Before Communism Changed Its Name
To Father Nicholas Gruner, the moral authority of the Catholic Church worldwide was tragically neutralized through the disastrous Vatican-Moscow Agreement of 1962. The Agreement, arrived at in Metz in 1962 between Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, representing the Vatican at the explicit direction of Pope John XXIII, and Metropolitan Nikodim of the Russian Orthodox Church, paved the way for Russian Orthodox representatives to sit as observers at the Second Vatican Council on the condition demanded by the Russian Orthodox, that no condemnation of Communism would take place at the Council,1 such a condemnation being equated by the KGB puppet Nikodim as a condemnation of the Russian people themselves.
Father Gruner elaborates on the dismal failure of this Agreement to protect the Church in the East, or around the world, wherever Communism held power: “No part of the Catholic Church existing in the territory of Communist control exists in freedom at all comparable to anywhere in the West. Persecution has not disappeared. Catholic priests are forcibly detained by Communist agents on a regular basis simply because they are Catholic priests; loyal Catholic lay people because they practice their Catholic faith are discriminated against, unable to work at the jobs and at the pay that they are due; the Church has little freedom in appointing bishops. All this in those countries which have negotiated with the Vatican.
“Communists in these countries have temporarily lessened some of their fury against the Church which they displayed at the time of Stalin. This apparent lessening of persecution in some countries had been granted in return for some extremely significant concessions given by the Vatican.
“But in those Communist-dominated countries which have not been willing to negotiate with the Vatican, the persecution of Catholics continues as ruthless and relentless as anything that existed under Stalin. In Albania, China, North Korea and Vietnam the Catholic Church suffers open, bold and vicious persecution.”
To this Father Gruner applied one specific indisputable explanation: the Consecration of Russia still remained undone.
In recent years, so much has been said about the ‘Consecration’ of Russia, from so many points of view, so often, with such passion and with such futility, people scarcely listen when it is mentioned. The controversy over its form and substance had divided the Church and ignited internecine warfare. The degree of boredom now exhibited whenever it is mentioned represents a major triumph for the anti-consecration forces. But, in fact, in the early 1980's many people had never heard of the consecration. It was in great part through Father Gruner's efforts that it was brought to the world's attention.2
In spite of the familiarity of its terminology, the copious rhetoric for and against, it is necessary to include the details of the consecration ‘requirements’ here and now. The need to do so highlights a much-overlooked fact in the career of Father Gruner, namely, that his enemies like to paint the picture that he is isolated, alone in his opinions, and therefore to be ignored. But Father Gruner is anything but alone. His beliefs regarding the Fatima Message and the consecration are thoroughly confirmed and strengthened by the most respected and familiar names in the entire Fatima arena. For example, to secure the exactitude Our Lady deserves, one need only turn to the testimony, insight and research of two of Her greatly respected servants, Abbé Caillon of the Blue Army in France and Father Joaquin Maria Alonso, for many years the official Fatima archivist.
One year to the day after the attempt on his life, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, at the shrine in Fatima, consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sister Lucy herself was there to witness it. Soul magazine, the Blue Army of USA's official journal, reported that at last the consecration of Russia was completed according to the requirements. Surely the Pope wouldn't come to Fatima and not follow the criteria set down by the Virgin. But Abbé Caillon shows why the act of May 13, 1982, did not, in fact, meet the demands of Heaven.
He begins by recalling the events leading up to the Pope's shrine visit May 13, 1982.
“In March 1982, Pope John Paul II wanted to know precisely what he should do on the occasion of his pilgrimage to Fatima.”3
And so a special envoy for the Pope, the Lisbon Nuncio, Archbishop Sante Portalupi, was sent to Coimbra.
“This historic interview which took place during the afternoon of Sunday, March 21, 1982, lasted for two hours. On the one side of the grille there was Lucy; on the other side there was the Lisbon Nuncio, the Bishop of Leiria, Cosme do Amaral and Dr. Francis Lacerda.”4 When it was proposed by Bishop Amaral that the consecration the Pope had already done was indeed what Our Lady had asked for, Sister Lucy while not saying a word, did wave her finger back and forth, making it very clear that no, it had not been done properly.
