In their attempts to deny, they confirm
Shrine Rector Confirms New Ecumenical Orientation at Fatima
by John Vennari
After two months of silence, Fatima Shrine officials finally spoke publicly about the alleged plan to turn Fatima into an Interfaith Shrine. Three news reports came from Fatima on the subject. The first was a January 1 Zenit report on a December 28 Communiqué from Fatima Shrine Rector, Msgr. Guerra; the second was the Shrine’s own web posting of the December 28 Communiqué that was somewhat different from what Zenit reported (the reason for which will be explained); the third was a brief interview with Msgr. Guerra posted on a Medjugorje web page.
The Zenit Report
Zenit news posted on January 1 the article “What is Happening in Fatima?” in which the alleged plan to turn Fatima into an Interfaith Shrine was discussed. The article contained various falsehoods, mostly coming from Shrine Rector Msgr. Guerra.
Reporter Delia Gallagher said that Zenit received a three-page fax from Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva (written in Portuguese) dated December 28, in which the Shrine Rector at Fatima alleged that Father Nicholas Gruner was responsible for the original November 1 Portugal News report “Fatima to Become an Interfaith Shrine”.
“It is our conviction”, said Fatima Shrine Rector Msgr. Guerra, “that the article in Portugal News has been guided by some members of the group led by Father Nicholas Gruner”. Msgr. Guerra’s assumption was completely false. I can state categorically that Father Gruner has absolutely no connection with Portugal News and is in no way responsible for the November 1 report.
I attended the Fatima Interfaith Congress at the request of Father Gruner’s organization and filed my own report on Father Gruner’s web page “Fatima to Become an Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who Was There”.1 It was also published in the December 2003 issue of Catholic Family News.
In that report, I quote the Portugal News article, and I also quote a local newspaper from Fatima, Notícias de Fátima, that ran the headline “Sanctuary for Various Creeds”. But absolutely no one from Father Gruner’s organization had anything to do with the articles appearing in the Portugal News and Notícias de Fátima.
Zenit also claimed that Father Gruner was involved with the “We Resist You to the Face” statement. This is not true. The Resistance statement was a collaboration between Atila Sinke Guimarães, Michael Matt, Marian Horvat and myself. Father Gruner did not know of or read the “We Resist You to the Face” statement until after it was first published in the May 30, 2000 issue of The Remnant.
Also false is Msgr. Guerra’s claim that the Fatima Center distributed literature against the interreligious congress hosted at the Shrine by Msgr. Guerra. The literature distributed by the Fatima Center, in fact, were Chronology of a Cover-up booklets and flyers promoting the book The Devil’s Final Battle, neither of which contained mention of the interreligious Congress.
It is interesting that Zenit was favored with a faxed response from Fatima authorities, whereas other Catholic reporters were not. Christopher Ferrara, on behalf of The Remnant, contacted the Shrine by fax on November 23, 2003 to pose questions about Fatima’s new pan-religious initiative and to ask Msgr. Guerra to confirm or deny the quotations attributed to him in Portugal News and Notícias de Fátima. Msgr. Guerra did not respond to Mr. Ferrara’s fax of November 23, nor to his e-mail of November 10, nor did anyone else from the Shrine offer a response. Indeed, the Monsignor did not deny the reported statement anywhere in the three-page fax to Zenit in which he had every opportunity to do so. The reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that the Monsignor does not deny the accuracy of quotations attributed to him in Portugal News and Notícias de Fátima.2
A "Revised" Communiqué
I wrote the above on January 2 in response to Zenit’s report and it was immediately posted on various websites. Ten days later, I learned that the Fatima Shrine posted on its own web page the December 28 Communiqué. This one, however, is changed, and all explicit references to Father Gruner are removed. He is not mentioned at all. When I asked Zenit if they could explain the discrepancy, they replied that on January 7, the Fatima Shrine faxed them an English rendition of the December 28 statement that contained some changes, and wherein explicit mention of Father Gruner was taken out. It is this English version that now appears on the Fatima Shrine web page.
What is clear from both of the “December 28” statements, whether reported by Zenit or on the Shrine web page, is that Fatima leaders are now committed to the post-Conciliar, pan-religious initiative. Msgr. Guerra contends that “the Fatima apparitions were exhortation to interreligious dialogue”. This is preposterous. Our Lady of Fatima called for conversion to Catholicism in Russia and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart throughout the world. The ecumenism and “interreligious dialogue” practiced since the Council would have horrified any of the popes before 1958. These novelties — including prayer meetings with witch doctors and voodoo priests at Assisi — are clear departures from 2000 years of Catholic teaching and practice.
Further, eleven years after the Fatima apparitions, Pope Pius XI issued the 1928 encyclical Mortalium animos which condemns the same ecumenism that has been nurtured since Vatican II. (It is worth noting that Inside the Vatican’s December 2003 issue publishes the whole of Mortalium animos by Pius XI in running columns beneath its own story of the Fatima Shrine controversy.)
In this encyclical, Pope Pius XI wrote that the Holy See has “always forbidden” Catholics to take part in interreligious assemblies. Pope Pius rightly insisted, “unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief, one faith of Christians”. Pope Pius also wrote that the “fair and alluring words” of the pan-religious orientation “cloak a most deadly error subversive to the Catholic Faith”.
