Pictures of Hindu Prayer Service at Fatima, May 5, 2004. Rector Guerra says in his June 29 Communiqué that “no rite was performed on or off the altar”. This is in sharp contrast with the SIC broadcast that clearly shows the Hindu “priest” chanting at the Catholic altar.
Shrine Rector Attempts to
Justify Hindu Prayer
Service at Fatima
by John Vennari
(Includes “Five Quick Responses to Rector Guerra” from five other writers)
On May 5, 2004, a group of Hindus made a pilgrimage to Fatima. They spent the morning at their Lisbon temple worshiping their false gods, then boarded a bus to the Shrine.
Upon their arrival, Shrine Rector Guerra turned over the Little Chapel (Capelinha) to them for a prayer service. The Hindu “priest” conducted a public prayer at a Catholic altar.
This is a sacrilege, though thousands of today’s Catholics, spiritually lobotomized by the “spirit of Vatican II”, fail to see it. Forty years of post-Conciliar confusion has blurred their vision. They do not see that a Catholic layman has no place praying at a Catholic altar, let alone a pagan “priest” who worships a pantheon of false gods.
The event was broadcast the same day on SIC television, a national Portuguese network. Catholic Family News, through the help of The Fatima Crusader, obtained a video copy of the broadcast.
We had the Portuguese text of the broadcast translated into English by two independent translators to ensure accuracy. One is a native-born Portuguese fluent in English. The other is an American fluent in Portuguese. The translation of the text we presented was accurate, except for one term used by Rector Guerra that, a theologian subsequently informed us, was too leniently translated. It appears that Rector Guerra’s statement in the SIC broadcast was even worse than what we first reported.1
On June 29, 2004, eight weeks after the May 5 occurrence, the Shrine issued an attempted justification of the Hindu event. We will publish the Rector’s complete statement, followed by our own commentary.
The Church of the Most Holy Trinity Will Not Be an “Ecumenical Temple”
1) The readers of Voz da Fátima may remember a communiqué from the Rector of the Shrine, published in January of 2004, under the headline “FATIMA SHRINE OF ALL RELIGIONS?”
2) The movements which came out in opposition to our October Congress, as mentioned in that communiqué, then took advantage of the arrival of a group of Hindus, as reported in Voz da Fátima of May 2004, in order to launch a massive new campaign which is anti-ecumenical in character and even against inter-religious dialogue.
3) Because of the letters sent to us asking for explanations, and in order to reply to everyone quickly, we have written this short communiqué. Firstly, it restates the well-known principles which have already been set out, as to how we receive brothers of other confessions or religions; secondly, it focuses on the two questions now before us: the arrival of a group of Hindus and the destiny of the new Church of the Most Holy Trinity.
4) The Hindu group wrote to us beforehand, saying that they would like “to reconstitute the visit made by Mr. Morari Bapur, which had preceded that of His Holiness Pope John Paul II”, in May of 1982.
5) The Hindu priest and a translator, whom he brought with him, went up to the image of Our Lady, while the remainder of the group stayed down below.
6) The priest sang a prayer which lasted a few minutes. No gesture was made, no rite was performed, on or off the altar. The translator explained that he had asked “the Most Holy Mother that She would give wisdom and discernment to those who govern nations, so that the world could have peace, peace, peace”.
7) We note that this intention of peace, being universal, is the same intention that, in our opinion, has brought to the Shrine other personalities who are not Catholic, such as for instance the Dalai Lama, the President of the Republic of India, and also the wives of President Clinton and President Arafat. Groups of non-Catholic Christians also come with the intention of asking for Church unity. Although not with great frequency, some high representatives of the Orthodox Churches have been welcomed in the Shrine. Recently some ten Anglican priests, accompanied by their bishop, held a spiritual retreat in one of the houses of the Shrine.
8) After making their prayer in the Capelinha or Little Chapel of the Apparitions, the Hindu pilgrims were received, in a room, by the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima and by the Rector of the Shrine, to whom they said they had come out of devotion towards the “Most Holy Mother”. They did not speak about a similarity or transference between this name and any entity of their religion. Little credit, therefore, should be given to the comparisons mentioned by the media, whom we were unable to prepare, because it was late when we found out about their presence.
9) As far as the Church of the Most Holy Trinity is concerned, which they persist in calling an “ecumenical temple”, we can state that this description, although susceptible of a Catholic interpretation, does not originate from the Shrine. We do not intend — and we have never intended — to hold any celebrations in the church which is being built, that are not in accordance with the directives prescribed by the Catholic Church. The Shrine strives to be faithful to the message which God has entrusted to it and cannot help noticing the distinctly catholic character which the message inculcates, both in the apparitions of the Angel, which inspired us to choose the title for the future church, and in the apparitions of Our Lady, which contain dramatic references to the mediating role of the Pope and the Bishops, regarding the unity of the Church and for the peace of the world.
10) In the hope that all brothers understand that we desire and pray for the union which is possible between all Christians, all believers, and all men, we also raise our prayer to Our Lady of Fatima, that She may strengthen our will for unity and deliver us from all spirit of dissension and controversy.
Shrine of Fatima, June 29, 2004, Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, The Rector, Fr. Luciano Guerra.
Commentary on the June 29 Communiqué
The first thing to note is that Shrine Rector Guerra sees nothing wrong with a pagan “priest” conducting public prayer at a Catholic altar. We will look at his statement in more detail.
Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Communiqué speak of those Catholics who protest the new ecumenical and inter-religious orientation at Fatima, as if it is blameworthy for a Catholic to protest an orientation that would have been condemned by each and every Pope for the 1,958 years before aggiornamento.
Conveniently, Rector Guerra omits any detailed mention of what actually took place at the interreligious Congress at Fatima in October 2003. It was this scandalous Congress that launched protests from concerned Catholics worldwide.
The interfaith Congress was organized by the Fatima Shrine under the direction of Rector Guerra, who attended the Congress and applauded the heretical statements from the Congress’ speakers. I attended the three-day Congress at Fatima, sat right next to Father Guerra, recorded the speeches on audio cassette, and detailed what occurred in my December 2003 report, “Fatima to Become an Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who Was There”.2
The Congress was called “The Present of Man, the Future of God: The Place of Sanctuary in Relation to the Sacred”.3
The first two days of the Congress contained “Catholic” speakers promoting the interreligious agenda. On the third day — Sunday — representatives of Catholicism, the schismatic Orthodox, Anglicanism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism each gave testimony of the importance of “sanctuary” within their various creeds, thus placing the pagan sanctuaries of Hinduism and Buddhism on the same level with Catholic Shrines dedicated to the one true God.
At the Congress:
• The ecumenical theologian Father Jacques Dupuis called the defined dogma “outside the Church there is no salvation” a “horrible text” that must be rejected. He said, “There is no need here to invoke that horrible text from the Council of Florence”;
• Dupuis claimed that all religions are positively willed by God and that non-Catholics do not have to convert to the one true Catholic Church for unity and salvation. He likewise said that Catholics and non-Catholics are equal members in the “Reign of God”. This contradicts perennial Catholic teaching that the Catholic Church alone is the Kingdom of God on earth.4(The trendy Dupuis spoke of “Reign of God” instead of “Kingdom of God” because he only used gender-free terms throughout his speech in deference to feminist sensibilities, despite the fact that Our Lord clearly used the word “Kingdom”.) The Kingdom of God is not, as Dupuis claims, a large interfaith co-op wherein the true religion revealed by God is put on equal footing with the false religions invented by men;
• Dupuis also said that the purpose of ecumenical dialogue is not to convert non-Catholics to the Catholic Church, but to make “a Christian a better Christian, a Hindu a better Hindu”. This smacks of religious indifferentism. It told the Congress’ non-Catholic participants the falsehood that there is no need for them to convert to Christ’s one true Church for unity and salvation;
• Dupuis said further that the Holy Ghost is present and operative in the “sacred books” and “sacred rites” of Buddhism and Hinduism. This places the superstition of idolatrous men on the same level as the Sacred books of the Bible revealed by God. It also defies Saint Francis Xavier who, basing his words on Psalm 95:5,5 said of the Hindus and their rites: “All the invocations of the pagans are hateful to God because all their gods are devils”;6
• Another Congress speaker spoke of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, the Mecca of Islam and the Kyoto of Shintoism in the same breath, thus placing them all on equal footing;
• Father Arul Irudayam, Rector of the Marian Shrine in Vailankanni, India told the audience on Sunday that Hindus now perform their pagan rituals inside the Sanctuary of Vailankanni’s Catholic Shrine.
The statements of Father Irudayam, as well as the heterodox lectures of Jacques Dupuis and others elicited nothing but praise and applause from the audience. Those applauding included Shrine Rector Guerra, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, the Apostolic Delegate of Portugal, Cardinal Policarpo of Lisbon, and Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
I pointed out in my first report that if the Catholic leadership in Fatima is now permeated with a modernist mind-set that applauds such outrages, then it was only a matter of time before pagan services are permitted in the Fatima sanctuary. On May 5, 2004, that prediction was fulfilled.
Siding with Apostasy
As early as November 2003, Catholic Family News, and various other Catholic journals, issued strong protests against the poisoning of the Catholic religion that took place at this Congress. This is what Father Guerra refers to in his Communiqué when he speaks of those “movements which came out in opposition to our October Congress”.
But let’s think about this for a moment. Rector Guerra has now issued two official Communiqués since the October Congress: the first on December 28, 2003, wherein he claimed that Fatima will not become an interfaith Shrine; the second on June 29, 2004 in response to protests against the Hindu prayer service at Fatima.
In these Communiqués, Rector Guerra never denounced the blatant heresy promoted at his 2003 Fatima Congress; never distanced himself from Father Dupuis’ heresies in any way; never apologized for organizing a Congress whose message was diametrically opposed to nearly 2000 years of Catholic truth; never expressed regret for the local Fatima newspaper that compared traditional Catholics with the “Taliban”.7
Rather, Rector Guerra uses these Communiqués to attack concerned Catholics who oppose the new pan-religious orientation and to undermine their efforts. He more readily sides with modernists who denounce infallible Catholic dogma than with Catholics who hold the same Catholic beliefs as Pope Leo XII, Pope Gregory XVI, Blessed Pope Pius IX, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Saint Pius X, Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII.
In short, Rector Guerra promotes heresy and scandal, then presents himself to the world as a persecuted victim when Catholics protest. He insinuates that faithful Catholics who oppose him are guilty of some sort of criminal behavior. These Catholics, complains Guerra, “took advantage of the arrival of a group of Hindus” to protest the Shrine Rector allowing pagans to pray there at the Catholic altar. Nonetheless, he himself has done nothing wrong.
