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REPORT FROM ROME

An Open Letter to the Pope in Rome’’s largest daily pleads the cause of Russia’’s Consecration

by Alberto Carosa

Rome — “No comment” was the Vatican’s official reaction to the two-page “Open Letter” to the Pope which appeared in Rome’s largest daily paper Il Messaggero on July 12, 1995. The ad, entitled an “Open Letter to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II,” cost over two million lire ($160,000) and was paid for by the free-will offerings of nearly 10,000 Catholics from around the world.

The Open Letter was signed by Bishop Benedict To Varpin of the Archdiocese of Madang in Papua-New Guinea and his retired colleague, Bishop Anthony Sanusi of the Nigerian diocese of Ijebu-Ode. The two prelates were joined by one Canadian and two American priests as well as by five lay people representing large North American Apostolates such as the Committee for the National Pilgrim Virgin of Canada, the Servants of Jesus and Mary and the Fatima Consecration Crusade. In addition, a full half-page of the Open Letter enumerated the names of several thousand other signatories, mostly those of U.S. and Canadian laypeople.

Consecration of Russia the Goal

These different pro-Fatima organizations have a common goal: to press for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as set forth by the Blessed Virgin in Her Fatima Message. In accordance with Her own words, they believe this act is a required prerequisite for establishing an enduring period of world peace. The thousands of signatures that appear in the Open Letter ad appear to be merely the tip of the iceberg, since the text of the ad states that at least five million souls worldwide have signed petitions to the Pope asking for the consecration to be fully accomplished.

If this has not yet been the case, the authors of the Open Letter argue, it is due in no small part to the “sinister machinations of ... a small handful of Vatican bureaucrats who have become so confident of their unbridled power that they will use any means (including lies, slander and libel) to silence anyone who promotes the full Fatima Message.” The real problem for these bureaucrats, according to the Il Messaggero ad, is that the Fatima Message stands in direct opposition to their own private “Modernist” and liberal agendas.

Second Bishops Conference

The Open Letter describes in detail the efforts of these Vatican officials to sabotage the Second Conference on World Peace and the Immaculate Heart of Mary held last November in Mexico City when “... Letters and phone calls (were) made by some few bureaucrats to various bishops and nuncios in a direct effort to discourage or even forbid participation in the Conference.”

Despite these efforts, which the ad denounces as both illegal and immoral, the Conference did take place “in the presence of bishops from every continent in the world,” but the number in attendance fell far short of original expectations. The ad notes that the early response led the organizers to expect “as many as 300 bishops would attend the Conference, representing close to ten percent of the entire Catholic Episcopate worldwide”.

The Open Letter points out that, in spite of difficulties and defections, the Conference proved a tremendous success, producing an important concluding document whose 14 Resolutions reaffirm “Our Lady of Fatima’s crucial role in the process towards true peace and in the mystery of our salvation itself.”

The document also calls (in Resolution 10) for “the release of the actual words of Our Lady’’s Third Secret according to Her instructions” as well as for the Consecration of Russia to be renewed “on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception each year by the Pope and all the Catholic bishops of the world” (Resolution 14).

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Our Lady presides over the 2nd Bishops Conference in Mexico.

The unexpected success of the Conference, according to the ad, encouraged the attending bishops and other participants to ask for a third meeting of bishops to discuss the Message of Fatima, this time to take place in Rome under the “protection and guidance” of the Pope. In fact, the Open Letter concludes with the prayer that the Holy Father “will bestow (His) Papal Blessing on this meeting and, if possible, attend one or more of its sessions. No Pope has ever spoken as movingly as you have of the urgent need for peace nor given so much respect to the Message of Fatima.”

Response by Italian Media

The Italian news media, including the major news agencies, devoted extensive coverage to the Open Letter after it appeared in Rome. The Venice-based Il Gazzettino spoke slightingly of “hardened traditionalists who do not realize that Russia has changed” and erroneously noted that “it is not the first time that Catholic groups from America buy full pages of European papers to publicize ideas and initiatives". L’Indipendente described the ad as an “awkward form of correspondence,” whereas Milan’’s Il Giorno reported on ““the unusual initiative from which the Vatican distances itself by saying ‘’there is nothing to say’.”’” This was followed, several days later, with a full-page interview with the Papal advisor and Fatima expert, the Slovak bishop Pavao Maria Hnilica who described the Open Letter as “undoubtedly significant” since it was published by a Marian movement that is “widespread throughout the world.”

Unnoticed by the media was the appearance of another (this time, anonymous) ad in Il Giornale on July 14 headlined “July 13, 1917: Third Meeting with Our Lady”. July 13 marks the anniversary of the third apparition of Fatima which was scarcely noted by the media in their discussion of the Open Letter’’s publication on the previous day. Moreover, this anniversary coincided with one of the most horrific events in the ongoing Balkan conflict, the fall of Sbrenicia. The ensuing tragedy of massacres, rapes and mass displacements featured prominently on the front pages of all the newspapers, serving as a poignant (if unconscious) reminder of the great chastisement of war that forms so integral a part of the Fatima Message.

