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Chapter 8

The Scaffold Rises

       It is an oft-repeated fact of history that one single individual working out of one single room can change the course of history. St. Philip Neri, St. Therese of Lisieux, Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur, Alexander Graham Bell, Edison, Marx, Lenin.

       Father Gruner had made his entrance onto the international stage and the Message of Fatima was being spread around the globe as a result. The conditions under which all this was being generated deserve special note.

       From the very beginning, volunteers invited to undertake key roles were overwhelmed by the Apostolate's need for the basic necessities. This was not merely an operation with its ribs showing, this was one of bare bones for everyone.

       Jane McAuley, who met Father Gruner on his tour with the Pilgrim Statue in Niagara Falls in May of 1983, answered his call for help and soon found herself arriving at the Ottawa bus terminal later that year, at 5:30 on a July morning, with nothing but his phone number on a scrap of paper to indicate what the future might hold.

       He was living and working out of four small rooms on Rochester Street, two up, two down. She remembers the windows were covered with a faded purple material someone had given him.

       “I'm not in Purgatory yet,” was her first remark.

       Working conditions seemed to contradict her words. He had a small workroom for himself with a desk or two, the kitchen housed three filing cabinets, a refrigerator, teacher's table, an oil stove and sink with a chipped mirror cabinet. Her new boss ate one meal a day.

       “Got any rules?” she asked, to which he replied, “Three Rosaries a day and daily Mass.”

       Forces natural and supernatural gnawed at the nerves of the workers on a daily, hourly basis. The Old Boy with the red tail was always on the hunt to get the volunteers in-fighting, fill the rooms with tension, jettison patience, crave escape from co-workers. And the devil was not above staging a little high drama.

       “After doing a mailing one day, Pearl Garneau, her daughter Cathy Sene, and I went out for food,” Jane relates. “I was driving, missed my turn, and took another. Suddenly there was a person in the middle of the road ahead of me. They yelled, ‘Stop, you're going to hit him!’ But I knew I wasn't to stop. I said, ‘No, I'm not. I'm going to go right through him’.”

       And so she did, but not before glimpsing an image that has stayed with her to this day.

       “A ball of fire came out of the mouth of this man and straight at the van, then he was gone. Just like that. I drove through where he had been standing, without even slowing down. In the morning the windshield wipers were twisted.”

       Down and dirty melodrama, however, didn't need the devil as executive producer. It came quite readily from one of those piety-dripping antagonists who lurk on the fringe of new Apostolates, bent on destroying them if the game is not played their way. This particular individual, infamous for shredding the reputation of priests who failed to recognize that person's habitually self-confessed sanctity, adopted the strategy of following Jane around town.

       “Trying to psyche me out,” Jane recalls, “when we went, for example, to the post office. They would sit in the parking lot watching our every move.”

       The tactic is a familiar one, a staple maneuver of the pious assassin who feels compelled to let people know they are being watched and considered ‘suspect’ in an attempt to unnerve them. But it didn't work.

       As Jane said: “We learned how to outwait that person and it finally stopped.”

       By mid 1984, though no one knew it at the time, the later relocation of the Apostolate from Ottawa to Fort Erie, Ontario, (across Lake Erie from Buffalo, New York) was being initiated by people and circumstances in small, seemingly insignificant ways.

       Coralie Graham, editor of The Fatima Crusader, describes the preliminaries leading up to the move.

       “Our little group (in Fort Erie) worked at bringing the Rosary and devotion to Our Lady back to our church and privately prayed for a Tridentine Mass. We organized a Wednesday night novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help at St. Michael's Church, along with Father Patrick Norton. We were not the most welcome addition to the church schedule and had to carry the five foot statues of St. Joseph and Mary back and forth from home every week. We wanted some traditional material for the people attending. Through St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto we encountered Father Gruner's booklet called Our Lady's Urgent Appeal. The phone number listed on it was Shirley and Don Pennel's, who told us about Father Gruner and gave us his number in Ottawa.

