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Sixty-four. So many are the years that divide the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima (1917), from the alleged one occurred for the first time in Medjugorje to six children (1981). Many are the upheavals that occurred in the world in this period of time. Like many are the questions that continue to circulate around these two phenomena. The Church has recognized the truthfulness of the miracle of Fatima, however, there are still doubts about the exact content of the secret revealed by the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children. Questions that the writer and journalist Saverio Gaeta tries to resolve, in his book released on the occasion of the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima. “The whole truth” (ed. San Paolo).

Interviewed by in Terris, Gaeta explains what is “the whole truth” on Fatima and exposes his point of view on Medjugorje, starting from the statements that the Pope has made on the return journey from Portugal, last Saturday: “About the alleged current apparitions, the report shows some doubts. I personally am more ‘negative’: I prefer Our Lady Mother, our mother, and not Our Lady head of the telegraph office that every day sends a message at this specific time… this is not the mother of Jesus”.

Has the Third Secret been revealed?

According to the documents that I studied, it seems sensible to me to speak of two distinct texts. There are three parts of the message of Fatima to the shepherd children that are the ones that the Vatican considers the secret. There are however other texts of Sister Lucy that add an explanation, a clarification. In my book, I am presenting two letters she wrote to his bishop in 1937 and in 1944 and that only one year ago the Carmel of Coimbra (where Sister Lucy has lived, editor’s note) has made available, which are eloquent.

What do they say?

The first of the two describes a vision, in the context of the Third Secret, something that comes from heaven – a meteorite or a magnetic storm – as well as a natural cataclysms of immense size. The message of the ’44 talks also about a “destructive war”. The world at that time had experienced the tragedy of the world wars, but the nuclear bomb, released a year later in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an unprecedented. Then Sister Lucy says that she heard a voice saying “one baptism, one faith, one Catholic Apostolic Church”, as if it was an invitation to remain within the Catholic faith. It therefore seems that Our Lady warns man to conversion indicating otherwise two risks: the one of self-destruction – through a nuclear war or natural disasters favoured by a bad use of natural resources – and the one of the apostasy of the Catholic faith.

If these letters were sent to the then Bishop of Coimbra, the Vatican was already aware from years…

I assume that the original text is in the Vatican. At the time there were no photocopiers, therefore it is possible that the missive remained in the Carmel of Coimbra is a rough copy, maybe even incomplete in some parts that were only disclosed in the final version of the letter.

Another central theme of the apparitions at Fatima is Our Lady’s request for the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart. According to you, has this consecration been made in the manner and terms required? And today that in Russia we are witnessing an impetus of the Christian faith with respect to the dawn of State atheism of a century ago, is the consecration still necessary?

Our Lady has explicitly requested that this consecration was made publicly by the Pope together with all the bishops of the world. This never happened. However, we have both testimonies attributed to Sister Lucy and a proof of the historic facts, namely the fall of communism and the momentum of the Christian faith in Russia, which demonstrate that the consecration made by John Paul II in 1984 had a certain “acceptance” from Heaven. But there is reason to believe that it is still necessary to do the Consecration exactly in the manner requested by Our Lady. And I am the one that says that, but Jesus and Joseph Ratzinger.

Even Jesus? What are you referring to?

Through an inner communication of 1936 the Lord complained with Sister Lucy saying about the consecration of Russia that “they will do it, but it will be too late”. To this we shall add the words spoken by Benedict XVI in 2010 at Fatima: “May the seven years that separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary”. Well, according to the messages of the Virgin, the triumph of the Immaculate Heart will occur only when the Consecration will be done. Therefore, Ratzinger recognized that until 2010 this had not happened.

In a prayer at Fatima, Pope Francesco has defined himself as “a Bishop dressed in white”. In the airplane with journalists he then said that the prayer was written not by him but by those responsible for the Sanctuary. But there remains the mystery of that appearance to the little shepherds of a Pope who falls under the blows of his persecutors: is it a still current prophecy?

