Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Building Project Raises Eyebrows

By Delia Gallagher

ROME, JAN. 1, 2004 (Zenit) - Controversy has broken out over the construction of a new building near the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.

Several Web sites devoted to news about Fatima have expressed outrage at the possibility that the new building might be used for interreligious purposes.

"Fatima to Become Inter-faith Shrine" headlined the Nov. 1 online dispatch of English-language Portugal News.

In the report, the rector of the shrine, Monsignor Luciano Gomes Paulo Guerra, says, "The future of Fatima, or the adoration of God and his mother at this holy shrine, must pass through the creation of a shrine where different religions can mingle."

The head of the Leiria-Fatima Diocese, Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva, faxed me a three-page statement written in Portuguese (I had it unofficially translated) by the rector of the shrine, dated Dec. 28.

The letter resumes the news published by Portugal News, including Monsignor Guerra's statement that the shrine would become a place "where different religions can mingle."

According to the letter, the rector has been inundated by correspondence due to this "sensationalist news."

The rector clarifies: "God willing, a religious space, will begin to be constructed very shortly, and though it is the presumption of some journalists that it will resemble a stadium, it will in fact be a church, with seating for 9,000; it will be exclusively destined to be a place of Catholic worship, located not next to the current basilica, but between the Cruz Alta and a national road and, when opportune, ... can receive pilgrims of other convictions who wish to fraternally partake in our way of prayer."

Regarding the controversy surrounding the building, the rector mentions specifically Father Nicholas Gruner, a Canadian priest who runs The Fatima Crusader, a quarterly newsletter.

"It is our conviction," says Monsignor Guerra, "that the article in Portugal News has been guided by some members of the group led by Father Gruner, a priest who finds himself in an irregular canonical situation, who persists in his crusade in favor of the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, according to the secret of Fatima (although it has been said and re-said that this consecration has already occurred) and who distributed pamphlets during our October conference against the realization and intentions of the conference."

Father Gruner was suspended "a divinis" by the Vatican in 1996 -- meaning he is relieved of his priestly functions, primarily administering the sacraments. He continues to take a critical stance toward John Paul II's vision of ecumenism, as evidenced by a 2000 document called, "We Resist You to Your Face" -- the You referring to the Pope.

The conference to which Father Guerra refers was held Oct. 10-12 and sponsored by the Sanctuary of Fatima, entitled, "The Present of Man -- The Future of God: The Place of Sanctuaries in Relation to the Sacred."

Conferees included Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo, patriarch of Lisbon; Bishop Silva; Father Jacques Dupuis, professor of theology at Rome's Gregorian University; and Monsignor Guerra.

On the third day of the conference the floor was opened to representatives of Hindu, Buddhist, Judaic and Islamic religions. Orthodox and Anglican representatives also spoke.

During the conference no mention was made of the construction of a new shrine.

When I recently spoke to Archbishop Fitzgerald in Rome, he said he was surprised that the news of the building had caused such consternation.

"As far as I know, there are no plans that the building is designed specifically for inter-faith purposes," the archbishop said. "We recognize that Fatima is a place of pilgrimage for many religions." But he added that the shrine nonetheless retains its Catholic identity.

"It was the Pope himself who said in Assisi in October 1986 that we are all pilgrims together," continued Archbishop Fitzgerald. "As I said at the conference in Fatima, we must learn to journey together, for if we drift apart we do ourselves harm, but if we walk together we can help one another to reach the goal that God has set for us."

Monsignor Guerra's statement concurs with Archbishop Fitzgerald's sentiments, as most of it is taken up with an explanation of the importance of interreligious dialogue.

The rector of the shrine contends that the Fatima apparitions were exhortations to ecumenical dialogue. His statement says that the Virgin Mary knew that her choice of the site in Portugal would one day be understood as a deliberate association with the daughter of the Islamic prophet Mohammed (whose name was Fatima).

Monsignor Guerra further suggests that in the Fatima apparitions there are "at least two implicit calls to the exercise of the spirit of dialogue with persons of other convictions."

In the first and third apparitions, he said, the Angel of Peace lies prostrate on the ground in prayer. In the third apparition, Communion under the species of bread is given to the oldest seer, while the two younger, Francisco and Jacinta, receive Communion for the first time under the species of the wine.