       “After phoning him we received The Fatima Crusader and booklets we ordered to give out along with cartons of books on St. Alphonsus. Father could never resist the opportunity to promote St. Alphonsus' holy work. That was the beginning of the book service in Fort Erie.

       “I was attending daily Mass at the Redemptoristine Convent on the Niagara Parkway every morning, by special permission of the bishop, before going to work. Father Norton, who was chaplain and was preparing to go to Ireland for a trip, announced one morning that a visiting priest would be bringing a statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the convent and would be saying Mass in his absence.

       “The visiting priest was Father Gruner. My first introduction to Father Gruner was a Godsend as he proceeded to offer the Tridentine Mass. I was giving my thanksgiving before Communion, for this wondrous answer to my prayers, when I felt a tremendous enveloping warmth filled with peace and glowing happiness. It literally permeated the room. It was so intense, I looked up from my prayers as if I were expecting to see what I so intensely felt. But I could not determine the cause. Minutes later, as I fell in behind the Communion line, it hit me like a thunderbolt. All except one or two of the Contemplative nuns that normally received Communion in the hand, standing, were kneeling and receiving the Host on their tongue. It is as crystal clear in my mind today as it was at that moment that Our Lord gave a sign of how pleased He was at this appropriate act of adoration and respect. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima, as always with Father Gruner, was prominently placed at the foot of the cross on the altar and Her sweet smile seemed to also radiate with warmth and pleasure at this small act of adoration.

       “With such an introduction to Father Gruner, my future working for Fatima, it seems, had already been decided.

       “Father Gruner continued his pilgrimage through the Niagara Region to the various churches and our little Rosary Group attended the first one. Then the second, then the third, until we were attending all of them. The combination of Father Gruner's Mass and the appeal of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue was a magnet drawing us in spite of times when we had not planned to go at all, for God had answered our prayers, we had Mary back and the Tridentine Mass.

       “In May of 1984, he took me up on my offer to do volunteer work for the Apostolate and called from Ottawa to ask if I would handle Canadian book orders. I converted my spare bedroom into an office. Two others, Bernie Dumelie and Frank Timms offered to list orders on their computer. By autumn we had a smooth enough volunteer operation going to prompt Father Gruner to consider establishing the Apostolate in Fort Erie.”

       They went to Ottawa to see what his set-up there was like. It was as Jane McAuley had described it — bleak.

       “In one small apartment he had a card table, metal shelving along the wall piled with paperwork, and a door off its hinges, propped up on cartons of The Fatima Crusader, as his desk. In his fridge was a bowl of rice and a can of tuna which he did not hesitate to offer to share with us.”

       Father Gruner went through a period of doubt about moving to Fort Erie and for a time considered crossing into the States to work out of Constable, New York instead. Jane McAuley encouraged him to choose Fort Erie, adding that her relatives there also would act as volunteers.

       In March of 1985, they moved the office to Fort Erie and Father Gruner followed a month later.

       “I moved to Fort Erie with the Bishop's own personal permission,” Father Gruner explains. “He knew I was coming not just for a visit, but to buy property for the Apostolate. Before coming to the St. Catharines Diocese, I wrote the Bishop of St. Catharines, Bishop Thomas Fulton. I said I was thinking of moving the office down here and did he have any problem with that? Basically, he wrote back asking who wanted us. I replied in person by going to visit him in the Chancery office. I was relieved to find out when I met him, near Christmas 1984, his reply to my proposed moving of my office. ‘It's a free country’ he said clearly, indicating he had no objection to my proposed move. In fact, he then lamented I had not moved earlier so that he could have sold me some property the diocese had just disposed of. Later, he recalled to me his freely given permission when I went to visit him at his Chancery office in August of 1988.

       “Coralie Graham, representing her Rosary group, also contacted Bishop Fulton and offered to furnish him with ample signatures of petition to allow the Apostolate and Father Gruner to settle here, to which His Excellency replied, ‘That would not be necessary’.

