The Controversy Over the Third Secret: Objections and
Responses | Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R. | Appendix D from "Fatima For Today:
The Urgent Marian Message of Hope" | Ignatius Insight
The Controversy Over the Third Secret: Objections and
Responses | Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R. | Appendix D from Fatima For Today:
The Urgent Marian Message of Hope
The Third Secret has been dealt with in two chapters in this book.
Chapter 8 presented the content of the Third Secret as Lucia, Francisco and
Jacinta saw it revealed to them. Chapter 16 presented how Sister Lucia wrote
the Third Secret on a separate manuscript and then placed it in a sealed
envelope. The chapter also traces what popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul
II did after reading it.
The Third Secret was first made public at the Beatification Mass of Francisco
and Jacinta Marto on May 13, 2000, in the Cova da Iria where the secret was
originally revealed to the three children on July 13, 1917. Unfortunately,
controversy created by certain objections surrounded the Third Secret almost
from the moment it became public. We will look at each main objection
separately, and offer a response to each.
Objection: The original Third Secret was written on one sheet of paper.
Many clerics who were familiar with the
original text, including bishops who worked with popes John XXIII and Paul VI,
said that the Third Secret was written on a single sheet of paper (e.g.,
Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, who read the Third Secret with Pope John XXIII).
The controversy came about when on June 26, 2000, the Vatican released a copy
of Sister Lucia's handwritten text in a four-page format.  Though there are
several possible ways a single sheet of paper can be turned into more than one page
(written on both sides, folded and written on multiple sides, etc.) or copied
onto more than one page, some critics said that the Vatican copy could not have
been made from the authentic text and that some other document exists that
contains the real Third Secret.
The Vatican copy of Sister Lucia's handwritten manuscript appears in the
document The Message of Fatima prepared by the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith. In the introduction, the secretary of the
Congregation at the time, Archbishop Bertone, stated: "There is only one manuscript,
which is here reproduced photostatically." Sister Lucia herself confirmed
the validity of the Vatican text. Archbishop Bertone and Bishop Seraphim de
Sousa of Leiria met with Sister Lucia at her Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal,
on April 27, 2000. The Archbishop presented two envelopes to Sister Lucia. The
first or outer envelope contained the second envelope, which held the Third
Secret. Touching it with her fingers, Sister Lucia said, "This is my
letter." Then, while reading it, she said, "This is my writing."
 When asked if this document was the one and only Third Secret, Sister Lucia
answered, "Yes, this is the Third Secret, and I never wrote any
We have additional proof from Sister Lucia that the photocopy of the Third
Secret was authentic. She met again with Archbishop Bertone on November 17,
2001. A communique about that meeting carried this most important point:
With reference to the third part of the secret of Fatima, [Sister Lucia]
affirmed that she had attentively read and meditated upon the booklet published
by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [The Message of Fatima] and
confirmed everything that was written there. To whoever imagines that some part
of the secret has been hidden, she replied: "everything has been
published; no secret remains." To those who speak and write of new
revelations, she said: "There is no truth in this. If I had received new
revelations, I would have told no one, but I would have communicated them directly
to the Holy Father." 
Objection: The text of the Third Secret released by the Vatican contains no
words attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The message of the Third Secret was not conveyed in words by our Lady, but in
the various visions the children saw. Our Lady spoke simply by her actions, as
when she prevented the fire from the flaming sword of the angel from touching the
earth and consuming it. Archbishop Bertone explained:
The part of the text where the Virgin speaks in the first person wasn't
censored, for the simple reason that it never existed. The text these people
talk about just doesn't exist. I am not toeing some party line here. I'm basing
my statement on Sister Lucia's own direct confirmation that the Third Secret is
none other than the text that was published in the year 2000. 
Objection: The Vatican's copy of the Third Secret contains no
information about a nuclear holocaust, a great apostasy, or the satanic
infiltration of the Catholic Church.
This objection is largely the result of the disappointment that some people
felt when the Third Secret was finally revealed. Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope
Benedict XVI) predicted this disappointment. "A careful reading of the
[Third Secret]", he wrote, "will probably prove disappointing or surprising
after all the speculation it has stirred. No great mystery is revealed; nor is
the future unveiled." 
The years of waiting for the revelation of the Third Secret combined with the
discretion of the Vatican built up in many people's minds the idea that the
Third Secret predicted some catastrophe, like a nuclear war, a world-wide natural
disaster or a great tribulation within the Church. Some people even developed a
"conspiracy mentality", in which they assumed the faithful were not
being told the truth about what was going to happen in the Church and in the
world. Some critics have accused Vatican officials of publishing a fraudulent
Third Secret or of withholding important information. The problem here is that
no one has ever seen any other Third Secret of Fatima than the one that has
already been released to the public. The burden of proof lies with the critics.
They must produce another document or at least reliable witnesses who have seen
and read it. At this point none have come forward.
There is one final authority who should be quoted. He is Archbishop Loris
Capovilla, who once served as private secretary to Pope John XXIII. He had read
the Third Secret along with Pope John XXIII and actually held the manuscript in
his hands. Certain people have claimed that he had said there were "two
texts" of the Third Secret. However, Archbishop Capovilla made the
following clear and definitive statement:
There are not two truths from Fatima, nor is there any fourth secret. The text
which I read in 1959 is the same that was distributed by the Vatican. . . . I
have had enough of these conspiracy theories. It just isn't true. I read it, I
presented it to the Pope and we resealed the envelope. 
