IN THE LAND OF HOLY MARY
sketch of the marvellous renewal of Portuguese Christendom in the twentieth century has already been given in the second volume of The Whole Truth About Fatima1. Now it is remarkable how closely this Catholic renaissance in the Land of Holy Mary was tied to political events of an unexpected and salutary nature. First there was the dictatorship of Sidonio Pais who, in December 1917, as soon as he came to power, put an end to the persecutions against the Church. This former freemason “considered himself to be protected by the Blessed Virgin and, at the end of his life, he had, as his devoted Lieutenant Faria reports, ‘encouraging visions’ which gave him an irresistible strength”2. Admittedly, he was assassinated on 14 December 1918. But his sacrifice was not without fruit: the Republicans who returned to power were unable to reinstate the anticlerical laws.
Ten years later, the financial, social and political restoration of the country was effected by President Salazar who instituted “the New State”.
Now Dr Antonio de Oliveira Salazar had obeyed the injunction of Pope Benedict XV who, on 18 October 1919, had ordered Portuguese Catholics to rally behind the Republic. At the time he was a “Catholic Centre” militant.
Comparing the directives given by Benedict XV to the Portuguese with those of a very similar nature addressed by Leo XIII to the French twenty-seven years earlier, Adrien Loubier writes: “Salazar was elected a member of parliament. He then sat in on a session of the parliamentary assembly. I say a session, that of 2 September 1921. Not two! On his way out, he handed in his resignation and returned home, to Coimbra. In a single day the young professor had understood the self-evident truth that Leo XIII was not equipped to understand, and which his French disciple Piou had failed to grasp after thirty years of experience: the parliamentary system is the foundation of revolution, demagogy and disorder, whereas authority is the principle of order.
“Thereupon, the choice he had to make was clear. He had to pursue ‘the politics of the nation’, which is what the Portuguese generals did a few years later, and Salazar joined them to share the reigns of power with them. He now had to cast the Portuguese Republic into the River Tagus and, with it, Benedict XV’s rallying cry.3”
If Dr Salazar agreed, on 28 April 1928, to enter the government as the Minister for Finance, it was on the advice of his friend Father Cerejeira, the future cardinal, and on the instruction of Father Mateo who told him it was his duty to respond to General Carmona’s invitation. Having become President of the Council of Ministers on 5 July 1932, Salazar adopted “anti-parliamentarianism as one of the key principles on which he founded the new State. To bring this about, the first thing he did was to suppress the political parties. And the first party that had to be dissolved was the Catholic Centre.4”
President Salazar was recognised by the overwhelming majority of the Portuguese as the man of providence given by God to their nation for its temporal, political and social salvation, and he was in fact one of the most Catholic heads of government in the twentieth century5. The Abbé de Nantes writes: “Franco, Salazar, Dollfuss, in keeping with their personal conviction which was also that of their peoples, erected as the basis of their national revolution the cult of the fatherland, that is the Catholic fatherland. And there they held fast, there they maintained their country. Instead of tragic escapades inspired by pagan divinities and fanatical ideologies, and thanks to the unshakable truth and power of Catholic order, their dictatorships survived as long as their persons and paved the way for the future. Although Catholicism, which at the time was making sideways glances towards democracy and Communism, did not respond perfectly to their expectations, it remained the principal element, the governing idea of their destiny.6”
Salazar was to confide to Mgr da Silva: “I had had to put up with so much
incomprehension, so much ingratitude, so much disappointment that, were it not for the
Church, I would have retired long ago.7
SISTER LUCY AND THE ELECTIONS OF 18 NOVEMBER 1945:
DIVINE LIGHT GIVEN TO PRESIDENT SALAZAR.
The Fatima experts and Salazar’s biographers have, to this day, failed to understand Sister Lucy’s intervention in Portugal’s political life in 1945. It was a time when President Salazar was facing grave difficulties: he had to take some vital decisions for the future of his country.
To understand the importance of the heavenly message then transmitted by the seer of Fatima, we must first explain the situation of the little Lusitanian nation during the war and after the defeat of the Axis Powers.
Portugal, although privileged by Heaven, had not corresponded perfectly to God’s wishes. Sister Lucy often referred to this, for example on 19 October 1943:
“As for the very bad times through which we are passing, it is God who must save us through the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our good Mother in Heaven: confidence. But, as you know, this promise is conditional: ‘If people do not cease offending God, if they do penance, if they pray.” If we consider the nation as a whole, we have every reason to be afraid. Have we ceased offending God? Instead of the life of sin we led before, have we embraced a life of penance which necessarily implies genuine reparation? Have we prayed with humility, contrition and perseverance? A small section, yes; but taken as a whole, as a majority, no. In view of this, we have every reason to be afraid; but I am confident, because God is infinite in His mercy.8”
Sister Lucy knew that Portugal, thanks to her national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, enjoyed a heavenly and maternal protection. On 6 February 1939, seven months before war was declared, she had informed Mgr da Silva that the country would be preserved from the horrors of the Second World War. And in fact, while the world was ablaze, it remained unaffected.
If the Virgin Mary was the primary cause of this “miracle of peace”, it was men – President Salazar in the first place – and circumstances which made it possible, as we have seen already9.
When the defeat of the Axis Powers became visible on the horizon, Salazar stood steadfast against the pressure of the Allies who were demanding that the Portuguese corporative State be transformed into a liberal democracy. At the same time, he was also forced to face some dangerous agitation from within the country: his political opponents, democrats or liberal monarchists, used the high cost of living and the supply difficulties created by the British blockade as an excuse to attack the corporative institutions.
Soon after the victory of the Allies, President Salazar publicly denounced the plots being hatched against him. He was being pressurised, he said, “to hand the government of the country over to genuine democrats”. And he at once went on to reply, in his speech of 18 May 1945, that he would not allow “authority to fall to the level of the street”10.
In the autumn, to outwit his adversaries, he pronounced the dissolution of the National Assembly11 in order to bring about early elections, which were fixed for 18 November 1945. Thereupon the liberals, allied to the Communists within the Democratic Unity Movement, unleashed a wave of highly dangerous contestation, and then made an administrative appeal to delay the elections so that they might win them, at least so they hoped. Finally, they recommended that people should abstain from voting, hoping that a poor turnout would allow them to claim victory.
But what was really significant was this: for the first time certain Portuguese Catholics, Christian Democrats, broke rank with Salazar and his movement, the National Union. They entered into opposition. Franco Nogueira, in his biography of the President, writes: “The identification of Catholicism with the new State was called into question after the 1945 elections. After that the idea of a group or of a party of ‘Christian democracy’ began to gain ground and came up at all the electoral debates.12”
Salazar could not remain insensible to the bitter public criticisms of his former comrade from Coimbra, Francisco Veloso. They had once been fellow militants at the Academic Centre for Christian Democracy. As the elections of November 1945 approached, Veloso rejoined the Democratic Unity Movement, declaring “that one must drink from the sources of Leo XIII and Maritain”13.
It was at this juncture that, on 7 November 1945, Sister Lucy wrote to Mgr da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, concerning the elections. Here is the almost complete text of her letter, which we learned from two documents kept in the archives of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima14.
“J. M. J.
“Most Excellent and Reverend Lord Bishop,
“With much gratitude I thank Your Most Reverend Excellency for the two letters received.
“The reason for my letter is to tell Your Excellency that the Good Lord wants Our Lord Bishops, during the few remaining days before the elections, to speak to the people, through the clergy and the press, and to tell them that Salazar is the person He has chosen to continue governing our country, and that it is to him that there will be granted the light and the grace to lead our people by the ways of peace and prosperity.
“It is necessary to make our people understand that the privations and sufferings of these last few years are not due to some fault of Salazar’s, but were trials sent by God because of our sins.
“When the Good Lord promised grace and peace to our nation, He also announced that we would have to suffer many ills because we had ourselves acted in a blameworthy manner. And, in reality, He demanded very little of us, certainly if we compare ourselves with the tribulations and anguish that other peoples have had to suffer.
“Next, it is absolutely crucial to tell Salazar that the supplies needed to feed the people must no longer continue rotting in the granaries but must be distributed to them.
“It is necessary to do this quickly and fearlessly.15”
|Across, Salazar and his goddaughter, at Fatima, in the
Chapel of the Apparitions, on 7 September 1951. As a student, he had made a
the Virgin Mary. A few days before his death, he revealed it to one of his
close friends, telling him: “Ever since then, I have always felt Her very
Below, President Salazar meeting General Franco. Both were animated by a true devotion for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Caudillo consecrated Spain to Her, at the feet of the Virgin of Pilar, on 12 October 1954.
|“In every field where we had freedom of action, we have aided, insofar as we were able, Spanish nationalism and Christian civilisation, directly threatened by doctrines and regimes that only the lovers of illusions could hope to convert or render inoffensive.” (Salazar, speech to the National Assembly of 22 May 1939)|
After he had received and read this letter, Mgr da Silva sent it without delay to Cardinal Cerejeira, the Patriarch of Lisbon, who had already given the faithful directives for the elections in his pastoral letter entitled: The position of the Church and of Catholics on politics16. It is true that the he had not explicitly instructed Catholics to vote for the National Union candidates, but the principles he set out in this document would logically have led to this practical resolution.
The letter from the messenger of Heaven did not leave Cardinal Cerejeira indifferent: he immediately made its contents known to President Salazar. Here is the missive he sent him from the Patriarchate of Lisbon on 13 November 1945:
“In these hours when you find yourself overwhelmed by so many cares, disappointments, and perhaps doubts, I send you this extract from a letter by Sister Lucy, the seer of Fatima, which I have just received. It will bring you much consolation and confidence. And if you read it in its entirety, you will be even more consoled and comforted. It goes without saying that what she say, she does not say of herself; rather it is God who informed her of this, as she gives us to understand. I am eager to get this into your hands,
“I embrace you affectionately. Yours, in Christo.
One cannot stress too highly the importance of Sister Lucy’s message, through which Salazar providentially learned that “the Good Lord had chosen him to continue governing his country and that it was to him that there would be granted light and grace to lead the Portuguese people by the ways of peace and prosperity”.
This revelation would have reassured him of the legitimacy of his authority just when he was about to thwart the intrigues and plots of those who wanted to install a “transitional government” to pave the way for a liberal democracy. Admittedly, in 1945, his opponents from the Democratic Unity Movement had finally discredited themselves by urging people not to vote at the elections. But, in the army, the loyalty of the senior officers could not be guaranteed.