       “Regarding the permission, in August of 1988, Mary Sedore, a staff worker since 1986 and a personal friend of Bishop Fulton, together with Coralie Graham and myself, visited the Bishop of St. Catharines to discuss matters of mutual concern. During this discussion the bishop's permission of 1985 came up and Bishop Fulton, after reflecting on it a bit, did recall giving his permission to us to move the Fatima Apostolate to Fort Erie, within his diocese.

       “After June of '85, as I was living down in Fort Erie by that time, the faculties in Ottawa expired. Bishop Fulton extended them to me, by phone, every month thereafter until November 1987. I finally got them in writing in November of '87, but only for six months, till June of '88. In January 1988, he then wrote me a second letter saying that there was a typing mistake by the secretary ... so he extended them to only three months and then he extended them again. In effect they went to June 1, 1988.”

       Coralie Graham recalls the early days after the move:

       “A month after Father moved to Fort Erie I was volunteering evenings and weekends to ship books and do office work. Ultimately, I quit my job to work full time for the Apostolate. I have never regretted it nor even once looked back. Actually, I learned very fast that when you work for Our Lady your life becomes an express train.”

       There were major disappointments along the way. The Apostolate wanted to put in an offer to buy an abandoned school in Crystal Beach, not far from Fort Erie. At first they were stopped by the Town which was about to claim special privileges and purchase it for themselves so they could give it to a group in Fort Erie. Their plan was contested as contrary to law and abuse of municipal privileges. The town then withdrew.

       The Apostolate was told the suggested price for the school but a private consultant counselled to bid higher as the building and property were worth much more. The counsel was followed and a bid was made for several thousand dollars higher than the suggested figure.

       The next day, the Apostolate found that the purchase was awarded to another group who bid a mere forty-five dollars more than the Apostolate despite the thousands of dollars difference between their bid and the suggested price. This was suspicious, particularly as the Apostolate was denied the right to be present for the opening of the bids.

       Father and the staff learned to measure how effective an issue of The Fatima Crusader was going to be by the amount of trouble encountered getting it out. Every Crusader worked on was beset by crises. They felt very close to the Curé of Ars. The very day they would decide to start on a Crusader pandemonium would ensue — staff off sick, water pipes burst, furnace breaking down, vehicles breaking down, the entire ceiling leaking from a torrential rainfall — once it was so bad they hired two students to empty trash cans full of water throughout the night. The electricity has been outed by storms — Father Gruner has worked on the Crusader by the light of vigil candles propped up on soft drink cans. When machines wouldn't work, the staff would tape a Miraculous Medal or St. Benedict Medal to them , have Father bless them, and they would start up again.

       The editor of the Crusader recounts:

       “When Father was around, the devil worked overtime harassing him. When he was away on business, the devil switched his focus to those left behind.

       “Before we grew to our present size, sometimes I worked until 2, 3, 4 in the morning, alone in the building. At times, others have worked with me but they went away saying, ‘I don't know how you can work at night.' They kept hearing footsteps on the roof.

       “When Father is away and phones to ask, ‘How are things going?’, I learned that as soon as I said, ‘Fine,’ pandemonium would break loose again. If he called one hour after departing, it would start then. If he didn't call for three weeks after leaving, it wouldn't start until then. I began not answering, ‘Fine,’ to the question. But just recently, I slipped, said, ‘Fine,’ and 60 seconds later there was a line-up outside my office of people with grave problems to overcome.

       “Yet, it seems that Heaven always helps the Apostolate survive the gravest crisis, so long as we persevere and never give up. Our faith did not let us down. When we owed $750,000 and had not a cent to pay for services or make a mailout, St. Joseph brought in the funds to bail us out.”

       A Director of the Apostolate tells us of a side of Father Gruner often not seen except by those working closely with him.

       “Father takes very seriously his position as ‘steward’ of the donations that come in. Though he does not have a spare minute to answer everyone's personal concerns, for years he helped open the mail himself. He would be quite overwhelmed at the hardships and sacrifices of our people and would be fierce at not allowing any volunteers or staff to squander a penny.

