Medjugorje, doubts and openings of the Pope
The press conference on the return flight from Fatima. Francis speaks of the apparitions in Herzegovina, and while opening to the first ones he expresses many doubts about the current visions. On Trump: “I do not judge before meeting him.” On Lefebvrians: “Relations are fraternal.” “I never granted clemency in a case of child abuse”
ON THE RETURN FLIGHT FROM FATIMA
“I prefer Our Mother Lady to the one leading a telegraphic office that sends a message every day.” Pope Francis, returning from Fatima, softens the interpretation regarding the prayer on the “bishop dressed in white” (”I did not write it myself”) and answers a question about the apparitions of Medjugorje revealing the content of the Ruini report, positive on the first apparitions yet dubious about the current ones.
What is left to the Church and the whole world from the apparitions of Fatima? And what can we hope from the meeting with Trump on May 24?
“Fatima is a message of peace brought to humanity by three great communicators who were less than 13 years old. The canonization of the shepherd children was something that was not planned at first, because the process on the miracle proceeded slowly, then came the evaluation reports and for me it was a moment of great happiness. The world can hope for peace. With everyone I will speak of peace. Before embarking on the flight from Rome, I received scientists from various religions attending a convention at the Vatican observatory. An atheist, without telling me which country he came from, greeted me like this: “I’m an atheist! I ask you a favor: tell Christians to love Muslims more”. This is a message of peace!”
Yesterday you asked to “tear down all walls”, but in a few days you will meet Head of State, Trump, who wants to build walls and who doesn’t agree with you on, for example, climate and migrants issues. On the eve of this audience, what do you think about the policies of the US President and what do you expect from the meeting with him?
“I never judge a person without listening to them. Things will emerge from our conversation, he will say what he thinks and I will say what I think. On migrants, you already my opinion. There are always doors that are not completely closed, one must look for the doors that are at least a bit open, you have to go in and talk about what is common and go forward, step by step. Peace is handmade and is made each and every day. Friendship among people, mutual knowledge, mutual esteem are handmade, and done daily. Respect the other, saying what you think in a very honest way.”
Do you hope that after meeting President Trump he will soften his policies?
“This is a political calculation I do not allow myself to do ... And you know that I do not proselytize on the religious level.”
In Fatima you presented yourself as the “bishop dressed in white,” the same words used by Sister Lucia in the Third Secret. So far, they applied to John Paul II, the attack he had suffered, and to the martyrs of the twentieth century. What does it mean today?
“I did not write the prayer to Our Lady that included that expression; it was done by Fatima’s sanctuary. There is a link between the bishop in white, Our Lady dressed in white and the white (garment) worn by innocent children for baptism. I believe that (through the color white) they have tried to literally express the will of peace, of innocence, of not making war to the other. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger explained everything about the third secret clearly.”
May 13 is a special day for you because in 1992 Nuncio Calabresi announced your appointment as Buenos Aires auxiliary bishop. Have you ever linked this fact to Fatima? Have you thought about it these days?
“I’ve not thought about the coincidence. Only yesterday, while I was praying in front of Our Lady I remembered that, 25 years ago, on May 13, I received the call of the nuncio announcing me the appointment as bishop. I asked forgiveness to Our Lady for my mistakes and also for my bad taste in choosing people...”
The Society San Pius X has a great devotion to Fatima. There is talk about an imminent agreement; some had foreseen an announcement today. Will this agreement be made and what is the sense of this reconciliation for you? Will they come back with triumphalism?
“I would avoid every form of triumphalism. A few days ago, Feria IV, congress of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, studied a document, which I have not received yet. The current relationships are fraternal, last year I gave all their priests the permit to confess as well as a form of jurisdiction for celebrating marriages. Regarding their problems however, for a long time, cases that need to be solved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - for example, cases of abuse, - have been carried on with the Vatican dicasteries. With Bishop Fellay I have a good relationship; I’ve talked to him several times. I do not like to rush things, but by walking and walking, we will then see. For me it is not a matter of winners or losers, but of brothers who are moving forward.”
Can Evangelicals and Catholics walk a stretch of road together? Can they attend to the same Eucharistic?
