Is There a “Fourth Secret” of Fátima?

Originally published on Catholic Stand on February 2, 2015.

Recently, I read a copy of a magazine with an article that claimed there was new information that (allegedly) proved that there was another text of the third part of the secret of Fátima. While reading this article and checking it against the text of a Portuguese book reference in the article, I noticed some discrepancies. The present article will discuss this claim of another text and the discrepancies.

For those who need a quick refresher, the following is an outline of events relative to the discussion at hand.

From May, 1917-October, 1917, Our Lady appeared to three Portuguese children in Fátima, Portugal. Their names were Lúcia, Jacinta and Francisco. The latter two died within three years of the apparitions’ end (October, 1917). Lúcia became a nun (first a Dorothean, then a Carmelite in 1948) and lived until February, 2005. During which time she wrote and explained the message of Fátima.

During the apparitions in general, Our Lady made two specific requests—that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the spread of a new devotion in reparation to the Immaculate Heart called the Five First Saturdays. Also, during the July 13, 1917 apparition, Our Lady communicated a secret in three parts to the children. The first was a vision of hell, the second the prediction of World War II and the third was of the persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father.

The first two parts of the secret were published around 1941. The third part was not committed to writing until 1944. Under obedience to her religious superiors, and at the command of Our Lady, Sister Lúcia wrote the secret down on paper, sealed it in an envelope, and communicated it to the competent ecclesiastical authority. She wrote that at the command of Our Lady, the secret was not to be opened until 1960 or upon Sister’s death (she was ill at the time).

The contents of that sealed envelope remained shrouded in mystery and Catholics around the world eagerly anticipated the secret’s revealing in 1960. They were shocked, however, when Pope John XXIII opened, read it and decided against publishing it. This decision led to many theories as to why this was, but such are unnecessary to recount here in this brief history.

For forty years (1960-2000) the contents of that envelope became the subject of much speculation. People stepped forward and offered various reasons as to why this was. In May, 2000, at the order of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Angelo Sodano announced in Fátima the nature of the third secret and that Sister’s full document was going to be disclosed in June of that year. This was indeed done and through the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI).

Regretfully, the theories and speculation surrounding the document did not end with the disclosure of Sister’s text. People read the text, asked questions, and did not receive answers to their satisfaction. Some have gone so far as to accuse the Holy See of covering up an alleged, as yet undisclosed, second text of the third secret. For years now these theories and accusations have dominated the discussion on the third part of the secret of Fátima and influenced countless people.

The above is the basic history. Let us now get into the heart of the matter: is there an alleged second text of the third secret?

In 2013, a biography of Sr. Lúcia was published in Portuguese entitled Um Caminho Sob o Olhar de Maria (A Pathway under the Gaze of Mary). This biography was drawn from the primary source texts, i.e. the public and private writings of Sr. Lúcia. In chapter 13 of this book are some truly revelatory texts that discuss how the third part of the secret came to be written down.

Within the English speaking world, this biography went unnoticed until August, 2014. It was at this time that an article was published in Italian in which it is claimed that the new biography backs the thesis of a second text. The relevant texts were quoted in Italian translation, accompanied with some commentary. This article was translated from Italian into English and published in the above-mentioned magazine.[i]

A look at the Portuguese text of chapter 13, however, demonstrates that a closer look at the “two texts” theory is necessary. Before I explain how this is so, I am pleased to announce that the above-mentioned biography will be published by the World Apostolate of Fátima in March of this year. The title will be A Pathway under the Gaze of Mary. English-speaking readers will have the opportunity to read the text and decide the facts for themselves.[ii]

I obtained the text of chapter 13 and had the entire chapter translated (before I knew of the impending English translation). I discussed one of the more troublesome passages with the translator in order to understand better the meaning. Between my own language background, the wise insights of the translator, and a friend who understands Portuguese culture, I came to understand clearly the text.

