May/June 2017

Michael A. Hayes

A few weeks ago across the country and across the world, people gathered for the great Easter Vigil. The beginning of that celebration was the lucernarium or service of light when the faithful gathered around a new fire that was blessed and then, from the new fire, the great Paschal candle was lit – the candle that is the sign of the Resurrection and stands in churches everywhere, close to the ambo, as a sign of the Risen Lord. A
significant part of the Easter Vigil is the liturgy of the Word when a number of passages are proclaimed from the Old Testament, which recount the story of salvation offered to God’s people. Because the Paschal candle stands there, the readings are proclaimed, literally, in the light of the Resurrection. Scripture scholars help us appreciate just how much of the New Testament writings draw on themes, passages and references from the Hebrew Scriptures, but those passages are all re-interpreted – in the light of the Resurrection. The Resurrection for the first followers of Jesus was not just an event which changed what followed – it re-interpreted what went before also. The passages from Isaiah and the Psalms that make up so much of the Easter liturgy are seen to speak primarily, not of the events of the time of their writing, but of the events of the Paschal Mystery.

The Resurrection of Jesus changed – and changes – everything. At this time of the year the Church offers generous amounts of passages from the book of the Acts of the Apostles, and anyone hearing the account of the early Church that Luke gives will be struck by the extraordinary dynamism, attributed to the Spirit of the Risen Jesus that fuels the apparently irresistible growth of the Christian communities. The change from a small frightened uncomprehending band of Galileans to a driven movement of Jews and Gentiles alike, spreading across the Roman Empire to proclaim the Risen Lord, is startling – the witness of history bears out the extraordinarily rapid development of the growth of the Church – both in terms of numbers, but also in terms of the development of a new understanding of what God had done and was doing.

Our theological tradition tells us that the Incarnation, ministry, Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus was not some ‘Plan B’ of God to save and retrieve some original design that had somehow gone wrong. The Exsultet – the Easter Proclamation at the Vigil – proclaims the Felix Culpa – the happy fault, the necessary sin of Adam which brought about so great an act of redemption. The eternal God lives outside of time and space and so does not need to respond in time and place to events that are part of the created world. From the earliest times, from the writings of Paul and the early fathers of the Church, Christians have recognised that while the workings of God are Mystery they are not utterly incomprehensible. Yet what has enabled the community of faithful to articulate that faith is not intellectual acumen, a cerebral working out of a great conundrum, but ultimately faith in the Resurrection and the power that is thereby unleashed in the faithful. It was – and is – because of faith in the presence of the Risen Lord that Christians can express the ways in which the Christ event gives an entirely new vision of life.

And that continues to be the reality for the community of faith today. Each year we live this time of Easter, this time of Resurrection, not as a memory of something that happened in the past to someone else, but as the present dynamism which changes everything including ourselves. Just as the early Christians were transformed, just as they were able to read back retrospectively the reality of the Paschal Mystery into the Hebrew Scriptures, so today the community of faith continues to celebrate the Resurrection, not as an event that has gone, but as an abiding presence that changes the way that everything is perceived. The liturgy constantly calls us to appreciate that, and, by participation, to see everything in a new light – which is the light of the Risen Lord. That is why – especially in this season – Christians have an extra spring in their step.    

May/June 2017

Kevin McDonald

Kevin McDonald, Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark, offers some reflections on the distinction between ecumenical and inter-religious relations.

When I worked in the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity (1985-93) certain distinctions were seen as axiomatic in a way that is not quite the case today. For example a very clear distinction was made between ecumenical dialogue and inter-religious dialogue. Ecumenical dialogue had as its aim the establishment or restoration of full communion of faith and sacramental life between Christians of different Communions. This quite specific goal was seen as a matter of urgency since Christian disunity is an anomaly which is clearly contrary to the will of Christ for his Church. Inter-religious dialogue, on the other hand, was not seen as having any such specific objective and was talked about in terms of mutual understanding, peace in the world and so on. It was a matter of mild irritation at the Pontifical Council that the American Bishops’ Conference had an office for ‘ecumenical and inter-religious relations’ when we would have preferred them to be kept separate.

Today however, it seems that the American bishops may have been quite prescient since in the intervening years the distinction between the two has become rather less straightforward.

The Decree on Ecumenism set out very clearly the things that the Catholic Church has in common both with the Eastern Churches and the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West. The Eastern Churches recognise the same sacraments as we have, including – very importantly – the Sacrament of Order. With the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West however – the ‘Reformation’ Communions – what we most importantly recognise is the same baptism when carried out with the pouring of water and the invocation of the Trinity. Underlying all this, however, is the recognition of the action of the Holy Spirit in the life and worship of Churches and Ecclesial Communities not in communion with the Holy See.

Given this theological basis for the Catholic Church’s commitment to ecumenism it was not surprising that when it came to the methodology for the dialogues between the Catholic Church and other Communions the New Testament idea of koinonia – communion – was seen as a central tool. Koinonia means – literally – a shared participation in a given reality. In a theological context it refers most importantly to our sharing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit that have been bestowed upon the Church for its life and mission. The Catholic Church sees itself as being the repository of the fullness of the gifts that God has bestowed upon the Church for its life and mission. The purpose of the dialogue is to build on what, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we share already in the hope that eventually that sharing will be such that its natural and necessary expression will be ecclesial communion, that is to say full sacramental sharing.

The full scale of this project became gradually more apparent as the dialogues progressed and the difficulties gave rise to much talk about ‘obstacles’ on the way to unity. It is not the purpose of this article to consider those issues but simply to observe that Catholic engagement in inter-religious dialogue – grounded as it is in conciliar teaching and the post-conciliar magisterium, particularly of Pope John Paul II – has been one of a number of factors that have impacted upon the cultural and theological context of ecumenical dialogue.

