Ambush In Fatima October 1992
The invitation to attend was simply worded: “The Fatima Crusader Magazine respectfully requests the honor of Your Excellency's attendance at an International Conference to publicly discuss the Collegial Consecration of Russia as requested by Our Lady of Fatima as a condition of World Peace.”1
The note added, “As funds allow, accommodation and airfare will be provided through the generosity of thousands of supporters of Our Lady's Fatima Apostolate who have sacrificed for this intention, for those bishops from poorer dioceses who otherwise could not attend.”
To bishops of the poorer nations who received this invitation in June of 1992, it was a generous offer. To those better off, who might be able to afford their own trip, it was a chance to mingle with brother bishops in the Cova da Iria on the 75th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun. One hundred and ten bishops accepted the invitation.
Those returning to Fatima might well have anticipated the hospitality they would receive. Those coming for the first time must ready themselves for a warm surprise. The courtesy of the Portuguese people, specifically in the northern half of the country, may be one of the great mysteries of this century. How they have kept their sense of humor, their gentility, their irrepressible dignity in the wake of endless waves of humanity descending on the terrain of Our Lady is a question that was partially answered by Senor Vincente of the Virgin Maria Hotel where many of the bishops were billeted. When asked for the recipe to the justifiably famous soup he served to start each day's dinner Senor Vincente shook his head, admonishing the inquirer with a wagging finger.
“No, no, no,” he warned. “That is the Fourth Secret of Fatima.” Unwittingly, the genial proprietor had revealed the core of the Portuguese character in the north — a reserve, prudence, confidence, pride, and humor that comes from living in a world completely mantled by the things of Heaven.
What occurred, then, upon the arrival in Fatima of the one hundred plus bishops from 23 countries heading for the International Bishops Peace Conference, would shine a very stark light, indeed, on the Shrine management and on its rector, Msgr. Luciano Guerra himself. Shrine officials should have known better. But who, after all, had ever financed the gathering in Fatima of over one hundred bishops?
Bishop Alberto Cosme do Amaral of Leiria was hosting his own Pastoral Conference in the Paul VI Center for the laity, to which only a selected handful of bishops had been invited. The Fatima Peace Conference, to which all the bishops of the world were invited, in no way conflicted with Bishop Amaral's gathering. At most 50 bishops were in attendance at the Paul VI Center, most of which were drawn from those who had accepted the invitation of Father Gruner and whose passage to Fatima was paid for by The Fatima Crusader. More than one hundred bishops had come to meet at the Floresta Hotel which comprised the largest private gathering of bishops in the century. It was a veritable motherlode of Church Fathers that could hardly be ignored.
To assemble such a body of bishops had never been done before by any single organization. Its purpose was clear to all. The very words of the invitation contain the entire raison d'être of Father Gruner, ‘Consecration...Russia...World Peace,’ and his movement by now one of the largest lay apostolates in the Church.
No one could claim ignorance of the motives for the gathering. It was, rather, because someone in a high place understood the purpose of it all too well that the opposition released its deadly whisper the moment the first plane touched down.
Efforts to discredit the entire Conference included one of those bureaucratic gestures that reek of overconfidence and arrogance. Wednesday, October 7, Cardinal José Sanchez, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, signed a declaration specifying that Father Gruner, “... does not have faculties from the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima to perform his ministerial acts ...” and “... his Congress has not been approved by competent ecclesiastical authorities.”2
Yes, and so what? No “permission” or “faculties” were required under Canon Law, but the Cardinal neglected to mention this. The declaration was nothing but an imperious act of sabotage.
The sabotage continued at the airport. As the bishops arrived, they were intercepted by Shrine representatives attempting to hijack them to Bishop Alberto Cosme do Amaral's conference at the Paul VI Center and telling them that Father Gruner's conference at the Floresta Hotel was “cancelled” and “not authorized”. Indeed, Shrine representatives were so brazen that they did this before the very eyes of the official welcoming party of The Fatima Crusader who were on hand to greet the bishops and transport them to Fatima.
The whisperers, however, did not include in their diversionary tactics the offer of accommodation and meals, for which Bishop Amaral had no intention of providing. Only when it came time to provide for the bishops they had diverted, did they send them back penniless, as bishops “without funds” were useless to them! A miscalculation that exposed the shrine officials for the cold and cunning pharisees they are. The assault on the dignity of these bishops, the majority of them from impoverished countries, was not considered, apparently, by the Shrine detractors. They had only one thing in mind, ambush the Reverend Father Nicholas Gruner.
The confusion generated in the local dailies and the publications of the international press by the movers and shakers of the Sanctuary had its effect. On Wednesday, October 7, the day before the Conference opened, 25 of the bishops met with Father Gruner to have their questions and concerns answered. Having received frank replies, they then decided to send representatives to seek an audience with Bishop Amaral to, in effect, state their intention to proceed according to their original agendas.
That evening Archbishops Limon of the Philippines, Toppo of India and Cardoso Sobrinho of Recife, Brazil drove the 18 kilometers to meet with Bishop Amaral.3
The road to Leiria stretched out over the northern plain of Portugal beneath an autumn sun reddening the sky and turning the mind of October pilgrims back in time to the Miracle of the Sun 75 years earlier. Archbishops Limon, Toppo and Sobrinho were at that moment navigating their way through the thorn-ridden thicket of conflicting agendas that had separated the world famous apostolate of the Blue Army and The Fatima Crusader for over a decade, hurrying headlong toward that very seat of authority where the Great Secret had remained hidden from 1944 to 1957. In the beginning, the office was held by the friend of the seer of Coimbra, Bishop da Silva, ruling the diocese of Fatima from Leiria. Now it was Bishop Alberto Cosme do Amaral.
