By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
During a press conference en route to Portugal yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the relevance of the third secret of Fatima.
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf of the popular blog, What Does the Prayer Really Say, posted a translation of the press conference held during the Pope’s flight to Portugal yesterday. During this exchange with reporters, the Holy Father was asked if the third secret of Fatima could be extended beyond the assassination attempt against John Paul II to include other sufferings of the popes such as those caused by the sex abuse scandal.
“With regard to this great vision of the suffering of the popes, beyond the circumstances of John Paul II, other realities are indicated which over time will develop and become clear,” the Pope said.
“Thus it’s true that beyond the moment indicated in the vision, one speaks about and sees the necessity of suffering by the church. It’s focused on the person of the pope, but the pope stands for the church, and therefore sufferings of the church are announced. The church will always be suffering in various ways, up to the end of the world.
“The important point is that the message of Fatima in its substance is not addressed to particular situations, but a fundamental response: permanent conversion, penance, prayer, and the three cardinal virtues: faith, hope and charity. One sees there the true, fundamental response the church must give, which each of us individually must give, in this situation.”
The Pope went on to say that attacks against the pope and the Church don’t just come from the outside. “The suffering of the Church also comes from within the Church, because sin exists in the Church. This too has always been known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way. The greatest persecution of the church doesn’t come from enemies on the outside, but is born in sin within the church.
“The Church thus has a deep need to re-learn penance, to accept purification, to learn on one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice. Forgiveness does not exclude justice. We have to re-learn the essentials: conversion, prayer, penance, and the theological virtues. That’s how we respond, and we can be realistic in expecting that evil will always launch attacks from within and from outside, but the forces of good are also always present, and finally the Lord is stronger than evil. The Madonna for us is the visible maternal guarantee that the will of God is always the last word in history.”
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