© Copyright 2022, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author. All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)
Readers have exhibited interest in further discussing the extent of the seeming contradictions regarding the Fatima message and how a line might be drawn that could explain the shift in the messages’ emphasis. Prayer, penance and reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was the dominating element immediately following the apparitions. But with the announcement of a favorable decision by the Canonical Inquiry Commission Oct. 13, 1930, the initial import of the messages fades and suddenly the conversion of Russia becomes the primary focus.
It would be impossible to complete a truly comprehensive study of the matter long distance, 100 years after the fact, and without the assistance of the hierarchy to provide authentic documents and answer questions that would arise. Any attempt would be incomplete at best and could never reproduce the actual chain of events as they were first recorded. To try and analyze those events and reinterpret them from our present vantage point would be to presume that we are capable of judging the seers, the many witnesses and learned clergy, also the historians, who first recorded these events. Given the lack of education of this writer and nearly every other Catholic, even if college-educated — compared to those educated in truly Catholic institutions — this would be far more than just a display of arrogance. It would amount to the presumption that we are the judges of the bishops and clergy composing the Canonical Inquiry Commission who first documented the testimony of these individuals, and this is simply something a Catholic cannot do.
Let us consider for example the research that is required simply to produce a credible written evaluation of secular history. History experts and professors advise students to base their research on as many primary sources as possible. Primary sources include diaries, personal journals, memoirs, letters and legal documents. The experts also advise a thorough reading of secondary sources, meaning a summary of or commentary on primary sources, biographies, interview-based articles, and other non-fiction works. Researchers are strongly encouraged to incorporate views of as many secondary sources as possible. Research works must be built on evidence solidly supported by verifiable sources. Writing history papers is much like presenting a case in court — it must be based on evidence. Evidence, however, is not always clear. It must be analyzed, cross-referenced, evaluated and carefully put together to present the strongest possible case. Emotions cannot enter into an evaluation and one must be extremely careful in making judgments.
Researchers must be part detective, part investigative journalist in piecing together evidence from a variety of sources to answer historical questions. This might be difficult to determine in the case of missing, insufficient or contradictory evidence. Counter-evidence must always be considered. Opposing information and interpretation is essential to a fair evaluation of the topic. Events must be examined in their proper context, referencing statistics, and taking historical timeframes, geography, and the character of historical figures and their cohorts into full consideration. The who, what, where, when and why questions of the journalist must be answered. When the available sources fail to provide complete information, inference can be used to fill the gaps. This can help the historian piece everything together into a plausible whole. And this is only the basic framework on which to build an historical investigation. Most of the general population are not equipped to follow these instructions and this is why the Church conducted such investigations — to inform and guide the average lay person.
But what is said above does not even cover the process of arriving at conclusions based on one’s findings. For the Catholic, this must be a matter of following the norms set out by scholastic philosophy, or logic. The application of moral theology also could come into play here. And above all, the Catholic is subject to ecclesiastical authority, which is presumed to be legitimate and able to command assent from the faithful until proven otherwise. Doubts regarding such authority are always settled in their favor unless solidly grounded proofs can be produced to the contrary. This is a matter of Canon Law. (If anyone wonders why this present author has gone to such great lengths to expose Traditionalists posing as valid Catholic clergy as the imposters they truly are it is because the Church commands that such evidence be produced.) So even if we go solely according to what is stated above regarding secular historians in trying to answer the specious arguments of non-Catholic authors trashing the entire scope of the Fatima apparitions today, the task would be next to impossible. And it would be entirely unnecessary, since these authors arrive at illogical conclusions formed entirely on cherry-picked information, also wild conjectures based on questionable information and half-truths.
But if we are to consider the possibility that Fatima is deficient in any respect, the deficiency must be narrowed down to exclude the actual apparitions themselves, approved by ecclesiastical authorities we have no valid reason to question, and the devotions they advocate that are truly Catholic — prayer, penance, sacrifice, faithfulness to daily duty, the rosary and the five first Saturdays in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The rest is immaterial from a Catholic perspective. This is true, that is, for those who believe Fatima is a true apparition, something which the Church does not insist upon. But from a practical perspective, and in an effort to present at least a possible explanation for the Russia consecration as it was originally proposed — also to refute the scenarios advanced by non-Catholics — it seems prudent to at least attempt to arrive at some conclusions. There is much that is unknown and misunderstood about the Russian connection with Fatima. Understanding how and why it was misdirected in the first place will document the fact that the Novus Ordo church has been using Fatima for decades to advance a new world religion.
