Q: Does the Third Secret of Fatima reveal apocalyptic events?

A: The Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children between May 13 and October 13,1917. The first two "secrets" called for conversion and prayer. Included in the messages was a warning about a pending new war and the conversion of Russia.

In lieu of events in May 2000, The Mary Page received permission to duplicate the following news releases:

Catholic World News
Feature
[June 26, 2000]

FULL TEXT OF THIRD FATIMA SECRET

[Our Lady of Fatima]

VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- On Monday, June 26, the Vatican released the full text of the "third secret" of Fatima, complete with a commentary by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

(CWNews.com provided details on Cardinal Ratzinger's commentary in a second Feature story below.)

The "third secret was written down by Sister Lucia, the only survivor among the three children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima in 1917. Sister Lucia--now a Carmelite nun--wrote down the text in 1944, at the request of the local bishop. The following is the full text of the "third secret" in its original translation:

"I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine. After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: "Penance, Penance, Penance!" And we saw in an immense light that is God: "something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it," a bishop dressed in white. "We had the impression that it was the Holy Father." Other bishops, priests, men and women religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other bishops, priests, men and women religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two angels each with a crystal aspergillum in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.

CARDINAL RATZINGER COMMENTS ON FATIMA MESSAGE

VATICAN (CWNews.com)--In his theological commentary on the "third secret" of Fatima, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger emphasizes that the key to understanding the Fatima message lies in the words attributed to the Virgin Mary: "Penance, penance, penance!"

Cardinal Ratzinger [now Pope Benedict XVI] adds that a second crucial aspect of the Virgin's message is her reassurance that "my Immaculate Heart will triumph."

In the first part of his commentary, the cardinal--who is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith--carefully places the Fatima message in its proper context, as a "private revelation." He explains that private revelations must be distinguished from the definitive public revelation which is contained in the Scriptures as interpreted through the Tradition of the Church.

"In Christ, God has said everything--that is, he has revealed himself completely--and therefore Revelation came to an end with the fulfillment of the mystery of Christ as enunciated in the New Testament," the German prelate writes.

However, private revelations may and do continue, in the form of various apparitions, admonitions, and messages. A private revelation, Cardinal Ratzinger explains, "is a help to this faith, and shows its credibility precisely by leading back to the definitive public Revelation."

The Church, through her hierarchy, judges the authenticity of private revelations. In some cases--such as the Fatima apparitions--the Church offers a public approval of the message. In such cases, Cardinal Ratzinger writes, the message can be "a genuine help in understanding the Gospel and living it better at a particular moment in time; therefore it should not be disregarded. It is a help which is offered, but which one is not obliged to use."

Turning to the content of the "third secret," the cardinal writes that the prophetic vision which was disclosed to the three young children who saw the Virgin Mary at Fatima was a preview of the twentieth century, the cardinal writes. "In the vision we can recognize the last century as a century of martyrs, a century of suffering and persecution for the Church, a century of world wars and the many local wars which filled the last fifty years and have inflicted unprecedented forms of cruelty."

That vision is coupled with Mary's plea for prayer and penance, Cardinal Ratzinger continues. And taken as a whole, the Fatima message is a strong reminder that the crises of the world must finally be resolved not through armed force but through prayer, and reliance on God's grace. Thus despite its violent imagery and its strong warning tone, the Fatima message concludes with a note of confidence: "my Immaculate Heart will triumph."

"To understand the signs of the times," the cardinal writes, "means to accept the urgency of penance, of conversion, of faith. This is the correct response to this moment of history, characterized by the grave perils outlined in the images that follow."

Cardinal Ratzinger discloses that he spoke with Sister Lucia--the sole surviving Fatima seer--about the content of the entire Fatima message. He reports that "Sister Lucia said that it appeared ever more clearly to her that the purpose of all the apparitions was to help people to grow more and more in faith, hope, and love--everything else was intended to lead to this."

