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The Message of Fatima: Ignore It at Your Peril

by Christopher A. Ferrara
April 10, 2014

Recent alarming developments in the Crimea and Ukraine have made it clear that, thirty years after John Paul II’s failed attempt to consecrate Russia without mentioning Russia, “that poor nation” as Sister Lucy called it, remains at the center of the world events prophesied in the Message of Fatima. As Our Lady of Fatima warned the Church and the world nearly a century ago:

If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she 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.

Pay attention to the final phrase of Our Lady’s prophecy: various nations will be annihilated. As I will explain today, that warning did not expire with the end of the 20th century, as the former Vatican Secretaries of State, Cardinals Sodano and Bertone, would have us believe.

But why should we believe the prophetic message of Fatima in the first place? Let me dispense immediately with the facile objection that Fatima involves a mere “private revelation.” Let us remember, first of all, that Pope Francis began his pontificate by twice personally requesting that the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Jose Polycarp, consecrate his entire pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. That consecration took place on May 13, 2013, exactly two months after his election as Pope.

In fact, it is precisely the decisive acts of successive Roman Pontiffs, which have placed the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in a class by themselves, establishing beyond any doubt that they comprise no mere “private revelation” but rather a public prophetic revelation given by the God for the guidance of the Church in our time. Moreover, the authenticity of the Message of Fatima was confirmed by Heaven itself with a public miracle on October 13, 1917 — the Miracle of the Sun — witnessed by 70,000 souls at the Cova da Iria, including non-believers, at precisely the moment the Blessed Virgin told the Fatima seers it would occur. There has been nothing like this miracle in the entire history of the world.

As Blessed John Paul II declared during his pilgrimage to Fatima in 1982: “The content of the appeal of Our Lady of Fatima is so rooted in the Gospel and all of Tradition that the Church feels obligated by this Message.” John Paul II attributed his very escape from death on May 13, 1981 — the anniversary of the first of the Fatima apparitions — to a direct intervention by the Virgin of the Fatima. One of the three assassin’s bullets that miraculously missed the Pope’s vital organs resides today in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Fatima Shrine, placed there at the request of the very Pope whose life She saved. And it was John Paul II who, while Sister Lucia was still alive, beatified her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, the other two Fatima seers, and decreed May 13 as the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima in the Roman Missal.

I must confess that I find utterly annoying the ceaseless propaganda of certain sophisticates in the Church, who, ignoring the singular character and extraordinary level of papal approbation of the Fatima apparitions, continue to dismiss them as a “private revelation” which the hierarchy and the faithful are free to ignore. I am amazed at the imprudence of this derogation of an undoubted personal intervention of the Mother of God in human affairs. As Antonio Socci has written concerning people of this mentality: “The Fatima event has received on the part of the Church — which in general is very cautious concerning supernatural phenomena — a recognition that has no equal in Christian history.... It is really impossible — after all this — to continue to speak of a ‘private revelation’ and of the relative importance of the Message.”

And, regarding the enduring relevance and urgency of the Fatima message, it was none other than Pope Benedict XVI who declared, in his sermon at Fatima on May 13, 2010: “Si illuderebbe chi pensasse che la missione profetica di Fatima sia conclusa.” [“He deceives himself who thinks that the prophetic mission of Fatima is concluded.”]

With the continuing relevance and urgency of the Fatima event in view, what are we to make of the events concerning Crimea and Ukraine, and the recent behavior of Mr. Putin. Let me speak of Mr. Putin first.

Anyone who has any awareness of current world events knows that of late Putin has been sounding like the world’s leading Christian statesman, if not the world’s only Christian statesman. Whoever wrote his Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, protesting the United States’ then imminent and totally insane attack on Syria — the “weapons of mass destruction” canard again? Really? — produced a masterpiece of moral reprobation of a nation drunk with its own sense of power and entitlement. Wrote Putin’s ghostwriter:

It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

The Lord’s blessings? Is this the Putin we know and loathe? The autocrat who assassinates or jails his political opponents and silences all opposition in the Russian press?

Then there was Putin’s visit to Ukraine last July in order to celebrate the 1,025th anniversary of the conversion of Prince Vladimir of Kiev to Christianity — Catholic Christianity — in 988. (No, Saint Vladimir the Great did not found the Russian Orthodox Church, as Russian Orthodox historians would have us believe.) On this occasion Putin declared: “We are all spiritual heirs of what happened here 1,025 years ago. And in this sense we are, without a doubt, one people.” Saint Vladimir the Great’s conversion, followed by the mass baptism of his subjects — the tribes known as the Kievan Rus’, hence “Russia” — meant the conversion to Catholicism of what are now Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, sixty-six years before the Orthodox schism arose in 1054.

