Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Fatima: An Overview
Catolicismo Nº 197 - May 1967
1 - To understand the set of visions and communications with which Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were favored we must first of all have in mind the Catholic doctrine on the communion of saints.
The prayers and merits of one person can benefit another. It is thus logical that the prayers, sacrifices and offering of their lives by the three children, especially after having spiritually benefited from the apparitions of the Queen of All Saints, could also benefit a large number of souls and even entire nations. Our Lady came to ask the threesome for prayers and sacrifice. To Jacinta and Francisco, She also asked that they offer their lives as expiatory victims for the sins of men. She asked Lucia to stay this world to fulfill a mission we will speak about below.
2 - Another premise to understand the events of Fatima is the universal mediation of Mary Most Holy. By God’s free and sovereign choice, She acts as everyone’s supreme and necessary Mediatrix between the offended Redeemer and sinful humanity. Furthermore, as Mediatrix, She is always heeded, and in this sense really commands the course of events. This Royal Mediatrix will be glorified with the victory of her maternal Heart, which is the most refined expression of God's own victory.
3 - Speaking to the little shepherds, Our Lady actually addressed the whole world, exhorting all men to prayer, penance, and the amendment of life. She addressed especially the Pope and the Sacred Hierarchy, asking them to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
4 – The Mother of God made these requests in view of the religious situation the world was in at the time of the apparitions, 1917. Our Lady called that situation highly calamitous. Impiety and impurity had dominated the earth to such an extent that, to punish men a real hecatomb had broken out, the First World War. That conflagration would soon be over, and sinners would have time to amend by heeding the Fatima appeal. If that appeal were heeded, humanity would know peace. If not, an even more terrible war would come. And if the world remained deaf to the voice of its Queen, a supreme and worldwide hecatomb of ideological nature, with serious religious persecutions, would afflict all men and bring great trials to the Roman Pontiff: “Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecution of the Church ... The Holy Father will have much to suffer.”
5 – The stiff neck of contemporary humanity having thus been broken through a whole sequence of calamities, a conversion of souls will take place on a large scale. And that conversion will be specifically a victory of the Most Pure Heart of the Mother of God: “At last, my Immaculate Heart will triumph...” It will be the reign of Mary upon men.
6 – In order to more effectively incite humanity to accept the message, Our Lady had her three confidants see souls condemned to hell. It was a tragic scene which they described in an admirable way, and one fitting to bring back hardened sinners to virtue. That gloomy sight shows well how those who claim that meditation on the eternal torments is inadequate for contemporary men are profoundly deceived.
7 - In order to prove the reality of the apparitions, and therefore the authenticity of the message, the Virgin arranged three orders of events:
a) The influx of large numbers of spectators at the moment She spoke to the seers. Even though the latter were the immediate recipients of the message, the bystanders, using their common psychological penetration were able to ascertain that the three children were neither lying nor the object of an illusion as, they said, they were in contact with Our Lady. They were actually hearing and speaking to a being invisible to others.
b) The prodigy of the sun’s movements and changing colors. This prodigy was noticed in an area so much larger than the place of the apparitions that it cannot be explained by a phenomenon of collective suggestion (incidentally, extremely difficult to occur with the 50 to 70 thousand people present in the Cova da Iria).
c) Confirming the prophecy, the First World War ended shortly after the Fatima apparitions. Also confirmed was the prophecy that another world war would break out if humanity did not amend. The extraordinary northern light [aurora borealis] that illuminated the skies of Europe before the second conflagration was observed from several countries and known to the whole world. The Lady had warned the seers that this would be the sign of imminent punishment. And soon afterward the punishment indeed came.
d) The prediction of the supreme punishment, which is the diffusion of communism, began to come true shortly after the apparitions.
It is important to note that the Blessed Virgin’s announcement that “Russia will spread its errors throughout the world” was more or less unintelligible at the time of this prophecy, July 13, 1917. Indeed, Tsarism had just been overthrown and replaced by the still bourgeois regime of Kerensky, and no one could know what those Russian errors would be. It was clearly not the diffusion of the Greek-schismatic religion, mummified and deprived of any force of expansion. Thus, the rise of Marxists to power in unfortunate Russia in November 1917 was already an eloquent beginning of the prophecy’s confirmation.
