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Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit the Shrine at Fatima on May 13, 2010, according to the office of the President of Portugal, as reported by the Associated Press. The Holy Father’s trip will be the fifth papal visit to Fatima, although the last occurred nine years ago when Pope John Paul II beatified Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the three shepherd children to whom Our Lady of Fatima appeared six times in 1917, with the first apparition occurring May 13, the date of Pope Benedict’s planned visit.
The purpose of the visit has not been disclosed, but the cause for sainthood for Sister Lucia dos Santos, the third seer, who died in 2005 at the age of 97, was introduced shortly after her death, with the Church waiving the usual five-year waiting period. The first step toward her canonization would be to have the Pope declare her Venerable.
The Pope will also be visiting a country where political victories by socialists have led to an erosion of the moral values of the Catholic Faith. Abortion is now legal in Portugal and socialists have also pledged themselves to the legalization of homosexual “marriage”. A visit by the Pope would have political implications in a nation torn between traditional faith values and a liberal agenda opposed to those values.
Among the promises and prophecies Our Lady entrusted to the children at Fatima was the assurance, which begins the as yet undisclosed part of the Third Secret, that in Portugal the dogmas of the faith will always be preserved. The battle for that preservation appears to be under way in the public domain, and the Pope’s visit could play a significant role in that contest.
Our Lady also requested the Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart be made by the Pope in conjunction with the world’s bishops. That Consecration has yet to be made, and it is known that Pope Benedict favors the Consecration, although he has been restrained by fear of offending the Russian Orthodox hierarchy.