September 12, 2001 (Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada ) - A spokesman for the Fatima Center, an international organization of laity and clergy devoted to promoting the Message of Fatima, expressed shock and outrage at the Vatican Press Office's publication today of a "Declaration" concerning Father Nicholas Gruner, S.T.L. and a Conference on Peace in the World being sponsored by the Fatima Center in Rome on October 7-13, 2001.
The "Declaration," signed by officials with the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, asserts that Father Gruner is under "suspension a divinis" by the Bishop of Avellino and that the Fatima Center's upcoming Rome conference "does not enjoy the approval of legitimate ecclesiastical authority."
Christopher A. Ferrara, United States spokesman for the Fatima Center, stated that "First of all, it is absolutely outrageous that only one day after an unprecedented terrorist attack on America which claimed thousands of lives, the Vatican press office's top priority was to inform the world that no one should attend a perfectly permissible conference on world peace merely because the sponsoring organization has Father Gruner as its president. What has Father Gruner done to earn this denunciation? In his 25 years as a priest he has kept his vow of chastity and committed no offense against faith or morals. The same cannot be said of the innumerable clerical predators and heretics who are running all over the Church with impunity, while the same Vatican Congregation---which has a duty to stop these malefactors---seems to have nothing better to do than to issue false and misleading notices about Father Gruner, a faithful priest."
"Besides, the invitations to the conference were signed by two bishops, one monsignor and four priests, not Father Gruner. The Fatima Center has more than a hundred employees and more than a million lay and clerical supporters worldwide. By what right do some Vatican officials with no jurisdiction over the Fatima Center seek to sabotage its activities? These same officials would never dream of issuing declarations against groups of feminist nuns and other ecclesial malcontents, who can have all the conferences they like on women's ordination and other heretical themes while the Vatican does nothing. What is the Vatican afraid of? The Message of Fatima? World peace? The Blessed Virgin said that Russia's Consecration to Her Immaculate Heart was Heaven's chosen way to achieve world peace in our age. Why would Vatican officials put to the top of their ‘to do' list the business of interfering with a conference devoted to world peace and the Message of Fatima---at the very moment the world is exploding all around them? It's lunacy."
Ferrara noted that "the ‘Declaration' states it was issued by mandate of ‘higher authority.' That's Vatican code for the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, not the Pope. Sodano has been after Father Gruner for years because his organization continues to promote the Consecration of Russia, which the Vatican apparatus evidently considers diplomatically unacceptable, as revealed by a high-ranking Cardinal in a recent issue of Inside the Vatican magazine. Father Gruner has also been critical, and rightly so, of Sodano's cozy relations with pro-abortion ‘world leaders' like Mikhail Gorbachev, whose foundations promote abortion and contraception to eliminate four billion people from the world's population. Sodano has twice honored this blood-drenched character at the Vatican."
Concerning the Declaration's reference to a suspension, Ferrara noted that "It is completely unfounded. The entire canonical case against Father Gruner, which has nothing to do with faith or morals, is based on the trumped-up accusation that he ‘failed' to find another bishop to incardinate him and so must return to Avellino, where he was ordained back in 1976, or be ‘suspended' from the priesthood. What the ‘Declaration' fails to mention is that the same Vatican officials who make this accusation have deliberately blocked offers of incardination by a whole series of friendly bishops. The bureaucrats have even disregarded Father Gruner's actual incardination in an Indian archdiocese, claiming that it is ‘non-existent.'"
Ferrara added that Italian immigration law makes it impossible for Father Gruner to reside in Avellino: "He would be arrested at the border and deported if he attempted to enter Italy to reside permanently in Avellino. The Bishop of Avellino has done nothing since 1978 to support Father Gruner or to take steps for his immigration because the Bishop has no need for Father Gruner, who cannot speak the local dialect. The Bishop would be only too happy to let him transfer to another diocese, but the Vatican Secretary of State is illegitimately interfering with the transfer."
In effect, said Ferrara, "these Vatican officials accuse Father Gruner of failing to obey an order they themselves prevented him from obeying." Ferrara believes that the only reason Father Gruner is being singled out for such treatment is the effectiveness of his Fatima apostolate in keeping alive the politically embarrassing question of Russia's consecration. "What else could explain how Father Gruner, a morally upright priest, is made the subject of such a preposterous Vatican ‘declaration' at such a supremely inappropriate moment in world history? It's just absurd."
Ferrara added that "Father Gruner seems to be the only priest in the entire Catholic Church who is not allowed to transfer from one diocese to another. Meanwhile, child molesting priests are routinely transferred from place to place for years with no Vatican interference or ‘Declarations' from the Vatican press office. Even infamous heretical clergymen like Hans Kung have never been suspended, but the Vatican announces to the world Father Gruner's bogus ‘suspension' on a flimsy charge they manufactured out of nothing. And they make their shameless announcement only one day after the bloodiest terrorist attack in world history. Their obsession with Father Gruner boggles the mind."
Ferrara noted that the Fatima Center's upcoming Rome conference "is completely in accord with Church law, and no approval of ‘ecclesiastical authority is necessary.' These Vatican officials know very well that Church law (canons 212, 215, 278 and 299 among others) makes it clear that Catholic bishops, priests and laity have a natural right to form groups and attend meetings with each other, and that absolutely no permission is needed for the Fatima Center's conference. The ‘Declaration's' statement that ecclesiastical approval being lacking is about as honest as saying that the conference was not approved by the American Medical Association. So what? It's a classic example of the literally truthful lie. Besides, the Church has approved conferences like the one in Rome and all other gatherings of clergy and laity as a matter of the natural right of freedom of association. As I have just mentioned, this is recognized in the Code of Canon Law, which was issued by Pope John Paul II himself."
Ferrara observed that "Yesterday's unprecedented terrorist attack in America is just another proof that we are not witnessing the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the period of peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima if Russia were consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart, because Russia has never been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart by name."
Ferrara immediately added: "And those who, like Vatican official Archbishop Bertone, claim that the Pope has declared the consecration was accomplished on March 25, 1984 (or at any other time) are promoting a Big Lie. There is not a single papal statement to that effect. Not one! On the contrary, hours after the 1984 consecration of the world, the Pope spontaneously remarked before 10,000 witnesses in Saint Peter's Basilica that certain ‘peoples'--meaning Russia---are still awaiting his act of consecration, which, as I just mentioned, the Pope's advisors have told him not to perform, lest the Russians be offended."
"Surely no one in his right mind could think that the 1984 ceremony consecrating the world has produced the promised conversion of Russia. In Russia today there are two abortions for every live birth, and Russia has become a world center for the distribution of child pornography. Under Russia's 1997 law on ‘freedom of conscience' the Catholic Church is barely allowed to exist, and is legally forbidden to make converts among the Orthodox and other religious groups. It is nothing short of blasphemy to attribute the current state of Russia to the miraculous intervention of the Mother of God."
Ferrara concluded by asking: "Why don't these Vatican officials just leave Father Gruner alone and devote their vast resources to fighting the real enemies of the Church, about which they do next to nothing? Why do they treat the Message of Fatima as if it were the greatest threat to the Church today?
"Their behavior is as mysterious as it is scandalous. The only possible explanation I can see is that they do not believe in the words of Our Lady of Fatima and want to be done with them, but haven't the candor to say so openly. For the good of America and the whole world, let us pray that this opposition to the Message of Fatima soon ends. Meanwhile, in light of recent tragic events, the Fatima Center remains committed to holding its Peace Conference to address the dire need for the Collegial Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary."