The following comes from a February 28 The Catholic Thing article by Howard Kainz. Full-length version in link.
The 1917 apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three children at Fátima (ending in October of that year with the greatest historical public miracle before 70,000 observers) offer us without doubt a formidable example of Our Lady’s loving intervention, to warn the world of coming threats, and offer powerful remedies to avoid wars and achieve peace.
But the proper interpretation of Fátima is of the utmost importance.
For some decades, the Canadian priest, Fr. Nicholas Gruner, the “Fátima priest,” and the Fátima Center that he founded, have been claiming that the ills that the world and, especially, the Church are now suffering could be avoided if only the consecration of Russia by the pope and the bishops of the world, requested by Our Lady in a vision to Sr. Lucia on December 10, 1925, had been done correctly. By “correctly,” Gruner means mentioning Russia by name.
In December 1983, Pope John Paul II consulted with Sister Lucia, the only Fátima visionary then still living, about fulfillment of Our Lady’s wishes.
Afterwards, Sr. Lucia wrote that the pope had fulfilled Our Lady’s requests; and several years later, the world witnessed the collapse of the Berlin wall and the dismantling of the Soviet Union. As I have written elsewhere, and in a follow-up article, the promised “conversion” of Russia seems to have begun, with religious freedom, a massive proliferation of churches, monasteries, and seminaries, and church attendance almost comparable to that in Portugal, where, as Our Lady promised Sr. Lucia, “the doctrine of faith will always be preserved.”
But Fr. Gruner and his fellow Fatimists maintain that the consecration has to be done over, mentioning Russia by name, and that the five minutes spent doing this will bring about a miraculous conversion the likes of which the world has never seen. Gruner has even recommended a novel, Russian Sunrise, in which a Gruner “avatar” appears under the name of Fr. Nicholas Gottschalk, who finally convinces the pope follow his advice, leading to miraculous changes in Russia.
An alleged Vatican “conspiracy” of silence does not end there, but according to the Fatimists, the Third Secret of Fátima, revealed by Pope John Paul II in 2000, is missing an essential second part. Sr. Lucia herself, when she revealed the third secret in 1944 and sent it to the Vatican in 1957, said she could only give the details of what she was actually shown. But that she was not allowed to give Our Lady’s explanation, which was made known to her.
Conspiracy theories aside, we should focus on the essential message of Fátima. In the 1917 May and June Fátima apparitions, the three children were asked to pray the rosary every day for the end of World War I and peace for the world. This is her primary request.
On December 10, 1925, Our Lady made another extraordinary request/promise – the Five First Saturdays: “I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”
But do the Fatimists really think if the pope redoes the “consecration of Russia” verbatim in five minutes, that all of a sudden miraculous conversions are going to take place, among the great masses of Christians – who are busy contracepting like the pagans, promoting sodomy, and profaning marriage?
Hello! The Soviet Union is no longer persecuting Christians, and “spreading its errors throughout the world.” Islamists are doing that now. Our Lady didn’t divulge any secrets about Islam at Fátima. No special “secrets” are necessary for those of us who, even intermittently, follow world news. The spiritual crises are clear. But the main, essential solution Mary offered at Fátima is still completely relevant. If you think the world is going to hell in a hand basket, it’s time to start following the indispensible simple requests of Our Lady – the daily rosary and the five First Saturdays.