The Third Secret Controversy—Part VIII

The Testimony of Msgr. Silvio Oddi

Silvio Oddi, ordained a priest on May 31, 1933, was a Vatican diplomat, mostly in the Middle East, from 1938 to 1962. In spite of his reputation as a "conservative," he was named "cardinal" by Paul VI in 1969, and became a member of the "curia" from 1979 until his retirement in 1985. Statements which he made in interviews granted in 1990, as well as in his Memoirs, published in 1995, have shed much light on the Third Secret Controversy.

The first of these interviews was given for the "Catholic" journal Il Sabato, and published in its edition of March 17, 1990:

By now everyone acknowledges that Cardinal Silvio Oddi has one virtue that is extremely rare in the present-day ecclesiastical environment: the frankness and freedom with which he states his views. The interview which follows is one more proof of this. It has for its theme one of the enigmas that during this century has most moved the collective religious imagination: the Third Secret of Fatima. It is a matter which took on contemporary relevance again last month, following the publication in 30 DAYS of a letter from Sister Lucia, one of the three visionaries to whom the Mother of God appeared on May 13, 1917. Referring to the upheavals in eastern Europe, the Portuguese nun wrote: "I believe it is an action of God in the world from the danger of an atomic war that could destroy it." Many have seen in these words the confirmation that the Third Secret has something to do with the current developments in the USSR, as if the Virgin Mary had prophesied and mysteriously guided Gorbachev's plan of perestroika. This view has ended in attributing to these political events the miraculous character of a spiritual and religious rebirth.


CARDINAL ODDI: No, on the contrary, I remain very skeptical. I believe I knew John XXIII quite well, since I spent a number of years at his side when he was at the nunciature in Paris. If the Secret had concerned realities consoling for the Church like the conversion of Russia or the religious rebirth of eastern Europe, I believe that he would have brought pressure to bear to make the Secret public. By temperament he did not hesitate to communicate joyful things (it has been revealed that Cardinal Roncalli in a number of letters to friends practically announced his election to the papacy). But when I asked him during an audience why in 1960, when the obligation to keep the secret had come to an end, he had not made public the last part of the message of Fatima, he responded with a weary sigh. He then said: "Don't bring that subject up with me, please ..."


CARDINAL ODDI: Yes, in 1985. I had gone to Portugal to celebrate solemnly the anniversary of the apparitions, and I did not resist the desire to exchange a few words with her. Obviously I did not ask her to reveal the Secret to me but I asked her if she was aware of the reason why the Church had decided not to make it public.


CARDINAL ODDI: She said that in May 1982 she had spoken about it with John Paul II, who had made a pilgrimage to Fatima to render thanks to Our Lady a year after the attempted assassination in St. Peter's Square. Together they had decided that it was more opportune not to reveal the Secret. For fear, she explained to me, that it might be "misinterpreted." The same explanation, I am told, was given by the Holy Father during his visit to Germany. This attitude of the Church reinforced in me a theory that I had had for a number of years ...


CARDINAL ODDI: What happened in 1960 that might have been seen in connection with the Secret of Fatima? The most important event is without a doubt the launching of the preparatory phase of the Second Vatican Council. Therefore I would not be surprised if the Secret had something to do with the convocation of Vatican II…


CARDINAL ODDI: From the attitude Pope John showed during our conversation, I deduced—but it is only an hypothesis—that the Secret might contain a part that could have a rather unpleasant ring to it... But we all know that... many sad things... took place in conjunction with the Council. I am thinking, for example, of the number of priests who have abandoned the priesthood: it is said that there have been 80,000 ...


CARDINAL ODDI: This: that I would not be surprised if the Third Secret alluded to dark times for the Church: grave confusions and troubling apostasies within Catholicism itself... If we consider the grave crisis we have lived through since the Council, the signs that this prophecy has been fulfilled do not seem to be lacking ...

