An Open Letter to the Faithful of Portugal
Concerning the Scandal at the Fatima Shrine
In October 2003, faithful Catholics around the world were horrified to read the news that an unprecedented "inter-religious congress" of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Orthodox, Anglicans and Catholics was held at the Fatima Shrine, hosted by Fr. Luciano Guerra, the Shrine’s rector. Fr. Guerra declared that
"The future of Fatima, or the adoration of God and His Mother at this holy Shrine, must pass through the creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle. The interreligious dialogue in Portugal, and in the Catholic Church, is still in an embryonic phase, but the Shrine of Fatima is not indifferent to this fact and is already open to being a universalistic place of vocation."
This remark, reported in Notícias de Fátima and the English-language journal The Portugal News, provoked a storm of international protest. In response, Rector Guerra issued a series of equivocal statements, none of which denied that he had made the remark attributed to him.
No Real Denials!
Quite the contrary, in speaking of the new basilica of hideous "modern" design that is to be built at the Cova da Iria, Rector Guerra’s "official" response on the Fatima Shrine’s website declared:
"And, when it seems to us to be opportune, after what is already happening in many other sacred places, this new basilica would be able to receive brothers from other faiths, who may want, in a brotherly manner, to know how we pray."
Rector Guerra surely has in view something more than members of other religions paying a visit to the new basilica to observe how Catholics worship God at Fatima.
If that were all Rector Guerra meant by the phrase "the creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle," there would be no need to wait for a moment "when it seems to us to be opportune" to allow such visits, for they already happen every day at the existing basilica. Nor — if that is all Rector Guerra meant would he have linked his plans to "what is already happening in many other sacred places".
For "what is already happening in many other sacred places" is precisely what many Catholics fear will soon happen at Fatima: the use of Catholic sacred ground for "inter-religious prayer meetings" and other events at which the members of various sects and non-Christian religions, even including witchdoctors and animists, "pray according to their own traditions."
Indeed, Rector Guerra’s guest at the conference in October was Fr. Arul Irudayam, Rector of the Catholic Marian Shrine Basilica in Vailankanni, India. The Shrine receives millions of pilgrims a year, including many Hindus, and Fr. Irudayam rejoiced to inform the audience that, as a further development of "interreligious dialogue," the Hindus now perform their religious rituals in the shrine at Vailankanni. The audience, including Rector Guerra, applauded this sacrilege.
Have these men forgotten something as basic as the First Commandment: Thou shalt not have false gods before Me? Sacred Scripture teaches that "the gods of the Gentiles are devils." (Psalm 95:5). That the many "gods" of Hinduism are devils was demonstrated by one of the greatest missionaries of all time, Saint Francis Xavier.
St. Francis took great joy in seeing that his young pupils had utterly rejected "the idolatrous practices of the pagans." They so abhorred the demon gods of Hinduism that they would reproach their own parents if they engaged in pagan ceremonies, and would come to tell St. Francis about it.
When St. Francis heard that "outside the village someone was practicing idolatry, he gathered together all the boys and went with them to the spot where the idols had been erected. His pupils smashed the clay figures of the demons to dust and spat and stamped upon them." Saint Francis Xavier’s biographer explains that these children "thus gave more insults to the devil than their parents had shown honor to him."
Pagan gods Welcomed!
But now the situation is reversed: the demonic "gods" of the Hindu religion and other pagan sects are being welcomed into Catholic sanctuaries, along with heretics and schismatics who adamantly refuse to return to the one true Church which is the only ark of their salvation. This is what Rector Guerra meant by "what is already happening in many other sacred places." And this, quite clearly, is what Rector Guerra wishes to see happen in Fatima.
In this regard it is very telling that the only thing Rector Guerra has denied explicitly since the date of his scandalous remark is that members of other religions would share "in the way we worship" at the new basilica.
But no one charged that Rector Guerra was planning to allow non-Catholics to share in Catholic worship. The real concern — the concern that Rector Guerra has never addressed — is that the sacred ground of Fatima would be made available in some way for the rituals and observances of non-Catholic and even pagan religions.
Rector Guerra Admits It
On January 9, 2004, nearly three months after his remark, Rector Guerra finally admitted to a reporter from the English journal Catholic Herald that he had indeed stated that "the new shrine at Fatima, Portugal would be a place ‘where different religions can mingle’," but claimed that his statement had been "taken out of context."