Always blameless. Always innocent. This is the burden of being a modernist Shrine Rector.
It All Depends on How You Define “Rite”
Paragraphs 3 to 10 of the Communiqué focus on the Hindu event itself.
It needs to be said from the beginning, because Catholic Family News (CFN) has been sometimes misrepresented on this point, that a Hindu — or any non-Catholic — who wishes to visit Fatima should be welcome to do so. There is nothing wrong with non-Catholic individuals or groups visiting a Catholic shrine to pray quietly and to see what is there. Many conversions have taken place this way. But it is an altogether different matter to turn over a Catholic sanctuary to pagans for public prayer; as is what occurred on May 5.
Rector Guerra says, “The Hindu priest and a translator whom he brought with him, went up to the image of Our Lady, while the remainder of the group stayed down below.” This is not quite true. As was clear from the SIC broadcast, three young Hindu women also went up into the sanctuary itself to place flowers at the statue of Our Lady.8
Guerra continues, “The priest sang a prayer which lasted a few minutes. No gesture was made, no rite was performed on or off the altar.”
Now hold on a minute. A pagan “priest” prayed at a Catholic altar, as is clearly shown in the SIC broadcast and in the photos from it. (See top of article.) It was a prayer chanted aloud by a pagan “priest” with the Hindus as the congregation. What is this business about “no gesture”? Rector Guerra is merely playing with words, trying to excuse the sacrilege because, he claims, it did not have the exact gestures of a Hindu “rite”. Perhaps he would also permit Aztec pagans to pray at the Catholic altar, so long as they avoided human sacrifice.
Guerra’s hair-splitting over the words “rite” and “gesture” is flimsy anyway, since Hindus regard a simple prayer and an offering of flowers as puja, which is a Hindu ritual. They don’t need to place an idol on the altar to engage in idolatrous worship. Hindu worship by its very nature is idolatrous.
The fact remains that a Hindu “priest” prayed at the altar at Fatima. A pagan — who had spent the morning at his temple worshiping his false gods — prayed at an altar consecrated solely for the unbloody re-presentation of Christ’s Passion through the consecrated hands of the priest sacramentally ordained as an alter Christus. It was a public ceremony. It was a misuse of a sacred object. It was a sacrilege. A prayer for peace does not justify sacrilege.
All We Are Saying is Give Peace a Chance?
Guerra then says, “The translator explained that he [the Hindu ‘priest’] had asked ‘the Most Holy Mother’ that She would give wisdom and discernment to those who govern nations, so that the world could have peace, peace, peace.”
But what good is a prayer for peace performed in a sacrilegious manner? This was clearly the case with the Hindus at Fatima. It was not a prayer that will bring down God’s blessing. Rather, it will invoke His wrath. Our Lady of Fatima said, “War is a punishment for sin”. And we know from our Catholic doctrine that sins against faith are the most grievous of sins.
In fact, Belgium’s Cardinal Mercier explained that the First World War was actually a punishment to the world for governments placing the one true Church on the same level with false religions. How much worse when this is done by Catholic leaders, as is the case with the new ecumenical orientation now promoted at Fatima?
In his 1918 Pastoral Letter, Cardinal Mercier said:
“In the name of the Gospel, and in the light of the Encyclicals of the last four Popes; Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius X, I do not hesitate to affirm that this indifference to religion which puts on the same level the religion of divine origin and the religions invented by men, in order to include them in the same skepticism, is the blasphemy which calls down chastisement on society far more than the sins of individuals and families.”9
It is a supreme irony that God may very well punish the world by war because Catholic leaders encourage pagans to enact sacrilegious activity in Catholic shrines, all in the name of peace. These spiritually blind leaders are in desperate need of seeing-eye dogmas!
And who is this “Most Holy Mother” spoken of in Guerra’s Communique? The term is ambiguous and always appears in quotations. Clearly, the Hindus never offered prayers to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, or Rector Guerra would have said so.
Guerra’s use of the term “Most Holy Mother” is an example of the deliberate, imprecise ecumenical language warned against decades ago by Dominican theologian Father David Greenstock. In a magnificent 1963 article in The Thomist, which sounded an alarm against the dangers of the new ecumenical approach, Father Greenstock quoted the Protestant Dr. Visser’t Hooft who admitted, “the simple ABC’s of ecumenism” is that “there is no ecumenical language that is completely unambiguous.”10 Thus, Father Greenstock warned, theologians and teachers must always provide “clear definition of terms”. Guerra did the opposite. We will return later to Guerra’s ambiguous “Most Holy Mother”.
Paragraph 7 of Guerra’s Communique states that members of various religions have come to Fatima in the name of peace; including the Dalai Lama, Suha Arafat, and the pro-homosexual, pro-abortion Hillary Clinton.
Yet this mixed bag of non-Catholics demonstrates nothing. I don’t know that Hillary Clinton performed any kind of religious ceremony when she arrived at Fatima. Nor, to my knowledge, was any public prayer service conducted by the Dalai Lama during his visit; though it is a mistake for any Catholic authority to give much importance to this man who regards himself as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama, and thus an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion.11
Guerra’s litany of non-Catholic visitors is quite beside the point. The fact remains that no non-Catholic visitor may use a Catholic altar for a prayer service of any kind. This is the teaching and discipline of the Church throughout the centuries.
