Bursting a beloved bubble…

Benedict XVI and the “Prophetic Mission of Fatima”:
The Rest of the Story

Every so often, someone with a soft spot for the old Modernist Joseph Ratzinger (now “Pope Emeritus” Benedict XVI) digs up a quote from a homily he gave in 2010 (see video here) in which he spoke somewhat cryptically about the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. His exact words were:

We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete. Here there takes on new life the plan of God which asks humanity from the beginning: “Where is your brother Abel […] Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” (Gen 4:9). Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end… In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: “Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 162).

At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart. At that time it was only to three children, yet the example of their lives spread and multiplied, especially as a result of the travels of the Pilgrim Virgin, in countless groups throughout the world dedicated to the cause of fraternal solidarity. May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.

(Benedict XVI, Homily of May 13, 2010 at Fatima, Portugal; underlining added.)

The underlined parts are what is usually emphasized and interpreted as Benedict XVI trying to signal to all who are devoted to Our Lady that he is convinced that the Fatima prophecies have not yet been completely fulfilled, specifically that the conversion of Russia asked for by Our Lady has not yet taken place and so still lies in the future, which is when the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Mother will finally triumph.

Even though when viewed in the context of the entire homily, there is really nothing that would lead one to believe that Ratzinger holds to this “Gruner-Vennari-Matt-Ferrara” line on Fatima, nevertheless it is indeed true that these words of his — the ones that are underlined — are obscure enough to allow one to suspect he might be indicating that he believes the conversion of Russia has not yet taken place, and that the triumph of the Immaculate Heart is still to come in the future.

The problem, however, is that Benedict XVI has long since clarified these cryptic remarks of his, and totally burst the bubble of all who were putting their hopes in Ratzinger believing in a future consecration of Russia or some similar version of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. For some reason, those clarifying remarks were widely under-reported, so we’re doing our part to make sure people get the complete story.

To let the cat out of the bag right away: The cold, stark reality is simply that Benedict XVI’s statement that the prophetic mission of Fatima is not yet concluded means nothing more than that since there are still evil, suffering, and danger in the world, there must still continue to be a conversion of hearts through faith, hope, love, and repentance, which are the only answer to evil, suffering, and danger.

That’s it — no great mystery, no climax, no consecration or conversion of Russia, no triumph of the Immaculate Heart as traditional Catholics have always envisioned it. Benedict gave these clarifying remarks to interviewer Peter Seewald nine years ago, when the latter asked him to elaborate on what he meant in his homily of May 13, 2010, when he said that the prophetic mission of Fatima was not yet over.

Benedict’s anti-climactic answer was published in Seewald’s 2010 book Light of the World:

[Interviewer:] The famous “third secret of Fatima” was not revealed until the year 2000 — by Cardinal Ratzinger at the behest of John Paul II. The text speaks of a bishop clothed in white who collapses amid the bullets fired by a group of soldiers — a scene that was interpreted as a prophecy of the attempted assassination of John Paul II. Now you stated that “we would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete.” What did you mean? Does the fulfillment of the message of Fatima really still lie in the future?

[Benedict XVI:] There are two aspects of the message of Fatima that have to be distinguished. On the one hand, there is a particular event, which is recounted in forms typical of visionary experience, and, on the other hand, there is the fundamental significance of the event. I mean, the point was not to satisfy some curiosity. If that had been the case, it would have been logical for us to publish the text much sooner.

No, the purpose was to allude to a critical point, a critical moment in history, by which I mean the whole power of evil that came to a head in the major dictatorships of this twentieth century — and that in another way is still at work today.

On the other hand, the answer to this challenge is also an important point here. This answer does not consist in great political actions, but, when all is said and done, it can only come from the transformation of the heart — through faith, hope, love, and penance. In this sense, the message is precisely not a thing of the past, even though the two major dictatorships have disappeared. The Church continues to suffer, and a threat still hangs over man, so the quest for the answer continues as well, which also means that the indication Mary has given us retains its validity. Even now there is tribulation. Even now, in every conceivable form, power threatens to trample down faith. Even now, then, there is need for the answer about which the Mother of God spoke to the children.

[Interviewer:] The homily you delivered on May 13, 2010, in Fatima struck a rather dramatic note. “Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror”, you proclaimed, “but failed in bringing it to an end.” On that day, before half a million of the faithful, you expressed a wish that is actually quite spectacular: “May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions”, you said, “hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.” 

Do these words mean that the Pope, who, after all, is the holder of a prophetic office, thinks that within the coming seven years the Mother of God could actually appear in a manner that would be tantamount to a triumph?

[Benedict XVI:] I said that the “triumph” will draw closer. This is equivalent in meaning to our praying for the coming of God’s Kingdom. This statement was not intended — I may be too rationalistic for that — to express any expectation on my part that there is going to be a huge turnaround and that history will suddenly take a totally different course. The point was rather that the power of evil is restrained again and again, that again and again the power of God himself is shown in the Mother’s power and keeps it alive.

The Church is always called upon to do what God asked of Abraham, which is to see to it that there are enough righteous men to repress evil and destruction. I understood my words as a prayer that the energies of the good might regain their vigor. So you could say the triumphs of God, the triumphs of Mary, are quiet, but they are real nonetheless.

(Benedict XVI, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Sign of the Times [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010], pp. 165-166; underlining added; italics given.)

So, let’s set the record straight once and for all here: Benedict XVI does not believe there is still some major event to come: not the consecration of Russia, not the conversion of Russia, and not the triumph of the Immaculate Heart in any sense in which traditional Catholics typically understand these terms. Rather, he is on the record clarifying that for him the message of Fatima is only “not a thing of the past” “in this sense”, namely, that “the transformation of the heart — through faith, hope, love, and penance” is still needed today in response to “the whole power of evil” which “is still at work today” so that “the Church continues to suffer, and a threat still hangs over man.”

Likewise, Benedict XVI clarified that his hope for the “fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” simply means, not an expectation that “there is going to be a huge turnaround and that history will suddenly take a totally different course” — for he admits to being too much of a rationalist for that — but rather, a mere prayer that there would be “enough righteous men” who “regain their vigor” so as to “repress evil and destruction”.

Whoop dee doo. That’s all there is to it.

So, let’s keep this cold, stark reality in mind for next time someone brings up the argument that “Benedict XVI said Fatima is not yet over and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart is still to come”. This claim that Ratzinger gave some mystifying signal about a future Fatima-related event, at one time insinuated by Rorate Caeliclaimed by Antonio Socci and Chris Ferrara, once recycled at the One Peter Five web site, and after all these years still repeated at the Fatima Center, is sheer nonsense; it needs to stop. It simply doesn’t correspond to the facts. True devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary — which we certainly cultivate and encourage — is not legitimately served by perpetuating wishful thinking.

May Our Lady of Fatima intercede for us and hasten the day of her genuine triumph, when the false Vatican II Church will finally be but a distant memory, and the true Catholic Church will once again shine forth gloriously with a true Pope as the legitimate shepherd of all Catholics.

Image source: shutterstock.com 
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