In the "third secret," Sister Lucia writes about the vision of an angel with a flaming sword. That image, Cardinal Ratzinger notes, is a common one from the Book of Revelation, and it represents "the threat of judgment which looms over the world." During the twentieth century, when warfare threatened millions of people with instant annihilation, that threat of judgment became particularly immediate, he observes. However, the cardinal continues, the threat is balanced by the image of "the splendor of the Mother of God." And in her message to the children of Fatima, the Virgin Mary emphasized the need for prayer and penance.

"In this way, the importance of human freedom is underlined," Cardinal Ratzinger writes. The dangers which threaten the world can be avoided, if people answer Mary's call to penance. In short, the cardinal explains, "the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them."

"In the vision we can recognize the last century as a century of martyrs, a century of suffering and persecution for the Church, a century of World Wars and the many local wars which filled the last fifty years and have inflicted unprecedented forms of cruelty," Cardinal Ratzinger writes. However, he concludes, the vision ends with a powerful expression of hope, echoing the Virgin's promise that "my Immaculate Heart with triumph." This, the cardinal points out, is a reminder of a basic tenet of faith. "The 'fiat' of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Savior into the world." In his analysis of the message, Cardinal Ratzinger directly addresses the theories which have been put forward by many amateur theologians, suggesting that the Fatima message--and, in particular, the "third secret" --contained extraordinary news about the end of the world or about apostasy within the Church. Those analyses were wrong, writes the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Cardinal Ratzinger writes: "Those who expected exciting apocalyptic revelations about the end of the world or the future course of history are bound to be disappointed. Fatima does not satisfy our curiosity in this way, just as Christian faith in general cannot be reduced to an object of mere curiosity."


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For permission to reproduce CWN material, contact editor@cwnews.com or visit our Web page at http://www.cwnews.com. Republication without permission is strictly prohibited. Catholic World News (c) Copyright Domus Enterprises 2000.
Mary Page received copyright permission June 27, 2000.


ZENIT news services published the original announcement as follows:

ZENIT, May 14, 2000 - DAILY DISPATCH - The World Seen From Rome

VATICAN DOSSIER

HOLY FATHER'S BLOOD MENTIONED IN FATIMA SECRET
John Paul II Makes Allusions During Beatification Homily

VATICAN CITY, MAY 14 (ZENIT.org).- At the end of yesterday's beatification Mass at Fatima, John Paul II had another surprise in store. He entrusted Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, with an announcement about the famous "third secret" of Fatima.

Unexpected Announcement
"The vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheist systems against the Church and Christians, and it describes the immense suffering endured by the witnesses to the faith in the last century of the second millennium. It is an interminable Way of the Cross led by the Popes of the twentieth century," the Italian Cardinal explained.

"According to the interpretation of the 'little shepherds', which was also recently confirmed by Sister Lucia," continued Cardinal Sodano, "the 'Bishop clothed in white' who prays for all the faithful is the Pope. As he makes his way with great effort towards the Cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred (bishops, priests, men and women religious and many laymen), he, too, falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire."

The Pope did not want to make the announcement, in part because it is a private revelation and in part (and perhaps above all) out of modesty, because it affects him personally. However, during the beatification ceremony homily he implicitly acknowledged with evident signs of emotion, that these revelations have decisively marked his understanding of his pontificate and his vision of the world over the last two decades.

Secret and Attempt on Pope's Life

While reading the announcement, Cardinal Sodano added, "After the assassination attempt of May 13,1981, it appeared evident to His Holiness that it was 'a motherly hand that guided the bullet's path,' enabling the 'dying Pope' to halt 'at the threshold of death'." Because of this, on the occasion of a visit to Rome by the then Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, the Pope decided to give him the bullet that had remained in the jeep after the assassination attempt, so that it might be kept in the Shrine. At the behest of the Bishop, the bullet was later set in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima."

Pope's References

However, the third secret was only partially revealed. To know its full content, the world will have to wait until it is published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, presided by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who are preparing a commentary to facilitate its understanding. (See above for this text.)

