by Greg Wasson
In his 2010 book Fatima for Today (Ignatius Press), Father Andrew Apostoli does a remarkable job of giving the reader an up-to-date and comprehensive synthesis of the Fatima story. It is a must read for all Catholics.
Contrary to what many believe, Father Apostoli demonstrates the ongoing relevance of the Fatima message for the Church today. It is true that some of the prophecies have already come to pass, still other parts are yet to be realized. In May 2010 Pope Benedict XVI claimed that there were still elements of the Fatima prophecies that are unfulfilled. In particular he noted that we have not seen the promised Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, which he prayed would occur before 2017, the 100th anniversary of the Apparitions at Fatima.
During the apparition of July 13, 1917, Mary spoke of evils to come but that “in the end my Immaculate Heart will Triumph”. She told Lucia that she would return later to make two requests necessary for this Triumph. Eight years later she appeared and requested the First Saturday Devotion. Four years after that she appeared again and requested the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. This consecration was accomplished in 1984 by Pope John Paul II. However, the First Saturday Devotion remains as a way for us to help bring about the Fulfillment of the Fatima Mission – The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.
Anyone who has more than a passing familiarity with the apparitions at Fatima knows that the predictions made there had an uncanny accuracy. The Vatican congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its document The Message of Fatimastates, “Fatima is undoubtedly the most prophetic of modern apparitions.” At Fatima Mary predicted the Russian Revolution, the Second World War and the spread of the errors of communism. There was also a link between the “third secret” of Fatima and the assassination attempt on John Paul II.
The first issue that arises when one attempts to discuss Fatima or any other apparition is how does the Church view it. The Church has to approve an apparition in order for it to be “worthy of belief”. According to Pope Benedict XVI (Verbum Domini), apparitions or “private” revelation is “judged by its orientation to Christ himself. If it leads us away from him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, who guides us more deeply into the gospel and not away from it…Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals, it is licit to make it public and the faithful are authorized to give it adhesion…A private revelation can have a prophetic character and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time. Consequently, it should not be treated lightly. It is a help which is offered but, its use is not obligatory.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also addresses “private” revelation: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magesterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his Saints to the Church” (CCC 67).
How are the Fatima apparitions considered in the light of these teachings? The bishop in Fatima who decides such things, “approved” them. That means the faithful are free to believe or not to believe in what took place there. However, given the prophetic accuracy of the messages, it is hard not to believe.
In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II expressed his belief in Fatima this way: “And what are we to say of the three children from Fatima? …They could not have invented these predictions. They did not know enough about history or geography, much less about social movements and ideological developments. And nevertheless it happened just as they said.”
With thanks to http://spiritdaily.com/Fatima.htm