Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

Fatima’s Third Secret—More Relevant than Ever?

by Rev. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M. Cap.


"We are now approaching October 13, 2018, the completion or closing of the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s warning at Fatima involving the spinning of the sun which threatened to destroy the world. I think we can all agree, no matter what our religious or political bent, that the world is getting weirder and wilder by the day, and, yes, that applies to the chaos that has seeped into the Church."

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Homiletic & Pastoral Review

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Ignatius Press, September 18, 2018

For many decades, the “Third Secret of Fatima” was considered by many people to be one of the great mysteries of the Church. It was part of the message believed to be held back from the public at the request of Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared in 1917 to three Portuguese children, Lucy, Jacinta, and Francisco. However, she wanted them to spread the other parts of her message, which predicted the widespread moral collapse of marriage and a warning of great tribulations for mankind if it did not repent of sin, especially sins of impurity.

Because Our Lady’s Third Secret (given privately only to Lucy) was held back for many more years, it led to much speculation and many conspiracy theories about its contents. What seemed clear was that the message reinforced with much more detail that humanity faced a very dire future filled with chaos if it did not turn away from sin.

Why has God not yet punished the world for these sins in this past hundred years, which is coming to a close on Oct. 13, 2018? Most likely God in his mercy is giving the Church and the world a grace period to repent. But when will this grace period be over?

Well, we are now approaching October 13, 2018, the completion or closing of the 100thanniversary of Our Lady’s warning at Fatima involving the spinning of the sun which threatened to destroy the world. I think we can all agree, no matter what our religious or political bent, that the world is getting weirder and wilder by the day, and, yes, that applies to the chaos that has seeped into the Church.

The Vatican’s vacillating interpretation of the Third Secret

So, let’s regroup and look where we are. In August 2018, reports have been made that a good number of cardinals, including the Vatican, have been involved in covering up years of sexual abuse orchestrated either among bishops or with their knowledge. Among those mentioned were Cardinal Sodano and Cardinal Bertone, who both had a big role to play in revealing the Third Secret to the people at Fatima in 2000.1 There it was announced publicly that the Third Secret was, basically, a big “never mind.” Its dire warnings (such as the assassination attempt against John Paul II in 1981) had already happened. Its warnings were in the past. Nobody has to worry about the Third Secret anymore!2

Really? Here’s what Pope John Paul II said in 1980 during a visit to Fulda, Germany, when asked about the Third Secret. He replied:

If there is a message in which it is said that the oceans will flood entire sections of the earth; that, from one moment to the other, millions of people will perish . . . there is no longer any point in really wanting to publish this secret message.

Many want to know merely out of curiosity, or because of their taste for sensationalism, but they forget that “to know”” implies for them a responsibility. It is dangerous to want to satisfy one’s curiosity only, if one is convinced that we can do nothing against a catastrophe that has been predicted. . . .

(At this point the Holy Father took hold of his Rosary and said:) Here is the remedy against all evil! Pray, pray and ask for nothing else. Put everything in the hands of the Mother of God!3

Later, Cardinal Ratzinger indirectly admitted in an interview with journalist Vittorio Messori that the Third Secret did indeed contain these catastrophic warnings. Messori questioned the cardinal about the Third Secret:

Un-denied versions are circulating in the world, I continue, which describe the contents of that “secret” as disquieting, apocalyptic, as warning of terrible sufferings. John Paul II himself, in his personal visit to Germany, seemed to confirm (albeit with prudent circumlocutions, privately, to a select group) the undeniably disconcerting contents of that text. Before him, Paul VI, during his pilgrimage to Fatima, also seems to have alluded to the “apocalyptic” themes of the “secret.” Why was it never decided to make it public, if only to counter rash speculations?4

Cardinal Ratzinger’s response, that revealing the Third Secret would add nothing necessary for the Christian to know and that it “would mean exposing the Church to the danger of sensationalism, exploitation of the content,” also seemed to “confirm (albeit with prudent circumlocutions)” that the contents of the Third Secret of Fatima did contain those “disconcerting” messages.5

Clearly, both John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger “dodged” the question. But why? If the Third Secret did not contain these frightening threats, why not just say so? A “no” would not have been “sensational” and, in fact, would have helped defuse the speculation.

