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Monday, June 26, 2000


VATICAN CITY, JUN 26, 2000 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, presented the document "The Message of Fatima."

During the conference, the cardinal explained the themes presented in the text concerning the "third secret," particularly highlighting the role of the Mother of Christ in the history of salvation.

"There exists a synergy between Mother and Son that spans all history," said the cardinal, and he mentioned the Gospel account of the wedding of Cana when Mary "induced (her Son) to the first sign that manifested His glory. The poverty of the guests is what inspired Mary to intervene then. Poverty at any time is a motive for the Mother of the Lord to intervene."

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith continued saying, "Mary stands next to the cross of her Son, sharing in the suffering and in the power of salvation. ... The publication of this third part of the secret of Fatima at the beginning of the new millennium, proposing once more the center of the Gospel message, also reminds the Church and the world of the meaning and importance of the Mother of the Lord in the history of salvation, and thus of the meaning and value of women, all women, in human history."

Archbishop Bertone then spoke. He explained the reasons for which his congregation had been charged with making the third part of the secret public.

"These reasons," he said, "may be easily deduced: connections of the literary genre 'apparitions' and 'supernatural manifestations' ... with the doctrine of the faith and the great public revelation. ... The specific area of expertise of the dicastery that through a special office traces and examines, in collaboration with diocesan bishops, all real or imagined supernatural phenomena that are indicated to the local Churches."

Following the presentation, Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Bertone answered journalists' questions.

Archbishop Bertone made it clear that John Paul II did not read the message until after May 13, 1981 - in other words, after the attempt on his life - and emphatically rejected the hypothesis that he may have read it before.

For his part, Cardinal Ratzinger highlighted that the decision not to publish the "third secret" over the years was not inspired by reasons of dogma but of prudence. He recognized that the price paid for this was the possibility of speculation as to the content. Even so, having waited to divulge it until after the beatification of the shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco and at the end of a century that had seen the greatest number of martyrs in history and an almost infinite series of wars and disasters, was a signal of hope and allowed, in the light of history, to places Lucia's vision in a global context.

The prefect also made it clear that in order to understand the message's reference to Russia, it was necessary to bear in mind what he had said about the recipient of the vision's limited capacity of comprehension. "In fact, Sr. Lucia said that we (the shepherds) knew nothing of Russia, we did not even know the word Russia. They understood that something dangerous was meant and, naturally, to the limited capacities represented by the mind and soul of three shepherd children the Virgin did not refer to Russia as a country with many Christians, rather (she referred to) an anti-Christian system. This is not a condemnation of Russia, we know the great faith of the Russian people, it is a condemnation of a classical atheist system that threatened humanity. In reality, other systems, especially Nazism, were radically anti-theist and threatened both the Church and humanity, there is no exclusive right over that word. As I said, each word of the vision does not have an exact historical correlation."


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