Shortly before 9:00 p.m., the three travellers were ushered into the bishop's chamber. Also attending with Bishop Amaral was Coadjutor Bishop Serafim who would soon replace Bishop Amaral as bishop. After the usual flurry of ‘Brother Bishop' exchanges, the small assemblage got to the issue that had brought them to Leiria. The air needed to be cleared if only for the sake of the brother bishops. The actual facts facing Bishop Amaral were crystal clear. One hundred bishops whom he had not personally invited were, nevertheless, on his threshold. Among them were many with Canon Law expertise. The most knowledgeable among them had made it perfectly clear that, according to Canon Law, they had no need of official recognition from Bishop Amaral or the Vatican to gather in private and confer, as they were doing. What could he do to them after all? Especially on the 75th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun? The events unfolding in Fatima would, for better or worse, become part of Church history before the sun set on October. Not surprisingly, Bishop Amaral agreed to make the Peace Conference an official part of his own Pastoral Conference on the provision that Father Gruner's Conference attend plenary sessions of Bishop Amaral's conference and the concelebrated Masses. It is important to note here that, obviously, Father Gruner was also invited to attend.
The return to Fatima along those 18 night-blackened kilometers provided an opportunity for the Archbishops to weigh the elements of the equation. They had come to Portugal with the best of intentions, to honor the Mother of God on this most meaningful of all anniversaries. They had been caught up in the vortex of lies and more lies that had long been multiplying over the crucial issue of the Consecration of Russia. They now found themselves on the soft shoulders of that very roadbed long ago sketched out by the designers of the Vatican-Moscow Agreement.
They arrived at midnight to announce an ‘accord’. Come morning, Thursday, October 8, Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho took to the podium and announced the meeting of the previous night, extending Bishop Amaral's welcome to all present, inviting everyone in the conference room at the Floresta to join in the Eucharistic celebrations of the next three days with the 50 bishops at Bishop Amaral's Pastoral Conference and to attend, as a sign of unity, the primary sessions of the Pastoral Conference. With those provisos in place, the Peace Conference in the Floresta could proceed with Bishop Amaral's blessing. In short, they were to consider themselves Bishop Amaral's guests as well.
Father Gruner and the Apostolate immediately agreed to this proposal but not without grave inconvenience and upset to the schedules of speakers and events that had been months in preparation. Nevertheless, the Apostolate immediately proceeded to change the entire schedule of the conference (sometimes twice daily!) in order to work in Bishop Amaral's agenda.
Not too surprising, however, this gracious attempt by the Apostolate was not reciprocated. The Apostolate had honored every one of the requests and more. In return, every promise made to the Apostolate was broken. Amaral changed schedules at the last minute and created havoc for the Peace Conference. Deirdre Manifold, who came all the way from Ireland to speak, was on the podium only five minutes when a spokesman bishop from Bishop Amaral's court got up and announced that they had to all leave now for another “appointment” with Bishop Amaral, and this after they had returned one and a half hours late that very morning from another “unscheduled Bishop Amaral appointment”.
Father Gruner's group did not give up. They responded graciously and went without sleep most nights to replan amidst the havoc caused by Shrine officials (in charge of Bishop Amaral's conference) to ensure the bishops' comfort and reasonable scheduling for the following day.
But the maneuvers of the Shrine official had their effect. By the time the first session opened, the number of bishops present was down to sixty. It would eventually dip to forty-five.4
Oh, unity, the things bishops do in thy name! Indeed, Father Gruner might well note, “Unity without truth is merely a compromise with sin.”
Saturday, October 10, 1992
The esplanade of the Fatima Shrine is one of the great gathering places in the world. With as much love and care as the faithful could provide, the Cova da Iria has been paved over to provide for the millions who pray here in a gathering area four times the size of the Piazza of St. Peter's in Rome. Crowning the east end of the esplanade, with open arm colonnades extended to embrace the upper slope of the Cova, is the basilica containing the two precious jewels of Fatima, the bodies of Jacinta and Francisco. There, too, Lucy will rest when her mission ends.
To the west of the esplanade, reached by an underpass from the shrine enclosure, is the Paul VI Center. Architecturally, it is yet one more exercise in the dreariness the self-proclaimed new “experts” have imposed on the Catholic world for thirty years. The quest for excellence in architecture had ever been a hallmark of the Roman Catholic Church until the “architects” of Vatican II unleashed on the Church a seemingly relentless pursuit of the mediocre.
No one looking at this bleak structure could possibly suspect that throughout history the Church has been the foremost patron of artists, architects and poets. It is a concrete container for bureaucrats. Nothing more. An edifice designed by accountants. Something every bureaucrat in the Church today would be comfortable entering, for there is absolutely nothing Catholic about its exterior.
To reach it from the esplanade, one must first pass by a mammoth statue of Paul VI, kneeling, hands posed in prayer, dwarfing much better and more artistic representations of Pius XII and Bishop da Silva of Leiria, he to whom was confided in writing, the Third Secret.
To the north of the esplanade stands the tree under which the children stood in 1917 to await the warning flash in the heavens announcing the impending arrival of the Mother of God. Almost within the shadow of the tree is the miniature chapel, the Capelinha, so tiny, one is tempted to tuck it inside the heart and make off with it. It marks the spot where the azinhiera stood. On its very leaves She to whom the Incarnation was made known by the Message of an Angel rested six times between May and October, 1917. She who received the Three Wise Kings, received here three peasant children. She Who said at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you,”5 spoke equally specific words here. She Who stood ‘by the Cross Her station keeping’, here wept for all mankind. She Who at the age of 49, at the foot of the blood-drenched Cross, received into Her arms the lifeless Body of the Son of God, came here for the sake of His Mystical Body, now afflicted with the neck-stiffening heresies of Modernism, and delivered the antidote for theological rigor mortis, a recipe for healing, namely the formula for an act of total unconditional faith in Her role as Mediatrix Of All Graces.
Here, on the exact circle of earth on which the shadow of the azinhiera was drawn by the movement of the Fatima sun, a marble enclosure surrounds a table. On it the liturgy is said continually throughout each and every day. Marble benches allow concelebrants to sit in a circle around it, almost always dressed in white. Ironically, their circle sits atop the very circumference of earth that opened to reveal to the three children the vision of Hell that would haunt the Church for the rest of this century.
The Indians of New Mexico had a name for that opening into the earth through which evil spirits are supposed to enter the world. They called it Sipapu. On October 10, 1992, a Sipapu opened in front of the Capelinha.
On that day, and the previous one, the Conference had adjourned so the bishops could partake of the major public ceremonies preparing for the main anniversary celebrations of the 13th. On both days, the bishops vested for Mass in the vestry of the north colonnade. On both days, Father Gruner assisted the elderly Anthony Cardinal Padiyara of Ernakulam, India, and several other bishops in getting vested, and accompanied him from the main altar, at times holding the Cardinal's arm to assist him as he walked.