       “Father practiced what he preached. Since I met him, and 13 years later, to this day, Father has only drawn a paltry sum of $500 a month to live on, and this for laboring 18 hour days, hardly ever taking any leisure time off for himself. It has become a common practice for our Crusader staff, including Father, to work two days and nights straight through with no sleep to make our deadline. On at least one occasion we even persevered to the third straight day. That was the time Denise, our Production Manager, was so tired that when she stopped at a stop sign on the way home, she forgot where she was.

       “No task was too menial for Father. He always joined the staff to lick stamps, stuff envelopes, drive trucks, whatever it took, to get the job done — to get another step closer to the goal of consecrating Russia.

       “In the first year in Fort Erie, we rented an old factory that had been abandoned for ten years. The roof had leaked and on the floor were huge puddles of water. We moved in and Bernie and Frank, always there with their sleeves rolled up, did a tremendous cleaning job to make it as fit as possible. And Bernie's sister, Virginia Halbach, and ‘mother’, Martha Halbach, were our prayer powerhouse, offering Rosary after Rosary to pray us through our trials.

       “Money was scarce and Father would not spend a dime more than necessary, so he made a room for himself in the warehouse. His first year there, he had no bathtub, no hot water, no furnace, no kitchen stove or sink. We put a small electric heater in his room. He had only the staff washroom to bathe in. His stove was an old oil heater in the office. His table was an old bed board propped up on cartons of Crusaders.

       “Never did he complain. We all worried, but he just kept shuffling on, like St. Louis de Montfort.

       “Now and again those who act like a pack of wild dogs tearing and pulling at a morsel of food would publish remarks, ‘What does Father Gruner do with that money?’ and I'd smile, thinking if they only came and saw. The donations Father Gruner receives go to promoting the full Fatima Message. Anyone who comes to visit sees it does not go to luxuries.

       “When Rome bureaucrats tried to get Father Gruner out of the Apostolate and prevent him from preaching on Fatima by threats, innuendoes, and branding him a ‘vagus’, we became an endangered species. But we are still here.”

§

       It is also a fact of history that the intensity of opposition directed at people who work for Our Lady is in direct proportion to the effectiveness of their efforts. The efforts to confuse and control Father Gruner's Apostolate were a mirror image of the confusion that was attempting to distort Our Lady's Message worldwide.

       The Blue Army has long held an emotional hammerlock on the hearts of believing Catholics who remember when it started in 1947 and was the only voice promoting the Message. It still remains a formidable foe of the critics because of the historical sentiment that it earned from supporters over the decades.

       In the early '80s, however, it appeared the Blue Army was losing its characteristic independence and fortitude. Most evident in their change of attitude was the manner in which, to the exacting demands of Heaven for the consecration, they suddenly applied a sort of political relativism.

       In extracts from an interview with Sister Lucy, published September 1985 in Sol de Fatima (the magazine of the Spanish section of the Blue Army) the Fatima Secret was considered in the light of events unfolding within the Church in 1985. The article was a vital one. The bogus interview of Sister Lucy in the 1982 Soul Magazine1 had already been exposed and ridiculed by Abbé Caillon and Father Paul Leonard,2 among others.3

       Extract From The Interview:

       Published September 1985 in Sol de Fatima, Spain.

       Question: At what moment of the Fatima mystery do we find ourselves?

       Sister Lucy: I think we are living in the time when Russia is spreading its errors throughout the world.

       Question: By that, are we to understand that Russia will take possession of the whole world?

       Sister Lucy: Yes.

       Question: John Paul II had invited all the bishops to join in the consecration of Russia, which he was going to make at Fatima on 13 May, 1982 and which he was to renew at the end of the Holy Year in Rome on 25 March, 1984, before the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Has he not therefore done what was requested at Tuy?

       Sister Lucy: There was no participation of all the bishops, and there was no mention of Russia.

       Question: So the consecration was not done as requested by Our Lady?