First, some further observations on ecumenical dialogue. It must be clearly acknowledged that the major dialogues in which the Catholic Church has engaged have yielded significant fruit. There has been a feeling for some time, however, that they have probably gone as far as the original assumptions and methodologies can take them. Institutions that have developed separately for centuries cannot easily be brought into unity especially when some Churches and Ecclesial Communities have in many ways defined themselves over against Catholicism. Once there is a break in communion, differences are quickly compounded and the reasons for divisions today are not necessarily the reasons that occasioned the original loss or break in communion. The realisation of this has been one of the factors in the development of ‘receptive ecumenism’, something which post-dates my own direct involvement in these dialogues. My understanding of it is that ecumenical dialogue now needs to involve and facilitate a process of ecumenical learning in which different Communions seek growth and transformation precisely through learning from their ecumenical partners today. Part of the background to this must surely be the long-held conviction that when there is a break in communion everyone is diminished by it. Receptive ecumenism wants not simply to resolve issues from the past but to see what we may learn from one another today.

I wish to refer to a contribution to an important volume on receptive ecumenism by Cardinal Kasper.1 He considers our contemporary reality – the context in which we now conduct ecumenical dialogue – and he homes in on the great interest in and concern about personal spiritual experience rather than religious structures and institutions. He says ‘This change in the ecumenical climate is apparent in the Southern hemisphere in the rapid expansion of Pentecostal and other charismatic movements and groupings premised on an immediate and personal experience of the Holy Spirit.’ But this phenomenon is wider than the Pentecostal and charismatic movements even though these are a critical factor in the ecumenical scene today. Kasper even speaks of a ‘Schleiermacher renaissance’ by which term he wishes to highlight the great interest in ‘Individuality, interiority, freedom of the Christian individual, personal conscience’ as key features of our contemporary religious landscape.

How does that impact upon our view of Christian unity? Kasper remarks that ‘Unity is communio sanctorum, that is shared participation in the holy, in the life of God, in the Holy Spirit, in the Gospel, in the one baptism and in the one eucharistic body of the Lord. It is not we who construct unity; it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.’ The Cardinal is not of course saying that institutional and structural issues are not important. They are and always will be. What I think he is doing though is pointing to some characteristic preoccupations of people today be they Christians, members of other religions or just ‘seekers’. Basically it is a focus on the person, on personal experience, aspiration and need. But he is also drawing attention to the fact that ecumenical endeavour is all about openness to the action of the Holy Spirit in the here and now. Receptive ecumenism is about an exchange of gifts.

It is important to note, however, that the Council’s teaching on ecumenism anticipated this and provided the framework and language for responding to it. In the famous second chapter of Lumen Gentium we are told that the ‘one People of God exists among all the nations of the earth’ and that ‘All the faithful scattered all over the earth are in communion in the Holy Spirit’. (13)

The Constitution goes on to explain that all humanity is ordered to the one People of God. But the Council also explains how this can apply to non-Christians in another Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, where it says ‘For since Christ died for all and since all men are called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery.’(22) So the Holy Spirit is central to our understanding of the workings of God in our world including our understanding of the place of the other religions within the providence of God.

Subsequently the idea of Communion with the Holy Spirit was then frequently adopted by Pope John Paul II to explore the bonds between Christians and members of other religions. Significantly he speaks about adherents of other religions in his great encyclical on evangelization Redemptoris Missio, saying ‘for such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. The grace comes from Christ, it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free co-operation’ (10)

Perhaps most importantly of all Pope John Paul II made this reference to the Holy Spirit when he reflected on the 1986 Prayer for Peace in Assisi. He said: ‘In every authentic religious experience, the most characteristic expression is prayer. Because of the human spirit’s constitutive openness to God’s action urging it to self-transcendence, we can hold that every authentic prayer is called forth by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in the heart of every person’.2 My point here is that the use of this pneumatological perspective seems to create a space that can accommodate both ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue within a single field of vision even though they are not at all on the same footing.

As we turn more specifically to inter-religious dialogue, I would want to prescind for a moment from these broad brush strokes in order to acknowledge that there are some quite specific conciliar and post-conciliar developments which directly impact upon ecumenism. The most significant is, of course, the enormous development in our teaching on the Jews. With them we now speak of an ‘intra-religious’ dialogue rather than an inter-religious one.3 This is not the place to go into it in detail but some key points must be noted. Because of the catechesis of Pope John Paul II we now acknowledge that the covenant God made with the Jews has not been revoked. Christians are related to Jews at the level of their ‘identity’. Judaism is ‘intrinsic’ to Christianity. Perhaps most importantly of all in this context is the recognition that Christianity was born out of a long and painful conflict in which eventually a clear schism emerged between the Jews who still awaited the coming of the Messiah and those – whether with Jewish or Gentile roots – who recognised Jesus as the Messiah. There are those who would therefore argue that the unity of Christians will only take shape when Christians explore together their common roots in Judaism and begin to look forward with the Jews to the final fulfilment of God’s promises at the end times.

Relations with Islam have come to be seen as especially urgent because of the situation in the Middle East and elsewhere, and especially because of the emergence of those who would claim to be waging war and terror in the name of Islam. This has created a kind of negative reason for prioritising Islam. For the Catholic Church however our commitment to this dialogue is firmly rooted in conciliar and post-conciliar teaching about what our two religions share. Consideration of all the issues relating to this dialogue is beyond the scope of this article. Instead, I would like to develop my main argument that inter-religious dialogue is changing the context in which we pursue ecumenical dialogue through reference to the Eastern religions.
I would like to do this through the lens of one of the great figures in inter-religious dialogue, the late William Johnstone SJ. He speaks a great deal about the Assisi Day of Prayer for Peace in one of his later books entitled ‘Arise my love…’4. He says of the Assisi Day, ‘This was the beginning of a new era of peace in the world and of love and collaboration among religions. Above all it was the beginning of a new era of inter-religious prayer.’ That is certainly true. When Pope Francis invited President Shimon Perez and President Mahmoud Abbas to pray with him in Rome it seemed an entirely natural and appropriate thing for the Pope to do.

But Johnstone says this with a certain authority since he was in a tradition of Western Catholic Religious who have gone to the East and totally immersed themselves in Eastern religion – people such as Bede Griffiths and Henri le Saux – who came to be known as Abhishiktananda – both of whom he frequently quotes and refers to. The difference is that Johnstone was writing after Vatican II and so his perception of other religions is shaped by its teaching.