The "context," however, was on the occasion of a gathering of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Orthodox and Anglicans, who were addressed by an Indian priest who has permitted Hindu worship in a Catholic Marian shrine in India!
The "context" was Rector Guerra’s assurance that the Fatima Shrine would soon undergo a serious change; that the worship of God at Fatima "must pass through the creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle."
The "context" was Rector Guerra’s observation that while "the interreligious dialogue in Portugal, and in the Catholic Church, is still in an embryonic phase," the Fatima Shrine, according to him, is "already open to being a universalistic place of vocation."
The "context," therefore, was that the Fatima of today will not be the Fatima of tomorrow, but a new, "interreligious" Fatima that had not been seen before — until the congress in October, which was clearly a preview of what Rector Guerra has in mind.
His Future Plans for Fatima
No, Father Guerra’s remark was not "taken out of context." That is the excuse of every politician who tries to obscure the plain meaning of his own words when they are not well-received by the public.
It is evident — based on what Rector Guerra said, and on what he did not say — that he has every intention of allowing at Fatima what he himself notes is "already happening" in other sacred places of the Catholic religion. Rector Guerra, the very rector of the Fatima Shrine, intends to allow it to be desecrated by the rituals and observances of false religions.
Portugal’s Sacred Trust
The Cova da Iria is the very place where the three shepherd children heard the Mother of God’s call for the conversion of Russia to the Catholic Faith; the very place where the Virgin prophesied the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart throughout the world; the very place where the three children saw the vision of hell, filled with poor sinners who went there for lack of the help that only the Catholic Church could give them. On this sacred ground 70,000 people witnessed a public miracle the likes of which had never before been seen in human history — a miracle that authenticated the Message of Fatima beyond all doubt.
It is this sacred ground that Rector Guerra plans to defile, in a complete betrayal of everything the Message of Fatima stands for. And he will succeed — unless the faithful rise up and stop him and those who collaborate with him. Here the faithful of Portugal have a special duty before God and His Blessed Mother.
Eighty-seven years ago, God showed His special love for the people of Portugal when He sent no less than His very Mother to the Cova da Iria with a message of utmost importance for the 20th Century and beyond. The people of Portugal know well the contents of the Message of Fatima, but in our present circumstances it is necessary to recall an oft-neglected portion of the Message.
"In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved, etc." With these words, which mark the beginning of the Third Secret of Fatima, the Virgin Mary confided to Sister Lucy that God Almighty has deigned to exalt the Portuguese people above all others in the world, to serve as a living testament to the Catholic faith in a time of widespread apostasy. While the words of the Virgin indicated by Sister Lucy’s telltale "etc." have yet to be revealed to the faithful, it is manifest that this part of the Fatima prophecy pertains to a loss of faith extending into many parts of the Church, and claiming even members of Her hierarchy.
The Faith Must Be Protected by All
During the Arian crisis of the 4th Century, it was the simple members of the laity who kept the faith at a time when, except for a few good bishops, such as St. Athanasius, virtually the entire Catholic hierarchy had been seduced or confused by the heresy that Christ was not truly and fully divine. (The Pope was in exile during much of this crisis and could do nothing to stop the spread of the heresy.)
The Message of Fatima is a warning that another such time of crisis would be visited upon the Church. We are living through that crisis at this very moment, as anyone with eyes to see can see: scandal, loss of faith, and outright apostasy are afflicting the Church on every continent. And now the very rector of the Fatima Shrine plans to open it to the worship of false religions.
The Grave Obligation in the Present Danger
Yet the people of Portugal remain close to the Virgin Mother of God, and thus close to Him Who sent Her to Fatima. Each year fully one-sixth of the entire Portuguese population makes a pilgrimage to Fatima. No other country on earth displays such devotion to God. Our Lady prophesied rightly when She said that the dogma of the faith would always be preserved in Portugal.
But God’s election of the Portuguese people as a sign of faith in a faithless world carries with it a grave obligation. For as Our Lord Himself warned: "Of those to whom much is given, much is expected." (Luke 12:48) Precisely because the people of Portugal have been so highly favored by God, they will be held to a higher standard when it comes to His fearsome judgment. Nor must anyone think that simply by virtue of being a Portuguese, one can have an assurance of final perseverance in the faith. Anyone can fall from grace and be condemned by God’s judgment.
