The Rector of Portugal's Fatima Shrine, Fr. Luciano Guerra, has replied to the false and extreme reports that traveled around the world about Fatima becoming a Shrine of all religions. It is not the first false reports circulated about Fatima. We offer some quotes below from his Communique to the Fatima Family Apostolate.
1. "The news, which provoked strong reactions from the users of the internet claim that, at the inspiration of delegates from the U.N. and from the Vatican and also according to statements from the Rector of the Shrine, Fatima "is to be developed into a center where all the religions of the world will gather to pay homage to their gods." Furthermore: "The future of Fatima, or the adoration of God and His Mother at this holy Shrine, must pass through the creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle." And that's not all, listen: "The Shrine of Fatima is about to undergo a complete reconstruction with a new stadium-like basilica being erected close by the existing one built in 1921."
2. It is our firm conviction that the great majority, perhaps the totality, of the reactions received is the result of a long orchestration, centered in the United States, by people bitterly opposed to Vatican Council II, specifically to what pertains to a wider opening of the Church, with emphasis on the ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue. During the days of the Congress, there were held in Fatima demonstrations by two more protest organizations, headquartered one in Canada, the other in France. The masterminds of these groups barricaded themselves, many years now, behind a thick argumentation, from where they throw accusations to the authorities of the Church, including the Pope himself, as being heretics, apostates and unfaithful to the responsibilities thrust upon them.
3. So that the readers may compare the content of the news published by Portugal News with the oral presentation of the Rector in the final session of the Congress - only time he spoke - whose entire text we are publishing in "Voz da Fatima" (Voice of Fatima), here are verbatim the pertaining references, taken from the recording of that speech: "It is true that (...) we are all very far from journeying towards the only, or through the only, bridge. We cold therefore relax, since, if one's bridge is collapsing, it could happen that the neighbor's bridge is not. But it is also true that a disease of epidemic proportions seems to have threatened the faith of all religions, of all confessions, of all traditions, during the last decades. That's why we rejoice in the brotherly presence of the representatives of the various spiritual schools and we are sure that their presence here opened the way for a greater future openness of this Shrine; Shrine that seems already vacationed, thanks to divine providence, for contacts and for dialogue (...). This calling is almost explicit, in regard to the oriental, Orthodox and Catholic churches, in the message of the Angel of Peace, and, in regard to the Islamic religion, in the name itself that God chose for the town where Mary would one day appear: Fatima."
4. From these words one can conclude that we are truly opened to ideas and values that are universal, therefore open to dialogue with other faiths, following an already ancient practice of the Church. But it is evident that we are not open to share the way we worship, the least in what pertains to the sacraments, specifically the Eucharist, which is the ultimate and most perfect expression of Christian unity and that we can't unfortunately celebrate, not even with our closest brothers of the protestant denominations. Therefore the worship space which, God willing, will soon start to be built - and which the journalist claims that it will be similar to a stadium - in fact will be a church with capacity to seat nine thousand people and will be marked exclusively for Catholic worship. It will be located not next to the present basilica, but between the "Cruz Alta" (High Cross) and the public road. And, when it seems to us to be opportune, after what already is happening in Fatima and in many other sacred places, this new basilica would be able to receive brothers from other faiths who may want, in a brotherly manner, know how we pray.
The claim of Portugal News that the October Congress was held at the inspiration of the UN and the Vatican and that it was sponsored by the World Conference for Religion and Peace and that it would have been its annual meeting is deprived of any basis in reality. The idea of the Congress was born entirely in the Rectory of the Shrine, having its inspiration in the reading of the message of Fatima, as referred to in the last number of this communique, within the spirit of Vatican II. .....
7. Today another extremism - we would say from the opposite side - forces us to come public to denounce categorical statements that also distort the true facts and are very offensive to the dignity of the people working in this Shrine. ...
8. Behold the extremes and the extremisms! Which, in more crucial causes and circumstances, can lead to fundamentalism, fanaticism and terrorism. The ultimate evil doesn't reside in the faith, not even in the ideas alone, but in the factors that mould our psyche, and here we mention four of the most important ones: temperament, character, culture and education. ...."
- The Rector, Fr. Luciano Guerra