Nevertheless, during the beatification homily, John Paul II made highly interesting references, which are likely related to it. Above all, he made it clear that the Fatima message is a "call to conversion."

Moreover, the Pontiff confirmed some particular aspects of the three secrets: Jacinta's and Francisco's premature deaths, the twentieth century's terrible wars and persecutions, the need to pray to "shorten" the evils against man, and the attack that he himself suffered in 1981 in the Vatican. He also quoted the Apocalypse, when it speaks of the "dragon," which symbolizes evil, and he affirmed that when man "puts God to one side, he cannot find happiness but, on the contrary, ends in self-destruction."

The confirmation of the "second secret" of Fatima, which refers to the world wars, was alluded to indirectly by the Pope, when he said: "How many victims there have been in this last century of the second millennium! I am thinking of the horrors of the two great wars and other conflicts in other parts of the world. I am also thinking of the concentration camps and the extermination, the gulags, the ethnic cleansing, the persecutions, terrorism, kidnappings, drugs, attacks on the life of the unborn and against the family."

In so far as the first secret is concerned, the premature death of the children, the Holy Father recalled Jacinta's words who said, referring to Francisco, that "the Virgin has come to see us and has said that very soon she will come to take him."

The Bishop of Rome's reference to the third secret, which is now partially revealed, was expressed in these words: Fatima "prophesized the tribulations of these times and the Virgin asked for prayers to shorten these evils."

He added that because of this "I want to thank God for having saved me from death on May 13, 1981. I also express my appreciation to Blessed Jacinta for the sacrifices and prayers for the Pope whom she saw suffer."
ZE00051409

POPE TALKS ABOUT EMOTION HE FELT AT FATIMA
When Meeting Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square

VATICAN CITY, MAY 14 (ZENIT.org)--In today's Regina Coeli message, John Paul II recalled his emotional pilgimage to Fatima. Referring to the twenty-four hours he spent in Portugal, the Holy Father said: "In my heart, I still feel the emotion I felt yesterday in Fatima when beatifying the little shepherds Francisco and Jacinta Marto who, together with Lucia who is still living, had the privilege of seeing the Blessed Mother and of speaking with her."

Today the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and, in keeping with a Roman custom, on this fourth Sunday of Easter, commonly known as "Good Shepherd Sunday," the Pope ordained twenty-six new priests of the diocese of Rome. After asking the faithful to pray for them so that their life and ministry will be a joyful witness to Christ and his Gospel, the Holy Father added, "in this month of May, which popular tradition dedicates to Mary, let us turn our minds and hearts constantly to her and imitate her faithful example of adhesion to the divine plan. Accepting the invitation that the Virgin made to the faithful, precisely at Fatima, let us pray and do penance for the Church, for the sanctification of priests, for the conversion of all those who live in sin, and for peace in the world."
ZE00051410

REVELATIONS CONCERNING THIRD FATIMA SECRET
Read by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, May 13, 2000

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord!

At the conclusion of this solemn celebration, I feel bound to offer to our beloved Holy Father John Paul II, on behalf of all present, heartfelt good wishes for his approaching eightieth birthday and to thank him for his significant pastoral ministry for the good of all God's Holy Church.

On the solemn occasion of his visit to Fatima, His Holiness has directed me to make an announcement to you. As you know, the purpose of his visit to Fatima has been to beatify the two "little shepherds." Nevertheless, he also wishes his pilgrimage to be a renewed gesture of gratitude to Our Lady for her protection during these years of his papacy. This protection seems also to be linked to the so-called "third part" of the secret of Fatima.

That text contains a prophetic vision similar to those found in Sacred Scripture, which do not describe with photographic clarity the details of future events, but rather synthesize and condense against a unified background events spread out over time in a succession and a duration which are not specified. As a result, the text must be interpreted in a symbolic key.

The vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheist systems against the Church and Christians, and it describes the immense suffering endured by the witnesses to the faith in the last century of the second millennium. It is an interminable Way of the Cross led by the Popes of the twentieth century.

