Back in April, Archbishop Viganò gave an interview with the Portuguese internet publication Dies Irae. During the interview, several statements were made about Fátima and the third part of the secret that were incorrect or at least questionable.
I have composed a formal essay that is due to be published later this summer. Upon this essay, I then composed a video that presents in visual terms why +Viganò’s interview with Dies Irae was questionable.
I make this video available to the public after attempts to contact Archbishop Viganò privately did not bear fruit. I wish to reiterate what I said a few weeks ago to Paul and Kris over at The Angry Catholic (38:10 – 41:20): I do not write with an animus towards the Archbishop. I write out of concern for him.
Below is the video. A transcript will be provided after the publication of the essay. The video was made differently than the essay. This was done in accordance with what is more suitable for a video vs. a written theological composition.
November 20, 2021 A.D. Update:
I removed my two videos on Viganò from my YouTube channel. I would like to re-direct people to the podcast between Michael Lofton and myself on Reason & Theology.
I also make available the transcript of the original video for you below.
On Archbishop Viganò’s Interview with Dies Irae
Hi! My name is Kevin Symonds and welcome to this video. On April 21, 2020, the Portuguese Internet publication Dies Irae published an interview with His Excellency, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. Over the course of five sections at the beginning of the interview, the Archbishop made some remarks about Fátima and the third part of the secret. Not a few of these comments were imprecise and frequently incorrect. In response, I have made this video to demonstrate in visual terms why Viganò’s remarks were questionable.
Mons. Viganò: A Background
Born on January 16, 1941 in Varese, Italy, Archbishop Viganò was ordained to the priesthood on March 24, 1968 for the Diocese of Pavia. He was ordained to the episcopate on April 26, 1992. On October 19, 2011, he was appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America and retired from this position on April 12, 2016. Two years later, Archbishop Viganò published a “Testimony” dated August 22. This document made serious claims about alleged knowledge of Popes Benedict XVI and Francis regarding clerical sex abuse.
After this publication, the Archbishop went into hiding and his whereabouts are unknown except to his trusted confidants. On occasion, he gives interviews, such as the one to Dies Irae, wherein he gives his opinion on matters of interest. Fátima, it seems, or, more precisely, the third part of the secret of Fátima, appears to have caught Viganò’s interest. What, then, is the issue here with the third part of the secret of Fátima? Let me give a brief sketch for context.
The Third Part of the Secret: A Brief Sketch of the Matter
On July 13, 1917, Our Lady communicated a “secret” to three visionaries in Fátima, Portugal. Their names were Lúcia dos Santos…Francisco…and Jacinta Marto. This secret was later revealed by Lúcia to contain three parts. The first two parts were written down by the end of 1941. The third, however, was written down on January 3, 1944, but sealed away in envelopes for many years. It was expected to be published in the year 1960, but that did not happen.
Many speculations about the text had risen before 1960, and they continued during and after that year as well. In short, the third part was subjected to much speculation, which contributed to a growing “hype” about it, as well as expectations. The text was eventually published on June 26, 2000 by the Holy See during a press conference.
Many people, however, were disappointed because the text did not meet the expectations that had arisen over the course of decades. The text was revealed to be about people being martyred for the sake of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of a prophecy from the second part of the secret: that Russia would “spread her errors” throughout the world. These “errors” are generally understood to be the errors of Communism.
Since the publication of the text, there have been many debates, even accusations, against the Church. Some have said that the Vatican is withholding a second text of the secret. Others thought that the Vatican’s interpretation of the text was incorrect. Whatever the claim, one fact is very apparent: the third part of the secret became a contentious matter for a number of people. There has been no end to the speculations, and, unfortunately, Archbishop Viganò’s remarks to Dies Irae were one more iteration of this sorry state of affairs.
Having established this background, let us now begin to turn towards Viganò’s interview.
Contextualizing Mons. Viganò’s Remarks: A Hermeneutical Question
As a former Papal Nuncio, Viganò was privy to sensitive information. When he speaks, therefore, his credentials follow him. We must, then, ask an all-encompassing question: how should we read Viganò’s remarks about Fátima? Should we read them according to his credentials…or do we read them as reflecting his personal opinions?
