Declaration by the Rector of Fatima, December 28, 2004

Source: FSSPX News


This clarification, supposedly intended to reassure the faithful on the planned construction of a new basilica at Fatima, has had exactly the opposite effect. Fr. Luciano Guerra, rector of the sanctuary, has said that there is no question of building a place of ecumenical worship, but at the same time, is proposing an ecumenical-syncretist reading of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

 He believes that Fatima heralded the ecumenical and interreligious dialogue advocated at Vatican II. In his opinion, this message implicitly amounted to the justification of the opening up of the Church to other religions. And thus the message of conversion is transformed into an exhortation to dialogue with the Orthodox, the Muslims, and even agnostics and atheists…



1. The Rectory of the Shrine of Fátima, and certainly other Church authorities, have in these last two months received a considerable amount of mail, such as e-mail, faxes, and so on, following a piece of sensational news that came out in the weekly Portugal News, a newspaper published in English in Algarve, at the time of the International Congress on "The Present of Man and the Future of God", which, as we informed the public, was held in the Shrine this past October.

 The news, which provoked strong reactions on the users of the Internet (those who sought us out were approximately one hundred), claims that, at the inspiration of delegates from the U.N. and from the Vatican and also according to statements from the Rector of the Shrine, Fátima "is to be developed into a centre where all the religions of the world will gather to pay homage to their gods". Furthermore: "The future of Fátima, or the adoration of God and His Mother at this holy Shrine, must pass through the creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle". And that’s not all, listen: "The Shrine of Fátima is about to undergo a complete reconstruction with a new stadium-like basilica being erected close by the existing one built in 1921”.


2. It is our firm conviction that the great majority, perhaps the totality, of the reactions received is the result of a long orchestration, centred in the United States, by people bitterly opposed to Vatican Council II, specifically to what pertains to a wider opening of the Church, with emphasis on the ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue. During the days of the Congress, there were held in Fátima demonstrations by two more protest organizations, headquartered one in Canada, the other in France. The masterminds of these groups barricaded themselves, many years now, behind a thick argumentation, from where they throw accusations to the authorities of the Church, including the Pope himself, as being heretics, apostates and unfaithful to the responsibilities thrust upon them.


3. So that the readers may compare the content of the news published by Portugal News with the oral presentation of the Rector in the final session of the Congress - only time he spoke - whose entire text we are publishing in "Voz da Fátima"(Voice of Fátima), here are verbatim the pertaining references, taken from the recording of that speech: "It is true that (...) we are all very far from journeying towards the only, or through the only, bridge. We could therefore relax, since, if one’s bridge is collapsing, it could happen that the neighbour’s bridge is not. But it is also true that a disease of epidemic proportions seems to have threatened the faith of all religions, of all confessions, of all traditions, during the last decades. That’s why we rejoice in the brotherly presence of the representatives of the various spiritual schools and we are sure that their presence here opened the way for a greater future openness of this Shrine; Shrine that seems already vocationed, thanks to divine providence, for contacts and for dialogue (...). This calling is almost explicit, in regard to the oriental, orthodox and catholic churches, in the message of the Angel of Peace; and, in regard to the Islamic religion, in the name itself that God chose for the town where Mary would one day appear: Fátima".


4. From these words one can conclude that we are truly opened to ideas and values that are universal, therefore open to dialogue with other faiths, following an already ancient practice of the Church. But it is evident that we are not open to share the way we worship, the least in what pertains to the sacraments, specifically the Eucharist, which is the ultimate and most perfect expression of Christian unity and that we can’t unfortunately celebrate not even with our closest brothers of the protestant denominations. Therefore the worship space which, God willing, will soon start to be built - and which the journalist claims that it will be similar to a stadium - in fact will be a church with capacity to seat nine thousand people and will be marked exclusively for Catholic worship. It will be located not next to the present basilica, but between the "Cruz Alta" (High Cross) and the public road. And, when it seems to us to be opportune, after what already is happening in Fátima and in many other sacred places, this new basilica would be able to receive brothers from other faiths who may want, in a brotherly manner, know how we pray.

