"THE THIRD SECRET OF FATIMA IS NOT A DOGMA OF FAITH"
(ZENIT May 19, 2000)
Cardinal Ratzinger Announces Publication Within a Month
VATICAN CITY, MAY 19 (ZENIT.org).- Cardinal Ratzinger has announced that
the definitive revelation of the third Fatima secret will take place in
the first half of June, to give the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith time to prepare the commentary ordered by the Holy Father.
In an interview in the "La Repubblica" newspaper, the Bavarian Cardinal
clarified several points. The third secret of Fatima must be regarded in
its proper dimension: it is not a dogma of faith, and neither are other
Marian apparitions. A Catholic is free to believe or not believe in
them, but on these issues, it is best to avoid all forms of
Following the revelation made by the Pope on the third secret,
articulated last Saturday in Portugal by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican
Secretary of State, this is the first time Cardinal Ratzinger has spoken
on the topic. The Cardinal spoke yesterday, while preparing to
concelebrate Mass on the Pope's 80th birthday.
"La Repubblica" asked: "What does it mean for the Church to be led by a
Pope who is 80?"
"We are grateful to Divine Providence for this Pope who, precisely in
his old age and, and we could say his sickness, is even greater and
really represents the voice of faith, of Christianity, of love for men.
He is a Pontiff who is doing a great service not only for the Church but
for the whole of humanity," answered Cardinal Ratzinger.
The reporter alluded to the extension of Parkinson's disease, and
returned to the possibility of a resignation. "I exclude it in the most
absolute way. I really do not believe in such an eventuality. In any
case, at this time I do not see how the Holy Father could imagine
something like that, not even vaguely. Suffice it to think of all he is
doing these days in the Jubilee. He is present in almost all the
celebrations. I also think of so many of his actions, his initiatives,
his trips. Suffice it to think, for example, of his recent historic
visit to Israel. All his actions, his pastoral initiatives these years
have shown that precisely in his physical frailty the Pope is great and
is very present in the Church, spiritually and humanly," Cardinal
The announcement of the publication of the third secret of Fatima was
interpreted by the interviewer as a "great gesture of courage." The
Cardinal agreed. "Yes, yes. In Fatima also, once again the Holy Father
has demonstrated his great courage to the world. This also shows how
vital his presence is at the head of the Church, and how he is truly
courageous. He is an example to all.
Cardinal Ratzinger explained the points he is working on in the
document. "We want to publish the whole third secret of Fatima as soon
as possible, with the commentary and historical frame of reference. The
work is going very well. For understandable reasons of discretion, I
cannot tell you the exact date of publication but it will certainly not
be later than the first half of June." He also said the commission was
made up primarily of historians and theologians, in order to write a
document that is useful for all, and which will be presented in a normal
press conference at the Vatican Press Office.
Is it possible to anticipate other novelties or resounding surprises in
this third secret of Fatima? "No, nothing. There will be no new
surprises. What is more, I believe that, at the end, the secret will be
reduced to its exact dimension. Because not that much must be expected
from these private revelations. Although they represent it a help to
prayer and to Christian life for anyone who desires, they are certainly
not essential for a Christian. Therefore, I think it is also important
to address these things in their correct terms, not to think of
sensationalism, or extraordinary things, but in the fundamental things
"There are no dogmas of faith in the matter of apparitions," the
Cardinal stressed. The reporter asked him if a Catholic was free not to
accept approved apparitions, like Lourdes or Fatima. "Of course, one can
not believe in apparitions. I repeat, we are not talking about dogmas of
The reporter for "La Repubblica" pressed on. "Can one not believe in the
relation between the third secret of Fatima and the attack on Pope John
Paul II on May 13, 1981?"
"The relation between the attack and the third secret is obvious, it is
in the facts," Cardinal Ratzinger concluded.