Since the practice of receiving Communion under both species has fallen out of wide use in the Latin-rite Catholic Church, but not in the Orthodox Churches, "the message of the Angel of Peace contains an exhortation to ecumenical dialogue with those Churches separated from Rome for a thousand years," writes Monsignor Guerra.

The angel's prostration in prayer "has connotations for any religious confession," and recalls that "all human beings are God's creatures and loved by him, and that with such prayer we can maintain serious contact with other religions, such as agnostics and even atheists."

What started out as a debate over a building seems to mask a larger question of the ecumenical work of the Catholic Church as a whole, and Fatima in particular.

Father Gruner is quoted as saying, "The Fatima message is specifically directed at the Catholic Church." Monsignor Guerra would probably concur.

The question remains, however, just what the Church is called to do with that message.

* * *

Killed in the Line of Duty

The news of the assassination of Irish Archbishop Michael Courtney, papal nuncio in Burundi, saddened many in Rome and throughout Europe, including Strasbourg, France, where he worked for nearly five years.

He died in Burundi on Monday when he was shot three times while traveling in a car near the capital, Bujumbura. He was 58.

Archbishop Courtney was no stranger to the violence that plagues this central African nation of 6 million. Rebel forces fired at the Sabena airliner he was traveling in when he arrived at the Burundi airport as papal nuncio in 2000. Two people on the flight were hit.

In November 2001, he celebrated the funeral Mass of World Health Organization representative Kassi Manlan, who was killed by rebel gunfire.

A few months later, in 2002, Bishop Joseph Nduhirubusa of Ruyigi was kidnapped by a group of Hutu rebels. They handed him over six days later to the papal nuncio.

The Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples published its annual martyrology list on Tuesday, updated with the death of Archbishop Courtney -- the first time a papal representative has been killed on mission.

The report lists 29 deaths in 2003, of people working in Catholic missions around the world.

Africa and Latin America top the list of continents where missionaries have been killed: 17 in Africa and 10 in Central and South America. Uganda and Colombia report the highest number, 6 each. Congo had 5 deaths. Other countries include Pakistan, India, South Africa, Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cameroon, Kenya and Guinea.

Archbishop Courtney had served in several of these countries as well as the former Yugoslavia and Egypt before his posting to Burundi.

He is remembered particularly for his work in Strasbourg, since it was thanks to his efforts that the Holy See gained its status as permanent observer to the Council of Europe.

Monsignor Paul Gallagher, the current papal representative in Strasbourg, told me by phone: "Monsignor Courtney is still much remembered in Strasbourg."

The offices of the Holy See in Strasbourg have been inundated with calls and condolences from representatives of the Council of Europe.

"He is remembered for his professionalism and his priestly life. He was very enthusiastic about European matters and was held in great esteem," said Monsignor Gallagher.

"The permanent-observer status of the Holy See at the Council of Europe was obtained during his time there and is largely thanks to him," he added.

Other Vatican officials at the offices in Strasbourg who had worked with Michael Courtney remembered him as a priest who enjoyed the office work involved in a papal mission, but who placed great importance on his Sundays saying Mass in parishes of Strasbourg as well.

"I never heard him worry about the violence in Burundi," said Monsignor Gallagher, "although I know from other sources that this sort of violence towards international organizations is not uncommon, given the climate in Burundi."

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Vatican, Rome, Fatima, Burundi

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 250 of 4,719

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Priestly Identity: Crisis and Renewal (Part 1)
Catholic Online

Al Qaeda...afraid of Benedict's message!
Hugh McNichol

Benedict XVI...calling all to hope...
Hugh McNichol

Perfect Women
Cheryl Dickow

Papal Palm Sunday Address - 'Enough With the Bloodshed'
Catholic Online

Spotlight on China
Catholic Online

Papal Homily for Palm Sunday
Catholic Online

Holy Week...Holy Time!
Hugh McNichol

Mary and Motherhood
Cheryl Dickow

The Void
Paul Sposite

Islamic violence wounds the global community!
Hugh McNichol

The Seven New Deadly Sins!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic benefits include Catholic principles!
Hugh McNichol