Sister Lucy then made crystal clear what was required: to the question what exactly should the Pope do, Lucy explained that “the Pope must select a date on which to order the bishops of the whole world to arrange for a public solemn Act of Reparation and of consecration of Russia to the Most Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, each in his own cathedral and at the same time as the act of consecration effected by the Pope.”5
In spite of the high-level involvement of men hand-picked by the Pope to hear these words from the seer “... in the text which was sent to the Holy Father by diplomatic bag, it was not spelled out that each bishop must, each in his own cathedral, and on the same day as the Pope, arrange for a solemn public ceremony of the consecration of Russia.”6
Why was the exact message not passed on to the Holy Father? On March 21st of 1982, when the Pope's envoy, Archbishop Sante Portalupi went with Bishop Amaral and Dr. Francis Lacerda to see Sister Lucy, John Paul II knew that Our Lady of Fatima had saved his life. He was asking through Portalupi, ‘What does Our Lady want of me?’
Father Gruner, in reporting the causes of the misinformation, said: “After the visit, Archbishop Sante Portalupi sent his message back to the Vatican. However, Bishop Amaral intervened to see to it that the full message was not sent in the papal diplomatic bag, and that the requirement ordering the bishops to join him was not included.” In fact, Abbé Caillon, in November 1985, in Rome, told Father Gruner point blank that Bishop Amaral had told Portalupi not to put into the message to the Pope any mention of the bishops joining the Pope in his act of consecration.
“This same kind of interference in 1952 caused Pope Pius XII to be badly informed. In 1952, Pope Pius mentioned Russia specifically, the only time that a pope has ever done so.
“What he lacked was the bishops. In 1982, Sister Lucy specified there must be the bishops, it must be the same day, the same hour, either all in Rome or Tuy or anywhere else they want, one location all together or they can be in their own dioceses, in their own cathedrals, and do it at the same hour of the day.”
Abbé Caillon takes up the story again following the May 13 consecration by John Paul II at the Fatima shrine: “In the days after May 13, 1982, a Brazilian advocate, the Blue Army Representative for Brazil, presented himself at noon one day at the Carmel at Fatima (where the 75-year-old Lucy who had travelled there for the papal event still rested, before returning to the Carmel at Coimbra) seeking to be received by Lucy in order that they might know precisely what to make of the act of consecration ... effected on that day.
“Poor Lucy, having no authorization to speak concerning the essentials of the matter, could do no more than make some trite observations that would sound encouraging, appeasing and hopeful. But the Brazilian advocate believed that from these observations it was possible for him to infer that a statement based on what she said could be broadcast worldwide. In effect, his text was reproduced almost everywhere, misleading opinion everywhere.”7
As a result, diverse sources began to report that the May 13, 1982, consecration fulfilled Our Lady's request for the Collegial Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, this, in spite of the fact that the Pope himself was saying otherwise: In the Bull of January 6, 1983, announcing the Holy Year, the Pope seemed to be taking his cue from what Lucy said to the Lisbon Nuncio on Sunday, March 21, 1982. Clearly the Pope was planning for the future:
“A special ceremony of prayer and penitence could be celebrated by the bishops of the entire world in their respective cathedrals on the same day, or on a date which would follow immediately, in order that after the solemn inauguration of the Jubilee, the entire episcopate of the five continents with the clergy and the faithful could manifest their spiritual union with the successor of Peter.”8
But he still made no move to order the bishops to do it. The Holy Father only said ‘could be’.
Father Gruner recalls that year, 1982, as the one in which the consecration emerged in its full importance to him: “When I heard for the first time in 1980, in Toronto, that the consecration of Russia would bring peace to the world, I thought, that's too simple. It doesn't fit. What about all these other works that need doing. So I more or less dismissed it.”
In the summer of 1982, John Haffert in the Blue Army Soul magazine added immeasurably to the confusion of the general public by publishing a supposed interview with Sister Lucy by an ‘unidentified’ anonymous interviewer saying that the consecration was done.