Johnstone – who lived in Japan for forty years – translated into English the novel Silence by Shukasu Endu which has recently been made into a remarkable film. What struck me about the film was the very clear and lucid reasons the Japanese gave for wanting to keep Christianity out of Japan. They saw Christianity as something that would fundamentally undermine their culture. Christianity, says Johnstone, must engage with and receive from the wisdom of the East if it is to find any roots there and, of course, he is able to quote Pope John Paul in support of this. In his encyclical Fides et Ratio he said ‘Christianity first encountered Greek philosophy; but this does not mean at all that other approaches are precluded…my thoughts turn immediately to the lands of the East so rich in religious and philosophical traditions of great antiquity’. (72) Work on this is already well under way and scholars such as the Dominican Martin Ganeri have been exploring how Catholic theologians can engage with the philosophy of the Eastern religions in the way that St Thomas engaged with Aristotle.

Like Thomas Merton, Johnstone is steeped in the Christian mystics and is particularly focused on the spiritual life as the discovery of one’s true self. Johnstone says that Bede Griffiths saw a fundamental difference between Christianity and the Eastern religions in this whole area: ‘at the heart of Christian mysticism is the mystery of love whereas both in Hinduism and Buddhism it is primarily a transformation of consciousness.’ Nonetheless Johnstone is convinced that Christianity has much to receive from the Eastern religions through what we might now call a process of ‘inter-religious learning’. Without that, Christianity will never be able to find any real roots in the East. All the themes of dying to oneself and discovering new life are fertile terrain for this kind of learning. A couple of sentences from Johnstone give a flavour of the kind of dialogue and exchange he is talking about: ‘It might seem that the Pauline wisdom of the cross is quite different from anything in Buddhism. But not so. Enlightened Buddhists see the total emptiness of the crucified Jesus as an example of the highest wisdom … the kenosis of the Epistle to the Philippians is a basis for Buddhist-Christian dialogue’. Johnstone concludes that ‘Christianity is locked in dialogue with Asia that will have incalculable repercussions on the world of the third millennium… Christians share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ while opening their minds and hearts to the wealth and wisdom of the mystical cultures and religions of Asia.’5 What I think is important in his reflections is that our response to the Spirit’s promptings to evangelize is not compromised in this vision but is conceived in a new way.

Johnstone agrees with the oft-stated conviction that peace between religions is fundamental for peace in the world. In the West we usually have Islam in mind when we say that. Johnstone’s point is that building that peace must require a Christian culture in the East that is positively informed by the wisdom of the East. It will also require a serious and continuing dialogue between Christianity and Eastern religions. My own conclusion is that our teaching on the Holy Spirit as it has been articulated in recent decades means that in our globalized world we cannot keep ecumenical dialogue and inter-religious dialogue in two quite separate compartments. Ecumenical dialogue and inter-religious dialogue are and always will be different both in their nature and their objectives but they are nonetheless profoundly connected. The 1993 Ecumenical Directory strongly recommended ecumenical collaboration in inter-religious dialogue. Taking up that challenge might take us to a new phase in both enterprises.

1     Murray, P.D., ed. Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning, OUP, pp 80 and 82
2     This is from Pope John Paul’s Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 1986
3     cf ‘The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable’ (Romans 11.29) Statement of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, December 2015, no 20
4     Johnstone SJ, W., ‘Arise my Love…’,
Orbis Books, 2000, pp 108 and 192
5     ‘Arise my Love…’

May/June 2017

Peter Tyler

As psychologists and theologians alike have recently started using ‘soul-language’ again, this article explores some of the implications of this ‘return of the soul’ for our understanding of the human person. Peter Tyler is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spirituality at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

One of the most unusual phenomena in the past couple of decades has been the return of discourse about the soul in respectable psychological, and indeed theological, circles. In the 2012 new English translation of the Missal, the soul returned to the penitent communicant before the reception of the Blessed Sacrament when the muttered words, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed’ were replaced with, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.’ It was the use of the word ‘soul’ that struck some commentators as somewhat old-fashioned and atavistic. Why start using the term ‘soul’ again? Especially after it seemed to have been quietly forgotten for the past thirty years – does it not have connotations of dualism and mind-body splits?

As an unashamed observer of religious words and their usage I found this return of the soul fascinating. For at the same time as theologians and liturgists have returned to questions of the soul, so psychologists have, if anything, displayed an even great interest in the ‘return of the soul’. At the time of writing the largest school in the British Royal College of Psychiatrists is the spirituality section and the recent creation of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality has given many healthcare professionals in the UK the intellectual space to explore that which had previously been off-limits: ‘the spiritual’. Just as theologians in the second half of the twentieth century had shied away from too much overt talk of the soul, (especially when this might imply a dangerous neo-Platonic spiritualising of the self) so psychologists had equally forbidden their followers from introducing too much spirituality into psychological discourse.

Within this void left by the two spheres of psychoanalysis and theology a new form of ‘soul-language’ has developed in the past few decades. Jungian psychology had always had an eye on the transcendent and Carl Jung himself was entirely comfortable in his own version of Neo-Gnostic spirituality. However, it took one of his successors, James Hillman, to grasp the metaphor of the soul by the horns and lead it into some new and surprising places. Considered at best maverick, at worst heretical, by his fellow analysts, Hillman, in a colourful and varied career, was able to develop his own understanding of soul language. In one of his last interviews before his death in 2011 he stated that: ‘I am critical of the whole analytic discipline… It has become a kind of New Age substitute for life, on the one hand; a substitute for rigorous education in culture, philosophy and religion, on the other; and third, a “helping profession”… the whole thing has lost its way. Something is deeply missing’.1 This ‘something’ became for Hillman the ‘soul’ which for him became a coded reference not only to that ‘which is deeply missing’ in the helping professions, but also in wider Western society as a whole, including within its religions and churches. In a world whose increasing desire seemed to conquer, codify and classify the infinitely resourceful and unknown realms of the psyche, Hillman saw ‘soul-language’ as a way of guarding the essential poetic ambiguity that lies close to the sources of human wonder and discovery.