Remembering Father Alfred Kunz
Matt C. Abbott

David vs Goliath
Theresa Lisiecki

Happy Lent!
Paul Sposite

Diplomacy...Vatican style!
Hugh McNichol

Sub umbra Petri! (Under the Shadow of Saint Peter)
Hugh McNichol

Cuba...a neonascent Church!
Hugh McNichol

Kids in Conflict
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Writings of St. Augustine
Catholic Online

The Relevance of Lourdes at 150
Catholic Online

Hillary...what would Saint Norbert say!
Hugh McNichol

Lent...questions, answers and involvement!
Hugh McNichol

Mary, Mother of all Humanity, Hic et Nunc!
Hugh McNichol

Catholics...WAKE UP!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Brotherhood with the People of the Covenant
Hugh McNichol

Have mercy on us O Lord! - Ash Wednesday
Hugh McNichol

Vote early, vote Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Christ, our global Alpha and Omega!
Hugh McNichol

Being Catholic means...total affirmation of being Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Seeing the World through New Eyes
Sarah Reinhard

Emulating the Angelic Doctor!
Hugh McNichol

Priests defend, commend Archbishop Raymond Burke
Matt C. Abbott

Saint Paul...a continued example of radical conversion!
Hugh McNichol

A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
Hugh McNichol

Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Silencing the Pope
Catholic Online

Papal Homily on Feast of Christ's Baptism
Catholic Online

Education and Gender
Catholic Online

The ignominy of Roe vs. Wade
Hugh McNichol

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
Catholic Online

Pope's Letter to Jesuits' 35th General Congregation
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - Behold, the Lamb of God!
Catholic Online

That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Catholic Online

Sowing Hope in Sierra Leone
Catholic Online

God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
Mary Regina Morrell

St. Augustine's Last Days
Catholic Online

Liturgy: When There's a Medical Emergency
Catholic Online

Marriage and Celibacy: Love's Link
Catholic Online

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Rooms in My Father's House
Cheryl Dickow

Resolutions for New Year 2008
Chris Anthony

Keep teaching Holy Father!!!
Hugh McNichol

Dangers of anti-Catholic academic extremism....
Hugh McNichol

The liturgy war
Matt C. Abbott

Some Answers to a Few Common Questions about Vocations
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Christmas reflections
Chris Anthony

The Lasting Contribution of The Servant of God Pope John Paul II
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

No more bobble-head Jesus'!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
Catholic Online

The Virgin Without Sin
Catholic Online

Cardinal Vingt-Trois on His New Mission
Catholic Online

Archbishop Forte on Religion & Freedom: Part 1
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Chromatius of Aquileia, Pope, Benedict
Catholic Online

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
Catholic Online

Trafficking in Lives
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict - On Hope
Catholic Online

The Hidden Costs of Gambling
Catholic Online

A Vital, Life-Giving Message
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Christianity's Contribution
Catholic Online

Youth and Fashion's Modest Twist
Catholic Online

Papal Homily at the Consistory
Catholic Online

Love, Marriage and Happy Kids
Catholic Online

The Virtue of Obedience: Our Duty, Our Crown
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Vere dignum et justum est!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Bishops of Kenya
Catholic Online

Democracy in Danger in Venezuela
Catholic Online

The Life-Sapping Human Virus
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Sacred Time...Come Lord Jesus!
Hugh McNichol

How Christ-like are we in our lives?
Chris Anthony

A Retreat for Today's Christian Woman
Cheryl Dickow

Pope Benedict - On Trust in God
Catholic Online

God and Caesar Seen From Down Under
Catholic Online

Praying the Luminous Mysteries for our Clergy
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Culture's Pressure on Our Girls
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Papal Message on the Common Good
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - St. Jerome on the Bible
Catholic Online

What Every Parent Should Know About 'The Golden Compass'
Catholic Online

Cardinal Poupard on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
Catholic Online

U.S. Bishops' Statement on War in Iraq
Catholic Online

The 'Golden Compass' is no treasure for children
Mary Regina Morrell

Bishop Skylstad's Address to U.S. Bishops' Fall Meeting
Catholic Online

Rewarding Failure
Catholic Online

On St. Martin of Tours
Catholic Online

Undermining Parents
Catholic Online

God...our theological E.F.Hutton!
Hugh McNichol

The Secular Vs. Religion?
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Jerome
Catholic Online