       Sister Lucy: No. Many bishops attached no importance to this act.

       So stood Fortress Blue Army before it underwent some fundamental changes in direction in 1985-86. The changes took place against the backdrop of very definite and very specific concerns of the Holy Father. Hamish Fraser explained:

       “Concerning one thing at least there is no possible room for doubt — the Holy Father's awareness of the need for the Collegial Consecration of Russia ... For already within two years he has three times consecrated the world ... and on the third occasion (March 25, 1984) he invited the bishops to join with him ... in making the Act of Consecration.

       “Moreover, on each occasion he indicated that he realized ... the consecration demanded by Our Lady had yet to be made.

       “Let no one therefore pretend that the Collegial Consecration of Russia ... is not very much on the mind of the Holy Father.”4

       Why then has it not been properly done?

       “Given on the one hand the Holy Father's anxiety concerning the ... consecration ... and on the other hand the scandalous hostility elicited by the (his) request for episcopal participation in the consecration of ... March 25, 1984, it can be inferred, with moral certainty, that one thing in particular has so far prevented the Holy Father from ordering the Bishops of the Universal Church to join with him in ... consecrating Russia; his fear that to do so might well provoke formal schism.” (italics added)

       Why are the bishops resisting Our Lady of Fatima? Once again Hamish Fraser provides a stunning explanation.

       “There are several reasons why so many bishops quite literally see red whenever the Message of Fatima is mentioned:

       “1) Fatima condemns the new catechetics! In many Episcopally approved catechetical texts, Hell is scarcely even mentioned, and certainly not as something to be taken very seriously, in spite of the fact that the Virgin in the Cova ... felt it necessary to give the three young seers a terrifying vision of Hell:

       “2) Fatima Condemns Sex Education! Ignoring both Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio which stress the necessity for modesty and chastity as well as the grave sinfulness of contraception, many bishops have imposed most questionable forms of ‘Sex Education’, some of which border on pornography, on the Catholic Schools for which they are responsible. Our Lady ... went out of Her way to emphasize the need for strict fidelity to the Church's moral teaching, and in particular the need for both modesty and chastity, telling Jacinta, youngest of the three seers: ‘The sins which lead most souls to Hell are sins of the flesh’.”5

       As Jacinta herself subsequently reported: “The Mother of God wants more virgin souls bound by the vow of chastity. Woe to women wanting in modesty.”6

       Hamish continues, “The Pope's fear is grounded in his realization that material episcopal schism is already widespread in various parts of the world ... at a time when great numbers of the bishops are obsessed with the notion of collegiality, nothing rouses many of them to greater fury than to be reminded that the Queen of Heaven has demanded that, together with the Holy Father, they collegially consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart.

       “In other words, the first and foremost reason why Fatima is intolerable to so many bishops, and why they also intensely resent Papal authority, is that whereas prior to Vatican II the Popes had consistently condemned Communism as ‘intrinsically evil’, since Vatican II most episcopal conferences now appear to act on the assumption that it is not Communism but anti-Communism in any shape or form that is ‘intrinsically evil’.

       “Why has this change of Episcopal attitude dated from Vatican II? It is primarily because of the Vatican-Moscow Agreement which assured the Kremlin that if Russian Orthodox observers were sent to Vatican II, Communism would not be discussed at the Council. Nor was it. It is because of this criminal omission that after the Council, it became possible to pretend that Communism had become licit and to do so in the name of the Council. This criminal omission is why it became possible to advocate an alliance of Catholics and Communists and even to espouse a ‘Theology of Liberation' that is simply revolutionary Marxism in a ‘Christian’ disguise.

