VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- There is no fourth secret of Fatima and the third secret in its entirety has already been revealed, says Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
This was confirmed Friday at the official presentation of Cardinal Bertone’s book, “L’Ultima Veggente di Fatima,” (The Last Fatima Visionary). The Pope’s secretary of state wrote the book, released in Italian last May, with the collaboration of journalist Guiseppe De Carli.
Benedict XVI wrote the volume’s introduction, saying, “Through the experience of this humble nun one can see the role of the Virgin Mary who accompanies the Christian with a maternal hand.”
During the presentation, Archbishop Loris Capovilla, Pope John XXIII’s private secretary, said that there is no fourth secret. He is the only living witness who was present when John XXIII opened and read the third secret in 1959 at Castel Gandolfo.
The 91-year-old prelate said: “It never even entered my mind that there could be a fourth secret. No one ever said such a thing to me nor did I ever claim any such thing.”
The third secret is the part of the Virgin Mary’s message given on July 13, 1917, to Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
The first and second parts of the messages given to Lucia by the Blessed Virgin were written down in 1941. In 1944, the third part was written down. In 1957, it was given to the Holy See for the Pope to read at his discretion.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II, who read the third secret for the first time after his assassination attempt in 1981, decided to publish its contents to end growing speculation.
Cardinal Bertone, now secretary of state, was John Paul II’s envoy to Sister Lucia, and at that Pope’s request, he collected the definitive testimony of the Carmelite nun.
Cardinal Bertone and Sister Lucia met three times from 2000 to 2003. The nun died two years later, Feb. 13, 2005, at age 97.
Their conversations — the subject of the book — deal with the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, the prophecies of war and the future of Russia, the enigma of the third secret, and theories about an alleged fourth secret about the end of the world and supposed guilt in the Vatican.
In the book, the chronological reconstruction of the events is accompanied by a rigorous examination of the documents, including the handwritten pages of Sister Lucia, the integral text of the three parts of the message, and the theological interpretation of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Monsignor Ambrogio Spreafico, who accompanied Cardinal Bertone to Fatima for one of his meetings with Sister Lucia, spoke at the presentation of the book.
“On April 27, 2000,” he said, “I personally accompanied him to the Carmelite convent in Coimbra and he gave Sister Lucia the four handwritten pages regarding the third secret. She attentively verified them, recognizing the pages written in her own hand 56 years earlier, and she recognized the paper as well.”
During the presentation of his book, Cardinal Bertone reflected on the role of Mariology and the caution used by the Church in analyzing reportedly supernatural occurrences.
“The criterion for discernment of the truth of private revelation is its orientation to Christ and the Gospel,” he explained. He added that once this has been established, one can then look to other important elements such as popular piety and religious practice.
Cardinal Bertone noted that sometimes there is a notable “spreading of supposedly supernatural messages,” often with apocalyptic undertones.
“We need to avoid the danger of a ‘Church of apparitions,’ distrustful of the Church’s hierarchy,” he said.
Speaking about the message of Fatima, the Pope’s secretary of state said: “The profitable meeting of charisma and institution, of the Trinitarian mystery and the Christological mystery, is realized in the message. Mary, sign of God’s mercy, does not leave Christians alone.
“She gives us indications like a road sign to fight the battle between good and evil. Mary is the icon of God’s tenderness for us.
“It is something that taps into and impregnates contemporary history like no other Marian apparition, and the density of its message touches the hearts of mankind, inviting to conversion and the shared responsibility for the salvation of the world.”
“The Last Fatima Visionary” is being translated into six languages and will soon be released in Spanish, Portuguese and English.