In a previous newsletter we described the role that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has played since August of 2018 in explaining the present crisis in the Church. More recently, in an interview granted to the Portuguese web site Dies Irae, Archbishop Viganò has turned to Our Lady of Fatima, as many before him have done, in order to find an explanation for the present crisis, and he did so by appealing to the Third Secret of Fatima. His analysis, however, is based upon the nearly twenty years of speculation which suggests that the Vatican did not publish the complete Third Secret on June 26, 2000. A different position on this question was taken in 2019 by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, with the publication of Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph over the Darkness of the Age (Brooklyn: Angelico Press). In this book Bishop Schneider rejected the theory of a missing document, indicating that it implies that Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, would have been lying to Catholics throughout the world when he denied that there was more to the Third Secret.
Initially the late Father Nicholas Gruner was thought to have found a way to respond to the objection made more recently by Bishop Schneider. Cardinal Ratzinger was not lying – Father Gruner argued – but was merely using a mental reservation. That is, Cardinal Ratzinger would have simply meant that the hypothetical missing document was not actually part of the Third Secret, but only personal interpretations of Sister Lucia, and therefore the Cardinal would not have considered it a lie to say that the Secret published by the Vatican was complete. However, after resigning from the Chair of Peter, and being consulted by French author Yves Chiron, Benedict XVI stated in a letter of March 15, 2016 to Mr. Chiron: “…a fourth secret of Fatima does not exist.” The precise wording is important: Benedict XVI employed the same expression, “fourth secret of Fatima,” that was used by Italian journalist Antonio Socci, whom Archbishop Viganò had cited in his recent interview. Therefore, Benedict XVI was no longer making a general statement about what constituted the complete text of the Third Secret, but was referring to the specific arguments used by Antonio Socci, and he was rejecting those arguments. After such a direct response, the hypothesis of a mental reservation was no longer possible. Either Benedict XVI was lying – or there was no “fourth secret,” as he stated very explicitly to Yves Chiron.
Both Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Bishop Athanasius Schneider are known and respected for their defense of Catholic Tradition, and they speak with moral authority and with voices that are heard by Catholics throughout the world. Even though Archbishop Viganò is retired and does not possess ordinary jurisdiction within the Church’s Magisterium, and Bishop Schneider is an auxiliary bishop with delegated rather than ordinary jurisdiction, they both have won the respect and the trust of Catholics throughout the world for the doctrinal fidelity with which they speak. Although they have taken opposite positions in their statements regarding the text of the Third Secret – in itself not a question of doctrine, but of historical facts – their positions are nevertheless similar with regard to the interpretation of the Secret, insofar as they see it is a revelation relating to the present crisis in the Church.
It is precisely for these reasons that Preserving Christian Publications has followed the debate about the Third Secret since it publication in June 2000, and we see its interpretation in relation to the doctrinal and moral guidance provided by prelates such as Archbishop Viganò and Bishop Schneider. On the question of the text of the Third Secret, however, we agree with Bishop Schneider, that what was published by the Vatican is complete. And in the chapter of his book devoted to the Third Secret (pp. 299-304), Bishop Schneider has focused his attention on the spiritual passion of the Church, symbolically revealed in the complete text of the Secret published by the Vatican.
Our 62-page booklet, Fatima and the Third Secret, after giving a historical summary of the debate over whether or not the published Secret is complete, enters into the interpretation of the symbolism of the vision described by Sister Lucia. It does so by drawing from various sources – including prominent voices involved in the debate about the Third Secret – but above all from Sister Lúcia herself, in a letter that for a long time was misunderstood, due to the misinterpretation of a key word in her original Portuguese. Finally, the booklet concludes with a commentary by Brazilian Fatima scholar Antonio Borelli Machado, in which he addresses the fundamental question: Why was the Third Secret not published in 1960? It is available in its printed version for $8.00, but can also be read online at no charge.
The message of Fatima and the Third Secret is related in turn to the vision seen by Pope Leo XIII, as explained by Kevin J. Symonds in Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael. Both visions concern a diabolical assault against the Church, which is further illustrated in the account of an exorcist, recorded in Mary Crushes the Serpent. In this exorcist’s account, which was praised by the Holy See, the author explained how the devil’s assault is not just against individual souls, but also against the entire Church.