The Devil's Final Battle
Fr. Paul Kramer
reviewed by Peter W. Miller
As various controversies and scandals continue to swirl throughout the Church leaving every faithful Catholic to determine the proper internal and external response to this crisis, we must take care to resist two serious and related temptations.
The first is the tendency to lose proper perspective on the current state of the Mystical Body of Christ by placing undue focus on particular effects of the crisis (e.g. clerical sexual abuse, low vocations, poor catechisis, dissent, etc.) or a limited view of the geographic region effected (e.g. "it's only an American problem but Rome will soon save us"). This temptation can also manifest itself in a willingness to accept (or even fight for) a situation or condition which is more representative of an earlier stage of the problem than an actual solution.
The second, related issue is a temptation to jump into the same pit as the modernists by implicitly relegating the supernatural order below the natural. This tendency can exist when temporal actions take priority over prayer and sacrifice, or the physical aspects of a priest's immoral behavior are given greater emphasis and consideration than the spiritual. To slip into such an error and engage dissident clerics on strictly rational or naturalistic grounds is a road to certain defeat and plays directly into the devil's hands. Particularly in a naturalistic culture whose dangerous philosophy, driven by an idolatry of "progress" and "discovery", has invaded the Church (the "worldly thinking" identified by Pope Paul VI), it can be difficult to maintain a proper Catholic perspective.
Sometimes when one is caught up in the battles and ugliness of the American version of Catholicism, it's useful to look up out of the trenches and take inventory as to the true causes, scope and objectives of the greater struggle. Such an opportunity was afforded to this writer when the postman delivered a copy of The Devil's Final Battle a book which gives a perspective unlike any other.
A Catholic View of History
"Suppose, dear friend, that Communism was only the most visible of the instruments of subversion to be used against the Church and the traditions of Divine Revelation ... I am worried by the Blessed Virgin's messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy ... A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God ... In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them, like Mary Magdalene weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, 'Where have they taken Him?' ... I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her fell remorse for her historical past." 1 (emphasis mine here and throughout)
In one of the most amazing statements to come out of the last century, these were the words of then Vatican Secretary of State Msgr. Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, as recorded by his biographer Msgr. Roche. Not only is communism clearly identified as an "instrument of subversion to be used against the Church" but a grave warning is issued regarding to the spread of naturalism ("the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God") and the alteration of the Catholic Faith, particularly with regards to "Her liturgy." Additionally, each of these things were tied to "the Blessed Virgin's messages to Lucy of Fatima."
The Fatima apparitions occupy a special significance in the history of mankind a significance which continues to this very day. Throughout history, certain key occurrences have been greatly influenced, even dictated by supernatural factors so much so that any analysis which does not take such factors into account is incomplete or inaccurate.
- The story of a dozen men emerging from an upper room to bravely face persecution and certain death while proclaiming the Truth of Our Divine Savior in multiple languages is incomplete without the divine assistance of the Holy Ghost.
- The story of a general conquering his adversaries, gaining control of the Roman Empire and ushering in an age of freedom for the Church is incomplete without the heavenly instructions delivered to him in a dream.
- The story of an entire nation enslaved by pagan idolatry and Satanic human sacrifice converting to Catholicism by the millions in a span of a few short years is incomplete without the Blessed Virgin's visit to a poor peasant and a miraculous gift She bestowed upon the country.
- The story of outnumbered Western European fleets achieving its first major naval victory against Mohammedan hordes at Lepanto is incomplete without the strong Faith of a Dominican Pope and the fervent devotion to the Most Holy Rosary he vigorously spread in the preceding years.
- The story of a Catholic nation, once the pride of Christendom, succumbing to modern temptations and suffering a revolution whose shock waves continue to be felt throughout the world is incomplete without the revelations of His Sacred Heart given by Our Lord to a cloistered nun.
- And the story of a era which began with systematic atheism torturing and killing the faithful by tens of millions and continues to this day with a decimated Church unable to counter the unprecedented holocaust of abortion and pleading with a secular world to be recognized as a "contributor to culture," is woefully incomplete without Our Blessed Mother's visit and message to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal.
The Visit, the Miracle and the Message
In the fateful year of 1917, a few short months before the Bolshevik Revolution would take hold of Russia and strangle the known world with violence, terror and fear under the name of "communism", Our Lady of Fatima revealed to Sister Lucy the necessity of "that nation's" Consecration to Her Immaculate Heart and the consequences of failing to do so.
Rather than offering an analysis of the socio-political factors that contribute to war, Our Lady simply stated that war was a punishment for the sins of mankind. Rather than proposing a solution involving multi-national cooperation and dialogue, she stated the remedy was to be found in the establishment of worldwide devotion to Her Immaculate Heart. Rather than discussing possible natural solutions, She ordered supernatural ones: devotion to Her Immaculate Heart, daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary and the Devotion of Five First Saturdays for Reparation.