But we can take this one step further. If Rector Guerra is so fond of opening up the Fatima chapel to anyone who wishes to offer a prayer for peace, then he should have no objection allowing Father Nicholas Gruner to offer a Latin Tridentine Mass for peace at the altar at the Capelinha. He should have no trouble turning the Capelinha over to Father Franz Schmidberger of the Society of Saint Pius X for a Latin Mass for peace.12 If a prayer for peace is considered a valid excuse for pagans to commandeer the altar in Fatima, why not allow Masses for peace to be celebrated by Catholic priests who are faithful to the Church’s perennial teaching, faithful to how the Church always worshiped, faithful to the full Fatima Message?
I think we know the answer.
Rector Guerra would never allow these good priests to offer the Tridentine Mass at Fatima, nor would he even allow them to kneel in the sanctuary to lead a Rosary for the intention of peace. He would rather have pagans at the altar. This attitude is reflected by the Bishop of Fatima, who refuses to allow the Tridentine Mass in his diocese, but who welcomes Hindu prayer services in Fatima’s sanctuary. Behold the “New Springtime” of Vatican II.
“Whom We Were Unable to Prepare …”
In Paragraph 8, Rector Guerra speaks of the Hindu pilgrims being received in a room at the Shrine by the Rector and Bishop of Fatima. Guerra does not mention that he and the bishop allowed themselves to be laden with shawls given them by the Hindus that contained verses of the Bhagava Gita, a Hindu “holy book” whose basic message is that all of life is an illusion.
Guerra repeats that the Hindus came to Fatima out of devotion to the “Most Holy Mother” — again, the ambiguous term. Guerra then says that at this reception, the Hindus “did not speak about a similarity or transference between this name and any entity of their religion. Little credit, therefore, should be given to the comparisons mentioned in the media, whom we were unable to prepare, because it was late when we found out about their presence.” Yet the SIC broadcast showed the Hindus themselves making the comparison between Our Lady and their Hindu gods.
To recap: SIC first explained that Hinduism “is characterized by multiple deities, worshiped through a triple dimension of life and sacredness: the creator god, the preserver god, and the god who has the power to destroy.”
This was followed by a young woman appearing on screen, with statues of gods in the background, who said, “This is god Shiva and his wife Parvati. In the center we can see god Rama, to our right his wife Sita and to our left, his brother and companion Lakshmama. Now we can see Krishna Bhagwan and his consort Radha. The deities are always accompanied by their respective consorts or wives. As a rule, when we address the deities or want to ask for their graces, we address the feminine deity, who is very important to us.”
Within this context, another young Hindu woman interviewed by SIC said,
“As a Hindu, who believes the whole world, or rather all human beings, are members of a global family, it would be natural for me to see any manifestation of god, including Our Lady of Fatima, as a manifestation of the same god.”13
“The ‘Holy Mother’ in Neo-Vedantic Hinduism is Kali, ‘Mother Kali’ after Ramakrishna (1836-1886) popularized this notion in the 19th Century, subsequently spread by his apostle Swami Vivekananda. (Prior to that, Kali was fearsome, surrounded by howling jackals in a cremation ground.) The black idol of Kali has blood dripping from her tongue, the corpses of children for earrings, and a garland of severed hands around her waist. She dances on the corpse of Shiva the destroyer. Occasionally, Kali appears as Ramani the Prostitute. This is the ‘peaceful’ and ‘pure’ religion of Hinduism. This is the ‘Divine Mother’ to the Hindus, who regard all ‘manifestations of the Divine Mother’, whether in Kali, Ramani or (as they would say) the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the same being; hence this ‘honor’ paid to Mary at Fatima by these Hindus is sheer blasphemy.”
- Craig Heimbichner
Likewise, the SIC reporter who accompanied the Hindus from Lisbon to Fatima was interviewed in mid-June by a representative of The Fatima Crusader who traveled to Portugal to further investigate the event. The SIC reporter said that Our Lady of Fatima, “means one thing for Catholics, another thing for the Hindus, and even for the Moslems has another importance, does it not? For the Moslems, she is the daughter of the prophet; for the Catholic, we mean the Mother of Jesus Christ; for the Hindus, she is the most important of the goddesses, the Most Holy Mother goddess, as they call her, the Holy Mother Creator.”
Thus, Guerra might say that the Hindus did not specifically tell him that they equated Our Blessed Mother with one of their false gods. But the Hindus clearly told the SIC reporter of this equation, as is evident from the young Hindu women in the broadcast, and from the reporter who would have received his information from the Hindus themselves.
This is why SIC reported that the day the Hindus went to Fatima “was dedicated to the greatest of all female deities. She is called the Most Holy Mother, the goddess Devi, the deity of Nature who many Portuguese Hindus also find in Fatima.”
Yet Guerra indirectly scolds SIC for reporting this fact. He speaks of the media “whom we were unable to prepare”. He says that “little credit” should be given to this aspect of the report. In other words, Rector Guerra did not have the opportunity to spin-doctor the broadcast. Had he the opportunity, I’m sure Guerra would have advised the media, “Just use the term ‘Most Holy Mother’ and say no more.”
