Third Prophecy of Fatima:
A Summons to Repentance
by Helga Zepp-LaRouche
The full title of this statement is "Pope Publishes the `Third Prophecy of Fatima': Urgent Summons to Repentance and Conversion."
The official publication of the third part of the "secrets of Fatima" by Pope John Paul II, is a well-considered intervention into world history; it is an urgent warning, in the face of many existential dangers, to change the direction in which the world is presently heading.
The prophecy, which the apparition of the Mother of God made face-to-face with the three shepherd children of Fatima, Portugal in 1917, has about it something eerily fascinating in retrospect, from the very end of the Twentieth Century, for, from this vantage point, it is a forceful metaphor for the catastrophe of the Twentieth Century, with its two world wars, and the many wars which raged in the second half of the century. Also, similarly, resonating in the prophecy, are the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, the attempted assassination of the Pope, and the threat to the Church--and to the whole of human civilization. But at the same time, it contains the powerful summons to bring human freedom again into conformity with the will of God, and so to save civilization.
In a commentary on the publication of the third secret, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, puts forward the interpretation, through Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Foreign Minister, that the third secret deals with events of the Twentieth <ntCentury--therefore with things now in the past--but he also makes it very clear, that the terrors and the false doctrines of the Twentieth Century carry forward into our new century ("that it [the world] might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy"), and that they have a direct relevance for the decisions which we must face today: history as a painstaking ascent toward a level possessing the potential for creativity in the imitation of the Divine, or toward frightful destruction and self-destruction.
In the third part of the secret, the Pope and bishops climb a steep mountain, toward its summit, upon which stands a huge cross, made from rough tree trunks. The text of the secret reads:
"Before reaching there, the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins, and half trembling, with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another, the other Bishops, Priests, and lay Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions...."
Cardinal Ratzinger emphasizes, that by this image of the suffering Pope, we could suggest to ourselves a concentrated idea of a succession of Popes in the Twentieth Century, who, from Pope Pius X at its beginning, through the present Pope, shared in the suffering of the century, and took it upon themselves to lead the way with these sorrows along the "way of the cross." Whoever has seen Pope John Paul II praying, with his stooped back, taking into himself the whole agony and pain of the poorest in this world, understands this image at once. It is the pure expression of agape[macron], of love of mankind, the unending ability to suffer along with mankind, and to not tolerate seeing mankind in misery.
But how can man be liberated from this terrible situation? A hint for understanding this metaphor of Fatima, has been provided by Sister Lucia, who, of the three shepherd children, is the only one still living, in a letter she wrote to the Holy Father on May 12, 1981--one day before the attempt on his life:
"And if we do not yet ascertain the complete fulfillment of the end of this prophecy, then we do see that we can gradually contribute to it with every further step we take. If we do not abandon the way of sin, of hate, of vengeance, of injustice, of the violation of the human person, of immoral behavior, and of violence, etc...."
And is the world not, today, plagued by all these evils in the greatest measure? Cardinal Ratzinger emphasized, that the key word of the third secret is the triple call of the angel in the apparition, who cried, "Penance, penance, penance!"
"To understand the signs of the times means to accept the urgency of penance, of conversion, of faith. This is the correct response to this moment of history, characterized by the grave perils outlined in the images to follow. Allow me to add here a personal recollection: In a conversation with me Sister Lucia said that it appeared ever more clearly to her that the purpose of all the apparitions was to help people to grow in faith, hope, and love--everything else was intended to lead to this."
Exactly here lies the central idea: that evil in the world can only triumph because the absolute majority of men have distanced themselves, in their freedom, from God, and tolerate or practice hatred, vengeance, injustice, violence, and so forth. If one would regard this sad condition of the world today with the eye of this great Pope, then one would see entire continents destroyed, mothers with no tears left to weep for their dying children, and men whose souls are dead, even though their bodies are still alive.
And the Pope directs a blazing appeal to us: Convert, before it is too late, not hate but rather love; not revenge, but forgiveness; not injustice, but justice; no violence, rather, respect for the human person, and peace! This is the message of Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."
Cardinal Ratzinger underscores in his commentary the missionary character of the secret of Fatima:
"Those who expected exciting, apocalyptic revelations about the end of the world or the future course of history, are bound to be disappointed. Fatima does not satisfy our curiosity in this way, just as Christian faith in general cannot be reduced to an object of mere curiosity. What remains was already evident when we began our reflection on the text of the `secret': the exhortation to prayer as the path of `salvation for souls' and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion."
Face to face with terrible dangers and catastrophes, the Pope would give man a task--a mission--not in the sense of a bureaucratic doctrine, but in the sense of the calling described by Friedrich Schiller in his The Virgin of Orleans, which Joan of Arc heeds and follows. Her nation, France, lies prostrate, occupied and destroyed by the English, and her King is a Romantic weakling, who indulges himself in impotent fantasies about the past. Then, Joan takes up the call of the Mother of God, to save France. She--a simple shepherd girl--follows this calling, without consideration for her own person, and leads the army to victory over the English, and saves her nation.
It is exactly these qualities which the Pope would address in us. Every man of good will is called upon to take up the mission, and not leave the world in its present condition.