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“Friendly Reflections?”
A Summary of the Critique

by Christopher A. Ferrara
April 8, 2010

The linked document, entitled “Friendly Reflections?”, is a lengthy critique of arguments by one Antonio Borelli against the existence of a text of the Third Secret of Fatima that would accompany and explain, in the Blessed Virgin’s own words, the vision of the “Bishop dressed in White” published on June 26, 2000.

The title of the critique is a play on the title of Borelli’s piece, which purports to provide “friendly reflections” on the Third Secret controversy in the spirit of promoting unity among Catholics. But, as the critique demonstrates, Borelli’s “friendly reflections” — no matter what his subjective intention may have been — seem calculated to disrupt the unity that already exists among faithful Catholics who have studied the controversy, considered the evidence, and arrived at the conclusion so candidly expressed by Mother Angelica on live television a year after the vision was published:

“As for the Secret, well I happen to be one of those individuals who thinks we didn’t get the whole thing... Because I think it’s scary.” 1

Contrary to a growing consensus among the knowledgeable arising from the evidence itself — a consensus approaching unanimity — Borelli creates the impression of an investigator determined to explain away every fact, no matter how evident, and deny every inference, no matter how reasonable. It requires considerable explanation to unravel what are, frankly, so many examples of sophistical argumentation, but the exercise in itself is instructive and worth the effort.

The critique is thus meant for study and is not suitable for casual browsing of its contents; it should be printed out and read carefully on paper — the old fashioned way. The length of the piece results from its function as more than simply a reply to Borelli, for Borelli’s contentions provide “a teaching moment,” to use the trite modern expression, concerning the Message of Fatima in general and the Third Secret in particular.

The broader aim of “Friendly Reflections?” is to present in a relatively compact form a subject that has required entire books to develop fully: the evidence — the overwhelming evidence — for the existence of a text of the Secret wherein the Mother of God speaks to the Church and the world about what the vision means.

This text evidently predicts some form of chastisement of both the Church and the world whose outcome is suggested by the vision’s depiction of a ruined city filled with cadavers, outside of which, on a hill beneath a corkwood Cross, a future Pope is executed by a band of soldiers, who wield both modern and primitive weapons as if the world had been thrown back to a more primitive state by some global catastrophe.

The fundamental problem with the vision standing alone, to use an analogy, is that the Vatican has released a movie without its soundtrack: the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary explaining how and why what we see in the vision will come to pass, and the exact signification of the events depicted in their historical context. Stated otherwise, the problem is that, unlike the vision of hell, which the Virgin carefully explained to the seers even though they knew quite well what they had just seen, with the vision published in 2000 we are confronted with a perplexing scenario that we are expected to believe was presented by the Virgin to the three children without a single word of explanation.

That Borelli himself calls for “commentaries” interpreting the vision, proposing himself an interpretation that is both self-contradictory and at war with the Vatican’s own “attempt” at an interpretation, is an inadvertent demonstration that Our Lady’s explanation of the vision has been withheld. For the very Mother of God could not possibly have intended to trigger an endless debate over what Her message-warning means to the Church and humanity at large.

Since Borelli’s ultimate contention is that the existence of two different but related texts comprising the totality of the Third Secret “has no support in the known facts,” we summarize here for a more casual inquirer the 33 key facts (among others) discussed in the linked document — evidence which establishes, on the contrary, that the denial that this text exists has no support in the known facts.

And now that the very secretary to Pope John XXIII, Archbishop Loris F. Capovilla, has confirmed the existence of a second text (see facts 15-20 below), all of the other evidence that had long pointed unmistakably to its existence receives a resounding and unanswerable verification.

No wonder Antonio Socci, having begun his investigation of this affair determined to disprove the existence of a missing text, ended by declaring “that there is a part of the Secret not revealed and considered ‘unspeakable’ is certain.”2 Indeed it is certain, and the Borelli piece provides an opportune provocation to demonstrate why this must be so. For those who require more than what this summary and the linked article provide, the comprehensive book-length treatments The Fourth Secret of Fatima by Antonio Socci and The Secret Still Hidden by Christopher Ferrara as well as The Devil's Final Battle edited by Father Paul Kramer address any possible question or concern.