According to the interpretation of the "little shepherds," which was also recently confirmed by Sister Lucia, the "Bishop clothed in white" who prays for all the faithful is the Pope. As he makes his way with great effort towards the Cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred (bishops, priests, men and women religious and many lay persons), he too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire.

After the assassination attempt of May 13,1981, it appeared evident to His Holiness that it was "a motherly hand which guided the bullet's path," enabling the "dying Pope" to halt "at the threshold of death." (Pope John Paul II. Meditation with the Italian Bishops from the Policlinico Gemelli, Insegnamenti, vol XVII/1, 1994, p. 1061) On the occasion of a visit to Rome by the then Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, the Pope decided to give him the bullet which had remained in the jeep after the assassination attempt, so that it might be kept in the Shrine. At the behest of the Bishop, the bullet was later set in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

The successive events of 1989 led, both in the Soviet Union and in a number of countries of Eastern Europe, to the fall of the Communist regime which promoted atheism. For this too His Holiness offers heartfelt thanks to the Most Holy Virgin. In other parts of the world, however, attacks against the Church and against Christians, together with the burden of suffering which they involve, tragically continue. Even if the events to which the third part of the Secret of Fatima refers now seem part of the past, Our Lady's call to conversion and penance, issued at the beginning of the twentieth century, remains timely and urgent today. "The Lady of the message seems to read the signs of the times - the signs of our time - with special insight... The insistent invitation of Mary Most Holy to penance is nothing but the manifestation of her maternal concern for the fate of the human family, in need of conversion and forgiveness." (Pope John Paul II, Message for the 1997 World Day of the Sick, N. 1, Insegnamenti, vol XIX/2, 1996, p. 561) In order that the faithful may better receive the message of Our Lady of Fatima, the Pope has charged the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with making public the third part of the secret, after the preparation of an appropriate commentary.

Let us thank Our Lady of Fatima for her protection. To her maternal intercession let us entrust the Church of the Third Millennium.

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix!
(Official Translation)
ZE00051421

REGINA COELI MESSAGE
May 14, 2000

1. In my heart, I still feel the emotion I felt yesterday in Fatima when beatifying the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who, together with Lucia who is still living, had the privilege of seeing the Blessed Mother and of speaking with her.

I entrusted to the Blessed Mother all the needs and intentions of the Church, and also prayed for vocations. Precisely today the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is held, therefore, we raise a choral and confident invocation to God, master of the harvest, that he will send numerous and holy workers into his harvest (Cf. Mt 9, 38). In keeping with an important custom, on this fourth Sunday of Easter, commonly known as of the "Good Shepherd," I am happy to have been able to ordain new priests for the diocese of Rome. I greet them again and I invite all to thank God for the gift of these ministers of the Gospel.

Let us pray for them so that they will always be a living image of Christ the Good Shepherd in the midst of the Christian people. May their life and ministry be a joyful testimony of Christ and his Gospel.

2. Dearest Brothers and Sisters, in this month of May, which popular tradition dedicates to Mary, let us turn our minds and hearts constantly to her and imitate her faithful example of adhesion to the divine plan.

Accepting the invitation that the Virgin made to the faithful, precisely at Fatima, let us pray and do penance for the Church, for the sanctification of priests, for the conversion of all those who live in sin, and for peace in the world.

3. I offer special greetings to the representatives of the National Association of Hemodialysis Patients, who have gathered on the occasion of the "Day for the Donation and Transplant of Organs." I greet and give my cordial encouragement to the sick, their families and all those who work by their side.

I also greet all pilgrims, particularly the groups from the Mathi parish (Turin diocese), Bozzano and Viareggio, L'Aquila, Longi (Patti diocese), Socco and Bulgorello (Como diocese) and Arzano di Napoli; as well as the Agropoli Scout Group and the group of gentlemen who have come on pilgrimage from Siena.

May the visit to Peter's tomb reinforce faith and evangelical witness in everyone.
(ZENIT Translation)
ZE00051320


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