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Chapter 9

The Network

       In late July of 1989 Father Gruner received a most unusual letter from Antonio Cardinal Innocenti, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. It was the ecclesiastical equivalent of a letter-bomb:

       “This Congregation has been following for a long time your case which arouses serious preoccupation on the part of the Holy See...”

       Case? What case? And why was the “Holy See” — that is, certain elements of the Vatican bureaucracy — “seriously preoccupied” with him? As Father Gruner read the rest of the “Innocenti intervention” he saw a pattern which would repeat itself over and over again in the years to come.

       The letter did not bother to answer the questions it raised; it did not define its own terms. There was no explanation of what the “case” of Father Gruner consisted of, nor any reason given for the “serious preoccupation on the part of the Holy See.” Instead, Cardinal Innocenti simply declared the result he desired, and Father Gruner was evidently expected to comply without benefit of due process of Canon Law: Father Gruner was to find another bishop by September 30 or else return to Avellino. Naturally, this would mean the end of the Apostolate.

       A basic point of Canon Law occurred to Father Gruner as he read the “Innocenti intervention”. The Bishop of Avellino had given no such order himself, and Cardinal Innocenti had no right to issue it in the bishop's stead. A bishop is the ruler of his own diocese, answerable only to the Pope, not to the Congregation for the Clergy. The intervention was, quite simply, void.

       Father Gruner replied to the intervention in a letter which pointed out, among other things, that a Cardinal sitting in the office of a Vatican Congregation had no right to run the Diocese of Avellino. For good measure, Father Gruner placed a copy of a formal appeal against Cardinal Innocenti into the hands of the Pope himself at a general audience in January of the following year. Thereafter the “Innocenti intervention” vaporized. Cardinal Innocenti was never heard from again in the “case” of Father Gruner. It was later reported to Father Gruner by a friendly Vatican insider that Cardinal Innocenti had stated that the name of Father Nicholas Gruner was never to be mentioned again in his presence.

       Although the “Innocenti intervention” went nowhere, it prefigured later developments in the “case” of Father Gruner. Many of those developments would be unprecedented in the annals of Canon Law, but they would not be without parallels in the prior abuse of priests and prelates who had posed an impediment to the executors of Ostpolitik.

       To comprehend the suffering many priests endure today at the hands of the bureaucracy of the Church they have vowed to serve until death, we need look no further than Father Augustine Fuentes and Cardinal Mindzenty. Their history is useful to discuss here in an effort to appreciate the startling parallels with Father Gruner's case.

       On December 26, 1957, Father Augustine Fuentes conducted a famous interview with Sister Lucy which was published in July, 1958, and reprinted thereafter by various magazines around the world.1 A full year passed before anyone in “authority” suggested it was not authentic. On July 2, 1959, nine months after the death of Pope Pius XII, an anonymous chancery official (who has not been identified to this day) suddenly published in the Diocesan bulletin of Coimbra that Father Fuentes had lied and had made up the interview out of thin air.2 In response, Father Fuentes' own Archbishop of Vera Cruz, and the Cardinal Primate of Mexico, publicly stated that Father Fuentes was an honest, good priest who did not merit the charges being leveled against him by the anonymous “news” bulletin.3 Nevertheless, the anonymous bulletin of the Curia of Coimbra was successful in suppressing Sister Lucy's statements and having Father Fuentes removed as vice-postulator for the cause of beatification and canonization of Jacinta and Francisco.4 Oddly enough, he was replaced by the very person Frère François now accuses of being behind the bogus letters of Sister Lucy in 1989, Father Luis Kondor.5

       As Father Paul Leonard points out: “Of course it is manifestly dishonest and unjust what was done to Father Fuentes. Obviously if that Curia official of Coimbra or anyone else is not willing to stand behind his words, if he won't even take responsibility for his own ‘official’ acts, then clearly no one else should take his anonymous words and acts seriously either. This is clearly a case of some powerful figure who does not want anyone to question, rebuke, examine or subject his actions to judicial review but who wants to impose his opinion, judgment and decision. In other words, it is the action of a man who recognizes no authority over himself but who forces his will on others when he has no real authority to do so. All authority by men over other men comes from God, but God gives no one, not the President, not the Prime Minister, not the Pope nor the Supreme Court Judge any authority to command or judge unless the person in authority takes personal (and therefore not be anonymous) responsibility for his authoritative, official acts.”