To defend, however, the allegation that Our Lady of Fatima’s Message was a call to interreligious dialogue, Msgr. Guerra resorts to explanations that are thick with nonsense. He writes:
“In the message of Fatima, facts and words seem to contain, at least, two implicit calls to the exercise of this spirit of dialogue with people of different convictions. Thus, in the apparitions of the Angel of Peace we find two important clues: the fact that the Angel prostrated himself down on the ground while praying, in the first and third apparitions; and the fact that, in the third, he did give Communion, under the species of bread, to the oldest seer, since she had already received her first Communion, and, under the species of wine, to Francisco and Jacinta, who had not. Considering the fact that both practices had fallen into disuse, centuries ago, in the Latin Catholicism, and have remained still alive amongst the oriental Christians, it is acceptable — it seems even compulsory — to see in that an invitation to try to link Fatima to the oriental churches, both Catholic and Orthodox. In other words, the message of the Angel of Peace contains an appeal to the ecumenical dialogue with those churches separated from Rome more than a thousand years ago. Dialogue that, thanks to God, is progressing slowly but determinedly by both parties.”3
First, keep in mind that at the 2003 Fatima Congress organized by Shrine Rector Guerra, Father Jacques Dupuis and Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald explained that dialogue does not mean working to convert those outside the Catholic Church to Catholicism. Rather, dialogue is a means for all religions to work together in harmony, and to make a “Christian a better Christian and a Hindu a better Hindu,” as Jacques Dupuis said in his lecture that was applauded by Shrine Rector Guerra.
By contrast, Our Lady of Fatima said that She wanted Russia solemnly consecrated, by name, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope in union with the world’s bishops on the same day, promising that if this is done, Russia would be converted — that is converted to the Catholic Faith.
This is fitting, since infallible dogma from the Council of Florence teaches, in union with the consistent teaching of the Popes and Saints throughout Church history, that members of the Orthodox Church must convert to the Catholic Church for their own salvation. A dialogue that denies the need for conversion of non-Catholics is contrary to the Message of Fatima, contrary to the Catholic Faith.
The dialogue that Msgr. Guerra claims is “progressing slowly” is not really progressing at all. This is because today’s ecumenism is not actually a union of religions, but a pan-religious union of the liberals and lefties within the various denominations. “Ecumenical Catholics” know full well that they will get nowhere with those members of denominations who believe their religion to possess the truth. Rather, they engage with the progressivist members of the various sects whose first concern is that we all get along.
This is why the Vatican could not sign a Lutheran-Catholic Accord with conservative Missouri Synod Lutherans, who rightly denounced the document as a sham. No, it signed the Lutheran-Catholic Accord with the pro-abortion Lutherans who “ordain” women bishops. Yet all the while we are told of Vatican II’s great strides in achieving ecumenical unity.
But this is not the case. Witness, for example, the fact that the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church will not allow Pope John Paul II to enter Russia, and denounced the Pope’s closed-circuit television broadcast into his country as an “invasion of Russia”.4 Witness the public protest by the Greek Orthodox on May 4, 2001 against the Pope’s visit to Athens. It was here that schismatic priests denounced the papacy through megaphones; priests and monks rang church bells as a symbol of mourning and carried black balloons to the Athens square; and hoisted banners denouncing the Pope as Antichrist as the cry rang out, “Pope Go Home!”5
Witness the similar protest held during the Pope’s visit to the Ukraine. On June 28, 2001, large demonstrations were led by schismatic Orthodox priests wherein schismatic nuns carried the banner, “Invitation of the Pope to the Ukraine is a knife in the back of the Orthodox people”. Here too, the Pope was denounced as Antichrist.6
Thus, the ecumenical “progress” referred to by Msgr. Guerra is virtually non-existent.
Lastly, it is wrong for Catholics to engage in a smiling dialogue that leaves members of the Orthodox religion entrapped in their religion’s errors. It was Pope Saint Pius X who pointed out that, in the objective order, members of the Orthodox religion are not only schismatics, but also heretics, because they refuse to accept, 1) The processions of Persons in the Trinity; 2) the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady; 3) Papal Infallibility as defined at Vatican Council I; 4), the Petrine Primacy.7 Members of the Orthodox religion must abandon these errors and convert to the truths of the Catholic Faith for their own salvation. This squares with the Message of Fatima, for the conversion of the Russian Orthodox will take place miraculously — and on a grand scale — when Russia is finally consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Yet Msgr. Guerra has the audacity to claim that the Message of Fatima calls us to a “dialogue” that denounces the necessity of the conversion of non-Catholics.
Our Lady said, “God wants to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart,” not “God wants to establish in the world ecumenical dialogue that leaves souls in the darkness of their false religion”. Yet this madness is precisely what Msgr. Guerra asserts.
Fatima: A Call for Catholic-Muslim Dialogue?
Next, Msgr. Guerra claims that the Fatima Message is a call for a similar dialogue with Mohammedans. He writes:
“One year after the apparitions of the Angel, Our Lady chose the Cova da Iria [Iria’s Hole (sic)] as a place where to appear. She knew beforehand that this unknown place would come to be called more easily Fatima, since it was located within the limits of the only parish, the only town, that in Portugal bears the name of the daughter of Mohammed, the founder of Islam. Right next to Fatima there were other towns with Christian names, which Our Lady could have chosen. Well, She knew beforehand that, in such circumstances, Her choice would often remind us of the Muslim religion, which the Arabs certainly practiced here before the Christian re-conquest. Our Lady knew that the human being pays a lot of attention to coincidences and therefore, sooner or later, would reflect on this coincidence of Her apparitions with the name of the daughter of Mohammed.”