The Scourge of Poverty
Catholic Online

Sons and Daughters of God...EQUALLY!
Hugh McNichol

On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Catholic Online

Why Dads Matter
Catholic Online

Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization
Catholic Online

God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for November
Catholic Online

Imposing 'Tolerance'
Catholic Online

A Turn to the Fathers: Interview With Father Robert Dodaro
Catholic Online

Evangelizing a Digital World
Catholic Online

Women Religious on Human Trafficking
Catholic Online

John Crosby on Von Hildebrand's Understanding of the Person
Catholic Online

Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture
Matt C. Abbott

On the Call to Martyrdom
Catholic Online

Media Benefits and Dangers
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - The Pharisee and the Publican
Catholic Online

Aborting Viable Lives
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Prostitution: Legal Work or Slavery?
Catholic Online

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty
Catholic Online

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

Escaping Poverty: Interview With Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
Catholic Online

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Catholic Online

Recovering subtle signs of our Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

On Peace, Missions and Justice
Catholic Online

Congratulations to His Eminence John Cardinal Foley!
Hugh McNichol

Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'
Matt C. Abbott

When Bioethics Turned Secular
Catholic Online

Confession Comeback
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Hilary of Poitiers
Catholic Online

Reemergence of Global Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Catholic Online

Month of the Rosary
Catholic Online

Why Technology Needs Ethics
Catholic Online

Cardinal Lozano Barragán on Future of Health Care
Catholic Online

How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

New Saint Book is Visually Stunning and Filled with Detail
Lisa M. Hendey

Papal Homily in Velletri
Catholic Online

Wednesday'a Audience - On St. Cyril of Alexandria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
Catholic Online

Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly
Catholic Online

Homily From Red Mass in Washington
Catholic Online

Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
Catholic Online

The brave monks of Myanmar
Chris Anthony

Faith in Politics
Catholic Online

On Lazarus and World Hunger
Catholic Online

Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Media frenzy buries U.N. goals

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine
Catholic Online

China's Seven Sorrows
Catholic Online

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Catholic Online

Angels, God's Messengers in a world of fragile peace and Broken promises!
Hugh McNichol

Memo to Mrs. Clinton: Why Not Baby Bonds When Life Begins?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Reorienting the Mass
Catholic Online

Report Card on Religious Freedom
Catholic Online

On Wealth and Poverty
Catholic Online

A Response to Hitchens' 'God Is Not Great'
Catholic Online

Vetoing children's health care?

The ideal family
Joseph Sinasac

Who does the judging?
Dennis Heaney

One mistake away

The Big House ban

In praise of the parish

Text of the USCCB statement for Respect Life Sunday 2007

The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Educated flock

Religion and politics

Facing a door to the future
Dennis Heaney

A long debate

Who Are the True Progressives?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Insurgence
Robert Storr

Papal Address at Vespers
Catholic Online

Papal Coat of Arms Still Relevant
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Address at Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Catholic Online

On Loving Jesus as Mary Did
Catholic Online

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 'Summorum Pontificum'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Trip to Austria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the Joy of Fatherhood
Catholic Online

Commentary on Artificial Hydration and Nutrition
Catholic Online

Vatican on Nutrition to Patients in Vegetative State
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
Catholic Online

Take a Risk, Follow Your Call: the challenge of a lifetime!
Sisters of Bon Secours

Papal lessons

Family matters

Lessons from a tragedy
Dennis Heaney

Shopping blues
Joseph Sinasac

Marriage Breakdown: Expensive and Divisive
Catholic Online

Her darkness was a warning

The Light of Mother Teresa's Darkness - Part 2
Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • St. Hilary of Arles: Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 05, 2016
  • Scientists play God in controversial move to revive the dead
  • Too little too late: $75.5 million anti-Trump ads not enough
  • St. Mary Magdalene HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, May 05, 2016
  • Your Daily Inspirational Meme: Trust in God
  • Fatima Prayer HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 17:15, 22--18:1
15 Paul's escort took him as far as Athens, and went back with ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh from the heavens, praise him in the ... Read More

Gospel, John 16:12-15
12 I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 4th, 2016 Image

St. Florian
May 4: The St. Florian commemorated in the Roman ... Read More