THERE has been so much controversy on the supposed third secret of Fatima from that 1917 Marian apparition in Portugal when about 70,000 people, including atheists, witnessed the stupendous miracle of the dancing sun.
This, despite the fact that in 2001, the Vatican had released the alleged "full text" of the third secret with a 40-page commentary by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later to become Pope Benedict XVI) and an introduction by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone.
The document was released through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which Ratzinger and Archbishop Bertone were prefect and secretary, respectively.
The document noted that Pope John XXIII read the "third secret" in August 1959, but decided not to publicize it. Pope Paul VI made the same decision in March 1965.
Soon after the attempt on his life on May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II re-read the secret, and decided to consecrate the world to the Virgin Mary on June 7, 1981.
Lone surviving Fatima visionary Sister Lucia dos Santos allegedly confirmed that this consecration fulfilled the wishes of the Lady of Fatima.
Bertone said John Paul II's decision to make public the third Fatima secret "brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil, yet pervaded by the merciful love of God and the watchful care of the Mother of Jesus and of the Church."
But the controversy on whether what was revealed contained the full text of the third secret has haunted the Christian world.
Sister Lucia, who was already then a Carmeliate nun, wrote down the text of the third secret in 1944, at the request of the local bishop. She wrote (excerpts):
"... 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 aspergilium 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."
Ratzinger attempted to put an end to sensational theories on what the third secret could be, saying: "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."
Still, even respected Catholics have continued to insist that what the Vatican had revealed was not the full third secret story.
Howard Dee, former Philippine ambassador to the Vatican, said in a 1998 interview with Inside the Vatican magazine: "Bishop Ito [the local bishop of Akita, Japan, now deceased] was certain Akita apparitions of the Blessed Mother in the early 1970s was an extension of Fatima, and that Ratzinger had "personally confirmed to me that these two messages, of Fatima and Akita, are essentially the same."
Dee was referring to the apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Akita, Japan to Sister Agnes Sasagawa. There, the Blessed Mother said:
"As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful....
"The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres...churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord."
Of course, the first two Fatima secrets are already well known to Our Lady of Fatime devotees, namely the vision of hell and the prophecy on the end of World War I, the beginning of World War II and the request for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
And so the controversy on the third secret boils on. In May, 1994 – 77 years after Fatima, a French priest named Fr. Raymond Arnette was listening to a CD entitled “Mysterium Fidei,” with French lyrics and sung by French choirs and then suddenly heard a clear voice saying “L’eglise saignera de toutes ses plaies”, that is, “The Church will bleed from all her wounds.”
The voice went on to say" “There will be a wicked council planned and prepared that will change the countenance of the Church. Many will lose the Faith; confusion will reign everywhere. The sheep will search for their shepherds in vain.”
“A schism will tear apart the holy tunic of My Son. This will be the end of times, foretold in the Holy Scriptures and recalled to memory by Me in many places. The abomination of abominations will reach its peak and it will bring the chastisement announced at La Salette. My Son’s arm, which I will not be able to hold back anymore, will punish this poor world, which must expiate its crimes," the voice said.
It continued: “One will only speak about wars and revolutions. The elements of nature will be unchained and will cause anguish even among the best (the most courageous). The Church will bleed from all Her wounds. Happy are they who will persevere and search for refuge in My Heart, because in the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
Then Fr. Arnette only heard one more sentence: “This is the Third Secret of Fatima.”