       As Father Gruner notes: “The whole nature of law, which must be observed if a society is not going to be subverted by a secret society, is that those in authority must take personal and public responsibility for their official acts. This posture is a fundamental requirement of the natural law.”6

       Incredibly, a similar attempt was made on no less a personage than a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1975, a statement was published declaring that Cardinal Mindzenty had resigned from being Archbishop of Esztergom, Primate of Hungary. The Cardinal issued an immediate rebuttal stating, “I have not resigned and I presently cannot resign because of all the things going on in Hungary today which endangers souls.”7 Here was a Cardinal, one of the electors of the Pope, a prince of the Church, but even this did not deter certain Vatican bureaucrats from removing him from office and, at the same time, giving the public the impression that he had left his post willingly.

       Due to Cardinal Mindzenty's courageous stand, the truth won. He wrote:

       “On February 5, 1975, the announcement of my removal from the See of Esztergom was published. Next day, to my profound sorrow, I found myself forced to issue a correction through my office:

       “A number of news agencies have transmitted the Vatican decision in such a way as to imply that Jozsef Cardinal Mindzenty has voluntarily retired. The news agencies furthermore stressed that before the papal decision there was an intense exchange of letters between the Vatican and the Cardinal-Archbishop, who is living in Vienna. Some persons have therefore drawn the conclusion that an agreement concerning this decision had been reached between the Vatican and the Hungarian primate. In the interests of truth, Cardinal Mindzenty has authorized his office to issue the following statement:

       Cardinal Mindzenty has not abdicated his office as Archbishop nor the dignity as Primate of Hungary. The decision was taken by the Holy See alone.

       After long and conscientious consideration the Cardinal justified his attitude on this question as follows:

       1. Hungary and the Catholic Church of Hungary are not free.

       2. The leadership of the Hungarian dioceses is in the hands of a church administration built and controlled by the communist regime.

       3. Not a single archbishop or apostolic administrator is in a position to alter the composition or the functioning of the above-mentioned church administration.

       4. The regime decides who is to occupy ecclesiastical positions and for how long. Furthermore, the regime also decides what persons the bishops will be allowed to consecrate as priests.

       5. The freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed by the Constitution is in practice, suppressed. “Optional” religious instruction has been banned from the schools in the cities and the larger towns. At present, the struggle for optional religious instruction in the schools is continuing in the smaller communities. Young people, contrary to the will of their parents, are being educated exclusively in an atheistic spirit. Believers are discriminated against in many areas of daily life. Religious teachers have only recently been confronted with the alternative of choosing between their professions and their religion.

       6. The appointment of bishops or apostolic administrators without the elimination of the above-mentioned abuses does not solve the problems of the Hungarian Church. The installation of ‘peace priests’ in important ecclesiastical posts has shaken the confidence of loyal priests and lay Catholics in the highest administration of the Church. In these grave circumstances, Cardinal Mindzenty cannot abdicate.

       This is the path I have traveled to the end, and this is how I arrived at complete and total exile.”8

       Father Marcel Nault reflecting on the above experiences of Father Fuentes and Cardinal Mindzenty said:

       “In Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 20 (Verse 28-31), St. Paul warns the bishops that, from among their own number, perverse men will arise to draw the faithful after them. And urges them to watch therefore and not be taken in. St. Jude, in verse 4 of his Epistle, says that infiltrators will enter the Church. In the Apocalypse we can read about the false lamb with two horns. This false lamb represents bad bishops. The two horns symbolize the two points on the miters of bishops who, while giving the appearance of a lamb, are actually false.9 In fact, as we have learned from Frère Michel's painstaking research, the Third Secret clearly refers to the responsibility of a number of members of the hierarchy for the present state of apostasy within the Catholic Church today.10 And as we have seen, this infiltration of the hierarchy has been predicted in Sacred Scripture.

