On October 7 of this year, I came across the web site of Dr. Peter Chojnowski [Hoy-nov-ski] entitled Rad Trad Thomist. I saw a post that announced an effort he was undertaking with respect to attempting to raise $25,000. This effort was for hiring a professional company to ascertain whether an impostor Sr. Lúcia has been imposed upon the public since the 1950s. This effort disturbed me and subsequent events have compelled me, in conscience, to make a public statement.
I contacted Dr. Chojnowski back on October 7 and he was kind to write back to me on October 8. Chojnowski enjoys a good reputation as a scholar. I hoped that by introducing him to my book on Fátima and to the Carmelites of Coimbra’s biography Um caminho sob o olhar de Maria that he would turn from his effort on the impostor theory. An article dated November 11 indicates he is going forward with his plans, even establishing a “Sr. Lucy Trust” wherein he is soliciting donations for his cause.
At first glance, his effort seems to be praiseworthy as it will allegedly settle the impostor theory. Isn’t that what we all want? No, it isn’t, because the Catholic world at large is not worried about this matter. It is a problem only for a select group of traditionalists who are “concerned” that Sr. Lúcia accepted Vatican II, was “modernized” and thus allegedly abandoned the “authentic” message of Fátima. As a way, therefore, of getting around some things that Sr. Lúcia has said that directly contradicts core beliefs of some traditionalists on Fátima (especially on the 1984 consecration), some have posited that Sr. Lúcia must not be who she says she is.
A thorn in the side of this argument is the relatives of Sr. Lúcia. Has Chojnowski spoken with Sr. Lúcia’s relatives, some of whom are yet living who knew her prior to her entrance to the Carmel in 1948? None of them—not a one—subscribes to the impostor theory. Videos are even available on YouTube of interviews with at least one of these still-living relatives. One such interview was conducted by Dr. Michael Hesemann, of One Peter Five fame, in a recent trip to Fátima. What is the need for $25,000 when one can watch a YouTube video or two? Better yet, why spend this money for a report that has already been done by Dr. Frederick Zugibe?
It is insulting and a disgrace to these relatives to have their integrity questioned with such a notion as an “impostor” Sr. Lúcia. As if they would be unable to identify her! Are Chojnowski and his supporters going to argue that these relatives were somehow fooled for over 50 years? Even Christopher Ferrara has publicly stated the impostor theory is “ludicrous!” Instead, however, of doing some heavy-lifting and asking serious questions on their interpretations of Fátima, some traditionalists have decided to bathe in the fever swamps of conspiracy. What they don’t realize is that they are hurting innocent people!
In my debate with Ferrara last month, I warned that persevering in conspiracies on Fátima might be hurting the scholarship and credibility of the traditionalist movement. What will be the price for ignoring that warning? At the very least, it will endanger the cause of traditional Catholicism. Some traditionalists will continue to bathe in the fever swamps of Fátima conspiracies. To them, I say that you are squandering your time, resources and credibility.
[Update, 11-18-17 A.D.: Chojnowski is proceeding as planned, having now established the trust.]