       “In short,” says Hamish “if so many bishops detest the Message of Our Lady of Fatima it is because its reference to Russia's errors condemns the policies of virtually all Episcopally approved ‘Justice and Peace Commissions’ and also of Catholic ‘Development Agencies’ such as CAFOD (England), SCIAF (Scotland), Trocaire (Ireland) and CCFD (France). For these organizations today provide ‘the revolution’ with a basis for the kind of ‘popular front’ which it was at such pains to engender against the determined opposition of the pre-conciliar Church; a ‘Popular Front’ which everywhere promotes subversion by mobilizing Christians, particularly Catholics, in support of the Revolutionary Cause, but particularly in such areas as the Philippines, South Africa and Central America which Moscow is determined to destabilize in order to foster its imperialist ambition.

       “To be perfectly blunt, if so far the Holy Father has not found it possible to fulfill the demands of the Queen of Heaven, it is because he realizes that, as a consequence of policies pursued by post-conciliar Nuncios and Apostolic Delegates, he has now to contend with a host of modernist bishops who are Catholic in name only.

       “For that reason there is only one means whereby the Holy Father could now fulfill the demand of Our Lady of Fatima. He would be required to order all bishops to join him in collegially consecrating Russia to Mary's Immaculate Heart on pain of demitting office forthwith, in the event of their refusing to do so ...

       “Indeed, it is doubtful if any Pope in history has ever been confronted with circumstances so prejudicial to the exercise of Papal authority as now exists in the wake of Vatican II. Certainly, no one who fully understands the present situation would be so foolish as to upbraid, or in any way belittle, the Holy Father, because so far he has not found it possible to do what is manifestly necessary in order to restore Catholic order.

       “And this despite the fact that such action is manifestly necessary. It is imperative, because the longer material schism is tolerated, the more intractable will the bishops become, for each day they are becoming ever more greedily accustomed to having their cake and eating it; that is to having all the advantages of material schism with none of the disadvantages of formal schism.

       “Moreover, the longer material schism persists, the greater the likelihood of those bishops being able to take their flocks with them in the event of formal schism.”7

       Hamish stated this in November 1985 at the first Fatima conference sponsored by Father Gruner held in Vatican City. Much has happened in the Church and the world in the past eleven years to change the bishops' attitude toward the Consecration of Russia. Not the least of which is the ongoing campaign by Father Gruner and his associates to inform the bishops about Our Lady of Fatima's command to them to consecrate Russia.

       Hamish died in October 1986. No doubt today some bishops are still influenced against the Consecration for the motives Hamish outlines above. Nevertheless had he still been alive today, he might be inclined to conclude, as Father Gruner has from his extensive correspondence and personal visits with bishops, together with their participation in the Bishops' Conferences, that once properly informed about Fatima, most of the bishops would, in fact, join the Holy Father in consecrating Russia, if asked by him to do so. This point of view was publicly upheld by Archbishop Milingo in his talk at the Fatima Peace Conference for Bishops held in Mexico in November 1994.

       In 1985-1986, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, “semi-official” sources and the Blue Army began to publish and insist that the consecration had at last been completed as of March 25, 1984, in Rome.

       Why then, with all the evidence available, does the Blue Army continue to spread confusion? It would seem that the Blue Army had been infiltrated and compromised. According to Father Paul Leonard: “The leadership of the World Apostolate of Fatima (alias Blue Army) has stubbornly and impenitently falsified Our Lady's message, in their unholy campaign to bring the Fatima message in line with the Vatican-Moscow Agreement.”8

       The March/April 1986 Issue of Soul Magazine, on page 22, states, “The Collegial Consecration (was) ... made with the bishops of the world by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square on March 25, 1984 ... There the Pope in union with all the bishops of the world made the consecration to Mary's Immaculate Heart. As requested in the apparition of June 13, 1929.