       “Thus, it seems we have here the terrible ‘burden’ of the Third Secret, namely, the infiltration of the upper hierarchy and their complicity in the apostasy sweeping across all Christendom. That would explain why a few members of the upper hierarchy seem to work so hard to discredit priests like Father Gruner. Simply stated, if Father Gruner succeeds in bringing to the attention of the Catholic faithful the existence of these false lambs and their plans, so that the faithful are able to protect themselves from these false prophets, and if he were to succeed in getting the Third Secret revealed, then, of course, their game would be up and Catholics everywhere would rise up to defend themselves against these interlopers.

       “These same false shepherds are certainly going to do whatever they can to protect themselves from the exposure that revealing the Third Secret would bring.”

       Sister Lucy herself had been silenced since 1960. Would they attempt to silence Father Gruner? They certainly knew that he was not bound by obedience to remain silent about the Vatican-Moscow Agreement. The pretense that “Father Gruner must obey our commands” had not worked in the Innocenti intervention. But there were other ways of getting rid of an inconvenient cleric. The cases of Father Fuentes and Cardinal Mindzenty made that clear.

       Father Gruner and Cardinal Mindzenty's cases would prove to be strikingly similar, although Father Gruner would shrink from any comparison with the great prelate. By the manner of the trap set for them, by the type of isolation they suffer and by the intensity of their resistance to it, these two cases would illustrate what Father Paul Leonard calls “the decay of the moral leadership in the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church in this century.”

       The great St. Athanasius was exiled from his Diocese by the Conference of Bishops of Egypt five separate times. He spent at least l7 years in exile. He was even “excommunicated” by Pope Liberius, who ended up being the first Pope in the early Church not to be canonized. Athanasius continued to preach and ordain priests despite the “excommunication”.

       Another Saint, St. John Gualberto, went to the bureaucrats in Rome and complained to them regarding the Archbishop of Florence, who had actually bribed certain bureaucrats to get himself appointed bishop. To this Saint the Vatican bureaucrats would not listen. So he took his case directly to the people, and God worked a public miracle, at St. John Gualberto's request, to prove that what he was saying was true. The people drove the corrupt bishop out of town. From such lessons of Catholic history we learn that God expects clerics to go to the people to protect the Church when Vatican officials will not pay attention. It now appeared that “front line” clerics would have to rally the Catholic faithful in the current confusion and deception. They must go to the people so the people can wake up to what they can do to resist and overcome the crisis.

       (There is also, of course, the example in Sacred Scripture of St. Peter being rebuked by St. Paul to protect the Faith and the Church. Saints and Doctors of the Church all concur that St. Paul was absolutely right.)

       What secret strengths sustain a priest when the bureaucracy of the Church for which he has laid down his life seeks to erase the good he has done, prevent the good his memory might yet do, and eradicate from the record any reference to the bureaucracy's part in the deed? Heaven alone knows.

       It is a sad and oft-overlooked fact of Conciliar Church history that the two bishops “excommunicated” over their defense of the Mass of the Ages, Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer, were also the two loudest voices among the International Group of Bishops raised in opposition to Vatican II's hush hush policy on Communism.11 It cannot be mere coincidence.

       The showdown between Father Gruner and the bureaucrats was inevitable. In view of the confusion deliberately generated by the anti-Fatima forces regarding the consecration, Father Gruner had gone directly to the world episcopacy in issue after issue of The Fatima Crusader during the late 80's and early 90's. The printed headlines sent again and again around the world had a much more lasting effect than a television broadcast or radio could possibly have had. Statistics prove that the printed word receives eight times as many repeated viewings as any other form of media expression. The Fatima Crusader headlines continued to repeat the danger: “Lucy Silenced”, “He (the Pope) Will Do It But It Will Be Late”, “Make it Known to My ministers”, “They Will Follow Him (the King of France) Into Misfortune”.