 The claim of Portugal News that the October Congress was held at the inspiration of the UN and the Vatican and that it was sponsored by the World Conference for Religion and Peace and that it would have been its annual meeting is deprived of any basis in reality. The idea of the Congress was born entirely in the Rectory of the Shrine, having its inspiration in the reading of the message of Fátima, as referred to in the last number of this communiqué, within the spirit of Vatican II.


5. After having given the correct interpretation of the spirit and words of the October Congress, it seems to us to be useful to add some words of reflection on the many controversies that arose from the beginning concerning the apparitions and messages of Fátima. They represent one further example of how farther we have to journey until we are able to dialogue, within and outside the Catholic Church, on the subject of religion as well as on other social relationships.


6. The Rectory of the Shrine has recently published a leaflet titled "Inquérito aos Assinantes do Jornal Fraternizar" (Inquiry made to the subscribers of the Newspaper To Fraternize), where it tries to demonstrate how any "extremist" look on Fátima may be damaging to the point of one not being able to ascertain the true facts, of distorting the texts, of inventing second intentions and of accusing of mental insanity people that are very normal and well-known as very wise.


7. Today another extremism - we would say from the opposite side - forces us to come public to denounce categorical statements that also distort the true facts and are very offensive to the dignity of the people working in this Shrine.


8. It doesn’t look to us pretentious to try a journey, even though very rapid, through the history of the Church and of the World, starting in Jesus time and visiting briefly some of the great religious controversies, in order to pick up some lessons. Who does not remember the Sadducees, Essenes, Pharisees and Zealots of the public life of Jesus? We could go on, within Christianity and outside of it, in religion as well as in politics, with the Gnostics, the Manicheans, the Montanists, the Ultra-Montanists, the Rigorists, the Cathars, the Protestants, the Puritans, the Progressives, the Conservatives, the Liberals, the Centrists, the Right Wing, the Left Wing; those who demand and build an image of God as being more near us, more merciful, more condescending with our weaknesses, less threatening, on the side of the poor, and then those from the other side who fight on to keep tradition and order, who defend a transcendental God, who stick to the letter of Sacred scriptures, who take seriously the salvation of the soul because they believe in eternal life, but also in apocalyptic threats, sometimes even of the most controversial revelations. In another words, disparities so significant that religion seems to be a pretext rather than a reason so that some, blindly determined not to lose the course of history, may want to dedicate all their energies to seeking to prove that there is no paradise on earth; while others, neglecting to show love and justice towards the poor, which are the larger part of humanity, may want to engage in stubborn crusades, to the point of entering into conflict with the authorities of the Church for not interpreting the messages of a particular private revelation the same way they do.


9. Behold the extremes and the extremisms! Which, in more crucial causes and circumstances, can lead to fundamentalism, fanaticism and terrorism. The ultimate evil doesn’t reside in the faith, not even in the ideas alone, but in the factors that mould our psyche, and here we mention four of the most important ones: temperament, character, culture and education.


10. Jesus, in the famous scene of the Final Judgement, used the image of right and left to separate the just from the evildoers. We are not yet in the Final Judgement; we are still pilgrims journeying towards full brotherhood, have many sinners to our left and to our right, are plagued with weeds in all our fields. On the other hand, we still have time for the dialogue that can unite us. And, if we do not enter into dialogue, our destiny will be that of Cain: he killed Abel to put an end to his annoying company and spent the rest of his life in an agonizing loneliness, with the voice of his brother’s blood hammering away in the ears of his conscience.