The historian Jean-François Labourdette writes: “In May 1946, Republican officers formed a military junta of national liberation under the leadership of Admiral Cabeçadas. They had taken care to marginalise military personnel connected to the antifascist National Unity Movement, too compromised with the Left and the extreme Left, and to ally themselves with liberal Republicans and officers of the Right, dissidents of the regime. Doubtless the President of the Republic himself, General Oscar Carmona, if he did not take part, at least encouraged the conspiracy, by receiving Admiral Cabeçadas and the other conspiring officers, among whom was his own brother, Admiral Carmona. The President’s wife herself was not sparing in her encouragement for the conspirators. The objective of the putsch was transparently clear: ‘To secure for his Excellency the President of the Republic the power needed to dismiss the government.’18”
Kept well informed of the conspiracy by his domestic police for the defence of the State, the Pide, Salazar organised the arrest of all the plotters. Then he had the wisdom to show himself merciful: the officers who had taken part in the conspiracy were condemned only to a symbolic punishment, on 15 June 1948. Furthermore, from that year, “the government felt itself sufficiently powerful to formally declare the Democratic Unity Movement illegal. He had all the members of its central committee arrested.19”
The recommendation that Sister Lucy had ventured to address to Salazar, on the subject of provisions, shows that she was aware of the difficulties the country people had in obtaining fresh supplies. This was one of the “ills” which the poor people had to suffer during the years of the Second World War.
“Portugal”, explains Labourdette, “had never been able on her own to provide enough food for her population and had to import grain. In the central and northern regions of the country, the poor peasant community were growing anxious, for the consequences of the war [to be more precise, of the English blockade] were weighing heavily on them. Protests were mounted against the requisitions of farm produce by the gremios [trade association], against the rich monopolistic farmers, against the sales tax imposed on producers and the scarcity of consumer goods.” Parish priests could often be seen leading such demonstrations. “In the district of Braga, people gathered to prevent the departure of requisitioned foodstuffs. They also laid siege to rich proprietors suspected of hoarding.20”
When Portugal was eventually freed of the constraints that the Anglo-American blockade had imposed on her, President Salazar was able to take some salutary decisions. “His Minister of the Economy, Daniel Barbosa, attacked the black market and speculation by organising a mass import of foodstuffs and raw materials, financed by gold and the currencies accumulated during the war. These measures were a deciding factor in the social and political pacification of the country.
“Freed from all contestation, both at home and abroad, Salazar could govern with serenity.21” As he himself said, he was animated by only one ambition: “To get life in Portugal back to normal.22”
Over the years, Salazar’s relations with the seer of Fatima became more and
more intimate. He talked with her on the telephone and visited her in the Carmel
of Coimbra when he journeyed to Vimieiro, his birthplace, where he had a modest
country house. When he was overwhelmed with heavy cares, he would
implore her prayers.
THE COMBAT AGAINST CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY:
THE BISHOP OF PORTO SANCTIONED.
In February 1949, during the campaigning for the presidential elections, the writer Tomaz da Fonseca, in an article published by the newspaper A Republica, called on Christians to vote for the opposition candidate, General Norton de Matos, a former grandmaster of freemasonry. Now, in this article, Fonseca attacked Fatima! His irreverence provoked such a storm of protest in the country that Norton de Matos wanted to retire from the race. His candidacy having been retained for purely administrative reasons, he received a mere one percent of the votes.
As soon as she learned the result of the ballot, Sister Lucy expressed her thanks: “Our Lady is the Mother of Mercy. That is why we have been saved once again thanks to Her protection.23”
|The monument to Christ the King, erected in Lisbon in thanksgiving for the protection enjoyed by Portugal during the Second World War. The statue of Christ, twenty-eight metres tall, stands on an eighty-five metre tower, erected on the summit of Almada Hill which itself towers one hundred and thirteen metres above the Tagus. The Patriarch of Lisbon had wanted this monument in order to “render homage to Christ the King, who extends His arms to embrace the Portuguese world and bless it, just as He showed Himself at Fatima, during His apparition on 13 October 1917”.|
|On 17 May 1959, the day when the monument of Christ was inaugurated and blessed, Mgr Sezinando hands President Salazar and his government ministers the text of Portugal’s national consecration to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, which would be pronounced during the ceremony.|
Nine years later, at the presidential elections of 1958, Humberto Delgado, the youngest general in the Portuguese army, rallied to his cause every kind of opponent of the regime: monarchists, liberals, and Christian progressives. An ambitious, violent demagogue, he promised to satisfy every democratic demand, and he went on to stand against Salazar’s policies and his candidate for the Presidency of the Republic, Admiral Americo Thomaz. The crowds he had seduced yelled: “Vao - se embora, away with them.” After his turbulent visit to Porto, his arrival in Lisbon, on 16 May, almost led to a riot.
When the elections arrived, in June, Admiral Thomaz carried the day, but General Delgado nevertheless obtained 24% of the vote.
Understanding the danger that the election of the President of the Republic by universal suffrage could pose, Salazar had the wisdom to change the Constitution so that he would be chosen, at the next election, by a college of grand electors.
However, a few days after the ballot, on 13 July 1958, while Delgado was proclaiming himself the victor and accusing the government of electoral fraud, Mgr Antonio Ferreira Gomes, Bishop of Porto since 1952, sent a long letter to President Salazar criticising the policy of his government in particularly violent terms:
“We must be frank, sometimes even blunt: Portuguese corporatism has in reality been a means of depriving workers of their natural right of association.” Mgr Gomes denied the community of interest between employers and workers, and he demanded that the latter be given the right to strike. He used the poverty of the country people as a pretext to denigrate the wise financial policy of the head of government. He attacked nationalism in the name of the teaching of Pius XII. Finally, Mgr Gomes demanded that Catholics be authorised to form a political party. In short, he contested the principles and institutions of the new State just when it had delivered Portugal from the regime of party politics.
On 17 May 1959, before the inauguration of the monument to Christ the King, Cardinal Cerejeira, Patriarch of Lisbon, greets Admiral Thomaz, President of the Republic. During the course of the ceremony, the Patriarch renewed Portugal’s consecration to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary:
“Holy Mary, Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and our Mother, Queen of Heaven and earth, most high Patroness of Portugal, tomorrow this monument will, we hope, become the national sanctuary for adoration and reparation to the Divine Heart of Jesus, who so loved mankind and who, at every moment, receives nothing but outrages, sacrileges and indifference […].
“Oh! Portugal knows Her in whom she trusts. Once more, she solemnly consecrates herself to Her, ratifying and renewing the consecration made at an hour of grace and predilection, marked by God according to the clock of His Providence, in the year 1931. She surrenders herself to the Immaculate Heart in a supreme act of faith and love, knowing full well that in surrendering everything, she saves everything. Did not Jacinta say that God had entrusted peace to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And who taught her that if not Thou, Our Lady of Fatima? It is in Thy Heart, O Mother of Mercy, that we will find forgiveness, peace, purity, strength and love; and there all will find Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer.”
The bishop allowed his ostensibly confidential letter to be spread throughout the country: it created a scandal and much controversy. Mgr Gomes found himself isolated within the Portuguese episcopate which, overall, continued to show its enlightened attachment and lively gratitude to President Salazar.
Indeed, the inauguration ceremony for the monument to Christ the King, in Lisbon, on 17 May 1959, revealed the real concord and harmony that existed between the government and almost all the bishops. In support of the national consecration which Cardinal Cerejeira had just performed, Admiral Americo Thomaz made the following declaration, in the presence of the members of the government and of a crowd of eight hundred thousand of the faithful who assisted at the ceremony:
“The Portuguese episcopate has renewed the consecration of the country to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, through the authoritative voice of the most eminent Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon. And to this end, he has happily taken advantage of the inauguration of the monument to Christ the King, which, as we know, is owing to the piety of Catholics. This monument by itself will continue to be, in the capital of the Portuguese world, an affirmation of faith and hope, and a perpetual supplication by the nation to Divine Providence.
“The admirable idea of this monument was born of a solemn vow by the episcopate, a vow essentially linked to the life of our people and to the peace which, through much sorrow and toil, has managed to remain with us, with God’s help. That is why, as head of the nation whose religion is the Catholic religion, of the nation which recognises Christ’s divinity and has the Mother of God as its patroness, of the nation which has hastened to spread the faith even unto the smallest tracts of its overseas territories, I could not but associate myself with this act so pious and at the same time so patriotic.
“My presence and the words I am pronouncing in the name of the nation, during this important liturgical act, are therefore a pledge which assures us that Portugal firmly desires to remain faithful to the tradition of her history and to the promises just made in this consecration24 most solemn.25”
This ceremony revealed the profound accord which reigned at the time between the Church and the Portuguese State, an accord which Mgr Gomes wished in fact to break. But his perfidious criticisms did not go unanswered: they were learnedly refuted by theologians and outstanding journalists. Father Agostinho Veloso, a Jesuit well known for his learning and for his incisive polemics26, published in the monarchist daily A Voz, in March 1959, a series of articles in which he demonstrated that Mgr Gomes’ allegiance to all the democratic freedoms would only have ended “in serving the Communist cause”27.
At the end of the ceremony of 17 May 1959, during the Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, at the moment when the choir was singing the final verse of the Tantum ergo, in honour of the Holy Spirit, a dove suddenly left Our Lady’s pavilion and, having whirled around above those in authority, it alighted on the podium, before the prie-Dieu of President Thomaz. Many “eyes turned towards the dove”, Canon Barthas recounts, “which continued to look upon the altar and the monstrance, as though to point out to the assembly what should be the true direction of all their thoughts.
“Once the ceremony was over, the cardinals and bishops present approached the bird, which was not in the least intimidated. Then President Thomaz in his turn went towards it; it then took flight and rejoined the Virgin.” (Barthas, The Doves of the Virgin, p. 119)
By this discreet but touching sign, the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary appear to have manifested Their pleasure with this consecration pronounced by the country’s religious and political authorities, which acknowledged with a common accord Their divine royalty.
Supported by these nationalist Catholics, Salazar took a bold stroke: he invited Mgr Gomes to take a period of leave abroad. The bishop left Portugal on 24 July 1959. And when he wanted, at the end of the summer, to return to his diocese, Salazar forbade him to do so: he was turned back at the frontier, and the Holy See agreed to appoint an apostolic administrator for the city of Porto.
By exiling Mgr Gomes28, Salazar had checked the political contestation of the Portuguese progressives. His conversation with the journalist Indoro Martinelli, from the Corriere della Sera, at the dawn of 1960, reveals that he perceived the danger presented by progressivism for Portugal as well as for the Church herself.
“The young priests who go to study in Rome”, he observed, “return thence with the foolish desire of devoting themselves to political agitation. Our country is profoundly Catholic, but also profoundly anticlerical. I would never forgive these priests for their meddling. Lacking any sense of the State, were they ever to gain control of it, they would lead it to ruin and would also involve the Church in this inevitable catastrophe. As long as I am here, this shall not happen.29”
In fact, for as long as he remained at the head of the government, Salazar would succeed in restraining the influence of the progressivists within the country by the very effective means of censuring the press.
