Cardinal Ottaviani on the Third Secret of Fatima

icon, mary, jesus, infant

In light of continued controversy over Fatima and its famous third secret, I am presenting my own amateur translation of an Allocution (Address) of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani on said secret.

The Cardinal’s Allocution has great weight in the controversy over the third part of the secret. It is said that Ottaviani, in the following Allocution, stated that the third part of the secret contained about 25 lines of text. This is as opposed to the 60+ lines released by the Vatican on June 26, 2000. The following translation demonstrates the Cardinal never commented on the number of lines of text.

An alternative translation, complete with commentary, can also be found in:
Frere Michel of the Holy Trinity,  The Whole Truth About Fatima, Vol. III: The Third Secret (pgs. 721-734).
A transcription of the French text can be found here.

-Kevin J. Symonds


The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Apparitions of Fátima

About the Secret of Fátima

Allocution of His Eminence Cardinal Ottaviani[i]

On February 11, 1967, the 50th anniversary of the apparitions of Fátima was celebrated in Rome at the Antonianum. This is the allocution given on this occasion by Cardinal Ottaviani, the Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.[ii]

If the topic is a secret, how would I be able to reveal it?

At any rate, I will address some questions that concern the “secret of Fátima.”

The first time that I was in Fátima was in 1955.

As I climbed the slope that would take me to the Cova da Iria, I was already edified by the piety, the spirit of sacrifice and prayer which so many children of the people made proof of in climbing the slope and carrying food and all that they needed to pass the night commemorating the event of October 13, 1917.

When I arrived up there, at the Cova da Iria, it seemed to me that I was entering my Mother’s house. I seemed to hear my mother say to me, “Prayer, penance!”

All these good people, the thousands upon thousands of people who passed the night outside praying and singing, singing and praying, while the glow of thousands of candles lit up the large square in front of the basilica—all these people truly gave me the impression that they understood well the spirit of the message of Fátima.[iii]

The Three Messages of Fátima

The Most Holy Virgin, while setting her virginal foot on the land of the Cova da Iria (which she thereby sanctified), confided three messages to little Lúcia. One concerned Lúcia’s most intimate familial sentiments—the prediction that her little brother Francisco and her little sister Jacinta will soon fly away to heaven. The prophecy was realized soon after. In the basilica that was built on the Cova da Iria, there is seen on the right and left of the high altar the tombstones under which the mortal remains of Jacinta and Francisco await the glorious day of the resurrection while their souls are blessed in heaven. When I asked Lúcia what she wanted me to say from her to the Holy Father, her sentiment moved me. Thinking of her little brother and sister she said, “Say to the Pope that he might advance rapidly the cause of their beatification.”

We hope that the wish of Lúcia will be fulfilled as soon as possible.

There, I was saying, in the Cova da Iria, it feels like being in the house of one’s Mother, it is as if we hear the voice of our Mother who repeats to us, “Prayer and penance!”

The world has lent its ear to the message of Lúcia. In this message there was the private aspect concerning her brother and sister. There was the part concerning the whole world (it invited the entire world to prayer and penance). There was, finally, the third part of those things confided by the Holy Virgin. And she confided those things to her, not for her [Lúcia], nor for the world—at least for the moment—but for the Vicar of Christ.

John XXIII Took Notice of the Secret and Returned It to the Archives

And Lúcia has kept the secret. She has not spoken, though this does not mean we did not try to make her speak. Yes, “secrets of Fátima” circulate that are attributed to her. Do not believe them! Lúcia has kept the secret.

Also, what did Lúcia do to obey the Most Holy Virgin? She wrote on a sheet [of paper], in Portuguese, what the Holy Virgin had asked her to tell the Holy Father.

The message was not to be opened before 1960. I asked Lúcia, “Why this date?” And she replied to me, “Because then it will appear ‘mas claro’ (more clear).” This is what makes me think that the message was of a prophetic tone, precisely because the prophecies—as seen in Sacred Scripture—are covered in a veil of mystery. They are not generally expressed in a manifest, clear language that is comprehensible to the whole world. Exegetes are today still interpreting the Old Testament prophecies. And what do we say, for example, of the prophecies contained in the Apocalypse? In 1960, [Lúcia] said, the message will appear more clear.

