Catholic Family News

Father Gruner Attacked: Chris Ferrara Responds – Part II

A Reply to Joanna Bogle Respecting the Third Secret of Fatima

Part II: What Bogle Will Not See

In the first part of this series I promised a brief review of the facts and circumstances, more fully summarized here and here, which put the lie to Joanna Bogle’s absurd caricature of the “Fatimist” position that the vision published by the Vatican in 2000, standing alone, cannot possibly be the Third Secret in its entirety.

First of all, the Vatican’s “official” commentary on the vision (written by then Cardinal Ratzinger) describes it as “difficult to decipher.” But why would the Mother of God leave us with a cipher to be “decoded” by a Vatican Secretary of State 83 years after the fact when the rest of the Message of Fatima is simple and pellucid in its predictions, warnings and promises?

Moreover, Sodano, a corrupt Vatican bureaucrat, is an inconceivable choice to speak for the Mother of God regarding the meaning of what She revealed to the three seers. It was Sodano who for decades covered up the crimes of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, accepting money and gifts from Maciel’s Legionaries of Christ while blocking any investigation into his rape of boys, his out-of-wedlock children, his drug use and financial improprieties. Cardinal Ratzinger finally ordered an investigation and then, as Pope Benedict XVI, approved the findings that Maciel was guilty of “very serious and objectively immoral acts… confirmed by incontrovertible testimonies” and “true crimes” that manifested “a life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment.” Maciel died in disgrace after being stripped of his leadership of the Legionaries and his priestly faculties and ordered to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance.

The mere fact of the Vatican’s absurd reliance on Sodano and his successor Cardinal Tarcisio (“penthouse”) Bertone to promulgate an “official version” of the Third Secret demonstrates that something must be missing: namely, the Blessed Virgin’s own explanation of its meaning. It is impossible to believe that God would have left the interpretation of His mother’s precious message-warning to the Church and all of humanity to a pair of scandal-plagued Vatican officials.

At any rate, as The New York Times reported, Cardinal Ratzinger made clear during the June 2000 press conference at which the Third Secret vision was published that“It is not the intention of the Church to impose a single interpretation. But in light of history, we can decipher the vision.” No single interpretation is imposed. But we can “decipher” it. Then again, others are free to “decipher” it differently. So, Our Lady left us with a riddle to which there could be several different solutions, take your pick? Hardly.

Now, if the faithful are not obliged to accept Sodano’s ludicrous interpretation, that leaves us — and it leaves Bogle — with no authoritative explanation whatsoever of what the vision really means. Does it seem likely that Our Lady would have left us completely in the dark on a matter of such epochal significance?

But the curious role of the Vatican Secretary of State in this affair is only one element in a mountain of proof indicating that there must be a text in which the Virgin, not Cardinal Sodano, explains how the vision will come to pass and the who, what, why and when of the prophecy. This would only be in keeping with the specificity of the rest of the Fatima message, including the very name of the Pope (Pius XI) who would be in office at the commencement of World War II and the accurate prediction of “a night illumined by an unknown light” just before the war’s commencement.

The evidence for an explanatory text is so overwhelming that the decidedly non-traditionalist Socci, who set out to write a book demolishing the “Fatimist” position, completely reversed himself and concluded the text must exist and that it is “well hidden” in the Vatican. As he describes his own change of mind: “In the end, I had to surrender…. Here I recount my voyage into the greatest mystery of the 20th century and set forth the result I honestly reached. A result that sincerely contradicts my initial convictions.” From Bogle, however, we can expect no such openness to serious arguments and powerful evidence. Her ideological commitment to anti-traditionalism precludes it.

My own exhaustive study of the controversy, The Secret Still Hidden, was inspired by Socci’s groundbreaking work. Both Socci’s book and my own were written in a context of widespread skepticism about the completeness of the Vatican’s disclosure in 2000, extending far beyond “Fatimist” and “traditionalist” circles. Mother Angelica spoke for millions of Catholics when she declared before a worldwide audience on live television: “I happen to be one of those who thinks we didn’t get the whole thing.”

As Socci maintains, the explanatory text would be found in the envelope on which the late Archbishop Loris Capovilla, personal secretary to John XXIII, wrote the names of those who had read the text and the judgment of Pope John, dictated to Capovilla by the pontiff, that he would leave to his predecessors the decision whether to publish it (even though the entire Church was awaiting publication in 1960, the year the Virgin had specified). Before his death this year at the age of 100, Archbishop Capovilla repeatedly confirmed the existence of “the Capovilla envelope” and even its precise location (a writing desk in John XXIII’s bedroom from which Paul VI retrieved it). He did so even in an edited video interview Cardinal Bertone presented during a television show hastily staged to quell the controversy. The Vatican has never denied the envelope exists. Yet the envelope has never been produced.