Since that time, particularly after the commencement of World War II, the messages of Fatima have become for some more of an embarrassment and liability than a promise of divine assistance. The two specific requests which ended up causing the most problems were the instructions to release the final part of the message of Fatima (the Third Secret) and the request that the Pope and world bishops consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart.
Given a newfound urgency over the past twenty years, as campaigns to revise the messages of Fatima have gone from official silence and distraction on the subject to open and excessive attacks, the level of conflict between those in the current Church hierarchy and Our Blessed Mother's simple message to three children has become the stuff of Hollywood movies some of its elements seeming too outrageous to be true:
- A secret entrusted to the Church for revelation in 1960, at the dawn of a revolutionary council, and kept a secret for four more decades only to be partially released in a manner lacking in consistency, leaving millions of Catholics scratching their heads and described even by skeptic atheists as "suspiciously underwhelming."
- A diplomatic policy of "tolerance" and "dialogue" towards other governments and religions which prevents the Holy Father from mentioning a single word ("Russia") for risk of political fallout.
- A cloistered nun in her 90's prevented from speaking to anyone on the subject of Fatima, but supposedly lending her approval to those attacking her character.
- An organization faced with hundreds of clerics engaging in the most repulsive perversions known to mankind dedicating its efforts and resources to persecute those priests and individuals not accepting their revisionist version of Fatima or their "new orientation" in general.
Even the best efforts to resign Fatima to the past and separate the message from the event are doomed to failure. It's impossible to have generations of Catholics raised on the story of Fatima a simple and beautiful story of a Mother who so loved Her children that She came to earth and offered them a message of hope and means to achieve it then ask them to forget or allow to be revised the message that accompanied it, challenging the whole purpose of the visit and Miracle of the Sun. With churches, schools and religious associations named after Our Lady of Fatima, with the authentication of the apparitions by the Church, with the insertion of a new feast day into the liturgical calendar, with a string of successive Popes expressing their devotion to Her and with the beautification of two of the seers, the efforts to rewrite this important message cannot and will not last. For if those "inconvenient" parts of the message of Fatima are not authentic or worthy of belief, then why are the calls to prayer and penance? Or if none of the messages can be trusted, why authenticate the apparition or spread devotion in the first place? As even EWTN even pointed out:
"The Declaration of Jacinta and Francisco Marto as Blessed on 13 May 2000 represents the next to last stage in the Church's official recognition of their holiness. It also provides a further confirmation of the authenticity and value of the Message of Fatima." 2
The embarrassment shown towards the Fatima message is much like that shown by modern Churchmen to the teachings of past Popes and saints. Churches are named after them, they are invoked in prayers, and their beatifications are carried out, but their teaching and beliefs are disregarded as outdated, sacrificed to the insatiable gods of "development". This lip service paid to the Catholic heritage fails when extended to Fatima. The words of the Blessed Virgin cannot be "developed", reinterpreted or rephrased in a more "pastoral" manner. She either said them or she did not, and one cannot separate the visit or the miracle from the message. The revolutionary blitzkrieg to remake the Church according to the needs and desires of "modern man" faces a disastrous roadblock in Fatima a subject which haunts the ecclesial innovators more than any other. Although Vatican officials would prefer not to be regarded as in opposition to Fatima, their tactics can be seen in no other way.
Presenting the Case
The Devil's Final Battle serves three main purposes. The first being an overview, not just of the Fatima message and controversy, but of the Church crisis as a whole. As opposed to works which limit the scope of analysis to the a short period of time or limited geographic region, this analysis covers numerous events over the past several centuries.
Never before have so many issues been presented in such a cohesive manner. From the papal warnings against liberalism and modernism to the new attitudes and tactics employed at Vatican II; from the detailed masonic plans to subvert the Church to the admissions of seminary infiltration given by former communists; from the philosophies that dominated the Catholic revolution in the 1960's to the clerical homosexual scandals today; from the failure to release the Third Secret at the requested time to the Fatima revisionist propaganda campaign, this book ties it all together.
The second purpose is to frame an indictment against high-ranking Churchmen who, through their words and actions, have thwarted the message of Fatima and prevented Our Lady's requests from being fulfilled (in particular, the release of the Third Secret and the collegial consecration of Russia). This book doesn't hesitate to name names and detail specific charges against the accused, presenting the case to the judgment of the Church's highest authority.
