Fr. Gruner and his media apostolates
Fátima Crusader and Catholic Family News

Fr. Nicholas Gruner started out in the 1970s promoting the message of Fátima through a magazine called Fátima Crusader. He and his magazine have always taken a negative tone on the compliance of the Popes with the message of Fátima, specifically vis-à-vis the request for the Consecration of Russia, and has become more strident over the years. This approach pervades the magazine, and always has, especially in its attitude toward the Roman Curia, BUT, not excepting the Popes themselves, including the present pontiff.

This magazine also attacks anyone who disagrees with Fr. Gruner's opinions on Fátima, showing contempt for all other Fátima apostles. This includes holy priests like Fr. Robert Fox, whose Fátima Family Apostolate has propagated the Fátima message to far greater audiences than Fr. Gruner could ever hope to do, taken tens of thousands of young people to Fátima, led them to consecrating themselves to the Immaculate Heart, led them to holy vocations to the priesthood, religious life and matrimony. It has also suggested that  Sr. Lucia, the surviving seer of Fátima, is kept from speaking the truth about the message of Fátima, the Consecration of Russia and the Third Part of the Secret of Fátima. All evidence that Sr. Lucia has spoken on these matters, whether in letters to others or statements to those who have visited her, including bishops, are denounced as fabrications. Currently, he charges a Vatican conspiracy to cover up the real content of the Third Secret, a conspiracy that necessarily involves the Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger, Sr. Lucia and other living individuals, such as Archbishop Capovilla, who, unlike Fr. Gruner,  have actually read the secret!

One's views about Fátima, however, cannot separate one from the Church. Private revelation does not oblige, so neither can a particular interpretation of it. No matter how wrong-headed Fr. Gruner's views are, they can never, in themselves, constitute disbelief or schism. However, in recent years Fr. Gruner has aligned himself increasingly with ultra-traditionalists who, forgetting the First Vatican Council's doctrine of papal primacy, oppose the acts and decrees of Vatican II and the recent pontiffs in a number of matters, especially liturgical. Taking to themselves the judgment of the sufficiency of acts of papal governance and the interpretation of Sacred Tradition, contrary to both canon law and Catholic theology, they see themselves as the remnant of the True Church, awaiting the conversion of the Pope, the bishops and other "Novus Ordo" Catholics, as they call those who follow the Council and the Papal Magisterium. This practice of private interpretation has led them to a public campaign of resistance to the Holy Father spelled out in another Gruner journal The Catholic (sic) Family News, under the title "We resist you to your face." The "you" is Pope John Paul II. All Catholics should resist this impious campaign to its face! [Note: This campaign is also a formal part of the editorial policy of another ultra-traditionalist newspaper The Remnant, as well.]

Catholics who associate themselves with such efforts participate in at least material disobedience to lawful papal authority. This means that externally, in themselves, their acts are disobedient, though internally, through ignorance or lack of intention, they may not be morally culpable (formal disobedience). However, they could, over time, find themselves in formal schism from the Church, that is, knowingly and willfully disobeying papal authority. This is because in the human will it is not very far from whining and complaining about what you don't like about the Church and this pontificate to formally (that is, with full moral culpability) breaking communion with Peter, especially when you have taken the first step of material resistance to papal authority. 

Finally, in recent years there has been a certain lack of clarity regarding the priestly status of Fr. Gruner. Although those who questioned the Roman Congregation of the Clergy were told that his faculties had been suspended, Fr. Gruner proclaimed himself innocent of disobedience and was appealing to the highest ecclesiastical court, the Apostolic Signatura. As a result, charity and justice obliged that reserve be taken in judging the matter, until such time as his status was definitively judged by the Holy See. His appeal having been rejected by the Signatura, such reserve is no longer justified. The Holy See has made clear, with the authority of the Pope, that " the activities of Fr. Gruner ... do not have the approval of legitimate ecclesiastical authorities." Catholics should heed this warning, for the reasons stated above. 
Father's Gruner's disciples, naturally, will appeal to the example of Blessed Padre Pio, who was silenced by the Holy See for a time despite his innocence. It remains to be seen whether Fr. Gruner will imitate the obedience of Padre Pio to what he alleges is an act of injustice, or, continue to go his own way, thereby demonstrating its validity.
Revised 20 September 2001

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL

Back to Expert FAQ