Fatima and Faithfulness


The singular and mysterious events surrounding the apparitions at Fatima in 1917, which will be celebrated on May 13, were deemed by the Church to be, while not essential doctrine since all revelation ended with the death of the last apostle, certainly "worthy of belief."

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that they have a "permanent and ongoing significance" which "could even be extended to include the suffering the Church is going through today."  Last year on October 13 — the anniversary of the "Miracle of the Sun" — Pope Francis consecrated the world to Mary, standing before a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

The Church suffers in many ways, most conspicuously (even if neglected by much of the secular media) by physical persecution in many countries.  Indeed, this oppression is on the increase.  On May 2, the Holy Father said in an apparent reference to Syria, "I cried when I saw reports on the news of Christians crucified in a certain country, that is not Christian."

A more subtle form of suffering is by heresy.  The word means choosing a wrong understanding of the truth, and this can be more dangerous than physical wounds, as it damages souls and not just bodies.  Martyrdom glorifies and enriches the Church, while the spread of error weakens the Body of Christ on earth.

While frequently lauding the inestimable gift of women religious to the Church through their work of prayer, education and manifold charities (one quarter of all the world's humanitarian institutions are sponsored by the Catholic Church, many of them through women religious), Pope Francis has called attention to heresy among some communities of consecrated religious.  His Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, said in an official letter on April 30, that they have succumbed "to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery."  The Prefect expressed concern that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, in particular, has endorsed certain kinds of teaching that offer "a vision of God, the cosmos, and the human person divergent from or opposed to Revelation (and that endorsement of such a vision) evidences that a  de facto  movement beyond the Church and sound Christian faith has already occurred."

Demographically, misguided communities are fading away in their embrace of ephemeral heresies, while many new Orders are growing by the strength of "powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil" (Hebrews 5:14).  These declines caused by error and the simultaneous growth nurtured by truth have a parallel in the life of local churches, too.  "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he" (Proverbs 29:18).  As May is the month of Mary by virtue of its loveliness, it is prime time to ask her intercession for the whole Church, our archdiocese, our parishes and ourselves.




Father George W. Rutler. "Fatima and Faithfulness."  From the Pastor (May 10, 2014).

Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.


Father Rutler received priestly ordination in 1981. Born in 1945 and reared in the Episcopal tradition, Father Rutler was an Episcopal priest for nine years. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979 and was sent to the North American College in Rome for seminary studies. Father Rutler graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a Rufus Choate Scholar, and took advanced degrees at the Johns Hopkins University and the General Theological Seminary. He holds several degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome, including the Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology, and studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. In England, in 1988, the University of Oxford awarded him the degree Master of Studies. From 1987 to 1989 he was regular preacher to the students, faculty, and townspeople of Oxford.  He is the pastor of St. Michael's church in New York City. 

Father Rutler has published 18 books, including: Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943, Cloud of Witnesses — Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.

Copyright © 2014 Father George W. Rutler

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