Were the messages falsified?
First we will deal with whether there could have been a falsification of the messages or a failure to properly evaluate the apparition. The answer to both of these questions appears to be a cautious yes, but without ecclesiastical authorities to re-investigate the matter little certainty can be had about exactly what was falsified. Precisely who was responsible, whether it was the result of a miscommunication or error in understanding or a malicious misrepresentation (either on the part of the children or the clergy), how it came about — all will remain a matter of speculation because it is not even certain that we can depend on what once were considered entirely reliable sources. All the Church guarantees in allowing these revelations to be believed is that there is nothing contrary to faith and morals in what was communicated to the three seers, but primarily Sr. Lucia, and that the children did receive the messages from Our Lady.
Canonical inquiries into previous apparitions took only 1-5 years (La Salette, Lourdes, Pontmain) according to Fatima chronicler Fr. Joseph Pelletier. But as he also notes, in his Fatima, Hope of the World (1954), Fatima, which was approved 13 years following its occurrence, was a more complicated case. And because of the conditions following the war, it may have been more difficult to find the time necessary to investigate it.
The controversial issue is the alleged request for the conversion of Russia and its consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a request made years following the original apparitions. There is good reason to suspect this request because Pope Pius XII himself and his public attitude towards Fatima following the 1952 “Russia” consecration indicates something was wrong. If this consecration is examined very closely, it will be seen that there is no mention of Fatima in the consecration. In fact, although he allegedly had been requested on several different occasions by Sr. Lucia to make the consecration, the final act was accomplished only after Russian Catholics pleaded with him to do it. All of this is reported in The Whole Truth About Fatima: The Third Secret, Vol. III, written by Frere Michel de la Sainte Trinite, available for viewing online. While Frere Michel’s work is well-documented, is loaded with information previously unknown and brings up many important issues, he is an unabashed Fatima promoter and often interprets certain behaviors and events surrounding the apparition and the behavior of the Roman Pontiffs (Popes Pius XI and Pius XII) in a manner that overlooks or excludes other possibilities and verges on questioning their authority. But to be fair, many developments have arisen since he wrote the books, most notably the impersonation of Sr. Lucy and the likelihood that she died in 1948/49.
One Fatima opponent, the Jesuit Fr. Edouard Dhanis, said to lean towards Modernism, wrote in the mid-1950s: “The new history of Fatima, which rests on the accounts of Lucy, calls for more reserve. One may fear, without denying the sound judgment or sincerity of the seer, that certain fictitious elements slipped into the accounts… Thus, it hardly seems probable that Our Lady asked for the consecration of Russia or that She attributed the provocation of the present war exclusively to the atheistic propaganda of this country.” So there were already doubts, and while Dhanis himself does not take all the proper evidence into consideration, and cannot be trusted owing to his later Vatican 2 activities, these doubts were not unfounded. There are those who believe Dhanis was a Modernist, and some of what Frere Michael reports in his work does seems to support this. We also must be careful here because the reports to which Dhanis refers may have come from the person impersonating Sr. Lucy and not Sr. Lucy herself.
Many events reported in Frere Michel’s work, when linked to other events, seem to point to the fact that Pope Pius XII had serious doubts about Fatima following 1952. These doubts seem to have surfaced, several appear to agree, during the poisoning of Pope Pius XII as related by his own physician in August 1952. These deep reservations seem to have been more or less confirmed over a two-year period (1952-54; perhaps discoveries made about the true state of affairs in the Holy Office once Montini was no longer pro-secretary of state?). In 1952, after issuing the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on July 7, Pope Pius XII reportedly commissioned the Austrian Jesuit Schweigl to present 31 questions regarding the conversion of Russia to Sr. Lucia, who possibly by that time was deceased. Schweigl later revealed his previously undisclosed mission to the Vatican 2 council fathers (according to Frere Michel). He also told them that “…in 1952, the Archbishop of Coimbra demanded that the replies given by Sister Lucy not be published without authorization of the Holy Office.” And that authorization was never given.
