There is a peculiar strain of conservative Catholicism that manifests itself in such religious media as EWTN and Inside the Vatican. The former is a right-wing broadcast empire and the latter is a monthly magazine. A particular virulent form of Catholic extremism popped up in the letters printed in the February 2012 issue of Inside the Vatican. An unhappy correspondent expressed his dissatisfaction with the actions of the current pope and his immediate predecessors:
You are doing a great service and I find your magazine thought-provoking and stimulating. But I find it appalling that the Vatican's strategy is to sit tight for 20 years and hope the world comes to them when there are two simple things they can do to save millions of souls in the meantime.The Third Secret of Fatima? What's that? And why hasn't it been revealed?
When will the Pope follow Our Blessed Mother's order and reveal the Third Secret of Fatima and properly consecrate Russia? How many millions must be condemned to Hell due to his intransigence? How can he profess to be the leader of the faith when he and those around him lack faith themselves? I've heard the excuse that Russia has threatened the Church if they comply with her wishes. Have they no faith? Do they not believe the Blessed Mother is more powerful than an earthly nation?
If the Blessed Mother's request at Fatima is not fulfilled, the Church that will exist in 20 years will be two decades farther away from the Church Christ created, and that is a scary thought.
three private revelations supposedly given to Lucia Santos and her cousins in 1917 by the Virgin Mary during the Blessed Mother's apparitions at Fatima in Portugal. The first two secrets were trotted out in 1941, one pertaining to a vision of hell (surprise: it's nasty) and the other predicting a second world war (already conveniently under way at the time of the “revelation”). The third, however, was apparently too horrible to contemplate. That's odd, considering the infernal content of secret No. 1.
Lucia wrote out the Third Secret and said that it could be revealed in 1960, when people might be more prepared to understand it. Pope John XXIII, however, declined to release it at that time. Neither did Paul VI or John Paul I. Forty years after Lucia's original projected release date, the Third Secret was finally revealed to the world.
And the world was disappointed.
Sure, it contained a juicy but confusing account of a massacre of clerics and lay people, including a “Bishop dressed in White” easily identified with the pope, but overall it was a dull secret with no exciting revelations. It seemed likely that John XXIII thought it unwise to release a secret that seemed to predict the assassination of a pope—and his successors thought likewise; that is, at least, until John Paul II survived an assassination attempt and decided he was himself the “Bishop dressed in White.” He also gave credit to the Virgin Mary for sparing his life (although for some reason the Blessed Mother couldn't be bothered to spare the pope his grievous wounds) and thus the prediction of papal death was vacated by the one who had supposedly made it in the first place.
All neat and tied up with a bow.
Except for the rabid Catholics who refuse to accept it. A cadre of irreconcilable Catholics—all of whom seem to consider themselves even more Catholic than the pope—insist that the Vatican is hiding the true Third Secret and refuses to come clean. The letter-writer from Inside the Vatican is clearly one of their number. He doesn't hesitate to declare that the pope is a liar who has held back the Third Secret. As far as the writer is concerned, the Third Secret has not been published, no matter what the Vatican says.
It's quite a remarkable example of overwrought Catholicism (which is already pretty knotted-up in even its mainstream manifestations). This show has legs. Pass the popcorn.