       Many had predicted that Vatican bureaucrats would step up the attack and take direct action to silence Father Gruner, to mute his insistence that the Consecration must be done, to prevent the public airing of his well founded perception of who was directly responsible for it not being done and, especially, to permanently prevent him, or anyone else, from effectively obeying the command of Jesus to “Make it known to My ministers”.

       To those who might suggest that it was presumptuous of Father Gruner to undertake to obey the command “Make it known to My ministers”, the reply ought to have been self evident:

       First of all the command of Our Lord to Sister Lucy extended to all the ministers of the Church, including Father Gruner. What would be the point of making the message known to all the sacred ministers of the Church, if they were not to preach it.

       Secondly, how could the message be preached effectively without including the bishops, whose pressing duties as heads of their dioceses might preclude a study of the message in all its implications.

       Third, how could any of the sacred ministers remain silent in the face of Our Lord's command, merely because a few Vatican bureaucrats had deemed it inexpedient to speak any longer of the conversion of Russia as the only means to avoid annihilation of nations.

       What is more, if certain Vatican bureaucrats had undertaken a global campaign to bury the message of Fatima, did not the sacred ministers who had been ordered by Our Lord to preach it, have a sacred duty to mount an opposing campaign to keep the message alive?

       The anti-Fatima forces in the Vatican had their work cut out for them. To destroy Father Gruner's Fatima Apostolate would be the objective. But that would mean silencing his continent-wide weekly television show, his daily radio broadcasts, and The Fatima Crusader magazine, of which he was the publisher. To eliminate all of them would be a formidable task. A much easier solution to the “Gruner problem” would be to take the outspoken priest out of contention with one simple masterstroke. The tactic chosen in the summer of 1989 would anticipate a more elaborate effort later on: The bureaucrats would make Father an offer he couldn't refuse. A new bishop in Canada would be offered on the condition of silence!

       This ploy would involve the Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli, the active participation of the Nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Palmas, Cardinal Innocenti from the Congregation for the Clergy and the current Bishop of Avellino, whose predecessor had ordained Father Gruner and given him written permission to reside outside the diocese of Avellino. Also drawn into the campaign was Bishop Fulton of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, in whose diocese the Pilgrim Virgin Apostolate was housed. For some years, Bishop Fulton had accommodated the Apostolate, at first by granting his permission to move the head office into his Diocese, and then by simply leaving it alone. Now, Bishop Fulton was to become a pawn in a game he did not initiate.

       On August 9, 1989, a letter from Bishop Fulton arrived at the Fort Erie Fatima Center address.

       “I have just received documentation from the present Bishop of Avellino, His Excellency Gerrardo Pierro,” the letter read, “in which he raises the question of your possible incardination in the diocese of St. Catharines ...

       “As far as incardination is concerned, I would require ... that you would promise total obedience to me as bishop and that you would accept an appointment at my bidding, which would require you to abandon the present apostolate which you have chosen for yourself.”12

       Pope John Paul II said “The Fatima Message is more relevant and urgent than ever. It is addressed to every human being ... The Message of Fatima imposes an obligation on the Church”.13 Obviously it is not optional nor can priests take a vow of silence about it. It appeared that just as the Vatican-Moscow Agreement immorally and illegally but de facto imposes silence on priests, bishops and Cardinals, they would now pressure Father Gruner to make his own personal pact of silence regarding the full Fatima Message. The offer of incardination came with a string attached: “promise to keep silence about Fatima and all it implies.”

       It was clear as lightning in a Canadian sunset — we'll put up if you shut up! But such an agreement would be immoral. How could any priest in good conscience agree to be silent about a public revelation which the last five Popes have publicly promoted? How could any priest simply ignore the command of Our Lord Himself: “Make it known to My ministers.” And why was this pact of silence not being demanded of Father Fox? It seems that the Fatima Message propagated by Father Fox had been “dumbed down”.

       The response to the offer was taken up, on Father Gruner's behalf, by one of the finest honed, and best aimed pens in the Catholic world, Father Paul Leonard.

       “It would be the easiest thing in the world for Father Gruner to succumb to the machinations of Vatican bureaucrats and abandon the apostolate he has carried out for more than ten years. [Now in 1998, over 20 years].