What chapter 13 contained was a gold mine of information that clarified some important elements of the Fátima story, and even revealed some new facts—though just what they are, I will let readers see for themselves in March. I will say this much: we learn more of why Sister put the date of 1960 on the envelope containing the third secret.

To begin clarifying the text of chapter 13, there is an important distinction to make. This is between a “general” argument and a “specific” argument of those who advance a “second text” theory.

First, there is a “general” claim since the year 2000 that there is more to the third secret than what was disclosed in June, 2000. The argument went further, however to be more “specific” to say that there is a deliberate cover-up on the part of the Holy See of the existence of a second text. It is allegedly being covered up because it is so “terrifying.”

Chapter 13 of the 2013 biography indicates that indeed had the general theory been argued alone, it would have been correct. This is because the biography quotes from the private diary of Sr. Lúcia entitled O Meu Caminho (“My Way”) in which she records how she came to write down the third secret. It is in fact true that Sr. Lúcia wrote that there was more to the third secret than what she wrote down in 1944 and communicated to the competent ecclesiastical authority.

Where it seems an oversight has been made though is a neglecting of something that Our Lady said to Sr. Lúcia. According to Sister’s diary, Our Lady appeared to her and told Sister that she was to write down what her superiors commanded of her, but not what she was given to understand of its meaning. This is understood to mean that Our Lady made a distinction between what Sister saw in the vision on July 13, 1917 and how she was made to understand said vision, i.e. its interpretation.

What is most peculiar is that though Our Lady’s distinction is acknowledged by those who advance the “two texts” theory, there is a failure to understand the distinction at face value.[iii] The words of Our Lady are taken to mean that they support the thesis of a cover-up of a second text. In fact, a simple observation disproves this claim: if Our Lady told Sister she was not to write down the interpretation, then Sister did not write it down. Moreover, if Sister had not written it down, then there can be no cover-up over a document that doesn’t exist.

The above is, of course, subject to whether or not Sister later wrote the interpretation down and with Our Lady’s permission. The burden of proof then is for someone to prove beyond doubt that in fact Sister wrote down the interpretation at some later point in time. If such is proven, I will be more than happy to admit my observation is incorrect. Until such a time though, the status quaestionis (state of the question) is going to revolve around this point.

I suspect that people might be tempted to respond to the above observation by appealing to the fact that there was an attempt to contact the Sisters in Coimbra but no answer was given. One must consider though that to argue for the “two texts” theory after the publication of this new biography of Sr. Lúcia puts one in a quandary.

If someone were to continue advancing the “two texts” theory, then one simultaneously argues that the Sisters are deliberately misleading the public. The Sisters would be, in fact, publishing information that leads the public one way, all the while knowing that it is not true. This is defamation of untold proportions towards cloistered nuns and ought not to be tolerated, much less countenanced.

One final point concerns the alleged writing down of the “second text.” There is a finer aspect that needs to be addressed and to do so it is necessary to back up and go over the history of how Sister came to write down the third part of the secret.

The reason why Sr. Lúcia wrote down the third part of the secret was because her religious superiors feared that Sister would die without revealing it and the world would lose a great grace. They ordered her to write it down. As the biography indicates, Sister was torn between obeying Our Lady who had ordered her in 1917 not to tell the secret to anyone (except Francisco), and obeying her superiors who represented the will of God.[iv]

Being so torn, Sister sought guidance through prayer in late December 1943/early January 1944 and it is at this time that Our Lady appeared to Sr. Lúcia. Our Lady told Sister that her faith, humility and obedience were being tested by God, but that now she was to write down what her religious superiors commanded, but not what she was given to understand of its meaning.

It is clear that as of 1944, Sr. Lúcia would not have written a second text. Our Lady had commanded her against writing down the interpretation of the vision. Those who advance the second text theory have to address an objection. As the known history recalls, Sister Lúcia only wrote down the vision in obedience to her religious superiors. When she did, this would have satisfied their demands. One must ask what cause would they have had to “prime the pump” with Sister to ask if there was anything further?