On October 10, after Mass ended at the Capelinha, Father Gruner walked alongside Cardinal Padiyara and was about to enter the sacristy when a layman, with no arm band or any other insignia of authority, blocked his way. In spite of him, Father Gruner managed to enter the sacristy, moving quickly indoors. There he was slowed by a gathering of bishops awaiting their turn to ascend the few stairs and narrow passageway into the larger room inside. In the meantime, the unidentified man, speaking Portuguese, ran in and blocked the stairway on the left side, in the process also momentarily obstructing the way of several bishops, among them, Maronite Archbishop Chucrallah Harb of Jounieh, Lebanon.6
Father Gruner, having dropped his sandals in the confusion, stepped up onto a chair. From there he spotted Bishop Amaral seven feet away. What happened next was one of those frequent, seemingly comic, moments in the career of Father Nicholas Gruner that are, in fact, all too often a prelude to something decidedly sobering. Here he was, a priest in the very prime of his Apostolate, standing in socks on a chair in Fatima, appealing for Christian charity from the Bishop of Leiria. He called out to Bishop Amaral, asking if this was how he treated his ‘guests’.7
Bishop Amaral, who can speak English, did not respond, though he clearly saw and heard the priest on the chair. Turning his back, he hurried up the steps with the other bishops. The room emptied. When the stairs were clear of all bishops save one, Father Gruner, once more in his sandals, proceeded up the steps on the right side. The mysterious layman, who was talking to Archbishop Chucrallah Harb, left the Archbishop abruptly and flew after Father Gruner. Father Gruner had reached the first step when he was seized by his pursuer and thrown against the wall, the shocking sound of a ripping priestly cassock marking the moment. Then, a second assailant grabbed him, spun him around, and threw him against the wall again.8 Witnesses recall that the second assailant disappeared almost as fast as he had appeared.
From behind, arriving at the top of the stairs, was Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho and Father Francesco Pacheco, also from Brazil. They confronted the first attacker, in Portuguese. Later, Father Pacheco related that, incredibly, the attacker had openly admitted he was acting on explicit directions from Msgr. Luciano Guerra, who had ordered him to prevent Father Gruner from entering the sacristy.
Father Pacheco had demanded, “Why are you doing this? You know you cannot do this ... this man is a priest! Who told you to do this? Did the Rector tell you to do this?” To this the assailant nodded ‘Yes’. It would emerge later that the attacker had been present at Bishop Amaral's residence in Leiria the night Archbishops Limon, Toppo and Cardoso Sobrinho met with Amaral.9
The bruises and abrasions resulting from the assault on Father Gruner were documented by Doctor Olinda Moura Almeida in the hospital at Ourem. Meanwhile, spin doctors at the sanctuary offices were fast denying that the assault had ever taken place. Once again, the Fatima faithful were subjected to the embarrassing display of power-proud Shrine bureaucrats surrendering to self-grown fantasies of their own importance. When they heard the attack had been witnessed and part of it video-taped, the shrine officials just as quickly dropped their denial. Their sad performance was not over, however. They limply claimed Father Gruner had staged it himself, “for publicity”. No one wondered why when, within a year and a half of the supposedly choreographed spectacle, the new Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Bishop Serafim de Sousa, replaced Bishop Cosme do Amaral. Perhaps it was the fulfillment of several Archbishops' promise, after the assault on Father Gruner, that they would sign and circulate a petition to the Pope for do Amaral's retirement because he appeared to have lost control of the diocese.
Faithful priests, like Father Gruner, have been victimized over the centuries by appalling rumors planted and spread by bureaucrats jealous of the victim's following, support and personal appeal: Padre Pio, Father Gino, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Louis de Montfort, the list goes on and on.
In Fatima and Portugal, the scuffle drew the attention of the faithful and the bishops mainly because of its profoundly sacrilegious nature. A priest had been manhandled on orders of a representative of honor of the Holy Father within a stone's throw of the very spot the Virgin had sanctified by Her presence. Shortly after the beating of Father Gruner, Cardinal Padiyara sent for him urgently, and when Father Gruner came, the Cardinal took him aside and warned him that his life was in danger as long as he was in Fatima. Father Gruner has not returned since.
The conflict between Father Gruner and the authorities of the Shrine had entered a new phase. What would happen next would challenge the imagination of even the most daring of fiction writers.
An “Oscar” Winning Performance
The unthinkable began to take shape Saturday, October 10. Why not ask Sister Lucy herself, it was suggested, whether the consecration of Russia had been done according to the requests of Heaven. At first glance, it appeared that the bishops who had congregated in Fatima might actually produce something of value by this request. It was agreed that a delegation would be sent to Coimbra — Cardinal Padiyara, Bishop Michaelappa, and to ensure proper understanding, the Portuguese-speaking priest, Father Pacheco from Brazil.10
As a Cardinal, Padiyara needed no permission from either Cardinal Ratzinger, or from the Bishop of Fatima, Cosme do Amaral, to request a meeting with the seer. It was agreed they would travel to Coimbra in the morning. Meanwhile, in advance of their visit, Father Kondor was presenting the Lusa news agency with a communiqué announcing that Sister Lucy had declared the Consecration of Russia had been done.
While the communiqué was being published by the Portuguese dailies, Cardinal Padiyara, Archbishop Michaelappa and Father Pacheco were on their way to the Carmel of Coimbra, chauffeured there by a Carlos Evaristo.11 Evaristo did some logistical work for the Apostolate in its Fatima office. He would prove to be an embarrassment of mammoth proportions.
Travelling the sloping streets of Coimbra to the Carmel that contains the most famous religious of the Twentieth Century must surely have a profound effect on Cardinals and bishops as well as priests. This is no mere convent. This gleaming white building with emerald doors has the hand of the Mother of God holding fast its doors and its secrets.
Just before noon the high green portals of the Carmel of Coimbra opened to admit the travellers. They entered a stark, high-ceilinged foyer, plain and unadorned, befitting Carmel. The doors to the cloister stand directly ahead. Immediately to the left, off the foyer, is the convent chapel.