The envelope containing the “secret of Fátima” was given closed to the Bishop of Leiria, and, although Lúcia said he could, the Bishop did not want to read it. He wanted to respect the secret out of regard for the Holy Father. He gave it to the Apostolic Nuncio (then Msgr. Cento, today Cardinal and present here), who faithfully transmitted it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as he had been asked. This was to avoid the possibility that something so delicate and destined not to be given for public consumption, should come for whatever reason, even fortuitous, into foreign hands. The secret then arrived at the Congregation—always closed—and given to John XXIII. The Pope opened the envelope and read it. Although the text is written in Portuguese, the Pope subsequently told me that he had understood it entirely. Then he himself put the secret in another envelope, sealed it, and put it in one of those archives which are like a deep well, black, black, to the bottom of which the papers fall and people see nothing. It is therefore difficult to say where the “secret of Fátima” is now to be found.

What is Important is the Public Message of Prayer and Penance

However, what is important, and what needs to be imparted to the world is that which is contained in the public message which has become universal, has spread throughout the world, and, thanks be to God, accepted with attention by the entire world. Now, it is another thing to know if the world has put it [the message] into practice according to the desires of the Most Holy Virgin who has exhorted us to prayer and penance to avoid the foreseen sanctions in the divine book of Providence for a world that fits so badly with the gifts of the Lord’s grace.

You can imagine how many journalists and good priests who had the desire to write something on the “secret of Fátima” came to tempt Lúcia, but she was truly exemplary, she did not speak.[iv]

Do not believe those who say that they have heard this or that from Lúcia. I who had the grace and gift to read the text of the secret – though I too am secretive because I am bound by secrecy – I can say that all that has spread…(a few days ago, a provincial newspaper spoke of the “secret of Fátima” and gave the text). You can be quite sure that the real secret is kept in such a way that a person cannot see it [lit.: “…cannot cast eyes.”]. There is nothing else to do than to stick with what is published. The public message of Fátima is what matters. The secret is important for the Holy Father to whom it was destined. It is he who was the recipient of the secret. If the recipient of the secret has not decided to say, “It is time to reveal it to the world!”, then we must stick to his wisdom who has wanted it kept secret.

But what matters, as I said, is that we may know how to conform our life, our actions and our activities to the spirit of the public message. This is because Lúcia was charged not only to transmit to the Pope the secret message but also to make known throughout the world the public message which can be summed up in these two words, “prayer and penance!”

The Holy Virgin had already said these two words in Lourdes. Today, as we commemorate the feast of the apparition of the Most Holy Virgin in Lourdes, we need to connect these two expressions of the goodness of Mary who came down from heaven and put her virginal foot on the earth to sanctify it and also to guide it towards better paths. We must seek to ensure that the message of Fátima has the effects for which it was addressed to the world, by our actions, our prayers, our examples, by all the Christian virtues that we must practice, especially by prayer and penance.

The Message of Fátima and the Church of Silence

It was also underlined the connection between the message of Fátima and the conditions of the Church in certain regions where she feels the weight of persecutions, where people fight against religion.

This is the message here. In the public message, first there is also the message of hope, of conversion, and this too can be hastened by the prayers of all those who have devotion to Our Lady of Fátima.

Yes, on this day where we celebrate a Marian feast, that of the apparition of Lourdes, we must turn to the Immaculate One who appeared in Fátima as in Lourdes, so that she gives to the world the consolation to see realized the wishes that are made in the heart, in the spirit, in the prayers, in the soul of every Christian.

It is quite true that persecution still exists. There are still some countries that are under the heel of the persecutor, the despot. There are some regions that are annihilated, scattered with scaffolds, the cross and prisons – prisons that are sanctified by many martyrs – but we must hope.[v]

Already certain signs, the dawn of new situations one might say, are beginning to emerge. Maybe I am optimistic, but it seems to me that the Most Holy Virgin inspires us to have confidence. If she came down from heaven, if she sanctified by her virginal foot the land of France and Portugal, as well as so many other lands where she came down and appeared, then she also did it to encourage us.

It is true, however, as is seen in many other prophecies – because I imagine that the message of Fátima has a tone of prophecy, since Lúcia said that in 1960 it would appear more clear – that there is here a sign that is sort of veiled. It is not a language that is quite manifest and clear. We thus hope, as I said, that the signs that were given are in conformity with this hope that one can get from the message of Fátima. The Virgin also certainly appeared to tell us that we may have to suffer – as indeed she had predicted the sufferings of the war, to which all of us were witnesses and victims – but she also came into the world to give us hope.

She is the Mother of confidence. We all know to invoke her as, “the reason for our hope and confidence.” Well, since she gives us that hope, let us pray that she obtains for us what we all desire, what we all have at heart, namely that the reign of Christ may come, in the peace of Christ.