“About a month later I read Hamish Fraser's comments on the Soul magazine statement saying that John Haffert had done great work in promoting Our Lady of Fatima up until then but all the good Haffert had done previously was outweighed by the evil of publishing as true this false statement. Hamish stated Haffert had it all wrong. But how could he get it all wrong?”
Father Gruner had known Hamish since 1969 and John Haffert since meeting him in Rome in 1971-72. He published both their stories in the same issue of The Fatima Crusader.9 The John Haffert piece was the only time the Crusader ever carried an article declaring the Consecration was done. From that point on, the issue of the Consecration would remain center stage of Father Gruner's apostolate.
From a much respected voice in Rome came a complete refutation of the Blue Army's claims. Father Joseph de Sainte-Marie was a Professor of Sacred Theology at the Teresianum. It was he who had drafted the speech delivered by John Paul II at Fatima during his 1982 visit. Father Sainte-Marie addressed the misleading statements in a letter to Hamish Fraser January 16, 1983.
“I profoundly deplore all these more or less authorized declarations made in the wake of the Pope's visit to Fatima on May 13 last. Until now, they have given rise only to confusion of minds, a division of hearts and the dissipation of forces ...
“It is therefore necessary to confine oneself exclusively to statements by the Blessed Virgin ... They are known, and concerning what we are at present discussing, the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, the two principal ones are the following:
July 13, 1917: ‘To prevent it (war, hunger, persecution of the Church and persecution of the Holy Father), I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays ... In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me; it will be converted and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.’
June 13, 1929: ‘The moment has come for God to ask the Holy Father to make, in union with all the bishops of the world, the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means’.
“On May 19, 1982, on his return from Fatima, in the course of a general audience, the Pope declared: ‘I tried to do everything possible in the concrete circumstances to emphasize the collegial unity of the Bishop of Rome with all his brothers in episcopal ministry and service in the world.’10
“Reading this,” Father Caillon continues, “we observed that, curiously, the Pope had made no allusion to the necessity of proceeding to the consecration of Russia according to what had been prescribed by the Blessed Virgin Mary, both in 1917 and 1929, and transmitted by Lucy. But we could not imagine that on May 13, 1982, the Pope did not already know what we ourselves know clearly and what is also known by millions of rank-and-file Catholics who are somewhat familiar with the history of Fatima. We can still less imagine that, after having made investigations, the Pope was as badly informed as all that ... We know, moreover, that the Pope was to meet Lucy on May 12. He was prevented from doing so by a delay in the implementation of his program. Lucy could speak to the Pope only just before the ceremony of May 13. The interview lasted 30 minutes. No one knows what was said, but by then the Pope's talks had already been printed. It would have been difficult to change anything.”
Abbé Caillon takes up the story again in the spring of the following year.
“A second historic interview also took place. Sister Lucy was sought out by Archbishop Portalupi again. (This time Bishop Amaral was excluded, very likely, because he had caused the 1982 message to be incomplete in its version sent to the Pope. He was replaced by a priest instead, Father Messias Coelho.)
“The Lisbon Nuncio, accompanied by two Portuguese experts, returned to see Lucy the afternoon of Saturday, March 19, 1983. This interview at which Lucy, the Nuncio, Dr. Lacerda and Father Messias Coelho were present lasted for two and a half hours, from 4 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
“Lucy had prepared a text which was read officially and on which she commented. The Consecration of Russia (it made clear) had not been effected because Russia was not clearly the object of the consecration and because each bishop had not arranged a public, solemn ceremony of Russia's consecration in his own cathedral.
“The text prepared by Lucy concluded with these words: ‘The consecration of Russia has not been made as Our Lady has demanded. I could not say so because I did not have the permission of the Holy See’.”11
Father Gruner points out that much of this confusion continues to exist today because Sister Lucy is not allowed to speak in public. “When allowed to speak, she has consistently said the same thing - in 1929, 1931, 1935, 1940, 1943, 1946, 1952 and again in 1983 - always the same thing. The message is very clear, very specific.”