The SIC report, however, is consistent with how Hindus view this “Holy Mother” or “Mother Goddess”. In the book An Introduction to Hinduism published by Cambridge University Press, we read, “A common term for the goddess is simply ‘mother’.” The book goes on to illustrate the various attributes that Hindus give to the goddess. “She can be worshiped”, it says, “as a mother, a wife, an old woman or a young girl,” and that “her main representations are”:
• Durga, a slayer of the Buffalo demon;
• Kali, garlanded with severed heads;
• consorts or energies of the gods, particularly Sarasvati, Parvati and Kadsmi, the consorts of Brahma, Siva and Visnu;
• groups of generally ferocious female deities, notably the “seven mothers” whose nature are ambiguous, preying on children, yet also destroying demons;
• local or regional icons of villages or family shrines and temples;
• “aniconic” forms such as stones, poles, weapons, magical diagrams, etc.;
• male and female “mediums” possessed by a goddess, particularly during festivals.14
We see, then, that it is fundamental Hindu belief to regard various “holy” (and unholy) beings as manifestations of the great goddess, which in turn is a manifestation of “god”. We also observe that the Hindus told the SIC reporter that they see Our Lady of Fatima as a manifestation of this “Holy Mother” goddess. Yet Rector Guerra, through his calculated use of the “Most Holy Mother” ambiguity, tries to tell us that the Hindus suddenly suspended their entire multi-god belief system to honor Our Lady of Fatima in the same manner that Catholics would honor Her as Mother of Jesus.
Quite simply, Rector Guerra is not telling the truth. He does not define his terms. He plays games with words. And throughout it all, he continues to justify his opening the Fatima Shrine to Hindus so they could use the chapel to defy the First Commandment, “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.”
Guerra’s deliberate ambiguity is all the more serious when we look more closely at one of the gods whom Hindus consider as “Holy Mother”. Occult expert Craig Heimbichner explains:
“The ‘Holy Mother’ in Neo-Vedantic Hinduism is Kali, ‘Mother Kali’ after Ramakrishna (1836-1886) popularized this notion in the 19th Century, subsequently spread by his apostle Swami Vivekananda. (Prior to that, Kali was fearsome, surrounded by howling jackals in a cremation ground.) The black idol of Kali has blood dripping from her tongue, the corpses of children for earrings, and a garland of severed hands around her waist. She dances on the corpse of Shiva the destroyer. Occasionally, Kali appears as Ramani the Prostitute. This is the ‘peaceful’ and ‘pure’ religion of Hinduism. This is the ‘Divine Mother’ to the Hindus, who regard all ‘manifestations of the Divine Mother’, whether in Kali, Ramani or (as they would say) the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the same being; hence this ‘honor’ paid to Mary at Fatima by these Hindus is sheer blasphemy.”15
Yes, We Have No Interfaith Shrine, Only Interfaith Activities at the Shrine
Rector Guerra concludes his Communiqué stating that he has never called the new modernistic basilica now under construction at Fatima an “Ecumenical Temple”. This is after Rector Guerra told us:
• He had an interreligious Congress at Fatima in October;
• He allowed Hindus to pray at the Catholic altar at Fatima;
• He permitted Anglican clergymen — members of a heretical sect whose priestly orders were declared invalid by Pope Leo XIII — to use a part of the shrine for a retreat.
All of this is ecumenical and interreligious activity, so it does not matter whether the Shrine is called an “ecumenical temple” or not. It is already a place of interfaith action, even if it does not trade under the title.
Guerra further says that he has no intention to hold any celebrations in the new church that are not in accordance with the directives prescribed by the Catholic Church. But pan-religious prayer gatherings in Catholic churches — the “spirit of Assisi” — is now encouraged by the ecumenical post-Conciliar leadership. At the October Interreligious Congress at Fatima, the Vatican’s own Archbishop Fitzgerald praised Father Dupuis saying “Father Dupuis yesterday explained the theological basis of the establishment of relations with people of other religions.” This is after Father Dupuis called the Council of Florence a “horrible text” that must be rejected. This is after Father Dupuis said that the purpose of dialogue is not to convert the “others” to the Catholic Faith, but to make “a Christian a better Christian, a Hindu a better Hindu”. The real issue here is not what is permitted by today’s progressivist leadership, but what is in accord with what the Church always believed and practiced.
Catholic Truth Betrayed
Defenders of Rector Guerra, including Father Robert J. Fox, wrongly accuse CFN of “grave misrepresentations” because we reported the true, verifiable facts regarding the May 5 Hindu Prayer service at Fatima. Theirs is an explanation from desperation.
Today’s ecumenism and interreligious dialogue defy Catholic doctrine and tradition. According to this new orientation, conversion is an option, not an obligation. This is why Anglican clergymen are welcome to hold retreats at the Fatima Shrine, since ecumenism will not treat these men (and women?) as belonging to a heretical sect that endangers their salvation. No, they are merely “disciples of Christ” who do not quite possess the “fullness of the Faith” as do Catholics. Nonetheless, these non- Catholics are on their way to Heaven, so it is best for Catholics to dialogue with them, to work together to make the world a better place, to promote “dialogue, peace and personal relationships”; to engage in “shared spiritual resources” with non-Catholics.16 Most important of all, we must never depart from the First Commandment of Ecumenism, “Thou shalt not proselytize.”