There are already in certain countries telltale signs that are like clues of evolution, like signs of success of this ecumenism that always brings peoples closer together in a fraternal manner, including those who are not Catholics but are rightly proud to bear the name of Christians. Among these signs, there is the way everything that the Pope does for peace is welcomed. I will naturally keep the necessary confidentiality, but just yesterday, I was told that new steps were taken over the past few days to facilitate the solution to the Vietnam conflict. If, therefore, so many signs are given us, that allow us to hope that on this 50th anniversary of the events of Fátima, the Holy Virgin will manifest in some way her kindness for her children, that she will give some new hope to the Christian world, then we must say: let us welcome this omen of the Holy Virgin; let us hasten things by our prayers.

May we then listen to what the Holy Virgin is telling us from Fátima: lift up your heads, for your redemption is at hand.

And our response springs forth like a cry, Fiat! Fiat! [Let it be!]

[i] Translator’s Note: As is indicated in the first original publisher’s note, the French text of the Cardinal’s allocution is a translation (traduit) made from an audio recording of the proceedings. La Documentation Catholique did not state in what language the allocution was originally delivered, though it is a good guess to venture that it was Italian. As the French text is the only available language for the allocution, we are at a disadvantage to know exactly how Ottaviani expressed himself.

[ii] [Original Publisher’s Note:] We have translated this discourse from the audiotape recording of the Cardinal’s address. A (much shorter) written text was given to the press, but the Cardinal, whose sight is not good, spoke without text. The spoken text is notably differently from the written text. We indicate by notes some passages from the written text that are not found in the spoken text. The subtitles are ours.

[iii] [Original Publisher’s Note:] We read in the written text: “This immense crowd in prayer did not ask to know the mysterious secret of Fatima. It was already in possession of the most essential secret, one that is engraven in the soul of anyone reading attentively the Gospel—the secret of the scale [ladder?] of heaven, whose degrees are called prayer and penance.

[iv] [Original Publisher’s Note:] The written text: We had to defend the visionary, who became a religious, to escape from the curiosity of the world in a Carmelite monastery in Coimbra where, more than from devotion, the curiosity of many people has sought to draw from [Lucia] a few words. Despite Lucia’s reserve, these curious ones, eager for mysterious things, have thought to make deductions and have published apocryphal texts of the secret of Fatima, making it into legend. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had to forbid access to the Coimbra convent where Lucia prays, remembers, meditates, but does not speak. We even created a Blue Army that gives an interpretation and a special tone to the mystery of the secret, this is to say a thing that one cannot interpret because one does not know.”

In his weekly press conference of February 23, 1967, Mgr. Vallainc declared that if, at the last moment, Cardinal Ottaviani decided not to name the Blue Army it is because he feared that mentioning it to a public that is very sensible to nuances might not go over too well. In other words, it might have been interpreted as a slight on the activities of the Blue Army, contrary to the intention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (La Croix, 26-27 February, 1967).

[v] [Original Publisher’s Note:] We read in the written text: “We spoke much about links between the secret of Fatima and the formidable and agonizing situation of the Church in the numerous regions of the world. [In these regions is] where hell unleashed its wrath against all that is holy and divine, and where the persecutor—even if he wears the gloves of diplomacy and employs honeyed language of peace—tries to extend on the entire world a domination that he already has over vast territories, spread the cross, scaffolds, and prisons sanctified by many martyrs.

But the trust which is inspired by the message of Fatima (also in the public part) makes us scrutinize, in this second half of the 1960s, in a serene abandon to Providence, the first clue—although still unclear—of a future establishment of the things of the world in the peace and kingdom of Christ.”

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1 thought on “Cardinal Ottaviani on the Third Secret of Fatima”

  1. “It is quite true that persecution still exists. There are still some countries that are under the heel of the persecutor, the despot. There are some regions that are annihilated, scattered with scaffolds, the
    cross and prisons – prisons that are sanctified by many martyrs – but we must hope.”

    These words were written in 1967. Today, where we see ISIS triumphant in the Middle East, Boko Haram rampaging through West Africa, Europe being buried under a tidal wave of Islamic “immigrants”, and the United States jailing (!) Kim Davis for refusing to compromise her Faith (not to mention using taxpayer money to murder millions upon millions of babies and sell off their body parts), the words of Our Lady of Fatima are more urgent than ever before – “prayer and penance”.

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