Questionable Fátima Reporting

I received a message from a fellow Fátima devotee, notifying me of a new article in Catholic Family News that brought up some old history about Fátima from 2015. The sender was kind to pass along to me a copy of the article. Today, November 1, I received the copy.

Marianna Bartold (via Twitter)

The article was written by Marianna Bartold and is entitled Defending the Truth of Our Lady of Fatima published in Catholic Family News, October, 2021, pages 9-10. The article itself was broken up into several parts, the present article being the 7th, and final, in the series.

I read through the article and noted some points. What was of particular interest to me, however, was what Bartold said about the events of 2015. These remarks are found towards the end of page 9. Here is what Bartold wrote:

My longtime readers might recall the events of 2015 over the English translation of Um caminho sob o olhar de Maria. For those who do not remember, I have provided a basic summary at the end of the present article. Presently, I’d like to make a couple of observations about Bartold’s above text.

First Observation:

Bartold begins by saying, “Changing crucial words found in the original Portuguese edition….” Here, she is setting up her readers for what comes at the very end, “Shockingly, the English translation (from WAF) of the same sentence omits six words but adds two….”

The matter of six vs. two words was something that Christopher Ferrara had pointed out back in June of 2015 in an article for The Fatima Center’s column entitled “Fatima Perspectives.” Bartold thus leaves herself open to the interpretation that she is relying upon Ferrara and/or The Fatima Center as her source for this particular claim.

Strengthening this observation is her 14th endnote at the bottom of page 10:

Here, Bartold is discussing the notion that Sr. Lúcia wrote two texts in the first half of January, 1944. The first was the vision, and the second was the meaning. This interpretation was discussed by Fr. Gruner, under Fr. Paul Kramer’s name, in The Devil’s Final Battle (page 149) back in 2002.

I discussed this interpretation in my own book On the Third Part of the Secret of Fátima (pages 312-315), concluding that Lúcia wrote down the vision, put it in the famous envelope(s) and then put the envelope(s)–not two separate texts of the third part of the Secret–into the notebook.

Bartold appears to have missed the memo that her interpretation of Lúcia’s words is not only faulty, it’s theologically dubious.

Would the Mother of God appear on January 3rd and mandate that Sr. Lúcia not write down the meaning, only to reverse herself within six days? Does that sound becoming of Mary, Seat of Wisdom? I have known many traditionalists who are quite critical of Medjugorje, if for nothing else because they question that Our Lady would appear daily for 40 years. To claim, however, that Our Lady would reverse herself within a week defies belief, especially for a traditionalist, and yet, here we are.

Either way, Bartold leaves herself wide open to the interpretation that she is depending upon material from The Fatima Center that is long since outdated. Certainly, she is not reading texts carefully.

Second Observation:

I question Bartold’s use of the words “changing” and “shockingly” at the beginning and the end of this section.

These descriptors are given to the reader with an appalling lack of context. They sound rather sensational, especially in the larger framework of Bartold’s article. If Bartold provided the necessary historical context that has been available in the public forum for over six years now, I doubt that she could have used these two words with the same effect.

As a writer, I understand that there is only so much space and one can only say so much. Would there be, at least, a citation or two for the reader to look up this context? Unfortunately, no such citation is provided for the reader. Hopefully, then, the summary provided below will help the interested reader.

Conclusion

In the present article, Catholic Family News and Marianna Bartold continue to advance long-since refuted arguments favoring the “fourth secret” hypothesis. They are also digging up and questionably framing for their audience the events of 2015 that have long since been settled.

In my debate with Christopher Ferrara in October of 2017, for which the Editor of CFN (Matt Gaspers) was present, I warned that, “insisting on a second envelope and text despite the facts and careful analyses could do harm to the credibility and scholarship of the traditional movement.”

In Marianna Bartold’s article, it appears as though my words have sadly gone unheeded.

-Kevin Symonds

A Basic Summary of the Events of 2015:

  1. The Carmelites of Coimbra published their biography of Sr. Lúcia, Um caminho sob o olhar de Maria, in October, 2013.
  2. The World Apostolate of Fatima, USA (WAF-USA) had obtained the English translation rights to this book.
  3. James A. Colson was the English translator. Barbara Ernster was the English editor.
  4. The English translation was published in April of 2015.
  5. Chapter 13 contained new information about the third part of the Secret of Fátima.
  6. That information revealed the words of Our Lady to Sr. Lúcia in her early January, 1944 apparition.
  7. Our Lady indicated that there was a meaning (significado) to the third part and expressly commanded Sr. Lúcia not to reveal it.
  8. Christopher Ferrara penned an article dated June 12, 2015 entitled, “‘World Apostolate of Fatima’ Hides Our Lady of Fatima’s Words in English Translation of New Lucia Biography.”
  9. Ferrara noticed that there was a mistranslation in the English edition of the biography with respect to Our Lady’s words in her January, 1944 apparition.
  10. Ferrara negatively characterized the mistranslation and the WAF-USA, saying that it “hides” Our Lady’s words “to give the false impression that Our Lady was directing Lucia not to write down Lucia’s ‘opinion’ on the meaning of the vision.
  11. The Executive Director of the WAF-USA, David Carollo, wrote a reply to Ferrara, stating that, “The World Apostolate of Fatima, USA is not part of any conspiracy to hide the words of Sister Lucia.
  12. I myself wrote an article, dated July 5, 2015, defending the WAF-USA.
  13. On July 9, 2015, Ferrara wrote a response to Carollo.
  14. On August 24, 2015, Ferrara penned an update, entitled “Bio-gate: Some Further Developments.”
  15. A summary and some reflections on this dispute was published by Preserving Christian Publications in its October/November, 2015 catalog.

It is unfortunate, but Ferrara’s August 24th article seems to be unavailable via The Fatima Center’s web site. Thankfully, I had saved a copy of it as a PDF.