Despite Fr. Guerra’s So-Called “Denials,”
the Scandal at the Fatima Shrine Continues,
and Must be Addressed
In October 2003, faithful Catholics around the world were horrified to read the news that during an unprecedented “inter-religious congress” at the Fatima Shrine, hosted by Fr. Luciano Guerra, the Shrine’s rector, Fr. Guerra declared to his audience of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Orthodox, Anglicans and Catholics that
“The future of Fatima, or the adoration of God and His mother at this holy Shrine, must pass through the creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle. The interreligious dialogue in Portugal, and in the Catholic Church, is still in an embryonic phase, but the Shrine of Fatima is not indifferent to this fact and is already open to being a universalistic place of vocation.”
This remark, reported in Notícias de Fátima and the English-language journal The Portugal News, provoked a storm of international protest. In response, Fr. Guerra issued a series of equivocal statements, which have been characterized as “denials”.
Some have claimed that Fr. Guerra’s “denials” should end the matter. But not one of these “denials” actually denies that Msgr. Guerra made the above-quoted remark attributed to him. Nor is there a denial that he made any of the remarks attributed to him and discussed below.
Quite the contrary, on January 9, 2004, nearly three months after his remark, Fr. Guerra finally admitted to a reporter from the English journal Catholic Herald that he had indeed stated that “the new shrine at Fatima, Portugal would be a place ‘where different religions can mingle’.” While admitting his statement, Fr. Guerra claimed it had been “taken out of context.”
The “context”, however, was a gathering of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Orthodox and Anglicans, who were addressed by an Indian priest who has permitted Hindu worship in a Catholic Marian shrine in India!
The “context” was Fr. Guerra’s observation that while “the interreligious dialogue in Portugal, and in the Catholic Church, is still in an embryonic phase,” the Fatima Shrine, according to him, is “already open to being a universalistic place of vocation.”
The “context” was Fr. Guerra’s assurance that the Fatima Shrine would soon undergo a serious change; that the worship of God at Fatima “must” — as he now admits he said — “pass through the creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle.”
The “context” was Fr. Guerra’s “official” response to Catholic protests. This “official” response he posted on the Shrine’s website, and in it he declares: “And, when it seems to us to be opportune, after what is already happening in many other sacred places, this new basilica would be able to receive brothers from other faiths, who may want, in a brotherly manner, to know how we pray.”
The context”, therefore, was that the Fatima of today will not be the Fatima of tomorrow, but a new, “interreligious” Fatima that had not been seen before — until the congress in October, which was clearly a preview of what Fr. Guerra has in mind.
No, Father Guerra’s remark was not “taken out of context.” That is the excuse of every politician who tries to obscure the plain meaning of his own words when they are not well received by the public. It is evident — based on what Fr. Guerra said, and on what he did not say — that he has every intention of allowing at Fatima what he himself notes is “already happening” in other sacred places of the Catholic religion. Fr. Guerra, the very rector of the Fatima Shrine, intends to allow it to be desecrated by the rituals and observances of false religions.
When Fr. Guerra spoke of the new basilica being “able to receive brothers from other faiths, who may want, in a brotherly manner, to know how we pray,” he surely had in view something more than members of other religions paying a visit to the new basilica to observe how Catholics worship God at Fatima. If that were all Fr. Guerra meant by the phrase “the creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle,” there would be no need to wait for a moment “when it seems to us to be opportune” to allow such visits, for they already happen every day at the existing basilica.
Nor, if that were all Fr. Guerra had meant, would he have linked his plans to “what is already happening in many other sacred places.” For “what is already happening in many other sacred places” is precisely what many Catholics fear will soon happen at Fatima: the use of Catholic sacred ground for “inter-religious prayer meetings” and other events at which the members of various sects and non-Christian religions, even including witchdoctors and animists, “pray according to their own traditions.”
Here one need only consider a single key fact: Fr. Guerra’s honored guest at the conference in October was Fr. Arul Irudayam, Rector of the Catholic Marian Shrine Basilica of Vailankanni (Our Lady of Good Health). The Shrine receives millions of pilgrims a year, including many Hindus, and Fr. Irudayam rejoiced to inform the audience that, as a further development of “interreligious dialogue,” the Hindus now perform their religious rituals in the shrine of Vailankanni. The audience, including Fr. Guerra, applauded this sacrilege. Is it not reasonable to conclude that Fr. Guerra, rector of the Fatima Shrine in Portugal, intends to follow the example of the rector of the Vailankanni Shrine in India — whom he honored as a speaker at his “interreligious” congress?
For all of these reasons, The Fatima Crusader is compelled to continue to sound the alarm about Fr. Guerra’s declared plan to “open” the Shrine at Fatima and its sacred ground to the worship of false religions. On close examination, Fr. Guerra’s denials are nothing but confirmations of that very plan.
The Communists have a saying about the way to advance their revolutionary aims: Two steps forward, one step back. Perhaps Fr. Guerra has taken one step back in response to the massive protest against his remarks. But notice that he had already taken two steps forward. The net result is that Fr. Guerra has advanced at least one step toward what he envisions as the “interreligious” Fatima of the future. Faithful Catholics cannot allow that to happen.