       Then, on page 9 of the same issue Soul Magazine states: “The Holy Father proceeded to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary ... in compliance with the request of Our Lady when She said ‘I will ask for the consecration of the world to My Immaculate Heart ...’”9

       In view of the publication of such an obvious misrepresentation of the known facts, Father Paul Leonard, encouraged by Father Gruner, hastened to the defense of Our Lady, stating dramatically and emphatically that Our Lady never asked for the consecration of the world but clearly specified Russia. Father Paul Leonard saw the reasoning behind the misrepresentation in stark terms:

       “Our Lady's real Fatima Message has been suppressed because it is at variance with Cardinal Casaroli's ... pro-Communist Vatican-Moscow Ostpolitik.”10

       The point that Father Paul Leonard Kramer makes also is that this misinformation is deliberate so as to inject enough confusion into the consecration issue11 as to dissipate the laity, so that there be no groundswell of support for the Pope. In accord with Father Kramer is Father Joseph de Sainte-Marie, who said about the consecration confusion caused by the Blue Army and Soul Magazine in 1982/83: “Until now, they have given rise to confusion of mind, division of hearts and the dissipation of forces.”12

       Their sowing of confusion — said Father Paul Leonard of the Blue Army leadership: is “cunningly conceived to achieve a hidden but nevertheless very definite purpose to put an end to the public campaign for the Collegial Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”13

       It seemed even the most highly respected of American bishops, when under the Blue Army mantle, felt obliged to direct the faithful away from Our Lady's dramatic demand to the hierarchy for the consecration and to instead place the onus on the faithful who are already obeying Our Lady. U.S. Blue Army President, Bishop Jerome J. Hastrich, in Soul Magazine March/April, 1984, page 5 stated: “... We might pray explicitly for Russia if we wish to do so, but in our public message ... avoid upsetting the delicate balance of international affairs which the Holy See is trying so hard to control and direct.” So there we have it. According to Bishop Hastrich, it seems we must desist from working for the fulfillment of Our Lady's request so as not to offend the Communists, or even Russians who are not Christians, who would resent the notion that they are in need of conversion.

       In a statement that would make them few friends in the Vatican, Fathers Gruner and Paul Leonard responded with the following summary, “The Blue Army has been turned into an instrument of Cardinal Casaroli's Vatican-Moscow Ostpolitik which would prohibit the Pope and bishops from fulfilling Our Lady of Fatima's request for the sake of the shortsighted politics of appeasement, compromise and surrender to Communism.”

       Father Gruner continued to press home his main point throughout: God demands the solemn public act of Consecration of Russia by the Pope and all the bishops of the world. God insists upon this solemn act in our time.14

       The Vatican-Moscow Agreement in fact had raised a drawbridge between the Blue Army and Father Gruner's Apostolate.

       “We cannot agree with Mr. John Haffert that the Vatican has outsmarted Moscow in this agreement and that, because of this agreement, the Church is better off,” said Father Gruner.15

       “Communism is conducting more than just a war of ideas. It is a total war on all fronts against God ...16

       “The fight by the militant atheists of the East and West converges upon the Catholic Church. Both concentrate their efforts towards drawing the faithful away from the practice of their faith, away from the Word of God, from prayer and the Sacraments, the means of Grace necessary to save our souls.”17

       Father Paul Leonard added, “Cardinal Casaroli, who as Secretary of State is at the head of the entire Vatican diplomatic corps, still adheres to the Vatican-Moscow Agreement. He recently demonstrated this when he made it clear that he had no responsibility for the anti-Communist content of the Instruction on Liberation Theology issued on September 3, 1984, by Cardinal Ratzinger and he denied that he was even consulted about the Instruction.”18

       Blue Army President for the U.S., Bishop Hastrich stated in that March/April, 1984 Issue of Soul Magazine (which came out before the 1984 consecration) that instead of praying for the conversion of Russia, “... We are rather to pray that members of the Blue Army would so pray and fast that they themselves might be thoroughly converted ... to pray for the ‘conversion’ of Russia may seem like waving a red flag in front of a bull ... and so it might be more prudent to pray for peace in the world.”

       So intense was the craving to have the campaign for the Consecration over and done with, the wishful thinkers were willing to overlook anything the Soviets did. Or said. In late November 1986 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in a speech in Tashkent, called for a ‘firm and uncompromising struggle against religious phenomena’. So much for change in the Soviet Union. So much for the conversion of Russia. So much for the 1984 consecration.