Salazar waged this combat with the moral support of the Patriarch of Lisbon who publicly denounced the “progressivism of certain Catholics contaminated by the Marxist spirit”. This was one of the themes of the homily he gave at Fatima, before one hundred and fifty thousand pilgrims, for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of Portuguese Catholic Action, in April 1959.
In his words of warning, Cardinal Cerejeira fell back on the teaching of Saint Pius X: “The Christian of the Left makes a religion of democracy, considering it the unique, authentic, politico-social expression of the Gospel. Such, for example, was the error of the French Sillon condemned by Pius X.30”
The Patriarch observed that this heresy was even seducing and disorientating members of his clergy. Here are some extracts from his speech of 18 November 1959, addressed to the priests who had come to pay their respects for the thirtieth anniversary of his elevation to the cardinal’s purple:
“Today the politico-social temptation is truly terrible. Satan enjoys an audience of a kind never seen before: just as he promised Our Lord the kingdom of the world, so now he promises men paradise on earth.
“When Pius X, the saintly Pope, condemned the Sillon, he addressed the French bishops in words that seem to have been spoken today. Well, they date from half a century ago, for they were pronounced on 25 August 1910! The Sillon had identified the Gospel with the ideal of democracy which was supposed to be its temporal realisation. Saint Pius X said: ‘Indeed! distrust of the Church, their Mother, is being instilled into the minds of your Catholic youth; they are being taught that, after nineteen centuries, she has not yet managed to construct a society on true foundations in this world; that she has failed to understand the social notions of authority, liberty, equality, fraternity and human dignity.’
“Forgetting that the Church is built on the ‘Rock’ against which the gates of hell will never prevail, some are eager to hitch themselves to the ‘movement of history’, fearing that the Church will be left behind. They demand, at least privately, that she adapt herself to the modern world, in the generous but illusory hope of a perfect reconciliation between the Church and the world, despite the warning of the Apostle that we should not be conformed to the world.
“As the Lord one day reminded the Apostles, the time has come to examine ourselves to see of what spirit we are and to avoid succumbing to the temptation of betraying the Church whilst intending to serve her.31”
Thus, in 1960, the elites of Portuguese Christianity found themselves
seriously menaced by progressivism. Nevertheless, Portugal still remained
“Our Lady’s showcase” thanks to the far-sightedness, the wisdom and
steadfastness of her ecclesiastical and political leaders. The two powers,
spiritual and temporal, were working together in perfect harmony, each in its own
with the means proper to it, seeking to struggle victoriously against all the diabolical
forces infiltrated in their midst.
FAITHFUL TO HER DIVINE MISSION:
THE DEFENCE OF THE OVERSEAS PROVINCES.
It was with conviction and pride that Cardinal Cerejeira affirmed: “Portugal was born Christendom’s crusader against the Moor. Those who forget this understand nothing of her history. To express her mission, the first King had painted on his white shield the blue cross of a soldier of Christ. No country has done more than Portugal, which ‘has given the world new worlds’, to extend throughout the universe ‘the Faith and the Empire’, to use the words of our epic poet. What rightly defines Portugal’s position in the history of civilisation up to the eighteenth century, is this conscience of her mission as a soldier of Catholic unity.32”
President Salazar, who strove to free his country from the stranglehold of freemasonry, dissolved since 1935, wished to renew this glorious heritage and continue this great tradition, as can be seen in his speech to the National Assembly of 30 November 1954.
“Wherever the Portuguese have set foot, they have planted the tree of the Cross: there it has taken root and grown, there it has remained alive and faithful to Rome. How has this benefited us? What have we obtained in exchange for the money spent, the efforts deployed, the hunger, the destitution, the adverse climates, the bold sea-voyages, the struggles in far-off lands, the martyrdoms which we have suffered? What have we gained from this?
“The reward of having been able to work for the extension of the Kingdom of God, and therefore for the elevation of men of all races to a higher spirituality of Christian life and brotherhood.33”
Whereas Pope Pius XII had yielded on a matter of principle and asked “that a just and progressive political liberty not be refused to the peoples who aspired to it”34, whereas the UN was multiplying its interventions in order to detach the old colonies from their motherland, the Portuguese episcopate and government, happily collaborating, meant their nation to remain faithful to its ancient and divine vocation.
In their pastoral note of 13 January 1961, the bishops emphasised that this mission corresponded to the “clear designs of God on their country” and that it had been confirmed by the Church in the middle of the twentieth century: “The final act – an act which can be considered unique in contemporary history – was the signing of the Missionary Accord of 7 May 1940: it was as though the Holy See were investing the Portuguese nation anew with its mission of spreading civilisation.”
This Missionary Accord35, let us recall, was extremely beneficial to the Church. In Angola, there were twenty-four missions in 1910. But by 1950 one could count ninety-three, and in 1960 more than two hundred. A third of the population of this overseas province was converted to Catholicism at that time.
At the end of their pastoral note, the bishops recommended prayers particularly for the public authorities, “remembering those who, as both heroes of the country and saints of the Church, carried the light, hope and freedom of Christ to Africa, Asia, Oceania and America. We place our hope, in particular, in the holy constable who gave Portugal back to herself.” They went on to announce that “in this year of the sixth centenary of his birth, his relics would be visiting the towns, villages and places that he passed through during his life”36.
By rekindling devotion for Blessed Nuno Alvares Pereira (1360-1431) through these ceremonies and events, the bishops wanted to revive in the faithful the spirit of faith and Crusade so closely associated with the founding miracles of Portugal’s sacred history.
This pastoral note was providentially published three weeks before the first terrorist attacks in Angola. For, on 4 February 1961, Blacks doped on marijuana from Zaire, Guinea and Ghana, committed a number of murders in Luanda, at the very moment when seven American aeroplanes were landing at the city airport for supposedly mechanical reasons… But the attack was a failure, despite the complicity and support of the United States: the terrorists were unsuccessful in their takeover attempt and failed to set the Black community against the Whites. It was too contrary to the spirit and method of Portuguese colonisation: “A proverb says: ‘God created the Whiteman, God created the Blackman, but Portugal made the Half-caste.’ Wherever they settled, the Portuguese never hesitated to mix with the native peoples.37”
After further killings around the end of March, this time in Northern Angola, Robert Pesquet remarked: “When we compare the massacres in Angola to those of Algeria, we note that the process is identical. Everywhere we see the same methods of killing innocent victims with the same cruelty, the same sadism, in the hope of creating terror.
“On Easter Sunday, I went to the little church of San Salvador. There, very early in the morning, I saw a thick crowd of natives, men, women and children, in richly coloured costumes. Kneeling side by side, on the bare ground, and mixed with the Whites, they were praying in a loud voice, with a touching fervour, for the horrible massacres to cease, for the terrorists to be driven out, for everyone to be able to live in peace and tranquillity as in the past, for the crops and huts not to be burned, and for the flocks not be slaughtered. Here, in this church, was the spectacle of Christian, Portuguese Africa, united and standing together against the Africa of the witch doctors, the instruments of the Communists.38”
In Lisbon, President Salazar then found himself betrayed by his own Minister of Defence, General Botelho Moniz, who was preparing a putsch. “De Gaulle’s example”, explains Jacques Ploncard d’Assac, “American and English pressure, the feeling that a turning point in history had been reached marking the end of a certain form of colonisation, all this fell in, as ever, with very human ambitions and vanity.
“On 13 April 1961, Salazar, who throughout this intrigue had preserved the most absolute composure, calmly wrote a letter to General Moniz telling him that he was relieving him of his duties, and a chauffeur from the Council Presidency came to take the letter to the minister. Such was Salazar’s prestige and the army’s loyalty that the conspirators caved in, even though the former President of the Republic, General Craveiro Lopes stood ready, with his marshal’s uniform in his suitcase, to provide cover for the coup d’état.39”
The United States’ ambassador to Lisbon, frustrated by the failure of the conspirators whose arrest was announced on national radio late in the afternoon of 13 April, wrote to his minister: “Moniz’s plan failed either due to poor preparation or through lack of courage. Doubtless Salazar’s rapid initiative took Moniz by surprise.40”
Salazar, in these grave circumstances, was assured of the loyalty of the
Portuguese episcopate both at home and in the overseas provinces. Here we must
quote the declaration of the Bishop of Mozambique, which provides an enlightened
verdict on the crimes of the African terrorists as well as on the treason of
the Christian Democrats: “The message of peace given to us by Jesus Christ has
yet to penetrate all human beings. The gentle yet austere figure of Our Lord and
Shepherd is still unknown to many, which in itself is truly sad and unfortunate.
But it is even more regrettable that traitors to the fatherland are to be found
amongst the baptised. This indicates that they were first traitors to Jesus
Christ and His Gospel.41”
THE WARNINGS GIVEN BY SISTER LUCY
TO OBTAIN A BETTER PROTECTION FROM HEAVEN.
The seer of Fatima was very sensible to Portugal’s trials and those of its Council President. On 21 April 1961, she wrote to a woman friend:
“We must have confidence and make many prayers to Heaven, asking God and Our Lady to protect those who govern us and to grant them strength and wisdom. May Portugal’s Guardian Angel take up his sword on our behalf and for the cause of God. Hell is at war against God and His elect. Public immorality ought to have been banished from the nation as well as everything that upholds and supports it: divorce42, brothels, illicit unions, etc.
“From all time, public sin, that which is visible and which is condoned, is what draws down on peoples the really great chastisements and vengeance of God’s anger, especially when the number of just souls offering reparation is not sufficient to counterbalance it. What is needed for this purpose is an effort and a campaign. May God help us to do what lies within our power.43”
Clearly, Heaven’s messenger was convinced that Christian society urgently needed to be reformed, to undergo a classic reform of morals in capite et in membris, as it was formerly termed, that is to say a reform in the name of the tradition of the Church in order to repress errors, correct abuses and stamp out sin in both the head and the members of the Church.
Here is the letter she sent another female correspondent on that same 21 April:
“It is not surprising that in the midst of all these things you should feel troubled. God allows it thus in order to purify us, for numerous are the sins in which the world wallows, and it refuses to open its eyes to the truth of the right path. What was needed was an energetic, national campaign to combat the spreading evil and to defend the good, now in lamentable retreat. Why not form, throughout the country, groups of women and young girls to work for this purpose and to start by giving an example? Prayer is necessary but it does not dispense us from action. Together, they will win the victory, but they must be united, as each is necessary to the other.
“The Angel said to Tobit: ‘When you were burying your dead, I was offering your prayer to God.’ It is clear that to dig the earth and bury the dead does not constitute vocal or mental prayer properly so called, but rather the accomplishment of a duty of charity towards one’s neighbour, performed for the love of God, and, in this way, all our work is transformed into a prayer which our Angel offers to God for us and our intentions.
