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There is no doubt that some blame for the current priest-abuse crisis can be directed at the hierarchy, just as there is no doubt that those in the hierarchy as well as those who are regular priests are humans who have human failings in judgment and temptation. No one on earth is God, and never has been, with One exception. Good and evil traipse around and sometimes through us all.

But the extent of vitriol aimed at the Church (in general) and the current Pope (in particular) is awful and brings to mind a vision (known well among those who followed the apparitions at Fatima, but perhaps not among the general Catholic populace) that seer Jacinta Martos [left], the youngest of those three Fatima visionaries, experienced before her death in 1920.

"I don't know how it was, but I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping," she told the two other seers, brother Francisco and cousin Lucia dos Santos, one day, after they had taken a siesta on the slabs of her parents well. She continued: "Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him."

In another vision, the little seer was shown "highways and roads and fields of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat." In this vision, during a visit to a cave called Lapa do Cabešo (according to Lucia's memoirs), the young visionary saw "the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary" and "many people praying with him."

Were these visions related (as was so much in the Fatima prophecies) to what would occur in the first several decades of the twentieth century (including, as it did, persecution of the Church, and epic famine in places like Ukraine), or to a future scenario?

The vision of rocks and curses can be related to a number of popes -- and in this case, when asked by Lucia if it was the same Pope that "Our Lady told us about in the secret," Jacinta said, "Yes, he is."

That would seem to dismiss Benedict XVI, for the two popes connected with the secrets involved a Pope suffering due to the oppression of Communism (stated in the second secret, when the Blessed Mother, after discussing Russia, said that "the good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer," which could have meant any of several popes, especially Pius XII; and John Paul II, who seems to be represented in the third secret as the "bishop of Rome" dressed in white and felled by the bullets in the famous prophecy (which had no text, but consisted of imagery). Some argue that John Paul II (who also saw the miracle of the sun, while recuperating after the attack) can't be the Pope of the third secret because the pontiff in that secret was dead -- or was perceived so by Lucia when she saw it.

Was it simply her misperception?

It is not readily apparent how the vision of rock throwing relates to John Paul.

Might it be that the prophecies engulf more than two popes?

If Pius XII was the Pope of the second secret, and John Paul II was the "bishop in white" gunned down in the third, can Benedict XVI be related to what Jacinta saw?

The Pope's birthplace was vandalized this week with obscene graffiti. There are those who want to arrest him (atheists).

And as for what Lucia said: what did she mean about "the one Our Lady told us about in the secret," if she was referring to the third secret, which supposedly was accompanied by no words [our italics]?

Mysteries and more: from Fatima, they don't seem to stop.

[Further note: According the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Sister Lucia had a vision in 1984 ("of which it has never been spoken, during which the Madonna thanked her for the consecration in her name, which she had requested from the mystic," and was conducted by John Paul II earlier that year). It is not known how many private apparitions or visions Sister Lucia had subsequent to the famous ones in 1917, nor whether she left other writings, including a diary, although these have been rumored. Nor has the Church stated definitively that John Paul II was the Pope of the third secret, although this is the current interpretation, buttressed by the event occurring on a Fatima anniversary date of May 13, 1981. Was there text included with the vision in the third secret? Some insist so, and believe it pre-announced a crisis in the internal workings of the Church, along with apostasy, while Sister Lucia herself, in reference to revelation of the secret, said, "Everything has been published, there are no more secrets."]

[And lastly: Some claim both Paul VI and John XXIII were rather aloof with Lucia. The current Pope will visit Fatima -- perhaps dramatically -- next month.]

[resources: Fatima is Forever and Our Memories of Sister Lucia]

[Also: Novena for Benedict]

[Maryland-D.C.-Virginia prophecy retreat and Mass]

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