A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
The Fatima Pope
Interview With Journalist Renzo Allegri
ROME, 14 MAY 2006 (ZENIT)
Pope John Paul II survived an attempt on his life in 1981 and said a "maternal hand" had saved him.
A quarter-century after the attack, journalist and writer Renzo Allegri reconstructed the event in a book entitled "Il Papa di Fatima" (The Fatima Pope), published in Italian by Mondadori.
In this interview with ZENIT, Allegri explains the connection between John Paul II and Fatima. Part 2 of this interview will appear Monday.
Q: Why is John Paul II the Fatima Pope?
Allegri: First of all, because he himself recognized himself in that "bishop dressed in white" that the three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, "saw" during the July 17, 1917, apparition, when the Lady confided in them the so-called secret of Fatima.
And also because, after becoming aware of that mysterious event, Pope John Paul II lived determined to comply with the petitions and desires contained in the Fatima messages.
He gave himself to this mission with all his being, offering himself as victim for the salvation of the world, promoting a worldwide "crusade" of prayer, especially among young people, and obtaining the historic results that all know: the fall of Communism in Eastern countries, the return of religious freedom in those countries and, perhaps, he also contributed to avoid a tremendous nuclear conflict that, according to historians, was visible on the horizon.
The relationship between Fatima and Pope John Paul II is, in my opinion, very great and still remains to be discovered.
Q: In your book you state that, although Karol Wojtyla was still little known, Padre Pio had already realized that he would become a very important man. You know Padre Pio's life well; could you explain what the saint of Pietrelcina was referring to?
Allegri: In the biographies of saints, it often happens that they have strong and precise "channels" of communication, which escape the control of rationality. This phenomenon was also verified between Padre Pio and Karol Wojtyla, and there are two concrete episodes, related in themselves, that demonstrate it.
In 1948, the young priest Karol Wojtyla, a student in Rome, had heard talk of Padre Pio and wanted to meet him. He traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo during Easter vacation and stayed a week.
It was never known what they spoke about. It seems that the saint of Pietrelcina "saw" him dressed as Pope — and with blood stains on his white cassock. Of this prophecy, spread rapidly after Wojtyla's election as Pope, there was never confirmation.
However, undeniable is the fact that that meeting marked Wojtyla profoundly, arousing in him a great veneration for Padre Pio.
In 1962, Wojtyla returned to Italy as a bishop to participate in the Second Vatican Council. In Rome, he received dramatic news that a collaborator of his, Wanda Poltawska, a doctor and psychiatrist, had a serious tumor.
The doctors decided to attempt an operation, but the hope of saving her was almost nothing. Wojtyla wrote a letter immediately to Padre Pio asking for his prayers for Poltawska. Padre Pio, in those years, was subjected to very serious accusations.
The Holy See decreed serious disciplinary restrictions against him, prohibiting priests and religious from contacting him. Wojtyla was certainly informed about this situation, but he paid no attention because, for reasons unknown to us, he had "knowledge" of Padre Pio.
He sent the letter urgently by hand to Padre Pio through Angelo Battisti, an employee of the Secretariat of State and collaborator of Padre Pio. Battisti told me the story, handing me a copy of that letter, which Padre Pio asked that he read to him and, at the end, after a moment of silence, said: "Angiolino, one cannot say no to this."
Knowing that every word of Padre Pio had a mysterious and concrete repercussion in reality, Battisti was very surprised by that phrase. "Who might this Wojtyla be?" he wondered. He asked for information but in the Vatican no one knew him, except the Poles for whom he was only a young bishop.
Eleven days later, Battisti was asked to take another letter of Wojtyla to Padre Pio.
And in this letter the Polish bishop thanked Padre Pio because Poltawska "had been suddenly cured before entering the operating room." These are the certain facts we know and that demonstrate that Padre Pio, as on many other occasions, "intuited" God's plans on Wojtyla with disconcerting precision.
Q: How does the third part of the secret of Fatima enter in Pope John Paul II's history?
Allegri: In a mysterious way, as always happens with events of the Spirit. In theory, Pope John Paul II formed part of that "secret" since he was born. The mission was entrusted to him before being born and the history of his existence developed freely attuned to the designs of providence.
But, in fact, perhaps, he became aware of his mission only after the 1981 attack. We do not have scientific proofs, explicit documents that demonstrate the relationship between Wojtyla and the secret of Fatima — only the conviction of the Pope himself that, after the attack, reflecting on what happened and reading Sister Lucia's text on the third part of the famous secret, recognized himself in that account.
Sister Lucia wrote that, during the apparition of July 13, 1917, she, Francisco and Jacinta had seen a bishop dressed in white who, half trembling, with halting step, afflicted by pain and sorrow, crossed, together with other bishops, priests, men and women religious, a great city in ruins, praying for the souls of the dead that he found on the way and [he] climbed up a steep mountain, on whose summit was a cross at whose foot he was killed.
