A Book Review of Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph
Frère François Sets the Record Straight
Reviewed by John Vennari
This is a book especially for our time. It gives us perspective in order to see our lives and world events in their proper light. Here is an antidote for confusion ... an answer to those currents inside and outside the modern Church that deceive us. It is probably the most important book about Fatima in print.
"The book is scholarly, yet readable. Complete yet concise."
The outstanding hallmark of the past thirty years is the apparent evaporation of certitude, and in particular, Catholic certitude. Doubt, dialogue and debate reign supreme in doctrine, morals, philosophy, liturgical stability and even our understanding of human nature. Earthquakes disrupt foundations, and the post Vatican II "Churchquake" has shattered the foundational certainties we thought untouchable. When it comes to truth, the question mark has become the international emblem. In many respects, even the Barque of Peter appears to have capsized.
Now even the certitude of Fatima has been assailed by these same forces.
Conflicting interpretations have turned the security of the Fatima message into a whirlwind of controversy. According to some Fatima apostolates, much of what we have believed about Fatima is now subject to "new understanding". The Third Secret was supposed to have been revealed in 1960, now some say it was never intended that way. As for the long awaited conversion of Russia, we are told that the Soviet Union's media blitz of Glasnost and Perestroika is the Triumph of Our Lady of Fatima in disguise. Even Church authority has been misused to enforce a comprehension of Fatima that conflicts with seven decades of changeless certainty and hope.
Frère François has come forth to set the record straight, and he does it with style, passion, and uncompromising fidelity to facts. It could be argued that no student of Fatima, of the Church, or of the 20th Century will be qualified to hold an opinion in any of these fields until he has first read "Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph". It is probably one of the most important books to be published this decade.
Most Up-to-date Facts
This book, which is the explosive climax of a 4-volume work, covers the history of Fatima information up until 1992. It centers on the firm testimony of Sister Lucy throughout the years, Pope John XXIII's disappointing handling of the Third Secret and a dramatic exposè of the Second Vatican Council's treatment of Communism and Our Lady. It also reviews the Pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II regarding the collegial consecration and related matters. There is discussion of the Third Secret "unveiled", and a final chapter on the future Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.
Within a bonus epilogue, little known prophecies of Saint John Bosco are considered. According to Father George de Jesus these gripping prophecies of Don Bosco may be fulfilled over the next five years.
"Then You Will Suffer Much"
The first chapter spotlights some of Sister Lucy's most dramatic moments in the pre-Vatican II period, in which she passed through the agony of drafting the Third Secret, and the series of events resulting in her being made inaccessible by order of the Holy Office.
"This is Not For Our Pontificate"
Chapter Two presents Pope John XXIII's curious dismissal of the Third Secret and his optimism towards dealing with the Soviets. He dreamed of peaceful co-existence with Communism and was thrilled that Khrushchev sent him a birthday greeting and Christmas card. It would seem, as Frère François writes, that the Pope became convinced that "The Church had no more enemies" (p. 68). The history of overtures towards this rapprochement with Communism is developed throughout the chapter.
It may have been a charming sentiment for Pope John XXIII to feel he could melt the Communist ice by "appealing to the goodness in people", and to say "Mr. Khrushchev seems chosen by Providence to do great things" (p. 66), but it was an unrealistic, pacifist, utopian dream. In 1960, when faced with the prospect of the Soviet smiles of peaceful coexistence, or Our Lady's dire warnings contained in the Third Secret, Pope John XXIII opted for optimism. Sister Lucy, on the other hand, took a quite different view (p. 72-74). The wave of aggiornamento sweeping the Church did not give her great expectations. She gave us a bittersweet warning of approaching crisis in saying "When all seems lost, then we will see the miracle".
The Ecumenical Eclipse
Chapter Three points out the grim reality that the two greatest events of the twentieth century, Fatima and the Second Vatican Council, appear to be going in opposite directions. Church history came to a crossroads at this time, and the ensuing crisis of faith demonstrates that the wrong path was chosen. Ecumenism and peaceful co-existence were embraced. Our Lady was ignored.