11. We must admit that, in disputes of religion as in any others, we are always dealing with brothers, which we can’t reject as enemies, for, even for the enemies, we have a mandate of forgiveness. How are we to proceed, then, when very often we are faced with extreme positions, some of them occurring because we even have the bad habit of turning into an extremist any moderate person who simply doesn’t go along with our opinions? Being more specific: if, amongst those interested in Fátima, some deny everything regarding the apparitions and almost everything regarding Our Lady, and some, on the other hand, love dearly both to the point of demanding miracles that God doesn’t want to perform, how are we to proceed? There is only one way out: an immense respect, a great effort to love the good that there is in others, both on the left and on the right, and a determined willingness to maintain the unity of the whole to the point of going the extra mile. So that it never comes, unless in rare cases, to the tragic end which consists in having someone trying to kill our own inner being, our own identity. There we should not allow anyone to get.


12. Since fractures are always a negative thing, we understand the effort of all those with responsibility for the cohesion of institutions and of all those who take position in the centre, so to speak, in order that the extremes may stay relatively quiet and may not decide to secede or may not be forced to do it. In this respect the Church of Christ is really similar to other social bodies, although with the differences inherent to the mysterious presence of Jesus, Who remains faithful to His promise of eternal life, communion and light, as we are reminded, in this time of Christmas, by St. John the Evangelist.


13. Christians know that the Church did rethink thoroughly, since Vatican Council II, its relationship with the various religions, within and outside of Christianism, even its position regarding agnostics and atheists, in order to detect what in all of them one can find of God, given the fact that it is impossible that, even in the most confused man, one may not find some trace of the Creator. We consider this attitude a luminous road.


14. In the message of Fátima, facts and words seem to contain, at least, two implicit calls to the exercise of this spirit of dialogue with people of different convictions. Thus, in the apparitions of the Angel of Peace we find two important clues: the fact that the Angel prostrated himself down on the ground while praying, in the first and third apparitions; and the fact that, in the third, he did give communion, under the species of bread, to the oldest seer, since she had already received her first communion, and, under the species of wine, to Francisco and Jacinta, who had not. Considering the fact that both practices had fallen into disuse, centuries ago, in the Latin Catholicism, and have remained still alive amongst the oriental Christians, it is acceptable - it seems even compulsory - to see in that an invitation to try to link Fátima to the oriental churches, both catholic and orthodox. In other words, the message of the Angel of Peace contains an appeal to the ecumenical dialogue with those churches separated from Rome more than a thousand years ago. Dialogue that, thanks to God, is progressing slowly but determinedly by both parties.

 One year after the apparitions of the Angel, Our Lady chose the Cova da Iria (Iria’s Hole) as a place where to appear. She knew beforehand that this unknown place would come to be called more easily Fátima, since it was located within the limits of the only parish, the only town, that in Portugal bears the name of the daughter of Mohammed, the founder of Islam. Right next to Fátima there were other towns with Christian names, which Our Lady could have chosen. Well, She knew beforehand that, in such circumstances, Her choice would often remind us of the Muslim religion, which the Arabs certainly practiced here before the Christian reconquest.

 Our Lady knew that the human being pays a lot of attention to coincidences and therefore, soon or later, would reflect on this coincidence of Her apparitions with the name of the daughter of Mohammed. That would be the case, even though, as some historians think possible, the name of the village of Fátima may not have anything to do with the daughter of the founder of Islam. That being the case, it seems to us that, in order for us to be faithful to the message of Fátima, we have at least to see in it a little window of opportunity to look into our brothers to the South of us, maybe even a door through which we can leave Fátima to visit them and vice-versa. Nothing of this has been done so far, but all things need time to mature. Unfortunately the urge to go at it slowly has been stronger than the other way around.

 As to the faithful of other religions, and even to the many without religion, the message of Fátima may also present a discreet appeal, precisely in the first apparition. Prostrating himself down on the ground and reciting a prayer without any connotation to any specific religion - since it is limited to the concepts of faith, adoration, hope and love - it doesn’t seem to us to be pretentious, on the basis that all human beings are created by God and loved by Him, to admit that, basing ourselves in that prayer, we could try earnest contacts with other religions, with agnostics and even with atheists. Being that the thinking of the Church, expressed in many documents and gestures, it will also continue to be the road for us to travel.


Shrine of Fátima, Dec.28, 2003


The Rector, Fr. Luciano Guerra