Msgr. Guerra goes on to suggest that this is Heaven’s way of telling us that we must engage in dialogue with Muslims. Contrary to Msgr. Guerra’s assertion, however, Christopher Ferrara explains:
“The village of Fatima was named after a Muslim princess who, following her capture by Christian forces during the Moorish occupation of Portugal, was smitten by the Count of Ourem, converted to Catholicism, and was baptized before marrying the Count in 1158. Her baptismal name was Oureana, but her birth name had been Fatima, after the daughter of Mohammed. The naming of the village of Fatima is thus a testament, not to ‘inter-religious dialogue’, but to the triumph of Christendom over the Muslim occupiers of Portugal (a process that required another century to complete).”8
Thus again, we see that this aspect of Fatima, if anything, spotlights conversion. It cannot be interpreted to justify a “dialogue” that reveres Muslims though they corrupt Divine truth; honors their religion though it rejects Christ’s Divinity; smiles at them as they denounce the Blessed Trinity in their Koran; assures them that there’s no need to convert to the one true Church for salvation; and invites them to join with Catholics, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and Animists to build a pan-religious “Civilization of Love”`.
Keep in mind that Msgr. Guerra is the same man who applauded the modernist Father Jacques Dupuis, who said at the recent Fatima Congress, “There is no need to invoke here that horrible text from the Council of Florence,” concerning no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Dupuis, with Guerra’s approval, exhorted his audience to reject defined Catholic dogma. It is little wonder that Msgr. Guerra attempts to subvert the Fatima Message to his distorted, pan-religious vision.
"We Are Still Very Far"?
How would you respond if you were asked whether or not you would ever join in pan-religious prayers with Hindus. If you are truly Catholic, faithful to the perennial teaching and practice of the Church, your answer would be “Never”. This is a fitting response, since Scripture tells us that the “gods of the heathens are devils”. (Psalm 95:5) If you were asked whether your own house would ever be used for Hindu worship, again, you would insist, “Never!” Or perhaps, to stress the impossibility of the scheme, you might exclaim, “over my dead body!”
Yet this is not how Msgr. Guerra responded when he discussed the alleged pan-religious Shrine with Spirit Daily, a web page dedicated to the false apparitions of Medjugorje.9
Msgr. Guerra said in this interview, “our ecumenism is just beginning. It is guided by guidelines set by the Church authorities”. He also claimed that “ecumenism does not play into the design for the new basilica”, which will be located away from the present Fatima basilica. Spirit Daily asked if the Rector has any concerns that ecumenism might lead to compromise or to a tinge of the New Age. It also asked how is it that Hindus and Muslims, etc., will pray there. Mgr. Guerra responded, “We do not fear any ecumenism led by the church. We are very far from having Hindus or any Muslims pray in Fatima, except if they do it in private — not in public liturgies or other such services.”
We are “very far” from having Hindus or any Muslims pray at Fatima?
Why did he phrase his answer this way? Why did he not state emphatically what any self-respecting Catholic would say: “Never! Never will they be allowed to perform their pagan rituals on Catholic property in my care.”10
We learn the answer by taking a closer look at Msgr. Guerra’s statement.
First, he says “our ecumenism is just beginning”. This, of course, was manifest at the 2003 pan-religious Fatima Congress that I attended. And from what I saw, they’re off to a flying start. For it was here that Orthodox, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu representatives were invited to address the audience about the importance of their various religious “sanctuaries”. It was here that non-Catholics were told that there is no need for them to convert to the Catholic Church for salvation.11
Msgr. Guerra then says, “Ecumenism does not play into the design of the new basilica”. Yet this is no reassurance that pan-religious meetings will not be staged there. The church of San Pietro at Assisi was not “designed for ecumenism”, yet on October 27, 1986, at the Assisi pan-religious gathering,12 “Buddhists, led by the Dalai Lama, quickly converted the altar of the church of San Pietro by placing a small statue of the Buddha atop the tabernacle and setting prayer scrolls and incense burners around it.”13
The other churches and holy places at Assisi were likewise farmed out for use by Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and African Snake worshipers to perform their false, idolatrous rituals. Ecumenism certainly did not “play into the design” of any of these churches when they were built, yet they were all commandeered for pan-religious usage.
Likewise, since the Assisi event, we see increasing instances of Catholic churches desecrated by pan-religious gatherings. Here are but two examples:
• On October 28, 1987, fifty representatives of the world’s religions gathered at a church in Rome to pray for peace. The gathering marked the first anniversary of the 1986 World Day of Peace at Assisi. Jews, Sikhs, Moslems, Orthodox Greeks, Roman Catholics and various Protestant denominations met in the 12th Century church of Santa Maria.14
• On September 9, 1998, John Cardinal O’Connor of New York hosted an inter-religious service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral “to pray for decent housing for the poor and homeless.” On the altar in a large semi-circle were representatives from Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodoxy, Islam and Judaism. The religious leaders were invited by Cardinal O’Connor to the prayer service at which an estimated 2,500 people attended. At this event, the Cardinal lectured, a rabbi prayed in Hebrew, a young woman in a mini-skirt sang “This Little Light of Mine”. Candles were lit throughout the congregations and then were “dramatically” raised after several lack-luster choruses of “We Shall Overcome”. The final “blessing” was given by an Irish Presbyterian.15
We could fill the next five pages of this journal with similar examples and still not exhaust the reservoir. The point, however, is that these and other churches were used — and are used — for pan-religious riots even though ecumenism did not “play into the design” of their construction.
