When the Portuguese deputies sat down in the Assembly of the Republic to hear Ronald Reagan speak in 1985, few would have expected a reference to Fatima and the shepherds, but that was what they heard.
In the final phase of his speech, Reagan addressed the religious dimension of man.
“Our claim to human freedom and our suggestion that the inalienable rights come from someone greater than us are based on the transcendent,” he said then recalling John Paul II, his friend and ally in the struggle against communism.
“No one has done more to remind the world of the truth of human dignity, as well as the fact that peace and justice begin with each of us, of that special man who came to Portugal a few years after suffering a terrible attack . He came here, to Fatima, home of your great sanctuary, moved by his special devotion to Mary, to ask for forgiveness and compassion among men, to pray for peace and for the recognition of human dignity in the world, “Reagan said .
“When I met Pope John Paul II, last year in Alaska, I thanked him for his life and for his apostolate. I dared to suggest that the example of men like him and the prayers of simple people all over the world, people as simple as the shepherds of Fatima, have more power than all the great armies and statesmen of the world. “
Reagan then concluded by saying that despite being the President of one of the two world superpowers he went to Portugal to learn something about power.
“It is one thing that the Portuguese can teach the world, because the greatness of your nation, like any nation, resides in your people. It can be seen in its daily life, in its communities and in its countries, and especially in the simple churches that punctuate your land and witness to a faith that justifies all the claims of dignity and freedom of men “.
“I tell you that the power lies in this, that here lies the final realization of the meaning of life and the purpose of history and that in this we also find the basis of a revolutionary idea – the idea that men have the right to determine one’s own destiny “.
The story of this talk was revealed in an article written by historian Paul Kengor in the journal Crisis. The author recalls that Tony Dolan, the principal author of Reagan’s speeches, was a devout Catholic who knew Fatima well. Dolan confirmed to Kengor that the President, although not a Catholic, was aware of the matter.
“He knew about Fatima. Fatima was an important part of the anti-communist movement. The movement of Fatima was something that he knew, and besides this he had a strong mystical tendency. “
For this reason Dolan included the sentence in the speech. “I knew he would like it and that he would use it. I was sure about that. It was very bold “.
But Reagan’s interest in Fatima did not stop at this. In 1987 the President planned a new meeting with the pope in Rome, and knowing the importance of Fatima for John Paul II, he wanted to be well informed about the matter. The man in charge of doing so was the US ambassador to the Holy See, Frank Shakespeare, who by coincidence had been ambassador to Lisbon before being assigned to the Vatican.
“I spoke to Reagan of Fatima during the journey, either by plane or by car, and he listened very, very carefully. He was really very interested, “recalled Shakespeare talking to Kengor.
Apparently, it was not just for John Paul II that Fatima played an important role in the struggle against communism.