Something About Mary

 
 
 
 

 
 
A Special Media Moment

Who wouldn't raise an eyebrow over an organization featuring victim newsgroups like alt.food.waffle-house, and whose members' home pages feature passages such as "We see the bride-to-be tonight wearing a wide-brim sombrero and sunglasses, a shredded shirt with the words on it WHO FARTED?, and a pair of Dingo cowboy boots."
Five years ago today in Suck.


For the Baysiders and the Fatima Crusaders, Osama Bin Laden, the retro-Soviet stylings of Vladimir Putin, the al Aqsa Intifada, the World Economic Forum conference in Davos are not news; they are ever-more-obvious proofs of heavenly revelation. Even the more mainstream Blue Army sees its prayer cells and all-night vigils as bulwarks against the "spiritual breakdown of our society" predicted by the Most Gracious Advocate Mary. It's hard to imagine any version of the Third Secret of Fatima that would have satisfied the faithful, but last year's decision by the Vatican to reveal the 83-year-old secret came as a colossal, resounding, historic anticlimax:

And we saw in an immense light that is God ... a Bishop dressed in White (we had the impression that it was the Holy Father). Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.

It all sounds pretty terrible, but the church had a surprise happy ending in store. In the Vatican interpretation of the Third Secret, Cardinal Ratzinger offers a preamble treating "the anthropological structure of private revelations" and similar flubdub, before dropping the bomb: The reference to the Holy Father's being "killed by a group of soldiers" refers not to the Last Battle, nor even to the alleged Murder of Pope John Paul I but to Mehmet Ali Agca's assassination attempt on John Paul II.

"There is no way a vision that depicts the Pope being killed by soldiers refers to a pope being shot by a Turkish civilian," Father Kramer shoots back. Moreover, he says, there is a new wrinkle — a second part of the Third Secret that still has not been revealed. This document, says Kramer, "refers to the Last Things, meaning it is apocalyptic; it is an eschatalogical prophecy. And [Cardinal Ratzinger, in a 1982 interview] said the Vatican was not going to reveal that because they were afraid it would cause sensationalism. It must be something very extraordinary if they thought it would lead to sensationalism."

Mrs. Ferguson, now in her nineties, goes beyond skepticism toward the Ratzinger interpretation, stating her belief that the document itself — presented to the world as a letter in the hand of Sister Lucy — is a forgery. She is backed up by evidence both seen and unseen: On the one hand, Our Lady of Bayside during the 1980s repeatedly called for Sister Lucy to make a public statement — not to issue a handwritten note — revealing the Third Secret. (Our Lady apparently forgot that she herself had already spilled the Third Secret on May 13, 1978.) At the same time, Mrs. Ferguson notes, the text was proved to be a forgery in forensic testing supervised by Gary Wohlscheid, whose Lowell, MI-based These Last Days Ministries publishes Bayside literature and broadcasts Our Lady's message in a Real Audio radio show. (In an interview, Wohlscheid concurs, adding that he had hired "the company that did the JonBenet Ramsey case" to do the testing.)

Even the Blue Army's Michael Six felt compelled to whip up a lecture entitled, "The Third Secret Revealed: Are you disappointed?"

But the disappointment, the rifts, even the claims of fraud, are all destined to prove short-lived. That's because the wily rock star John Paul II had an ace up his sleeve: the fact that he is not only primus inter pares of Fatimans, but — according to evidence compelling enough to convince the US Congress and one of the most lauded heroes of American journalism — the only man on earth whose life and career may have been saved by a direct intervention by The Queen of Heaven herself.

 
 
 
 

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