       “How easy it would be to abandon Fatima to assume the much easier life of a small town curate, earning more pay for less work.”14

       “However, it is canonically illegal for Church authorities to attempt in this manner to silence a priest from carrying out his priestly task of preaching the truth. In Sacred Scripture, St. Paul tells the bishop, St. Timothy, to impose silence on false shepherds who depart from the teaching of the Church and thereby dissipate the Faith. (1 Tim. 1:3-7) It is high time that those clergy and laity who are faithful to the Magisterium of the Church resist the abuse of authority whereby the holders of ecclesiastical office tolerate and permit the Faith to be dissipated, destroyed and expunged from the hearts of men by modernist priests, while they unlawfully attempt to impose silence on those who remain in steadfast conformity to the Gospel of Christ, the Magisterium of the Church, and the pontifically approved message of Our Lady of Fatima.

       “The pressure applied by Cardinal Innocenti (the July 1989 intervention) is not merely against Father Gruner as a single individual, but is really against the Apostolate of The Fatima Crusader, Heaven's Peace Plan radio program and the TV program, Fatima: “The Moment Has Come”. All stressing the need for the Consecration.”15

       As Father Gruner had pointed out in his reply to the void intervention of Cardinal Innocenti, there was no need for him to obtain a new ordinary in Canada:

       “There are many priests working in Canada who are not incardinated here, yet that does not appear to arouse any ‘serious preoccupation on the part of the Holy See’. Canon Law does not require that all priests be incardinated in the diocese where they reside, and therefore, I would like to know what is the reason for this extra-legal requirement ...16

       “If the Secretary of State and some bishops are displeased with my activity in promoting the Message of Our Lady of Fatima, then the burden of proof is on them to prove any wrongdoing on my part. I have sent my magazine to every bishop in the world for years. I have sent my book World Enslavement or Peace ... It's Up To The Pope to all the bishops of the world. No bishop, Cardinal, or any official of the Holy See has even suggested there is anything doctrinally wrong in anything that I have ever published.

       “It is to silence us from denouncing the Vatican-Moscow Agreement that you unlawfully inflict this injustice.”17 Cardinal Innocenti never replied to these arguments. They were in fact unanswerable.

       Sister Lucy herself gives us the key to understanding the persecutions of faithful priests while modernist wolves in shepherds' clothing roam at will: “The devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. And the devil knows what it is that most offends God and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God because, in this way, the devil will succeed in leaving the souls of the Faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them.”

       To those who suggest that the faithful should simply wait for the “competent authorities” to address the crisis, Sister Lucy had a pointed reply: “We should not wait for an appeal to the world to come from Rome on the part of the Holy Father to do penance. Nor should we wait for the call to penance to come from our bishops in our diocese, nor from the religious congregations. No! Our Lord has already very often used these means and the world has not paid attention. That is why, now, it is necessary for each one of us to begin to reform himself spiritually. Each person must not only save his own soul but also all the souls that God has placed on our path.”18

§

       The Innocenti intervention and the “strings-attached” offer of a bishop for silence were the opening moves in a bureaucratic chess game which began after eleven years of dramatic growth for the Apostolate from 1978, when Father Gruner became its vice president, to 1989, when the opening moves of the chess game were made in Rome.

       Understanding the importance of the Fatima Message, despite all the controversy, Father Gruner's Apostolate had neither changed direction nor slowed down during that period. In 1985, Father Gruner had begun restoring a fast-disappearing aspect of Catholic culture, a mission to India, with the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima. To the average Catholic, India represents a subcontinent of non-Christians, prone to hostile expressions regarding any missionary invasion ever since the time of St. Thomas the Apostle. In fact, the fervor for Catholicism sown by the Apostle was at a fever pitch in the mid-80's, far surpassing even the devotion expressed in the Western Canada tours of the late Seventies.

