy Father for the Consecration of Russia.” Such statements come from an apparent willful blindness to the true condition of the world around us. It indicates a mind cut off from reality.
But not everyone is blind. Since hostilities broke out on August 8, a number of those in the secular media frankly admit their belief that the Cold War never really came to a close. Even secular journalists note that since the alleged collapse of Communism, we have not seen a period of peace, nor have we seen evidence that Moscow wants to relinquish control over its satellite states.
In an August 12 article titled “The Russian Empire Strikes Back”, Time magazine noted that since the “collapse” of the Soviet Union 17 years ago, “Washington in particular has deluded itself into believing that it was somehow a real competitor to Russia in the southern tier of the former Soviet Union — that is, the eight states that make up the Caucasus and the former Soviet Central Asia. Washington acted as if these states were truly independent and sovereign, immune from the influence of the old metropolitan center, Moscow. Washington deliberately ignored how Russia held on to its military bases in the southern tier, how the successor to the KGB stayed more plugged into intelligence from the area than the CIA ever hoped to, and how local leaders flew to Moscow to clear all important decisions…”1
Robert Baer, the author of the article, goes on to say he had been in Tajikistan in the early 1990s during its civil war; and was evacuated from the embassy by Russia’s 201st Motorized Rifle Division. “The Russian officers who commanded the unit”, said Baer, “were proud that the Red Army had held together through the breakup of the Soviet Union”, even though the army’s mission was to aid the United States during Tajikistan’s war.
In similar vein, Dr. Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute, who has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, and spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, noted on August 16, “…contrary to Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice’s implication, Russia is not bringing back the Cold War. In fact, it never ended.”2
Those who live in the region likewise attest to the fact that there is yet no period of peace. The Financial Times spoke of Anna Kuzayeva, a South Ossetian woman who spent two nights in a cellar with 300 people and rotting corpses under a school in Tskhinvali before being taken to a refugee camp by Russian soldiers. Kuzayeva said, This war will continue. It’s been going on in various ways for 15 years.”3
And Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian, noted: “Every student of the Caucasus has known since the fall of the Soviet empire that this part of the world was an explosion waiting to happen … there were too many old scores to settle, too much territory in dispute and too much wealth at stake…”4
These writers clearly recognize that no miraculous period of peace, no permanent order of tranquility, has swept the world.
If this is clear to even secular commentators, why is it apparently unclear to those who were entrusted with the task of consecrating Russia itself? In June of 2000, did we not read the absurd statement in the Vatican document “The Message of Fatima” that “any further discussion or request [for the Consecration of Russia] is without basis”? Did we not witness this insanity repeated in Cardinal Bertone’s recently-released book The Last Secret of Fatima in which he reiterates the claim that the Consecration requested by Our Lady of Fatima has been accomplished?
Any Church official of whatever rank who continues this charade not only mocks Our Blessed Mother — who is quite specific when She asks for the consecration of “Russia” and not “the world” (as Sister Lucy made clear many times during her life)5 — but also delivers the people over to despair. They effectively block Heaven’s only true solution. In the little-known revelation of Our Lady to Sister Lucy in May 1952, which is recounted in Il Pellegrinaggio Della Meraviglie, published under the auspices of the Italian episcopate, the Virgin Mary said, “Make it known to the Holy Father that I am always awaiting the Consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart. Without the Consecration, Russia will not be able to convert, nor will the world have peace.”
Rather than recognize this truth, modern Churchmen in high places erect a barrier against employing this solution, and seek resolutions of conflicts by means that are primarily natural, looking to men of power without grace to forge peace. If this is not a recipe for despair, then the word has no meaning.
Meanwhile, as these lines are being written, the hostility in the region continues — a mounting hostility that leaves people around the world shuddering at the thought of an impending World War III (Heaven forbid!).
Yet without Our Lady’s assistance, how can we be anything but fearful? No one seems sure why Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili committed the reckless act of invading South Ossetia in the first place. Yes, we know he had been armed by Israel and the United States;6 yes, we know that Israeli military have helped train the Georgian army; yes, there seems to be evidence that Georgia went into the war believing that the United States would back them. But why tempt Russia to such provocation?