The initial gloom of the chapel interior is soon pierced by threads of light where the chocolate brown interior is highlighted with gold trim. The high altar rising above the communion rail supports one of those stairways to Heaven so common to the altars of Portugal on the top of which the ostensorium holds the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. Kneeling at the rail, one can look up, to the left, and see the second floor grille through which the Carmelites observe the Mass. Below and to the right of the grille is the breathtaking statue of the Immaculate Heart, specifically sculpted for this chapel. Facing it across the chapel is the equally awe-inspiring statue of the Sacred Heart as He appeared to Sister Lucy at Rianjo.
The certainty remains, that here, within these high walls, the voice of the Virgin remains inviolate in the memory of the last seer from the Cova. Here, at least, truth is protected, defended, and honored.
Enter the “Oscar” nominee performers: Mother Superior and Carlos Evaristo. Enter a woman in a Carmelite habit who had the appearance of being Sister Lucy. Enter supreme guests of the command performance: Cardinal Padiyara, Bishop Michaelappa and Father Pacheco, allowed “on set”.
The Play Begins:
“Sister Lucy will receive you,” says an extern sister, returning from making the arrangements.
The doors open to the audience room. Two Carmelites are waiting just inside. On the left stands Mother Prioress. The nun on the right was presented as Lucy dos Santos, the most famous nun of the Twentieth Century. She turned ten years old seven months before the 1917 November Revolution in Russia. A tiny peasant child from Aljustrel. Now she is eighty-five. ‘Much shorter’ than was expected, Evaristo reported. She wears the habit of the Carmelites which, amazingly, does not properly fit her.
After initial introductions, the “players” move to an adjacent room where they sit down facing each other with no grille between them, totally contrary to the customary rule adhered to for the past 400 years both here and at all Discalced Carmelite Convents since their founding by St. Theresa in the 1560's.
Mother Prioress, according to her script, would begin, “Sister Lucy would you like me to leave you alone with the guests?” and on this cue, Sister Lucy would reply, “No, no, Mother, please stay here.” And like any suspense novel cleverly planned to confuse the reader, the naive would be led to believe, why my goodness, this must mean Sister Lucy is not silenced! Mother Prioress, during the rest of the visit, would come and go throughout the interview that was to follow, although Sister Lucy had said she would like her to stay.
The Cardinal and the bishop were ‘very nervous’ according to Evaristo.12 And well they should have been. Unable to speak Portuguese, they were unknowingly about to participate in a great work of fiction, the likes of which had never been heard in the whole history of Fatima. It would be entitled Two Hours With Sister Lucy, the pamphlet Evaristo would fabricate claiming to be based on the “interview” with Sister Lucy. The answers to their questions, as reported by Evaristo, would go to the very roots of the azinhiera tree and tear them free of the millions of hearts from which they had drawn nourishment since first the Virgin stood upon it. The performance that would follow, the words about to be spoken, would starkly and cruelly suggest that Catholics who grew up believing in Fatima had been lied to at their mother's knee and been the victims of disinformation for 75 years.
But before we actually hear the words, the manner in which they were delivered must be addressed. By that is meant that the question of familiarity with this most unique and protected woman must be considered. For seven and a half decades this dear nun has been sheltered, shielded, protected by the Church. The labyrinth of authorities one must traverse to get permission to see her have not surrendered to any coherent mapping, but rather have become increasingly complex. Thus anyone inquiring about seeing her is told first, “Oh, that is impossible.” Then follows the long list of addresses and bishops and Cardinals all standing in line to say ‘No’ to you, all, apparently on behalf of the man truly in charge of access to her, Cardinal Ratzinger. And, in spite of all that, the two hour interview about to take place occurs while this secluded nun, cloistered for all of her adult life, sits facing and holding hands with a man she has never laid eyes on before, who is neither Cardinal nor bishop, but rather one Evaristo, a minor employee of Father Gruner's Apostolate, who has chauffeured the dignitaries to Coimbra.
From the moment the group entered the audience chamber, the function of Evaristo as interpreter (he does speak Portuguese) and what we might, perhaps, call ‘stage manager' of the event, emerged.
Arguing that it was indeed Sister Lucy they saw, Evaristo said to Brother François de Marie des Anges, “It was her. There is no doubt about it. I touched her face. I embraced her.”13 Touched her face? Embraced her? A Carmelite whom mere bishops and Archbishops cannot approach without Vatican approval? A nun who was not able to see her own blood-sister Caroline for over forty years except through the grille and then only when surrounded by half the community. Embraced by a stranger?
Regarding Cardinal Padiyara, Evaristo reported to Brother François, “The Cardinal asked your questions (Brother François, upon being told of the impending visit, had sent two questions to be answered) and then seemed to be almost asleep.”14
When Brother François challenged him, “You have no decisive proof that you were in the presence of Sister Lucy,” Evaristo made the astounding reply, “She was sitting in front of me. She held my hand like this for two hours.”15
For any cloistered nun to hold hands with a stranger for two hours is a curious business. For this particular cloistered nun it is unimaginable.
The Evaristo pamphlet presents a new Sister Lucy who serves as the pathetic ventriloquist's dummy of the anti-Fatima forces, obediently repudiating everything Sister Lucy of Fatima had said before. The pamphlet is a veritable cavalcade of capitulation in which the new Sister Lucy finds a way to consign to oblivion what the old Sister Lucy had told the entire world.
The old Sister Lucy had mentioned that Our Lady many times told her about the conversion of Russia as a nation and the old Sister Lucy had repeated this Divine requirement orally and in print over and over again to priests, historians, correspondents, and on the pages of L'Osservatore Romano during the previous 60 years and more. Ah! But this was all a terrible misunderstanding, explained the new Sister Lucy! She had not been speaking of the nation of Russia at all!
Evaristo: “But didn't Our Lady want Russia to be specifically mentioned?”
New Sister Lucy: “Our Lady never requested that Russia be specifically mentioned by name. At the time I didn't even know what Russia was. We thought she was a very wicked woman.”
So, there we have it: the three Fatima seers believed that Our Lady appeared at Fatima and God performed the Miracle of the Sun before 70,000 people simply in order to bring about the conversion of a very wicked woman who happened to be named “Russia”. It was all a case of mistaken identity. Our Lady had neglected to inform them that Russia is a nation, not a lady by the same name!