“Great steps have been taken forward. Let’s think about the statement on Justification; the path has not stopped since then. The trip to Sweden was very significant. For the ecumenism of the journey, of walking together, with prayer, with martyrdom, with works of charity and mercy. And there Catholics and Lutheran Caritas have made an agreement to work together. God is the God of surprises, we must never stop, we must pray together, witness together, do the works of mercy together, affirm that Jesus is the only savior and that grace only comes from Him. Theologians will continue to study; we move on and walk forward.”
In Fatima we have seen a great testimony of popular faith, the same one that is also found in Medjugorje. What do you think of those apparitions and the religious fervor that they have generated, in the light of having decided to appoint a bishop delegated for the pastoral aspects?
“All apparitions or alleged apparitions belong to the private sphere; they are not part of the ordinary public magisterium. For Medjugorje, Benedict XVI set up a commission presided over by Cardinal Ruini. I received the results; the commission was composed of good theologians, bishops and cardinals. The committee report is very, very good. There were some doubts in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Doctrine thought appropriate to send each of the members of the Feria IV - the monthly meeting of the Congregation - all the documentation, including the opinions contrary to the Ruini report. I received the notification on a late Saturday night. It did not seem right to me; it was like putting the Ruini report, which is very well done, at auction. On Sunday morning, the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith received a letter in which I asked that instead of sending those opposing views to Feria IV, they should be sent to me personally. These opinions have all been studied - I would like to stress, all of them. The Ruini report states that the first apparitions when the seers were young must be distinguished from the others, and says that investigation should be done on those first ones. The report presents its doubts on the current alleged visions. Personally, I’m meaner: I prefer the Lady Mother, to the boss of telegraphic office, who sends a message every day. And these supposed apparitions do not have much value: I say this as a personal opinion. There are those who think that Our Lady is saying: Come, on that day I will give a message to that seer. Thirdly, there is the spiritual and pastoral fact, the core of the relationship: people who convert, who meet God, who change life. And this is not thanks to a magic wand. This fact cannot be denied. Now to see this, I have appointed a good bishop (Monsignor Hoser, ndr) who has experience in dealing with the pastoral side. In the end, you will hear some words.”
NGOs that rescue migrants at sea have been accused of colluding with the traffickers. What do you think?
“I read on the newspaper that there was this problem, but I still do not know the details, reason why I cannot express my opinions. I know there is a problem and the investigations are ongoing. I hope investigations continue and that the whole truth comes out.”
Marie Collins is the last member of the Committee on the Protection of Children who has resigned explaining that she did so because Vatican officials did not put in practice the committee’s advice. Whose responsibility is it? And what are you doing to have them implemented?
“I talked to Marie Collins and she explained me the situation well, she is a good woman. She will continue to work with priests on training on this issue. She addressed this accusation and with some reason as there are so many cases, which are being delayed. Delayed because they were piling up. In this time, a legislation needed to be done; today in almost all dioceses there is a protocol to follow, and the dossiers are done well, it is a great advance. The people are few, there is a need for more staff capable of following this. Secretary of State and Cardinal Müller are looking for more staff. There was a change of the director of the disciplinary office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who was very good but a bit tired, he returned to his homeland to do the same job there. The new director is an Irishman, Bishop Kennedy, very good and efficient, he will help. There is then another problem: sometimes bishops send a case, and if it fits the protocol, it immediately goes to the Feria IV meeting, otherwise it has to go back and that is why there is thought of using some continental aid, one or two per continent: continental pre-courts or tribunals. When Feria IV reduced a priest to the lay state, if the priest appealed, the same Feria IV reexamined the case. I have created another court, and I placed ahead of it an indisputable person, Archbishop of Malta Scicluna, one of the strongest against abuses. If the first sentence is approved, it means the case is over, the priest has only the possibility to appeal to the Pope to ask for grace: I have never granted one. Marie Collins is right but we were on the road, there are two thousand cases awaiting.”
In Catholic Portugal laws on gay marriage and the abolition of abortion as well as euthanasia are on the way...
It is a political problem, and of Catholic consciousness that sometimes does not totally belong to the Church. Behind this is the lack of a well-made catechesis. There are areas, in Italy and Latin America, for example, where there are many Catholics and at the same time many anti-clericals and priest-heaters. I’m worried, but I tell the priests it is clericalism that drives people away. Clericalism is a plague in the Church. “