The fact that Russia retaliated with crushing swiftness seems to indicate it fears neither Israel nor the United States. Russia is certainly aware of the present weakened state of the US military. It is no secret. The Associated Press reported in 2004 that President Bush was led down into “The Tank”, a secure room at the Pentagon about the “crises facing the US Army and Marine Corps”. The admirals and generals warned Bush that the two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are wearing down US ground forces of fewer than 700,000, “one in every six of them women”.7
Along the same lines, the late Col. David Hackworth noted in 2004, “right now the Army is trying to do the work of 14 divisions with 10 under-strength, active-duty divisions.” At a press conference on July 2, 2008, when speaking on a possible US strike on Iran, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen told reporters “from the United States’ military perspective in particular … opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us.”8 How much more stressful would be a confrontation with the full might of Russia?
A formidable array of Russian firepower was on display in what has been called a disproportionate response to Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia. In scenes reminiscent of a Soviet-style invasion, Russian forces cut deep into Georgia causing massive damage.
The Georgian city of Gori, birthplace to Stalin, is now described as a ghost town. Approximately thirty-thousand refugees from the city are spread out in Georgia and Tbilisi. Those left in Gori live in fear. Many who abandoned their homes give comparable accounts of atrocities from the Russian and South Ossetian military. “Having survived firefights and shelling between Georgian and Russian forces”, wrote the Glasgow Herald, Gori citizens “were then subjected, they say, to a frenzy of murder, rape, looting and torching of their property by roaming bands of crazed militiamen, many of them drunk.”
The civilians insist the militia’s actions were carried out in full view of the Russian army who did nothing to stop the rampage.
These militiamen also hijacked vehicles at gunpoint from civilians and journalists. Some of the vehicles were later found abandoned and wrecked. The infrastructure of the city of Gori is completely looted. Hunger and lawlessness are rampant. One Georgian refugee said, “What you have seen in the town is nothing, believe me. With your own eyes you must see the evil they have done in the villages, burning and killing.”9
To date, Russia still holds checkpoints deep inside of Georgia, and it is blocking the only land entrance to Georgia’s main port city of Poti.10
Even more chilling is the report that Russia has dropped cluster-bombs into civilian areas of Georgia. Human Rights Watch reported on August 15 that it had found substantial evidence that Russia had deployed these weapons, which had been recently banned by more than 100 countries.
The London Times wrote, “Cluster-bombs scatter small bomblets across a wide area and can prove deadly to civilians — particularly children — who pick up munitions which have failed to detonate on impact.” The slightest touch to these seemingly dud bombs will cause an explosion. “The bombs”, said the Times, “effectively leave behind a trail of landmines.”
Russia denies using these cluster-bombs, but Human Rights Watch researchers say that they have conducted numerous interviews and have examined video footage of the August 12 attack on Gori, which indicate the use of these weapons. Craters in Gori were also consistent with a cluster strike.
Further, doctors at two main hospitals in Tbilisi described injuries to civilians caught in the attack on Gori that were consistent with cluster bombs.11
In its report, Human Rights Watch also called upon Georgia to ban the use of cluster munitions. Though there is no indication it has used these weapons in the recent clash, Georgia nonetheless is known to have RBK-500 cluster bombs in its stockpiles.12 This is cause for concern, since Georgia is not lily-white in this affair. Its invasion of South Ossetia included direct attacks on civilians.13
So wars and rumors of war continue in the news. Poland has agreed to a missile shield from the United States (allegedly as a defense against Iran), resulting in Russia’s immediate threat that deploying such weapons exposes Poland “to a strike — 100 percent.”14 NATO now appears to be rallying around Georgia, and warning Russia it will tolerate no new “line drawn through Europe,” referring to the possibility of a new Iron Curtain.
And Russia, as of this date, repeatedly pledges to withdraw its troops from Georgia tomorrow, or the next day, or next Friday, while it continually digs in.
