Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fatima, Pope Benedict and a Bishop in White

"The Lord is calling me 'out to the mountain' to devote more time to prayer and meditation, but this does not mean I'm abandoning the Church."

--Pope Benedict XVI, in his final Sunday Angelus address as Pope, at noon in St. Peter's Square, February 24, 2013


It was recently announced that Benedict XVI will be "Pontiff emeritus [1]" or "Pope emeritus", as Fr Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, reported in a press conference. He will keep the name of "His Holiness, Benedict XVI" and will dress in a simple white cassock. Another report says it was suggested that he be called “Bishop Emeritus of Rome,” but adds that Benedict XVI did not prefer that title. Despite the decision, it seems that the retired Pope could be “a bishop dressed in white,” who was seen in “an immense light that is  God” during the Third Secret Vision at Fatima. I’m not alone in that conjecture, since Mr. Robert Siscoe recently wrote a short article on that very subject.

The Pope’s retirement has raised much speculation about his “real” reasons, about who the next Pope will be or should be, and loads of interjection about how we need a more liberal Pope – one who will allow women priests, one who will redefine marriage, etc. As I wrote in my last (blog) article, during all the media speculation over the Pope’s announcement, what is not seriously considered is this one fact: Benedict XVI was the first and only pope to ascend the throne of stewardship of the Catholic City already possessing full knowledge of the Third Secret of Fatima. He has known this Secret for at least 29 years, if not longer.

The Vatican website features this Third Secret Vision, including scanned graphics of Lucia’s handwriting. After a somewhat lengthy introduction, including the personal theological interpretations of what the Secret may mean (interpretations which are not binding on the Church, as Cardinal Ratzinger also stated), the document “The Message of Fatimafinally reaches the Third Secret, for which the Church and the world long-awaited. However, a careful perusal of the Vatican document reveals that a pertinent line is missing, which is the Virgin’s introductory sentence to the Third Secret: “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, ETC.”

An Immense Light that is God

By not including all that Our Lady said as She revealed the Third Secret, what the Vatican ultimately released is only the description of what the three children saw. In all of my articles, then, I inevitably refer to it as the Third Secret Vision. (To explain in the simplest of terms: In an Apparition, the heavenly visitor speaks. In a Vision, something supernatural is seen but no words are heard.) This alleged lack of the Virgin Mary’s words, which would explain the Third Secret Vision, is the subject of ongoing debate. For example, immediately following the Vision of Hell, Our Lady spoke of it, even though the children grasped what they were seeing. In addition, Our Lady offered a spiritual solution to help poor sinners avoid the fires of hell – and that solution is devotion to Her Immaculate Heart.

It is therefore beyond the scope of reason to accept that Our Lady did not further elucidate upon a very disturbing Vision of an angel with a flaming sword, the lines of people from all walks of life ascending a steep mountain, the half-ruined city, a bishop dressed in white (who may or may not be a reigning pope), a cross made as of a cork-tree bark, the soldiers with guns and arrows, etc.

Furthermore, the Virgin’s words about “the dogma of the Faith” and Portugal (although evident in meaning) also need further clarification, which had to be given in words since Sr. Lucia ended that sentence with “etc.” The Third Secret Vision, in itself, does not qualify as a continuation, and it is quite clear that something is missing from the following sentence uttered by Our Lady: “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc.

With that said, the following is taken verbatim from the English version on the Vatican website (all bolded words are my emphasis):

“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God. “

Is Pope Benedict XVI the one seen in the Third Secret, “a bishop dressed in white”? This past Sunday, after Mass, my family and I discussed this very topic. I freely admit I’ve always wondered at the punctuation of this sentence, and I’ve discussed it with many people, including other Catholic writers.

Since June 2000, I’ve seen this sentence published with either quote marks or parentheses surrounding the words, as follows:  “we thought it was the Holy Father” or [We thought it was the Holy Father]. The Vatican translation has the sentence rendered ‘we had the impression it was the Holy Father’ as though it is a quote within a quote. If that is the case, who is being quoted? Scholars like to point out that Lucia sometimes made errors in punctuation, since she didn’t learn to read and write until she was in her teens. Be that as it may, she did not make such glaring errors when writing the first Two Secrets. In the Vatican's description of the Third Secret Vision, the changing structure of punctuation (since its release in 2000) is  definitely unusual, bringing questions to one’s mind. Why was the punctuation changed over the years, using quotes inside quotes and other times using parentheses? “Who” thought the bishop in white was the Holy Father? The three shepherd children or a group of clerics who much later read this description of the Third Secret Vision and added the sentence as their own note?

