Signs of the Times

Pope Links Fatima Secret To Assassination Attempt

Pope John Paul II, ordering the publication of the third secret of Fatima, believes part of it was a direct reference to the attempt made on his life in 1981, said the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. Cardinal Sodano, the highest-ranking official of the Roman Curia, said on May 13 that the pope asked him to make the solemn announcement of the secret’s contents at the end of the pope’s Mass in Fatima, 19 years to the day after the assassination attempt.

The message was written down in 1943 by Sister Lucia dos Santos, the only surviving Fatima visionary, and placed in a wax-sealed envelope. She gave it to her bishop, who sent it unopened to the Vatican, where it remained secret except to the popes and a few close aides.


Cardinal Sodano told an estimated 600,000 people at the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima that the third part of the message revealed to the three shepherd children in 1917 concerns, above all, the war waged by atheist systems against the church and Christians. But it also includes reference to the ministry and suffering of a bishop clothed in white, who the children believed was the pope, Cardinal Sodano said.

In the message, Cardinal Sodano said, as the pope makes his way with great effort toward the cross amid the corpses of those who were martyredbishops, priests, men and women religious and many lay personshe, too, falls to the ground, apparently dead under a burst of gunfire.

Cardinal Sodano said that after the shooting of the pope in 1981, it appeared evident to His Holiness that it was a motherly hand which guided the bullet’s path,’ saving the pope’s life. Cardinal Sodano said that Sister Luciawith whom the pope met privately before the Mass to beatify her cousins, Jacinta and Franciscoconfirmed the Vatican’s interpretation.

The Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls noted that the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that through Scripture and in Christ, in a full and exceptional way, God has revealed everything that is essential for faith. However, it says, throughout the ages, there have been so-called private revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history.

Cardinal Sodano said the pope had directed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to prepare a commentary to help people understand the message, then to make the message and the commentary public. The cardinal said the text contains a prophetic vision similar to those found in Sacred Scripture, which do not describe with photographic clarity the details of future events and therefore require interpretation.

In the late 1930’s Sister Lucia made public the first two parts of the messages from Mary, which the children had kept secret. The first two parts included the vision of hell shown to the children, along with prophecies concerning the outbreak of World War II, the rise of Communism and the ultimate triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, including triumph over Russia if that country were consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.

Mexican Bishops Tell Government 'Don’t Threaten Us’

Don’t threaten us was the sharp response from the head of the Mexican bishops’ conference to a message from the government about the limits on political discourse from religious groups. Archbishop Luis Morales Reyes of San Luis Potosi, president of the bishops’ conference, said on May 9 that the church would continue to obey Mexico’s laws that separate church and state.

On May 3 the bishops released a seven-page pamphlet, Democracy Can’t Happen Without You, affirming that the church has the mission, the right and the duty to articulate basic ethical principles in the political field. The pamphlet followed a much longer document of March 24 on the church’s role in Mexico’s nascent democracy. In the current election campaign, the leading opposition candidate, Vicente Fox of the conservative National Action Party, has promised to ease restrictions on Catholic schools and on religious activity in public schools.

Methodists Ask Catholic Forgiveness

Taking a cue from Pope John Paul II, the United Methodist General Conference has asked the forgiveness of Roman Catholics for any Methodist wrongs toward Catholics. Methodists accept the pope’s apology for the use of force in the search for truth, practiced against our Protestant forebears in the Christian faith, the statement said. In the instance of misunderstandings, insensitivities and harm brought about by the United Methodist Church and its predecessors in faith, to the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholics, we, in turn, ask forgiveness for our deeds of commission and omission.

Vatican Gives Prior Approval to Chinese Bishop’s Ordination

The Vatican gave prior approval to the ordination of a Chinese bishop, and for the first time, all the ordaining bishops were in communion with Rome, said the Vatican’s missionary news service, Fides. Bishop Zhao Fengchang, 66, was ordained bishop of Yanggu and apostolic administrator of Linqing, both ecclesial territories in China’s eastern Shandong province. The ordination Mass on May 7, attended by some 1,500 Catholics and several government officials, began with a public announcement that the Vatican had explicitly approved the ceremony.