“It is for this reason that Our Lord left us this recommendation as forming one of the works of mercy: ‘Teach the ignorant.’ To oppose false doctrines, by teaching people to shun the path of evil and to follow the true path of justice which must be accompanied by a selfless charity ready to sacrifice itself for the good of one’s neighbour; in a word, to teach people to be of mutual aid to one another, all this might be the ideal of a new moral renaissance which would help to bring peace to our people and country.44”
During these years of the ’60s, Sister Lucy would continue to encourage her friends to do penance and to pray “for the peace of the world, of Holy Church and of Portugal in her overseas provinces”45. When she received alarming news from her correspondents, she reacted with a profoundly supernatural spirit. Thus in 1962: “We are very worried, but we pray and we want to have trust.46”
Let us quote another of her letters, dated 29 July 1968: “What we very much
need is to pray, to ask Our Lady for peace overseas. But it is also necessary to
merit it and that is something which nobody wishes to understand. People are very
disorientated and we are also, even though our obligation to remain
informed and to be good is greater. At present, there are unfortunately many
blind people who are leading other blind people, and naturally they will all
fall into the abyss. God is good and there are many ways by which He can save
us, but without a doubt He demands our cooperation.47”
PASTORAL LETTER OF APRIL 1961:
“IT IS THE HOUR OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY.”
From the first massacres perpetrated by the Communists in Angola, the Portuguese bishops understood the gravity of the peril and the profound cause of these dramatic events. Were not the overseas provinces being struck by the chastisements announced in the second part of the Secret of Fatima?
Knowing how these terrible disasters might be averted, the bishops published on 30 April 1961 a pastoral letter which revealed just how topical Our Lady’s prophecies and requests were:
“In these days when our country is suffering a veritable passion in both body and soul, the bishops of metropolitan Portugal once again invite all the Portuguese to meditate on and fulfil the message of Fatima. For the world of today it is a special message from the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of the Rosary, victorious in the great battles of Christendom; a message of salvation for the world which is rushing to its damnation, eternal and even temporal damnation, a message which looks ahead to the conquest and to the establishment of that reign of truth and life, of sanctity and grace, of justice, love and peace, which is the reign of Christ […].
“One immediately grasps the gravity of the hour, it seems to us, when one knows just how far the supernatural world was involved, at Fatima, in the miraculous manifestations that accompanied the proclamation of Our Lady’s message. One might say that the whole of Heaven bestirred itself to take part: the Angel of Peace (the Angel of Portugal), the Holy Family, and Our Lord. And note well: Our Lord blessing the world. It is a message of mercy, of salvation.”
In denouncing the perversions of the modern mind, the bishops were calling into question, at least implicitly, the United Nations which had condemned Portugal’s colonial policy:
“Man claims to be his own saviour. The Blessed Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ – He who is the one true Saviour – is no longer invoked in the great international assemblies.” And they went on to observe: “The world aspires to peace, but it fails to find the way that leads to peace because it searches for it outside of Him Alone who defined Himself as ‘the Way’.”
The murderous attacks instigated in Angola by the terrorists were interpreted in the light of the Secret’s prophecies.
“See how the message, in terms both sober and precise, presents the picture of the tragedy of our present-day world: ‘If My requests are not heeded, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred. The Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated…’ This terrible prediction or, to put it better, this vision of the agonising crisis of our time, was communicated on 13 July 1917, at the time of the third apparition. In our day, certain events prove the fulfilment of this prediction: wars, uprisings, disorders, acts of violence, persecutions, errors…”
The bishops quoted word for word the second part of the Secret which illustrates “the theology of contemporary history”, but they also urged the faithful to satisfy Our Lady’s demands. They urgently reminded them of the call to penance and conversion, of the command to say the Rosary every day, and finally of Fatima’s essential revelation:
“Her Immaculate Heart, moved with compassion for ‘poor sinners’, brought Our Lady to the Cova da Iria. She came there to save them and to bring peace to the world. And, as the refuge of sinners and the recourse against the evils of this world, She revealed Her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart surrounded by thorns, thorns pressed in by our sins.
“The Heart of the Most Holy Mother of God is the mirror of that of Her Son. This Heart is a path of compassion and maternal tenderness which will lead sinners to the Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of mankind. To those who have devotion to Her Immaculate Heart, Our Lady promised that they would be privileged with special graces. ‘To those who embrace this devotion, I promise salvation’, She said. For Her maternal Heart, She asked for loving reparation – did not She suffer in Her Heart the torments that the Lord suffered on the Cross? – and consecration. Consecration signifies a handing over of oneself, self-renunciation, self-donation […].
“Very solemnly, at the foot of the monument to Christ the King, Portugal renewed her consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on 17 May 1959, through the voice of the nation’s most qualified representatives, gathered in a new Cortès where they were the unanimous delegates of the people. Well might one believe that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary wanted to indicate with prodigies48 that They accepted Portugal as Theirs.
“Has Portugal been faithful to her consecration, accepting God’s complete sovereignty over her public and private life49? It is for her also to go down on her knees as a penitent and a suppliant, but she did not break the engagements of her consecration.
“The times we are living through are grave for the world and particularly for our country. But ‘desperate hours are the hours of God’, as Christian piety is wont to say with a wisdom inspired by the divine light and experience of centuries. Today, it is the hour of Our Lady of the Rosary. It is the hour for meditating upon and fulfilling the message of Fatima. Trusting in Her Immaculate Heart, we hope that it is also the hour of Portugal.50”
It is true that the Portuguese bishops only explained but a part of the message of Fatima in their pastoral letter, as they were following the orders given by Rome in the ’50s to keep silent51: they mentioned neither the request for the collegial consecration of Russia nor the approbation required for the reparatory devotion of the First Saturdays.
However, whereas Pope John XXIII, a few months earlier, had cast
discredit on Sister Lucy’s testimony by refusing to reveal to the world the
third part of the Secret, the Portuguese bishops, by publishing their
pastoral letter, personally guaranteed the authenticity of its first two parts.
Furthermore, they had the merit of emphasising its topicality and of presenting,
in all truth, the power and the mission that Our Heavenly Father had entrusted
to the Immaculate Mediatrix.
DECEMBER 1961: THE INVASION OF GOA.
Situated on the coast of Malabar, conquered in the sixteenth century by Afonso of Albuquerque who delivered it from Moslem oppression, and forming the base of Saint Francis Xavier’s apostolate, the Portuguese territory of Goa remained, in 1960, a bastion of Christianity in Asia, thanks to the steadfastness of President Salazar.
For he withstood the Indian Union’s claims to Goa, declaring that the totality of the Portuguese provinces, whether metropolitan or ultramarine, constituted the Portuguese nation that had been built up over the course of centuries. He recalled that this total integration of the peoples abroad had its roots in an ancient tradition:
“Ever since the sixteenth century, the statutes, royal letters and instructions despatched abroad, particularly in India, have ordained that pains be taken and funds spent to integrate the various peoples into the Portuguese community […]. A communiqué presented to the King at the beginning of the seventeenth century, by the Council of India, shows the importance of this tribunal in the Portuguese administration. There one may read: ‘India and the other overseas territories under the government of this Council are in no way distinct or separated from this kingdom, nor do they belong to it in the manner of a union, rather they are members of the same kingdom, as are the Algarve and any of the provinces of Alentejo or Entre Douro e Minho […] and so it is that those born in Goa, or in Brazil or Angola, are as much Portuguese as those who live and were born in Lisbon.’52’”
After the departure of the British and the proclamation of the independence of the Indian Union, on 15 August 1947, the Portuguese enclaves of Goa, Daman and Diu were in great peril. When, in August 1954, it seemed quite certain that they would shortly be invaded by so-called Indian volunteers, they were almost miraculously preserved53.
At this juncture, on 6 September 1954, Sister Lucy wrote: “The news from Goa is peaceful at the moment, but we do not know what the consequences will be… Let us hope in Heaven’s protection.54”
In 1961, when Pandit Nehru was again preparing to attack and occupy Goa, the Portuguese reacted with an intense movement of prayer and penance. One has only to read the paragraphs of the French Catholic press of the time to appreciate the ardour with which they addressed their supplications to Our Lady of Fatima. “United with the Christian people of Goa, kneeling before the relics of Saint Francis Xavier, the women of Lisbon spent the night of 13 December last in collective prayer. From all parts of Portugal the people set off on the road to Fatima, their final refuge. They were hoping for a miracle that would save the country which the Portuguese regard as ‘the Rome of the East, the Holy City after Rome and Jerusalem, Goa, the very heart of Portugal’.55”
On 14 December, Salazar gave instructions to Vassalo e Silva, Governor of Goa, that, despite the disproportionate forces he faced, he was to organise and continue the armed defence of Portuguese territory:
“It is terrifying”, he stated, “to think that this might mean a total sacrifice, but I count on this sacrifice; it is the only way of remaining loyal to our traditions and of best serving the future of our nation. I foresee no possibility of a truce, nor do I foresee that there can be any Portuguese prisoners. Likewise, the fleet will not surrender, for I believe that our soldiers and sailors will choose either victory or death.
“The attack that is being prepared will fall on Goa with an extreme violence to reduce the duration of conflict to a minimum. For political reasons, it is best that it is prolonged for at least eight days, as this lapse of time will be needed if the government, in the final recourse, is to mobilise the international authorities. One can only address such grave words to a military man conscious of his supreme duty and wholly disposed to carry it out. God will not permit such a soldier to be the last governor of the Indian State.56”
The Indian troops launched their attack on 18 December 1961. In the enclaves of Daman and Diu, the Portuguese would fight staunchly. In Daman, their leader, Santiago de Carvalho, would cry out to his men: “For Portugual! Let us give everything, let us give our lives that she may endure and that she may endure for ever!” And he would be killed in combat. On the other hand, in Goa, the whole Portuguese garrison would be captured only a few hours after the attack began.
President Salazar was profoundly affected by this. Franco Nogueira writes: “On the last night of the year, Salazar found himself alone, with his thoughts… But he had a friend, whose fidelity had endured for more than fifty years, and who had not forgotten him. This was Gonçalves Cerejeira. To show him his support, his tender friendship and spiritual affection, the Patriarch of Lisbon wrote him these few lines:
“I do not want this year to end without sending you a few words. Today you were specially present in my mind during Holy Mass. How you must suffer in your heart and soul from all of Portugal’s trials! I want you to feel that I am very close to you and to God, praying that He may comfort, console, enlighten and keep you.