In effect, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue denies the truth “outside the Catholic Church, there is no salvation”. Yet the Council of Florence, scorned by Father Dupuis, taught this truth infallibly:
“The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels’, (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”17
This de fide teaching was not invented at the Council of Florence. It is part of the Church’s ancient patrimony, taught consistently throughout the centuries. In fact, the formula within the Council of Florence is almost word-for-word from the writings of Saint Fulgentius who wrote around the 5th Century:
“Hold most firmly and in no way doubt, that not only pagans, but also all Jews and all heretics and schismatics, who terminate this present life outside of the Catholic Church, are going to go into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”18
The Catechism of the Council of Trent, likewise teaches, “infidels, heretics, schismatics and excommunicated persons” are “excluded from the Church’s pale”.19
The Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X, centuries later, presents the same truth without change. It teaches, “Outside the true Church are: Infidels, Jews, heretics, apostates, schismatics and excommunicated persons.” It states further, “No one can be saved outside the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, just as no one could be saved from the flood outside the Ark of Noah, which was a figure of the Church.”20
This same teaching is repeated again and again and again throughout the centuries. It was Blessed Pope Pius IX who, combating the “liberal Catholics” of this day, said that to entertain opinions contrary to “outside the Church there is no salvation” is to be an “impious wretch”.21
It must not be forgotten that the human soul is in need of sanctifying grace for salvation, which only comes through the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Sure, we are told that those who are truly in invincible ignorance are not guilty of formal sin against the Catholic Faith; but they are certainly guilty of other sins which will condemn them to hell.22 Carol Robertson writes, “Not being in the state of grace, he [the unbaptized] will inevitably fall into mortal sin before long.” And she quotes the Council of Malines which teaches, “Man in the state of fallen nature, not healed by habitual grace, cannot long remain without mortal sin.”23 This is why the Catholic Church is absolutely necessary for salvation. This is why Our Lord told us in no-nonsense language, “Without Me you can do nothing!”
These teachings, then, are not issues wherein theology can “reform itself” to mean something different from what the Church taught for nearly 2,000 years. Vatican I solemnly proclaims, with the full weight of infallible authority, that we must understand Catholic doctrine “with the same meaning and in the same explanation” throughout the ages.24 A doctrine taught consistently by the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium of the Catholic Church can never be given a different meaning from the way the Church always understood it. Not even a Pope has the power to make such a change.25
This solid Catholic principle of the immutability of Catholic doctrine was enshrined in the Oath against Modernism, which reads in part:
“I sincerely receive the doctrine of the faith handed down to us from the Apostles through the orthodox Fathers, with the same meaning and the same explanation (eodem sensu eodemque sententia); and consequently I completely reject the heretical fiction of an evolution of dogmas, changing from one meaning to another, different from what the Church first held.”26
“This Most Deplorable Error”
In a similar vein, the Popes throughout the centuries, and especially since the time of the French Revolution, condemned any activity that places the Catholic Church on equal footing with false religions. This is one of the many reasons for the Papal condemnations of Freemasonry, because it places all religions on the same plain. Pope Leo XII taught:
“A certain sect, certainly known to you, [Freemasonry, Ed.] and wrongfully arrogating the name of philosophy for itself has stirred up from the ashes the disorganized collections of almost all the errors. …it teaches that ample liberty has been granted by God to every man to join any sect or to adopt any opinion which may be pleasing to him according to his own private judgement, without any danger to his salvation ….
“…it would be really impossible for the completely truthful God, who is Sovereign Truth itself, the best and most wise Provider, and Rewarder of the good, to approve of all sects that are teaching dogmas that are false and frequently opposed and contradictory to one another and to bestow eternal rewards upon the men who join these sects…”.27
Yet the “deplorable error” condemned by the Popes — that a man may find salvation in any religion — receives the stamp of approval through the practice of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.
Pope Gregory XVI likewise condemned this error in his Mirari vos arbitramur:
“Now we come to another very fertile cause of the evils by which, we are sorry to see, the contemporary Church being afflicted. This is indifferentism, or that wicked opinion which has grown up on all sides through the deceit of evil men. According to this opinion, the eternal salvation of the soul can be attained by any kind of profession of faith, as long as a man’s morals are in line with the standard of justice and honesty. You must drive out from the people entrusted to your care this most deplorable error on a matter so obviously important and so completely clear. For, since the Apostle has warned that there is one God, one faith, one baptism, those who pretend that the way to [eternal] beatitude starts from any religion at all should be afraid and should seriously think over the fact that, according to the testimony of the Savior Himself, they are against Christ because they are not for Christ; and that they are miserably scattering because they are not gathering with Him; and that consequently, they are most certainly going to perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith and keep it whole and inviolate.”28
Pope Gregory XVI here merely restates the essential truth contained in the 4th Century Athanasian Creed, thus demonstrating the continuity of Catholic truth throughout the ages. The Creed begins:
“Whosoever wishes to be saved must, first of all, hold the Catholic faith, which, unless a man shall have held it whole and inviolate, he will most certainly perish forever.”
“This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man shall have believed it faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”
Today’s ecumenical and interreligious orientation runs contrary to these Divine truths. It invites Jacques Dupuis to an interfaith Congress to disparage defined dogma. It welcomes Hindus to perform pagan prayers at the Fatima Shrine’s Catholic altar, then attacks faithful Catholics who protest the outrage. It falsifies Catholic dogma, kills the Catholic missionary spirit, and leaves the non-Catholic in the darkness of his false religion. It effectively denies Our Lord’s words, “narrow is the way to salvation and few there are who find it”, and preaches the new masonic gospel that wide are the ways of salvation. It engages in endless, “I’m okay, you’re okay” dialogue, but never tells the non-Catholic he must abandon his errors and join the one true Catholic Church instituted by Christ for salvation. Never!