In late August of 1952, shortly after sending Schweigl to speak to Sr. Lucia, while Montini was still acting as Pope Pius XII’s pro-secretary of state in the Vatican, Frere Michel reports that Pope Pius XII fell gravely ill, according to his physician Galeazzi-Lisi. According to Frere Michel and one account online, Galeazzi-Lisi attributed the illness to “chromic acid poisoning” caused by the pope’s toothpaste. This report came from John-Peter Pham, an American priest who served in the Vatican diplomatic service. What Galeazzi-Lisi failed to mention is that he had referred Pius XII to the dentist who prescribed the chromic acid treatments. The pope’s gastritis returned the following year and on the advice of Galeazzi-Lisi, the pope received unorthodox treatments for the condition, according to Pham. Pius XII received these same treatments again in January of 1954 when he became gravely ill with gastritis and a diaphragmatic hernia.
According to William E. Barrett’s biography of Paul 6, Shepherd of Mankind, shortly after the death of the former Archbishop of Milan in August of 1954, Pius XII told Montini he would be appointed to the empty see. The official announcement of his appointment was not made, however, until November of 1954. Barrett also confirms the pope had suffered quietly from his stomach condition for some time before it worsened in January of 1954. During the time span of Pope Pius XII’s illness, August of 1952 to December of 1954, the pope had learned many disturbing things about Montini. It was shortly before his illness worsened that Pope Pius XII discovered Montini’s true role as a U.S. agent, working first with the OSS and later the CIA. Ill or not, the pope took action. Following the additional discovery that Montini was actively cooperating with the Communists, had failed to inform him of a schism in China, and that some of the information he had leaked to the Soviets resulted in the assassination of bishops and priests sent secretly into Russia, he informed Montini of his dismissal as pro-secretary of State. And perhaps, following his dismissal, and Pius XII’s eventual recovery from the poisoning he suffered, he began to discover certain connections regarding Fatima and Montini’s activities that also alarmed him.
Fatima and Felix Morlion’s Pro Deo
Frere Michel asks in his work: “Why did the Holy Office, in 1956-1957, suddenly demand the manuscript of the third Secret when it was no longer offered to it, and had refused the manuscript in 1944? Bishop da Silva had permission to read the Secret, but …he stubbornly refused to open it. They knew that after him, it would fall to the Patriarch of Lisbon to open it and divulge it to the world in 1960, or upon the death of Sister Lucy prior to 1960. Perhaps they feared that the seer would grant the future Bishop of Leiria, Msgr. Venancio, permission to read it. In short, one could be certain that if the Secret remained in Portugal, it would certainly be revealed to the world in 1960.” Frere Michel then goes on to speculate that forces suspicious of the Fatima Secret did not wish it to be left in the hands of the Portuguese hierarchy who might certainly release it, whether it was providential to do so or not. And he concludes that the Holy Office wished to reserve that decision to itself.
“To provide an excuse, they requested a photocopy of all writings of Sister Lucy. Yet, it was clear that only one thing really mattered: transferring the original text of the Secret from Leiria to Rome, to snatch it from the hands of its future recipient, Cardinal Cerejeira” (Ibid.). The delivery of the photocopies of Sr. Lucy’s writings and the Third Secret to the Vatican is seen by Frere Michel to be a sort of hostile takeover, to prevent Cerejeira from releasing the secret. But did Pope Pius XII have a perfectly good reason for doing this? It is interesting to note that Cerejeira was the cardinal who helped establish the Dominican Felix Morlion’s Center of Information Pro Deo press service in Lisbon before relocating to the U.S. in 1941. This gave Morlion plenty of time to set into place a plan to propagandize Fatima, and it appears this is exactly what was done. The following is taken from the introduction to Morlion’s Apostolate of Public Opinion, 1944).