“With you, with all my heart, Manuel.57”
“With Goa”, observed the metropolitan bishops58, “the most precious jewel of her treasury was stolen from Portugal; to lose Goa is a little like losing the Lusiades.59”
Sister Lucy could not hide her distress. To one of her correspondents, she wrote: “At this deeply troubled Christmas time when we have so many worries and when we are not disposed to be festive, let us gather around the Lord and ask Him to grant peace to Portugal and to the world in such turmoil. May the Divine Saviour have compassion on us all and give mankind a taste of His judgment.60”
To a Spanish woman friend, she pointed out the path to be taken to avoid similar catastrophes in the future: “I thank you for your letter and your wishes for a joyous Christmas. This year has been very sad for us; this is due to the current state of affairs and to events that are dreadful. I believe you will not be insensible to these, due to our ties of friendship and also because serious complications may occur in both our united countries. Despite everything, we want to remain trusting and confident. But in order that we may obtain a more effective protection from Heaven, what is needed is a general reform of society so that people may live better lives. Let us work towards this in all that concerns us.61”
The Portuguese bishops, whose thoughts accorded with those of the seer of Fatima, preached a reform of morals, denouncing “secularism and every modern form of atheism, which seeks, alas, to dechristianise individual, family, political and social life”62.
As for President Salazar, he openly declared the moral and political lesson to be learned from the treason that had allowed Portuguese sovereignty to be violated in Goa.
“On 3 January 1962”, writes Ploncard d’Assac, “when Salazar took the stand before the National Assembly, he did not disguise the fact that the loss of Portuguese India was ‘one of the greatest disasters’ in Portuguese history. Above all, perhaps, because it had the value of a symbol: ‘Two great powers stand vanquished before the gates of Goa, England and the United States; and for the world this augurs a dreadful disaster. The defeat of smaller nations is sad and distressing; but incomparably more serious is the inability of the great to defend justice.’63”
Across, a military pilgrimage to the Cova da Iria, at the beginning of the ’60s.
Below, on 13 May 1967, at Fatima, President Oliveira Salazar meets Sister Lucy on the official platform.
A “secret” explains Salazar’s perseverance in remaining at the head of the government for more than thirty-five years: he had learned, in November 1945, through Sister Lucy, that he had been chosen by God to fulfil this function and that he would receive the light and grace to lead Portugal by the way of peace and prosperity. “I do not believe in fate”, he told Christine Garnier in 1951. “I believe in Providence. It is this which, for so many years, has bound me to a task that is contrary to my tastes.” (Ploncard d’Assac, op. cit., p. 262)
Portugal, by refusing to give up her sovereignty and rights over Goa, despite the enclave’s military occupation by Nehru’s Indian troops, remained indefectibly attached to her missionary and colonising vocation. This set her apart from the concert of nations, and the most perceptive minds discerned therein a sure sign of her divine election. The Abbé de Nantes strongly emphasised this in his Letter to my Friends of 1 January 1962:
“Catholic Portugal fought back in Goa, sure of her rights, the armed force of a civilised people against an armed force which was racist and antichristian. High above, the splendid truth battled against the myths of falsehood, and it still burns bright in the hypocritical assemblies of the United Nations. In the speeches of President Salazar and the Archbishop of Lisbon, the aggression is demystified, unmasked. At last the West gives the language of reason and justice a voice! In Angola, and yesterday even in Lisbon, the revolution is quelled, force against force, because the slogans it had put out in advance of its troops encountered nothing but the most just contempt of the authorities and the indifference of its subjects.
“The example of Portugal is there for all to see, and over it hangs the luminous apparition of Fatima. Goa and Timor, Mozambique and Angola, Guinea and finally the home country represent phases in the invader’s overall strategy, just as Indochina, Black Africa and Northern Africa do for us, but whereas we disown our soldiers, abandon our missionaries, remain silent about their martyrdom, and calumniate our colonists, Portugal, both politically and ecclesiastically, is of one heart and mind with her citizens who are dying in remote climes for their motherland and their faith. Her resistance seems like folly, but it affirms her true rights before the face of the world, it demands justice and evinces trust in God. It will conquers.64”
In fact, as long as she was governed by President Salazar who would always
maintain the “language of reason and justice”65, and even by Marcello Caetano,
his successor, Portugal, despite the coalition of the whole world against her,
would victoriously combat the Communist rebellions in her vast African
SALAZAR IN CONFLICT WITH PAUL VI.
Thanks to the biography of Salazar published by Franco Nogueira, who was his Minister of Foreign Affairs, and thanks to an enquiry made by two Portuguese journalists, we know Salazar’s thoughts on Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, as well as his reactions to several tragic events.
On 15 October 1962, only four days after the opening of Vatican II, he expressed his unease about the direction that Pope John XXIII had given it.
“For the head of the government”, Nogueira informs us, “John XXIII had opened the Vatican’s doors and windows too wide to the tempests of the world. In this he saw dangers for the Church, as well as dangers for Portugal and her politics.66”
Salazar did not hide his fears when Cardinal John-Baptist Montini succeeded John XXIII on the see of Peter. “He distrusted him, particularly given his reputation as a ‘rojo, red’”, writes the journalist Constança Cunha.
“It was in October 1964 that the most serious crisis between the Vatican and the Portuguese State arose. In Rome, Cardinal Cerejeira learned that Paul VI intended to go to Bombay to take part in the Eucharistic Congress and, even worse, that he contemplated a visit to Goa, even though it was occupied by the Indian Union. The news infuriated Salazar. He warned Cardinal Cerejeira that if Paul VI visited Goa, the 1940 Concordat would be torn up and its whole religious policy radically altered. The cardinal was ‘frightened’ by Salazar’s words.
“The Portuguese government sought to obtain support from ‘friendly countries’: Brazil, France, Spain, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile. In vain! None was willing to second Portugal’s protests.67”
Cardinal Cerejeira was received by the Sovereign Pontiff on several occasions. At his second audience, Paul VI was unable to prevent him, as he had on the previous occasion, from speaking about Goa: “Most Holy Father, you cannot go there. It is occupied territory, under foreign domination.”
On 18 October 1964, in a speech given at Saint Peter’s in Rome, Paul VI officially announced his journey to Bombay without making the least allusion to Portugal’s role in the evangelisation of the East.
“That day”, recounts Constança Cunha, “whilst giving instructions to Franco Nogueira, Salazar pronounced his harshest words against Paul VI: ‘Summon our apostolic nuncio and tell him that I hope to die before I see in Portugal a Pope who has so offended my country.’ The Minister of Foreign Affairs could hardly believe his ears: ‘You really want me to say that to the nuncio?’ – ‘Yes, and put it to him bluntly.’ Franco Nogueira, wishing to calm the situation, spoke for the first time of the possibility of the Pope’s visit to Fatima in 1967, for the jubilee of the apparitions. Salazar loathed the idea.68”
From Rome, Cardinal Cerejeira wrote to the President:
“The report that the Pope is to go to the Congress in Bombay has been confirmed. For us, for all of us Portuguese, this blow is crushing. But our thoughts turn to you who suffer more than anyone else! I can tell you that if this offends the Portuguese, a number of highly placed individuals are also angry about it and have shown their opposition from the start. Only today one of them told me so himself.
“However, we are somewhat consoled by the fact that the Pope is not going to Goa, as was his original pious plan, for Goa, which preserves the body of Saint Francis Xavier, is the East’s most important sanctuary. We have been spared the most painful part. You may congratulate yourself on having obtained this. It is due to the Portuguese complaints made to the Holy See and even directly to the Holy Father.
“To say more would lessen the value of what I have already written. I continue to pray God, as before, that He may keep you in His grace. Your old friend, with all my heart, Manuel.69”
When the news of the Pope’s trip to India was first broached, government censorship had asked journalists to hold off reporting it. When it was finally made public, it would be under headlines that revealed the true scandal, such as the following: “While the Rome of the East remains in captivity, the Pope announces his trip to Bombay to take part in the Eucharistic Congress.”
On 20 October, at the Council of Ministers, in a strained atmosphere, Salazar began by expressing his opinion:
“The Eucharistic Congress is not a religious act that in itself justifies the Pope’s attendance. India is not a Catholic country, and, furthermore, Bombay is not a place of Christian pilgrimage. The Pope’s trip, therefore, can only have objectives that are political, and, as such, it is open to criticism; in this domain we may retain our freedom of judgement.”
The Ministers for Defence and the Navy approved: both wanted Paul VI’s journey to be publicly condemned in hard, firm terms. The other ministers thought that the people might not understand the doctrinal bases of such a position, namely that there exists a difference between the Pope acting qua Head of State and the Pope acting qua Pastor of the Church.
On the following day, at a press conference, the Minister of Foreign Affairs declared in the name of the government and of the Portuguese people that the Pope’s visit to India would constitute “a gratuitous offence to a Catholic country, doubly gratuitous as being both unwarranted and futile”70.
Paul VI would confide to his collaborators in the Secretariat of State: “I was not expecting such a reaction from Portugal.71”
On 2 December 1964, the Pope arrived in Bombay. Salazar, conscious of the unpopularity that a conflict with the Holy See might cost him, explained to Franco Nogueira: “It belongs to the government always to do its duty and to educate the people, even though that might lead to the government’s downfall. It is though we were back in the times of the struggles between the Empire and the Papacy.72”
The President was convinced that the Vatican’s determinedly progressivist politics would not change while Paul VI remained Pope. To those who warned him of the dangers of a conflict with the Church, he replied: “We will see, I am not in the least afraid.73”
In the spring of 1965, before the Council’s final session, one of the Abbé de Nantes’ readers sent his Letters to My Friends on to Salazar. Now, the series of Letters on The Mystery of the Church and Antichrist, commenced in October 1959, denounced progressivism as “a new heresy, graver than the worst heresies of times past”. So they could only confirm the Portuguese president in his convictions. It is notable that in a conversation with General de Benouville, in August 1965, Salazar spoke of “the connivance between Catholic progressivism and Communism”. Then he added: “I have already seen modernism solemnly condemned and, not many years from now, when the new errors have sufficiently spread, there is no reason that the same should not happen to progressivism. ‘Caveant consules. Let those in authority be on their guard.’74”
Salazar would be similarly scandalised by Paul VI’s trip to the United Nations on 4 October 1965. At the Council of Ministers of 21 October, he took out a copy of the journal Match and displayed a photograph of the Pope delivering his speech before the United Nations assembly. The ministers passed it round from hand to hand. “It is horrible”, commented the head of the government75.
Ever since the publication of the encyclical Pacem in terris, Salazar had uneasily observed the evolution of the pontifical magisterium. He studied the encyclical Populorum progressio76, pen in hand. Franco Nogueira reveals his verdict: “Salazar considers this document deplorable! He classifies it in the category of demagogic texts that are dangerous in the sphere of politics. It appears to him that the Pope condemns nationalism without defining it, and this could well be tragic! The Pope declares that civilisations are born and die, but he draws no distinctions. So Salazar puts the question: ‘Consequently, then, this includes Christian civilisation as well?’
“The head of government believes that Populorum progressio will arouse false hopes, demonstrate the Holy Father’s naivety, and contribute to increasing the confusion within the Church.77”
The fruits of the reform undertaken by the Council corresponded, alas, to what Salazar had foreseen and feared.