This is why Catholics must continue — and will continue — the forceful opposition to the interreligious orientation now underway at Fatima.
Catholic Family News asked five of its writers to comment on Shrine Rector Guerra’s Communiqué where he attempts to justify the Hindu prayer service at Fatima. Their comments are as follows:
“Father Guerra, rector of the Fatima Shrine, has characterized those who have criticized his allowing a Hindu group to offer worship at Fatima as ignorant and ill-willed. To prove his first charge, he contradicts what the Hindu priest said about the group’s understanding of Mary as a Divine manifestation and insists, based on no evidence, that the Hindus’ understanding of Mary accords with the Catholic faith, which is entirely alien to their pantheism. To support his second charge, he portrays his critics as the enemies of unity. But to what sort of unity does the rector refer? He tells us. It is ‘the union which is possible between all Christians, all believers, and all men.’ Obviously, such a union must be based on something other than Catholic faith, as all Christians can include heretics and schismatics; all believers can include apostates; and all men can include atheists. Perhaps the rector should examine the nature of this union he so desires with great care before he prays to Our Lady of Fatima for the realization of it.”
“Father Guerra apparently regards the Hindu’s remark that Mary is the ‘Holy Mother’ to be evidence that the devotions of the Hindu at Fatima are acceptable to God rather than sacrilegious. Since it is well known that Hindus regard the ‘Holy Mother’ to be 1) a goddess, 2) manifested through various ‘forms’, including 3) the blood-drenched nightmare Kali and the cosmic prostitute Ramani, then it would appear that Father Guerra has more explaining to do. Equating Father Guerra’s earthly mother with a murderous psychopath and a prostitute would surely be unacceptable to him; why then does he casually accept the parallel analogy regarding his heavenly Mother Mary, the Mother of Our Lord?”
- Craig Heimbichner
“Rector Guerra admits that a Hindu ‘priest’ was given access to the altar in the Capelinha, with Guerra’s permission, in order to sing — at this very altar and nowhere else on the grounds at Fatima — ‘a prayer which lasted a few minutes’. Prayers lasting a few minutes and sung before altars are nothing other than worship. Such prayers intoned by Hindus are Hindu worship. This activity, Guerra further admits, was intended to demonstrate ‘the union which is possible between all Christians, all believers, and all men …’ And what ‘union’ is this? It is a ‘union’ that allows all religions, true and false, access to the Shrine at Fatima for their prayers before the altar of the Capelinha. Guerra convicts himself. Guilty as charged.”
- Christopher Ferrara
“Since the Liberal and Modernist coup d’etat in 1958, with the election of Pope John XXIII, the Catholic laity has seen its most sacred traditions, beliefs, and customs violated and denied by the new Pharisees on their thrones. As we see again in this Communiqué, every outrage to the religion of our ancestors is made ‘palatable’ by means of assurances that nothing fundamental is being changed. The Message of Fatima is clearly the latest target for annihilation. What everyone since the early 20th Century understood to be the Catholic solution to the world’s problems, is being hijacked by those who believe in a new universal religion and a new mankind. I pray that Catholic gullibility will give way to Catholic resistance.””
- Peter Chojnowski, Ph.D.
“Father Guerra ends his Communiqué with a prayer to Our Lady of Fatima to ‘strengthen our will for unity’. But a unity achieved at the cost of the Catholic faith is a miserable unity indeed, and can only appeal to those who do not — or no longer have — the Catholic faith. Our Lady of Fatima asked for conversion to the Catholic faith, not the ecumenical apostasy apparently willed by Father Guerra. When he asks Our Lady to ‘deliver us from all spirit of dissension and controversy’, I can imagine this prayer being answered by Father Guerra being removed from his position as Rector of the Fatima Shrine. This would go a long way towards delivering us from Father Guerra’s dissension from the Catholic faith, and the controversy his dissension has caused.”
- Mark Fellows
Footnotes: (to J. Vennari’s article)
1. Last month, we quoted Rector Guerra’s words of approval of the Hindu prayer service at Fatima. However, a theologian pointed out to us that we mistranslated one term. We said that Guerra spoke of a “common background in all religions”. The actual words in Portuguese are fundo comum. It was explained to us, that the proper phrase to use is not “common background” but “common basis”. Guerra’s statement about the “common background” is absurd, since monotheism of Judaism and polytheism of Hinduism do not have common backgrounds at all. Neither do African snake worshippers and Christianity. Thus, says Father Paul Kramer: “Msgr. Guerra’s assertion that all religions have a ‘fundo comum’, can only be properly translated as ‘common basis’. This is a clear theological preposition consistent with the principles of modernism, ecumenism and ultimately masonry,” all of which basically hold that all religions come from within man. In other words, for Guerra to say that all religions come from a common background is foolish. But to say that all religions come from a common basis is heretical. Sadly, Rector Guerra said “common basis”. The full quote properly reads: “It is obvious that these civilizations and religions are quite different. But I think that there is a common basis in all religions. There is a common basis that, how can I put it, is born from the common humanity we all possess. And it is very important that we recognise this common basis, because, due to the clashes of the differences, we sometimes forget our equality. Thus, such meetings as this give us an occasion [for this]”. The original Portuguese reads: “É evidente, são civilizações e religiões bastante diferentes. Mas eu penso que em todas as religiões há um fundo comum. Há um fundo comum que nasce, digamos, também da comunidade de humanidade que todos temos. E é muito importante que a gente reconheça esse fundo comum, que às vezes, por causa dos embates das diferenças, a gente esquece a igualdade. Por isso, estes encontros dão-nos essa ocasião.”