In the light of what happened, Wojtyla was convinced that the vision had the characteristics of an authentic prophecy. And, with the passing of time, his conviction was strengthened until it became a certainty.
It is licit to think that he had, from Sister Lucia, other information and clarifications that we do not know. In the year 2000, nineteen years after the attack, Pope John Paul II was so sure of his conviction that he wished to make it known to the whole world.
That became a reality in Fatima, at the end of the ceremony of beatification of Francisco and Jacinta, through an address of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, before more than 1 million pilgrims, and countless millions of faithful connected live on television.
Also Wojtyla's determination to make his conviction public is an argument full of significance. ZE06051426
ROME, 15 MAY 2006 (ZENIT)
There is a mysterious link between Pope John Paul II and Our Lady of Fatima, says journalist Renzo Allegri.
And there is also a tie between the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the fall of Communist regimes, he contends.
Allegri, the author of "Il Papa di Fatima" (The Fatima Pope), published by Mondadori, shared some of his insights with ZENIT. Part 1 of this interview appeared Sunday.
On Saturday, the 25th anniversary of the assassination attempt on John Paul II, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was processed through St. Peter's Square, where the Polish Pope shed his blood.
Q: When did John Paul II understand that he was the Pope of Fatima, and what did he do after he became aware of it?
Allegri: As I already mentioned, it is thought that Pope Karol Wojtyla became aware of his own role in relation to the message of Fatima, after the attack, reflecting on what happened, the coincidence between the attack and the date of the apparitions of Fatima, and reading the text of the secret.
Since his youth, his Marian devotion was always very great. In his devotional practices, he gave priority to Polish Marian shrines, because they were part of his religious tradition, and also because he could not leave Poland.
But he knew the history of Fatima well and the part of the secret already revealed by Lucia, which speaks about Russia, Communism and the persecution of believers.
The attack made him "center" his attention on his own role in regard to Fatima. He was very impressed by the coincidence of the date of the attack, May 13 at 5:17 p.m., with that of the start of the apparitions on May 13, 1917.
He requested that a document be taken to him in hospital relative to the famous secret and he read it, discovering, in the still-unpublished part, details relative to his person that made quite an impression on him, to the point that he speaks about it three times in his testament.
And he began immediately, with ardor, to make the spirit of Fatima a reality. He reflected above all on the Virgin's request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. And, despite infinite difficulties, he did so.
Q: You maintain in the book that there is a direct relationship between the Virgin's request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why?
Allegri: The connection is suggested by two events and two dates.
In 1917, the Virgin said that if things were not going well, she would come to request the consecration of Russia. She made the petition in 1919, in an apparition to Lucia, specifying that the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart should be carried out "by the Church," that is, by the Pope in union with all the bishops.
But 14 years passed before the Virgin's petition arrived. Pius XII took it into consideration personally and carried out the consecration twice, naming Russia explicitly. But it was a private initiative and not made in union with the bishops.
To involve the whole Church in this consecration, naming one country specifically, Russia, implied enormous ideological and political difficulties, which many bishops did not wish to address. In fact, neither Pius XII, nor John XXIII nor even Paul VI was able to carry out the consecration in the way the Lady requested it.
John Paul II addressed this obstacle. But he was forced to take recourse to complicated and indirect stratagems to be able to name Russia. He sent a letter to all the bishops of the Church, inviting them to join him in the solemn consecration of the world, which would be carried out on March 25, 1984.
He did not name Russia in the letter but quoted the consecration formula that he would read, based on that pronounced by Pius XII in 1952, which named Russia explicitly. On reading the letter and the formula of consecration, the bishops would understand that it was the consecration that corresponded to that requested by the Virgin to Sister Lucia and that, therefore, specifically included Russia.
The ceremony was held. As though by magic, in just six years, there was a drastic change in the world, with the end of the Cold War, the collapse of several Communist regimes, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Soviet empire and the return to religious freedom in Russia and in all the other countries of the former Communist empire.
All occurred without the shedding of blood; not only that, but there were very curious and enigmatic details, or signs.
Observing the dates of the most important events of this great change, one sees that they took place on the dates of Catholic solemnities. For example, the Soviet Union ceased to exist when, at the end of a meeting, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia announced its dissolution formally. This occurred on Dec. 8, 1991.
The 8th of December is the feast of the Immaculate Conception and it is easy to link it to the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The definitive sign that indicated the end and defeat of Soviet Communism occurred the day when the red flag was lowered which for many decades was raised in the Kremlin, and in its place the national Russian flag was raised. This occurred on December 25, 1991, one of the most important religious feasts of the Catholic Church: the Nativity of Jesus.
Coincidences? Of course, they probably are only coincidences, but they might also be signs. ZE06051525
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