The old Sister Lucy had told the world that Russia must convert according to the Virgin. Naturally, the world took conversion to mean the embrace of the Catholic faith. Not quite, says the new Sister Lucy.
Evaristo: “But is the conversion of Russia not interpreted as the conversion of the Russian people to Catholicism?”
New Sister Lucy: “Our Lady never said that. There are many misinterpretations around. The fact is that in Russia, the communist, atheist power, prevented the people from carrying out their faith. People now have an individual choice to remain as they are or to convert. This they are now free to do.”
You see, Russia had already converted without becoming Catholic!
“Converted” really means that Russia is now free to choose the Catholic faith, therefore, Russia has “converted”.
But one might consider that the Americans are free to choose the Catholic faith, yet none had ever suggested that the word “converted” applies to America, the land of “Roe vs Wade”, abortion on demand, and partial birth infanticide.
Such considerations do not trouble the new Sister Lucy: her lower jaw moves up and down on its metal hinge as the ventriloquist throws his voice into the dummy, making it utter things unheard of in the history of Fatima, or indeed, the history of the Church.
A conversion without a conversion. Imagine that! All we needed was democracy, not a change of heart.
The old Sister Lucy had told the world again and again, — in letters, interviews and other statements, that Russia had not been consecrated in the manner prescribed by Our Lady and as a consequence, had not converted. But the new Sister Lucy has a surprise announcement:
Evaristo: “Has the conversion of Russia then taken place?”
New Sister Lucy: “Yes, news speaks for themselves.”
So, the cloistered seer of Fatima reads the news! One could envision a surreal spectacle: the new Sister Lucy sipping her morning coffee and reading the headlines in Diario de Coimbra, which, of course, is delivered to her daily so that this consecrated soul, locked away from the world under a vow of enclosure, could keep abreast of current events! Or was this perhaps the case of a ventriloquist projecting his reading habits as well as his voice, into the dummy?
New Sister Lucy: “That man in Russia, unknowingly, was an instrument of God in the conversion ...”
Evaristo: “What man? Gorbachev?”
New Sister Lucy: “Yes, when he visited the Holy Father in Rome, he knelt at his feet and asked pardon for all the crimes he had committed in his life.”
The old Sister Lucy had spoken of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary bringing about the conversion of Russia and peace to mankind. But the new Sister Lucy has found a new instrument for the accomplishment of this miracle — Mikhail Gorbachev!!
But was not the new Sister Lucy aware that after Mikhail Gorbachev had knelt before the Pope in the Vatican, he returned to his chairmanship of the Gorbachev Foundation which promotes a New World Order of zero population growth and a New World Religion whose sacraments are contraception and abortion? To be fair to the new Sister Lucy, she could not possibly have been aware of the evil undertakings of “that man in Russia” because the new Sister Lucy is made of wood and has no brain, but only a jaw which mouths the words projected into her by others. That is, the new Sister Lucy is not Sister Lucy at all, but a new product to go along with “Fatima Lite”: “Lucy Lite”.
The other three witnesses to this “interview” of the new Sister Lucy knew a travesty when they saw one. Father Pacheco, the only Portuguese-speaking witness besides Evaristo, fired off letters to Evaristo and to all concerned parties denouncing the pamphlet as “notorious”, full of “gross lies” and “inventions”.
Cardinal Padiyara made it clear that he could attest only to having been present during the “interview” but could not authenticate anything “Sister Lucy” had said since he did not speak Portuguese. Bishop Michaelappa went further: he ordered Evaristo not to publish the pamphlet. The fraud was summed up by Father Pacheco: “I categorically do affirm that the booklet, Two Hours with Sister Lucy published by Carlos Evaristo contains lies and half-truths and is not to be believed.”
Brother François, unquestionably the most exacting investigator at work on the Fatima story today, summarizes the appalling possibility behind the catastrophic interview.
“In order to discredit the work of Father Gruner and to stop Pope John Paul being ‘importuned’ with the request for the Consecration of Russia, did the authorities at Fatima, after circulating the apocryphal letters from Lucy, organize a parlor with a ‘false Lucy’ at the Coimbra Carmel on this 11th October 92? Until proof to the contrary, we are not rejecting such an hypothesis. For on this there is no possible doubt: if Cardinal Padiyara and his three companions actually met a person in the Carmel who spoke the words they have reported, then the person was not the seer of Fatima, Sister Maria-Lucy of the Immaculate Heart.”16
So what did happen in the Carmel of Coimbra on the nearest Sunday to the 75th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun? Did Sister Lucy make statements that completely and blatantly contradicted 75 years of previous statements? It is not merely a matter of Sister Lucy being out-of-character that day. To Lucy dos Santos was made the promise on June 13, 1917, by the Mother of God Herself, that the Immaculate Heart would never abandon her. The reportage as it stands is simply not believable. And the only other Portuguese-speaking witness present at the interview, Father Pacheco, has repudiated Evaristo's account.
Are there alternatives to the mendacity of Evaristo? Was there a deliberate mistranslation of her responses? Was Sister Lucy under duress to confirm the consecration? Surely, after a lifetime of fidelity to the Immaculate Heart, Sister Lucy would not suddenly resort to lying to cover up the failings of Vatican bureaucrats. The term ‘mellowed’ is used at the Fatima shrine these days to explain why Sister Lucy, in her ninth decade of life, is not pushing harder to make the truth known. Did Heaven leave the last Fatima seer alive all of this century so that she could ‘mellow’ picturesquely on the hillside of Coimbra? Perhaps many of these riddles could be put to rest if it was clearly understood how and why Carlos Evaristo managed to publish and distribute his booklets without any bureaucrat at the Shrine, or the Vatican, or any member of the Carmelites of Coimbra raising as much as a whisper of complaint or caution. Some light did filter onto the mystery when Evaristo, acting with more casual familiarity than members of her own blood family are allowed to, publicly interrupted Sister Lucy as she walked from the Carmel to cast her vote in the Portuguese elections, to introduce his wife and child and relatives. He claims also that he has returned to the Carmel to interview her again, without the benefit of a Cardinal on hand or the permission of the Holy Office. Someone, somewhere, has seen to it that this individual is allowed liberties. Why? Clearly the misinformation poured onto the unsuspecting faithful through this manipulated interview is satisfying someone 's agenda.