2. See Catholic Family News, December, 2003. http://www.fatima.org/news/newsviews/sprep111303.asp
3. I realize that these basic details from the Congress have been reported in previous issues, but I include them here to make the article self-contained.
4. See “The Meaning of the Name ‘Church’,” Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, October, 1954. Reprinted in Catholic Family News, November, 2000. (Reprint #519 available from CFN for $1.75 post-paid.) Here, Msgr. Fenton explains that the word “Church” is not a one-size-fit-all word that can be applied to any religious body. No, it has a unique meaning. It means the Kingdom of God on earth, the people of the Divine Covenant, the one social unit outside of which salvation cannot be found. The Kingdom of God, explains Fenton, is the one true Catholic Church established by Jesus Christ.
5. “All the gods of the Gentiles are devils.” (Psalm 95:5)
6. Saint Francis Xavier, James Brodrick, S.J. (New York: Wicklow Press, 1952), p. 135.
7. Notícias de Fátima, a local newspaper in Fatima on friendly terms with the Fatima Shrine, published a defense of the new ecumenical orientation in its May 7, 2004 edition. It quoted Rector Guerra, and also quoted Capuchin Brother Fernando Valente who compared traditional Catholics with the “Taliban”. See “Hindu Ritual Performed at Fatima Shrine”, J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, June, 2004.
8. “Pictures of a Desecration: Photo Report of Hindu Ritual at Fatima”, J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, July 2004. (Reprint #958 available from CFN for $1.75 post-paid.)
9. Cardinal Mercier’s Pastoral Letter 1918, The Lesson of Events. Cited from The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism, Father Denis Fahey, (Dublin: Regina Publications, 1943), p. 36. (Emphasis added)
10. Quoted from “Unity: Special Problems, Dogmatic and Moral”, Father David Greenstock, The Thomist, 1963.
11. From the Dalai Lama webpage: The Foundation for Universal Responsibility. (www.furhhdl.org/newsite/hhtdl.htm)
12. It should go without saying that any priest worth his salt would not offer Mass on the Capelinha’s altar until the chapel is re-consecrated. This needs to be done as the Fatima Capelinha is a place where sacrilege has now occurred: the Catholic altar was used as a place for a pagan to conduct public prayer.
13. SIC transcript. Quoted from “Pictures of a Desecration”, Catholic Family News, July 2004.
14. An Introduction to Hinduism, Gavin Flood (Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 177-178.
15. E-mail correspondence with Craig Heimbichner. Published with permission.
16. These are direct quotes from the 1993 Directory of the Applications of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism; #’s 68, 102-103. For more on this Ecumenical Directory that approves activities always considered as sins against Faith, see “The Ecumenical Church of the Third Millennium”, Catholic Family News, January, 1998. (Reprint #256 available from CFN for $1.75 post-paid.)
17. Cantate Domino, Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, February 4, 1442.
18. De Fide ad Petrum, 38, 79, MPL, LXV, 704. Quoted from “Two Statements About the Necessity of the Catholic Church for the Attainment of Eternal Salvation”, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, June, 1962.
19. Catechism of the Council of Trent, McHugh & Callan Translation (Rockford: Tan, Reprinted 1982), p. 101.
20. The Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X, (First published in 1910, republished by Instauration Press, Australia), pp. 31, 41. 21. Quoted from The Catholic Dogma by Father Michael Muller (Benzinger Brothers, 1888), p. xi.
21. Quoted from The Catholic Dogma by Father Michael Muller (Benzinger Brothers, 1888), p. xi.
22. For more on this misunderstood subject, see “Invincible Ignorance Neither Saves Nor Condemns”, Father Michael Muller, reprinted in Catholic Family News, April, 1998.
23. II Council of Milene, can. 3. (Denz. #103), Celestine I, “Indiculus”, Denz. #132. Cited from My Life with Thomas Aquinas, Carol Robertson (Kansas City: Angelus Press, 1992), p. 73.
24. Vatican I, De Fillius.
25. Vatican I taught infallibly, “The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Saint Peter that by the revelation of the Holy Spirit they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the Apostles and the Deposit of Faith, and might faithfully set it forth.” Vatican I, Session IV, Chap. IV, Pastor Aeternus.
26. Oath Against Modernism, 1910, Pope Saint Pius X. Quoted from Fenton, “Two Statements About the Necessity of the Catholic Church for the Attainment of Eternal Salvation.”
27. Pope Leo XII, Ubi primum, May 3, 1824. Quoted from “The Components of Liberal Catholicism”, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The American Ecclesiastical Review, July, 1958.
28. Pope Gregory XVI, Morari vos arbitramur, August 15, 1832. Quoted from Ibid.
For related article, see Pictures of a Desecration: Photo Report of Hindu Ritual at Fatima Shrine
Reprinted from the September 2004 edition of
Catholic Family News
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