Perhaps the answer is as simple as John Paul II’s explanation that to authenticate such horrible future trials would only whet people’s morbid curiosity, but it would not change their hearts and minds, or cause them to repent. In any case, apparently the Church, through the initiative of Cardinal Sodano and Cardinal Bertone, decided on May 13, 2000 that these “disconcerting” threats were either from the children’s imagination or from the devil—not from Our Lady.6 So, they were not reported as part of the Third Secret.

But that pronouncement was almost two decades ago. Today we’re completing the 100thanniversary of the first October Fatima warnings, and the world is darker than ever, with confusion, dissent, corruption, and scandal spreading like wildfire both in- and outside the Church. It certainly cannot hurt to revisit the Fatima message of repentance and remind people what could be at stake.

It was on Oct. 13, 1917, that the sun appeared as “a revolving ball of fire falling upon the people” as punishment for the world’s sins.7 But the completion of the 100th anniversary celebration will be this Oct. 13, 2018. This conclusion of the 100th anniversary is an urgent reminder that there are still critical questions surrounding the so-called Third Secret of Fatima.

For decades, the world has known the main message of Fatima: The Blessed Mother warned that “punishment would come,” involving great sufferings for the world, if mankind did not repent from its sins, especially “sins of the flesh” and “bad marriages.”8

But Our Lady also warned that “Wars are only punishments for the sins of the world.“

Consequently, the announcement in July 2017 that North Korea has finally gained intercontinental nuclear-strike capabilities, and could now wipe out whole cities even in the United States, makes it even more urgent to take seriously the warnings contained in the Fatima messages.9

In the early 1960s, however, the main Fatima message was overshadowed by the news that the Blessed Mother had told Sister Lucia, the oldest visionary, that she had more to share with the world, but for a later time. This Third Secret supposedly warned the world of a catastrophic future if it did not repent. For decades, there was speculation about what this terrible future looked like, according to the so-called Third Secret.

So, in 2000, when the Vatican revealed what it said was the Third Secret in its entirety, the collective reaction of many people was, “That’s it?” People sensed a disconnect between the urgent warnings of Our Lady of Fatima throughout the years to repent, and the Vatican’s bland report that everything about the Third Secret had already happened (for example, that the pope would be attacked but survive, which as we all know happened to John Paul II on May 13, 1981).

That after-the-fact revelation didn’t seem justified.

Instead, people look around and saw the world still sliding toward total corruption and evil, just as Our Lady warned. Who can deny that lawful man–woman marriage has broken down completely? Families are in chaos and suicide is legally sanctioned. The age of “test-tube babies” has produced monstrous cases where innocent children are now “created” in test tubes and declared to legally “belong” to a multiple combination of parents. Young children are encouraged in the name of “freedom” to change their God-given gender. The list of outrageous evils is well known and it goes on and on.

So why should we believe that the Third Secret of Fatima is “old news,” when evil in the world is getting worse and worse?

In fact, the Third Secret’s warning of unspeakable punishments coming to mankind is backed up by another revelation that has also been authenticated by the Church. That revelation is the message of Our Lady to a nun in Akita, Japan, in 1973.

That message of Our Lady, to Sr. Agnes Sasagawa, was approved as authentic by Bishop John S. Ito, DD, then bishop of Nigata, Japan. He also approved it as being the same message as contained in the Third Secret of Fatima. Part of the message stated:

As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful.10

So far, this threat has not come true. Why? Because people have stopped sinning? Or is it that Our Lady gained more time for us to repent? At any rate, the Akita message is more authenticated proof that we must pay attention to these disconcerting messages from God.