Before the infamous October interview ended, nearing two o'clock in the afternoon, it was suggested that Father Gruner should come with Cardinal Padiyara, the next day, to hear these words for himself. Sister Lucy agreed. As did Mother Prioress.
The interview concluded. Cardinal Padiyara, Bishop Michaelappa, and Father Pacheco left the Carmel for the return drive to Fatima. After the meeting, as it is recorded in the Diario de Coimbra, the regional newspaper for Coimbra, Mother Prioress telephoned to Fatima for instructions.
Meanwhile, the Pastoral Conference at the Paul VI Center continued throughout the long afternoon of Sunday, October 11.
Brother François de Marie des Anges was present at this session. He brought into the midst of this high establishment occasion the accusation made in his book FATIMA Joie Intime Événement Mondial, regarding the earlier “letters” of Sister Lucy. The accusation reads: “Under the authority of Bishop do Amaral, three ecclesiastics, residing in Portugal, were directly implicated in the fabrication and spreading of these artificial letters — Father Luis Kondor, Father Messias Coelho and Monsignor Luciano Guerra. We think that Monsignor Guerra personally wrote several of these letters, including one dated November 21, 1989.”17
At 5:30 p.m. Brother François, from the stage, addressed the head table at which sat Father Fox and Father Kondor. He denounced the five bogus letters supposedly written by Sister Lucy, the message of which Father Fox and the Blue Army had been propagating since the fall of 1989, letters claiming the consecration of Russia had been done by Pope John Paul II, March 25, 1984.
“These letters are fake,” said Brother François. “I have already published the demonstration of it and my demonstration has not been refuted. I am ready to justify my actions and if necessary to retract them if my criticisms are refuted in a decisive manner.”18
Neither Father Fox nor Father Kondor gave a reply. Instead the session was swiftly closed. The following day, Abbé Laurentin expressed surprise when he learned that both Father Fox and Father Kondor failed to give any response to these serious allegations against them.
Evening. One of those blissful October Sundays when it seems the whole world is either gathered in or headed to the esplanade to have one last look at the Capelinha before sundown. Cardinal Padiyara must have wondered how he came to play the role thrust upon him that day. He expected no such chore when he boarded the plane for Portugal a few short days before. Now he was preparing to announce tomorrow to the gathered bishops what he had been led to believe had transpired in the Portuguese language during the interview — namely that Sister Lucy had apparently confirmed that the consecration of Russia was done, that the Third Secret was intended exclusively for the Pope. The announcement would, without doubt, add yet another layer of confusion to those already accumulated throughout the 80's regarding the Fatima Message. Clearly, he could be relieved of the onerous task once Father Gruner met with Sister Lucy in person the following day. That would provide a solution.
Alas, Cardinal Padiyara would be granted no such reprieve.
Early Monday morning, October 12, 1992.
Seventy-five years ago this morning, all over Portugal, people were rising and gathering belongings for the trip to a shepherd's field near Aljustrel, where the Voice of the Virgin, repeated by three peasant children, promised a great miracle. It was one of the truly great spontaneous movements of a people in all of recorded history. Seventy thousand people on the move.
That morning, 75 years ago, Portugal was on the alert. To those who fear God, there was no doubt He was going to do something never before done in all of salvation history. To the godless, there was no doubt the Church was about to try to manipulate away from the Masonically-controlled state the uneducated masses of people.
It was the fear of God in those 70,000 that drew down from Heaven the unparalleled blessing of the Miracle of the Sun. To the innocent hearts of Portugal, God showed a sign which He had refused to the haughty Pharisees. To the latter, none but the sign of Jonah. Truly, the very willingness of the Son of God to die at the hands of men was sign enough of what was in His Heart. Raising Himself from beyond death to, among other things, confirm the forgiveness He offered them from His Cross, was more than the human mind could script. Certainly a dance of the sun was more than man's imagination could entertain.
Seven and a half decades later the day began, as it does in most hotels and hostels of Fatima, with early risers, almost always American, looking for a waitress, a coffee pot and an ashtray for that all important first cigarette. For the hour preceding the customary 7:30 breakfast serving, line-ups form in lobbies and hallways throughout this one-of-a-kind hamlet. Non-muttering line-ups. Not even hungry tourists would dare to complain in Fatima.
In the rooms above the foyer of the Virgin Maria Hotel, bishops prepare for the descent to breakfast. Is it true, they wonder, are they all being encouraged to travel to Coimbra for a visit en masse with Lucy? They will find out more at breakfast.
Breakfast ends. Time speeds past. Watches are wound furtively. ‘Is the appointment not for 10 o'clock? When do we leave?’
Corazon Aquino is in Fatima. The former president of the Philippines is going to Coimbra. Her appointment is for 11 o'clock. Two of the most remarkable women of the century will be meeting immediately after Sister Lucy grants her audience to Father Gruner. The solution to the mysteries that have spurred on The Fatima Crusader Apostolate for fifteen years are to be sandwiched into what communication can be exchanged within one short hour.
Aquino is on everyone's tongue. Few women in the 20th Century can command such heartfelt approval. It is akin to heresy to detract in any way from the legend she has become in the few short years since her husband was shot to death on the tarmac of a Philippines airport.
On any other occasion, her presence in Portugal would bring the press to a standstill. But this is the 75th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun. Fatima is crowded with legends and legendaries.
10:05 a.m. Outside the entrance to the Carmel of Coimbra, journalists and photographers await the arrival of Corazon Aquino.
10:10 a.m. A bus holding fifty bishops from the International Peace Conference makes its way down the slope of Coimbra toward the Carmel.
10:25 a.m. Twenty-five minutes of the precious time allotted to meet with Sister Lucy have ticked by before a taxi carrying Father Gruner, Father Paul Leonard Kramer, Archbishop Michaelappa and Cardinal Padiyara pulls to a stop below the high doors of Carmel.