As an academic I can say that the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, even if he recognized himself as the Pope of the prophecy of Fatima, corresponds to the prophecy of La Salette (1846), where Our Lady speaks of a Pope who will be injured, who someone will try unsuccessfully to kill “because I will defend him”. At Fatima instead Our Lady speaks explicitly of a Pope who will be “killed”. I therefore think this prophecy will be fulfilled in a time of persecution of the Church so much stronger than what it is today.

The Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin defined “useless speculations” the discussions on a secret not revealed. What do you feel about this?

The journalistic inquiries about Fatima are the consequence of the ambiguity on the part of the Vatican that leaves the question unresolved. An example on so many that I could give: Joseph Ratzinger in a press conference in June 2000, at a precise question, answers that all the prophecies of Fatima have been accomplished. And then, in 2010, during his flight to Fatima, he says exactly the opposite, namely that the prophecies are not limited to “the past”, but that indicate “realities of the future of the Church which gradually develop and show”.

Let us remain at a papal journey, this time not towards Fatima but returning from Fatima. I am referring to the journey of Pope Francis last Saturday and to his statements on Medjugorje. You in the past also worked on these other alleged apparitions, how do you evaluate the words of Bergoglio?

The Pope said that he does not like Our Lady as the “head of the telegraph office that every day sends a message at a specific hour”. I start from the fact that the Pope has stated that these are personal opinions, and I would like to respond to these, which are not Magisterium. Well, in Medjugorje Our Lady from 1987 comes to give one message per month, previously (1984 to 1987) she used to give one message per week. The total per today is 515 messages, not the seven thousand and more of which the bishop of Mostar talks about including also the alleged apparitions to the individual visionaries during which Our Lady gives no messages but prays. I note that in San Nicolas, in Argentina, Our Lady has given so far 4,250 messages and she continues to give more. Yet these apparitions have been officially recognized by the local bishop. Here it would not be a “postman Our Lady” but a “telegraph Our Lady”… I love to think that if Our Lady is the mother, she acts like the other mothers: insistently lovingly knocks on the shoulder of the son to ask him to listen to her advices and to redeem himself.

This is not the Magisterium, but these statements of Pope Francis could negatively affect the opinion of the faithful on Medjugorje…

I do not know if it is due to the declarations of the Pope or to the economic crisis, but the fact is that in recent years there has been a significant decrease of the visits in the shrine of Medjugorje. I believe that the pilgrims need a word of clarity that finally allows to have faith in the fact that in that place there has been the intervention of Mary. Obviously if the Pope reveals doubts, the pilgrim who feels the desire to go to a Marian Shrine perhaps prefer to go not to Medjugorje but elsewhere. The fact remains that the testimonies of conversion occurred in Medjugorje are infinitely greater than those that occurred in other sanctuaries. This will also mean something.

Is there the risk that some presumed messages of Medjugorje go against the magisterium of the Church? For example, in one of these Our Lady asks to celebrate her birthday on the 5 August, while the Church commemorates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin on the 8 September …

Unfortunately, the Vatican has never done a critical diligent work on all the texts of the apparitions, which have been transcribed in a very empirical way, and therefore difficult to be verified. I happened to read some of them that translated in English or translated in Italian stated different things. The problem is mainly linked to the messages given in the initial period to a woman – Jelena Vasilj – which was not even a visionary, but had interior locutions. However, the visionaries acquired these responses and have made them their own, perhaps reporting the content in a partial or incorrect manner.

According to you are there points of contact between Fatima and Medjugorje?

In an alleged recent message of Medjugorje Our Lady claimed to be coming to complete what began at Fatima. Assuming that it is a true message, this is the answer. From my point of view, all Marian apparitions are tiles of a mosaic. Put on the table before the work of the artist, they are rather dull. But once embedded in a work of art, they assume a meaning. The meaning that I read in the various apparitions, is the call of Our Lady to conversion towards her Son Jesus to avoid the self-destruction of the world.

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