If the people of Portugal do not resist this evil plan to desecrate the Fatima Shrine by making it available to the worship of false gods, who will? If the people of Portugal fail to prevent this sacrilege at Fatima, who will be judged more harshly than they?
At this very moment the Holy Mother of God is looking down upon the place She visited 87 years ago. She is waiting for the people of Portugal to come to the defense of the sacred ground at Fatima. She is waiting for the Portuguese nation to fulfill its destiny as the place where the Faith will always be preserved in the midst of this great crisis in the Church.
And do not be deterred by those who say that what is being planned for Fatima has the approval of high authorities in the Church, that it is all part of the "interreligious dialogue" launched by Vatican II.
Save Your Dogma — Save Your Soul
As the Virgin of Fatima’s own words teach us, the dogma of the faith must be preserved. One of those dogmas, infallibly defined three times by the Magisterium of the Church, is that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation. Why else did Our Lady of Fatima come to ask for the conversion of Russia and the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart (and thus the Catholic faith) throughout the world? But now we are told by Rector Guerra, on the Fatima Shrine’s own website, that the Message of Fatima was merely an invitation to "dialogue with other faiths." This is a monstrous lie — a complete falsification of the words of the Mother of God.
Our holy religion does not change from one day to the next. What the Church has condemned, She cannot now approve. Catholics who know their faith can have no excuse for following the bad example of anyone, be it priest, bishop, Cardinal or even Pope. We cannot allow ourselves to succumb to what Sister Lucy has called "the diabolical disorientation of the Church" in our time. We cannot allow a false notion of "obedience," and a false deference to authority to subvert the very foundations of our Faith.
The petition that accompanies this Open Letter is one means for you to express your opposition to the threatened abomination in one of the world’s most holy Catholic sites. We implore you, the people of Portugal, to besiege your parish priests, your bishops and the Rector of the Fatima Shrine with copies of this petition. That will mark the beginning of the battle for the Faith in this great nation, so beloved of God.
And when the battle is won here, in Portugal, the restoration of Holy Church throughout the world will not be long in coming. For did Our Lady not promise that in the end Her Immaculate Heart will triumph? To secure that Triumph the people of Portugal must lead the way out of our present darkness. That is your duty before God and His Holy Mother.
Petition to the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II
Your Holiness and Your Excellencies:
We are deeply disturbed and dismayed by recent press reports of a plan to transform the Shrine of Our Lady at Fatima into an "interfaith" facility, opening this Catholic holy site to worship on an equal footing by non-Catholics of all kinds, including Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and other followers of non-Christian religions. We are also dismayed that Rector Guerra's recent "denial" only confirms the new interfaith program at Fatima.
As faithful Catholics and devoted children of Our Blessed Mother Mary, we wish to affirm clearly and unequivocally our absolute opposition to this misguided and outrageous plan. We condemn it as contrary to Sacred Scripture and Tradition and to the actual Message that God's Mother brought to the world at Fatima. We turn to you, Holy Father, and to the leaders of the Church in Portugal, beseeching and asking you:
1. To declare an immediate end to any plans and/or efforts to turn Our Lady's Shrine into a so-called "interfaith" facility.
2. To order all those engaged in the planning and fund-raising for such a facility to forthwith and immediately cease and desist from this impious activity which cannot but help to provoke scandal and disunity among the Faithful.
3. To affirm that Our Lady's Shrine will remain always and only a sacred Catholic site and to declare that worship services of a non-Catholic nature are neither permitted nor acceptable on Shrine grounds.
4. To investigate the reports of mismanagement and suspicion of heresy on the part of the Shrine's Rector, Father Luciano Guerra, who the press has identified as the leading force behind this outrageous plan.
Submitted respectfully and humbly in the Holy Names of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
I the undersigned agree with this petition.
City__________ State/Prov._____ Zip/Postal Code__________
Telephone _______________ E-mail____________________
Number of Rosaries pledged to stop this "interfaith" facility_______
Make extra copies or obtain more copies of this petition from:
U.S.A.: Servants of Jesus and
Mary, 17000 State Route 30, Constable, NY 12926