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Is A Sleeping Giant Beginning to Awaken?

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

The strong Catholic reaction of outrage to the news of a planned Interfaith Shrine at Fatima is the positive note in an otherwise sad and scandalous story. The reaction began, as I am sure my readers are aware, after a November 11 news report by a Portuguese weekly, The Portugal News, stated that the Shrine “is to be developed into a centre where all the religions of the world will gather to pay homage to their various gods.” The article indicated that the Catholic authorities were “committed to turning it into a multi-faith centre where Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Pagan religions can rest at ease with each other.”

Msgr Guerra and Bishop Leiria, the Fatima dignitaries

Msgr. Guerra, Fatima Shrine rector, left, and Bishop of Leiria-Fatima Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva, center, at the October interfaith congress in Fatima - Catholic Family News, December 2003
The report was an aftereffect of an October 10-12 interfaith conference at Fatima, where Catholic dignitaries met with representatives of many false religions to address the theme “The Future of God: The Place of Sanctuaries in Relation to the Sacred.” Par for course, all the “religions” were accorded the same esteem, all the “sanctuaries” of the various confessions treated as equal.

At the very site where Our Lady asked for the conversion of Russia to the Catholic Faith, the progressivist Jesuit Fr. Jacques Dupuis blatantly denied that the Catholic Church was the one true Church and stated that “Christians and ‘the others’ are co-members of the Reign of God in history.” The next day, Vatican representative Archbishop Michael J. Fitzgerald, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, made it clear that conversion should not be an aim of the Church since “unity with God is not confined to the people who belong to the Church.” (1)

The report of an Interfaith Shrine at Fatima originated, then, from this ecumenical conference.

About the acceptance of such an aberration, one can only wonder what was the Vatican thinking? That Catholic opinion had been so anesthetized and knocked out cold that it would silently bear this affront? That there would only be a handful of traditionalist Catholics to deal with? A small group the Shrine’s rector, Msgr. Luciano Guerra, derisively labeled "old fashioned, narrow-minded, fanatic extremists and provocateurs." (2)

If this was the Vatican’s hope, it reckoned wrong. There was not only the expected outrage from the traditionalist circles, which surged strongly and unanimously, but a healthy and far-reaching reaction also rose from the conservative and centrist Catholic milieus.

The rector at Fatima was inundated by angry correspondence and questions.

• Did you really say that “Fatima will change for the better”? Yes, he did.

• Did you really affirm that “the adoration of God and His mother at this holy Shrine must pass through creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle?” Yes, he did.

A model of the interfaith building to be constructed at fatima

Above, the strange banjo-shaped interfaith building is planned to be constructed in Fatima. Below, the present day square and Basilica - From the Santuario-Fatima Internet site

A procession with Our Lady in Fatima
Shortly, from the same religious authorities that two months before had promoted the pan-religious congress, “clarifications” began to appear. Msgr. Guerra called a press conference monitored by none less that Vatican representative Archbishop Fitzgerald, to complain about the “over-reaction” to the Fatima shrine and interfaith conference, and to assure Catholics that “Fatima will remain Catholic.” (3)

On November 19, in an interview with the English Catholic weekly, The Universe, Fitzgerald again quashed “rumors” of a multi-faith shrine, pretending “shock and dismay” at the notion of such a plan. The shrine would remain a Catholic shrine, he assured the readers, and simply hospitable and open to those of all “faiths” and persuasions. (4) What can one say? An interfaith shrine by any other name remains the same…

The latest addition to this hypocritical cover-up is a Zenit report, with yet more denials of misdoings from the Fatima shrine rector and a fabrication that “rumors” of a pan-religious shrine came from a misinformation campaign.

In this Zenit report, Msgr. Luciano Guerra first “clarified” the topic by rephrasing the essential points - without denying any of the statements previously attributed to him or other religious authorities. “A religious space,” he said, will be constructed in Fatima. And while some think it resembles a stadium, “it will in fact be a church and place of Catholic worship, although it is open “receive pilgrims of other convictions.” (5) He went on to contradict the reality, reaffirming that the Fatima apparitions were exhortations to ecumenical dialogue. One can’t help but wonder what happened to Our Lady’s call for conversion…

Then, Msgr. Guerra suggested a sinister plot to feed misinformation to The Portugal News. The rabble-rousing November 11 article “was guided by some members of the group led by Father [Nicolas] Gruner,” a priest not to be trusted because of his persistence in the “crusade” in favor of the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and his involvement in the 2000 document, We Resist You to the Face, critical toward JP II’s vision of ecumenism. (6)

Our Lady of Fatima

Many Catholics are rallying to defend the honor of Our Lady of Fatima
The first charge that Fr. Gruner fed misinformation to The Portugal News is false, as it was clearly stated by Mr. John Vennari. (click here for the full text) The second charge, Fr. Gruner’s insistence that the consecration of Russia has not been made is not pertinent, since it not an accusation of a fault, but an obvious good action. The third charge, that Fr. Gruner was involved in the Resistance statement, is an outright falsehood. He had nothing to do with the statement that, along with Atila Sinke Guimãraes, John Vennari, and Michael Matt, I had the honor of signing.

The good to come from this latest progressivist charge, this time, against Our Lady of Fatima and her message, is the Catholic public outcry of indignation and anger. One of my favorite parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is when the ancient mammoth oaks, led by Treebeard the Ent, begin to awaken from their long torpor and lend their might to stand against the forces of darkness brought by Sauron and Saruman.

Analogously, will one of the best parts of Catholic public opinion, those devoted to Our Lady of Fatima and her message, like the long-slumbering tree shepherds of Fangorn Forest, finally awaken, rise up and lend its might to fight for the honor of Our Lady and against ecumenism and other bad fruits brought by Vatican II?

1. These and other details of the conference talks are provided by journalist and author John Vennari, who was present at the event: “Fatima to Become Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who Was There,” Catholic Family News, December 2003. Click here for complete text.
2. “Modernists and Traditionalists Confront Each Other at Fatima,” by Gary Brown, Spirit Daily website, November 12, 2003.
3. “Fatima will Remain Catholic,” by Richard Salbato, in Inside the Vatican, December 2003, pp. 23-25.
4. “Vatican Quashes Fatima Report,” in Ibid., pp. 25-26.
5. “What is Happening in Fatima?, by Delia Gallagher, Zenit, January 1, 2004.
6. Ibid.
Posted January 7, 2004



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