The Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted an urgent request from the Ukrainian bishops for the Consecration of Russia requested by Our Lady of Fatima. At the Second Vatican Council, 510 bishops had signed a petition for this consecration, but it was not discussed and acted upon by the majority of the Council Fathers. That delay was preceded by another – that of the anticipated publication of the Third Secret of Fatima in 1960. But in 2000, forty years later, Pope John Paul II took action to publish the Secret. The action to consecrate Russia, performed by Pope Francis on March 25, 2022 and joined by bishops throughout the world, is related in turn to the meaning of the Third Secret as explained by Sister Lúcia, a fact which becomes clearer when viewed in the light of the tragic events in Ukraine. In response to a question from a reporter when the Third Secret was released, Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, explained the reason for not making the Secret known earlier.1 However, while publishing the Secret, the Vatican included in the documentation a letter that Sister Lucia had written to Pope John Paul II on May 12, 1982, in which she explained the content and interpretation of the Secret. In her letter Sister Lucia mentioned that the Pope was “anxious to know” the Secret, but her statement was often misunderstood, due to a misinterpretation of her Portuguese word for “know,” conhecer. She was not suggesting that Pope John Paul II had not yet read the Secret, for it was commonly known that he had indeed read it. By conhecer, “to know,” Sister Lucia meant not the mere reading of the Secret, but the understanding of its meaning.2 For, as she explained to John Paul II, it was a “symbolic revelation.” The Secret therefore required an interpretation. Sister Lucia therefore proceeded to explain the meaning of the Secret to John Paul II. The Third Secret, she stated, referred back to the Second Secret, and in particular to the prophecy of Our Lady that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world if Her requests were not heeded. And since mankind had not heeded Our Lady’s requests, as Sister Lucia explained, that prophecy had been fulfilled – and the Third Secret is a revelation of that fulfillment, a symbolic representation of the effects of the spreading of Russia’s errors. Because a single word in Sister Lucia’s letter to Pope John Paul II had been misunderstood, years of speculation followed the publication of the Secret in 2000, much of it centered around the belief that the Vatican had not made known the entire Third Secret, and that there was another hypothetical text explaining the published text of the Secret. As a result, Sister Lucia’s own explanation of the Secret in her May 1982 letter was passed over, and with it the important fact that the Third Secret, like the Second Secret, was about Russia spreading its errors. Linked to the theory of an alleged missing part of the Secret was another assumption, namely, that whereas the Second Secret concerned political events, such as the Second World War and Russia, the Third Secret must be about another event, a separate crisis in the Church. And therefore, it was thought that the last sentence of the Second Secret, that the dogma of the Faith would be preserved in Portugal, was actually the beginning of the Third Secret, an implicit reference to a crisis of faith that would occur in other countries. Sister Lucia, however, would never have included part of the Third Secret in writing the Second Secret. For it was precisely due to her vigilance in not revealing any part of the Third Secret that she waited until Our Lady appeared to her, in January of 1944, before she proceeded to put the Secret into writing. During that 1944 apparition Our Lady distinguished between the Secret itself, and the explanation of the Secret, instructing Sister Lucia to write only the Secret. Years later, however, in May of 1982, Sister Lucia saw the opportunity to explain the meaning of the Secret to Pope John Paul II. What the Third Secret itself and Sister Lucia’s explanation make clear is the internal unity between the different parts of the Secret of Fatima. All three parts of the Secret concern themselves with eternal salvation, for which the religious and political spheres are intimately related. By contrasting the errors of Russia in the Second Secret with preserving the Faith in Portugal, Our Lady was showing us how Communism was the antithesis of the Catholic Faith, and that the salvation of souls is achieved also in civil society, through the grace received from the Sacraments of the Church. The revelation contained in the Third Secret manifests – by means of a symbolic vision – an attack against the Church through a spiritual assault on all her members. In the nineteenth century the Spanish statesman Juan Donoso Cortés published his Essay on Catholicism, Liberalism and Socialism,3 to demonstrate precisely this link between spiritual and temporal society, which Our Lady of Fatima confirmed decades later. And before the end of the nineteenth century Pope Leo XIII had a vision of a diabolical assault on the Church, as explained in the book Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael.4 And Bella Dodd, in her School of Darkness, 5 revealed her own experiences as a former member of the Communist Party, showing how Russia organized its international network to infiltrate and undermine other countries, in order to spread its influence worldwide. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, followed by the Consecration of Russia, clearly points to the most recent manifestation of the errors of Russia, and how only the supernatural intervention of Our Lady can bring the triumph of the Church. In our booklet Fatima and the Third Secret: A Historical Examination based on a Letter of Sister Lúcia and the Carmelite Biography,6 we explain in detail the significance of Our Lady’s warning about the errors of Russia, and why Russia became an instrument for the chastisement of the world – while at the same time Our Lady provided hope for its conversion and the conversion of the world. _______________________
1 For a detailed analysis of this delay and Cardinal Ratzinger’s explanation, see Antonio Borelli Machado, “Why Was the Third Secret of Fatima Not Released in 1960? – An Interview with Antonio Augusto Borelli Machado,” Catolicismo, vol. 66 (October 2016), no. 790. Translated from the Portuguese and published in English translation in Fatima and the Third Secret: A Historical Examination based on a Letter of Sister Lucia and the Carmelite Biography (Boonville, New York: Preserving Christian Publications, 2016), pp. 43-62. For more information see footnote 6 below.
2 The Portuguese conhecer comes from the Latin word cognoscere. Cassell’s Latin-English dictionary cites a passage from Cicero explaining its nuances, which apply to the Portuguese conhecer as well: experiencing something rather than simply learning it (“aliquid experiendo magis quam discendo”). The Portuguese conhecer as used by Sister Lucia conveys similar nuances, as can be seen in various passages from her writings that are transcribed in the biography of Sister Lucia by the Carmelites of Coimbra, Um Caminho sob o Olhar de Maria (Edições Carmelo, 2012). See, for example, pages 253, 382, 389 and 397.
3 Juan Donoso Cortés, Catholicism, Liberalism and Socialism, 2014 [reprint of 1862 English edition], 236 pages $16.00 #63282: https://www.pcpbooks.net/prestashop/books-in-print/89081-essay-on-catholicism-liberalism-and-socialism-considered-in-their-fundamental-principles.html
4 Kevin J. Symonds, Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to Saint Michael, foreword by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, 2018, 242 pages $18.00 #55990: https://www.pcpbooks.net/prestashop/books-in-print/89110-pope-leo-xiii-and-the-prayer-to-st-michael.html
5 Bella Dodd, School of Darkness, 2011, 264 pages $22.00 #60296: https://www.pcpbooks.net/prestashop/books-in-print/60296-school-of-darkness.html
6 Fatima and the Third Secret is available for purchase: https://www.pcpbooks.net/prestashop/books-in-print/89107-fatima-and-the-third-secret-a-historical-examination.html or free download: http://www.pcpbooks.net/docs/fatima-and-third-secret.pdf