THE Vatican has published the third secret of Fatima, saying in a commentary that it is a symbolic prophecy of the Church’s 20th century struggles with evil political systems and of its ultimate triumph.
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in the commentary released on June 26: “The message of Fatima invites us to trust” in Christ’s promise that the final victory is his.
In a 43-page booklet, the Vatican published photocopies of Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos’ handwritten texts of the secrets revealed to her and her two small cousins when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to them in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
The booklet also included Cardinal Ratzinger’s commentary on the text and an explanation of why some Church officials believe a key part of the secret refers to the 1981 attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II.
In the third part of the secret, which has been kept at the Vatican since 1957, Sr Lucia wrote of “a bishop dressed in white, we had the impression it was the Holy Father”, going up a steep mountain toward “a big cross of rough-hewn trunks” with other bishops, priests and religious.
“Before reaching there, the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way,” Sr Lucia wrote.
“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,” the nun wrote.
The others walking with the Pope also are killed and angels standing beneath the cross gather the blood of the martyrs, put it in “a crystal aspersorium”, as if it were holy water, “and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God”, she said.
At a June 26 Vatican press conference, Cardinal Ratzinger said, “There does not exist an official definition or official interpretation of this vision on the part of the Church”.
Like any private revelation approved by the Church, the cardinal said, the Fatima message “is a help which is offered” to Catholics for living their faith, “but which one is not obliged to use”.
In the commentary he wrote that the vision described the path of the Church through the 20th century as a Way of the Cross, “a journey through a time of violence, destruction and persecution”.
The cardinal said he believed the particular period of struggle described by the vision, culminating in the attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II, has ended, therefore making it appropriate to reveal the secret’s contents.
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