       On May 13, 1985, having installed the Pilgrim Virgin Statue at the high altar built over the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle, in the Cathedral of Madras, India, Father Gruner joined the Archbishop of Madras, His Grace Archbishop Rayappa Arulappa, to preach to the multitudes drawn by Her presence.19

       The faith in Mary is still strong, beautiful and simple in India. Following this pilgrimage, Father Gruner supplied the newly opened Fatima Rosary Crusade mission office in Madras with hundreds of thousands of scapulars, rosaries and holy cards.

       By November 1985, he was in Rome to chair the first Symposium at the Vatican specifically on the Message of Fatima: “Is The 1985 Extraordinary Synod The Last Opportunity for World Peace?”. This important meeting coincided with the opening of the Extraordinary Synod called by the Holy Father. The Apostolate hosted influential members of the clergy as well as such Fatima scholars as Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité (France); Hamish Fraser (Scotland); Abbé Pierre Caillon (France); Professor Emilio Cristani (Italy).

       There were also two bishops in attendance. The first was the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Giacomo Beltriti, who was quite familiar with the consecration of Russia request and who acknowledged it had not been done properly by the time of the November 24, 1985, symposium. His Beatitude had publicly, at the Roman Synod of Bishops in October 1983, from the Synod floor asked the Pope and the bishops to consecrate Russia as Our Lady of Fatima requested. He agreed to be an honorary chairman of the Symposium. He told Father Gruner he would continue to work towards the consecration of Russia through diplomatic channels within the Church and he encouraged Father Gruner to continue to openly publicize the need for the consecration of Russia as Father Gruner had been doing for several years.

       The second bishop present was Bishop Gabriel Ganaka, President of the Bishops' Conference of Nigeria. Bishop Ganaka was deeply impressed with the meeting and told Father Gruner that as a result of the presentation, he would talk to the Holy Father about the request for the consecration of Russia. A few days later, Bishop Ganaka arrived in the papal apartments for his appointed lunch with the Holy Father and a number of other bishops. He got there a few minutes early and in the sitting room on the coffee table was a magazine that headlined, “the consecration of Russia is already done.” This confused the bishop who did not have enough background on the Fatima Message, and consequently felt it “prudent” not to bring it up with the Pope.

       It became increasingly clear to Father Gruner, after Bishop Ganaka reported this experience to him, that a deliberate campaign of disinformation was preventing the consecration of Russia from being done. The Pope simply did not know just how many bishops would be loyal and obey him if he requested it.

       In advance of a new pilgrimage to India, Issue 19 of The Fatima Crusader had drawn a letter of encouragement, support and prayers from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, April 7, 1986: “May Our Lord continue to bless your dedicated efforts to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Her handwritten postscript, the cornerstone of her own apostolate, went straight to the heart of the India Pilgrimage, “Keep the joy of loving Jesus through Mary and share this joy with all you meet”.

       By May 1988, the International Fatima Rosary Crusade had expanded Father Gruner's radio program, begun in 1987, which was already reaching a potential 200 million people through 43 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, via regular short-wave radio broadcasts to more than 40 nations overseas.20

       By August of 1988, Father Gruner's book World Enslavement or Peace ... It's Up To The Pope, a comprehensive analysis of the Fatima Message, had been published. It became a staple for Fatimologists, paving the way for the English translation of the three volumes of The Whole Truth About Fatima, the definitive examination of Fatima by Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité which Father Gruner's own publishing house printed in the late 1980's and early 90's.

       The explosive growth of the Apostolate from 1978 to 1989 had greatly alarmed the anti-Fatima establishment. Here was a genuine movement to keep alive a message most unpalatable for the executors of the new order — a message that Russia must be converted, and that locked in what had become known as the Third Secret were answers to the crisis which had spread throughout the Church since Vatican II. Clearly, something had to be done about the man leading the movement.