The alleged missing part of the Third Secret of Fatima

Since the early 1960s, it is said that a part of the text of the famous Third Secret of Fatima has been openly passed about in various sectors of the Church. It was reported that the Pope supposedly permitted the leaders of Russia and the United States to see the document around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962; others claim that a priest who was on the commission to beatify the two younger visionaries of Fatima revealed the contents. German and French newspapers reported on the supposedly revealed message as well. It has passed through so many “hands” by now, that it is of course impossible to authenticate completely, so people need to evaluate its veracity for themselves. But, since nothing in the document goes against Church teaching, and because so much of it speaks (with astonishing accuracy) to exactly what’s happening in the world today, it should be taken seriously.

Keep in mind that this circulated text—which is purported to be originally part of the Third Secret given by Our Lady to Lucy and initially reported in 1963 and 1964 in foreign publications—predates both the Akita revelations (1973) and John Paul II’s statement in Fulda (1980). This suggests a unified message has emerged from different sources, which is another reason to take it seriously. (The parts corresponding to John Paul II’s statement at Fulda and to Akita are italicized.) Our Lady stated:

A great chastisement will come over all mankind; not today nor tomorrow but in the second half of the twentieth century. . . . Humanity has not developed as God desired. Mankind has been sacrilegious and has trampled underfoot the wondrous blessing of God. No longer does order reign anywhere. Even in the highest places, Satan reigns and directs the course of things. Satan will even succeed in infiltrating into the highest positions in the Church. Satan will succeed in sowing confusion in the minds of scientists, who invent weapons to be mass produced. If mankind will not oppose these evils, I will be obliged to let the arm of my Son drop in vengeance. If the chief rulers of the world and of the Church will not actively oppose these evils, I will ask God My Father, to bring His Justice to bear on mankind.

Then, God will punish mankind even more severely and heavily than he did at the time of the great deluge. The great and powerful will perish the same as the lowly and meek . . . .

But a time of more severe trials is also coming for the Church. Cardinals will oppose Cardinals and Bishops will oppose Bishops. Satan will enter into their very midst. In Rome, also, will occur great changes. What is rotten falls, and what falls must not be retained. The Church will be obscured, and all the world will be thrown into great confusion.

The great, great war will come in the second half of the twentieth century. Fire and smoke will drop from heaven, and the waters of the ocean will turn to steam, throwing their foam to the very sky. Whatever is standing will be overturned.From one hour to another, millions and millions of people will die. Those then surviving will envy the dead. Distress, misery and desolation will be found the world over.

The time is ever drawing nearer, and the abyss is ever deepening, and there will be no escape; the good will die with the wicked, the great with the lowly, the Princes of the Church with their faithful, the rulers of nations with their people. Death will reign everywhere, raised to triumph by erring men—the helpers of Satan who will be then the masters of the earth. . .

Later, however, when those have survived will be still on the earth, God will once more be invoked, when the world had not yet been corrupted. I call upon all true followers of my Son, all true Christians and the apostles of these latter days . . . .

(Then summing up our Lady says finally) Woe and greater woe, if conversion does not occur, and if everything remains as it is! And especially if everything worsens!11

Note the reference to a great war and great chastisement coming “in the second half of the twentieth century.” That time has already passed, right? However, rather than believe it will never happen, it is not unreasonable to believe that, through Our Lady’s intercession, the time of mercy has been extended still longer. She does not give us these warnings to scare us, but so that we can change the outcome through our preaching, prayers, and penances as was the case with Jonah and Nineveh (Jonah 3).

Another reference in the text might explain why the Vatican was not willing to reveal this message in 2000 at Fatima: it is the reference to cardinals and bishops in opposition to each other . . . with Satan in their midst, which was not obvious in 2000.

Today, in 2018, we see the corruption in the hierarchy unfolding before our very eyes. There is even a scandal involving the Pope himself, accused by a credible source—former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano—of concealing the sexual abuse of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.12 There is the internal ongoing strife over the papal document, Amoris Laetitia. There is the attempt by many bishops to bring the divorced and remarried and the LGBT to Holy Communion without changing their immoral practices. There is much more on the list, but these can be referenced in the media for all to see.

