There is no controversy on the third Secret of Fatima. Father Nuno Rosario Fernandes, Director of the Communications Department of Lisbon’s Patriarchate, sets the seal on the debate regarding a supposedly non-revealed portion of the third Secret made public by John Paul II during his Apostolic journey on May 13 2000. In his interview with SIR Fr Fernandes shares the sentiments of anticipation for Pope Francis’ visit to the Portuguese Shrine. The Pope will set foot on Portuguese soil for the first time on May 12-13 to celebrate the centenary of Our Lady’s first apparitions and the beatification of the two shepherd children Francisco and Giacinta Marto, to whom, along with Sister Lucia – whose diocesan beatification stage has just been completed – the Holy Virgin revealed herself. Francis’ 19th Apostolic visit represents yet another leg of his Marian devotion, displayed since the beginning of his Pontificate and renewed before all departures and upon his returns from international journeys in Rome’s Basilica of Saint Mary Major. One million people – including 200 priests, 71 bishops and 8 cardinals – will gather in the large esplanade of the Shrine to attend the “open-air” Mass celebrated on May 13, the second and last day of the visit, that will be followed by two-thousand journalists in Portugal. The Rite of Canonization will be attended also by the Brazilian boy who was saved by a miracle attributed to the intercession of the two Blessed Shepherd children in 2013, when he was six-years-old.
The Pope’s upcoming visit brought to the fore the polemics on what is assumed to be a partial revelation of the Third Secret of Fatima. What is your answer to this regard?
The Church established that what Saint John Paul II revealed in the year 2000, reconfirmed by the then cardinal Ratzinger, is the final word. Everything is buried there. There is nothing more to reveal.
What the Church said is valid. With this visit the Church reconfirms the apparitions, which was not to be taken for granted, seen that these phenomena are not easily approved. But most of all she reconfirms the message contained therein.
Could you describe the atmosphere on the eve of Francis’ arrival?
There is great joy; there is an atmosphere of great anticipation and expectations. People are preparing to live out the event. The general climate is one of great excitement, with several initiatives under way. The diocese and the Bishops’ Conference have been working on it for months.
How many people are expected?
The Shrine’s esplanade can host approximately 400 thousand people. We are expecting almost twice as many, 800 thousand, for the Pope’s celebrations. In all likelihood there will be some one million people. The faithful will be arriving from Portugal as well as from neighbouring Countries and Latin America.
The message of Our Lady of Fatima is a message of peace: to what extent is it topically relevant today, 100 years since the first apparitions?
Just like one hundred years ago, the world is marked by a precarious international balance – and, as Pope Francis says – it is experiencing a piecemeal world war. Our Lady of Fatima’s call for peace, conversion, and mercy, holds special relevance today, and it urgently needs to be received.
Two children will be canonized for the first time in the history of the Church. What is the meaning of elevating the two “pastorinhos” to the altars?
They are an example of sainthood for us all. They show us that
To become saint it is not necessary to be of age:
Everyone can be a saint, starting with children. Sanctity is for everyone. This message will reverberate worldwide through the canonization of Francisco and Giacinta, through the exemplary simple life of the two children, who were also illiterate.