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The Fatima Second Secret
The second secret was a statement that World War I would end, along with a prediction of another war during the reign of Pope Pius XI, should men continue offending God and should Russia not convert. The second half requests that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.
Fatima in Life and Thought of John Paul II
– Ursula Bleyenberg
The message of Fatima tangibly intervenes in John Paul II’s life on May 13, 1981. The Pope considered the day of his attempted assassination not coincident. While still recuperating in the hospital, he asked for the documents concerning the third secret of Fatima and read them on July 18, 1981. On Pentecost Sunday 1981, which coincided with the 1550-year celebration of the Council of Ephesus in San Maria Maggiore, the Pope asked for a special consecration prayer to Mary to be read which especially gives expression to his belief in Mary’s protection. He repeated this consecration prayer on the first anniversary of the assassination. (On December 27, 1983 John Paul II visited Ali Agca in prison.) On the Feast of the Annunciation during the Year of Redemption 1984 John Paul II in spiritual union with all the bishops of the world before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in St. Peter’s Square repeated the act of entrustment of mankind and all peoples to Mary Most Holy. Five years later, Sister Lucia confirmed that the solemn consecration ceremony corresponded fully to the wish of Our Lady. Many interpreted the fall of communism in 1989 as being a consequence of the prayer to Our Lady of Fatima. On May 13, 2000 John Paul II beatified Francesco and Giacinta Marto. At the end of the Beatification ceremony at Fatima of, Cardinal Angelo Sodano announced that the “third part” of the secret of Fatima will be made public. The Message of Fatima was published in its entirety on June 26, 2000. One year later, on May 13, 2001 John Paul II during an Angelus Address asked “the Blessed Virgin Mary to show her motherly protection … on the day on which we commemorate her apparitions in Fatima. I myself experienced her protection on May 13, twenty years ago.”
While John Paul II was very conscious of the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima in his personal history, he also saw the message of Fatima in a greater historical context. The word Fatima does appear sparsely in the writings of John Paul II. On May 13, 1979 he wrote a letter to the local ordinary of Fatima and to all the pilgrims gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady in which he defined the core of the message of Fatima as the need to conversion. During his fifth pastoral voyage to Poland the Pope consecrated a new church dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. He said in his homily: “The history of this shrine is also linked with the event which took place in Saint Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. At that time I experienced mortal danger and suffering, but also the great mercy of God. By the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima my life was given back to me.” The Pope thanked the people of Krzeptówki for their prayers for him and acknowledged that the church was built in gratitude for his convalescence. “I know that this shrine… was built by many hands and many hearts united by hard work, sacrifice and love for the Pope. … Here, together with you, I wish once more to thank Our Lady of Fatima for the gift of my life having been spared, as I did at Fatima fifteen years ago. Totus tuus… I thank you all for this church. It is filled with your love for the Church and for the Pope. In some sense it is the continuation of my gratitude to God and to his Mother.”
Next the Pope drew attention to the sick and suffering and meditated on their hardships in light of the mystery of Fatima. In the presence of the bishop of Leiria/Fatima John Paul II emphasized the close relationship of this new Polish Shrine to the Portuguese pilgrimage place. He again stressed the message of Fatima which “consists in an exhortation to conversion, prayer, especially the rosary, and reparation for one’s own sins and for those of all mankind.” John Paul II concluded his homily with a reference to “the message of Fatima as an outpouring of the love of the Heart of the Mother, who is always open to her child, never loses sight of him, thinks of him always, even when he leaves the straight path and becomes a ‘prodigal son’.” (cf. Lk 15:11-32) Mary’s maternal love is best shown in her compassion on Golgotha when she “became the mother of all those redeemed by Christ. From that time on, the greatest concern of her Immaculate Heart is the eternal salvation of all men and women.”
The coronation of Our Lady of Fatima in Salzburg, Austria on June 19, 1998 again offered the pope an opportunity to draw attention to the Fatima message. He placed the archdiocese under her special protection praying: “I entrust your Archdiocese and each of you to her. May Mary shelter you beneath her mantle … Under the protection of your mantle, O Mary, our anxieties and fears are overcome, and we rediscover trust and courage. Looking to you, we learn how to entrust ourselves to God with a confident and total, renewed abandonment.”