Then the Russian Communist Party began to spread its errors worldwide, further accentuating the coincidence between the Virgin’s announcement and the course of events. Communist expansion became even more marked after World War II because many nations, subjugated by fraud and force, fell under Soviet domination. The USSR thus became a worldwide danger. Even to this day, communist aggression is like a sword of Damocles suspended over the West. Thus the threat posed by Our Lady, which might seem confused and unlikely in 1917, presents itself in 1967 as a danger that shakes the whole earth.
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Faced with these statements of apocalyptic grandeur, we must make an observation. Today’s world is increasingly being divided into two families of souls. One considers that humanity is stuck with a bundle of errors and iniquities, which began in the religious and cultural sphere with Humanism, the Renaissance, and the Protestant Pseudo-Reformation. Such errors were aggravated by the Enlightenment and Rationalism, and culminated in the political sphere with the French Revolution.
From the political terrain they spread to the social and economic field in the nineteenth century, with utopian socialism and so-called scientific socialism. With the advent of communism in Russia, all this accumulation of errors began at first an incipient, but later massive transposition into the concrete order of facts; and from it came the Moloch communist empire, spanning all the way from Germany to Vietnam, and whose unity is indisputable (its division into a “Russian line” and a “Chinese line” is a mere propaganda bluff). At the same time, especially since the First World War, morality in the West began to decline with breakneck speed, preparing it to capitulate to communism, which is the most audacious doctrinal and institutional expression of amorality.
The historical conception contained in these considerations is set out in the article “The Crusade of the Twentieth Century,” published in the first issue of Catolicismo. We sought to give it a broader development in the essay, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, which this journal published in its 100th issue. Finally, it is enunciated with great elevation and clarity in the historical document in which two hundred Conciliar Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, at the initiative of Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer and Archbishop Geraldo de Proença Sigaud called for a new condemnation of Marxism. For the countless souls in all states, nations and living conditions who share this conviction, the message of Fatima is most consistent with Catholic doctrine and the reality of events.
There is also another family of souls for whom the problems of the contemporary world have little or no relation to ungodliness (considered as a guilty deviation of the intellect) and immorality. They are based exclusively on involuntary misunderstandings which can be dissipated with a good doctrinal diffusion and an objective knowledge of reality. Incidentally, such misconceptions result from economic deficiencies. They are caused by hunger, and will thus disappear when there is no longer hunger in the world. But they will not die before that. The crisis of humanity will be solved with the aid of science and technology.
There is more. The guilt factor and the notion of universal punishment become incomprehensible if they are not the tonic note amid the catastrophes and dangers in which we find ourselves. And this is all the more so because, for that family of souls, communism is not intrinsically evil and you can make accommodations with communists to avoid uncomfortable persecutions.
Of course, for the sake of brevity, the description of these two families of souls summarizes somewhat the panorama. There are many ranges between one and the other, but there would be no room to portray them here. The message of Fatima becomes understandable or incomprehensible to the extent that any of the intermediate currents approaches one pole or the other. Thus, in this sense, Fatima is a true watershed dividing contemporary mentalities.
In any case, except for the part still kept secret, the requests, admonitions and prophecies (all with the mere character of private revelations) at Cova da Iria were made and are largely being confirmed. To the skeptics we say: “Qui vivra verra...” [He who lives will see].
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Will the events foreseen in Fatima and not yet accomplished take place? This is the question the whole contemporary humanity is asking. In principle, there can be no doubt. For the fact that some of the prophecies have already been realized with striking precision proves their supernatural character. And that character having been proven, there can be no doubt that the heavenly message will be fulfilled to the end.
Someone might object that the prophecies of July 13, 1917 are conditional. They would take place if the Pope and the bishops in union with him did not make the consecration of Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Now, such consecration was made by Pius XII in relation to the world (in 1942) and specifically in relation to Russia (1952). Therefore, it is to be expected that the punishments foreseen by the Lady of the Rosary will not occur.
Two answers can be given to this objection.
First, according to the words of Our Lord to Sister Lucy in 1943 which she referred to in a letter to the titular Bishop of Gurza, the consecration of the world made by Pius XII, although pleasing to God, did not fulfill all the conditions formulated by the Mother of God. Consequently, it seems debatable that such consecration will have the effect of forestalling the predicted calamities. These words communicated by Our Lord to Sister Lucy must be given all credence, for since she remained in this life with a mission concerning the message of Fatima, it is normal for her to receive from heaven communications of this nature to guide the world on the interpretation to be given to that message and on its relationship with unfolding events. And for this very reason it is also normal that Jesus and his Mother give that faithful woman religious, so loved by the Sacred Hearts, all the assistance to carry out her mission without falling into error or misleading humanity.