In the meantime, we cling to our Rosaries. What the future brings remains to be seen.
Of Georgian President Saakashvili’s decision to use the opening of the Olympic Games to cover Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia, Pat Buchanan said it “must rank in stupidity with Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s decision to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships.”15
“Nasser’s blunder cost him the Sinai in the Six-Day War,” notes Buchanan, “Saakashvili’s blunder probably means permanent loss of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.” It also means bearing the brunt of Russia’s military rage.16
Stupidity, here, is the operative word. Most of us long ago abandoned hope that today’s leaders will act with wisdom. The virtue of Prudence, that all-important virtue that dispenses charity and justice here and now, that crucial virtue that chooses the best means to the end here and now, has all but disappeared from modern leadership, whether civil or ecclesiastical.
What greater act of supernatural prudence could there be than for the Pope to use this opportunity — this tinderbox of turmoil in the Caucasus — to order the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as Our Lady instructed, so that Russia may finally be converted to the Catholic Faith, a period of peace be granted to the world, and Fatima’s dire warning of the annihilation of nations be averted.
Our Lord, in the Fatima Message, said, “Pray a great deal for the Holy Father”. Our Lady of Fatima also said of the Consecration of Russia that the Pope “will do it, but it will be late.” Let us pray that the Holy Father does not act too late to avoid what could become a cataclysmic war of worldwide proportions.
1. “The Russian Empire Strike Back”, Time (online), August 12, 2008.
2. “Crisis in the Caucasus”, The Independent Institute, August 15, 2008, www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=2297
3. “Conflict Refugees Tell Different Story”, Financial Times, August 15, 2008.
4. “Bush Rebuking Russia? Putin Must be Splitting his Sides”, Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, August 13, 2008.
5. See “It Doesn’t Add Up”, John Vennari, Catholic Family News, February, 2002. Online at: www.cfnews.org/jv-fatm.htm
6. “Last year, the Georgian president commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also offer instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel.”, “Israel Backs Georgia in Caspian Oil Pipeline Battle with Russia”, Debkafile (Debka.com), August 8, 2008. See also, “Georgian minister tells Israel Radio: Thanks to Israeli training, we’re fending off Russian military”, Haaretz, August 12, 2008.
7. “Should We Fight for South Ossetia?”, Pat Buchanan, april 1, 2008.
8. “Counting the Cost of War with Iran”, William Jasper, The New American, August 4, 2008.
9. “Despite a promise to withdraw, Russia appears to be tightening its grip. Civilians allege militia’s raped and killed.”, The Glasgow Herald, August 16, 2008.
10. “Russia Still Holding Checkpoints Deep In Georgia”, Agence France Presse, August 21, 2008; “Russian Blocks Georgia’s Main Port City”, Associated Press, August 21, 2008.
11. “Russia Accused of Dropping Cluster Bombs on Georgian Citizens”, London Times, August 15, 2008.
12. “Georgia: Russian Cluster Bombs Kills Civilians”, Press Release from Human Rights Watch, Targeted News Service, August 15, 2008.
13. “The Georgian government just went mad,” said Leyla Bessateva, who fled snipers and rockets to escape from the village of Dominis, 12 km away from Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital. “The Georgians came in and killed everyone. Who is guilty? It is Saakashvili. They burned all the houses, and they even set fire to the school and the hospital. Nothing remains. It all happened in one instant.” — From “Conflict Refugees Tell Different Story”, Financial Times, August 15, 2008.
14. “Russia: Poland risks attack because of US missiles”, Associated Press, August 15, 2008.
15. “Blowback from Bear-Baiting”, Pat Buchanan, August 15, 2008.
16. Now there is the report that the United States warned Georgia not to provoke Russia. “In some of its most explicit criticism of Georgian’s actions,” Senior State Department Diplomat Matt Bryza said, “the United States told Tbilisi that the Georgian army would be no match for Russia.” See “US Says Warned Georgia Against Russia Fight”, Reuters, August 20, 2008.