Father Gruner(1) Who is Father Nicholas
Questions and Answers
Father Nicholas Gruner is a Canadian-born Catholic priest who was ordained in Frigento, Italy, in 1976. He holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (the Angelicum), which he received(2) Why is Father Gruner residing in Canada if he was ordained in Italy?
In 1978 Father
Gruner was given written permission by the Bishop of Avellino, Italy, to reside
in Canada after Father Gruner decided that he did not wish to pursue membership
in the Franciscan community he had originally intended to join in Italy. Due to
the language barrier, there was no real canonical mission for Father Gruner as
a parish priest in Avellino. So, Father Gruner returned to Canada, where he
became involved in his current apostolate.
In early 1978, a Catholic bishop of the Eastern Rite, who was Honorary Chairman of the National Committee for the National Pilgrim Virgin of Canada (NPV) contacted the Directors of the NPV and urged them to place a Catholic priest on their Board. Shortly after, Father was placed on the Board of the NPV and made the Executive Director.
NPV had been given custody of a Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima which was blessed by Pope Paul VI at Fatima. Father Gruner was instrumental in bringing the statue into Canada and subsequently was involved in organizing pilgrimages with the statue. Under Father Gruner's stewardship NPV has grown from a mere handful of people into the world's largest apostolate devoted to propagation of the Message of Fatima in its entirety.(4) Isn't Father Gruner a suspended priest?
No, Father Gruner is not suspended. It is true that certain members of the Vatican bureaucracy opposed to Father Gruner's work have pressured the Bishop of Avellino to order him back to Avellino, under threat of suspension--after an approved absence of 20 years! But Father Gruner has appealed that plainly unjust order, and during the appeal (which is still pending) no threatened suspension can take effect, under the Code of Canon Law. Thus, Father Gruner remains a priest in good standing under the law of the Church.
It should be noted that Father Gruner was ostensibly recalled to Avellino because he had "failed" to obey an order that he find another bishop. In truth, Father Gruner found three other bishops to sponsor him in their dioceses, but each one was dissuaded from accepting him by the same two Vatican Archbishops who are trying to force him back to Avellino. Thus, the same two Vatican bureaucrats who accuse Father Gruner of "disobeying" the order to find another bishop, are preventing him from obeying the order.(5) Isn't Father Gruner operating without permission of Church authorities?
No permission is needed in the first place! The 1983 Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II gives priests and laity the right to form private apostolates without any permission of ecclesiastical authority whatsoever. (See Canons 212-228, 278, and 299) There are many private apostolates in the Church today which issue publications, conduct conferences, and raise funds without any "permission" from Church authorities, and Father Gruner's apostolate is just one of them.(6) Isn't Father Gruner causing "dissension" and "rebellion" against the Pope with his apostolate?
No, he is simply speaking the truth about the Message of Fatima--including those portions of it which are considered "politically incorrect" by some people today. No Church authority has ever said that Father Gruner's teaching and preaching about the Message of Fatima is contrary to faith and morals.
The only "dissension" caused by preaching the truth is among those who do not want to hear the truth. But the 1983 Code of Canon Law (Can. 212, 215) recognizes the God-given right, and even the duty, of priests and laity to speak out about matters which concern the common good of the Church. Father Gruner is doing nothing more than exercising that God-given right.
It is not "rebellion against the Pope" to appeal to the Pope's authority, and to the very law of the Church promulgated by the Pope himself. There are those in high places who abuse their ecclesiastical authority by acting as if this law does not exist, and so to resist this abuse of authority is to uphold the law. Further, it is not "rebellion against the Pope" to point out that only the Pope can bring peace to the Church and the world by doing what Our Lady specifically requested of the Pope at Fatima. On the contrary, Father Gruner's attitude towards the Pope bespeaks true loyalty to the papacy, as opposed to those who feign loyalty while undermining the Pope's authority.(7) What is the Message of Fatima?
The Message of Fatima includes Our Lady's request for prayer, penance and the Communions of Reparation on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months. The Message contains numerous predictions about world events which have come to pass since the Message of Fatima was given in 1917, including the election of Pope Pius XI, the occurrence of World War II, the spread of communism throughout the world, and unprecedented wars and persecutions against the Church in many nations because of communism.
The Message of Fatima also calls for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope, together with the world's bishops, in order to bring about the miraculous conversion of that nation, and consequent peace in the world. The Message includes what has come to be known as "The Third Secret of Fatima", which many believe predicts the current crisis in the Church and the world. Although the last surviving Fatima seer, Sister Lucy, urged her superiors to make the Third Secret known to the entire Church no later than 1960, in that very year Pope John XXIII suppressed The Secret, and his successors have thus far declined to reveal its contents.(8) Why is Father Gruner so concerned about the Message of Fatima?
Because he is concerned about the fate of the Church and the world if Our Lady's requests at Fatima are not obeyed. Many Catholics, including Father Gruner, rightly believe that the Consecration of Russiaand Russia specificallyis crucial to resolving the ecclesial and world crisis of our day because, as Our Lady warned at Fatima: "If My requests are granted, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, ... the good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated." Infinitely more important, souls will be lost in Hell for all eternity, if the Message of Fatima is ignored, because Our Lady of Fatima made it clear that true obedience to Her Message will result in the salvation of many souls. That is the overriding reason for Father Gruner's apostolate.(9) But wasn't the Consecration of Russia done by the Pope in 1984?
No, it was not! This we know by the Pope's own admission! Immediately after the Act of Consecration performed in St. Peter's Square on March 25, 1984, as well as several hours later that same day, the Pope stated that Russia (which he described as "those peoples") was still awaiting its specific Consecration to the Immaculate Heart. This admission was reported the very next day, March 26, 1984, in both L'Osservatore Romano (the Pope's own newspaper) and Avvenire (the Italian bishops' magazine). What is more, most of the world's bishops did not participate in the 1984 ceremony. Many bishops freely admit that they never participated. Yet their participation is necessary for the valid consecration of Russia.
In the September 1985 issue of Sol de Fatima, the Blue Army's publication in Spain, Sister Lucy herself stated publicly that the 1984 consecration of the world did not fulfill Our Lady's request because "there was no participation of all the bishops and there was no mention of Russia." When asked the specific question "So the consecration was not done as requested by Our Lady?", Sister Lucy answered: "No. Many bishops attached no importance to this act."(10) But isn't the Message of Fatima just a private revelation anyway?
Hardly! The Message of Fatima was confirmed as worthy of belief by an unprecedented public miracle--the Miracle of the Sun--witnessed by 70,000 people, both believers and unbelievers, at precisely the time the Fatima seers said it would occur. Pope John Paul II, who was shot on the very anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima, publicly credited Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life, and declared in his address at Fatima the following year that the Message of Fatima "imposes an obligation on the Church" and is "more relevant today than when Our Lady appeared ..."
As the great Bishop Rudolf Graber of Germany observed, "[T]here exists the cliche: 'It is only a private revelation', with which Fatima is lightly brushed aside ... [but] a careful distinction should be made between personal revelations directed solely toward the recipients of the message, and those where the message is declared to be for mankind at large. The former can with equanimity be ignored, but the latter must be taken seriously, and Fatima belongs to this category!" Our Lady gave Her Message at Fatima, along with its grave warnings, to the whole world. In this time of grave crisis for the world, it would be the height of folly to dismiss the Message of Fatima as a mere private revelation.