Even more remarkable, on December 12, 2013, Putin delivered a State of the Union Address in which he noted the crumbling foundations of decadent Western liberalism. “Today,” he noted, “many nations are revising their moral values and ethical norms, eroding ethnic traditions and differences between peoples and cultures. Society is now required not only to recognize everyone’s right to the freedom of conscience, political views and privacy, but also to accept without question the equality of good and evi l, strange as it seems, concepts that are opposite in meaning.” One can scarcely believe that what follows came from the mouth of Putin:

We know that there are more and more people in the world who support our position on defending traditional values that have made up the spiritual and moral foundation of civilization in every nation for thousands of years: the values of traditional families, real human life, including religious life, not just material existence but also spirituality, the values of humanism and global diversity.

Of course, this is a conservative position. But speaking in the words of Nikolai Berdyaev, the point of conservatism is not that it prevents movement forward and upward, but that it prevents movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.

Berdyaev, a disillusioned Marxist intellectual who was persecuted by the Bolsheviks and ultimately expelled from Russia, was hardly the model of the orthodox believing Christian, and his relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church of which he was a member was rather adversarial. Nevertheless, Putin’s quotation of a victim of Bolshevik persecution is astonishing.

In fact, Putin’s recent behavior in general is astonishing — so much so that even the Catholic commentator Keith Fournier (certainly no friend of Catholics derided as “Fatimists”) likened the situation to the “Bizarro World” story lines in Superman comic books, in which Superman visits a world where everything is upside down and backwards. In America, which is supposed to have been founded as a “Christian nation” (a myth I expose in my book on the subject), morality and religion are under relentless attack by government, whereas in formerly communist Russia morality and religion are now being defended by none other than Putin, at least rhetorically. Wrote Fournier:

Some recent news coming out of Russia reminded me of those Bizarro comics. We seem to be living in an upside down world these days. I do not suffer from naiveté. I know that the situation in Russia is ripe [sic] with its own problems. I am aware of the continuing threats to fundamental human rights people in that Nation face.

Rather, what I am pointing to is the language being used by its leaders, secular and religious, in diagnosing the root of the problems facing the Russian Nation, and proposing a path to cultural renewal. A path which leads through a recovery of the moral values found in faith in God.

More than just rhetoric, however, in June 2013 Putin signed into law a ban on homosexual propaganda to the effect “that gay and heterosexual relations are ‘socially equivalent’” and providing for stiff fines, administrative imprisonment and even deportation of violators. Said Putin: “We are talking about protecting children from [that] information.” He also signed into law an even more remarkable bill penalizing public attacks on religious belief.

In other words, Russia seems to be recognizing once again the obvious duty of the State to protect public and private morality against attack by propagandists and promoters of vice. To quote Pope Leo in Libertas, his monumental encyclical on the nature of human liberty: “lying opinions, than which no mental plague is greater, and vices which corrupt the heart and moral life should be diligently repressed by public authority, lest they insidiously work the ruin of the State.” Indeed, even the new, post-Vatican II Catechism of the Catholic Church declares — in sections conveniently ignored by modern “liberal Catholics” — that “by promulgating laws and overseeing their application public authorities should ensure that public morality and social progress are not gravely endangered through the misuse of the media,” and that “civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials...” (CCC, §§ 2498, 2354).

In the ridiculous and diabolical modern state, however, one can be sentenced to federal prison for persuading people to buy a diet book for $30, while those who promote lying opinions and vices that destroy morality and doom people to the infinite loss of eternal perdition have a “constitutional right” to do so.

Now, I am no more naïve than Fournier about Putin and his intentions. Nevertheless, he has celebrated the conversion of Vladimir the Prince of Kiev, called for the defense of traditional religious values, and signed into law restrictions on the unlimited “freedom of speech” the Catholic Church has always condemned. And now, with the annexation of Crimea, there are intimations of a design to reconstruct the Russian Empire with Russian Orthodoxy as the religion of the state. What is going on here? Several scenarios are possible:

First, Putin really has undergone a religious conversion and is now a believing member of the Russian Orthodox Church who wishes to see “Holy Russia” rise again, meaning a modern version of the Empire with Orthodoxy as the state religion.

Second, Putin has not become a believer but is merely instrumentalizing Orthodoxy for nationalist purposes in order to consolidate a new secular empire composed of the former Soviet satellites, beginning with Crimea and moving on to Ukraine at large and then to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where sizeable Russian minorities would facilitate annexation à la Crimea.

Third, Putin is in the process of reorganizing the former Soviet Union, which will emerge anew, as if from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, with Putin as dictator for life, presiding over a privatized socialist state under the control of him and a small group of capitalist oligarchs made wealthy by government favors.

Which scenario is the real one? Take your pick. From the perspective of Fatima, however, it matters very little. For under none of these scenarios has Russia undergone the conversion that would follow its consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and thus under none of these scenarios will we see that peace in the world which Our Lady promised if Her request for the consecration were granted. Quite the contrary, as the official Kremlin newscaster Dmitry Kiselyov boasted in response to threats of American intervention in Crimea, speaking with the image of a mushroom cloud behind him: “Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash.” That hardly bespeaks the advent of world peace emanating from a miraculously converted and pacified Russia. It reminds us, instead, of the last phrase in Our Lady of Fatima’s prophetic warning: “various nations will be annihilated.”