Secondly, it should be noted that in the Cova da Iria, Our Lady formulated two conditions, both of which are indispensable to avoid the punishments with which she threatened us.
One of these conditions was the consecration. Let us say that it was done in the manner requested by the Blessed Virgin. There remains the second condition: the dissemination of the practice of the Communion of Reparation on the first five Saturdays. It seems clear to us that to this day this devotion has not spread in the Catholic world in the measure desired by the Mother of God.
There is another condition, implicit in the message, but also indispensable: it is for the world to overcome the thousand forms of impiety and impurity that have dominated it. Everything indicates that this victory has not been attained, and that on the contrary, this problem is reaching a kind of paroxysm. Thus a change of course by humanity is becoming increasingly unlikely. And as we move towards this paroxysm, we are more likely moving towards effective punishment.
Here an observation should be made. It is that the message of Fatima would be absurd if we failed to see things in this way. For if in 1917 Our Lady affirmed that the sins of the world had reached such a height that they cried out for God's punishment, it would not seem logical that these sins would continue to grow for fifty years, the world would obstinately and definitively refuse to heed what it was told at Fatima, and the punishment still would not come. It would be the same as if Nineveh had not done penance and yet the threats of the Prophet had not taken place.
Moreover, the very consecration requested by Our Lady would not have the effect of averting punishment if humanity remained ever more attached to impiety and sin. For as long as it did, the consecration would have something incomplete and stripped of real content.
In short, since the immense spiritual transformation requested at Cova da Iria has not taken place, we are increasingly moving towards the abyss. And as we move forward, that transformation becomes ever more unlikely.
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Here enters the famous subject of the yet unrevealed part of the secret of Fatima. Does it contain words of forgiveness and peace that allow us to expect indefinite impunity for this indefinite growth of impiety and impurity? From the outset we must say that we can’t see what is pious about this idea. In analogous situations when the world showed itself deaf and recalcitrant to the end, holy souls in the Old and New Testaments always preferred mercy to justice, and forgiveness to punishment. But they always preferred punishment to the spectacle of victorious wickedness mocking the majesty of God indefinitely and with impunity.
In addition, it seems absurd to admit that Our Lady made a public message asserting that without a change of life the world would suffer terrible punishment, and a private message in which she affirmed in one way or another that no punishment would come regardless.
What is important, then, is to pray, suffer and work for humanity to convert. And to do it with redoubled efforts, for otherwise punishment is at hand.
A secret is a secret, and logically no one can draw deductions from its content because it is unknown.
However, it is not out of place to make a conjecture here. The undisclosed part of the secret probably contains frightening details about the way in which the punishments announced at Fatima will come true. For this is the only explanation of why it might seem difficult to publish. If it contained distant perspectives, all leads to believe that it would already have been published.
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As we end these reflections, it is good for our minds to dwell on the ultimate perspectives of the Fatima message. Beyond the sadness and extremely likely punishments toward which we are moving, we have before us the sacral flashes of the dawn of the Reign of Mary: “At last my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” This is a grandiose prospect of universal victory of the regal and maternal Heart of the Blessed Virgin. It is a soothing, attractive and above all majestic and exciting promise.
What can we do in order to avoid punishment in the tenuous measure in which it is avoidable, obtain the conversion of men in the weak measure in which, in the common economy of grace it is still obtainable before the punishment, hasten as much as possible the blessed dawn of the Reign of Mary, and get help during the hecatombs that so seriously threaten us? Our Lady herself indicates it: Increase fervor in devotion to her, pray, and do penance.
She encouraged us to pray by appearing with the attributes proper to the invocations of Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Mother of Sorrows, and Our Lady of Carmel, indicating how pleased she is to be known, loved and venerated in this way.
Moreover, the Virgin of Fatima insisted in a very special way on devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She referred to her Heart seven times in her messages (and Our Lord, nine).
Thus, the already abundantly proven theological value of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary finds in Fatima a precious and impressive corroboration. On the other hand, the insistence of the Blessed Virgin clearly demonstrates the extreme timeliness of this devotion.
Whoever takes the revelations of Fatima seriously must therefore place the increase of devotion to the Immaculate Heart as one of the top priorities to update his life of piety.
It is in this sense that we make a moving recommendation to our readers, echoing what is said about Fatima in the Pastoral Letter, rich in exciting teachings, which the illustrious Bishop of Campos, Antonio de Castro Mayer, has offered the fortunate members of his diocese.