In the past the Vatican has given other ordinations prior approval. Depending on the circumstances, the prior approval has sometimes also been made public, Fides said on May 10. The three ordaining bishops on May 7, although in communion with Rome, were members of the government-recognized church, said UCA News.

Fides noted the ordination’s stark contrast with a Chinese ordination ceremony on Jan. 6, in which five bishops were ordained without Vatican approval. Only one of the seven ordaining bishops was in legitimate communion with Rome, the Vatican agency said. The illegitimate ordinations created a wave of discontent among Catholics and criticism from the international community for the lack of religious freedom, Fides said. Wishing to avoid further tensions, the Chinese government has canceled a number of patriotic ordinations planned in the coming weeks, said Fides, citing sources in Beijing.

Campaign Against Vatican’s U.N. Status Anti-Catholic

The campaign by Catholics for a Free Choice to end the Vatican’s permanent observer status at the United Nations is reminiscent of other episodes of anti-Catholic bigotry, said the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston said Catholics for a Free Choice, which supports legal abortion, claims to be an authentic Catholic voice. He said that claim is false. Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, described her group as the voice of Catholics who disagree with the church on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

N.L.R.B. Upholds Vote Against Union Despite Hospital’s Violations

The National Labor Relations Board has upheld failed January union elections at five facilities of Catholic Healthcare West/Mercy Healthcare in Sacramento despite its findings that hospital management violated some fair labor laws. The N.L.R.B. regional office found that management personnel illegally monitored union activities and threatened union supporters, but it ruled that the infractions had a minimal impact on the elections held on Jan. 27. Local 250 of the Service Employees International Union was seeking to organize nearly 2,300 employees at five hospital sites. In simultaneous votes, Mercy technical employees voted 305 to 193 against organizing, while service employees voted 701 to 598 against affiliating with Local 250.

Bridgeport’s Bishop Egan Named Cardinal O’Connor’s Successor

Pope John Paul II has appointed Bishop Edward M. Egan of Bridgeport, Conn., 68, as archbishop of New York, succeeding the late Cardinal John J. O’Connor, who died on May 3. Archbishop Egan is a Chicago-area native and canon lawyer who served for 12 years as a judge in the Roman Rota, the church’s central appellate court. He was an auxiliary bishop in New York for three years under Cardinal O’Connor and was archdiocesan vicar of education there before he was named to head the Diocese of Bridgeport in November 1988.

Cardinal Says Priests Needed to Prevent Sacramental Starvation

Catholics will be starved of the sacraments without an influx of new priests, Belgium’s most senior Catholic churchman warned. Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Malines-Brussels said the vocation crisis would wipe out the church’s sacramental traditions in Western countries. The 66-year-old cardinal predicted that Catholics would become like Protestants, forced to rely more on the Bible and less on the seven sacraments of the church.

Ohio Priest Stabbed, Hospitalized After Hearing Confession

An Ohio priest who was stabbed while hearing his attacker’s confession told police the seal of confession will prevent him from testifying against his assailant. According to a statement from Middletown police, Father Charles Mentrup, 41, an associate pastor at Incarnation Parish, was stabbed early May 5 at his residence while hearing his assailant’s confession. The priest was transported to Middletown Regional Hospital, where he underwent surgery for a knife wound to the abdomen. On May 9 a hospital official said he was in good condition.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.


The latest from america

The act of planting a garden is the easier part: It’s the small daily acts of caring over the long haul that can be a challenge.
Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 15, 2018
So what is it about these cheesy, mass-produced films that make them so irresistible?
Colleen DulleDecember 14, 2018
Last year, 'America' published “An (unconventional) Advent Playlist.” This is my (much more conventional) Advent playlist.
Molly MattinglyDecember 14, 2018
Jeff Daniels in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (photo: Julieta Cervantes)
Two starry new Broadway productions have no qualms about speaking their mind.
Rob Weinert-KendtDecember 14, 2018