       Gorbachev declared, “We must be strict above all with Communists and senior officials, particularly those who say they defend our morality and ideals but in fact help promote backward views and themselves take part in religious ceremonies.”19

       The timing of the speech and the location reflected Moscow's concern for the Islamic fundamentalist revival, Tashkent being the center of a predominantly Islamic population. Knowing the media's fondness for Gorbachev, it was no surprise that they failed to publicize this gaffe in the General Secretary's otherwise smooth public utterances. Yet imagine the headlines if he had made his pronouncement in, say, Rome itself.

       There can be little doubt that even those bishops still entranced by the disorientations resulting from the Vatican-Moscow Agreement would have found reasons to applaud Gorbachev's speech.

       In response, Father Gruner's message has, in recent years, become increasingly more pointed. He says... “ONLY Our Lady can help us as She, Herself clearly emphasized at Fatima. Only when the Pope and the bishops obey the request given at Fatima by consecrating Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the same time in a solemn and public manner, can there be peace. There surely is no other solution whatsoever.”

       By the mid-1980's, then, Father Gruner had fixed a course for himself and the apostolate which would bring them within the ambit of the Vatican bureaucracy's radar. In fact, the surveillance had already begun.


Footnotes:

1.    Father Pierre Caillon, op. cit. , pgs. 22-23.

2.   Father Paul Leonard, The Plot To Silence Our Lady, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 20, June-July 1986, pgs. 9-13; also Father Paul Leonard, The Vatican-Moscow Agreement Has Silenced Our Lady, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 22, April-May 1987, pgs. 12-15; also Father Paul Leonard, The Blue Army Leadership Has Followed a Deliberate Policy of Falsifying the Fatima Message, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 22, April-May 1987, pgs. 26-28.

3. Father Joseph de Sainte-Marie's January 16, 1983 Letter to Hamish Fraser; published in The Fatima Crusader, Issue 13-14, Oct-Dec 1983, pgs. 10-13.

4.   Hamish Fraser, Address to International Fatima Rosary Crusade Symposium, Vatican City, Nov. 24, 1985, published in The Fatima Crusader, Issue 19, Feb-April 1986, pg. 7.

5.   Ibid, pg. 13.

6.   Ibid, pg. 13.

7.   Ibid, pgs. 13-14.

8.   Father Paul Leonard, The Vatican-Moscow Agreement Has Silenced Our Lady, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 22, April-May 1987, pg. 12.

9.    Soul magazine, March-April 1986, pg. 9, cited in The Fatima Crusader, Issue 22, April-May 1987, pg. 12.

10. Father Paul Leonard, The Vatican-Moscow Agreement Has Silenced Our Lady, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 22, April-May 1987, pg. 13.

11. Ibid pgs. 12-15; also, Father Paul Leonard, The Blue Army Leadership has Followed a Deliberate Policy of Falsifying the Fatima Message, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 22, April-May 1987, pgs. 12-15, 26-28.

12. Père Joseph de Sainte-Marie, Letter to Hamish Fraser, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 13-14, Oct-Dec 1983, pg. 10.

13. Father Paul Leonard, The Vatican-Moscow Agreement Has Silenced Our Lady, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 22, April-May 1987, pg. 12.

14. Father Nicholas Gruner, World Enslavement or Peace ... It's Up To the Pope, Fort Erie, Canada, Fatima Crusader Publications, 1988. This book is a well-documented source of information to gain an indepth understanding of this vital point.

15. The Catholic Church Be trayed, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 17, Feb-April 1985, pg. 7.

16. Ibid, pg. 9.

17. Ibid, pg. 10.

18. Father Paul Leonard, The Blue Army Leadership has Followed a Deliberate Policy of Falsifying the Fatima Message, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 22, April-May 1987, pg. 27.

19. Mikhail Gorbachev, Speech in Tashkent, Richard N. Ostling, Time Magazine, Jan. 12, 1987; also published in the Uzbek daily Pravda Vostoka, and the report was cited in the Keston College News Service of December 11, 1986.

 

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