The year: 1917. The month: October. The Russian Revolution was still a week or so away. Tens of thousands of people gathered in a field in Portugal to await a miracle involving that mass of incandescent gas that gives us light, life and the leathery skin of hardened beachgoers. Three kids had claimed regular visitations from the Virgin Mary in the field on the 13th day of every month since the previous May. Those three children were named Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. The gathering of the thousands in that field in Portugal was there to see a miracle of the sun. The sun, it was said, would dance.
And so it did. Newspaper reports claimed that the throngs witnessed the sun whirling and turning within a circle of broken clouds. Even if you don’t believe in miracles…or anything that any Catholic tells you…you have to be taken aback by the fact that something did take place with the sun that day. Whether supernatural or natural, there is no denying that the kids got the date right for something worth witnessing. Coincidence or not it’s a pretty cool convergence. What is most interesting about the entire Miracle of Fatima, however, is that three secrets that were delivered to the children from Mary. What is most interesting about those three secrets is that one was withheld for so long…and the revelation of its content is strikingly less than convincing.
The first secret was supposedly some vision of hell. The second warned of evil to be loosed upon the world in the form of communism with the Russian Revolution as the centerpiece. The third secret was withheld from public consumption until 2000. Supposedly, the secret was that Pope John Paul II would be the victim of an assassination attempt. This secret was for some reason kept from the public until the 83rd anniversary of the vision. On May 13, 2000, this text of the vision of the young kids was finally released:
“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; 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 the 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, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”
When you read this, it becomes quite obvious that there is little connection between the details of the vision and the reality of the assassination upon Pope John Paul II. More importantly, why would it take nearly 20 years for the Vatican to release this secret? The Catholic Church is hardly nervous about releasing evidence of visions that have any the most remote connection with factual events. So why sit on this for 20 years. In the words of a famous philosopher of our: don’t make no sense.
What does make more sense is that the Vatican would not release a third secret from Fatima that throws less than engaging light upon their actions. Anyone paying attention will realize that the most likely element of the third Fatima secret is that it somehow touched upon the ongoing-and probably never-ending-Catholic priest buggery scandal. Now THAT’S a secret worth keeping forever as well as covering up with a sham story. The timing also makes sense. Just a couple of years earlier, the details of the infamous Father John Geoghan’s history of sexual abuse and the Church’s dedication to covering up that abuse had made headlines. Those at the top of the Vatican’s pecking order may not be the brightest votive candle flames in the world, but they aren’t entirely stupid. They had to know what was about to come. And what better way to draw attention away reality than by constructing an elaborate lie based on one of the single most important events in the history of Catholicism?
There just seems to be no way that the third secret as transcribed in the above statement can be thought to refer to the assassination attempt of John Paul II. Either the entire statement is a lie-or something very important was left out. According to this article on Catholicnews.com, a U.S. attorney named Christopher Ferrara is less than convinced of the truthfulness of the 2000 claim from the Vatican. Ferrara raises the specter of the single most important aspect that points to the invalidity of the release of the third Fatima secret when he reminds us that a collection of Popes refused to make that secret known on the assumption that the prediction was so incredibly ominous that not even Catholic true-believers would be able to handle it. And yet that which has been released as the third Fatima secret is vague to the point of meaningless. Dire, most certainly it is not.
So what goes on here?
There goes a narwhal.
Deception combined with misdirection is the foundation of great magic. And the Catholic Church makes Penn and Teller, Houdini, Harry Blackstone Sr. and Jr., and Uri Gellar look like rank amateurs. Certainly, one could point to several other possibilities regarding the authentic third secret. Perhaps the vision of Mary told the little kids from Portugal that birth control isn’t really a sin, or that Mel Gibson would one day become the second most famous Catholic in the world, or that Galileo was right.
Or, just perhaps, the vision experienced by the kids in Portugal revealed that one day the leaders of the Vatican receiving penance for the thousands of priestly abuse victims who grew up to either kill others out of an anger they barely understood or killed themselves without much care for ideas like mortal sin.