Viganò himself provides some direction for us on this question. He names Antonio Socci as one who had « thoroughly researched » the third part of the secret of Fátima. In 2006, Socci, a respected Italian journalist and author, had published a book entitled The Fourth Secret of Fatima. He sought to address various claims about the third part of the secret. To his credit, Socci did note some demonstrably false claims. Unfortunately, he failed to be more critical with others.
For example, Socci supported an assertion that there was another text of the third part that was 20-25 lines long, as opposed to the text published in 2000 which was over 60 lines. In 2017, a more comprehensive study of this particular assertion was published. That study revealed that the assertion was based upon a faulty interpretation of a French text by a gentleman named Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité.
Acknowledging, then, that Socci failed to perform a more comprehensive study of the facts, was Viganò correct to assert that Socci « thoroughly researched » the third part of the secret? Perhaps not, and it appears that Viganò missed the three-year old memo. Unfortunately, that oversight damages his presentation to Dies Irae.
Viganò had named Socci as an authority on the third part of the secret. He did, though, after singling out two particular cardinals for criticism: Angelo Sodano and Tarcisio Bertone. Why would Viganò single them out in this way?
In his book, Antonio Socci had painted a very negative picture of Cardinals Sodano and Bertone. This picture is, of course, with respect to their involvement in the publication and interpretation of the third part of the secret of Fátima. There is, however, more in play on this matter than what is apparent at the surface level of Viganò’s remarks.
Viganò had previously criticized Cardinals Sodano and Bertone in his August, 2018 “Testimony” that we mentioned earlier. There, Viganò named Sodano and Bertone as being involved in covering-up sexual abuse by clergy members. So, there is history, then, between Viganò and these two cardinals, which cannot be omitted from our present review of Viganò’s presentation to Dies Irae.
Let me, therefore, point out the proverbial “pink elephant” in the room: has Archbishop Viganò’s personal belief in the corruption of Cardinals Sodano and Bertone inclined him to accept uncritically Socci’s remarks about them in relation to Fátima?
If we answer “yes” to this question, then it is imperative to make a critical distinction. We must separate any negative disposition or antipathy that Viganò might have for Sodano and Bertone from any claims about Fátima that he presents to the public as true. He would be, simply speaking, biased.
Having established this important background, let us now dive into the individual elements of Archbishop Viganò’s interview.
Viganò: Separating Fact from Fiction
The interview begins with a question about Fátima in relation to COVID-19. Viganò responds in this first section by speaking of Portugal as the land « which the Blessed Virgin has promised to preserve in the Faith even in these times of great trial ». Here, Viganò is referring to the words of Our Lady during her July 13, 1917 apparition, « In Portugal, the dogma of the faith shall always be preserved… ».
The second section of Viganò’s response to the interviewer contains numerous misstatements of fact or outright errors. First, Viganò states that the third part of the secret was given to the children « to deliver to the Holy Father ». This claim is erroneous because it is unsupported in the historical documentation. Our Lady never indicated that such was her purpose. Moreover, Sr. Lúcia herself expressed surprise that her text ended up at the Vatican.
Viganò then concludes his sentence with the phrase that the third part « remains secret to this day ». Why would Viganò make this claim? Well, if he has agreed with the conclusions of Antonio Socci, as we saw earlier, then it seems that Viganò is here referring to the “fourth secret” hypothesis—the very namesake of Socci’s book. I have not, however, yet explained this hypothesis, so I’ll do so now.
According to the hypothesis, Sr. Lúcia had written a second text, one that contains explanatory words of the Virgin that interpret the images in the third part of the secret. This hypothesis had arisen immediately after the publication of the third part of the secret. The hypothesis developed over the next several years. It was notably encouraged with the publication of Antonio Socci’s book, which, for rhetorical purposes, gave it the name of the “fourth secret” of Fátima. The Holy See has consistently denied the hypothesis.
In 2000, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger stated that the text was « published in its entirety ». In 2007, Cardinal Bertone denied it in his book The Last Seer of Fatima. In 2016, the hypothesis was again denied, twice. First, and most notably, in the form of a letter in 2016 from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to the respected French writer Yves Chiron. Second, in a communiqué from the Holy See’s press office on May 21, 2016.