Given even these few but very telling facts, reasonable, intelligent and open-minded Catholics want to know what is going on here. Consider, for example, Robert Moynihan, a Harvard graduate with a Ph.D. from Yale and editor of the mainstream journal Inside the Vatican. To his great credit, Moynihan ignored post-conciliar correctness and the risk to his own position (from ideologues like Bogle and others in much higher places) when he revealed in the August 2011 edition of his journal that his friend the late Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who was no less than Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, recommended that he read my book:

“We were discussing the Third Secret of Fatima, the allegations that the Vatican has not published the entire text of the Third Secret as revealed to Sister Lucia, and the response of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, in a book where Bertone states that there is nothing more to be revealed. Archbishop Sambi said, “Excuse me.” He got up, went out of the room, and came back with a book.

“‘Here,’ he said. ‘Do you know this book? You should read it.’ It was Christopher Ferrara’s The Secret Still Hidden.’Wait,’ I said. ‘You are the Pope’s representative in the US, and you are urging me to read a book that questions what the Secretary of State wrote?’ Archbishop Sambi replied, ‘All I am saying is that there are interesting things worth reading in this book. And in the end, we are all after the truth, aren’t we? The truth is the important thing …’”

Moynihan, who was also a personal friend of the late Monsignor Capovilla, very recently expressed the enduring skepticism of sensible Catholics around the globe in two of his e-letters to subscribers. On May 27 he wrote as follows concerning the “Capovilla envelope”:

“There was a second envelope.” — The late Cardinal Loris Capovilla, speaking to me in his residence in Sotto il Monte in early 2007, when I asked him why the letter of the Third Secret of Fatima held up on Italian television by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone did not contain any writing. Capovilla told me that he had written on the envelope in August, 1959, when Capovilla, together with Pope John XXIII, read the Third Secret at Castel Gandolfo. Pope John told Capovilla to write on the envelope that the two had read the text that day, and that he, Pope John, had decided not to publish it but to leave it to one of his successors to publish. Capovilla did write those words on the envelope, he told me. Capovilla passed away yesterday in Italy at the age of 100. May his soul rest in peace, and may eternal light shine upon him.”

Then, only days ago, Moynihan followed up on his May 27 letter. He further revealed the following:

“He [Capovilla] had intentionally led me to believe that there was something not clear about the publication of the secret or secrets — that there might even have been two different letters, with two different envelopes, with two distinct texts, he had left me in the dark about what that something might be. He had clearly had some hesitation about speaking definitively on the subject of the letter, as if he had been asked not to do so by some higher authority.”

Citing conversations he had had with Roman sources during the summer, Moynihan stated his conclusion:

“Still, in Rome during June and July, I did have conversations which touched on the Third Secret of Fatima.

“Those conversations persuaded me that there is an ambiguity and a lack of transparency about the way the texts have been presented to the world.

“I do not know what the ambiguity or lack of transparency is, but it seems, from what Capovilla told me, and from what I heard in Rome, that something is imperfect, or incomplete, in the way the secret has been published.”

As we will see in the concluding part of this series, this missing something was revealed by none other than Benedict XVI, who, to quote Socci, “reopened the dossier” on the Third Secret of Fatima.

Click here for Part I

Click here for Part III

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Christopher Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara earned his Baccalaureate and Juris Doctor degrees from Fordham University. He is President and Chief Counsel of the American Catholic Lawyers Association. His articles have appeared in Catholic Family News, The Latin Mass, The Remnant, and other publications. He has authored several books, including Liberty, The God that Failed, The Secret Still Hidden, False Friends of Fatima and translated into English Antonio Socci's book, Il Quarto Segreto di Fatima (The Fourth Secret of Fatima).

Christopher Ferrara

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Christopher A. Ferrara earned his Baccalaureate and Juris Doctor degrees from Fordham University. He is President and Chief Counsel of the American Catholic Lawyers Association. His articles have appeared in Catholic Family News, The Latin Mass, The Remnant, and other publications. He has authored several books, including Liberty, The God that Failed, The Secret Still Hidden, False Friends of Fatima and translated into English Antonio Socci's book, Il Quarto Segreto di Fatima (The Fourth Secret of Fatima).