CONCERNING THE PRESENTATION
OF THE THIRD PART OF THE SECRET OF FATIMA
By Bishop Bernard Fellay, June 26, 2000
The Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith published, this morning, June 26 the third part
of the secret of Fatima, also called the "third secret".
1. The original itself is photographically
reproduced, and is accompanied by a translation. As for
us, we do not have any reason to doubt that it really
is the authentic text. It has been placed back in its
context, on the one hand by the reminder of the first
two parts, which have also been photographed or scanned
and translated, and on the other hand by a historical
This is the text, as committed to paper
by Sister Lucia, on January 3, 1944:
The third part of the secret
revealed on July 13, 1917 at the Cove de Iria
I write in obedience to you,
my God, who command me to do so through His Excellency
the Bishop of Leiria and through you 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 halted
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
aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered
up the blood of the Martyrs, and with it sprinkled
the souls that were making there way to God.
2. The text of the Congregation for the
doctrine of the Faith begins with a quite long historical
presentation by Archbishop Bertone, in which great importance
is given to the consecration of 1984 (but not to the preceding
consecrations), together with the affirmation that:
"Sister Lucia personally confirmed
that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded
to what Our Lady wished…Hence any further discussion or
request is without basis."
Then comes a very interesting extract
from a letter of Sister Lucia to the Holy Father, dated
May 12, 1982, which gives an interpretation of the Third
"The third part of the secret
refers to Our Lady’s words. ‘If not (Russia) will spread
her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions
of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father
will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated’
(July 13, 1917).
The third part of the secret is a
symbolic revelation, referring to this part of the Message,
conditioned by whether we accept or not what the Message
itself ask of us: ‘If my requests are heeded, Russia will
be converted, and there will be peace; if not she will
spread her errors throughout the world, etc.’
Since we did not heed this appeal
of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled. Russia
has invaded the world with her errors. And if we have
not yet seen the complete fulfillment of the final part
of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little
with great strides. If we do not reject the path of sin,
hatred, revenge, injustice, violations of the rights of
the human person, immorality and violence, etc. (1)
And let us not say that it is God
who is punishing us in this way. On the contrary, it is
people themselves who are preparing their own punishment.
In his kindness God warns us and calls us to the right
path, while respecting the freedom he has given us. Hence,
people are responsible."
Immediately after this quotation we
read the following paragraph, in complete contradiction
with that which had just been said:
"The decision of His Holiness
Pope John Paul II to make public the third part of the
‘secret’ of Fatima brings to an end a period of history
(2) marked by tragic
human lust for power and evil, yet pervaded by the merciful
love of God and the watching care of the Mother of Jesus
and of the Church."
3. After the texts of the secret comes
the interpretative section, composed of the following
i) A letter from John-Paul II to Sister
Lucia, informing her of Archbishop Bertone’s visit in
his name, to request more precise explanations from her.
ii) The report on the meeting between
Archbishop Bertone, accompanied by the local bishop, and
Sister Lucia, on April 27, 2000.
iii) The announcement made by Cardinal
Sodano at Fatima on May 13, presented in the document
as the correct interpretation of the secret.
iv) A theological commentary. This is
composed of three unequal parts. The first is a reminder
of the difference between private and public revelation,
the second, briefer section, speaks of the anthropological
structure of private revelations; the third is entitled
an attempt to interpret the "secret" of Fatima.
It is clearly this last part that interests
us. Cardinal Ratzinger begins with a good reminder of
the vision of hell, of sin and of devotion to the Immaculate
Heart. Here are some extracts from what follows:
"Thus we come finally to the
third part of the ‘secret’ of Fatima which for the first
time is being published in its entirety. As is clear from
the documentation presented here, the interpretation offered
by Cardinal Sodano in his statement of May 13 was first
put personally to Sister Lucia. Sister Lucia responded
by pointing out that she had received the vision but not
its interpretation. The interpretation, she said, belonged
not to the visionary, but to the Church. After reading
the text, however, she said that this interpretation corresponded
to what she had experienced and that on her part she thought
the interpretation correct. In what follows, therefore,
we can only attempt to provide a deeper foundation for
this interpretation, on the basis of the criteria already
‘To save souls’ has emerged as the
key word of the first and second parts of the ‘secret’,
and the key word of this third part is the threefold cry:
‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’ (3)
And so we come to the final question:
What is the meaning of the ‘secret’ of Fatima as a whole
(in its three parts)? What does it say to us? First of
all we must affirm with Cardinal Sodano: ‘… the events
to which the third part of the secret of Fatima refer
now seem part of the past’. Insofar as individual events
are described, they belong to the past. 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….