§

       The pressure from various opponents of Father Gruner started to take on a frantic Keystone Cops pace. In Soul Magazine, the voice of the Blue Army, Bishop Luna declared that “The Holy Father is disturbed by the many letters being written demanding a consecration of Russia. The work in The Fatima Crusader by Fr. Nicholas Gruner is creating worldwide confusion. Pope Pius XII made a consecration of Russia; Pope Paul VI repeated the consecration when he went to Fatima in 1967 for the fiftieth anniversary. Pope John Paul II repeated the consecration in 1982 during his visit to Fatima and again when Our Lady's statue was brought from Fatima to St. Peter's Square in Rome in 1984.”21

       Then began the harassment that would continue for years. Bishop Luna wrote a letter to Bishop Legaspi, President of the Philippine Bishops' Conference, to which Father Gruner's Pilgrim Virgin tour was headed. In it, Bishop Luna lamented the fact that so many Blue Army members received The Fatima Crusader, because, he said, “its philosophy promotes ideas against the Holy Father and against the Holy See.”22

       Never has this claim of Bishop Luna been substantiated, nor could it be, as there is absolutely no evidence of any disloyalty or disrespect towards the Pope in any of the Apostolate's activities or publications. Nevertheless, this letter was put to a very specific use in the city of Ilo Ilo in the Philippines. Father Gruner had been invited to bring the Pilgrim Virgin into the Cathedral of Ilo Ilo. Archbishop Piamonte, based on the Bishop Luna letter, informed the faithful of his diocese that Father Gruner had canceled the visit and would not be arriving there with the statue.23

       When the tour actually arrived at the Cathedral with the statue, the doors were closed. No official was on hand to welcome the Pilgrim Virgin as there had been at eight other cathedrals in the Philippines. Nevertheless, they entered the Cathedral and brought the statue into the nave. While the Cathedral was packed for Mass, the Archbishop and the vicar were out of town, and the two young priests left in charge did not bother to even acknowledge Our Lady's presence in their midst. The Vicar General refused to speak with the tour organizers.24 At the end of Mass, their enthusiasm and devotion was not lost. The people crowded around Our Lady, paying homage to Her and enthusiastically demonstrating their appreciation at having Her in their midst.

       The islands of the Philippines are half way around the world from that little island of knowledge and inspiration wherein is deposited the key to the secrets of Fatima, one Carmelite nun in a convent in Coimbra. Yet it was in the Philippines that the long anticipated guerrilla-style harassment of Father Gruner's Fatima Apostolate first showed its face. The setting itself could only prompt one to wonder how much simpler life for the Church would be if only the Holy See's order of silence was lifted and the world could hear the truth from the voice of that one specially chosen woman a half a world away.

       Meanwhile, the Apostolate continued its initiative in India. In October, 1991, Father Gruner had received a pressing letter from Victor Kulanday of the All India Laity Congress urging him to return to the subcontinent to meet with bishops and Catholic lay leaders to explain the urgent need to consecrate Russia in the manner Our Lady specified. Many of the 140 Indian bishops had already indicated their willingness to consecrate Russia as Our Lady asked.

       Included in the pilgrimage were plans to meet with two Cardinals, two Archbishops, and the hope to meet again with Mother Teresa and that other legend of the Church in our time who had spent more than 60 years among the poor of Bombay, Father Maschio.25

       According to Bishop Amalnather, 200,000 people welcomed the Pilgrim Virgin statue at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Tuticorin in mid November.26 The November 24, 1991, edition of Mid Day also reported that more than 200,000 pilgrims welcomed the Pilgrim Virgin statue in Bombay, some several thousand miles away.

       The fervor for, love of and devotion to the Mother of God evident in grassroots Catholic movements in India was of the type not seen in decades in North America or Europe. In city after city, tens of thousands came out bearing flowers and gifts for the Pilgrim Virgin, leaving forever impressed upon the mind's eye hundreds of thousands of outstretched hands reaching for scapulars and rosaries.

       How much effect would this ‘Garment of Grace’ have on the Catholic culture of India? Bishops walked with thousands of their flock in procession to honor the Pilgrim Virgin. On at least one occasion, a bishop, after hearing Father Gruner's sermon on the message of Our Lady of Fatima, consecrated his Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.27 One priest commented after Father Gruner had spoken to a rally of 60,000 people that the visit of the Pilgrim Virgin had revived the faith of hundreds of thousands.

