Fr. Gruner, Fátima Crusader, Catholic Family News

Fr. Nicholas Gruner started an apostolate in the 1970s to promote the message of Fátima. This is done through a magazine called Fátima Crusader. He and his magazine take a critical stance toward the compliance of the Popes with the message of Fátima, specifically the request for the Consecration of Russia. This stance continued after the Consecration of 1984 and the 2001 publication of the Third Secret of Fátima, both of which he considers incomplete. Despite recent assurances by the remaining visionary Sr. Lucia Santos, given through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, his criticism  continues. It should be noted that Fátima is not a matter of the faith. 

In addition to Fátima Crusader, Fr. Gruner owns and publishes the Catholic Family News, which he acquired several years ago. Like the Remnant and several other small Catholic papers, Catholic Family News takes a critical view of the post-conciliar changes in the Church, especially in matters of the liturgy. With respect to the Tridentine Mass, it is not only preferred but the current Rite, while acknowledged as valid, is considered a  complete innovation, departure from tradition and a disaster for the Church. In recent years CFN has also become very critical of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II in matters such as ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. Again, it is not just the implementation of Vatican II in these areas, but the very direction the Council and the post-conciliar popes have taken. This criticism reached its zenith in 2000 with the publication of We Resist You to Your Face, the "You" being Pope John Paul II. Co-sponsors of this document include Catholic Family News and The Remnant, and traditionalist authors Marian Horvat and Atila Sinke Guimarães. This resistance is intended to restore the Traditional Catholic Faith, as they understand it, by resisting what they see as novelties and innovations in the governance of the Church since Vatican II and in particular under the present Pope.  

Is such a position defensible? In many theoretical ways, yes. Infallibility is not engaged in the conciliar and papal teachings supporting these new directions, the Pope is not impeccable (sinless), and the possibility of fraternal correction of a pope exists. Added to this are the many abuses going on in the Church which scandalize Catholics and discredit the Council. However, the doctrine of the Ordinary Magisterium, that of Papal Primacy in all matters of governance, the obligation of religious assent and obedience to non-infallible teaching (Lumen gentium 25), the concurrence of the apostolic college of the bishops (both at the Council and since) to the whole body of conciliar teaching and policies, together with the acceptance of the overwhelming majority of orthodox clergy, theologians and laity, argue in favor of the teachings and their application. This does not mean that in a particular cases the specific application is not debatable. However, it is the rejection of the whole conciliar direction, not just its abuses or particular applications, which does not seem legitimate. While I do not question the good will of those who have, what they see, as the best interests of the Church and souls at heart, I disagree profoundly with their conclusions, as well as the manner of giving fraternal correction to the Holy Father. 

Finally, in recent years there has been a certain lack of clarity regarding the priestly status of Fr. Gruner. According to the the Congregation for the Clergy, his priestly faculties (jurisdiction permitting celebration of the sacraments) have been suspended and his appeal of that suspension rejected by the highest Church court, the Apostolic Signature. However, I understand that he continues to publicly celebrant the sacraments, justifying it by arguments for the canonical invalidity of his suspension. What efforts he is making to settle this matter is not known.
Theological Note: In addition to Holy Orders the sacraments require "faculties" or "jurisdiction" from a bishop or religious superior for their lawful, and in some cases, valid celebration. In the case of Penance, for example, the lack of jurisdiction renders absolution by an excommunicated, suspended or laicized priest invalid, except in the case of confessions of the dying, when the Church grants jurisdiction to any validly ordained priest.
Revised 4 February 2002

For more information on the Third Secret, please see:

Fátima 1984 Consecration, with Letters of Sr. Lucia
Message and Commentary on the Third Secret

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL

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