There is only one assurance Fatima authorities can give that these types of pan-religious incidents will not occur at Fatima, and that is a public guarantee that all ecumenical activity at Fatima will completely cease. This they are not willing to do.
Quite to the contrary, Msgr. Guerra boasts that the ecumenical initiative at Fatima is now underway, that ecumenism “is guided by guidelines set by Church authorities”, and that “we do not fear any ecumenism led by the Church”.
So let’s take a look at the ecumenical “guidelines” set by present-day Church authorities and determine if there’s anything to fear. Let’s see what today’s Church leaders promote in the name of ecumenism, and ask ourselves if we are glad to envision such exhibitions enacted at Fatima.
The ecumenism promoted by today’s post-Conciliar leaders, as said earlier, would have horrified any pre-Vatican II pope. Take for example the 1993 Directory for the Application of the Principle and Norms of Ecumenism, from the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
This Directory “mandates” ecumenism into every aspect of Church life, and encourages numerous unprecedented interfaith practices that have always been condemned by the Church as grave sins against Faith.
• allows Protestants to conduct the readings (except the Gospel) in a Catholic Church [#133]
• encourages common "spiritual exercises" and "retreats" between Catholics and Protestants [#114]
•allows non-Catholics to lecture in seminaries [#81]
• commands that young children be taught ecumenism in the schools [#68]
• mandates ecumenism for priests and religious in their years of formation [#’s 51, 70]
• commands priests to take part in the "continuous aggiornamento" of ecumenical teaching and practice [#91]
• encourages diocesan bishops to lend their parish churches to non-Catholics for their prayer services [#137]
• promotes interdenominational prayer-services among Catholics and Protestants in each others churches [#112]
• encourages the joint publication of an interdenominational Bible between Catholics and Protestants [#185]
• discourages Catholics from attempting to convert non-Catholics [#’s 23, 79, 81, 125]
• encourages Catholics to "rejoice in the grace of God" [sic] in Protestants [#206]
• recommends the construction of a single church to be owned and used by both Catholics and non-Catholics [#138]
• further recommends that in these joint churches, the Blessed Sacrament be placed in a separate chapel or room so as not to offend non-believers. [#139]
This document was produced under the leadership of Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, who was then Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Cardinal Cassidy’s successor is Cardinal Walter Kasper, who could be aptly described as the quintessential lunatic modernist clergyman — a man who doesn’t seem to believe in anything.
Cardinal Kasper is on record as telling Jews that the Old Covenant is still in force, and that they do not have to convert to the Catholic Church for salvation.16 Cardinal Cassidy and Baltimore’s Cardinal Keeler said the same thing,17 even though Scripture and defined Church doctrine teach infallibly that the Old Covenant is no longer in force and has been superseded by the New.18
Cardinal Kasper is the Vatican’s point man in dialogue with Protestants, Orthodox and Jews. It is he who provides the ecumenical “guidance” in which Msgr. Guerra claims we should place blind trust.
Do you feel safe being guided by the ecumenism of these men who defy Scripture and dogma? Msgr. Guerra does, but I do not.
Cardinal Kasper also said recently that Vatican II and Ut Unum Sint, “acknowledge explicitly that the Holy Spirit is operating in the other Churches and church communities. Consequently, there is no idea of an arrogant claim to a monopoly of salvation”. He compounded the outrage saying:
“Several aspects of being church are better realized in other churches. Therefore, ecumenism is no one-way street, but a reciprocal learning process, or, as stated in Ut Unum Sint, an exchange of gifts. The way to unity is therefore not the return of others into the fold of the Catholic Church”.19
Tragically, Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is of the same heretical opinion. In 1966, in defiance of the thrice-defined dogma “outside the Church there is no salvation”, Father Ratzinger rejoiced that, thanks to Vatican II, the idea of conversion of non-Catholics has been replaced by the concept of convergence with non-Catholics.20 This is an indication of Cardinal Ratzinger’s present mind-set, as he has repeatedly said that his ideas “have not changed” since the time of the Council.21
No Catholic parent worth his salt would allow his children to be guided by such men. Yet Msgr. Guerra expresses no such reservation, but alleges that we have “nothing to fear” from wrong-headed leadership that suddenly blesses what the Church always condemned.
"Approved" Pagan Inculturation
Looking further at the “ecumenism guided” by today’s progressivist guidelines, we behold the continuing horrors of pagan religious ritual incorporated into Catholic ceremonies. I personally witnessed, at World Youth Day 2002, a screaming, thump-thump-thumping Native American pagan ritual that opened WYD’s Sunday Papal Mass!22 Then there’s the inculturation of voodoo practices in the Catholic Church in Africa.23 Then there’s the Hindu dance of arati and puja — a dance to the demon gods of Hinduism, — which was performed within the beatification Mass of Mother Teresa on October 19, 2003.24 Again, we could give scores of similar examples.