“Father Morlion’s first organizational work was the foundation, in 1930, of the “Offensive for God” movement in Belgium. This combined anti-Communist and anti-Nazi activities with a program of positive religious teaching. He also devoted much time to giving instructions in press, film and propaganda techniques at Catholic Action schools in Brussels and Roeselaere, and at the Louvain School of Social Service. When the war began in Europe, Morlion moved his offices from Belgium to France, and later to Portugal, “Fortunately, however, Father Morlion managed to escape to Portugal where Cardinal Goncalves Cerejeira, Patriarch of Lisbon, asked him to start a news Center and to train a staff according to the techniques he had developed. But as the continuity of the CP services was broken, a whole new system had to be established. Drawing upon his years of experience and using the part of the pre-war network which Hitler had not succeeded in destroying, he united (July 1940) in one organization the techniques of news presentation and the techniques of the Pro Deo Movement.
“The name “CENTER OF INFORMATION PRO DEO” (CIP) was chosen to connote that the work of information is dedicated to the positive furthering of the re- establishment of God in public life. The threats of invasion became so grave in May 1941 that, upon the insistence of the Cardinal Patriarch and of the Portuguese Vicar Provincial of his Order, he left Portugal, carrying the assurance that the lay collaborators, who were unknown to the Gestapo, would carry on the Center there as a clearing house for the network gathering information.” This happened just prior to Pope Pius XII’s first consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Morlion was a suspected CIA operative who later was accused of engaging in money laundering and other unsavory practices. Morlion worked hand in hand with Time/Life magazine mogul Henry Luce, who collaborated with John Courtney Murray, Eli Lilly and Giovanni Montini to introduce religious liberty American style (the American Proposition, a revival of the Americanist heresy condemned by Pope Leo XIII) as a doctrinal teaching at the Vatican Council. This following John 23rd’s release of his encyclical on religious liberty, Pacem in Terris. In 1955, Murray was censured for his liberal leanings and forbidden to circulate his writings.
Catholics would never expect to see propaganda inserted by an international “Catholic” organization into Catholic publications, in any form; and yet this is precisely what happened, and in the name of Catholic Action no less. The establishment of such an organization was very carefully executed, well supported financially by the C.I.A., Henry Luce and others who later became change agents for liturgical and other reforms. At the time this organization was established, Pope Pius XII probably believed it was a worthwhile project. Private correspondence lists Montini, also his great friend Jacques Maritain, as avid Pro Deo supporters. Later in Part XIV, Chapter 59, Wemhoff cites declassified documents in which a C.I.A. correspondent names Montini as co-founder of Pro Deo and Cardinal Giuseppe Siri as being appointed in some way to participate in Pro Deo operations. C.I.A. operatives also claim that Pope Pius XII (unofficially) endorsed Pro Deo, a statement challenged by Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton, but his official papal documents do not reflect Morlion’s statements regarding democracy, nor could they reflect his Americanist viewpoint.
Fenton believed that Pope Pius XII was being sold out by certain Jesuit advisors and even commented in his diaries that these Jesuits were working to orchestrate the great apostasy. One of these was the pope’s personal assistant, Robert Leiber, S. J., whom he had known during his days as papal nuncio in Germany. Leiber is never mentioned in any of Pius XII’s biographies, at least the ones examined for this work. According to Wemhoff, Leiber was one of the O.S.S.’s primary agents during WWII, passing information to American operatives regarding the activities of Adolph Hitler. He continued to forward information following the war, including details of personal conversations with the Pope. This seems to be supported by a report made by Piers Compton in his work, The Broken Cross in 1984:
“It was during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII that a number of priests, then working at the Vatican, became aware that all was not well beneath the surface. For a strange kind of influence, not to their liking, was making itself felt, and this they traced to a group who had come into prominence as experts, advisors and specialists… who surrounded the pope so closely he was spoken of, half humorously, as their prisoner…Those priests more seriously concerned set up a series of investigations… their spokesman was Fr. [Gustave] Eustace Eilers… of Birmingham, Alabama… That the hand of the Illuminati was definitely involved became clearer when Fr. Eilers, who announced that he was publishing those facts, was suddenly found dead…”
Fr. Eilers died in 1957, the same year the Third Secret of Fatima was transferred to the Vatican. Schweigl was a Jesuit, Lieber was a Jesuit, Dhanis was a Jesuit, (Cardinal) Bea was a Jesuit, Murray was a Jesuit… The Fatima Bishop da Silva died in 1957. Prior to his death in 1958, Pope Pius XII was preparing to excommunicate Montini’s close friend Jacques Maritain and John Courtney Murray for their heresies. According to Wemhoff’s John Courtney Murray, Time/Life and the American Proposition, Rome officially forbade Murray to write on matters regarding Church and State in 1954, but the hierarchy failed to enforce the condemnation. Unbeknownst to all but a few, as Monsignor Fenton reports in his Diaries, Pope Pius XII was preparing an important encyclical on Church and State at the time of his death. This may explain why he delayed the condemnation of Murray and the other liberals, and it may possibly provide an additional motive for his demise. In 1958, Cardinal Cerejeira was still alive to cast his vote for the man everyone believed would be the next pope. He would never release the Third Secret, nor would the man he likely chose to replace Pius XII.
