Private vs. Public Revelation
Although St. John Paul II repeatedly proclaimed Fatima more important today than ever during his pontificate, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told us in 2010 that we would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic message is complete, there remain naysayers who opt to ignore it on the basis of the misguided notion that it is merely private revelation.
While it is true that Fatima is not an object of divine faith that binds one in conscience to believe on God’s authority, it is clearly a great deal more than merely private revelation, and it is a serious and unfortunate mistake to write it off as such. Those who know what Our Lady warned would happen if her Fatima requests were ignored are keenly aware that the dreadful and tenuous condition of the world today is a direct consequence of its failure to honor those requests.
In 1 Peter 3:15 we read: ” Be ready always with an answer to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in you…” In a similar manner, we should always be prepared to explain that upon which our beliefs rest. especially our belief in Fatima.
We offer one such explanation for our belief in Fatima below followed by our own reasoning. If you haven’t taken Fatima seriously because you’ve considered private revelation inconsequential, we invite you to seriously consider these. If you are a Fatima believer who has found it difficult to overcome the objection that private revelation isn’t important when attempting to spread the message of Fatima to others, we hope you will find this information helpful.
Father Joaquin Maria Alonso, C.M.F., Historian of Fatima
“You must make a distinction. If one speaks of strict obligation in the same way that we speak of the Catholic Faith, it is true that we are not strictly obliged to accept the private revelations of Fatima. But if we speak of a certain obligation to follow the Spirit, which moves the Church at every moment of time, then we are obliged to accept that in this time, the Spirit is working in the Church through Fatima. If we want to have an authentic sense of the Church, then we must recognize that the Church has approved Fatima as a great means of the Christian life. When I speak of the Spirit of Fatima, I speak of the Spirit who acts in a manner completely ecclesial, and for that reason altogether certain, where there is no danger for the faith and for discipline.”
The Apostolate’s Reasoning
Fatima is not “merely” a private revelation.It is a public, prophetic revelation given by the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. It is not to be confused with the “Revelation” we refer to as the Deposit of the Faith contained in Scripture and the Tradition of the Church which ended with the death of the last Apostle. But public, prophetic revelation ought not to be despised. The Virgin Mary’s prophecies were confirmed by a public miracle, approved by the Church and authenticated by every Pope since 1917. In addition, the predictions made at Fatima have come to pass. So, while belief in the Message of Fatima may not strictly be required of Catholics as an article of faith, one would be very foolish to disregard such an obviously authentic message from Heaven. As St. Paul taught: “Do not despise prophecies. But test all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:20-21) The prophecies of Fatima have been proven worthy of belief. We should therefore not despise, refute or ignore the Fatima Message, but rather embrace it and live it in our own lives and become actively engaged in sharing it with others.