We see, then, how this “guided ecumenism” looks. It is an ecumenism guided, not by perennial Catholic teaching and practice, but by progressivists in high places who are determined to remake the Church into their own liberal image and likeness. It is this “ecumenism” that Msgr. Guerra boasts is “just beginning” at Fatima.
Now we understand why Msgr. Guerra will not categorically affirm that Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims will never be permitted to perform their religious rituals on Church property at Fatima. To do so would contradict that new ecumenical program. It would defy the hideous policy of inculturation, and close Fatima’s gates against the revolutionary pan-religious “Spirit of Assisi” that has been inflicted on Catholics since the Council. Thus, he leaves the gate open with his “we are very far” statement.
Msgr. Guerra, in his December 28 Communiqué, describes those Catholics who resist the new ecumenism, as cranks who “throw accusations to the authorities of the Church, including the Pope himself, as being heretics, apostates and unfaithful to the responsibilities thrust upon them.”
In response, I would clarify that those of us who resist these Conciliar policies do not label anyone, neither the Pope, nor the hierarchy, as “heretics and apostates”.25 We do, however, consider Church leaders who promote this new religion as “unfaithful to the responsibility thrust upon them,” since they promote teachings and policies that defy 2000 years of Church doctrine. This they are not allowed to do. Not even a Pope may change Catholic doctrine, nor introduce novelties, in the name of alleged "new insights" or “higher understanding”.
The first duty of the Catholic hierarchy is to preserve the Catholic Faith “integral and inviolate”.26 The Oath Against Modernism that they swore,27 as well the infallible decrees from Vatican I, forbids them to change or “update” doctrine to mean something different from what the Church always taught.28
Take for example the main point at issue: the doctrine “no salvation outside the Catholic Church”. The ex cathedra definition of the Council of Florence could not be more explicit. It defined infallibly that “Pagans, Jews, heretics and schismatics” are “outside the Catholic Church”, and as such, “can never be partakers of eternal life”, unless “before death” they are joined to the one true Church of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church.29
This doctrine can never be changed or “updated” to mean something different from what the Church always held. This is not only a point of common sense — since objective truth cannot change — but is taught infallibly at Vatican Council I. Here we read:
“Hence, that meaning of the sacred dogmas must always be retained which holy mother the Church has once declared, and we must never abandon that meaning under the appearance or in the name of a higher understanding.”30
Vatican I further taught on the subject of Papal Infallibility, that not even a Pope may change doctrine or introduce a new doctrine (such as the “new insights” of “ecumenical theology”) that eclipses previous Church teaching. Vatican I decreed:
"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of 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.”31
This is why Catholics must oppose the new ecumenical orientation, even though it comes from a progressivist Pope.
Ecumenism changes doctrine! It claims that there is no need for non-Catholics to convert to Catholicism for salvation. The ecumenical Father Dupuis told the audience at the Fatima Congress that the above-quoted decree from the Council of Florence was a horrible text that must be rejected.
Ecumenism promotes religious indifferentism. It defies Blessed Pope Pius IX who taught that it is an error to believe that “Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.”32 This error is precisely what Msgr. Guerra applauded as it was trumpeted at the 2003 Congress at Fatima.
Ecumenism places all religions on the same level. Cardinal Mercier, faithful to perennial Church teaching, denounced this as blasphemy. He warned that to “put the religion of divine origin on the same level with the religions invented by men” is the “blasphemy which calls down God’s chastisements on society far more than the sins of individuals and families.”33 Yet Msgr. Guerra’s Fatima Congress placed all religions on the same level. Father Jacques Dupuis taught at this Congress the falsehood that members of all religions are part of the Kingdom of God.
In short, ecumenism is the triumph of liberal Catholicism.34 As such, it must be resisted, no matter where it comes from. It was Saint Robert Bellarmine who taught that the Catholic must resist even a Pope if he deviates from perennial Church doctrine.35
Liberals Praise John Paul
Msgr. Guerra’s claim that we “hurl accusations” at the Pope and the hierarchy is meant to suggest that our criticism of John Paul’s progressivism is without foundation. The truth, however, is that Pope John Paul II is, and always has been, a progressivist.36 This is not a groundless traditionalist “accusation”, but a cold fact also recognized by various conservatives and liberals.37
Father Ludwig Nemec, a “conservative” Catholic, writes in praise of John Paul that “Bishop Wojtyla took a progressive stand” at Vatican II, and that he “interacted with progressive theologians” at the Council.38
Father Richard McBrien, one of the most modernist clergymen in North America, used the opportunity of the Pope’s 25th anniversary to applaud John Paul’s progressivism. Father McBrien, to my knowledge, never says a good word about Pope Saint Pius X, but he is pleased enough with John Paul.
His recent article “The Pope in Third Place”, explains that it was the liberal Cardinal Koenig who backed Cardinal Wojtyla at the 1978 conclave, against the conservative Cardinals who wanted to elect Cardinal Siri. McBrien then dispels the myth that Pope John Paul II is “ultra-conservative”. He writes:
“Would an ultra-conservative Pope have convened the celebrated assembly of various religious leaders in Assisi back in 1986 to pray together for peace — much to the chagrin and private grumbling of Vatican officials to the Pope’s right?
“Would an ultra-conservative Pope have publicly asked forgiveness for the sins of the Church against various communities, including the Jews, as he did during the Jubilee Year 2000?