       Father Marcel Nault, who had hosted the Pilgrim Virgin Statue at his parish of St. Stephen the Martyr in Dowling, Ontario, and who would later join forces with Father Gruner, accompanied him on that pilgrimage to India.

       “In 1991,” he said, “I went with him to India. I have never seen such poverty and yet so much modesty among the people. The Indian people are very pious, religious, peaceful, and dress with great decency.

       “I was very much impressed by Father Gruner's extraordinary ability to preach for hours on the message of Fatima to millions. His is a marvelous holy work. He is a true crusader for Our Lady of Fatima.

       “I stood alongside him for hours giving out Brown Scapulars.”

       The pilgrimage returned to Canada with the goal of providing in the first months of the following year one million Scapulars and scapular booklets to India's 25 million Catholics, with a special emphasis on Catholic school children.

       At the end of 1991, the movement started by the apostolate showed no signs of distress, and its leader had so far fended off the first few thrusts of the bureaucratic forces which had yet to implement their definitive strategy.

       In Portugal, in 1992, however, the effort to derail the apostolate and discredit Father Gruner would descend to the theater of the absurd.


Footnotes:

1.   For text of this interview of Sister Lucy with Father Fuentes see La Verdad Sobre el Secreto de Fàtima, page 107. Most Reverend Sanchez, Archbishop of Vera Cruz, gave the imprimatur; Dec. 26, 1957 Interview with Sister Lucy by Father Fuentes — her last official statements allowed to be made public, Coimbra, Portugal; also, Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph, pgs. 26-32 also, Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, Vol. III, The Third Secret, pgs. 503-509.

2.   Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph, pg. 31.

3.  Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, Vol. III, The Third Secret, pg. 551.

4.    Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph, pg. 31; Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, Vol. III, The Third Secret, pg. 551.

5.    The Catholic Counter-Reformation in The XXth Century, Issue 251, Oct 1992, pg. 4; Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph, pg. 30; Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, Vol. III, The Third Secret, pg. 551.

6.   See Father Gruner's article, “Schism And The Common Good”, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 57, pg. 24.

7.  Cardinal Mindzenty, Memoirs, pgs. 412-413.

8.  Ibid.

9.  Acts 20:28-31.

10. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, Vol III, The Third Secret, pgs. 701-702.

11. Dr. David Allen White, The Mouth Of The Lion, pg. 79.

12. Bishop Fulton, Letter to Father Gruner, dated August 9, 1989, published in The Fatima Crusader, Issue 29, Sept.-Nov. 1989, pg. 40.

13. L 'Osservatore Romano, May 17, 1982, English Edition; also published in The Fatima Crusader, Issue 9-10, Oct-Dec 1982, pgs. 5-8.

14. Father Paul Leonard, Incardination Offered on Condition of Silence, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 29, Sept.-Nov. 1989, pg. 39.

15. Father Paul Leonard, Some Vatican Officials Attempt to Silence and Suppress Our Lady of Fatima and Father Gruner, The Fatima Crusader Issue 29, Sept.-Nov. 1989, pg. 4.

16. Father Nicholas Gruner, Letter To Cardinal Innocenti, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 29, Sept.-Nov. 1989, pgs. 37-38.

17.  See Sister Lucy interview with Father Fuentes - see chapter 9, footnote 1 above.

18. Father Gruner in India, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 18, Oct-Dec 1985, pg. 13, caption.

19. The Fatima Crusader, Issue 39, Winter 1992, pg. 20, caption.

20. Father Gruner Speaks World- Wide On the Only Daily Radio Program Dedicated To Our Lady's Fatima Message, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 30, Winter 1989,  pg. 34.

21. Soul Magazine, Jan-Feb 1990, pg. 29.

22. Father Paul Leonard, The Plot To Silence Our Lady Thickens, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 31-32, March-May 1990, pg. 5.

23. Ibid, pgs. 5-6.

24. Ibid, pg. 6.

25. The Fatima Crusader, Issue 39, Winter 1992, pg. 13, caption.

26. Ibid, pg. 28, caption

27. Ibid, pg. 10, caption.

 

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