Moreover, the “fourth secret” hypothesis received a decisive blow in October, 2013. At that time, a biography of Sr. Lúcia was published by her religious community—the Carmelite Convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, Portugal. The biography was entitled A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary (in Portuguese: Um caminho sob o olhar de Maria).
In their biography, the Sisters revealed that there was a meaning (significado) given to Sr. Lúcia at some point in time. Now, at first, this revelation seems to vindicate the claims of Socci and others who believe that there was an interpretation to the third part of the secret. Unfortunately for them, there are two reasons why they should not throw a party.
First, while the claim of Socci and others ended up being true that there was an interpretation, that was not the entirety of their argument. They combined the claim with three other allegations:
- Lúcia had written down this interpretation;
- Lúcia communicated this document to the Vatican, and
- The Vatican was hiding this “second text.”
As it turns out, these assertions were debunked by the Sisters’ biography with yet another revelation. The Sisters revealed that in January, 1944, Sr. Lúcia had received a direct mandate from the Virgin herself not to reveal the meaning. How, then, can there be a second text with an explanation, allegedly covered up & denied by the Vatican, if the Blessed Virgin herself had mandated that no such text be written?
On this question, Archbishop Viganò gets put into the proverbial “hot seat.” Unless he is willing to stand upon his credentials and publicly state that such a document exists, and that he has seen it, then his claim to Dies Irae that the third part of the secret « remains secret to this day » is demonstrably false. These facts, however, do not stop the Archbishop from continuing to make outlandish statements. Viganò also claims that keeping the text unpublished was the result of a conspiracy.
Viganò explains that « Our Lady asked to reveal [the third part] in 1960, but John XXIII had a communiqué published on February 8th of that year…. With this distance from the message of the Queen of Heaven, a cover-up operation was started… ».
It is true that there was a text dated to February 8 of 1960. Viganò, unfortunately, mischaracterizes the document. It was not a communiqué from John XXIII; it was a news article from an unnamed reporter who cited anonymous sources at the Vatican. The provenance, therefore, of this document seems to be less illustrious than how Viganò characterized it to Dies Irae.
There is, though, a more likely reason why the text was not published in 1960 than Viganò’s characterization of a « cover-up operation ». The third part was not published until 2000 because the text was unintelligible in 1960 without the meaning that the Virgin had mandated not to be written.
Without an interpretation, publishing the text would have created certain problems that the Church was unwilling to create for herself. Cardinal Ratzinger himself said as much at the time of the text’s publication. On that occasion, here is what he said: [show video clip]. From this information, we can see that Viganò’s claim of there being a « cover-up operation » is a scandalous and unfounded accusation, one based upon false information and characterizations.
Likewise, Viganò is incorrect when he later states to Dies Irae that the Virgin was « gagged ». The Virgin never ordered the publication of the text. Her express order was that the text « could only be opened (aberto, in Portuguese) in 1960 » and read by the Cardinal of Lisbon or the Bishop of Leiria. So, perhaps the Virgin “gagged” herself?
Viganò begins the third section of the interview with another factual error: « In the year 2000…Cardinal Sodano, presented his version as the Third Secret that from some elements appeared clearly incomplete ». The claim that the interpretation given to the third part of the secret by the Holy See is actually Cardinal Sodano’s interpretation is false. It is rooted in old and now-defunct characterizations that were popularized by Antonio Socci.
After Socci’s book was published, Cardinal Bertone himself revealed in 2007 that the basic interpretation was made in conjunction with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was not separate from or opposed to the Congregation. Moreover, it was plainly stated in May of 2000 by Dr. Joaquín Navarro-Valls (the spokesman for the Holy See), that it was Sodano who made the announcement instead of Pope John Paul II because the Holy Father was, « personally involved » in the vision. These facts debunk certain characterizations that spoke of power struggles within the Vatican which wrested control over an ailing John Paul II.