Such ambiguity is of course not new in psychoanalysis. Freud’s own preferred terms for the self were das Seele, seelische and Seelenleben, literally, ‘the soul’, ‘soulish’ and ‘soul-life’, all of which his English translator, James Strachey, replaced with what he perceived as the more medically correct terms ‘the mind’, ‘mental’ and ‘mental life’. Whenever I teach Freud I tell my students to take their texts and cross out the terms ‘mind’ and ‘mental life’ and replace them with ‘soul’ and ‘life of the soul’. The effect can be striking. Bruno Bettleheim, one of Freud’s great interpreters, saw that Freud’s ‘direct and always deeply personal appeals to our common humanity’ was lost in English translation, becoming ‘abstract, highly theoretical, erudite and mechanized – in short, “scientific” – statements about the strange and very complex workings of the person’ (Bettleheim 1982:5). Freud’s own vision for the future of the modality he had initiated was neither a profession in hock to the scientific-medical establishment nor a form of life dominated by the clergy and religious ways of thinking. As he wrote to Oscar Pfister in 1928: ‘I do not know whether you have guessed the hidden link between ‘Lay Analysis’ and ‘Illusion’. In the former I want to protect analysis from the doctors, and in the latter from the priests. I want to hand it over to a profession that does not yet exist, a profession of secular ministers of souls, who don’t have to be doctors and must not be priests’(Letter to Oskar Pfister 25.11.1928). Thus, the battle for Freud’s soul – or more specifically his translation of Seele – can be seen in the wider context of the battle for the soul of psychology itself: whether it is to be a medically or clerically dominated profession or neither.

Thus, this new understanding of soul that has emerged in recent decades seems a long way off from the old dualisms that the word often evokes. As was put to me when writing this article ‘when I go to Communion I don’t just want my soul to be healed – but all of me!’ Which reaction is perfectly understandable if we see ‘soul’ as that which is the transcendent, disembodied part of the self. Yet, the Christian (and above all Catholic) approach to the self, as epitomised in the lineage represented in the writings of Ss Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Teresa of Avila, is able to preserve the integrity of the self whilst also allowing it to keep its window on the transcendent – something that was always more problematic for the emerging psychological perspectives.

When we look at scriptural uses of the Greek term psyche we find 50 uses of the word within the four Gospels and 54 within the Epistles, Acts and Book of Revelation. Of these hundred or so uses we can trace a clear shift in the movement of the sense of the term from its original Greek uses, especially in the Platonic sense, towards a strikingly new Christian perspective. Thus as well as the old Greek senses of the term as the animating life force (e.g. I Cor. 14.7: ‘it is the same way with lifeless [a-psychic] instruments that produce sound, such as the flute or the harp) and as that which is contrasted to the body (from which so much later dualist notions will arise, e.g. Lk. 12.22, Mt. 10.28), we can discern the radically new idea that Christ is the ‘ethical charge’ of the psyche. In passages such as Mt. 16.25, Mk. 8.35 and Lk. 9.24 we find the notion that Christ becomes the lodestone of the movement of the psyche that leads to spirit/pneuma. In itself, therefore, psyche is morally neutral for these New Testament writers, but by attaching itself to Christ it becomes ethically charged. Christ, as it were, produces, an ethical field that surrounds psyche, so that psyche now has a moral or ethical life: ‘the one finding his psyche will lose it, and the one losing the psyche for the sake of me will find it’ (Mt. 10.39).

This notion that by attaching to the person of Christ the believer’s soul is given a transcendent perspective is taken up by St Augustine who sees the multiplicity of perspective on the self – immanent and transcendent – to be held in the unity of perception which is Christ. For Augustine, the nature of the initial believer thus reflects the nature of the Trinity within its own self. Accordingly, the conception of the Trinitarian nature of self held in the unity of Christ espoused by writers such as St Augustine seems to come closest to the symbolic sense of self that I would like to suggest lies at the heart of the contemporary return of soul-discourse. Despite their Gnostic leanings, I suspect that modern psychologists who champion the ‘return of the soul’, such as Hillman, would also agree that an overly scientistic psychologization of the self misses the gossamer-light warp and woof of a performative soul-language that by its nature moves from the transcendent to the immanent and back again.

In this respect I would see the post-modern return of the soul as holding five elements that were always important in the Christian tradition, but perhaps downplayed after the emergence of modernism. First, that the term ‘soul’ is a perspective on the transcendent rather than an ‘entity’, soul-language introduces a ‘third perspective’ between spirit and matter that holds both in tension. Second, that at the heart of the soul-project lies an essential unknowing which again is deeply set within the Christian mystical tradition and finds a natural home in the writings of Meister Eckhart, St John of the Cross and Edith Stein (St Teresa Benedicta a Cruce). Third, that the contemporary soul-maker must live in the realm of ambiguity that is the soul’s true home.

Whether during pastoral work, facing a dream or working on the self, the demands of the soul require an openness to the ambiguity that lies at the heart of the human personality. In this respect, creative imagination becomes the place where the self overcomes the straightjacket of the overweening ego. Fourth, that our future understanding of the soul will be based on that which is creative, symbolic and artistic. For Hillman the symbolic is indicative of that mode of consciousness that ‘recognises all realities as primarily symbolic or metaphorical’ experienced through ‘reflective speculation, dream, image and fantasy’. The symbolic sources of the soul thus lie very close to the sources of creative and artistic endeavour (and indeed liturgy) and thus the pursuit of the soul will often manifest itself through these means.

Finally, soul-making is at heart a relational process. In Otto Rank’s words, analysis is ‘an art of love’ and the relationship between the soul-seeker and soul-maker is at the heart of the matter. Despite our misgivings about the dualist nature of soul-language (and despite Augustine’s famous suspicion of ‘concupiscence’) the soul is found not in flight from the body but in the very embrace of its ambiguity and libido. Although Hillman caricatured Christianity as being life-denying and anti-libidinal (and would no doubt not have approved of my using his writing to advocate a Christian perspective of the self!) I would argue that this is far from the case and there are sufficient traces of this alternative relational and libidinal anthropology in the Christian tradition to allow a future Christian anthropology, open to the possibilities of the libidinal, to flourish.

In conclusion, I think that the contemporary ‘return of the soul’ to theology and psychology alike is an inevitable consequence after a century long attempt to banish the transcendental perspective from human anthropology. The return of soul-language, allowing us to gaze at both the transcendental and the physical simultaneously has, I would like to suggest, only just begun. By focusing such a reborn anthropology on Jesus Christ, the God-man whose gaze simultaneously embraces the transcendent and the immanent, we find the fullness of self that so many lost souls are seeking today.   