Thirty-Three Facts Proving the Existence of a
Second Text Pertaining to the Third Secret of
Fatima, Containing the Words of the Virgin
Explaining the Already Published Vision of
the “Bishop Dressed in White.”
  1. Sister Lucia revealed that a text of the Third Secret is in the form of a letter to the Bishop of Leiria, but the text of the vision is not a letter.

  2. Those who have read the Secret have revealed that it speaks of a coming state of apostasy in the Church, but the text of the vision says nothing of this.

  3. Our Lady clearly had more to say following Her momentous declaration: “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc,” which clearly begins another, and thus the third, part of the Great Secret, but the text of the vision contains not a word from Her.

  4. Our Lady explains everything in the patently obvious vision of hell contained in the first part of the Great Secret, yet we are asked to believe that there is absolutely no explanation from Her concerning the text of the vision in the third part — i.e., the Third Secret — even though Borelli and others have demonstrated that this explanation must exist because their own “interpretations” are in conflict with each other and Our Lady could not possibly have meant the Church to be endlessly divided by arguments over what the vision means.

  5. Father Schweigl, sent by Pius XII to interrogate Sister Lucia, revealed that the Third Secret has two parts: one concerning the Pope, and the other “logically — although I must say nothing — would have to be the continuation of the words ‘In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc’,” but the text of the vision does not contain that logical continuation of the Virgin’s words.

  6. The Vatican-initiated press release from 1960, announcing suppression of the Third Secret, describes the suppressed text as “the letter” that “will never be opened,” containing “the words which Our Lady confided as a secret to the three little shepherds...”, but the text of the vision is not a letter and contains no words confided by the Virgin as a secret.

  7. Cardinal Ottaviani, who read and had custody of the Secret after Pius XII ordered its transmission to the Vatican in 1957, revealed that it involved a “sheet of paper” bearing 25 lines of text recording “what Our Lady told her [Lucia] to tell the Holy Father...”, but the text of the vision spans 62 lines, and in it the Virgin does not tell Sister Lucia anything at all.

  8. Cardinal Bertone has admitted that Ottaviani stated “categorically a text of 25 lines,” and he was unable to refute that testimony, offering only a patently untenable “attempt” to explain that “maybe [!]” Ottaviani was “mistaken.”

  9. A text of the Third Secret was kept in the papal apartment during the pontificates of Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI, and at least at the beginning of the pontificate of John Paul II, even though Bertone’s “official account” speaks only of a text in the Holy Office archives.

  10. John XXIII read a text of the Secret that was so difficult it required an Italian translation of the Portuguese, but also read another text, the following year, that he could understand perfectly without a translation.

  11. The text of the vision contains no particularly difficult Portuguese expressions.

  12. There are two different Italian translations of the Secret: the one prepared for John XXIII, and the one prepared in 1967, neither of which we have been allowed to see.

  13. Three different Popes (John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II) read texts of the Third Secret in two different years of their respective pontificates, but all three of these second readings are mysteriously omitted from Bertone’s “official account.”

  14. When pressed to explain what text of the Secret John Paul II reportedly read in 1978, given that Bertone claims John Paul did not read the Secret until 1981, Bertone was evasive and finally said merely that “in my opinion” John Paul did not read a text in 1978, when it would have been a simple matter to establish his “opinion” as fact by simply consulting innumerable sources at his disposal, including the Pope himself — an omission clearly suggesting that Bertone knew the report was true and that his “opinion” was false.

  15. Archbishop Capovilla, personal secretary to John XXIII, confirmed that the text of the Secret kept in the papal apartment was contained in the “Capovilla envelope” on which he wrote his name, the names of all who had read its contents, and the judgment of John XXIII that he would “leave it to others to comment or decide” what to do about the text.

  16. On June 27, 1963, two years before the “official account” claims he read the Third Secret, Pope Paul VI opened the Capovilla envelope, which was retrieved from John XXIII’s Barbarigo desk, read its contents, inquired of Capovilla about the notations on the outside, resealed the envelope, and said nothing further about it to Capovilla.

  17. When asked by Solideo Paolini in 2006 whether there are two different envelopes and two different texts of the Third Secret — the “Bertone envelope” and the “Capovilla envelope”— Capovilla admitted to Paolini: “Exactly so!”