It is possible that Sr. Lúcia’s religious superiors did prime the pump.[v] However, the biography indicates that Sister never expressed her opinion on the interpretation of the vision. Once again, the problem still comes down to the above-mentioned status quaestionis. In response to this, those who advance the “two texts” theory must of necessity rest their laurels on an alleged cover-up. However, the recorded history is being widened and starting to work against the theory. It will be very interesting to see how well received the English translation of the biography will be.

In conclusion, had the discussions on the third part of the secret of Fatima revolved around the general claim that there was more to the third secret then the 2013 biography on Sr. Lúcia indicates the correctness of this position. The fact however that the claim became convoluted means the evidence now works against it. It is hoped that the English translation of the biography will go a long way to dispel these theories.

Update (5-1-15):

Since the above article was published on 2-2-15, there has been a development in the case that needs clarification. One of the theorists behind the “two texts” theory wrote twice to the Carmelite Sisters and requested to view the unpublished journals of Sr. Lúcia (O Meu Caminho). He now claims to have heard from the Prioress of the Carmelite Sisters in Coimbra, Portugal. The Prioress is reputed to have written, “it is not possible for now to consult the documents you request.  In its time, everything will be published.” The “two texts” theorists are supposing that this remark means that there will be more information in the unpublished writings of Sr. Lúcia that supports their theory.

The above supposition is mistaken. What the Prioress meant was that the gentleman who asked to view the unpublished manuscripts of Sr. Lúcia cannot do so. There are plans to publish the writings in their entirety at some point in the future, thus there is no need for him to come and consult them.

Sr. Lúcia’s words ring true here, “Ha pessoas que nunca estao contentes! Nao se faz caso” (Some people are never content! It is no matter) (Um Caminho Sob o Olhar de Maria, pg. 268).

Lastly, one of the two-text theorists has passed away. Requiem aeternam, dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis!

Update (8-31-15):

I have rendered more carefully various texts in the above article that treat of the distinguishing between the vision and Sr. Lúcia’s understanding of the vision.


Notes:

[i]The Fatima Crusader, Issue 110, Fall 2014, pages 22-26.

[ii] I am not permitted by the Carmelite Sisters to use my English translation, so instead I make reference to the Portuguese text and allow the readers to check my understanding against the official English edition when it is published.

[iii] Perhaps the journalist failed to understand the text because some of the Portuguese words of Our Lady are omitted in the Italian? The Portuguese text is, “Não temas, quis Deus provar a tua obediência, Fé e humildade, está em paz e escreve o que te mandam, não porém o que te é dado entender do seu significado…” (Um Caminho Sob o Olhar de Maria, pg. 266). In the Italian-English translation, the Italian word comandano is mistranslated, which is itself a translation of the Portuguese word mandam (“they command”). Both are third person plural verbs in the present tense. The translator renders comandano as a first person singular verb in the perfect tense (“I have commanded”) and makes it sound like Our Lady commanded something/someone when it is, in fact, Sister’s religious superiors being referenced.

[iv] Incidentally, this fact is clearly addressed in Um Caminho Sob o Olhar de Maria. It also answers a claim of the “two texts” theorists that Sister was so terrified of the third secret that she could not write it down. It is clear that it was not an alleged terrifying nature of the vision that was difficult for Sister, it was her being torn on who to obey.

[v] The historical record tells of one story involving a Jesuit priest named Fr. Schweigl. Under orders from Pius XII, Father went to Coimbra in 1952 and spoke with Sr. Lúcia privately and in secret. One of Schweigl’s colleagues wrote a private letter to a French author who quoted it in a book. The colleague claimed that Schweigl distinguished the Pope from the words of Our Lady in the third secret. If this is true, then it is clear that Church authorities had opportunity to know of a distinction between the vision and its interpretation. This does not necessarily prove that a second text exists.