•    Bettleheim, B. (1982/2001) Freud and Man’s Soul. London: Pimlico
•    Psycho-analysis and Faith: The Letters of Sigmund Freud and Oskar Pfister. Ed H. Meng and E. Freud. Trans. E. Mosbacher. London: The Hogarth Press. 1963
•    Peter Tyler’s most recent book The Pursuit of the Soul: Psychoanalysis, Soul-making and the Christian Tradition is published by T & T Clark.

1    Interview with Jan Marlan, IAAP Newsletter 26:2006.

May/June 2017

Anthony Towey

Mindful that 2017 is a significant year for ecumenical relationships, in this two-part article, Anthony Towey explains why Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae was key to a renewed approach of Catholicism to the views of other Christians and indeed to adherents of all faiths and none. Anthony Towey is the Director of the Aquinas Centre at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

In the first part of this double article published at the beginning of March, I traced the biblical background to Dignitatis Humanae, the ground breaking document on religious freedom which forms part of the sixteen part ‘canon’ of Vatican II. From scripture, evidence flows in both directions – freedom seems a mixed blessing. Specific covenant belonging is vital, but the argument in favour of controlling anyone, any place or anything by prophetic, political or religious means, is inconclusive. This cross-current is something we will see running through the river of ecclesial history which we will now consider alongside recent papal contributions to the debate. As we shall see, ultimately our Church is seemingly reconciled to a deep conundrum of our human condition. Namely, the right to be right must include the right to be wrong.
Ecclesial perspectives on religious liberty

So why did the Church come to buy into the idea? Partly, this is explicable from the nature of vocational charism and the expectation of societal order (cf. Rom. 12.6-8 and 13.1-7). If the biblical prophet, the biblical king and the biblical priest all strive might and main to inspire, command and ritualise an obstinate Twelve tribes, then Christian thinkers, rulers and bishops should surely have the same task? Understandably, in the early years, this appears to have been less structured. A palpable ‘End time’ context of kerygmatic preaching, the enigmatic ‘already and not yet’ of the Kingdom (cf. Mt. 13.24-30 & 1 Cor. 13.12) and a series of intermittent but bloody persecutions meant belonging was experienced as more important than life and death. However, Christians did not enjoy full religious liberty and endured three hundred years of vulnerability before the conversion of the Emperor Constantine.

Though now regarded as something of a mixed blessing rather than the hand of God’s good providence, the Constantinian settlement birthed Christendom’s entwined religio-political identity for over a thousand years. In 1302 it enabled Boniface VIII in Unam Sanctam to declare the whole world to be under two swords, the spiritual and the temporal, but both were ultimately under his authority. Even as nation states began to emerge from the feudal matrices of the Middle Ages and assert their independence from Rome, religious identity remained a key feature. The Spanish experience on the one hand and the Reformation convulsions of England and Germany led to an identification of religion and state that governed the shape of European polity for centuries. Famously summed up at Augsburg in 1555, and reaffirmed at the Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years War in 1648, the conclusion was cuius regio eius religio – ‘The ruler’s land, the ruler’s religion.’ The Anglicans were right. The citizens de facto belonged to the King before they belonged to God.

Yet again, this view must be contrasted with a seam of contrasting metal. For all the passion of the first followers of the Way, there seemed to be a variety of understandings of ritual and creedal belief in the Early Church which later generations would regard as somewhat heterodox (cf. Didache 10.7 and Hermas 12). The theological problem of the massa damnata and the unbaptized innocent were considered and one would have to say ameliorated at their extreme by the resilient tradition of the ‘baptism of desire’ and the theorized existence of Limbo. While the latter has only recently suffered a kind of pontifical closure programme (April 20th, 2007), the former was a feature of classical Augustinian and Thomist thinking (ST III q.66 art.11). It was given traction by Pius IX in 1854, Singulari Quadam and also by Pius XII in the condemnation meted out upon Fr Feeney for his exclusivist views in 1949. Moreover, it is not a work of genius to parallel the Declaration’s emphasis upon conscientious seeking of the truth with themes characteristic of Rahner’s ‘anonymous Christianity.’

Nevertheless, as noted above, an undeniable feature of pre-Conciliar thinking stretching back to the French Revolution was a deep suspicion of ‘progressive’ ideas. Now while quotations from Mirari Vos and the Syllabus of Errors lambasting various novelties can be trotted out as curiosos from an ancient mindset, the pre-Conciliar Church can hardly be criticized for not taking the polyvalent question of religious liberty seriously. The force of the arguments can sometimes be lost on those of us steeped long in the ‘tolerance marinade’ of recent decades and the subtlety of the question is brought out well by John Courtney Murray. In an article written a decade before Dignitatis Humanae he defended what is characterized as the ‘conservative’ tradition regarding religious liberty:

The imagination of the Enlightenment, especially as kindled by Rousseau, had been captured by the bright and brittle dream of the Ideal Republic. The dominant myth was captured by Carl Becker in one of his most witty, and more exact, phrases, that ‘men would cease to do evil if no one tried to compel them to be good.’ The complementary myth was that individual men would somehow infallibly reach the truth provided nobody tried to tell them what the truth is. Therefore – so ran the conclusion – let there be an end to all authority; let freedom be unconfined, except by such free agreements as men might make among themselves. Out of this untrammelled freedom will come order, a perfect order of virtue, happiness, and unceasing progress (Courtney Murray, 1954:5-6)

It was this sort of nonsense that Leo XIII and other popes were contending against – with good reason. Strong polarities relating to religious liberty had run through the entire stretch of salvation history, and it should hardly be surprising that there were long and passionate debates on these matters at the Council.