“Would an ultra-conservative Pope have bestowed pectoral crosses on the Archbishop of Canterbury and several other Anglican bishops and invited them to process with him in full episcopal regalia on the occasion of the celebration of the 1400th anniversary of the re-Christianizing of England under Gregory the Great?
“And, more recently still, would an ultra-conservative pope have urged his fellow Poles to vote for Poland’s entrance into the European Union when many genuinely ultra-conservative Polish clergy were denouncing the Union for its stances on abortion, gay rights, divorce, and pre-marital sex?”
McBrien concludes, “Labels can be misleading, no matter who applies them.”39
Likewise, two weeks before John Paul’s double beatification of Popes Pius IX and John XXIII, the progressivist journal Commonweal said the following:
“The splendid absurdity of the coming event can be grasped when we recognize that John XXIII and John Paul II would both have been condemned for their ideas and their words had they expressed them when Pius IX was in power …”40
Thus the recognition of John Paul’s progressivism is not limited to Catholic opponents of ecumenism. Progressivists who endorse ecumenism also acknowledge John Paul II’s liberalism. Some, as we see with Father Richard McBrien, boast of John Paul’s liberal achievements like a proud dad displaying his son’s baseball trophies.
This is why we repeatedly urge our readers to heed Jesus’ admonition to Sister Lucy of Fatima to “Pray a great deal for the Holy Father”.
We observe from Msgr. Guerra’s words that the ecumenical orientation is well underway at Fatima. He even tries to bend the Fatima Message to this warped, ecumenical pattern. As far as he is concerned, Catholics who oppose ecumenism have no right to do so.
Thus, as I said in previous articles, it doesn’t matter whether the grotesque, modernist basilica to be built at Fatima is officially called an “Interfaith Shrine” or not. As long as the Fatima authorities accept the new ecumenical orientation, and open wide the doors for the “Spirit of Assisi” — as they already did at the 2003 Fatima Congress — it is only a matter of time before pan-religious ceremonies at Fatima take place.
Msgr. Guerra was derelict in his duty to hold the Fatima Congress, to extol its outrages, and to criticize those Catholics who resist the hideous novelty of pan-religious ecumenism. He applauded when Father Arul Irudayam, of India, told the audience that Hindus now perform their pagan rituals inside the Catholic Marian Shrine Basilica in Vailankanni.41 He also applauded Jacques Dupuis’ denunciations of defined dogma, and never apologized for allowing blatant heresy to be taught at Fatima.
Msgr. Guerra is complicit in the vandalization of Sacred Doctrine. It will do him no good, as he did in his recent Communiqué, to present himself to the world as a slandered innocent.
2. The October 24 Notícias de Fátima, a local paper on friendly terms with the Fatima Shrine, quoted Msgr. Guerra’s interfaith aims: “This proposal of coexistence also in Fatima of a religious pluralism is still embryonic”, said Msgr. Guerra. “It’s the first step. We are like the engineers in Portugal who begin by examining the structures of the bridges to see if we can trust them in the future.” The Fatima Shrine’s December 28 Communiqué says that the only time the Shrine Rector spoke at the Congress was at the final session of the Congress and it provides the following verbatim from the speech: “It is true that (…) we are all very far from journeying toward the only, or through the only, bridge. We could therefore relax, since, if one’s bridge is collapsing, it could happen that the neighbor’s bridge is not. But it is also true that a disease of epidemic proportions seems to have threatened the faith of all religions, of all confessions, of all traditions, during the last decades. That’s why we rejoice in the brotherly presence of the representatives of the various spiritual schools and we are sure that their presence here opened the way for a greater future openness of this Shrine; Shrine that seems already vocationed, thanks to divine providence, for contacts and for dialogue (…). This calling is almost explicit, in regard to the oriental, orthodox and catholic churches, in the message of the Angel of Peace; and, in regard to the Islamic religion, in the name itself that God chose for the town where Mary would one day appear: Fatima.”
3. “Shrine of All religions: Communiqué from the Rectory of the Shrine at Fatima”. www.santuario-fatima.pt/communique.html I have learned that Msgr. Guerra now simply directs people to this web page when they ask about the “Interfaith Shrine”.
4. “Russian Patriarch Slams Pope’s Video Link-up as ‘Invasion’.” BBC News, March 2, 2002.
5. Photo documented in Previews of the New Papacy, Atila Sinke Guimarães and Marian Horvat, (Los Angeles: Tradition in Action, 2001) p. 146.
6. Ibid., pp. 160-1.
7. See Ex quo, by Pope Saint Pius X, 1910.
8. "A New Fatima for a New Church", Part I, Christopher Ferrara, The Fatima Crusader, Winter 2004. Msgr. Guerra half concedes this in his December 28 Communiqué saying, “That would be the case, even though, as some historians think possible, the name of the village of Fatima may not have anything to do with the daughter of the founder of Islam”. Nonetheless, Msgr. Guerra still insists on his “interreligious dialogue” interpretation.
9. A fuller treatment of Medjugorje, including the evidence that the Medjugorje "seers" lied to their bishop while under Oath, is contained in the lecture "Flights of Fancy to Great Apostasy: Medjugorje and More" by John Vennari (available for $6.00 postpaid from Oltyn Library Services, 2316 Delaware Ave., PMB 325, Buffalo, NY 14216).