As for the doomsday predictions, we know that a terrible world-wide natural
catastrophe or a nuclear war could happen, but that would be the result of our
sins. This is why we must heed our Lady's message for prayer and penance. We also
know that with the spread of secularism and religious indifference, many
Catholics are no longer practicing their faith. But again, the remedy for this
is prayer, penance and a fervent Christian life, as our Lady requested at
Fatima. As for any triumph of Satan over the Church, this is impossible. Jesus
himself said so when he told Saint Peter: "You are Peter, and on this rock
I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against
it" (Mt 16: 18). It will not be Satan who will conquer, but Jesus with his
Immaculate Mother who will crush the head of the serpent.
Objection: The text released by the Vatican is not written in the
form of a letter.
Some of the clerics who lived at the time the Third Secret was written
mentioned it in terms of a letter, but this was not an emphatic point they were
making. The photocopy of the original manuscript released by the Holy See does
not have a formal address to the Bishop, however it does have a certain
likeness to a letter. The document begins with a title like those in Lucia's
memoirs and has a kind of introduction that makes reference to the Bishop:
[title] The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13
Archbishop Bertone said that the point about the document being written in the
form of a signed letter is not very important. He said of some of his critics
that "they look at everything through the magnifying glass of their own
biases. As a result they latch on to the most unbelievable things." 
[introduction] I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me
to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy
Mother and mine. <
As a final plea, let us set aside our doubts and support our Holy Father in the
present struggle with our prayers, our fidelity, our service and our love! This
would be very pleasing to the Immaculate Heart of Mary! I am absolutely confident
that the Holy Father has fully conveyed Our Lady of Fatima's message to us!
 The Last Secret, p. 63.
 A copy of the 4-page format of the text of the Third Secret can be found in
From the Beginning, pp. 251-54, as well
as on the Vatican website.
 Message of Fatima.
 The Last Secret, p. 64.
 "Sister Lucy: Secret of Fatima Contains No More Mysteries",
Vatican Information Service, Dec. 20, 2001.
 The Last Secret, p. 66.
 " Theological Commentary" .
 "Last Surviving Witness Says Third Fatima Is Fully Revealed",
Catholic News Agency, September 12, 2007.
 Message of Fatima.
 The Last Secret, p. 66.
Fatima For Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope
Fatima For Today -- Electronic Book Download
Fatima For Today -- Downloadable Audio File
Though the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima took place almost a hundred years ago, Our Lady's call to prayer and
penance for the salvation of souls and peace in the world is as relevant now as when first delivered to three Portuguese
peasant children in 1917.
At the peak of the First World War, our Lady warned of another worldwide conflict, the rise and spread of Communism, and
a terrible persecution of the Church unless people repented of their sins and returned to God. She also requested
devotion to her Immaculate Heart and a special consecration of Russia.
Much of what Our Lady of Fatima said was revealed soon after her appearances, but the third and final "secret", which
was not a message but a prophetic vision seen by the children, was not unveiled by the Vatican until 2000. Pope John
Paul II, who read the third secret while recovering from the attempt upon his life in 1981, believed the vision
signified the sufferings the Church had endured in the twentieth century.
Because of the prophetic nature of her messages, Our Lady of Fatima has been the subject of much controversy and
speculation. In this book, Father Andrew Apostoli carefully analyzes the events that took place in Fatima and clears up
lingering questions and doubts about their meaning. He also challenges the reader to hear anew the call of Our Lady to
prayer and sacrifice, for the world is ever in need of generous hearts willing to make reparation for those in danger of
losing their way to God.
"In a manner that is most accessible and, at the same time, complete and accurate, Father Apostoli helps us to know the
maternal instruction of Our Lady of Fatima and, following it, to know and 'savor', in the words of Pope Benedict XVI,
the mystery of divine love in our lives." -- Cardinal Raymond Burke
"As was so dramatically obvious during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Fatima in May, 2010, Our Lady's apparitions in
1917 remain powerfully compelling for us today. There she was an evangelist, calling us to prayer, conversion of heart,
and penance, pointing to Jesus and repeating her words at Cana, 'Do whatever He tells you.' This book brings it all
home." -- Most Reverend Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York
"For us, Fatima is a sign of the presence of faith, of the fact that it is precisely from the little ones that faith
gains new strength, one which is not limited to the little ones but has a message for the entire world and touches
history here and now, and sheds light on this history . . . Even now there is tribulation, in every conceivable form,
and power threatens to trample down faith. Even now, then, there is a need for the answer about which the Mother of God
spoke to the children at Fatima." -- Pope Benedict XVI
"Learn, live, and spread the message of Fatima! This is the express desire of Pope Benedict XVI. And Pope John Paul II
once stated that the message of Fatima was more important now than in 1917! That is why this wonderful book on Fatima
is so important. Fr. Apostoli has recaptured this heavenly message of urgency and hope for a new generation. Our world
needs the message of Fatima more than ever, and I pray that many people are brought back to Jesus, Mary, and the Church
through these pages." -- Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, Author, No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy
"Fr. Apostoli's book tells you all you need to know about Our Lady's apparitions to the three children in Portugal in
1917. His brief and objective presentation of the facts surrounding the divine revelation not only informs the mind, but
also moves the will to embrace and carry out the message of Fatima-prayer and penance-for the salvation of souls and
world peace. The message is clear-pray the Rosary every day and offer up some sacrifices for the salvation of sinners
and in reparation for sins against God and the Immaculate Heart of Mary." -- Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., Author, Inside the Bible
Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R., a founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, has been teaching and preaching retreats and parish missions for several decades. He is
considered one of the world's foremost experts on the apparitions at Fatima. He is the author of numerous books, including Following Mary to Jesus and Walk Humbly With Your God. Fr.
Apostoli is the vice-postulator for the cause for the canonization of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. A frequent host on EWTN television, he hosted the TV special "Our Lady of Fatima and
the First Saturday Devotion".
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