10:28 a.m. The car driven by Evaristo veers into a parking space in front of the Carmel. He had been an hour and a half late arriving to pick up his intended passengers. What happens next makes nonsense of the centuries of protocol and security for which the very word ‘Carmel’ is justifiably famous. Kings, Emperors, Popes, have had their footsteps chosen for them by the precise and well thought-out design of Carmel entrances. In this case, the large square foyer previously described as having three doors, determines what anyone entering must do. The high green entrance door admits the visitor. The door to the left looks in at the chapel. The door to the wall immediately ahead leads to the enclave. History itself takes off its hat in this precious space. It is impossible to stand in such an intersection of pathways and not be moved to silence by thoughts of the countless gifted women who have chosen to live out their lives completely shielded from outside interference by the very specific blueprint of their convent fortress.
Nevertheless, Evaristo, having rushed past the delegation, strides across the foyer, past the chapel entrance to his left, and, unbelievably, swings open the door to the enclave. Totally unchallenged, he proceeds to the door in the far wall of the next room. He is now directly adjacent to the parlor in which the most protected woman of the 20th Century has met with a thoroughly screened select few over the decades. Not until he is about to throw open the door in front of him does a voice call out to stop him. Two men dressed in lay clothes have appeared. One refers to himself as the chaplain of the Carmel, even though he wears a shirt and tie. The other layman is a doctor. Words are exchanged. Evaristo returns and immediately begins to usher from the foyer back into the street those who had followed in his wake. The meeting, he announces, has been cancelled.
During these bewildering moments, Father Paul Kramer had been assisting Cardinal Padiyara through the doorway. Suddenly, a layman grabbed the Cardinal's arm in what was perceived by onlookers as a threatening gesture intended to prevent him from entering. The only words to accompany this manhandling of a prince of the Church were that, ‘Sister Lucy was not feeling well’, and is unable to receive visitors.
The acts of Evaristo secure him a unique place in Church history. For the greater part of this century the words, actions and security of Sister Lucy have been treasured by Catholics. This gifted woman, grown from an illiterate peasant child into the most sought after woman religious in the Church, is practically a member of each and every Catholic family. She has been with us for so long, her life recognized as so humble and admirable, that she is, to Catholics the world over, simply ‘Lucy’.
She is one of the most precious ingredients of the Catholic legacy the next century will inherit. To understand the real import of what was permitted to happen that morning in Coimbra, one must contemplate a tragic fact — namely, that not even the Immemorial Mass, the Mass of the Ages, the Gregorian Carlovingian Mass was spared in the attack upon the Catholic Faith this last half century. Debilitating the status of Sister Lucy, demonstrating her new insignificance, was what Evaristo's walk into the enclave was all about. And make no mistake about it — every reader of these words is familiar with the hush that consumes even the most aggressive rock fan when he finds himself outside the dressing room of his favorite musician. In the history of human behavior there is no precedent that can explain Evaristo's charade other than this — the mastermind, working overtime to devalue anything Catholic in this world, orchestrated the vulgarization of chivalry displayed that morning. The sensation remaining explains the degree of their success: someone just wiped his shoes on your heart.
Despite the visit being officially agreed to by Mother Prioress, Father Gruner and Cardinal Padiyara were refused entry into the Carmel of Coimbra. And despite the chaplain of the convent saying that the last surviving seer of Fatima was ill, a half hour later Corazon Aquino and her party of nine met with Sister Lucy.
The chaplain added another ring to the circus of confusion by telling the daily newspaper Journal de Noticias that “He (Father Gruner) came to Coimbra to provoke this scene and nothing more.” But he did not. The facts are clear. The agreement for this visit was given to Cardinal Padiyara, Bishop Michaelappa and Father Pacheco the day before. This is all witnessed by at least six people and cannot be denied.
Evaristo's sabotage of Father Gruner's interview with Sister Lucy is recalled by Mairead Clarke, an Apostolate employee who dealt with Carlos. She recounts that frustrating morning:
The most dramatic meeting imaginable between two of the world's most devoted Fatima names never happened because Carlos Evaristo was “tired” and had a punctured muffler which he had been driving that way for months, including his trip just 1 day before up to Coimbra! Father Gruner and the Cardinal had been forced to call a cab! Yet Evaristo would dare to claim that Father Gruner missed his interview because he, not Evaristo, was late! Nevertheless, Evaristo miraculously was able to get to Coimbra himself in his “broken down” vehicle.
A few minutes after Father Gruner and the Cardinal had left the Convent, President Aquino and her entourage would arrive and immediately be escorted in to be received by Sister Lucy, who had miraculously recovered from the “illness” which had prevented a visit by Father Gruner and the Cardinal only a few moments before. Obviously Convent officials did not want the charade of the previous day to be subjected to the scrutiny of Father Kramer and Father Gruner together with the Cardinal.
Noon, Monday, October 12, 1992. The Paul VI Center in Fatima: At the end of the closing sessions of the First International Pastoral Conference at the Paul VI Center, Brother François de Marie des Anges confronts Monsignor Luciano Guerra regarding the apocryphal letters written on a word processor supposedly by Sister Lucy:
Brother François: Monsignor Rector, can you swear on the Gospel that you have not written the apocryphal letters of Sister Lucy?
Msgr. Guerra: No, I do not want to. I cannot do it now in these conditions ...
Brother François: Internal criticism of these letters show that they are fake.
Msgr. Guerra: I will not discuss with you. You have no heart ... you have no heart.
Brother François's trust in Sister Lucy stems from his simple faith in her upbringing: “Her sixty-five years of religious life and the many divine communications with which she has been favored can only give her a greater taste and esteem for the virtue and wisdom of her mother, Maria Rosa, who ‘had never tolerated a lie from her children.’”
Furthermore, Heaven has prolonged the life of the eldest of the Fatima seers in the Carmel of Coimbra to the ripe age of 90, doubtless “... to repeat the message and doubtless to prevent it being stifled or falsified.”
Furthermore, “When God has a great mission of charismatic order to be accomplished in history, He is wise and prudent enough to choose and prepare adequate instruments, and, without violating their freedom, to enable them to fulfill with His grace the essential mission for which He has destined them from all eternity.”19
The undermining of the credibility of the last living Fatima seer and of the Fatima Apostolate other than the “official” Blue Army was just one in a series of steps seemingly aimed at relegating the Message of Fatima to that same dumping ground where so many treasures of the authentic Catholic Church had been discarded. Poorly trained clergy now in control of some Church bureaucracies feel obliged to constantly reinforce the myth that the Church began with Vatican II and that anything that came before is a cause for Catholics to apologize to the world at large.