Viganò then continues to develop his conspiratorial ideas. He states that Cardinal Bertone, as the Vatican Secretary of State under Pope Benedict XVI, « tried to divert attention to an event of the past ». Viganò is referring here to the Holy See’s interpretation wherein the events foretold in the third part now « seem part of the past ».
It is Viganò’s prerogative to question this interpretation. This prerogative was explicitly stated by Cardinal Ratzinger at the press conference that presented the third part of the secret [show video clip]. Now, while it is Vigano’s prerogative to question the Holy See’s interpretation, one would hope that he would base himself upon a sure foundation. Unfortunately, such does not appear to be the case here.
Viganò stated that Cardinals Sodano and Bertone intended « to let the people of God believe that the words of the Virgin had nothing to do with the crisis of the Church and the combination of modernists and Freemasonry contracted behind the scenes of Vatican II ». Here, Viganò is referring to a belief that there were evil schemes by these people in order to influence Vatican II. In the present instance of this cover-up alleged by Viganò, Cardinals Sodano and Bertone advance the interpretation currently under discussion in order to deceive the faithful about such machinations.
Viganò attributes malicious intent to Cardinals Sodano and Bertone. From what we have seen thus far though, Viganò does so without sufficient proof, and what he does offer as evidence is erroneous. Moreover, his statement creates a serious question concerning the Second Vatican Council. If groups like the Freemasons and modernist heretics were doing evil at the Council, what then are we to think of the Council and its documents and the Virgin’s alleged words? Did she “condemn” the Council or just some evil machinations surrounding it?
On this matter, Viganò is not clear, but he does create confusion towards the message of Fátima and distrust of the Magisterium of the Church viz-a-viz the Council. It should be noted that Sr. Lúcia herself twice referred to this Council as a « holy Council » in a letter that she wrote to her friend, Mother Martins, in September, 1970. If, as Viganò maintains then, that Sr. Lúcia was commissioned by Our Lady to give a message to the Holy Father that includes a “warning” concerning Vatican II, why would Sr. Lúcia refer to the Council as being “holy?” Clearly, Viganò is adopting a controversial and ultimately unsupportable position.
Viganò begins the fifth section with the words, « Benedict XVI himself confirmed the actuality of the Virgin’s message, even though – according to the interpretation spread by the Vatican – it should be considered complete ». Viganò here appears to be referring to a remark made by Benedict XVI in his May 13, 2010 homily in Fátima, « We would be mistaken to think that Fátima’s prophetic mission is complete ». Viganò’s remark is disassociated from the historical record and for two reasons.
The first reason is that Viganò neglects to mention that Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, was a part of the « Vatican’s interpretation » in the year 2000. This omission is notable because in his August, 2018 “Testimony,” Viganò was quite favorable towards Pope Benedict. We here see Viganò again being favorable towards Benedict. The second reason is that Viganò contrasts Pope Benedict’s remark with the interpretation given by the Holy See as if there is a contradiction or a change.
It appears then that Viganò has interpreted Benedict’s May 13, 2010 homily as a “repudiation” from that of June, 2000. This interpretation is false, as there is no discord between the two statements. Pope Benedict, in 2010, was simply making more apparent a distinction, the roots of which were already present in the year 2000.
Simply stated, Benedict did not say that the “prophecies” of Fátima weren’t complete. Rather, he said that the “prophetic mission” of Fátima was not complete. “Prophecies” and “prophetic mission:” those are two different things! He distinguished between the individual prophecies of Fátima, such as Our Lady’s warning about the spread of Russia’s errors, from Fátima’s overall prophetic mission. In order to explain this, let us turn to some Biblical theology on the nature of prophecy.
Prophecy, in the Biblical understanding, is about revealing the Will of God in the present. Secondarily, prophecy involves the prediction of future events. Most people today understand prophecy solely in the second sense, not the first. Moreover, those who reveal the Will of God are “prophets.” We find such persons all throughout the Old Testament, the last and greatest of which was St. John the Baptist, according to Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:11; Luke 7:28).
