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August 11, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Continuing our summary of the six appearances of Our Lady of Fatima 100 years ago, here is an account of what happened on August 19, 1917.
No, that date is not a misprint. As the children were preparing to go to the Cova on the 13th, as our Lady had requested, the administrator of the region where Fatima was located, an atheist named Oliveira Santos, came to their village and offered to drive them to the Cova. But instead he took them to the city of Ourem and put them in jail. He wanted to prove that the apparitions were a hoax and to force the children to tell him the secret that had been confided to them.
The visionaries were locked up with a group of thieves, who told them all they had to do to go free was to reveal the secret. “Never!” said Jacinta. “I’d rather die!” The children began praying the rosary, and the prisoners joined them.
Administrator Santos then took the children separately for questioning, but even when he threatened to throw them into a vat of boiling oil unless they cooperated, they courageously refused. So he finally released them, alive and well, on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. While Francisco and Jacinta were welcomed home by their parents, Lucia continued to suffer the scorn of her mother, who did not believe in the apparitions. “By a special grace from Our Lord,” she wrote later, “I never experienced the slightest thought or feeling of resentment.”
On Sunday, August 19, the children took their sheep to a place called Valinhos, where our Lady appeared to them at four o’clock in the afternoon. She repeated her request that they continue to pray the rosary each day, and she again promised to perform a miracle in October. Lucia asked what they should do with the money that people had been leaving at the Cova. Our Lady said to use the money to build two litters to carry statues in procession to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7 and to put whatever was left over toward the construction of a chapel that was to be built on the site of the apparitions.
After promising to cure some sick people if they reformed their lives and prayed the rosary, the Blessed Virgin’s face became sad as she said: “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”
The children followed our Lady’s plea by making many sacrifices, including giving any food they had to the poor.

Q. I have two questions concerning the Fatima apparitions. First, why in your opinion did Jacinta and Francisco have to die at such a young age? Second, what was the reason for the Fatima secrets? It seems to me that if there was something that our Lady wanted us to know, she would have told the seers to make it known to all, not to keep it a secret for a given time. This situation with the secrets has been, in my humble opinion, a cause of great distress and division. I have read many conflicting explanations. As Pontius Pilate said, “What is truth?” — J.E.S., Indiana.
A. We don’t have any definitive answer to these questions, so all we can do is hazard an educated guess. On the first question, we know that every life, however brief or lengthy, is part of God’s divine plan. Though their lives were short in the eyes of the world, Francisco and Jacinta accomplished more than many who live much longer. Their extraordinary devotion to God and our Lady and their penances and sufferings offered for sinners and for the Holy Father astound us when we consider how young they were.
For example, when the Blessed Virgin offered Jacinta the chance to go to Heaven along with her brother, she chose to remain in the world for another ten months so that her heroic suffering could be applied to the conversion of more sinners. She was suffering from the influenza that had taken her brother’s life, from tuberculosis, from bronchial pneumonia, and from an abscess that left a large open wound in her chest. As our Lady had predicted, Jacinta died alone in a hospital in Lisbon. Small wonder that when her body was exhumed 31 years after her death, it was found to be incorrupt.
On the other hand, her cousin Lucia remained on Earth for 87 years after the Fatima apparitions because, as our Lady had told her on June 13, 1917, “Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” The Blessed Mother appeared many times to Lucia — in 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, and 1930 that we know of, and, surely, many other times about which we know nothing. Lucia eventually wrote, at the direction of her bishop, four memoirs summarizing the events at Fatima, including the three secrets revealed to the children on July 13.
As for the second question, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, in his excellent book Fatima for Today, said that “right after the three visionaries had seen the vision of hell, heard our Lady speak about another possible world war, and saw the angel with the fiery sword, our Lady said to them: ‘Do not tell this to anyone. Francisco, yes, you may tell him.’ It was our Lady herself, then, who told the children to keep these three messages secret. We do not know precisely why she did so. Perhaps it was because the last two of them dealt with things that would happen in the future. Maybe our Lady wanted people to avoid excessive fear and panic, and to fall into despair about what might come upon the world. Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta very faithfully kept these secrets. Even when the administrator in Ourem threatened to torture the children and kill them in boiling oil if they did not reveal the secrets, the children showed heroic courage in refusing to do so” (pp. 209-210).
Fr. Apostoli said that Lucia “felt inspired” in 1941 to reveal the first two secrets about the vision of Hell, the coming of another world war, and devotion to the Immaculate Heart, and, in 1944, on the order of her bishop and with the permission of the Blessed Mother, she wrote the Third Secret, not in a memoir, but “as a separate, single manuscript, which she then placed into an envelope. This sealed envelope was initially kept in the custody of Bishop da Silva of Leiria. To ensure better protection of the Third Secret, shortly before his death, the Bishop transferred the envelope to the secret archives of the Holy Office in Rome on April 4, 1957, and he informed Sr. Lucia that this transfer had taken place” (p. 210).
As for who chose the date of 1960 to open the Third Secret, Sr. Lucia said in 2000, “It was not our Lady. I fixed the date because I had the intuition that before 1960 it would not be understood, but that only later would it be understood. Now it can be better understood. I wrote down what I saw; however, it was not for me to interpret it, but for the Pope” (p. 211). That interpretation was provided by Joseph Cardinal Razinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, on June 26, 2000.

Q. After reading many articles about Pope Francis, I believe it is time to remove him from office. Can that be done and what is the process? If he is not speaking infallibly, can the College of Cardinals as a group overrule him? — B.F., Iowa.
A. As far as we can tell, a Pope cannot be removed from office or overruled by anyone because, according to canon 331 of the Code of Canon Law, he is “head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and Pastor of the Universal Church on earth; therefore, in virtue of his office he enjoys supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he can always freely exercise.” The Pope can resign from office, as Pope Benedict XVI did in 2013, provided that “he makes the resignation freely and that it be duly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone” (canon 332 §2), but he cannot be fired. As canon 1404 says, “The First See is judged by no one.”
This sounds out of sync with our modern-day notion of removing from office any politician or company CEO who is saying or doing things that appear to be wrong. But the Pope is not a politician or a CEO; he is the Vicar of Christ who is protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error in matters of faith and morals. The response to the statements of Pope Francis that are confusing or subject to misinterpretation is not removal from office but prayer for him.
St. Peter and St. John Paul II, guide Pope Francis to say and do the right thing.

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

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