|13-May-2000 -- EWTN Feature Story
Address of Angelo Cardinal Sodano Concerning the Third Part of the Secret of Fátima
[At the end of the Mass of Beatification and Eucharistic Benediction, Angelo Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, gave the following address on behalf of the Holy Father.]
As you know, the purpose of the visit of the Holy Father to Fátima has been to beatify the two little shepherds. Nevertheless, he also wishes his pilgrimage to be a renewed gesture of gratitude to Our Lady for her protection during these years of his pontificate. A protection that truly seems linked to the so-called third part of the Secret of Fátima. That text contains a prophetic vision similar to those in Sacred Scripture which do not describe with photographic clarity the details of future events. They synthesize and condense, against a unified background, events spread out over time in a succession, and a duration, which are not specified. As a result the text of this third part of the Secret must be interpreted in a symbolic key.
The vision of Fátima concerns above all the war waged by an atheist system against the Church and Christians, and it describes the immense suffering endured by the witnesses to the faith in the last century of the Second Millennium. It is an interminable way of the Cross, led by the Popes of the 20th century.
According to the interpretation of the little shepherds, which was also recently confirmed by Sister Lucia, the bishop clothed in white who prays for all the faithful is the Pope. As he makes his way with great effort toward the Cross, amid the corpses of those who are martyred - bishops, priests, men and women religious and many lay persons - he too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire. After the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981, it appeared evident to His Holiness that it was a motherly hand which guided the bullet's path, enabling the dying Pope to halt at the threshold of death. On occasion of a visit to the Pope by the then bishop of Leiria-Fátima, the Pope decided to give him the bullet which had remained in the jeep after the assassination attempt, so that it might be kept in the Shrine. At the behest of the bishop, the bullet was later set in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima.
The successive events of 1989 led, both in the Soviet Union and in a number of countries of Eastern Europe, to the fall of the communist regime which promotes atheism. For this, too, the Supreme Pontiff offers heart-felt thanks to the Most Holy Virgin.
But in other parts of the world, attacks against the Church and Christians, together with the burden of suffering which they involve, tragically continue. Even if the events to which the third part of the Secret of Fátima refers now seem part of the past, Our Lady's call to conversion and penance issued at the beginning of the 20th century remains timely and urgent today. The Lady of the message seems to read with a special insight the signs of our times. The insistent invitation of Mary Most Holy to penance is nothing but a manifestation of her maternal concern for the fate of the human family in need of conversion and forgiveness.
In order that the faithful may better receive the message of Fátima, the Pope has charged the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith withmaking public the third part of the Secret, after preparation of an appropriate commentary.
Brothers and sisters, let us thank Our lady of Fátima for her
protection. To her maternal intercession, let us entrust the Church of
the Third Millennium.