(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

Ratzinger stressed.

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

of Christianity."

"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.