The conversion of Russia was most likely a diversion
Pope Pius XII died because he stood in the way of Montini, the Judas who betrayed him. Working with Morlion, Eli Lilly and Henry Luce, Montini was using Pro Deo to manipulate public opinion — to democratize the whole world, as well as the Church. That would explain the perversion of the Fatima message to make it appear it was almost entirely about the conversion of Russia. For without that conversion, however contrived and false it might be, the Murray/Luce/Morlion brand of government, Christian democracy, could not be achieved. Christian democracy was first embraced by Marc Sangier’s Sillon, condemned by Pope St. Pius X. This same Christian democracy, was later revived and promoted by Montini’s own father in Italy. The manipulation of Fatima wasn’t about the defeat of Communism, or the conversion of Russia but about the worldwide establishment of Murray-style democracy that tolerated all faith and creeds, holding none superior to the other, as a system (appearing to be) formally sanctioned by the Catholic Church. It was preparation for one-world religion and rule.
And Pope St. Pius X speaks eloquently on what today has actually come to pass, in his above-mentioned work on the Sillon. Quoting Pope Leo XIII, he points out that this pope condemned: “‘A certain Democracy which goes so far in wickedness as to place sovereignty in the people and aims at the suppression of classes and their leveling down…’” Pius XII then continues: “For the Sillon’s field of vision is not bound by the national borders, it encompasses all men even to the ends of the earth — the human heart, enlarged by the love of the common-wealth, would embrace all comrades of the same profession, all compatriots, all men. Such is the ideal of human greatness and nobility to be attained through the famous popular trilogy: LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY… What We wish to affirm once again, after Our Predecessor, is that it is an error and a danger to bind down Catholicism by principle to a particular form of government. This error and this danger are all the greater when Religion is associated with a kind of Democracy whose doctrines are false… We fear that worse is to come: the end result of this developing promiscuousness, the beneficiary of this cosmopolitan social action, can only be a Democracy which will be neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Jewish. It will be a religion (for Sillonism, so the leaders have said, is a religion) more universal than the Catholic Church, uniting all men become brothers and comrades at last in the ‘Kingdom of God’ — ‘We do not work for the Church, we work for mankind.’”
Some believe that after a social and economic collapse, also a deadly taste of Communist rule, the world will be terrified enough to accept a totally new system of government. Monarchy and true democracy are not necessarily mutually exclusive; this new government will be a combination of the two to pacify the western nations. This new system will be presided over by a false pope and an international king, although he may not be referred to as a king. In turn this duo will appoint 10 subordinate kings or so-called democratic heads of regions: “And the 10 horns which thou sawest are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom but shall receive power as kings one hour after the beast. These have one design and their strength and power they shall deliver to the beast” (Apoc. 17: 11-12). This at least is what the enemy seems to have planned. But God alone will determine how far these plans will succeed.
It is no coincidence that during Montini’s tenure as false pope, a high-level Masonic organization with One World aspirations known as the Club of Rome divided the world into 10 different regions, (Constance Cumbey’s A Planned Deception, p. 208-209). These are l) North America; 2) Western Europe; 3) Japan; 4) Australia, South Africa and the rest of the market economy of the developed world; 5) Eastern Europe, including Russia; 6) Latin America; 7) North Africa and the Middle East; 8) Tropical Africa; 9) South and Southeast Asia and 10) China. Other commentators have designated these regions as various areas of Israel, in anticipation of a universal “papacy” headquartered in Jerusalem. These kings have probably been reigning secretly now for quite some time, changing hands and solidifying their positions. Time alone will determine just how and if all of this will fall out.