After all, Lucia and her cousins recognized the Holy Father in their vision. By the time she wrote the Third Secret Vision (in 1944), there is good reason to believe that Sister Lucia definitely knew whether or not “who”  she saw as a 10 year old child was a bishop or the Holy Father. During the time of the Fatima apparitions, the children did not know that the Holy Father was also called “Pope,” until one day a priest taught them to pray for the Pope; it was then that they learned “the Holy Father” and “the Pope” were one and the same person.

In addition, Blessed Jacinta was granted at least two visions of “the Holy Father” which her cousin Lucia and her brother Francisco did not see. Her visions, as later recorded by Lucia, are further evidence that the children recognized a particular “Holy Father.” Jacinta’s vision also proves that there are words to the Third Secret and that a future Holy Father (who may or may not be the same person as “a bishop dressed in white”) is a part of the Third Secret.

In her memoirs (written under obedience), Sr. Lucia wrote:

One day we spent our siesta down by my parents’ well. Jacinta sat on the stone slab on top of the well. Francisco and I climbed up on a steep bank in search of wild honey among the brambles in a nearby thicket. After a little while, Jacinta called out to me:

"Didn’t you see the Holy Father?"


"I don’t know how it was, but I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his heard buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him."

In this letter to her bishop, Lucia immediately continues:

“I have already told you how, one day, two priests recommended to us to pray for the Holy Father, and explained to us who the Pope was.  Afterwards, Jacinta asked me:

"Is he the one I saw weeping, the one Our Lady told us about in the secret? "

"Yes, he is," I answered.

"The Lady must surely have shown him also to those priests. You see, I wasn’t mistaken. We need to pray a lot for him."

At another time, we went to the cave called Lapa do Cabeco. As soon as we got there, we prostrated on the ground, saying the prayers the Angel taught us. After some time, Jacinta stood up and called to me:

"Can’t you see all those highways and roads and fields full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?"

Some days later, she asked me: "Can I say that I saw the Holy Father and all those people?"

"No. Don’t you see that’s part of the secret? If you do, they’ll find out right away."

"All right! Then I’ll say nothing at all."

The Third Secret Vision

To return to the Third Secret Vision as the Vatican supplied it in 2000, nothing of what Jacinta later saw is mentioned or addressed in any way. Yet Lucia wrote, years ago in her memoirs, that Jacinta's vision  - of highways, roads, and fields, all full of people crying with hunger, and the Holy Father praying in a church before the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with so many people praying with him - is "part of the secret." So, as we read the description, it must be realized that every word of this vision is important, as are the missing text of Our Lady's words that clarified or explained it. Before any mention of a bishop dressed in white, it is clear that some great devastation will occur. An angel appears with a flaming sword – but that is usually overlooked. In the Holy Scriptures, a sword is a sign of God’s justice. It is the sign of a chastisement, a punishment, to correct an erring nation or the world. The Virgin Mary deflects him with light from her right hand, and so he cries out, three times, in a loud voice (so like the voices in the Apocalypse): “Penance! Penance! Penance!”

Recalling Pope St. Pius X’s prophecy about one of his successors “by name,” one of my earlier (2008) articles Fatima and the Great Et Cetera: Traces of the Third Secret Message already made the connection between the fate of a pope (possibly Benedict XVI) and the Third Secret. After describing St. John Bosco’s famous dream of a ship and two columns in the sea, my article continued:

“The fate of a future pope was also related by none other than Pope St. Pius X: ‘I saw one of my successors by name fleeing over the corpses of his brethren. He will flee to a place for a short respite where he is unknown; but he himself will die a cruel death.’ ”

“In the Third Secret Vision, the pope walks ‘half trembling and with halting step,’ indicating advanced age. As for Pope St. Pius X’s vision, it may be that a future pope will take the name of Pius, but there is another consideration, which may or may not be of significance: Pope St. Pius X’s baptismal name was Giuseppe Sarto; in Italian, Giuseppe means Joseph – the baptismal name of Pope Benedict XVI.’”