The detailed, but not too detailed, chronicle of Vatican II episodes most directly intersecting with the Fatima message is some of the most thrilling reading in print. The bishops' request for the Consecration of Russia during the Council was ignored. Russia's error, namely Communism, was not condemned or even mentioned at Vatican II due to the secret agreement between Rome and Moscow in order to gain Russian Orthodox observers.
Frère François' report of the forces working to downplay Our Lady at the Council cover 12 riveting pages. In the name of ecumenism, the terms "mediatrix" and "co-redemptrix" were hush-hushed in order not to offend the Protestants. These Catholic titles for Our Lady were considered harmful from an ecumenical point of view, even to the point of incurring the just ire of good bishops and theologians present. This is high drama, but accurate history. It also explains why devotion to Our Lady, so flourishing in the 1950's, took a sudden nose dive after the Council.
Some of the newest information will be found in Chapter Four where the Pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II are reviewed. Pope Paul VI's 1967 visit to Fatima was not a happy event for Sister Lucy, and after the Papal visit, "she knelt at the tomb of Jacinta for a long time and wept". Meanwhile, throughout the following years, Fatima is downplayed and Ostpolitik continues. A brief mention of the career of Monsignor Casaroli is tastefully inserted, as well as some stern words from Cardinal Mindzenty.
Guns and Rosaries
Many may be surprised to learn that in the beginning of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II was not overly enamored with the Fatima message regarding the collegial consecration. He was, however, quite zealous in the ecumenism and Ostpolitik of Paul VI. (p. 151) But assassin's bullets arriving on the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima have a way of gaining attention.
It was after the attempt on his life that Pope John Paul II looked into the material on the Consecration of Russia. This, by far, is the most up-to-date treatment of this hot topic. It includes the 1982 and 1984 consecrations of the world, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Vatican Policy toward the East, and the widely publicized attempt by certain highly placed churchmen to depict "Glasnost" as if it were the profound conversion of Russia promised at Fatima. Did Sister Lucy wish to attend the 1991 Papal Mass in Fatima? Read pages 197 to 209.
The Riddle of the Century
Diabolic confusion, the failure of the hierarchy, a spiritual chastisement, the apostasy and the loss of Faith is the heart of the Third Secret, according to the author. This conclusion is not wild surmise, but based on all legitimate evidence available. This chapter contains some of the finest detective work in print, and, as with the entire book, shows evidence of years of pains taking research. A book with over 650 footnotes cannot be taken lightly.
The Restoration of Certitude
In the midst of these difficult times of darkness, doom and despair, it is easy to forget that we are on the winning side. As Dr. David Allen White points out, "we've read the end of the book ... we know how the story turns out". Chapter Six is a consideration of what it will be like to live during Our Lady's triumph. He also reports fascinating prophecies regarding Saint Louis de Montfort and Saint Maximilian Kolbe regarding Our Lady's Victory.
Could Alter Human History
With Fatima left out of the equation, no comprehension of the Twentieth Century is possible. But Fatima disinformation is even worse. Frère François' courageous charity in sharing the fruits of his meticulous research is a great blessing to the Church and world. The book is scholarly yet readable. Complete yet concise. The author writes well, sets the record straight, blends old information with the most recently published facts, and remains untouched by the current propaganda goading us to accept that the Message of Fatima is no longer of dire urgency. It is a book that has the potential to alter human history.
Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph lives up to its name: a warning of impending calamity followed by the promise of a glorious future. It all depends on our response to Our Lady's requests. No other strategy will do.
This book is most timely. It is prophetic. The author proves that we will cross no threshold of hope until Fatima is completely obeyed.
Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph is published by Immaculate Heart Publications, Buffalo, NY, 363 pages. Click here to order a copy.