Our Lord and His Blessed Mother alone know what really happened at Fatima; we cannot obtain any real certainty about it. We can only see with our own eyes what is happening and how it corresponds with the prophecies in Holy Scripture and the teachings of the popes, which are the only things that must guide us. Pray and watch; keep your lamps lit at all times, for “Behold, I come quickly…Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” (Apoc. 22: 7, 20).
Assent owed to revelations per the popes and theologians
The real issues here are not Fatima per se, but the criteria Catholics are relying on to try and make sense today of the massive amounts of information available on the Internet and how to judge whether or not they can be trusted. This includes the lengthy videos on secular topics that many freely view then circulate. Many of them are benign, but others are questionable. And how are we to judge these things without a Church to guide us? The Fatima question we are trying to answer today concerns whether we must believe in the apparitions at all or may reject them entirely. Regarding the apparition itself, it seems clear that the Church found it worthy of belief and treated it as such. Several mentions of Fatima can be found in the Acta Apostolica Sedis and this alone indicates the Church at least implicitly acknowledged the validity of the apparitions. But the same cannot be said of the actual messages and their content. It appears that Pope Pius XII at least suspected that something was suspicious about Fatima after 1952, if certain reports can be trusted. And Fatima is conspicuously absent in his addresses and other papal documents after this date.
Below we quote two different popes, Pope Benedict XIV and then Pope St. Pius X. speaking on this matter, also several of the theologians. This will provide readers with at least some background on how the Church views these matters.
From Heroic Virtue: Treatise of Benedict XIV on the Beatification and Canonization of the Servants of God, Vol. III, 1850:
“The fourth question is, what is to be said of those private revelations which the Apostolic See has approved of, those of the Blessed Hildegard, of S. Bridget, and of S. Catherine of Sienna. We have already said that those revelations, although approved of, ought not to, and cannot receive from us any assent of Catholic, but only of human faith, according to the rules of prudence, according to which the aforesaid revelations are probable, and piously to be believed.
“So also the fathers of Salamanca. From this, then, it follows that anyone may, without injury to the Catholic faith, give no heed to these revelations, and differ from them, provided he does so modestly, not without reason, and without contempt.”
“Hurtado, after reciting the approbation of the revelations of S. Bridget, by the sovereign pontiffs, speaks as follows; ‘It is not the meaning of these supreme pontiffs that we may not dissent from these revelations; for Cardinal Torquernada, the vigorous defender of these revelations, and who recites the aforesaid words of the popes, dissented from the revelation made to S. Bridget, that the Blessed Virgin was conceived without original sin, and wrote a whole treatise to prove that she was conceived in original sin.’ ”
Gerson, in his Treatise on the examination of doctrines, relates that Gregory XI, when on the point of death, holding the sacred body of Christ in his hands, protested before all, and warned them to beware both of men and women, “who under the guise of religion, speak visions of their own head” for that he, seduced by such, had neglected the reasonable counsel of his friends, and had dragged himself and the Church to the hazard of imminent schism, if her merciful spouse Jesus had not provided against it.”
Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi dominici gregis (on Modernism):
“The Councils (of Vigilance) must not neglect the books treating of the pious traditions of different places or of sacred relics. Let them not permit such questions to be discussed in periodicals destined to stimulate piety, neither with expressions savouring of mockery or contempt, nor by dogmatic pronouncements, especially when, as is often the case, what is stated as a certainty either does not pass the limits of probability or is merely based on prejudiced opinion. Concerning sacred relics, let this be the rule: When Bishops, who alone are judges in such matters, know for certain a relic is not genuine, let them remove it at once from the veneration of the faithful; if the authentications of a relic happen to have been lost through civil disturbances, or in any other way, let it not be exposed for public veneration until the Bishop has verified it. The argument of prescription or well-founded presumption is to have weight only when devotion to a relic is commendable by reason of its antiquity, according to the sense of the Decree issued in 1896 by the Congregation of Indulgences and Sacred Relics:
“Ancient relics are to retain the veneration they have always enjoyed except when in individual instances there are clear arguments that they are false or suppositious. In passing judgment on pious traditions be it always borne in mind that in this matter the Church uses the greatest prudence, and that she does not allow traditions of this kind to be narrated in books except with the utmost caution and with the insertion of the declaration imposed by Urban VIII, and even then she does not guarantee the truth of the fact narrated; she simply does but forbid belief in things for which human arguments are not wanting.