  18. Capovilla has never retracted his statement to Paolini, even though he has had every opportunity to do so.

  19. Bertone has not even asked Capovilla to deny what he said to Paolini, but rather has conspicuously avoided even mentioning Paolini.

  20. Bertone has failed and refused to produce the reopened and resealed Capovilla envelope, even though he has finally admitted that it exists.

  21. Yet Bertone, under mounting public pressure, revealed on the television show Porta a Porta that there are actually two identical sealed envelopes of Lucia’s, bearing the “express order of Our Lady” that the contents were not to be revealed until 1960, even though he had been representing for seven years that there is only one envelope, while falsely claiming that Lucia “confessed” she had never received any order from the Virgin linking the Secret to 1960 and forbidding its disclosure until then.

  22. Bertone also revealed on Porta a Porta a third envelope of Lucia’s, unsealed and addressed to Bishop da Silva, which, together with the Bishop’s outer envelope, would make a total of four envelopes we are supposed to believe were all created for only one text of the Secret.

  23. Yet, when he held up Bishop da Silva’s outer envelope to a bright light in 1957, auxiliary Bishop Venâncio saw only one envelope inside, and took exact measurements of both the envelope and the single sheet of paper within it, which contained 20-25 lines of text, as Cardinal Ottaviani testified.

  24. The measurements of the envelope and the sheet of paper taken by Bishop Venâncio are entirely different from the measurements of the envelope and the sheet of paper revealed by Bertone on Porta a Porta.

  25. Bertone himself revealed, only weeks before his appearance on Porta a Porta, in his book Last Visionary of Fatima, that in April 2000 Sister Lucia “authenticated” sheets (fogli) of paper pertaining to the Secret, even though on Porta a Porta Bertone revealed only one sheet, that contained the text of the vision.

  26. In Last Visionary Bertone also revealed that there was also an outer envelope, not Lucia’s, bearing the note “Third Part of the Secret,” but this envelope has never been shown to the public.

  27. Confronted with mounting evidence of a cover-up, Bertone adopted the line of referring repeatedly to an “authentic” text of the Secret, an “authentic” envelope, and the “only folio that exists in the Holy Office archives,” when he knows full well that the issue is the text and envelope in the papal apartment, thus suggesting (as Socci notes) that he deems that second text of the Secret “inauthentic.”

  28. Called as a witness by Bertone, Bishop Seraphim of Fatima, who purportedly witnessed Lucia’s authentication of the text of the vision in April 2000, employed the even more nuanced declaration that “the Secret of Fatima has been revealed in an authentic and integral way,” declining to affirm simply that the Third Secret of Fatima had been revealed entirely and that nothing had been withheld.

  29. In an audiotape of a subsequent meeting with Solideo Paolini, Archbishop Capovilla further revealed that there is an “attachment” to the text of the vision, which has never been produced.

  30. Bertone has never denied the existence of this “attachment,” even though the prominent Italian newspaper Il Giornale publicized its existence and declared that it “would confirm the thesis of the existence of a second sheet with the interpretation of the Secret.”

  31. Bertone has failed and refused to ask Sister Lucia or Archbishop Capovilla a single question that would penetrate to the heart of any of these matters, which he knows to be in controversy, and in particular has avoided like the plague any questions about the “etc,” the text in the papal apartment, the testimony of Solideo Paolini concerning the admissions by Archbishop Capovilla, the never-produced Capovilla envelope, and the mysterious sudden appearance of multiple envelopes never mentioned before.

  32. To this day, the Vatican has issued no official denial of the devastating allegations in Socci’s book, even though Socci literally accuses Bertone of covering up the very words of the Mother of God.

  33. On the contrary, Pope Benedict XVI sent Socci a note “concerning my book, thanking me for ‘the sentiments which have suggested it,’” without the slightest indication that the book is in error.

  1. “Mother Angelica Live,” May 16, 2001.

  2. Antonio Socci, Il Quarto Segreto di Fatima [The Fourth Secret of Fatima] (Milano: Rizzoli, 2006), English ed., p. 162; popular ed., p. 111; Italian ed., pp. 172-173.