Father Alonso completes the picture, demonstrating again that the conditions for the consecration are exact and well known. Father Alonso presented the following texts which are certainly composed by Sister Lucy herself, at different dates:
June 13, 1929 - “The moment has come in which God asks that the Holy Father make the consecration of Russia, in union with all the bishops of the world.”
May 29, 1930 - “If the Holy Father deigns to make and command that the bishops of the Catholic world do it likewise.”
April, 1937 - “... if Your Holiness deigns to make and commands that all the bishops of the Catholic world do it likewise...”12
There it is. No one can doubt or deny the conditions. Even the reader with the most rudimentary knowledge of Fatima can judge for himself whether the consecrations that took place in 1982 and 1984 meet all of these requirements.
“Make it known to My Ministers,” Our Lord said to Lucy, “given they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, like him, they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary”.13
In spite of all the specifics available, all the confirmations required, and the living eyewitness testimony of Lucy herself, whom Heaven has seen fit to leave on this earth for the purpose of contradicting error and thwarting interference, the bishops of the world have not met Heaven's demands.
Again and again, Father Gruner has published and broadcast on radio and TV the warning to the ‘ministers’ of the Church that the scaffold of the King of France looms on the horizon unless they fulfill the demands of Heaven.
“The word ‘bishop’ is Greek for watchman,” Father Gruner reminds us. “The prophet Ezechiel, in the Old Testament, was told of the duties of the watchman. God said to Ezechiel: I've appointed you watchman. Now, if I put you as watchman on the watchtower and you see the enemy coming and you do not sound the alarm, you do not warn your fellow citizens that they are in danger, then I will hold you, watchman, personally responsible for the deaths of any one of your fellow citizens.14
“What's that got to do with the Vatican-Moscow Agreement? It has everything to do with it. Each and every bishop has a duty to cry out when he sees the enemy attacking the city of God, the Church of God. He is in a watchtower. He can see them coming and if he doesn't warn his fellow citizens, then the deaths, spiritual or even physical, of his fellow citizens, are held to his account.
“What our watchmen did in 1962 was make a compact, an agreement, to not cry out when they see the enemy coming. Communism is an intrinsic evil. That is a definition of Pius XI speaking as a representative of Christ. ‘He who hears you, hears Me’,15 Christ said. “Communism is intrinsically evil and no one who would save Christian civilization can co-operate with it in any way whatsoever.”16 So spoke Pius XI.
“He also said at the same time, ‘During Our Pontificate We too have frequently and with urgent insistence denounced the current trend to atheism which is alarmingly on the increase. In 1924 when Our relief-mission returned from the Soviet Union We condemned communism in a special Allocution which We addressed to the whole world ... to this hour the Papacy has continued faithfully to protect the sanctuary of the Christian religion, and that it has called public attention to the perils of communism more frequently and more effectively than any other public authority on earth.’17
“In 1937, he said it was his duty to raise the cry again. If it was the duty of Pius XI to raise the cry again, how can we countenance an agreement from 1962 to 1998 in which Communism has not been denounced?”
During the Second Vatican Council, four hundred and fifty bishops went through the legal procedures to put the topic of Communism on the Council agenda18 yet, the petition was illegally sabotaged so that it would not be brought to the floor.19
From the very beginning, in 1962, it was understood by the parties to the agreement that for the agreement to have its effect, it could not be revealed nor could any denouncement be tolerated from any corner of the Church, particularly from bishops, but also from priests.
There, in the simplest terms, is the reason behind the targeting of Father Gruner from the highest levels of the Vatican bureaucracy. Even in the early days of his apostolate for Fatima, unbeknownst to himself, he was breaking the Vatican-Moscow Agreement by denouncing Communism. Couple that with the fact that Father Gruner has focused on delivering this message repeatedly to the bishops and the pot begins to boil over.