 Please consider: Even as a retired pope, Benedict XVI still qualifies as a papal successor. This once more brings to mind the words of St. Pius X, uttered in his last year of life (1914): “I saw one of my successors by name, fleeing over the corpses of his brethren.” The saint’s vision of 1914 certainly aligns with the Third Secret Vision of Fatima of 1917.  So does an earlier (1909) vision of St. Pius X’s:
“What I have seen is terrifying! Will I be the one, or will it be a successor? What is certain is that the Pope will leave Rome and, in leaving the Vatican, he will have to pass over the dead bodies of his priests!”

As I stated earlier, it was announced a few days ago that, after his formal abdication, Benedict XVI will dress in a white cassock, which is part of the usual attire of a pope. He will, however, forego the red shoes (sign of the martyred fisherman, St. Peter, the first pope). Now, since Pope Benedict XVI is abdicating, Fatima – specifically, the Third Secret of Fatima – is attracting some attention. But is it attracting the right kind of attention?

It must be repeated: Pope Benedict XV knows “all” of the unreleased details of the Third Secret of Fatima. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he revealed the Six Themes ofthe Third Secret of Fatima. When he became pope, he made a universal plea to pray for him so that he would not flee from fear of wolves. In May 2010, the Pope momentarily revealed that the Third Secret is spoken, words that (for whatever reasons) the mainstream media in the U.S. mis-translated from the original Italian report.

Since announcing his abdication, Benedict XVI has made other remarks that make one wonder. In his final Sunday Angelus homily, the Pope mentioned a “mountain”  -  The Lord is calling me 'out to the mountain' to devote more time to prayer and meditation, but this does not mean I'm abandoning the Church.” These words seem almost prophetic, considering that “a bishop dressed in white” makes his painful way to the top of a mountain and there kneels before a great Cross, only to be killed; however, before he even reaches this mountain, he was preceded by “[o]ther Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain.”
Specifically, many people from all walks of life were ascending the mountain before “a bishop dressed in white,” who is still making his way through the half-ruined city. After he reaches the summit, he is killed by guns and arrows. Those who were already ascending the mountain before the bishop then die: “and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.”

Sobering. That’s the only way to describe this Vision of the Third Secret. In no way does it seem symbolic, as so many try to claim but rather, it seems literal. Everything else Our Lady of Fatima said (or showed) was literal and all of it (except the Third Secret Vision, which may include "the annihilation of nations") literally came to pass.  Perhaps the reason why people are so fascinated by “a bishop dressed in white” is because the Third Secret of Fatima still intrigues our minds. Somehow we know that, despite all the claims to the contrary, Fatima is not finished. It is not a matter of the past.

Pope Benedict XVI knows this to be true. After all, he knows the entire Third Secret; it is he who said that Fatima’s prophetic mission is not complete. Whatever the Third Secret fully reveals might greatly contribute to the reason(s) that he is abdicating.  We cannot be certain of that, just as we cannot be certain that Benedict will be the bishop in white. However, we cannot deny the coincidences: In the year 2013 (just four years before the centenary of the Fatima apparitions), an aged pope who has long known the entire Third Secret of Fatima, who shares with Pope St. Pius X the baptismal name of “Joseph,” announced his retirement. He will remain in the Vatican, living a reclusive life of prayer and sacrifice (which makes one think also of the spiritual ascent of Mt. Carmel), and he will dress in white.

What we do know is that God is immutable – i.e., He doesn’t change, and His Will and His decisions are unalterable. The same can be said of His angels, which explains why Lucifer and the fallen angels can never again be holy or reign with God in Heaven. Their places are forever lost but they are to be filled up with human beings who live the life of saints. On the other hand, Hell eagerly awaits us, wishing to take our souls which rightfully belong to God.  It is the place “where poor sinners go,” as Our Lady of Fatima said of it.

What the Fatima Virgin requested is the will of God. If those requests are not heeded – if people do not stop offending God and repent of their sins and stay on the “strait and narrow” path, if the future pope does not obey Our Lady of Fatima by commanding the bishops to join him in the collegial consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, if he does not promulgate the Five First Saturdays of Reparation throughout the world - the Third Secret Vision will become the reality of the very-near future.


[1] Retired and holding an honorary title. That’s the definition of “emeritus” in my older copy of the Oxford American Dictionary.