The Last Secret of Fatima is a new book by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State that is mainly a discussion of his three visits with Carmelite nun and seer Sister Lúcia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart. This book will be coming out on May 6th.
Not many books get an introduction written by Pope Benedict XVI, but this one does. The Last Secret of Fatima delves into the story of Fatima, the three secrets, and the various controversies that surround them – especially the third secret. Though Fatima is not the only focus of this book. The book is actually an interview by an American Adrian Walker a theologian living in Europe and who was also the translator for the English version of Pope Benedict’s XVI. In some ways this book is similar to the book length interviews by Peter Seeward of then-Cardinal Ratzinger, except much more focused on one topic.
This book mainly expects the reader to already be familiar with the overall details of Fatima and the visit of Mary to the three peasant children Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta. While there is some discussion of the history of Fatima the book concentrates on events since then. Cardinal Bertone entered the picture while working at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was sent by Pope John Paul II to speak to Sister Lucia. This was prior to the beatifications of Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto and the subsequent release of the third secret of Fatima. Pope John Paul II who was shot on the anniversary of Fatima always held that it was Our Lady who guided the bullet and prevented his death. This conviction lead him to place a part of the bullet in the crown of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.
Ever since people first learned that there was third secret of Fatima there has of course been plenty of speculation as to what it contained and many of these speculations were rather apocalyptic. There was also speculation that there also might have been a forth secret being held at the Vatican. For this and other reasons Cardinal Bertone spoke with Sister Lucia to verify the document they held was the same one that she wrote and that it was indeed complete. She verified this along with other matters concerning the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is rather sad that so much attention has been paid to less consequential details when the message of Our Lady of Fatima which highlights the Gospel and gives a call to repentance is ignored.
While the fact that Sister Lucia confirmed the third secret along the the consecration of Russia being accepted by Mary has been released in the past, what I found most intriguing about the book was the personage of Cardinal Bertone himself along with his impression of Sister Lucia herself. The humility of Sister Lucia comes across in the pages of the book along with something of her personality. While she wrote four books on her life in connection with Fatima and corresponded in countless letters throughout her life you don’t get to see an outsider’s viewpoint. Cardinal Bertone was certainly impressed by her and said he would testify to her heroic sanctity if called on to do so. He also thought it was evident that Sister Lucia had continued to have visions of Mary over the years, but this was something that she would not verify or talk about with him.
The interviewer asked good questions that covered a range of topics concerning Fatima and Cardinal Bertone was always up to the task of providing a in depth answer along with his own insights. Along the way their were excellent discussion on apparitions, devotions, and how they fit in within Church teaching and the difference between public and private revelation. Many behind the scenes details are supplied about the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta and the decision that it was time to release the third secret of Fatima. Besides Pope John Paul II then-Cardinal Ratzinger also is prominent in this book, especially since he was the one who wrote the theological commentary that accompanied the third secret and is an appendix at the end of the book. The later chapters start to range away from Fatima and become more of a straight interview with the Cardinal. This though is a good thing and I really came to appreciate this Salesian Cardinal both for his intellect and his good humor. Especially since even as Secretary of State he does not have the diplomats ways of talking and was quite frank in answering various questions throughout the book.
I doubt thought the the information given in this book will do much to convince those who think that the Vatican is hiding another secret, altered the one that was released, or think that the consecration of Russia has not yet been done. Though for the rest of us that are not so conspiracy minded I can certainly recommend this book even for those who are not interested in the various controversies surrounding Fatima.