Has the Vatican really released the full text of the Third Secret of Fatima? Or are they holding something back – potentially something that calls into question the wisdom of the Second Vatican Council?
That’s the question raised by a recent controversy between the Vatican and the Catholic website OnePeterFive.
Here’s what’s going on.
First, a little background
In 1917, Our Lady appeared to three children in Fatima, Portugal. Among various messages and miracles, she gave the children a secret “that was good for some and bad for others.” Though two of the children died a few years later, the third, Lúcia Santos, lived a long life as a Carmelite nun.
In 1941, Lúcia revealed in a memoir that the secret had three parts. Though she published the first two secrets, she chose not to disclose the third secret. Instead, she wrote it down and gave it to her local bishop. She asked him to deliver it to the pope and ensure that the secret was revealed publicly by 1960.
The secret was delivered to Rome in 1957, but in 1960, the Vatican decided to not release it, saying it was “most probable the Secret would remain, forever, under absolute seal.”
After decades of speculation and controversy – including someone hijacking a plane in 1981 and demanding that Pope John Paul II release the secret – the Vatican finally released the Third Secret in 2000. The secret described an apocalyptic scene with Catholics being killed, including the pope (in an apparent prediction of the assassination attempt of John Paul II), and exhorted people to penance.
And that’s when the controversy really got going.
Many people, including Italian journalist Antonio Socci, accused the Vatican of not releasing the full text of the secret, citing various inconsistencies between what was released and what had been said previously about the secret. Most importantly, a rumor surfaced that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) had privately confessed to his friend Fr. Ingo Dollinger that the Vatican had withheld a section that warned of “a bad council and a bad mass.” Combined with the fact that Lúcia had asked for the secret to be released by 1960, this seemed to be a reference to the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent liturgical reforms that remain controversial for many traditionalists.
However, in 2001, ZENIT reported that Lúcia, who was then an old woman, had personally confirmed to Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that the full text of the secret had been released. And in 2007, Cardinal Bertone said in an interview that the idea there was an unreleased section of the Third Secret was “absolutely crazy.”
That brings us to the most recent development
In an article published this month on OnePeterFive, Catholic writer Dr. Maike Hickson says she personally spoke to Fr. Dollinger on the phone on Pentecost and that he confirmed the rumors regarding his supposed conversation with Cardinal Ratzinger were true.
Amazingly, less than a week later the Holy See Press Office issued a response with quotes from Benedict XVI. Here’s the relevant part:
…Pope emeritus Benedict XVI declares “never to have spoken with Professor Dollinger about Fatima”, clearly affirming that the remarks attributed to Professor Dollinger on the matter “are pure inventions, absolutely untrue”, and he confirms decisively that “the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima is complete”.
So case closed?
Not for Steve Skojec, Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive, which published the article to which the Vatican was responding.
In a response to the Vatican’s press release, Skojec acknowledges “[o]ne cannot take lightly a rebuttal from someone of the stature of Pope Emeritus Benedict” and says “[t]his statement is received by us with filial respect and love for the Pope Emeritus.” Nonetheless, he remains skeptical, since the Holy See’s press release “implicates us, and also Pope Benedict’s old friend, Fr. Dollinger, in willful deception,” all based on “partial statements attributed to Benedict by an unnamed member of the Vatican communications staff.”
“[W]e must respectfully request, therefore,” Skojec concludes, “that we be given a complete response — a full, unaltered, and witnessed statement from the Pope Emeritus himself. The filtered words of the Vatican Press office do not suffice.”
So far, the Vatican – which appears to consider the matter closed – has not given any further response.