Pope Benedict, then, was here developing the biblical understanding of prophecy. He was using the example of the three shepherd children of Fátima as witnesses, in other words: prophets. He was reminding the faithful of their participation, through baptism, in Christ’s mission of priest, prophet and king. He connected the apparitions of Our Lady at Fátima to this tenet of the Deposit of Faith to emphasize that we, too, have access to the same God that the three visionaries witnessed and proclaimed. Benedict also wanted to remind us that baptism binds us to do likewise.
Benedict’s distinction, therefore, is entirely concordant with the Holy See’s interpretation from 2000 that the Virgin’s message of conversion and penance remains relevant today. What is fair to note is that the distinction made by Benedict in 2010 was not as apparent in 2000. Viganò, however, does not see the texts in this way. He perceives the facts according to a hermeneutic of discontinuity and discord that is certainly not the result of serene and balanced studies.
Viganò then states: « Those who read the Third Secret clearly said that its content concerns the apostasy of the Church, [which] began precisely in the beginning of the 1960s and which, today, has reached a stage so evident that it can be recognized by secular observers ». In response to this assertion, I’d like to reference a statement made by Sr. Lúcia to Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani in the 1950s. She stated to His Eminence that the reason for the date of 1960 was that it would be « more clear ». A few years later, June, 1958 to be precise, she wrote to Pope Pius XII and told him that “in the 60s, Communism will attain its high point.”
From these pieces of evidence, we can see that historical events in the 1960s had a role to play in the fulfillment of the third part of the secret. We can also infer that if the text would be “more clear” in 1960 at the time of its reading, then it is fair to speculate that events *prior* to 1960 might also have had a bearing upon the interpretation of the third part of the secret. The picture painted by these two observations remains to be worked out by competent scholars.
Archbishop Viganò’s remarks on Fátima in his interview with Dies Irae indicate a lack of knowledge and critical study regarding the history of the third part of the secret of Fátima. There appear to be two reasons for this:
- Viganò’s personal and widely-known antipathy for Cardinals Sodano and Bertone, and
- His belief that Antonio Socci is a reliable source on Fátima.
With respect to the first reason, characterizing Sodano and Bertone as having malicious intent with the interpretation of Fátima is contrary to the historical record. While acknowledging that Viganò’s public accusation of their malfeasance in handling sex-abuse cases is serious (if true), it does not necessarily follow that their actions with Fátima are malicious. In order to discern their actions towards Fátima, one must look to the historical and theological facts. These facts support, as well as question, the cardinals’ various assertions, but the facts do not prove that there was malice.
Regarding the second reason, Socci failed to do extensive research. He ended up adopting many flawed arguments. Socci’s failure was not as apparent in the immediate years following the publication of his book in 2006. As more documentation becomes available, it becomes highly unlikely that the “fourth secret” existed in written form. Our efforts, therefore, are better spent on understanding the third part of the secret of Fátima more deeply through calm and serene study and reflection, especially with any new documentation.
For his part, Viganò evidently is not in possession of all of the facts and depends upon erroneous research to inform his opinions. Those opinions are being favorably received by many people who accept his words at face value, due to his public prestige and credentials. As a result, they are also receiving false information and impressions about the authentic message of Our Lady of Fátima, thereby harming that message.
Viganò therefore faces a grave personal danger. He is making scandalous statements. In doing so, he is, in effect, undermining his credibility by allowing his personal antipathy to influence his perspective of Our Lady’s message at Fátima. I would like to offer him sincere encouragement to engage in a deeper study of the authentic message of Our Lady at Fátima and its sources. I also personally extend to him an invitation to conversate on these matters.
Thank you for watching this video. Our Lady of Fátima, pray for us!
 Acta Apostolicae Sedis 103 (2011), 780.
 Carmelo de Santa Teresa – Coimbra, Um caminho sob o olhar de Maria: Biografia da Irmã Lúcia de Jesus e do Coração Imaculado, O.C.D. (Coimbra, Portugal: Edições Carmelo, 2013), 60-69.
 Ibid., 244-255.
 Ibid., 262-277.
 Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima: The Third Secret (Buffalo, New York: Immaculate Heart Publications, 1990), 46-58; 465-524; 573ff.
 Ibid., 623ff.
 Antonio Socci, Il quarto segreto di Fatima 2° (Milano: BUR Saggi, 2010).