Religious liberty in contemporary context
Withal, perhaps the central issue regarding Dignitatis Humanae was that it was a product of a more general ‘modestification’ of the Church. Radicalized by enormous shifts in political power, the Church in the ‘lower’ place began to read the Gospel differently – from below, rather than above. It can also be considered the ‘coda’ to Pacem in Terris of 1962 – the new global context and the call for the Church to be a sign of peace. Wisely, Dignitatis Humanae is more rooted in individual freedom rather than in self-realization of community, and Romans 14.12 – ‘each will give an account of himself’ allows for an eschatological rather than practical justification for the sovereignty of conscience. This enables the Church to retain its claim to be custodian of truth – but a bit like the use of ‘subsists’ in Lumen Gentium #8 and Unitatis Redintegratio #4 – it softens its force by drawing attention to the plight of the oppressed faithful rather than the somewhat less fettered offices of magisterium.

Likewise the Christological argument has the flavour of kenosis. Truth is humble, it extends its dominion through love, and the generic Vatican II reappraisal of theological anthropology is evident in the following:

Thus the leaven of the Gospel has long been about its quiet work in the minds of men, and to it is due in great measure the fact that in the course of time, men have come more widely to recognize their dignity as persons, and the conviction has grown stronger that the person in society is to be kept free from all manner of coercion in matters religious DH #12.

Whatever the risks of mistaken thinking and problematic moral activity, the conclusion of the Council Fathers was that error may have no intrinsic rights, but erroneous people do.

So much for the nice stuff. As noted above, Dignitatis Humanae proved controversial. It was at the heart of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s discomfiture and his sectarian movement eventually became outright schism. It seems wrong to implicate St. John Paul II in this, but I will. As Archbishop of Cracow, Karol Wojtyla was present at Vatican II and regarded Dignitatis Humanae ‘as being at the heart of the Conciliar event’ (Buttiglione, 1997:177). Although less evident in later years, in John Paul and the Legacy of ‘Dignitatis Humanae’ Rico asserts that ‘The advocacy of the civil right to religious freedom by John Paul II was relentless during the first part of his pontificate.’ Wojtyla was a prolific writer, but arguably at root he remained a theatrical theologian. Early in his theological career he squared the circle of truth, religious liberty and personal freedom in his imaginative 1960 drama, The Jewellers’ Shop. The lovers, the spouses, both together and apart, are inexorably called to a moment of dignifying choice. This decisiveness is also seen in his reflection on the moral life, Veritatis Splendor of 1993 which centres on the drama of the Rich Young Man, called to perfection.

Alongside all this, as John Paul II, Wojtyla was also able by force of personality to say and do some quite amazing things which brought out the worst fears of theologians like Lefebvre. The most striking perhaps was the gathering of religious leaders at Assisi in 1986, where non-Christian worship was allowed in the churches of the famous hill-town. For Lefebvre, this prompted the classic question: ‘Is the Pope a Catholic?’

Rome has asked us if we have the intention of proclaiming our rupture with the Vatican on the occasion of the Congress of Assisi. We think that the question should rather be the following: Do you believe and do you have the intention of proclaiming that the Congress of Assisi consummates the rupture of the Roman authorities with the Catholic Church? For this is the question which preoccupies those who still remain Catholic (Lefebvre, 1986).
Perhaps because he had seen at close quarters the horrors of mid-century anti-Semitism, John Paul also referred to Jews as ‘our elder brothers’ and time and again, eschewed ‘supersessionist’ denigration of the Torah in the light of the New Testament (Tower, M., 2010). While such gestures might be justified as a localized expression of Dignitatis Humanae presided over by a Father of the Council, they could conversely be taken to imply indifferentism, or at least a de-emphasis of the saving power of Catholic truth. It was too much for Lefebvre who could justifiably claim to have anticipated such fearful occurrences long before. His Buenos Aires Declaration, co-signed by Bishop Antonio Castro de Mayer continues:

The high point of this rupture with the previous Magisterium of the Church took place at Assisi, after the visit to the synagogue. The public sin against the one, true God, against the Incarnate Word, and His Church, makes us shudder with horror. John Paul II encourages the false religions to pray to their false gods – an immeasurable, unprecedented scandal. (Lefebvre, 1986)

We may be grateful that the pontificate of Benedict XVI witnessed something of a reconciliation with this movement. Benedict, at one level, could not have been more of a contrast to John Paul II since a less theatrical man has rarely entered St. Peter’s, still less donned the tiara. Benedict’s well known project was to seek a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ to avoid de-coupling the Church from its pre-Conciliar heritage, in order to harness freedom, conscience and abiding truth. The Hermeneutic of Continuity also avoids ‘Year Zero’ misappropriations of the Council which, as Prefect of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith, Josef Ratzinger had long been critical (see Messori, 1985). Together this has implied a somewhat more constrained reading of Dignitatis Humanae which Massimo Faggioli (2012) would characterize as the ‘Augustinian pessimism’ of a Conciliar expert (Benedict XVI) in contrast to the ‘Thomistic optimism’ of a Conciliar Father (John Paul II). How far this distinction can be pushed is a moot point, but where Wojtyla has the drama of free choice at the centre of his thinking, Ratzinger lays somewhat less emphasis on the autonomy of conscience, but much more on the moral truth of reason. This subtle shift serves to objectify the moral discourse at one remove from the individual, and importantly, one remove from contemporary political correctness. In tones reminiscent of Leo XIII, he remarked at Subiaco in 2005: ‘A confused ideology of freedom leads to a dogmatism that turns out to be – more and more – hostile to freedom’ (Ratzinger, 2010:129)

What both pontiffs have had to wrestle with is the widespread collapse of Catholic practice, perhaps partly explicable by loose understandings of Dignitatis Humanae. Recently, a curate mentioned an interesting exchange between himself and his niece. Though unmarried, she had given birth and was anxious to have her baby baptized. Her uncle challenged her gently – ‘Claire, you don’t practice your faith, your boyfriend is a non-believer and you’ve said you have no intention of coming to Church on Sundays – don’t you think this would all be a bit inappropriate?’ ‘Oh no,’ she replied, ‘Uncle Paul you always said that every child is cherished by God and no matter what I say, think or do, God won’t hold that against my baby and I just want one moment, at the start of his little life, to gather in Church with all the family and people who care for us just to ask God’s blessing on him.’ As a priest still more as an uncle he was dumbstruck. As he recounted the conversation, he concluded wistfully: ‘Anthony. We’ve taught an entire generation that God loves them, and they’ve gone and believed us!’