10. Note: If an individual Muslim or Hindu comes to the Shrine to pray quietly, this is something that cannot be stopped, nor should it be. An individual non-Catholic coming to a Marian Shrine such as Fatima may even be granted the grace of conversion for doing so, if the individual is seeking God with a pure heart.
11. See: "Fatima to Become an Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who Was There", see above Note #1.
12. On October 27, 1986, at the invitation of John Paul II, 160 leaders of the world’s religions gathered at Assisi, Italy to pray for peace. It was an unprecedented event that ran contrary to 2,000 years of Catholic doctrine and practice. Of this Assisi prayer meeting, chief Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, exclaimed with apparent approval, “Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of mankind.” The 12 religions represented at the Assisi prayer meeting were African animists, American Indians, Bahais, Buddhists, “Christians”, Jains, Jews, Hindus, Moslems, Shintoists, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians.
13. Robert Suro, “12 Faiths Join Pope to Pray for Peace,” New York Times October 28, 1986.
14. “50 World Religious Leaders Meet in Rome and Pray for Peace,” Reuters, August 4, 1987.
15. Sources: Charles Bell, “Invited by O’Connor to Pray for the Poor”, New York Daily News, September 4, 1998; “Lift Up the Poor With The Voices of Faith” (Program from Interfaith Prayer Service at St. Patrick’s); “Do We Care?”, Catholic New York, September 17, 1998. Also, eyewitness report sent to CFN from a friend who attended the interfaith event as an observer.
16. Cardinal Walter Kasper, speaking as the papally appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Religious Relations with the Jews, declared that “the old theory of substitution is gone since the Second Vatican Council. For us Christians today, the covenant with the Jewish people is a living heritage, a living reality … Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, i.e., the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to His promises.” — Address at the 17th meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee, New York, May 1, 2001.
17. See “Interview with Robert Sungenis”, Catholic Family News, November, 2002.
18. See Hebrew 8:13. The doctrine of the supersession of the Old Testament by the New is a defined article of the Catholic Faith. In the solemn Profession of Faith of the Ecumenical Council of Florence under Pope Eugenius IV, it is set forth: “The sacrosanct Roman Church … firmly believes, professes, and teaches that the matter pertaining to the Old Testament, of the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future, although they were suited to the divine worship at that time, after our Lord’s coming had been signified by them, ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; … All, therefore, who after that time observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it (the Roman Church) declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless someday they recover from these errors. (D.S. 1348)
19. Quoted from “Fanfare, Tillard, and Ecumenism in Rome”, Paul A. Crow, Jr., Ecumenical Trents, (Published by the Graymoor Friars), September, 2003, p. 15. (Emphasis added.)
20. Father Ratzinger said, “The Catholic Church has no right to abosrb the other Churches … [A] basic unity — of Churches that remain Churches, yet become one Church — must replace the idea of conversion, even though conversion retains its meaningfulness for those in conscience motivated to seek it.” (Emphasis added) Theological Highlights of Vatican II, Joseph Ratzinger [Paulist Press, New Your, 1966], p. 65-65. This section of the book focuses on the deliberate ecumeical foundation on which is based the Council document Lumem Gentium. For a more complete discussion of Father Ratzinger’s book, see “Vatican II vs. the Unity Willed by Christ,” by J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, Dec., 2000. [Reprint #537 available from CFN for $1.75 post-paid].
21. Vittorio Messor presented the following in Jesus magazine: “Perhaps what is most annoying is the fact that the supposed ‘guardian of the faith’ in reality has not only the stature of a great theologian … but also of an open, modern theologian, open to the signs of the times. A perito of the German episcopate at Vatican II, he later found among the founders of Concilium, an international magazine, that brings together the so-called ‘progressivist wing’ of Catholic theology. ‘Was it a sin of youth, Your Eminence, this engagement with Concilium?’ I asked him joshing. ‘Absolutely not,’ he answered. ‘I did not change, they changed’.” (J. Ratzinger, interview with Vittorio Messori, “Ecco perché la fede è in crisi” Jesus November 1984, p. 69.) Further, during a visit to Brazil in 1990, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke to the press on the same subject. Question: “What are the most marked differences between the Ratzinger of Vatican II and my present work.” (Interview to Walter Falceta, “Ratzinger reafirma identidade católica”, in O Estado de S. Paulo, 7/29/1990). These and other similar quotations are compiled in In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, Atila Sinke Guimarães, (Metaire: Maeta, 1997), pp. 121-2.
22. “The World Youth Day Sleep-over”, J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, October, 2002.
23. “Dancing with the Devil: The New Evangelization in Africa,” Craig Heimbichner, Catholic Family News, December 2003.
24. See “Mother Teresa ‘Beatified’ with Idolatrous Rites,” Cornelia Ferreira, Catholic Family News, January, 2004.
25. Granted, Sedevacantists do this, but CFN is not a sedevacantist publication. Neither I, nor any CFN writer, hold a sedevacantist position.
26. “Whoever wishes to be saved must first of all hold integral and inviolate the Catholic Faith, without which he shall surely be eternally lost,” Athanasian Creed.
27. Details on this point are found in "More News on Fatima Interfaith Program", J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, January, 2004.