 Cf. Socci, 46-57.
 Socci, 12-14; 103-104; Kevin J. Symonds, On the Third Part of the Secret of Fatima (St. Louis, Missouri: En Route Books and Media, 2017), 76.
 Socci, 153-163; see also Symonds, 59-84.
 « …que a Santíssima Virgem prometeu preserver na Fé também nestes tempos de grande provação ».
 Cf. Symonds, 25-27, 181-216 for a more extensive examination of the sentence.
 Cf. Ibid., 93-102; Dr. Cristina Sobral (edit.), Lúcia de Jesus: Memórias (Fátima, Portugal: Santuário de Fátima, 2016), 451, question 161.
 Socci, 73-178.
 Alessandra Stanley, “Vatican Issues Text of Third Secret of Fatima.” The New York Times (27 June, 2000): Section A, page 10 <https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/27/world/vatican-issues-text-of-third-secret-of-fatima.html>.
 Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, Il messaggio di Fatima (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000), 32.
 Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, L’ultima veggente di Fatima (Milano: Rai Eri Rizzoli, 2007), 75-79.
 Yves Chiron, Fatima: Vérités et légendes (Paris: Artège, 2017), 235-236.
 Cf. Carmelo de Santa Teresa – Coimbra, 266.
 « Nossa Senhora pediu para ser revelada em 1960, mas João XXIII publicou, a 8 de Fevereiro daquele ano, um comunicado…. Com este afastamento da mensagem da Rainha do Céu, deu-se início a uma operação de encobrimento… ».
 Cf. Symonds, 164-172.
 Cf. Cardinal Ratzinger’s remarks during the 26 June, 2000 press conference (Symonds, 378-381, 387).
 Cf. Carmelo de Santa Teresa – Coimbra, 266; Sobral 451 (question 161).
 « Em 2000…o Secretário de Estado, Cardeal Sodano, apresentou como Terceiro Segredo uma versão sua que, em relação a alguns elementos, apareceu claramente incompleta ».
 Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, L’ultima veggente di Fatima (Milano: Rai Eri Rizzoli, 2007), 85; Symonds, 329-333.
 Alessandra Stanley, “Vatican Discloses the ‘Third Secret’ of Fatima.” The New York Times (14 May, 2000): Section 1, page 1) <https://www.nytimes.com/2000/05/14/world/vatican-discloses-the-third-secret-of-fatima.html>.
 « …tenha procurado desviar a atenção sobre um evento do passado ».
 Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, 31, 43.
 Cf. Symonds, 379.
 « …a fim de fazer crer ao povo de Deus que as palavras da Virgem não tivessem nada que ver com a crise da Igreja e com o conluio entre modernistas e maçonaria realizado nos bastidores do Vaticano II ».
 Cf. Symonds, 293-311.
 Cf. Antonio Maria Martins, S.J., Memòrias e cartas da Irmã Lúcia (Porto, Portugal: Simão Guimaráes, Filhos, LDA, 1973), 454.
 « O próprio Bento XVI confirmou a actualidade da mensagem da Virgem, apesar de – segundo a interpretação difundida pelo Vaticano – se dever considerar cumprida ».
 AAS 102 (2010), 327 (« Iludir-se-ia quem pensasse que a missão profética de Fátima esteja concluída »).
 Cf. Christopher Ferrara, Epilogue to The Secret Still Hidden: Vindication! <https://archive.fatima.org/exclusives/pdf/ssh_epiloguepg3.pdf>, page 3.
 Cf. Symonds, 256-292.
 Cf. Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, 36.
 Ibid., 31.
 « Quem leu o Terceiro Segredo disse claramente que o seu conteúdo diz respeito à apostasia da Igreja, iniciada precisamente no princípio dos anos sessenta e que, hoje, chegou a uma fase tão evidente que pode ser reconhecida por observadores seculares ».
 Acta Pontificiae Academiae Marianae Internationalis vel ad Academiae quoquo modo pertinentia. Volume 4 (Romae: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1967), 45.
 Carmelo de Santa Teresa – Coimbra, 275 (« …na era 60, o comunismo atingirá o ponto maximo…. »).