This is undoubtedly the fulfillment of Our Lady’s warning in the missing part of the Third Secret that “In Rome, also, will occur great changes. What is rotten falls, and what falls must not be retained. The Church will be obscured, and all the world will be thrown into great confusion.” The only thing that has not yet happened in the missing part of the Third Secret—perhaps because of the mercy of God—is the punishment for all of these sins.

While the punishment mentioned by Our Lady in the warning, “especially” since everything has “worsened,” could be anything from a world-wide economic collapse to a natural disaster like a meteor striking the earth, her warning is reminiscent of the punishments of the flood given the people at Noah’s time and the fire from the sky dealt out to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 6–9, 18–19). And it is only logical that God would speak to us in warnings and actions similar to those in the Bible so that the people of the world would understand the nature of the sins and why they are being punished. Is God going to allow a huge meteor or asteroid to plunge into the ocean at a speed of perhaps 45,000 miles per hour, causing 300 miles of the coast line to disappear all over the planet Earth?

Of course, we don’t know all the answers. But we do know one thing: God is not mocked. And “everything” has “worsened.” We can only hope and pray that the Pope and bishops will take up the staff of Jonah and begin their journey through the evil Nineveh of our present day. If they don’t? Remember what Our Lady said to Sr. Lucia of Fatima about the spread of sin: “Woe and greater woe . . . especially if everything worsens!”

  1. Edward Pentin, “Ex-Nuncio Accuses Pope Francis of Failing to Act on McCarrick’s Abuse,” National Catholic Register, Aug. 25, 2018, >
  2. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Sectary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, SDB, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “The Message of Fatima,” Fatima Portugal, May 13, 2000. >
  3. John Paul II, interview with Catholics at Fulda, Germany, Nov. 1980, published in the German magazine Stimme des Glaubens. English found in Daniel J. Lynch, The Call to Total Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (St. Albans, Vermont: Missions of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pub., 1991), 50–51. >
  4. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger with Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985), 109. >
  5. Ratzinger and Messori, Ratzinger Report, 110. >
  6. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Sectary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, See footnote 1; >
  7. Rev. John De Marchi, The Crusade of Fatima (New York: P.J. Kennedy & Sons, 1948), 135. >
  8. De Marchi, Crusade of Fatima, 135, 137. >
  9. Choe San-hun, “North Korea Fired Intercontinental Ballistic Missile,” New York Times, July 4, 2017, >
  10. Teiji Yasuda, OSV, Akita: The Tears and Message of Mary, trans. John M. Haffert (New Jersey: 101 Foundation, 1989), 196. >
  11. German paper Neues Europa, October 1, 1963, which was translated in the September 1964 issue of the French magazine Le Monde et la Vie. John M. Haffert, found in Yasuda, Akita, 114. >
  12. Pentin, “Ex-Nuncio Accuses Pope Francis.” >

Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFMCap, was ordained in Aug. 26, 1972. He is currently in the process of developing the Julia Greeley shelter for homeless, unaccompanied women in metro Denver. He is spiritual director and chaplain for Mother Teresa of Calcutta's Missionaries of Charity in Denver, as well as being one of the spiritual directors for the Missionaries of Charity in the western United States. He was director of prison ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver, from 1999 to 2010; a chaplain for Missionaries of Charity at their now-closed AIDS hospice, Seton House, and at Gift of Mary homeless shelter for women in Denver from 1989 to 2008; and in 1997, he was sent by Mother Teresa to instruct Missionaries of Charity in Madagascar and South Africa on the subject of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist . His articles have been published in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, The Catholic Faith, Soul Magazine, Pastoral Life, and The Priest. He has also made two series for Mother Angelica's EWTN: "Crucial Questions," "Catholic Answers," and "What Did Vatican II Really Teach?"

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