Pope John Paul II spoke briefly of the Message of Fatima at several other occasions: on May 31, 2001 at the John Paul II Institute in Rome; on September 24, 2000 in his Angelus Address directed to pilgrims from Portugal; on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Jubilee Year 2000. In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae of October 16, 2002, he wrote about Mary’s apparitions in Lourdes and Fatima to indicate “that still today the Blessed Virgin desires to exercise through this same prayer that maternal concern to which the dying Redeemer entrusted, in the person of the beloved disciple, all the sons and daughters of the Church.” (RV 7)
Vladimir Putin may be President of the Russian Federation, but, for all the talk about the various events since he came to power, perhaps the most significant change to have taken place under Putin’s tenure is the elevation in power of the Russian Orthodox Church.
According to the Pew Research Forum the number of Russians who identify as “Orthodox Christian” has risen dramatically, from 37% in 1991 to 72% in 2008, with the latter figure holding steady closer to today. Moreover, 69% of Russians believe their culture, including its religion, is “superior to other cultures.” Putin may be the leader of the Russian Federation, but many in the United States have overlooked the role that the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is playing in Russia’s current political climate. It is vital to understand the ROC’s political role, particularly given its recent reemergence as a major social institution and influencer in Russia—often working in coalition with Putin’s government.
How—after many decades of Soviet persecution of Russian Orthodoxy—have Russians come back to boldly embrace their pre-Communist faith? Why is the Putin-led state so concerned with protecting and working with the church? For American policymakers and non-government officials alike, the key to understanding Russia begins with engaging with the basics of Russia’s church-state situation—and how their close relationship, known as symphonia, plays into the nation’s domestic and foreign policy.
But it wasn’t until the meteoric rise of Vladimir Putin and the enthronement of Kiril I, Patriarch of Moscow and All the Rus’ (the first patriarch elected under Putin’s rule), that the ties between church and state grew dramatically. The ROC now publicly embraces the state, while the Kremlin wears Orthodoxy as the make-up for Russia’s new face to the world.
While Westerners may be shocked by the rapid entrenchment of the once-persecuted Orthodox faith, the ROC has long served as a major cultural and spiritual pillar of Russian societies before. The Russian Tsars, particularly the Romanovs, were eager to adopt Orthodox symbols such as the Byzantine double eagle. On more than one occasion, the Tsarist Empire saw itself as the protector of the Orthodox faithful in foreign lands, including the Levant and the Balkans
This historical symbiosis between church and state, or symphonia, is heavily rooted in the Orthodox Christian experience, which has taken shape over centuries. The theological basis of symphonia springs from the famous quotation by Jesus in the Book of Matthew, regarding “render[ing] therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This idea extended to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who sought to reform the Empire and reestablish the glory of ancient Rome through his famous legal “code,” Corpus Justice Civilis. Symphonia was, thereby, conceived as the successor to ancient Roman governance with Justinian’s Empire inheriting the ancient Roman tradition in which, “the imperial authority and the priesthood…are regarded as closely interdependent, but, at least in theory, neither [is] subordinated to the other,” which is, of course, a far cry from the expectations we have of the relationship between church and state in the West.
In present times, symphonia has only continued to grow and evolve in post-Soviet Russia. The Kremlin has given the ROC the spotlight in its state-sponsored media, stressing the importance of Orthodox Christianity to contemporary Russian life. It is also closely related to Putin’s effort to portray himself as a vanguard of traditional, conservative values. On major Christian feast days, Putin and prominent Russian politicians are regularly shown lighting candles inside grandiose cathedrals, as well as in small village churches—serving to cement the image of church-state unity.
Meanwhile, the ROC under Kiril has taken an active role in both Russian diplomacy and its domestic policy. In only ten years, Kiril has: reunited Russia’s diaspora churches with the patriarchate in Moscow, obtained the Vatican’s support for the “international community’s” intervention in Syria (a quasi-approval of Russia’s military intervention to defend the Assad regime), provided support to Orthodox Christians in Syria, given blessings to the Russian annexation of Crimea and co-sponsored legislation which instituted numerous socially conservative laws, from policies addressing sexual orientation to alcohol consumption. Patriarch Kiril, furthermore, has even gone so far as to challenge Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the first among equals of the 14 Autocephalous (self-governing) Orthodox Churches. Kiril questioned Bartholomew’s authority by refusing to recognize the newly formed Ukrainian Orthodox Church (as Ukraine was previously under Kiril’s jurisdiction in Moscow), rallying other autocephalous churches to his side. These are just a few examples of Patriarch Kiril continually growing influence.
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