“A generation of bishops”, he observed, “is in the process of disappearing. They are all around seventy or over. When they are gone, only the new priests will remain, progressivists emancipated from the old disciplines: they are pursuing a career of unbridled chaos, typical of those who suddenly feel themselves freed from the restraints to which they were formerly subjected. It will end in tragedy.
“Paul VI will be a martyr Pope: not physically, but spiritually, his suffering caused by the crisis in which the Church is foundering.” Salazar nonetheless retained his faith in the Church’s indefectibility and permanence. “In fifteen years time, there will be another Pope who will once again take up the reins with vigour and re-establish the great principles of the Church. But for myself, I will no longer be around to see it.78”
This other Pope, John Paul I, the Virgin Mary’s beloved son, would be the
true martyr, as we shall see in a later chapter.
THE UNHAPPY SLIDE OF THE PORTUGUESE ELITES.
Up until the opening of Vatican Council II, the Portuguese bishops remained, on the whole, fundamentally traditionalist. They thought it impossible for the Council to decree a reform of the Church that would reconcile her with the modern world. Their pastoral letter of 2 July 1962 testifies to this: “The attempt to reconcile the Church with the world will always be an illusion. The Lord refused to pray for it. And the Apostle Saint John declared: ‘The whole world is under the power of the evil one.’79”
As long as the Portuguese bishops remained profoundly attached to the spirit and message of Fatima, they corrected or at least mitigated the doctrinal novelties propagated by Paul VI and the conciliar reform. In their pastoral letter of 29 June 1966, they quoted the Pope’s appeal before the United Nations: “No more war ever again!” but gave it a Catholic interpretation, directly inspired by the revelations of Fatima. Here are two significant passages from this pastoral letter:
“Our Lady does not confine Herself to recommending prayer and penance simply so that the war may end. She shows the profound relationship that exists between the chastisement of war and sin: ‘Let people not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too greatly offended.’ And Our Lady went on to explain: ‘The war will end, but if people do not cease to offend God… a worse one will break out.’
“Wars are not simply the result of discord among men; but above all they are the consequence of sin, that is to say of discord between men and God. Thus in Her message Our Lady spoke, in addition to the threat of a new war, of the danger of Hell into which souls may fall if they do not amend their lives […].
“‘No more war ever again’, proclaimed the Holy Father Paul VI in his message to the world, given in the great assembly of nations. No more war is indeed the aspiration of all men of good will.
“No more sin ever again, such must be the supreme objective of our efforts to renew Christian life, in the light of the Council and of the message of Fatima, in order to attain complete peace among men and with God. Every mortal sin that we manage to avoid, every soul that we manage to reconcile with God is an enormous step along the path of peace.80”
Nevertheless, the novel, humanist, progressivist and anti-colonialist teachings of Paul VI and Vatican II gradually found their way into Portugal. Utilised by Salazar’s opponents, they caused considerable embarrassment to the bishops. “The arguments used by the protesters”, remarks Azam-Lafont, “were usually backed up with numerous quotations from the texts of the Council. It was therefore difficult for the hierarchy to refute these arguments without directly attacking the conciliar or pontifical texts themselves.81”
In September 1968, while still tenaciously fulfilling the heavy duties of his office as a “minister of God”82, President Salazar was struck down by a cerebral haemorrhage. His first exclamation, even though he was suffering from violent head pains, revealed his tender devotion for the Beloved of his soul: “Ah! Our dearest Lady!83” Having fallen into a coma84, he was relieved of his duties, and, on 28 September 1968, the President of the Republic appointed Dr Marcello Caetano to replace him as head of the government.
A former law teacher and business lawyer, Dr Caetano had been scheming since 1945 to oust Salazar from office or at least to succeed him85. Shortly after he came to power, he took a series of measures to liberalise the Portuguese political regime.
He authorised Mgr Ferreira Gomes to come back to the country: the bishop crossed the border on 18 June 1969, resumed his episcopal functions in Porto, and immediately made himself the spokesman for the liberals and progressivists. From August 1969, the newspaper O comercio do Porto gave the widest coverage to his declarations: “The Portuguese people need a free press because this is more important than a Catholic press. We are defending a pluralism of viewpoints.86”
One year later, on 24 September 1970, he dared to criticise Fatima publicly, denigrating certain exercises of devotion and penance customarily practised by pilgrims. He refused to see in these anything other than elements of “magic” typical of the “utilitarian religion” of those who seek to “traffic with God”87.
Around this time, Paul VI renewed the Portuguese episcopate by eliminating the prelates who were most attached to the message of Fatima and loyal to the government. Cardinal Cerejeira was made to retire in 1971, and Mgr Venancio in 1972. The Pope appointed Mgr Antonio Ribeiro to the patriarchal see of Lisbon, a man whom the government had previously despatched to an overseas post on account of his progressivism.
In Leiria, Mgr Alberto Cosme do Amaral, connected to Opus Dei, succeeded Mgr Venancio on 1 July 1972. Six months later, the new bishop appointed Father Luciano Paulo Guerra as Rector of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima. Now, Father Guerra, director of the College of Marinha Grande and missionary to emigrants, had made a name for himself in the ’60s as a virulent Christian democrat. When his pen was subjected to the just rigours of censorship, he had wanted, in 1965, to publish in Paris an open letter to Salazar88.
While Rome was promoting Christian democrats, the most ardent apostles of Fatima, men like Canon Galamba de Oliveira, observed with sadness a cooling of devotion in the Land of Holy Mary: “Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary have suffered a noticeable decline, marked by a drop in the practice of the First Fridays of the month as well as the practice of the First Saturdays.89”
Whilst liberalising Portuguese society and the economy, President Caetano nevertheless pursued the war effort in the overseas provinces, seeking to exterminate the separatist rebels, that is to say to push them back beyond the borders of the Portuguese territories. In this he was publicly disowned by Rome.
For on 1 July 1970, Pope Paul VI received, in a private audience at the Vatican, the Communist leaders of the terrorists of Angola (MPLA), Mozambique (FRELIMO) and Guinea (PAIGC). “Paul VI”, remarks Azam-Lafont, “wanted to be photographed shaking hands with his guests, an act calculated to give wider publicity and impact to the meeting.90”
The newspaper Novidades, an organ of the Portuguese episcopate, supported the Portuguese government’s protest, declaring: “The Pope may err in this domain.91” As for the Diario de noticias, it was unsparing in its criticisms: “Thanks to this deliberately political gesture, which has nothing to do with papal infallibility, Rome has elicited cries of approval from the whole of the Communist Left, but Rome may also have profoundly and grievously harmed the faith of millions of believers.” And it went on to ask: “As far as we know, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is still a commandment of God’s Law. Or is this Law also supposed to have been reviewed and reformed?91”
The Aurore’s religious affairs correspondent described in detail the actual killings perpetrated by the separatists: “The Sovereign Pontiff should have arranged for a showing of the films taken in Angola at the outbreak of the rebellion. Then he might have seen, as we have, the cruelty with which at least one of his guests, Agostinho Neto, was treating his African brothers: the atrocities, the frightful mutilations committed against men, women and children. As for Paul VI’s exhortations to peace, they appear to be a little late in the day when one knows the activities of those who came to kiss the Sovereign Pontiff’s hand on Wednesday. Our fellow publication Il Tempo, in Rome, even asserted that ‘the three guerrilla leaders received at a cordial meeting with the Pope are those most directly and personally responsible for the antichristian massacres’. And, in support of its assertions, it published photographs of two Italian Capuchins, Giovanni da Trieste and Angelo Graziani, both assassinated in Angola.”
Recalling this papal audience of 1 July 1970, the Abbé de Nantes would write in the Liber accusationis that he addressed to Paul VI: “The event, both strange and enigmatic, is exactly the type of scandal calculated to unblock the status quo and further your designs.92”
Furthermore, the Holy See put direct pressure on the Lisbon government to have Portugal relinquish her sovereignty over her African provinces. “The nuncio”, Caetano would reveal, “had a deplorable tendency to interfere in Portugal’s domestic politics. I was even obliged to point out to him that my country had ceased to be a vassal of the Holy See many centuries ago.93”
In 1973, Portugal still held on to all her overseas acquisitions, with the exception of Goa: the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores (seen as an adjacent part of the motherland), Cape Verde, Guinea, the Islands of Sao Tome and Principe, Saint John the Baptist of Ajuda, Cabinda, Angola, Mozambique, Macau and Timor. Thus metropolitan Portugal which, in herself was only a poor small country, managed, despite a veritable international conspiracy, to maintain her sovereignty over the totality of her overseas provinces. This was truly remarkable. Dr Moreira Baptista, Secretary of State for Information, drew attention to this fact in March 1973: “There is almost something miraculous in Portugal’s situation. We are not a very numerous people; we do not enjoy the exceptional resources of the great powers; our financial and technical means are limited; and yet we have managed to preserve our position in the world and to remain worthy of the historic message we have received.94”
Alas, the miracle would not last. Progressivism had contaminated the Portugal
elite too deeply and true devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary had declined
too far for Portugal to remain the “showcase of Our Lady”, which it had been for
THE CARNATIONS REVOLUTION.
In 1973, a group of young captains founded the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) with the more or less openly declared aim of organizing a putsch. Now, at the beginning of 1974, Caetano allowed General Antonio Spinola to publish his book Portugal and the Future, very critical of the war waged against terrorism in the African provinces: this former governor of Guinea cast doubt on the possibility of the Portuguese armies achieving a military victory and recommended negotiation with the rebels.
Two months later, on 25 April 1974, the officers of the MFA staged their coup in Lisbon whilst the NATO fleet cruised offshore from the city, ready to intervene and assist the insurgents. The signal for a military uprising had been agreed in advance and was to be given by Radio renascença, the Lisbon Patriarchate’s radio station. The signal was given on 25 April, shortly after midnight, when it broadcast a stanza from the poem Grandola, Vila Morena, followed by the song of the same name, interpreted by José Afonso. Clear evidence of just how much the members of the MFA were benefiting from the complicity of Lisbon’s most senior clergy.
Marcello Caetano resigned from office on the evening of 25 April to hand power over to a junta led by General Spinola. It was the start of the Carnations Revolution. After forty years of religious renewal, of political stability and social peace, Portugal was returning to her erring ways of the past. By destroying the corporative State, the military junta, composed of liberals, freemasons95 and socialo-communists, was going to create mayhem in the country: occupations of land, seizures of farms and livestock, continual strikes, bankruptcies of private enterprises, nationalisation of 70% of the banks and industries, a catastrophic budget deficit, shortages, organised crime, an epidemic of cholera, the invasion of pornography, legalised divorce, etc.