I would like finally to mention another
key expression of the ‘secret’ which has become justly
famous: ‘My Immaculate Heart will triumph’. What does
this mean? The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation
of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind.
The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed
the history of the world, because it brought the Savior
into the world – because, thanks to her Yes, God
could become man in our world and remains so for all time.
The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience
continually, he has power because our freedom continually
lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself
took, a human heart and has thus steered human freedom
towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer
has the last word. From that time forth, the world that
prevails is this: ‘In the world you will have tribulation,
but take heart; I have overcome the world’ (Jn 16:33).
The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise."
In summary, the third secret would seem
to predict the sufferings of the Church during the XXth
century and in particular of the present Pope and of his
attempted assassination. What remains?
"What remains was already evident
when we began our reflections on the text of the ‘secret’:
the exhortation to prayer as the path of ‘salvation for
souls’ and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion’.
As for the apocalyptic elements in the
third secret, inasmuch as particular events are represented,
they supposedly henceforth belong to the past. What are
we to think of all this?
A. We think that the message of Fatima,
as it is presented above,, has had its effectiveness profoundly
changed: namely for the conversion of sinners. For Our
Lady’s threatening and anguished appeal, an appeal for
conversion, an appeal to do penance, is no longer linked
to the threat…since the terrible events are supposed to
already belong to the past.
B. It is to be noted that the texts of
the first two secrets presented in the Vatican document
are drawn from Sister Lucia’s Third Memoir (of August
31, 1941), and not from the Fourth Memoir, dated December
8, 1941, which contains the famous expression: "In
Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved."
Despite the fact that Sister Lucia declared at the
time that this sentence indicated the meaning of the Third
Secret, it is not found in the secret. It is only with
respect to the choosing of texts that this sentence is
made mention of as a note, although it is an important
indication for the understanding of the vision given in
the third part of the secret.
Otherwise put, the reference to an internal
crisis ("the dogma of the Faith") within the
Church has disappeared. It is only exterior attacks that
are now seen, and these are reduced to the atheistic communists
who have henceforth disappeared…
C. How far we are, in this global presentation
of the message of Fatima, from what Sister Lucia has said
- "A diabolical disorientation that invades
the world and deceives souls", in a letter
of April 12, 1970 to Maria Teresa da Cunha;
- "It is painful to see such a great disorientation,
and in so many persons who occupy places of responsibility!"
in a letter of September 16, 1970 to Mère Martins;
- "The devil is in the process of entering
upon a decisive battle with the Virgin, and as he
knows that which most offends God and enable him
in little time to gain the greatest number of souls,
he does everything he can to gain souls consecrated
to God…" in a meeting with Father Fuentes
on December 26, 1957.
There is no mention of the prayer of
the Rosary as means of salvation. This makes us think
that not everything that Sister Lucia knows is in this
As a conclusion, we could bring to mind
these words of Sister Lucia to Father Fuentes, on December
26, 1957, at the same time as we hope that Heaven deign
to look favorably upon recent acts concerning Fatima.
"The Blessed Virgin Mary is
very sorrowful, for nobody considers her Message as important,
neither the good, nor the bad. The good continue along
their course, but without taking notice of the message.
The bad, not seeing at the present time God’s punishments
fall upon them, continue a life of sin, without caring
about the Message. But believe me, Father, God is going
to chastise the world, and this will be in a terrible
(1) Emphasis added. Note that
there is nearly total contradiction between that which
is written here and the interpretation now given by the
Vatican: the third secret concerns the past.
(2) Emphasis added.
(3) Emphasis added.
(4) Cardinal Ratzinger. Ibid.