“On this matter the Sacred Congregation of Rites, thirty years ago, decreed as follows: ‘These apparitions and revelations have neither been approved nor condemned by the Holy See, which has simply allowed that they be believed on purely human faith, on the tradition which they relate, corroborated by testimonies and documents worthy of credence’ (Decree, May 2, 1877). Anybody who follows this rule has no cause for fear. For the devotion based on any apparition, in as far as it regards the fact itself, that is to say in as far as it is relative, always implies the hypothesis of the truth of the fact; while in as far as it is absolute, it must always be based on the truth, seeing that its object is the persons of the saints who are honoured.”
So here both Pope Benedict XIV, from the very subject matter of his work, and Pope St. Pius X are assuming that it is the saints to whom these apparitions and revelations were attributed, saints investigated during a canonical process more rigorous by far than the canonical inquiry made at Fatima, which rendered the devotion plausible. The Sacred Congregation of Rites is said to have issued the reply above in 1877 after being asked about belief in the apparitions of Lourdes and La Salette. St. Bernadette was not canonized until 1933 and the two La Salette seers are not even beati. It appears then that we are dealing with two types of acceptance of these revelations — one due them in prudence, when they issue from the saints or those who have been beatified, and the other due to those who have never become saints or blessed. Another matter which should be considered is the fact that the popes here, for the most part, were also referring to individual saints and beati who received these revelations as adults.
From The Casuist
Further explanation on this subject is provided below from The Casuist, a well-respected work issued in 1906 treating cases in moral and pastoral theology.
“1. There are many persons, especially women endeavouring to lead a holy life, who occupy themselves a great deal with so-called revelations made to pious persons, even to the exclusion of all other spiritual reading matter. Sometimes such persons study the revelations made to some particular saint, drawing all their spiritual nourishment from them; then having their appetite whetted by the perusal of one book of this kind, they eagerly devour anything of the same nature that they are able to lay hold of. They believe in these revelations as firmly as they believe in the Gospels and are strongly disposed to brand as heretics, or at least as suspects, all who do not put the same faith in them as they do themselves. This disposition alone is sufficient to prove that the perusal of these private revelations is not a healthy, spiritual exercise for all indiscriminately, and it becomes necessary from time to time to instruct the faithful on this head.
“2. That there may be, that there have been, and that there are at present revelations made to private individuals is beyond question. We are speaking, of course, of revelations made to holy and devout persons, which have been investigated by the Church and declared to contain nothing against faith or good morals. No positive ecclesiastical approbation is ever given to such revelations.
“3. When the Church revises and approves revelations and visions in this sense, all she does is to certify that these visions and revelations contain nothing against the “rule of faith,” the “regula fidei,” so that the faithful may believe them without injury to their faith (pie creditur) and use them as a guide to conduct without fear of believing or doing anything unauthorized by the Church. Where the Church has thus given Her approval to any particular private revelation, it is no longer permitted to ridicule or to despise it. Fas non est, says Card. Franzelin, tales revelationes contemnere (de div. trad. 22). To do so were to fail in the respect due to the Church. But not to believe the revelation is no sin against the obedience we owe the Church. For the Church, by her approval or quasi-approval of these revelations, has no intention of obliging the faithful to believe them. Whoever believes in them, does so fide humana, and not fide divina, at least not fide divina Catholica. ‘In spiritual things,’ says Catherine Emmerich, ‘I never believed anything except what was revealed by God and proposed for my belief by the Catholic Church. What I saw in visions I never believed in this way.’
“4. The body of revealed truth, necessary to salvation and bearing the seal of infallibility, was completed and closed, once for all, by the teachings of Christ and the apostles. When the Church defines a new dogma, she simply declares authoritatively that it is contained in the teachings of Our Lord and the apostles. Just as private revelations do not bear the seal of infallibility, so neither do they bear the mark of inerrancy. There is no divine inspiration guaranteeing the correct recording of private revelations, as is the case with the Holy Scriptures, even though the fact of the revelations has been established. Private revelations are exposed to a threefold danger. The understanding may err in receiving the revelation. The memory may fail in recording orally or in writing the contents of the revelation. The tongue may err in its effort to clothe the revelation in human words. Moreover, as Benedict XIV remarks, notions and ideas acquired previous to the revelation may be confounded by the person receiving the revelation with the things learned in the revelation, and thus the saints have sometimes considered things to have been revealed to them which were in nowise revealed. Hence the contradictions in different revelations.