28. See not #30 below.
29. Bull Cantate Domino issued by Pope Eugene IV at the Council of Florence, February 4, 1442.
30. Vatican I, Session III, Chap. IV, Dei Filius. (Den. 1800) English translation taken from “Two Statements About the Necessity of the Church for the Attainment of Eternal Salvation,” Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, June, 1962. (Emphasis added.)
31. Vactican I, Session Iv, Chap. IV, Pastor Aeternus.
32. Syllabus of Errors, Pope Pius IX, #16.
33. Pastoral Letter, The Lesson of Events, 1918, cited from The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism, Father Fahey, (Dublin: Regina Publications, 1943), p. 36.
34. Blessed Pope Pius IX called liberal Catholics “the worst enemies of the Church”. Pope Pius IX also said in a letter to a French deputation headed by the Bishop of Nevers on June 18, 1871: “That which I fear is not the Commune of Paris — no — that which I fear is liberal Catholicism … I have said so more than forty times, and I repeat it to you now, through the love that I bear you. The real scourge of France is Liberal Catholicism, which endeavors to unite two principles as repugnant to each other as fire and water.” Quoted from The Catholic Dogma, Father Michael Muller, C.SS.R. (Benzinger, 1888), p. 282.
35. Saint Robert Bellarmine taught: “Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff that aggresses the body, it is also licit to resist the one who aggresses the souls or who disturbs civil order, or above all, who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and preventing his will from being executed; it is not licit, however, to judge, punish or depose him, since these are acts proper to a superior.” (De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, chap. 20, in Opera omnia, Neapoli/Panormi/Paris: Pedone Laurie, 1871, vol. I, p. 418.). This is also the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pope Innocent III, the great theologian Cardinal Juan de Torquemada, and others. See “Resisting Wayward Prelates, According to the Saints”, Catholic Family News, August 1999 (Reprint #465 available from CFN for $1.75).
36. Pope John Paul II keeps many traditional practices, such as the Rosary and devotion to Our Lady. But at the same time, he promotes some of the most liberal notions of Vatican II, such as pan-religious ecumenism, etc. Also the Sunday Papal Mass at World Youth Day implicitly placed and Imprimatur on some of the worst abuses of the post-conciliar period, including liturgical dance, lay-lectors, “lay-Eucharistic ministers”, pop-music at Church functions, slovenly and immodest dress during Mass, pagan rituals surrounding Sunday Mass, and Eucharistic sacrilege. Canada’s Vision Television broadcast close-ups of Pope John Paul II continually admisinstering Communion-in-the-hand at his Papal Mass on Sunday (See “World Youth Day: Showcase of Liturgical Abuse”, Catholic Family News, October 2003. (Reprint #869 available from CFN for $1.75.) For a Fuller explanation, see Father Joannes Dormann’s Pope John Paul II’s Theological Journey to the Prayer Meeting of Religions in Assisi, Part 2, Vol. 3, pp. 1-38. (Also available from CFN for $16.95 post-paid.)
37. Fatima Crusader’s Editor’s Note: Perhaps it should be noted that the terms “traditional Catholic”, “conservative Catholic” and “liberal Catholic” are not meant to suggest that there are three or more legitimate ways of being Catholic. Objectively, there is only one type of Catholic. It is the Catholic who accepts all the teachings and practices of the Church, and who is faithful to the perennial Catholic magisterium, as it has alway been taught. Due to the shattering of unity within large segments of the Church resulting from Vatican II and its liberal reforms, there are now people with various contradictory beliefs who all call themselves Catholic. The “conservative” Catholic, or “neo-Catholic”, is one who keeps the basic teaching of the Faith, but at the same time accepts every Vatican-approved novelty since the Council, even when these novelties stand condemned by perennial Catholic teaching and practice, and even when these “reforms” are a proven disaster for the Church. The “liberal Catholics” are those who try to blend liberalism and Catholicism (see footnote 34). They are those who reject basic dogmatic teachings of the Church and clamor from even more liberal reforms such as married priests, homosexual priests, and the relaxing of Church teaching against divorce, birth control, clerical celibacy, etc. — all the while calling themselves Catholic. And because of the “negligence of the pastors”, that is the negligence of the hierarchy (many of whom are imbued with these liberal ideas), these “liberal Catholics” who deny Church doctrine and oppose Catholic morals are not disciplined. They are allowed to freely operate as if they were “Catholics in good standing”. They are allowed — and even encouraged — to teach, preach and publish. They thus become a source of scandal, confusion, division, and widespread errors among the faithful. In truth, however, there is no “left wing” or “right wing” of Catholicism. There is only the perennial Catholic teaching, and the true Catholic is one who is faithful to this teaching. But sadly, today’s breakdown of the proper exercise of the authentic teaching office and the positive errors being widely spread by many Cardinals, bishops and priests makes it necessary to distinguish people according to categories of “traditional”, “conservative” and “liberal”.
38. Pope John Paul II, A Festive Profile, Father Ludwig Nemec, (New York: Catholic Books, 1979), p. 98.
39. “The Pope in Third Place”, Father Richard McBrien, The Tidings, July 4, 2003.
40. Commonweal, August 11, 2000. (Emphasis added.)
41. This is detailed in "Fatima to Become an Interfaith Shrine? An Account from One Who was There". (See above, Note #1.)
This article was reprinted with permission from the February 2004 issue of Catholic Family News — a Roman Catholic monthly published 12 times a year.
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