Father Gruner Interviewed

Father Nicholas Gruner, founder and president of the International Fatima Rosary Crusade and one of the main organizers of the Mexico City Conference, was interviewed in Rome shortly after the ad appeared. Father Gruner is also responsible for facilitating the publication of the Open Letter to the Pope in Il Messaggero. The following is a transcript of our discussion:

Father Gruner (Fr. G), could you elaborate a bit on the reasons which prompted the publication of the Open Letter here in Rome?

Fr.G: Well, after ten years of trying to reach the bishops of the world with the full Message of Fatima, five million Catholics decided it was time to go over the heads of the bureaucrats and speak directly to the Holy Father and the bishops, especially about the Consecration of Russia which Our Lady has commanded them to make together, as a condition of world peace.

The fact is that this ad, which cost a great deal of money, was made necessary because of the illegal and unjust machinations of a small handful of Vatican officials who simply do not want the bishops or the laity to know what the full Fatima Message says. The problem for these bureaucrats is that Our Lady’’s Message flies directly in the face of their most cherished plans and policies.

Our Lady warned us that we would face horrible punishments if we did not obey Her Fatima requests. We believe that time is fast running out for the world and for the Church. This ad seemed the only way we could break through the wall of deception and lies that these powerful bureaucrats have built up around the Pope to prevent him from hearing the voices of the Catholic Faithful.

What do you believe is the reason for this hostility to the Fatima Message on the part of these Vatican officials, Father? Many people find it difficult to understand why they would be so opposed to a Message that is not only approved by the Church, but also so full of hope for mankind.

Fr.G: Yes, I can understand that. Unfortunately, most people are unaware that a secret agreement made between Moscow and the Vatican in 1962 is still very much in effect. In this agreement the Vatican promised not to denounce the errors of Russia against God and the Church nor to promote the right of men to live free of the oppression of the militant atheistic regime.

This Vatican-Moscow Agreement remains the number one obstacle in the Church to obeying Our Lady’’s solemn command to make reparation for the errors of Russia through the act of Consecration.

Why is the Consecration so crucial?

Fr.G: Because Heaven has ordained it so. It’’s really just that simple. Real, lasting peace will not come about in any other way. It won't come through the United Nations or by way of Washington or Moscow. Our Lady told us that “Russia is the instrument of chastisement chosen by Heaven to punish the whole world (for its sins) IF we do not beforehand obtain the conversion of that poor nation.” We know, from the Fatima Message, that Russia will be converted by the solemn and public act of obedience of the Pope and the bishops consecrating Russia to Mary’’s Immaculate Heart.

Our Lady has said “the moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father to make and to order all the Catholic bishops of the world to make the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save Russia by this means.”

The Mother of God does not lie. It is only through this means that Russia will be converted and peace will be given to mankind. If we do not consecrate Russia (and Russia alone and specifically, as Our Lady asked) then it “will spread its errors throughout the world, raising up wars and persecutions against the Church, the good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer and various nations will be annihilated.” These are Her exact words and we ignore them at our peril.

But some argue that the break-up of the Soviet Union several years ago is proof that these warnings cannot come to pass ...

Fr.G: Were it only so! Unless the Holy Father commands all the bishops of the world to join him in this act of consecration in time, Russia will most certainly enslave the entire world in its militant atheistic tyranny, worse even than in the past. I think it is important to remember that Our Lady did not say “the Soviet Union” will be the instrument of chastisement, but that RUSSIA will be. If the Pope does not act soon, we risk seeing entire nations annihilated, in the words of Sister Lucy of Fatima, “wiped off the face of the earth.”

But what about the previous consecrations made by the Pope?

Fr.G: We believe that, based on his public statements, the Holy Father knows that he has not yet obeyed the command to consecrate Russia. On March 26, 1984, after he consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart, he said twice to Our Lady and to thousands of the Faithful that, although he had consecrated the world, still he had not done what Our Lady of Fatima commanded to be done.

From information we have received from sources close to him, the Pope appears to feel that he needs more support from the Catholic bishops of the world before he can actually consecrate Russia as Our Lady asked at Fatima.

Are you so sure that all bishops would obey him even if he did command them to join him in the Consecration?

Fr.G: We have written more than ten times to all 4,000 Catholic bishops about the Consecration of Russia and less than five bishops have indicated their resistance. More than 700 bishops have written to us and indicated their willingness to obey Our Lady’’s command. Archbishop Milingo said at the Bishop’’s Conference last year in Mexico City if the Pope gave the order to consecrate Russia, the bishops would obey. The bureaucrats who seek to stop the bishops from knowing the whole truth about Fatima are the same ones who have convinced the Holy Father that the bishops would not obey.