I first read this interview through a google translator and thought it was worth having in English. I turned to Richard Chonak of Catholic Light who has done many other translations from Italian and German at his blog. After he translated it and sent it to me, I emailed it to Mr. Barile and asked for his approval to make it available to English readers on my blog, which he granted.
To my Italian visitors, and readers of Italian, you can find the original article here.
Here is the translation of the interview in full:
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins recounts the journey of Benedict XVI to Portugal and describes the full meaning of the Third Secret of Fatima: "The Pope and the Church are destined to suffer for a long time"
by Gianluca Barile
VATICAN CITY - He is the Cardinal of Fatima. And not just because he is Portuguese. There is something more, in fact, that binds Jose Saraiva Martins (pictured) to the place where the Virgin appeared to three shepherd children. It is a relationship based on love: the Love, with a capital L, of a child for his mother. It's made clear in the exclusive interview which this illustrious Prince of the Church granted to "Petrus" on his return to Rome after having accompanied the Pope personally in his recent apostolic voyage to the land of Portugal.
Eminence, may we ask you for a summary of the visit of Benedict XVI to Portugal?
"It was an extraordinary success: universal, undeniable: a great event that deserves to be recorded in golden letters in the annals of Church history. An immense joy not only for Portugal but for all the world. On the other hand, Fatima is the altar of the world, even the Cathedral of the world, because the Madonna came to that place to be a messenger, by means of the three shepherd children, of timeless values and, moreover, of great relevance in this particular historical period. I am referring to her calls for peace, for conversion to God, to the centrality of the Eucharist, to devotion to Christ, to repentance. These are very beautiful themes, which the Pope has reaffirmed clearly and without hesitation.”
Portuguese Catholics have not failed to rally around the Pope in this particular historical moment.
"Absolutely. They have proved to nurture an infinite affection for the Pope, the affection of a son for his father. And their presence at each ceremony, was the best response to the campaign of hate based on slander, carried out against the Pope and the Church. "
By the way: the number of pilgrims has been exceptional: more than half a million faithful took part in the one Mass at Fatima. Was that expected for the vigil?
"Frankly, no. Even the Pope was not expecting so much warmth, and so he enjoyed and was even more grateful for the welcome from the Portuguese, who have embraced him so and supported him as a real father. In this way, the inseparable bond linking the Roman Pontiff and the Portuguese was confirmed, dating back to when Portugal was not yet independent and the Archbishop of Braga came to Rome to ask the Pope to agree to declare the independence of this people from the rest of Spain. So to speak, the influence of the Pope is in the DNA, in the history, and in the culture of Portugal."
In what spirit did the Holy Father address this pilgrimage in Portugal, a few days after the enactment of laws favoring abortion and recognition of unmarried couples by the Socialist government led by Prime Minister Socrates?
"With great courage and simplicity, touching these issues with clarity and force, the Pope spoke with great freedom of spirit, not afraid to defend the dignity of human life and the unique value of natural marriage between man and woman (not forgetting the fine words on the relationship between faith and culture handed down in Lisbon), urging the Portuguese to do the same. They were appeals that made everyone reflect a little."
In Italy people would have cried out against the Church's interference in public affairs...
"But the Church always has an obligation to reaffirm the 'non-negotiability' of Christian values, since they are the heart and summit of the Gospel."
The most significant step was, without a shadow of a doubt, that of Fatima. But as a gesture of Benedict XVI has it been consigned to history?
"I was struck, in particular, by two moments: the human and spiritual intensity with which the golden rose was laid at the feet of the Madonna, and the fact that the Holy Father, having just arrived at the heliport of Fatima, wanted to go immediately, without any intermediate breaks, to the Chapel of the Apparitions to pray, kneeling for a long time at the feet of the Woman brighter than the sun."
Benedict XVI has been the third Pope to visit Fatima, after Paul VI and John Paul II (who went there three times). Which do you think was the most important of these journeys?
"There wasn't one journey more important than the others, but all were equally important. The Church is incarnate in time and in history. And Paul VI and John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself have all succeeded to perfection in speaking to the hearts of their contemporaries. Anyone who did not expect that from Benedict XVI was fooling himself. They should have known, in fact, that Cardinal Ratzinger has always followed the phenomenon of the Marian apparitions of Fatima with interest and admiration, and for this reason in the past he also presided at a world vigil for May 13 at the Cova da Iria. Like John Paul II, Benedict XVI is therefore a 'Pope of Fatima', albeit for different historical reasons."
When the Pope said that the persecution against the church is caused by her own members, was he referring only to the scandal of pedophilia in the clergy?
"First, an explanation is called for. We know well that the Church is also made up of sinners; and the priesthood, however, does not confer immunity from committing sins. But if the presence of sin in the Church is a matter of fact, this does not mean that it extends to the levels that certain newspapers would have us believe. Having said that, the Pope's speech certainly includes the pedophilia, but not only that. It is a more 'general' speech. How could we not think, really, of the disobedience to the Pope, the 'careerism', the divisions among the people of God and its pastors?"
Eminence, let us come now to the core of the so-called 'Third Secret of Fatima'. Benedict XVI explained that the prophecy has not ended, and that it did not exclusively relate to the attempt on John Paul II, but rather meant that the Pope would suffer persecution in every age.
"In the vision of the 'bishop dressed in white' who is shot dead, there is a description of the Passion of the Church and of its pastor, the Pope. The attack on Wojtyla fits perfectly in this context. But the Madonna wanted to prophesy something else, namely that the Church and the Pope were subject to persecution, sacrifice, and suffering in every age. Indeed, we notice it in history: it was so in the past, it is so today, it will be so tomorrow. The Church, indeed, is none other than Christ himself, incarnate no longer in a physical body but in a community of faith, hope and love. So, if the Church is Christ, we have to present once again the face of Christ crucified and disfigured, but not yielding to despair but with joy and optimism, thinking that after the Cross there is always the Resurrection; after Good Friday, Easter always comes. Christ died to rise again, so the Church too must suffer in order to defeat the darkness. The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity. We must be aware, as Jesus warned us once: 'If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you'. But let us not forget, he added: 'Non praevalebunt', the gates of hell shall not prevail. With this ultimate promise, we can be sure that despite the sins of some of her sons, despite sufferings, slanders, persecutions, and the hate campaigns carried out by the media, the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, will rise as the physical body of the Lord has already risen. We can be certain: the Church and the Pope will come out strengthened by the persecution."
After the Holy Father's words, some journalists and writers - Antonio Socci above all - have turned to the attack, claiming that the Vatican is hiding a fourth part of the mystery of Fatima in which the Virgin prophesies the apostasy of the Church. Can you give a direct testimony on the groundlessness of this theory?
"There is no fourth secret of Fatima at all, nor does the third refer to the apostasy of the Church. In 2000 I was assigned by John Paul II to see what was written by Sister Lucia and I can testify that there is nothing beyond what was made public in those years."
Another debate has been reopened about the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
"Russia, as requested by Our Lady through Sister Lucia, was already consecrated by Venerable Pope Pius XII and John Paul II. So our Lady's wish has not been disregarded. It is true that Russia was not mentioned explicitly, but it is not perhaps part of the world? In consecrating the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, at the same time Russia was also consecrated to her."
I would like to express my thanks to Gianluca Barile for the interview itself, and to Richard Chonak for translating the article for use on Te Deum Laudamus!
Further reading and links:
- Vatican webpage for Holy Father's Portugal visit (includes all homilies, discourses and other useful information)
- Vatican webpage for the Message of Fatima
Te Deum Laudamus! Home
The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!