Is this Dignitatis Humanae at street level? The ‘field hospital’ motif of Pope Francis seems to endorse this approach – a Church present where others are, in all the messy confusions of the human condition. Freedom to practice the faith must be exactly that, a freedom – not a compulsory fire insurance. In terms of our pastoral wisdom, we have to be aware that the moment an ideal is imposed, even one as beautiful as Eucharistic communion, it becomes a slavery. The adventure of love in God has to be freely entered to be fully alive. Life is ennobled by the search for truth, but it carries risk – we could fail. Can we cope with this? Can God cope? And as Kundera muses in the Unbearable Lightness of Being, since there is only one chance, can anyone be condemned for getting ‘life’ wrong?

Conclusion: The right to be wrong?
Enough of these ponderings. Dignitatis Humanae could easily go unnoticed in a Hit Parade of Vatican documents. It is tiny compared to the tour de force that is Gaudium et Spes, yet it may be argued that its brevity belies its centrality. Just as Unitatis Redintegratio (the Decree on Ecumenism) doesn’t quite make sense without Dignitatis Humanae, so Nostra Aetate (the Decree on Non-Christian Religions) owes a similar debt to its fundamental principles. Dignitatis Humanae touches upon revelation, the importance of truth, what the Church is for and the freedom of individuals to act, write and even think. It touches on faith and politics, and faith in politics. It touches on social, religious and national identity. It touches on the importance of baptismal belonging and eternal salvation. It touches on freedom and autonomy, obedience and conformity. It touches on the preternatural question of whether human beings in the image of God have the right to deny the fact and act accordingly.

Ultimately that is why it is important: Do we have the right to be wrong? This document offers a compass rather than a map or a ‘sat nav’ for life. It points to Jesus as the exemplar, the free yet obedient Son of God. If the entire plot of Scripture from the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem can be summed up as the perennial drama of the gifted individual learning to choose the good, (Towey, 2013:31), then Dignitatis Humanae defends the stage for that to be played out without either Church or Government dictating the plot. And it leaves the actors, young or old, free to find their own voice.   

•    Buttiglione, R. (1997) Karol Wojtyla:
The Thought of the Man who Became Pope John Paul II. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
•    Courtney Murray, J. (1954) ‘Leo XIII: Two Concepts of Government” in Theological Studies 15: 1-33.
•    Faggioli, M. (2012) Vatican II and the Battle for Meaning. Mahwah NY: Paulist
•    Fazzio, R. (2011) The Origin, Proliferation and Institutionalization of Anti-Catholicism in America & its Impact on Catholic Apologetics. Norderstedt: Grin Verlag
•    Kundera, M. (1984) The Unbearable Lightness of Being. New York: HarperRow
•    Lefebvre, M. and A. de Castro Mayer (1986) Buenos Aires Declaration accessed at
•    Messori, V. (1985) The Ratzinger Report. San Francisco: Ignatius Press
•    Ratzinger, J. (2010) The Ratzinger Reader: Mapping a Theological Journey, (edited by L. Boeve & G. Mannion). London: Continuum.
•    Rico, H. (2002) John Paul II and the Legacy of Dignitatis Humanae. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press
•    Towey, A. (2013) Introduction to Christian Theology: Biblical, Classical, Contemporary. London: Bloomsbury

May/June 2017

David Fincham

May 2017 marks the centenary of the first of six apparitions of Our Lady to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. David Fincham, a lecturer in Catholic School Leadership at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, offers a brief history.

I visited the holy shrine of Fatima with two friends in February 2015. When we arrived, entering the wide space of the sanctuary, the cold morning air under clear blue skies pinched the skin on my face, suffusing it with a lambent glow. My astonished eyes were drawn to the focal point of the sanctuary, the Chapel of the Apparitions. This was the spot that marks the supernatural appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children a century ago. There I discovered her image, enclosed in a case on a marble pedestal.

Towering over the sanctuary, pure white in the spring sunlight, the spire of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary pointed upwards to the heavens. Towards the basilica, a group of pilgrims walked on their knees or crawled in penitence and obeisance. Whilst a number of visitors and pilgrims wandered with awe and curiosity around the sanctuary, I was struck by the stillness, the silence all around me. It was evident that this was a special place.

Of all the appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary that have occurred over the ages, those that took place near Cova da Iria at Fatima in Portugal during 1917 must be regarded as some of the most extraordinary. The preternatural visons of Our Lady that appeared to three shepherd children, aged between seven and ten, each month from 13 May until 13 October in 1917 continue to resonate with strong emotions of both belief and scepticism.

Pope St John Paul II, surviving an assassination attempt as he was driven through the crowds in St Peter’s Square on 13 May 1981, attributed his good fortune to the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima. As the surgeon who operated on the pope observed, it was incredible that he had survived the shooting. Today, the bullet that narrowly missed killing him can be seen in the crown of the statue of Our Lady at the shrine.

About four to five million people visit Fatima each year, both as tourists and pilgrims, and, as it is the centennial year, it is expected that there will be a huge increase in that number this year. One of the many visitors to Fatima this year will be Pope Francis, who intends to travel to Portugal to pray at the shrine and celebrate the centenary of the first apparition on 13 May.

The apparitions of 1917
The Blessed Virgin Mary mysteriously appeared on six occasions to three children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, as they were tending sheep a few miles from their home in Fatima.

The first apparition
The first apparition of a beautiful young woman all dressed in white occurred around noon on 13 May 1917. When the vision appeared, she told the children that she was from heaven and she said that they must return to this place at the same time on the thirteenth day of each month for six months. She then asked them to pray the Rosary every day. They became intensely aware that this was a vision of Our Lady.

The second apparition
The next month, on 13 June, Our Lady appeared once again and she asked the children to pray the Rosary every day. She also told Lúcia, who was the oldest of the children, to learn to read and write. She predicted that, whilst the younger children, Jacinta and Francisco, would die soon, Lúcia would live a long life. She said her Immaculate Heart would provide a sign that would lead people to God. And she said that she wanted to establish a place of devotion to her.

The third apparition
According to Lúcia, during the third visit, on 13 July 1917, the children were also informed of three secrets.

The fourth apparition
In the following month, the children were detained by the local mayor, who tried to pressurise them into revealing the secrets, so they were unable to meet as arranged on 13 August. However, after they were released from prison on 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption, Our Lady appeared to them again on 19 August.

On this occasion, Our Lady again encouraged them to pray the Rosary each day and she told them that they must meet her again on the 13 September. She predicted that when she returned in October she would perform a miracle.

The fifth apparition
When she appeared to the children on 13 September, Our Lady indicated that Jesus and St Joseph would appear to them in October. As before, she encouraged them to pray the Rosary each day, but this time she added that they should also pray for the end of the war, which had now entered its fourth year.

The sixth apparition
On the sixth and final appearance of Our Lady on 13 October, it is estimated that a crowd of more than 70,000 people gathered at the spot near the Cova da Iria. This would prove to be a dramatic climax to the series of apparitions.

As torrential rain lashed the crowd, they witnessed what was to be called the ‘miracle of the sun’. It was reported that they saw the sun rotate and to grow in size. Eye-witnesses recounted that it looked as if the sun were falling out of the sky. Alarmed by what they saw, everyone fell to their knees. Even though it had rained persistently, they inexplicably found that their clothes were not wet. The following day, in the newspapers, it was stated that the sun had ‘danced at midday’.

In the meantime, a series of apparitions appeared to the three children. First, they saw St Joseph with the Christ child, who seemed to be blessing the world. Then the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, in giving birth to Jesus, had brought the Son of God into the world, announced herself to the children as ‘Our Lady of the Rosary.’ She requested that they pray the Rosary every day and she asked that a chapel be built on the spot where the apparitions took place.

The secrets of Fatima
During the apparition that took place on 13 July, Our Lady revealed three secrets to the children. Whilst it is speculated that the third secret has not yet been fully disclosed, Sister Lúcia insisted that there were no further secrets.

The first secret
The first secret revealed by Our Lady was a vision of hell. After that, she taught the children an inspiring prayer, which was to be recited after each decade of the Rosary: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.’

The second secret
The second secret was related to the conclusion of the First World War. Our Lady warned that, if people did not cease offending God, a worse war would take place during the papacy of Pope Pius XI. (Pius XI was not elected until 1922.) She said that a sign of this impending war would be a night illuminated by a mysterious light. (Strangely, there was a rare appearance of the northern lights as far south as Gibraltar – and even twice in Rome – on 25 January 1938, six weeks before Hitler annexed Austria). She also warned that if Russia were not converted there would be further destruction throughout the world. Our Lady said that unless people repented of their sins and returned to God a terrible persecution of the Church would prevail. However, there was also an expression of hope as she declared that ‘In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.’

The third secret
The third secret was concealed by Sister Lúcia until 3 January 1944, when the bishop of Leiria in Spain ordered her to write it down in a letter. Although she had originally been instructed by Our Lady not to reveal the secret, she felt that, as she was under the strict rules of Holy Orders, she was now permitted by God to obey the bishop’s instruction. In 1957 the letter was placed in the secret archives of the Holy Office in the Vatican.
After the attempt on his life on 13 May 1981, Pope St John Paul II asked to see the letter. At the beatification ceremony for Francisco and Jacinta Marto on 13 May, 2000, he authorised the publication of the secret.

In 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith produced Sister Lúcia’s account of the prophetic vision as revealed to the children:

After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ 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. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.

Pope St John Paul II, having read the third secret while recovering from the assassination attempt in 1981, interpreted it as a demonstration of the sufferings of the Church during the twentieth century. Bertone (2008), though, proposes that, rather than an apocalyptic vision, the final secret was a prophecy of that assassination attempt.

The shepherd children

Lúcia dos Santos
At ten years of age, Lúcia was the oldest of the three children of Fatima. When, after the first two apparitions, she told her family and friends about the experience, she was so strongly rebuked by her mother that she hesitated before returning to the Cova da Iria on 13 July.

In 1921, after her cousins died, she joined the Dorothean Sisters of Villar, near Porto, where in 1928 she became a sister of St. Dorothy. In 1946 she entered the convent of the Carmelite Sisters of Coimbra, where she was known as Sister Maria Lúcia of the Immaculate Heart. She died in 2005 at the age of 97. In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI invoked her cause for canonisation.

Blessed Francisco Marto
At the time of the apparitions, Francisco was nine years old. Lúcia described him in her memoirs as a boy who was musically gifted. A year after the apparitions, he contracted influenza, and he subsequently died in 1919 at the age of ten. He was beatified by Pope St John Paul II in Fatima on 13 May 2000.

Blessed Jacinta Marto
Like her brother, Francisco, Jacinta contracted influenza in 1918. But she also suffered from pneumonia and tuberculosis and, though she was taken to hospital for intensive care, she died shortly afterwards at the age of eight. She was beatified by Pope St John Paul II on the same day as her brother, 13 May 2000.

So, what does it all mean? Because of the enigmatic nature of her messages, the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima have been the subject of much controversy and speculation. Like many other Marian visions and voices – Lourdes, Knock, Medjugorje, to name a few – the miraculous apparitions that took place in Fatima during 1917 defy logic. The rational mind is challenged by claims that would seem to be scientifically untenable.
It is worth recalling, though, that:

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.

(Pope St John Paul II;1998: Introduction)

Ultimately, however, the focus should be the timeless presence of Our Lady of Fatima. Our response to her appearances at Fatima should be our constant commitment to penance and prayer. The fundamental message is that, if the appeals of Our Lady of Fatima are heeded and observed, the world will grow in faith, hope and love: ‘In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.’  

•    Apostoli, A., (2010) Fatima for Today:
The Urgent Marian Message of Hope, Ignatius Press: San Francisco
•    Bertone, C., (2008) The Last Secret of Fatima: The Revelation of One of the Most Controversial Events, Random House:
New York
in Catholic History
•    Bullivant, S., (2017) O My Jesus:
The Meaning of the Fátima Prayer, Paulist Press
•    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2000) The Message of Fatima, Vatican Publications: Rome
•    De Marco, P., (2016) Fatima 2017, Amazon: London
•    Pope St John Paul II (1998) Fides et Ratio (Encyclical Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church), Vatican Publications: Rome

May/June 2017