Father Gruner has written to the bishops of the world thirty-five times and, out of all that correspondence, less than twenty-five bishops have actually said they disagreed with him about joining the Pope in consecrating Russia. This is less than one percent of the world's bishops. For all intents and purposes, aside from these few negative replies, there appears to be no opposition outside the Vatican.
Does this mean they would join in the consecration if the Pope demanded it? Father Gruner believes they would. The vast majority who respond are positive. Of the 1700 bishops who have written to Father Gruner, 1500 positively support, in general, the Fatima initiative of Father Gruner. It seems whatever opposition exists, is found within the Vatican bureaucracy itself. The obvious preoccupation of a small group of bureaucrats with Father Gruner's apostolate suggests that he must be making some serious headway in gathering support for the true consecration. To effect the Consecration of Russia as it was requested clearly requires the dismantling of the Vatican-Moscow Agreement of 1962. A deliberate breaking of it.
How could John Paul II do this when in 1981, being pressured by Cardinal Casaroli, he accepted and renewed the Vatican-Moscow Agreement?20
“We can't make a promise to do evil,” Father Gruner points out. “Such a promise, vow, or oath is not binding. I can't take a vow to disobey God's law, to not denounce evil. It is my sworn duty. By becoming bishop, by becoming pope, one has taken on the job of watchman.
“Why pay the man in the watchtower who won't sound the alarm? It would be a betrayal of the sacred office of the papacy, of the sacred office of the bishop, to engage in or agree to or to carry out the terms of the Vatican-Moscow Agreement. There is no moral obligation to live by it. In fact, there's a moral obligation to break it. Every Catholic priest should denounce it publicly, not just by saying how terrible it is, but by pointing out that Communism, as evil, is still here. We can't take a vow to do nothing in the face of evil.”
1. Jean Madiran, The Vatican- Moscow Agreement, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 16, Sept-Oct 1984, pg. 5; originally published in Itineraires, Feb. 1984, Paris, France.
2. Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: Tragedy and Triumph, pg. 183.
3. Abbé Pierre Caillon, Regarding the Consecration of Russia, Sister Lucy's Recent Authorized Statements, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 13-14, Oct-Dec 1983, pg. 3; also, Abbé Pierre Caillon, Fatima May 13, 1982 What Actually Happened? Was Russia Consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? The Fatima Crusader, Issue 16 Sept-Oct 1984, pg. 22; also, published in Fidelite Catholique, April 1983, BP 217 - 56402 Auray Cedex, France; also, Stella Maris, No. 170, June 1983; also, Ephemerides Mariologiae, 1983, pgs. 461-462.
7. Ibid; also, see the important footnote on this matter, Frère François de Marie des Anges, Tragedy and Triumph, chapter 4, footnote 125, pg. 226.
8. Abbé Pierre Caillon, op. cit.; also see the Papal Bull announcing the Holy Year, promulgated January 6, 1983.
9. John Haffert, A Reported Interview with Sister Lucy; also Hamish Fraser, Last Minute News Flash, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 9-10, Oct-Dec 1982, pgs. 4, 5, 31.
10. Father Joseph de Sainte -Marie's January 16, 1983 Letter to Hamish Fraser; published in The Fatima Crusader, Issue 13-14, Oct-Dec 1983, pgs. 10-13.
11. Father Pierre Caillon, Sister Lucy's Recent Authorized Statements, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 13-14, Oct-Dec 1983, pg. 3.
12. Father Joaquin Maria Alonso S.T.D., Ph. D., Official Archivist of Fatima, Meaning of the Consecration of Russia, The Fatima Crusader, Issue 50, Autumn 1995, pg. 13. Previously published in Madrid, Spain in 1979.
13. Frère François de Marie des Anges, Fatima: The Only Way to World Peace, pg. 78.
14. Ezekiel: 33: 1-7.
15. St. Luke 10:16.
16. Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Letter, Divini Redemptoris, paragraph 58.
17. Ibid, paragraph 5.
18. Ralph M. Wiltgen S.V.D., The Rhine Flows Into The Tiber, pg. 274.
19. Ibid, pgs. 274-275.
20. Malachi Martin, The Jesuits, pgs. 85-88.