“5. The supernatural communication, therefore, as well in its reception as in its transmission, may be unwittingly falsified. The Holy Scriptures alone are preserved from such falsifications. And thus it happens that the private revelations of different holy persons contradict one another openly, and in many things.
“6. All that the Church says, therefore, when she lends her approval to the private revelations of the saints or other holy persons, is that these revelations may be believed “fide humana” [human faith], and that they are adapted and may be used for the edification of the faithful. The declaration of Benedict XIV does not contradict this: “When the Church has examined and approved these visions, no one may any longer doubt their supernatural and divine origin.” THE POPE SPEAKS ONLY OF THEIR ORIGIN, AND NOT AT ALL OF THEIR CONTENTS, NOR OF THEIR CORRECT REPRODUCTION. And even a refusal to believe in their divine origin would not be a sin against Catholic faith.
“7. After these theoretical remarks let us add a few words of a practical nature. The reading of these visions and private revelations is in nowise adapted to the needs of ordinary people, even though they may have correct notions about the credibility of private revelations. Many of these revelations are beyond the needs and the intelligence even of persons already far advanced in the spiritual life, and are often clothed in language quite unintelligible. And herein precisely lies a new source of anxiety, because a new danger, namely, the danger of understanding the revelation in a wrong sense, which may easily lead to positive error and sin against the “rule of faith.”
In reviewing all of the above, the following conclusions can be made:
- The popes commenting on these revelations primarily referred to apparitions and messages experienced by saints and beati, nearly all of them adults. These must be received with prudence owing to the Church’s investigation and judgment of the sanctity of these individuals. Even so, they may be questioned and even rejected, according to Pope Benedict XIV.
- While Fatima was investigated and approved by the bishops there, Pope Pius XII never gave actual approval to the full import of the messages received by the seers during the apparition. Everything points to the fact that he eventually had grave doubts about these messages, particularly the specific mention of Russia.
- As Pope St. Pius X says regarding relics: “Ancient relics are to retain the veneration they have always enjoyed except when in individual instances there are clear arguments that they are false or suppositious.” If this is true of relics, then this principle also could be applied to revelations when serious doubts arise regarding their authenticity. As Pope Benedict XIV instructs, one may reject these revelations with modesty, not without good reason and may not treat them with contempt. Pope St. Pius X forbids publishing commentary on relics (and it seems this also would apply to revelations) which reflect mockery or contempt.
- Regarding prudence, then, if we are to avoid such mockery and contempt, it seems to be more in keeping with Church teaching to at least accept the actual apparitions as having taken place, while discussing in private, dispassionately and objectively, any discrepancies to the perceptions of the seers and the messages received.
- While even the divine origin of such apparitions may be rejected, it is not clear whether this is a venial sin or not. Therefore it seems more prudent to at least accept the apparition as of divine origin, out of respect for Our Lady and to avoid scandalizing others, while questioning the rest.
- Before rejecting such apparitions individuals do have the obligation to resolve any serious doubts as best they can if information from unquestionably approved sources seems to explain them, according to rules governing moral theology. While absolute certitude cannot be had regarding the apparitions, the Church Herself, in allowing them to be believed and even entering documents into the Acta Apostolica Sedis referencing them, provides us with a certitude that is, as explained by Rev. A.C Cotter, S.J., “
- Given the teachings of Pope Benedict XIV above, no one may condemn those rejecting even the apparition itself because the Church allows it. The responsibility for such a rejection lies fully within the realm of individual conscience, which all must respect. Nor can those believing in the apparitions express disapproval or warn others to avoid them, if the Church Herself permits this. For: even a refusal to believe in their divine origin would not be a sin against Catholic faith. And this is also true of those rejecting the apparitions, for respect of another’s conscience works both ways: we are free to believe or not believe according to the Church.