The matter is really very simple. Our Lady of Fatima told us what must be done, what will happen if it is not done, and what will happen when it finally is done, as it surely will be. To repeat:

If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she 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.

But that ultimatum is followed by a glorious promise:

In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

The Mother of God has spoken on the authority of Her divine Son: No consecration of Russia, no conversion of Russia. No conversion of Russia, no peace in the world; but, on the contrary, disaster.

We must, of course, ignore the absurd Fatima revisionism of Cardinals Sodano and Bertone: the problem of Russia did not end with the 20th century, as they would have us believe. At this very moment in history, nearly thirty years after the “fall of communism,” Russia remains at the center of events rife with the threat of war and the “annihilation” of “various nations.” And we know why this is so, because Our Lady told us. In 1957, after World War II had ended, Sister Lucia explained the continuing centrality of Russia in this threat to the world:

Russia will be the instrument of chastisement chosen by Heaven to punish the whole world if we do not beforehand obtain the conversion of that poor nation ...” (Testimony to Father Fuentes, December 26, 1957.)

In 1952, Sister Lucia revealed that Our Lady had given her this warning:

Make it known to the Holy Father that I am still awaiting the Consecration of Russia. Without that Consecration, Russia cannot convert, nor will the world have peace.” (Meraviglia del Peligrinaggio, 1960, p. 440.)

Why has Heaven insisted upon the Consecration of Russia, and only Russia, as the precondition for Our Lady’s promise of the heavenly favor of peace among men in our age? As Our Lord Himself told Sister Lucia in 1936 in answer to her query why the Consecration was necessary: “Because I wish all of My Church to recognize this consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in order thereafter to extend and place alongside devotion to My Divine Heart, devotion to this Immaculate Heart.”

However one views recent developments in Russia, they cannot reasonably be viewed as the prophesied triumph of the Immaculate Heart, ushering in an era of world peace. We seem, rather, to be on the brink of a European theater war that could potentially erupt into a world war. This is not even to discuss the wars and bloody persecutions of Christians throughout the world today, nor the continuing worldwide holocaust of legalized abortion, including Russia, which has claimed roughly 1.6 billion victims (42 million worldwide each year) since the “consecration” of 1984, which failed to mention Russia.

Nor, ultimately, does it matter whether one considers Russia to be in the right regarding Crimea, or whether its seeming movement toward a moral and spiritual revival is laudable as far as it goes (abortion, contraception, divorce, pornography, and a host of other social evils remaining legal in that country). The fact remains that Russia is acting in circumstances fraught with peril for Europe and the world, and thus remains at the heart of the prophetic warnings of the Message of Fatima. Therefore, it would be pointless to choose sides in the trilateral conflict now underway between Russia, the EU and the United States. Whether or not Russia now truly represents the least of three evils in that conflict is irrelevant from the perspective of Fatima. Viewed in light of the Fatima event, this conflict offers us no heroes, but only a new and increasingly fearsome threat to the peace of the world.

Our real hero — or I should say heroine — is the Holy Mother of God, who appeared at Fatima nearly a century ago to deliver Her plan for world peace, a plan that transcends the designs of the mere men now strutting and fretting on the world stage. When the Pope and the bishops finally do what the Virgin of Fatima requested, thus ending at last the Vatican bureaucracy’s perverse opposition to any mention of Russia in the series of substitute ceremonies that have been conducted since 1981, then — and only then — will the world enjoy the true peace that Pope Pius XI described in Quas Primas: not “a peace that will consist merely in acts of external or formal courtesy, but a peace which will penetrate the souls of men and which will unite, heal, and reopen their hearts to that mutual affection which is born of brotherly love. The peace of Christ is the only peace answering this description....”

Finally, however, it must be said that recent developments in Russia are not without supernatural significance. We know from the testimony of Sister Lucia that God deigned to grant divine favors in response to the consecrations of the world to the Immaculate Heart performed by Pius XII on October 31, 1942 and December 8, 1942. On October 24, 1940, and again on Ash Wednesday in 1942, Our Lord told Sister Lucia that on account of the consecration of the world “the present distress (i.e., WWII) would be shortened,” but that world peace would not be granted without the explicit Consecration of Russia by the Pope and the bishops. And, indeed, in his six-volume history of World War II, Winston Churchill notes that it was precisely after December 1942 that the tide of war turned in favor of the Allies.

Seen in this light, what is happening in Russia today may well be a remote preparation for the day when “that poor nation” will truly convert to the Catholic faith upon her consecration to the Immaculate Heart, thus completing fulfillment of the Fatima prophecies noted above: “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” Nevertheless, one cannot conclude that even the goods of religion, when invoked by politicians operating on a human level — as Putin is operating now — can constitute the prophesied conversion of the people of Russia. That will occur when, and only when, the Russian people return to the religion their ancestors held from the time Saint Vladimir the Great was baptized a Catholic and led the Kievan Rus’ into the one true Church. It is that day we await, in the certain hope that what Our Lady promised will come to pass. May God grant that it comes to pass before the world bears a witness even more terrible than that of the blood-drenched 20th century.