Edited transcript of a Speech by John Vennari
On the topic of "The Obligation to Believe, Obey and Promote the Message of Fatima", I would like to address a falsehood that I think you all have heard. It is the notion that Fatima is supposedly only a Private Revelation. And because it is a Private Revelation, then it is not part of the Deposit of Faith, so you may take it or leave it.
But, Fatima is actually in a different category from that of a mere Private Revelation. It is in the category of a Public Prophetic Revelation that imposes an obligation upon the Church. In a few minutes, I will quote what the theologian Father Joseph de Sainte-Marie, and Bishop Rudolph Graber had to say about this.
The reasons to believe Fatima — what we could call the motives of credibility — are four. With Fatima, we have:
- 1. Authentic prophecy that has been fulfilled;
- 2. Miracles, that is, doing things that only God can do;
- 3. Doctrine that is 100% Catholic, and I will add, unecumenical;
- 4. Official approval by the Church.
Prophecies and Miracles are, as you know, things that only God can do. We see this with Our Lord in the Gospels. Our Lord Himself was prophesied. When Our Lord came onto the face of the earth, He didn’t take everybody by surprise. The Jews at the time were asking "Is He the one?" — in other words, is He the one who fits the prophecies?
Where Our Lord would be born was prophesied; the fact that He would be born of a Virgin was prophesied; the kind of enemies He would have was prophesied; even the fact that at His death, none of His bones would be broken, was prophesied.
In fact, Bishop Sheen said that the prophecies concerning the death of Our Lord in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah were so exact that one would think they were written after the Crucifixion.
Our Lord also worked miracles. He did what only God could do to prove He was Who He said He was, and to prove the truth of what He said.
We know the story in the Gospels of the man who had been paralyzed from birth, and he was brought to Our Lord. The first thing Our Lord did was to say to him, "Your sins are forgiven."
The Jews at the time were scandalized by this, and said that only God can forgive sin, so what is going on? And, Our Lord turned to them and asked, "Which is easier? To say to this man ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say to this man who has been paralyzed from birth, ‘rise up and walk home’?"
Then Our Lord made the connection: "So that you will know that the Son of Man has power to forgive sins, I say to you, rise up and walk home." And the man stood up and walked home. It’s as if Our Lord is saying, "You cannot see this mans sins being forgiven. So I will do something you can see in order to substantiate something you cannot see." And thus He worked a miracle.
Now, we see something similar with Our Lady of Fatima. We did not see Our Lady appearing to the children. The people who were at Fatima at the time did not see Her. But Our Lady did something they could see in order to substantiate something they could not see. She worked the Miracle of the Sun, which took place on October 13, 1917, witnessed by 70,000 people.
Now the reason there were 70,000 people there on October 13 — along with the reason that Father Gruner explains, that people told other people of the event — is because the Miracle of the Sun was itself part of prophecy. This is what we see with Fatima: authentic prophecy and authentic miracles.
On July 13, Our Lady prophesied, "In October I will perform a miracle, so that everyone may believe." In August, She said the same thing, "In October I will perform a miracle." In September, She said it again, a third time, "Next month, in October, I will perform a miracle, so that all may believe."
And on October 13, the Miracle of the Sun took place before 70,000 people. And the members of the anti-Catholic press, who had initially gone out to laugh at and mock the events, saw the miracle and had to report what they saw.
Now, there were a number of prophecies of Fatima that have been fulfilled. First, the Miracle of the Sun which Ive discussed already.
Our Lady also predicted on July 13, "I will take Jacinta and Francisco to Heaven soon." These were young children, in perfect health, but Our Lady said that they were going to die soon. On April 4, 1919, that prophecy was fulfilled when little Francisco died and on February 20, 1920, Jacinta died.
In fact, even the details of Jacinta’s death were prophesied: that she would die in a hospital alone and without the sacraments. It was all prophesied. There is no way these future events could be engineered, especially since Jacinta herself, the night before she died, was pleading that the priest come to give her the Sacraments. The priest believed he could wait until the next morning, but by the time the priest arrived, she had died. Again, a prophecy and fulfillment.
Our Lady predicted on July 13, 1917, "The war is going to end soon." This was fulfilled a year and four months later, on November 11, 1918.