As the Abbé de Nantes learned years ago (and Fr. Nicholas Gruner more recently), such a judgment on these matters is not likely to happen anytime soon, but a faithful Catholic is left with no other recourse as he has no authority to pass judgment upon his superiors. No apparition can replace the Catholic Faith or the infallible Magisterium (in fact, deviations from either are grounds for rejecting an apparition's authenticity), neither can it be used as a justification or an excuse for schism or usurping the authority reserved for the Holy Father. As the claims in the Fatima message are in no way contrary to the Catholic Faith and concern themselves with specific events and devotions, spreading the message should not be treated or regarded as an act of subversion (as an aside, since it unfortunately still requires repeating, let readers also be reminded that to voice concerns about or even bring forward specific charges against one's superiors is not to judge them).
The final purpose of the book is a call to action, outlining what every Catholic can do to spread the message of Fatima and counter its revision. Appropriately enough, the first and foremost action is prayer and to follow those parts of the message that pertain to each and every one of us. It does no good to accuse others of not being faithful to the message of Fatima when one, through his own neglect of prayer and devotion, is doing the same.
At first, the title of the book seemed a little out of place. Why would a book about the message of Fatima and ecclesial corruption focus on the apocalyptic battle between good and evil? Although the title initially struck this writer as inappropriate, nothing could be further than the truth. By treating the controversy of Fatima as merely a "Church hierarchy" or a "modern philosophy" issue, one falls into the same traps identified in this article's opening paragraphs.
Citing the battle between good and evil, it is not the author of this book or persons of dubious credibility unnecessarily exaggerating the critical nature of Fatima. Such apocalyptic references have been offered by several reliable sources.
During the beatification ceremony of Jacinta and Francisco Marto on May 13, 2000, Pope John Paul II refers to Chapter 12 of the Book of Apocalypse twice first citing verse 1:
"According to the divine plan, 'a woman clothed with the sun' (Rv 12:1) came down from heaven to this earth to visit the privileged children of the Father." 3
Needless to say the first part of that verse ("And a great sign appeared in heaven...") could also have connections to Fatima. The Pope then refers to verse 4:
"The message of Fátima is a call to conversion, alerting humanity to have nothing to do with the 'dragon' whose 'tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth' (Rv 12:4)." 4
Catholic commentaries have traditionally interpreted the "stars of heaven" in this passage to refer to the Cardinals, bishops and priests of the Catholic Church. And finally, Sister Lucy Herself cites a trustworthy source on the matter:
"She (the Blessed Virgin Mary) told me that the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil. There is no other possibility."
Haunted by Fatima
While there are a few instances in which The Devil's Final Battle entertains speculation not directly following from the sources provided, its basic and essential arguments are supported by an overwhelming amount of evidence. This evidence (mostly from the mouth of the now elderly nun chosen by the Mother of God to deliver Her message to the world) is why Fatima has and will continue to haunt those Churchmen who reject its message and the supernatural virtues it represents. This message will not go away. The pleasant story of a loving Mother visiting three simple children cannot be shaken free from the vision of hell, the terrifying miracle of a sun appearing to crash towards the earth, the untimely death of two of the three children or the dire warnings of war, persecution and destruction for the Church and the world.
As the 20th century came to a close, a dedicated attempt was made to keep Fatima from continuing to haunt the Church authorities and subsequent Pontiffs. Every effort was made to keep the "unpopular" aspects of Fatima from following the Church into the new century. This was revealed by Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sodano:
In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Sodano responded by pointing out that the Fatima message involved "the popes of the 20th century." Now that the century had concluded, he explained, the Holy Father saw no reason to delay public disclosure. Also, he said, in light of historical developments, "the symbolic visions contain nothing that is now mysterious." 5
and reiterated by representatives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who in their non-binding interpretation on the matter, specifically related Fatima to the last century at least fourteen times, offered the shockingly overoptimistic and naïve observation that:
"The decision of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to make public the third part of the 'secret' of Fatima brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil..." 6
No amount of press releases, public relations campaigns or secret interviews will change the fact that Our Blessed Mother came to warn her children against horrible tragedies tragedies which are not completely part of the past and involve events much more significant and real than those which certain Church authorities would have us believe.
If we truly believe in Our Lady of Fatima, we must also believe in Her message Her entire message:
"You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war will end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father."
"To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the Dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc. ..." 7
1 Msgr. Roche, "Pie XII Devant L'Histoire", p. 52-53
2 http://www.ewtn.com/fatima/beatification as of 10/2/2002
3 Pope John Paul II, "Homily of His Holiness Pope John Paul II - Beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Sheperds of Fatima" Vatican Web Site (www.vatican.va) (Fatima, Portugal - May 13, 2000)
5 "A Secret Unveiled" Catholic World Report (June 2000)
6 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "The Message of Fatima"
7 ("Fatima in Lucia's Own Words", Postulation Centre, Fatima, Portugal (May 1976 English Edition), p.162 - Text applies to the message received during the apparition of July, 13 1917)