The significance of the new Fatima-Vatican controversy and Ganswein’s ‘two popes’ talk
May 31, 2016 (Rorate Caeli) -- The centenary year of Fatima was opened on Pentecost Sunday to news that caused quite a sensation.
The German theologian Ingo Dollinger revealed to the “OnePeterFive” site that after the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima, Cardinal Ratzinger had confided to him: “Das ist noch nicht alles!”, “We didn’t publish everything”. The Vatican Press Office intervened with an immediate denial in which it stated: “'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.”
The denial doesn’t convince those like Antonio Socci who had always sustained the existence of an undisclosed part of the secret, which would refer to the abandonment of the faith by a part of the Church’s hierarchy. Other scholars like Dr. Antonio Augusto Borelli Machado, think the secret disclosed by the Vatican is complete and tragically eloquent. On the basis of the information at our disposal, today we cannot affirm with absolute certainty, either the entirety of the Third Secret text nor its incompleteness. What appears absolutely certain is that the prophecy of Fatima is unfulfilled and that its fulfilment concerns an unprecedented crisis in the Church.
Regarding this, an important hermeneutic principle needs to be borne in mind. The Lord, through revelations and prophecies, which add nothing to the deposit of the faith, at times offers us some “spiritual direction” to guide us through the darkest periods of history. Yet if it’s true that the Divine words cast light on dark times, the opposite is also true: historical events, in their dramatic unfolding, help us to understand the significance of prophecy.
On July 13th 1917, when Our Lady announced at Fatima that if humanity didn’t convert Russia would have spread its errors throughout the world, these words appeared incomprehensible. It was the historical facts that revealed their significance. After the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, it was clear that the expansion of Communism was the instrument God wanted to use as a punishment to the world for its sins.
Between 1989 and 1991, the evil empire of the Soviet Union apparently crumbled, but the disappearance of its political packaging allowed for the diffusion all over the world of Communism, which has its ideological nucleus in philosophical evolution and moral relativism. The “philosophy of praxis,” which according to Antonio Gramsci sums up the Marxist cultural revolution, has become the theological horizon of the new pontificate, outlined by theologians like the German Cardinal, Walter Kasper and the Argentinean Archbishop, Victor Manuel Fernàndez, inspirers of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
In this sense it’s not the Fatima Secret we need to start from in order to understand the reality of a tragedy in the Church, but from the crisis in the Church itself in order to understand the ultimate meaning of the Fatima Secret. A crisis which goes back to the 1960s, but with Benedict XVI’s abdication and Pope Francis’ pontificate, has seen a shocking acceleration.
While the Vatican Press Office was making haste to defuse the Dollinger case, another bomb exploded with an even greater impact. During the presentation of Prof. Don Roberto Regoli’s book, Oltre la crisi della Chiesa. Il pontificato di Benedetto XVI (Lindau, Turin, 2016) held in the auditorium at the Gregorian Pontifical University, Monsignor Georg Gänswein highlighted Pope Ratzinger’s act of renunciation with these words:
From February 11th 2013, the papal ministry is not the same as before. It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation that Benedict has profoundly and lastingly transformed by his exceptional pontificate.
According to Archbishop Gänswein, the Pope’s resignation is “epochal” as it introduced into the Catholic Church the new institution of “Pope emeritus” transforming the concept of munus petrinum - “the petrine ministry”. “Before and after his abdication, Benedict intended and intends his task as a participation in a 'petrine ministry' such as this. He left the Papal Throne and yet with his step on February 11th 2013, he did not entirely abandon this ministry. Rather he integrated the personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a shared ministry (...). From the election of his successor, Pope Francis—on 13 March 2013—there are not then two Popes, but de facto an enlarged ministry with an active and a contemplative member. For this reason, Benedict has not renounced either his name or his white cassock. For this reason, the correct title with which we must refer to him is still 'Holiness.' Furthermore, he has not retired to an isolated monastery, but [has retired] within the Vatican, as if he had simply stepped aside to make space for his Successor, and for a new stage in the history of the Papacy.(...). With this act of extraordinary boldness he has instead renewed the office (even against well-meaning and undoubtedly competent advisors) and in a last endeavour has strengthened it (as I hope). This certainly will only be demonstrated by history. However, in the history of the Church, 2013 will remain the year that the renowned Theologian on the Throne of Peter became the first 'Pope Emeritus' in history.”
This discourse is of an explosive nature, and, by itself, demonstrates how we are not “over” the crisis in the Church but more than ever in it. The Papacy is not a ministry that can be “enlarged”, since it is an “office” given personally by Jesus Christ to a sole Vicar and a sole successor of Peter. What distinguishes the Catholic Church from every other church or religion is precisely the existence of a unitary and indissoluble principle in the person of the Supreme Pontiff. Monsignor Gänswein’s discourse (it is difficult to understand where he wants to go with it) suggests a two-headed Church and adds confusion to a situation already far too confusing.
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One sentence connects the second and third part of the Fatima Secret: “In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be kept.” Our Lady is talking to three little Portuguese shepherds and assures them that their country will not lose the faith. But where will the faith be lost? It has always been thought that Our Lady was referring to the apostasy of entire nations, but today it seems increasingly clearer that the greatest loss of faith is occurring among churchmen.
A “bishop dressed in white” and “various other bishops, priests and religious” are at the centre of the Third Secret, in a setting of death and ruin, legitimate to imagine as not only material, but spiritual. Before writing the Third Secret, the revelation that Sister Lucia had at Tuy on January 3rd 1944 confirms this, and is hence indissolubly linked to it. After the vision of a terrible cosmic catastrophe, Sister Lucia recounts that she had heard in her heart “a soft voice that said: ‘in time, one faith, one baptism, one Church, Holy Catholic, Apostolic. In eternity Heaven!'”
These words represent a radical negation of any form of religious relativism which the heavenly voice contradicts with the exaltation of Holy Mother Church and the Catholic Faith. In history the smoke of Satan can invade the Church, but whoever defends the integrity of the Faith against the powers of hell will see, in time and in eternity, the triumph of the Church and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, definitive seal of the dramatic but fascinating Fatima prophecy.
Translation: Francesca Romana
Reprinted with permission from Rorate Caeli.