Shortly after Caetano’s fall from office, the Abbé de Nantes published his editorial O Portugal! wherein he touched and comforted his “bereaved Portuguese friends”, such was the strength of his refutation of the lying theories which the liberals used to justify the treacherous officers’ coup d’état. We must quote two extracts from it: “Whether it was Spinola, the ‘de Gaulle of Portugal’, or the young Captain de Carvalho, who fomented the insurrection, it was easy for them as they enjoyed the trust of the head of government, which they abused, and the arms of their country, which they turned against it. I marvel at the magnitude of their crime. The excess of their imbecility astonishes me.
“These generals and captains were not as weary as people say after their many years of victorious and brave counter-guerrilla warfare. They stood firm everywhere, despite the worldwide conspiracy against them. The rebels had the support of money from the Pope and the World Council of Churches, of the condemnations issuing from the United Nations and the Justice and Peace commissions, of Russian and Czech arms, of Chinese logistical support, of Israeli military training – yes indeed! –, of American diplomatic protection, and of Scandinavian and German food and health aid. With this, they had the whole of Africa as their refuge and the whole world as their hinterland. They could not be conquered, but they were at least contained. With God’s help, Portugal would have been able to drive them back at the borders for a hundred years! And we marvelled at the way in which the unity, the order, the Catholic and national sentiment, the military discipline and also the police force, and ultimately the honour of her leaders, all effected the daily miracle of proud Portugal’s resistance against a world colluding to destroy her96.
“No, it is not the fatigue of her soldiery that has laid her low. It is our modern ideas, it is the ideas of civilians that have ravaged these military heads. They believed in democracy, in socialism, in elections and parties, all those dangerous playthings which spell disaster for us.97”
The Abbé de Nantes was expecting and hoping that the restoration of the country, the “Portuguese resurrection”, would come about through a “striking miracle” of Our Lady of Fatima, to whom the Portuguese people, at least the better part of them, remained attached. Alas, the reports he received of the ceremonies which took place at the Cova da Iria on 13 May 1974 were distressing: “It was enough to make one weep to hear what was said at Fatima during the Mass, the praise heaped on liberty, love, well-being, development, the important historical moment through which we are living, etc.98” For in his homily, pronounced before hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, Cardinal Ribeiro, Patriarch of Lisbon, had celebrated the Carnations Revolution with an act of thanksgiving: “Today, the panorama of public life in Portugal has changed… We are heading towards a pluralist society… This new world is the world of the Gospel.99”
One could recount the different phases of the Portuguese revolution by showing how the Communists strove to eliminate the liberals from power whilst the Armed Forces Movement pursued an ever more ferocious purge of the administration, the army, the judiciary, universities, banks and businesses. Every encouragement was given to informers, as a result of which many of the elite emigrated to Brazil, Spain and England.
On the eve of 25 April 1974, there was a total of 114 political prisoners in the metropolis, most of whom were charged with terrorist acts: 9 in Porto, 22 in Peniche, and 83 in Caxias. After the Carnations Revolution, there would be incarcerated in the fortress of Caxias more than 2,000 political prisoners. In short, “democracy” had now turned into “democaxias”, as some of the Portuguese ironically mused.
The Lisbon revolutionaries cowardly abandoned all the overseas territories to the separatist groups: Guinea on 10 September 1974, then Mozambique, Cape Verde, the Islands of Sao Tome and Principe and, on 11 November 1975, Angola, where the Communist terrorists of the MPLA had begun a fierce war against the Angolans of the FNLA and UNITA who refused allegiance to Moscow. In Timor, in December 1975, shortly after the Fretilin Communists had proclaimed independence, the Indonesian army invaded and occupied the entire Portuguese territory. A terrible butchery commenced. In a few weeks 150,000 men, women and children were pitilessly massacred.
This terrifying slaughter was prophetically seen by the three little
shepherds of Fatima on 13 July 1917: “… and in the same way there died one after
another bishops, priests, men and women religious, and various lay people, men
and women of different ranks and positions.”
SAVED FROM THE GREATEST PERIL
BY THE CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY.
At home, the Communists suffered a setback on 25 April 1975, at the elections for the Constituent Assembly. Having put together an unbridled and deafening propaganda campaign, paid for with funds from Moscow, they received only 12% of the vote. But this was merely an electoral defeat! Not only had they every intention of remaining in government, but also of eliminating every one of their rivals and adversaries therein. Had not General Otelo Saraivo de Carvalho declared during the electoral campaign: “The party which wins the greatest number of votes at the election will not necessarily represent the real wishes and true interests of the Portuguese people.100”
Cardinal Ribeiro soon lost control of Radio renascença. The “Workers of the Administrative Commission”, that is to say militants of the extreme left representing 19% percent of the staff employed by the radio station, seized control of it. Although continuing to broadcast the recitation of the Rosary and the celebration of Sunday Mass, they imposed programmes of marxist propaganda on their listeners. The Patriarch was unable to get the Catholic radio station restored to his board of governors. In vain did he appeal to Prime Minister Vasco Gonçalves, an accomplice of the Communists.
At the meeting of 1 May 1975, in Lisbon, the socialist leader Mario Soares was unable to make his speech: he was ejected from the official platform by Communist Party henchmen.
As had been the case in 1936, so now it looked as if one of Blessed Jacinta’s prophecies, communicated to Canon Formigao by Mother Godinho in 1920, were about to come true. Let us recall the essentials: “Our Lord is profoundly indignant at the sins and crimes which are committed in Portugal. Because of this, a terrible cataclysm of the social order menaces our country, especially the city of Lisbon. From this it seems that a civil war of an anarchist or communist character will break out, accompanied by plundering, killing, arson, and devastation of every kind.” However, as Jacinta had indicated, the chastisement could be deferred and averted by the devotion and reparation of generous souls101.
In the spring of 1975, it appeared that the country had no energy left to withstand the Bolshevik terror.
It was at this dramatic juncture that the ceremonies of the Fatima pilgrimage of 12 and 13 May 1975 took place. The Portuguese people manifested a devotion that was unchanged and even renewed by the trial. They remained impervious to the orders and mockeries of the Communists. So much so that the latter lamented in their press how little they were listened to: “Always the same unhealthy piety… Nothing changes! Poor people, their hopes will be dashed.102”
Neither Cardinal Koenig, who presided over the ceremonies, nor the apostolic nuncio had come to Fatima to preach a Crusade. The Austrian prelate’s homily on the theme of “reconciliation as the basis of peace”, could only serve to morally disarm the pilgrims.
However, after the blessing of the sick and before the farewell procession, the Portuguese episcopate, almost in its entirety, solemnly renewed Portugal’s national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Thus, the Portuguese bishops, at least the better of them, rediscovered the heritage and spirit of their predecessors, by turning towards the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the only saving recourse in the frightful perils of the hour. Their hierarchical act would not remain without fruit. Over the course of the following weeks, they would come out of their reserve and silence, as though moved by a special grace obtained through their consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
From the end of May, the Radio renanscença conflict intensified. On 18 June, to manifest their support for their Patriarch who wished to regain possession of his radio station, Catholics demonstrated before his residence, the Sant’Ana Palace. Very quickly they came under attack from activists of the extreme Left who hurled stones at them, shouting “Justice by the people! Death to fascists! Fascists to the arena!” Finding themselves encircled, they could only beat a hasty retreat into the buildings of the archbishop’s palace there to lay and care for their thirty-eight casualties. The communists and the leftists, with the connivance of the armed forces, then organised a siege of the palace.
This act of aggression aroused some lively emotions in the country. Two weeks later, on 29 June 1975, at Funchal, on the island of Madeira, fifty thousand of the faithful gathered at the call of their pastor, Mgr Francisco Santana, who, before this fervent crowd, uttered this warning: “Can the captains of 25 April 1974 or the generals of 1975 tell us what Portugal’s future will be? Will it be a socialist republic of the Soviet type or a popular republic of the Chinese type? We want nothing to do with either of these.103”
At Aveiro, on 13 July, thousands of the faithful turned up at the railway station to welcome their bishop, Mgr Almeida Trinidade, President of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, who had just returned from Rome, and they accompanied him in procession to the cathedral. In his homily, the bishop called on Christians and all men of good will to organise similar demonstrations in other cities in Portugal.
At Fatima, on 13 May 1975, the Portuguese bishops renew the national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Here are some extracts from this:
“O Most Holy Mary who art truly the Mother of God and our Mother, since Thou didst conceive, in Thy Heart most pure and Thy virginal womb, Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Life, look favourably on the renewal which we make today of the consecration of Portugal to Thy Immaculate Heart.
“O Our Lady of the Rosary, Queen of Portugal, we are profoundly grateful to Thee for having mercifully accepted the consecration which the Portuguese episcopate made to Thee in times that were difficult for our country and catastrophic for the world. For Thou didst spare us from the horrors of the greatest war in history and Thou hast kept at peace both our country, which belongs to Thee, and our hearts which likewise desire to remain Thine.
“We thank Thee, O Thou who art the Mediatrix of grace and of all the spiritual and temporal blessings which Thou hast maternally bestowed on us, without examining our merits or taking account of our faults. We thank Thee for having placed Thy trust in our people, by promising them at Fatima the greatest gift possible here below: perseverance in the faith. That faith which is that of the Holy Church, One, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman.
“We also consecrate to Thee those who do not wish to consecrate themselves to Thee that Thou mayest accept through our intervention what is owing to Thee on their part, which they refuse to Thee. We consecrate to Thee our countryside, our schools, our factories, all our institutions.”
To understand the state of mind of the Catholics who took part in these gatherings, one must read the testimony of a Portuguese priest, a testimony truly moving in its simplicity104. This ecclesiastic first draws a quick sketch of Portugal’s catastrophic situation in this summer of 1975.
“The Communists have ruined the country and exhausted the currency reserves created by the old regime. They have raised workers’ wages to such a level that employers no longer have the money to pay them. Private companies have been bankrupted. There is much unemployment and poverty. Life has become a sacrifice for many of us.
“It is possible that civil war is imminent. Wherever the Communists have seized power, they have never relinquished it in the past, except when forced to do so through bloodshed. If Portugal is plunged into civil war, it will be the Communists’ greatest crime. The ways of the Portuguese are those of peace; they have no taste for blood. They have a great capacity for suffering.
“In Lisbon, there reigns an atmosphere of sadness and fear. The churches are full. People pray a great deal. There are many nightly acts of adoration.
“We have complete trust in Our Lady who said at Fatima: ‘In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved.’ The faith can be preserved in the soul of everyone, even in times of persecution, but the dogma of the faith signifies the truths proclaimed by the Church across the centuries: the condemnation of naturalism and secularism. We hope therefore that, on account of this promise, Communism’s dominance in Portugal will be short-lived.