Father Nicholas Gruner unmasks the salesmen of this new attitude with clear, concise accuracy:
“When it comes to Fatima, we have been sold a bill of goods, namely that Fatima is a private revelation and is not that important. But Fatima is a public prophetic revelation, not simply a private revelation.
“If one has a vision of Our Lady, in which Our Lady said, ‘In order for you to save your soul you must say 15 decades of the Rosary every day’, that would be a private revelation, and it would be imprudent for the individual not to pay attention to it.
“But any other person wouldn 't have to believe it. Such a revelation is private to the one who receives it. It places no obligation on anyone else.
“But, at Fatima, Our Lady gave a message to the world and confirmed it by a public miracle before 70,000 people. That's not a private revelation. That's a public, prophetic message. It cannot be lumped in with private revelations.
“Saint Paul says in First Thessalonians, Chap. 5:19,20: ‘Do not extinguish the spirit. Do not despise prophecy’. If we represent a certain public, prophetic revelation as something to which we need pay no attention then we can make the very serious mistake of despising prophecy.
“Miracles prove revelations. If God takes the trouble, by working the great Miracle of the Sun with first class miracles of cures, to make it evident that He has sent the Blessed Virgin Mary to give a message to mankind, then one does not have the option of despising that prophecy by terming it a private revelation to which we need give no attention.
“The second part of the passage in Colossians 2:20 says the Church is founded upon the foundation of the Apostles together with the prophets. The Holy Spirit spoke through a prophet of the Catholic Church and said, ‘I want Saul set aside’. To set someone aside is to consecrate them to the service of God. The Holy Spirit said He wanted Saul set aside. The bishops understood and obeyed. They prayed, they fasted. Then they made Saul a bishop.”
Father Gruner then said “The hierarchy has the obligation to test if the message comes from God. They have the right to test. They have an obligation to test. In fact, in that same passage of Sacred Scripture (l Thess. 5: 21) St. Paul says, ‘Test all things and hold fast to that which is good.’ If it passes the test, then no one any longer has the right to say it is optional. They no longer can say I can ignore that. That is despising prophecy.
“We have a prophet in Sister Lucy, though she denies being a prophet out of humility. But God, through Our Lady, chose Lucy and this message cannot be despised. We despise it at the peril of our spiritual lives, of our eternal souls, even at risk of our physical lives.
“For priests to despise Fatima would be to do so at the peril of those lives and the souls entrusted to us priests. Maybe priests can be excused for mixing up their own lives, but ruining the lives of the faithful is not excusable. Priests must realize that Fatima imposes an obligation on them.
“However, any priest who tries to fulfill the demands placed on all of us by Our Lady of Fatima to work for the consecration of Russia becomes a target of that very bureaucracy that should be supporting priests in their work. Why? Once again we are brought back to the infamous Vatican-Moscow Agreement of 1962 when the Vatican made an agreement with Moscow to not denounce communism. Besides being morally wrong, this is a fundamental error in geo-political strategy and bad for all of us.”
Fingering his Rosary beads Father Gruner continues: “I have denounced the Agreement as criminal, as being morally corrupt. It must not be sustained. Now, I am even going so far to say that the people who made the agreement back in '62 did it with good intentions. But it has been a disaster for the Church. Time has proven that I'm right. I'm prepared to say that in an open court of the Church.
“I do not stand alone in seeing the danger of dealing with Communists. Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII both saw the very real dangers that it poses to the world and to the Church.
“To be perfectly clear, Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical The Divine Redeemer, clearly taught ‘Communism is intrinsically evil and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever.’”20
Touching the Miraculous Medal around his neck, Father Gruner concluded: “The people responsible for the agreement are operating under the illusion that diplomacy can correct the errors of Russia. The Mother of God in Her messages at Fatima explicitly told us the only solution to avoiding the errors of Russia and not being a spiritual and physical victim of their killing errors, is exact obedience to Her message at Fatima. Does any faithful Catholic truly think that Her advice can be ignored?”
After the Sister Lucy “interview” there would surface a photo of Evaristo in Fatima proudly standing with Cardinal Casaroli, the Vatican Secretary of State, the “Great Architect” of Ostpolitik. Evaristo explained that Cardinal Casaroli had shown great interest in him. Might this interest explain his betrayal of the Apostolate and, indeed, Sister Lucy? One could hear the sound of certain pieces of a great puzzle snapping into place.
Yet Evaristo had become an even bigger embarrassment to the anti-Fatima forces than he had been to the Apostolate. The Evaristo pamphlet was a manifest absurdity which only helped the cause of Father Gruner's Apostolate by demonstrating the mendacity of its opponents. The anti-Fatima forces needed a definitive strategy for dealing with the “Gruner problem” in a way that would not explode in their faces. Soon they would reveal their new device.
1. Invitation to International Peace Conference, photographically reproduced in The Fatima Crusader, Issue 43, Winter 1993, pg. 16.
2. L 'Osservatore Romano, Oct 7, 1992 - Italian Edition; also L'Osservatore Romano, Oct. 14, 1992, last page - English Edition.
3. The Fatima Crusader, Issue 43, Winter 1994, pg. 13, caption.
5. St. John 2:5.
6. Police Report, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 43, Winter 1993, pg. 9.
7. Ibid, pg. 9.
8. Ibid, pg. 9.
9. Ibid, pgs. 9, 28; also J. Kaess, Strange Goings On In Fatima, Issue 44, Spring 1993, pg. 34.
10. The Fatima Crusader, Issue 46, Winter, 1994, pg. 15.
12. The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, Oct 1992, pg. 1
13. Ibid, pg. 2.
14. Ibid, pg. 2; also, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 44, Spring 1993, pg. 36.
15. The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, Oct 1992, pg. 2.
16. Ibid, pg. 5.
17. The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, Aug-Sept 1992, pg. 3, footnote 4.
18. The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, Nov. 1992, pg. 9.
19. The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the XXth Century, Oct. 1992, pg. 4.
20. Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Letter, Divini Redemptoris, Par. 58.