Clarification From the Rector of the Shrine of Fatima
Fr. Luciano Guerra
Rector, Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal
THE CHURCH OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY WILL NOT BE AN "ECUMENICAL TEMPLE"
1) The readers of "Voz da Fátima" may remember a communiqué from the Rector of the Shrine, published in January of 2004, under the headline "FATIMA SHRINE OF ALL RELIGIONS?".
2) The movements which came out in opposition to our October Congress, as mentioned in that communiqué, then took advantage of the arrival of a group of Hindus, as reported in "Voz da Fátima" of May 2004, in order to launch a massive new campaign which is anti-ecumenical in character and even against inter-religious dialogue.
3) Because of the letters sent to us asking for explanations, and in order to reply to everyone quickly, we have written this short communiqué. Firstly it restates the well‑known principles which have already been set out, as to how we receive brothers of other confessions or religions; secondly, it focuses on the two questions now before us: the arrival of a group of Hindus and the destiny of the new Church of the Most Holy Trinity.
4) The Hindu group wrote to us beforehand, saying that they would like "to reconstitute the visit made by Mr. Morari Bapur, which had preceded that of His Holiness Pope John Paul II", in May of 1982.
5) The Hindu priest and a translator whom he brought with him, went up to the image of Our Lady, while the remainder of the group stayed down below.
6) The priest sang a prayer which lasted a few minutes. No gesture was made, no rite was performed, on or off the altar. The translator explained that he had asked "the Most Holy Mother that she would give wisdom and discernment to those who govern nations, so that the world could have peace, peace, peace".
7) We note that this intention of peace, being universal, is the same intention that, in our opinion, has brought to the Shrine other personalities who are not Catholic, such as for instance the Dalai Lama, the President of the Republic of India, and also the wives of President Clinton and President Arafat. Groups of non-Catholic Christians also come with the intention of asking for Church unity. Although not with great frequency, some high representatives of the Orthodox Churches have been welcomed in the Shrine. Recently some tens Anglican priests, accompanied by their bishop, held a spiritual retreat in one of the houses of the Shrine.
8) After making their prayer in the Capelinha or Little Chapel of the Apparitions, the Hindu pilgrims were received, in a room, by the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima and by the Rector of the Shrine, to whom they said they had come out of devotion towards the "Most Holy Mother". They did not speak about a similarity or transference between this name and any entity of their religion. Little credit, therefore, should be given to the comparisons mentioned by the media, whom we were unable to prepare, because it was late when we found out about their presence.
9) As far as the Church of the Most Holy Trinity is concerned, which they persist in calling an "ecumenical temple", we can state that this description, although susceptible of a catholic interpretation, does not originate from the Shrine. We do not intend — and we have never intended — to hold any celebrations in the church which is being built, that are not in accordance with the directives prescribed by the Catholic Church. The Shrine strives to be faithful to the message which God has entrusted to it and cannot help noticing the distinctly catholic character which the message inculcates, both in the apparitions of the Angel, which inspired us to choose the title for the future church, and in the apparitions of Our Lady, which contain dramatic references to the mediating role of the Pope and the Bishops, regarding the unity of the Church and for the peace of the world.
10) In the hope that all brothers understand that we desire and pray for the union which is possible between all christians, all believers, and all men, we also raise our prayer to Our Lady of Fatima, that she may strengthen our will for unity and deliver us from all spirit of dissension and controversy.
Shrine of Fatima, June 29, 2004, Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul,
The Rector, Fr. Luciano Guerra.
Source: Santuario de Fatima