Greater details were forthcoming in the November 11, 1990 edition of Trenta Giorni, an "international Catholic" monthly. Msgr. Oddi gave these details in "memoir" form:

Like the priests and all the faithful, I have become interested in the Third Secret of Fatima. As it is known that it was to be revealed in 1960 unless Sister Lucia had died earlier, we were all waiting for that year to arrive. But 1960 has come and gone, and nothing has been announced. As secretary to John XXIII when he was in Paris, I took advantage of the trust he placed in me to tell him frankly:

Silvio Oddi with John XXIII"Most Holy Father, there is one thing for which I cannot forgive you."

"What?" he asked.

"Having the world in suspense for so many years and then watching 1960 come; several months have gone by and nothing about the secret has been made known."

Roncalli answered: "Don't speak to me about this."

I replied: "If you don't want me to I will say no more, but I can't keep the people from doing so. The interest is spontaneous; I must have delivered a hundred sermons and speeches announcing the revelation."

"I told you not to speak to me about it anymore."

I didn't persist, but I wanted to get to the bottom of the story. Then I went to Msgr. Capovilla, his private secretary, and asked: "Have you opened the secret?"

"Yes, we opened it."

"Who was present?"

"There was the Pope"—he told me—"Cardinal Ottaviani, and I, but we couldn't understand it since it was handwritten and in Portuguese. So we called a Portuguese monsignor who worked in the Secretariat of State."

I, who knew John XXIII very well, am sure that the secret contained nothing good. Roncalli didn't like to hear about scandals or punishments. From that I conclude that it contained something about prohibition, punishment, or disaster...

At this point let me advance a hypothesis: that the Third Secret of Fatima pre-announces something terrible the (Vatican II) Church has done... something whose consequences were very painful, with a tremendous decline in religious practice. And that later, following a great suffering, the Faith would return. Yes, this may be the content of the secret. But if this were true, the fulfillment of the secret has already been observed, for the crisis in the Church is visible to all. And the most alert souls recognized it years ago.

As an example, Oddi lamented the travesty that had taken place in Assisi—the pan-religious "prayer meeting" of 1986:

Buddhists in AssisiOn that day, I went to Assisi as the Pontifical Legate for the Basilica of St. Francis, and I saw true profanations in some places of prayer. I saw Buddhists dancing around the altar, on which they had put Buddha in the place of Christ, and they were burning incense to the Buddha and venerating it. A Benedictine protested—he was thrown out by the police. I did not protest, but my heart was scandalized. Confusion was apparent on the faces of the Catholics who were attending the ceremony. I thought: if at this moment the Buddhists were to distribute bread consecrated to Buddha, these people would be capable of agreeing to eat it, perhaps with a greater devotion than when they receive the (Novus Ordo) host.

Lastly, Msgr. Oddi summed up his position on the Third Secret in his book of memoirs, Il Tenero Mastino di Dio, published in 1995:

The prophecy of Fatima was completely defied! It is a lack of sense, I would say, because according to the interpretation that seems to me most worthy of consideration, the Third Secret—which John XXIII and his successors thought inopportune to reveal—is not about a supposed conversion of Russia, still far from becoming a reality, but regards the "revolution" in the (Vatican II) Church. From (this) Council… so many innovations were born that they appear to constitute a true internal revolution.

In conclusion to this series, it is amazing to note that, after 10 years of denial, Ratzinger has begun to reverse his position on the Third Secret. In 2000, Ratzinger had maintained steadfastly that the Third Secret regarded the past: "No great mystery is revealed; nor is the future unveiled."

But on his flight bound for Fatima, on May 11, 2010, Ratzinger was asked by a journalist whether the Third Secret might have something to do with the current sexual abuse scandal. Ratzinger replied: "Beyond the great vision... there are indications of the reality of the Church's future..." It should be noted that questions from journalists like this are pre-screened by the Vatican.

Two days later, on May 13, 2010, Ratzinger included this in his homily at Fatima: "We would be mistaken to think that Fatima's prophetic message is complete."

Was it more double-speak, or a change in policy? The mystery, as we have noted before, continues......

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