Our Lady predicted, "If people do not cease offending God, a more terrible war will break out during the reign of Pius XI." This was fulfilled by Hitler’s aggression in Europe in the 1930s, which took place under the reign of Pius XI. Benedict XV was Pope during the time at Fatima. There is no way that the children could know the name of the next Pope. We certainly do not know the name of the next Pope.
So we see the motives of credibility for Fatima: prophecy and miracles.
Thirdly, Fatima is 100% Catholic. Our Lady emphasized the Rosary, She emphasized the Brown Scapular, She emphasized the Eucharist; the angel of Fatima emphasized the Eucharist as the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Our Lady emphasized Confession, She emphasized Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, truths that are now under attack. Our Lady emphasized them in 1917.
And Fatima is also interesting in this way, in contrast to the modern ecumenical spirit. The modern ecumenical spirit says that, as far as our dealings with non-Catholics, we should emphasize those things that unite us, and not those things that divide us. This is based on the popular lie that "what unites us is greater than what divides us."
Well, we can see that this is not the approach Our Lady took at Fatima. Because by emphasizing the Rosary, by emphasizing the Holy Eucharist, by emphasizing Sacramental Confession, by emphasizing Purgatory, She was emphasizing the very things that divide us from non-Catholics and divide us from every other religion on the face of the earth. Our Lady was not ecumenical, She was Catholic.
And here’s another point concerning our obligation to believe the Fatima Message. And this should be reason enough for us: if we do not believe, and we do not heed Our Lady’s Message, then Our Lady is sad. We know this from the interview that Father Fuentes had with Sister Lucy on December 26, 1957.
Sister Lucy said, "Father, the Most Holy Virgin is very sad, because no one has paid any attention to Her message, neither the good, nor the bad. The good continue on their way, but without giving any importance to Her message. The bad, not seeing the punishment of God actually falling upon them, continue their life of sin without even caring about the message. But believe me, Father, God is going to chastise the world, and it will be in a terrible manner. The celestial chastisement is imminent."
And then, here is what I see as a kind of prophecy of the post-Conciliar period:
In 1957, five years before the Second Vatican Council, Sister Lucy said, "Father, the devil is about to wage a decisive battle with the Blessed Virgin Mary, as he knows what it is that offends God the most, and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way he will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them."
Now, any of us who would have read this in 1957, would have probably thought that "leading the consecrated souls away from God" means that the consecrated souls were going to leave the religious life and the priesthood. Well, after the "New Springtime" of the Second Vatican Council, this is precisely what took place. But there is also another element to consider. Since Vatican II, we do not only have the physical leaving of the priesthood, the physical leaving of the religious life by consecrated souls. We also have many priests, many religious, many in high places who have not physically left the Church, but who in their minds, have left the Faith. Yet they still act as if they are teaching Catholicism. Thus the prophecy is fulfilled that the faithful are "abandoned by their leaders" so that the more easily does the devil seize them.
And 10 years after this interview, — in the late 1960’s — Sister Lucy warned of the "diabolic disorientation" of the upper hierarchy. This diabolic disorientation is what we are up against.
So, to close my little section, I will quote the Carmelite theologian, Father Joseph de Sainte-Marie, who taught theology in Rome for a decade. In an article published in 1982, Father de Sainte-Marie said, "Once the Pope has judged, and recognized that a given prophecy is indeed from God, then he must obey, not as obeying the prophet, but as obeying God."
This is an important point, because there are those who try to disparage Fatima, saying that Sister Lucy cannot "command" the Pope to consecrate Russia; that the Pope does not have to obey Sister Lucy. This is incorrect. Because as Father de Sainte-Marie points out, once the Pope has determined that the Message comes from God, then the Pope himself is bound to obey.
Then there is Bishop Rudolph Graber, author of the book Athanasius and the Church of Our Time. He was also Editor-in-Chief of the Fatima Journal, and in the late 1950’s he delivered a lecture in which he said, "A careful distinction should be made between personal revelations and those where the message is declared to be for mankind, at large. The former can with equanimity be ignored, but the latter must be taken seriously, and Fatima belongs to this (latter) category."
So, Fatima is not simply a Private Revelation that we are free to take or leave. It is a Public Prophetic Revelation, with a prophecy still outstanding, that "various nations will be annihilated", if the Pope and the bishops do not consecrate Russia, in time, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.