Pope Francis arrived at the military base of Monte Real, Portugal, on May 12, 2017, for his 19th apostolic journey. He told the journalists on the plane that this was a trip to pray with Our Lady, the Holy Mother of God. Indeed, the Pope wishes “to appear before the Virgin”, he emphasized, “in his role as universal Pastor”.
On the evening of May 12, at the shrine in Fatima, Cardinal Pietro Parolin reminded the faithful in his homily “what Fatima asks of us”: “Perseverance in our consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, put into practice each day by the recitation of the Rosary. And what if wars persist, despite our prayer? Even though we do not see the immediate results, let us persevere in prayer; it is never useless. Sooner or later it will bear fruit. Prayer is a capital investment that is God’s hands, which He will make fruitful in His good time and according to His plan, which are very different from ours.” Conversion, prayers of reparation, and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary “are the only response that stop evil and overcome it,” he insisted. Thus human beings win this victory “when they are capable of a sacrifice that becomes reparation.” This is the message of consolation and hope, the Secretary of State of the Holy See asserted, that the Virgin Mary delivered in Fatima, to humanity at war and to the suffering Church: “in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph” (Apparition in July 1917).
No Consecration of Russia
The part of the Blessed Virgin’s message pertaining to the consecration of Russia was not mentioned, even though Cardinal Parolin did not hesitate to declare “The people, the bishops, the pope did not remain deaf to the requests of the Mother of God and of mankind: the entire world has been consecrated to her.” But Sister Lucia stated, in May 1989, to Cardinal Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston: “The Holy Father considers that the consecration has been made, as well as possible in the circumstances. Made on the narrow path of the collegial consecration that she requested and desired? No, that was not done.”
At the end of this first day of pilgrimage to the shrine in Fatima, Pope Francis proceeded to the Blessing of the Candles, before speaking to a large crowd of “pilgrims with Mary”: “Which Mary?...The Virgin Mary of the Gospel, venerated by the Church at prayer, or a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus the ruthless judge; one more merciful than the Lamb slain for us?” He went on to explain: “Mercy has to be put before judgment and, in any case, God’s judgment will always be rendered in the light of his mercy. Obviously, God’s mercy does not deny justice, for Jesus took upon himself the consequences of our sin, together with its due punishment. He did not deny sin, but redeemed it for us on the cross. Hence, in the faith that unites us to the cross of Christ, we are freed of our sins; we put aside all fear and dread, as unbefitting those who are loved (cf. 1 Jn 4:18).”
Francis’s Remarks Raise Questions
This prompted Riccardo Cascioli to write for the online Italian news service La Nuova Bussola on May 14: “It seems that faith in Christ crucified is sufficient in order to be saved: a statement which, when expressed in this way, copies Luther’s position, overriding man’s freedom. But then what sense would it make to show these children the vision of hell, or to ask for prayer, penance and sacrifice in reparation for sins? These are questions that cannot be evaded so easily. The Church has approved the veracity of the apparitions and of the messages that were delivered.” And the columnist insists: “Of course, this apparition was a manifestation of God’s Mercy, too, but in pitting mercy against judgment and justice one gives the impression of an indiscriminate amnesty in which human behavior no longer matters at all.”
Canonizing the Shepherd Children
On May 13, Pope Francis canonized two of the three shepherds who saw the Virgin Mary a hundred years ago, Francesco and Jacinta Marto. At the beginning of the Mass celebrated on the pavilion of the shrine in Fatima, Francis pronounced in Portuguese the formula of canonization of the two young shepherds, elevating them to the honors of the altar of the Universal Church. Francesco and Jacinta Marto are the youngest children who were not martyrs to be proclaimed saints in the history of the Church. The brother and sister were 9 and 7 years old respectively at the time of these apparitions, from May 13 to October 13, 1917.
During his homily the Supreme Pontiff explained that the Virgin Mary “warned us about a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in his creatures. Such a life ... is in danger of leading to hell.” The Pope continued: “In Lucia’s account, the three chosen children found themselves surrounded by God’s light as it radiated from Our Lady. She enveloped them in the mantle of Light that God had given her. According to the belief and experience of many pilgrims, if not of all, Fatima is more than anything this mantle of Light that protects us, here as in almost no other place on earth. We need but take refuge under the protection of the Virgin Mary and to ask her, as the Salve Regina teaches: ‘show unto us…Jesus.’” The Pope added: “In ‘asking’ and ‘demanding’ of each of us the fulfillment of the duties of our proper state (Letter of Sister Lucia, 28 February 1943), God effects a general mobilization against the indifference that chills the heart and worsens our myopia.” But there was no mention of the precise requests of the Blessed Virgin.
On May 14, Roberto de Mattei wrote in Corrispondenza Romana: “Two contrasting centenaries are in fact being commemorated this year: the apparitions of Fatima and the Bolshevist Revolution of Lenin and Trotsky, which took place in Russia in the same month during which the Marian cycle was completed in Portugal. In Fatima, the Blessed Virgin announced that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world and that these errors would give rise to wars, revolutions and persecutions against the Church. In order to avoid these misfortunes, the Blessed Virgin asked above all for the sincere repentance of humanity and a return to the principles of the Christian moral order. To this necessary amendment of Christians the Blessed Virgin added two specific requests: the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, made by the Holy Father in union with all the bishops of the world, and the propagation and practice of the First Saturday devotion, consisting of joining with her, after making a confession and receiving Communion, for five consecutive first Saturdays, by meditating for fifteen minutes and reciting the Rosary. The spread of the practice of the First Saturdays of the month has never been promoted by the ecclesiastical authorities, and the papal acts of commending and consecrating to the Virgin Mary have been partial and incomplete.”
(Sources: cath.ch / imedia / vatican / nuova bussola / Corrispondenza Romana / FSSPX.News - 05/26/17