“The people endure the current trial with great humility. They even say: ‘We deserve what is happening.’ As Our Lord grants His grace to the humble of heart, we truly hope that Our Lady will save Portugal a second time.105”
Since the beginning of the Carnations Revolution, a genuine renewal of piety had taken place among both the clergy and the faithful. “When our nation was on the verge of becoming the Cuba of Europe”, recounts Father A. M. Martins, “we had recourse to God through the powerful Mediation of Mary. The daily recitation of the family Rosary intensified. Our country had never prayed as much before. In many cities and towns, Masses were celebrated daily in honour of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, begging Her protection for Portugal. For months I celebrated Mass with this intention at Porto.106”
It was especially in the regions of the North and the Centre, where the country priests retained an undisputed authority over the peoples, that the greatest demonstrations were organised over the summer of 1975.
On Sunday 27 July, in Bragança, five thousand country people dared to defy the warnings of the MFA who had announced that the armed forces would open fire on any gathering. The danger was very real. On 4 August, at Vila Nova de Famaliçao, Communist soldiers fired on the crowd: two people died.
On 10 August, in Braga, Mgr Francisco Maria da Silva, Primate of Portugal, preached a homily to eighty thousand of the faithful, which created a stir well beyond his diocese.
“The hour has come to say no. The will of our Catholic people is sovereign. One must respect it. The people must be able to take up their responsibilities in the conviction that there exist eternal, irreplaceable values: God, Church, Country. What is at stake is the freedom of our people, the practice of our religion, the very rights of the human person […]. We do not want to see the exploitation of man by man, even less the exploitation of man by the totalitarian State, towards which a minority group acting on orders from abroad wants to lead us. Let us have an end to Communism, which is hostile to both God and to the Church of Christ.107”
The country people chanted: “Long live the Portugal of Holy Mary!” “Long live the Portugal of Fatima!” And the immense crowd sang a hymn to Christ the King. What would have been unthinkable a few days earlier now took place at Braga: Catholics attacked around forty of the Communist Party’s offices, which were ransacked and set on fire.
On 18 August, at Alcobaça, the Secretary of the Communist Party, Alvaro Cunhal, found himself surrounded by a counter demonstration of country people. Trapped on the premises, he had to await the arrival of soldiers from Lisbon before he could be extricated.
This mobilisation of Catholics, ready to shed their blood to defend the Church’s freedom, had a decisive effect. “There took place”, observes Jean-Marc Dufour, “a phenomenon identical to, but the inverse of, that which had been seen a year earlier, immediately after the revolution: the reverential wonder for the Communist party disappeared. The officers, who had believed it to be the strongest and most intelligent party, now noticed that the PCP was peopled with narrow-minded militants of a typically middle-class mentality and that it was incapable of keeping order outside the working-class areas of Lisbon or the half-African provinces of the South. Factions within the Armed Forces Movement then began to demonstrate.108”
When soldiers of the extreme Left attempted a takeover coup, on 25 November 1975, they were defeated: the uprising of paratroopers in Tancos was put down and repressed by Lieutenant-Colonel Eanes’ commandos.
At the beginning of 1976, part of the independent press was able to re-emerge, Radio renascença was restored to the Lisbon archbishopric, and prisoners held in marxist jails, who had survived brutality and torture, were gradually freed. On 27 June 1976, General Ramalho Eanes, who had brought the revolutionary process to a standstill the previous 25 November, was elected President of the Republic.
Summarising these events, François Léger writes: “The course of affairs only changed direction from the day when the Catholic hierarchy left its prolonged silence and took a stand against Alvaro Cunhal’s Stalinian escalation. On 10 August 1975, an event which had looked like it would never happen finally took place. The Archbishop of Braga pronounced the historic ‘no’ awaited by his people and the Communist push was stopped in its tracks. The Archbishop of Braga had averted the worst. He was the shepherd of his flock.
“But the fact that there was still at that time a pastor with the courage to speak out, and a people capable of listening to him, was the legacy and at the same time the posthumous gift of Salazar. The wise and ‘obstinate’ old man had known how to protect his people against the tide of modern errors. He had left behind him priests who still were priests, and a multitude of people who were still free from corruption. The revolutionary flood came up against this resistance and could only wash back again.109”
Such an explanation is not entirely satisfactory. Portugal, as we have seen, had been deeply contaminated by liberalism and progressivism under President Caetano’s government. Furthermore, in the spring of 1975, the Communists appeared to have finally won the upper hand over all their adversaries. Bernard Tilly wrote: “Portugal – apart from a miracle which is scarcely visible on the horizon, but was there not Fatima? – is fast heading towards popular democracy. A counter-revolution appears to be out of the question, given the balance of power.110”
Now, the unexpected breakthrough came shortly after the renewal of Portugal’s national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Such a chain of events is remarkable: in answer to their solemn act of 13 May 1975, Our Lady of Fatima visibly granted the Portuguese bishops the grace and understanding to save their nation from the hell of Communism.
“In the history of Portugal”, remarks Patriarch Ribeiro, “the protective presence of the Mother of God has manifested itself more than once. To allude to recent events alone, I can say that it was the consecration made by the Portuguese bishops to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, at Fatima in 1931, that protected Portugal from the Communist peril, then very close to its borders. It was the renewal of this consecration in 1938 that preserved Portugal from the horrors of the last world war, at a time when it was devastating so many countries in Europe. And undoubtedly it was the Portuguese people’s great devotion to the Virgin, ratified by the consecration performed by the bishops of Portugal in 1975, that halted the advance of atheistic Communism amongst us, at the moment when it had already taken control of several governmental structures and was threatening to submerge the whole of Portugal’s public and private life.111”
Portugal evaded the yoke of Communism thanks to the prayers and penances of her humble country people, but thanks even more to the act of consecration of 13 May 1975. Let us not forget that if the Virgin Mary is the all-powerful Mediatrix, able to distribute torrents of grace, God wishes Her to dispense them in reply to the filial, public and solemn devotion of the Pastors of the flock. This is an essential aspect of the message of Fatima.
It is evident that the Portuguese bishops had not recovered from all their illusions: they had not repudiated the humanist chimeras of Paul VI. Therefore the renewal of the national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary only obtained temporary and limited graces. “The Catholic crusade”, remarked the Abbé de Nantes, “halted the process of the Communist takeover. All it took was a speech from the Archbishop of Braga to rouse the whole people against the Bolsheviks. Since then, nothing! Nothing but an appeal by the Pope for peace, for fraternity and, doubtless on his orders, a collective declaration by the Portuguese episcopate condemning every act of violence.112”
Portugal had admittedly been delivered from marxist dictatorship, but she had not subsequently returned to being “Our Lady’s showcase”: she would no longer be governed by a providential leader during the ’80s and ’90s.
However, let us be careful not to forget the maternal protection she enjoyed in 1975, when her Pastors and so many fervent souls manifested their devotion to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom God has entrusted the whole order of Mercy. It was at the time a kind of fulfilment of the prophetic vision of the Third Secret: the flames of the Angel of Extermination, which symbolise the wars provoked by the errors of Russia, were beginning to set Portugal alight when Our Lady, touched by the supplications of Her children, extinguished them with the brilliant light radiating from Her right hand.
The essential lesson of this “politics of God” in Portugal, according to the spirit and message of Fatima, remains a pledge of hope for us: assuredly, it is devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that can and that must save our nations from the greatest perils.
PRESIDENT SALAZAR’S DEVOTION FOR OUR LADY
NE year after the death of Dr Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, the periodical Mensagem de Fatima113 published an article entitled “Salazar e Nossa Senhora”, probably written by Father Fernando Leite. Here are several extracts from it:
Salazar always kept in his private chapel a crucifix of “Saint” Father Cruz and an image of Our Lady of the Conception, before which he would go to pray and ask for light at difficult moments in the nation’s life.
Every Sunday and on feast days, it was there that he heard Mass, acting himself as the server. He would prepare the altar in advance, for he did not want to leave this task to anyone else. It was also in this chapel that the celebrations of the month of Mary took place: he took part in these with a filial devotion. He had a great love for the canticles. At the end, he would make some observations either of a kindly of mischievous nature depending on how the melodies had been interpreted.
On his bedroom table, there was an image of Our Lady of Fatima. Once someone brought him from this sanctuary an image of Our Lady with its own music box. What joy he felt listening to the Fatima Ave Maria! He took the statue and kissed it with a filial tenderness.
When anyone spoke to him about Our Lady, he would become so emotional that sometimes tears could be seen glistening and flowing down his cheeks. He would repeat with a profound sincerity: “For me Our Lady is an intimate friend.”
He attributed Portugal’s renaissance to Fatima. In June 1952, Douglas Hyde, the ex-editor of an English Communist newspaper, came to Fatima to thank Our Lady for his conversion. He visited Salazar and asked him:
“Is Portugal’s spiritual renaissance linked to Fatima?
– That is certainly the general opinion here and, on the human level, everyone thinks the same… and I am of their number. But, on the spiritual level, we cannot and must not allow ourselves to become vain about it.”
A few days before his death, he told how, as a student, he had made a pact with the Virgin Mary and he added: “Ever since then, I have always felt Her very special protection.”
In his house, the Most Blessed Virgin was honoured every day with the devotion of the Rosary. The servants recited it together. Owing to his numerous duties, Salazar would say it alone every evening, at the time when the others retired to go to sleep. Christine Garnier, who published a wonderful little book about Salazar, succeeded in delving into his private life and she tells us of the “long prayers he said at night in his chapel”. Alone, in the silence of the night, the head of government said his Rosary, for his hours of sleep were very short and the weight of his cares very heavy… But never, never ever, did he neglect to say his Rosary.
Aware of the campaign against the Rosary, Salazar declared (and we quote him verbatim): “People are setting aside the recitation of the Rosary. What a catastrophe! Stop saying the Rosary and you will soon see what happens… Our Lady has a great love for this devotion which must be maintained in our country.”
In September 1968, he had been poorly. After a slight recovery, he suffered a stroke, accompanied by violent headaches. His first exclamation was: “Ah! Our Lady, my Beloved!”
During his final illness, he would say smilingly: “Our Lady of Fatima’s veil must be very torn by now. Everyone is tugging at it, asking that I might not die! I’m alive. God simply wished to show the power of prayer.”
In 1970, he followed the exercises of the Month of the Sacred Heart with his characteristic piety. When the last day of the month arrived, he said: “What a pity that it is already over! Extend it for another fortnight.” They acceded to his wishes. Two weeks later, on 16 July to be precise, he fell seriously ill; he was never to recover.
On the 27th of that same month, he expired in the peace of the Lord showing his gratitude for all the care lavished upon him.
Dressed in his University of Coimbra teacher's gown,
he was buried at Vimieiro, the town of his birth, holding between his
cold white hands the Rosary that he had loved so much and which he had recited
throughout his life.
1. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 2, p. 233 sq.
2. Ibid., p. 209.
3. Adrien Loubier, Échec au ralliement, Sainte Jeanne d’Arc publications, 1995, p. 61 and p. 96.
4. Ibid., p. 61.
5. The new state, instituted by Salazar, was not officially Catholic. The 1940 concordat theoretically maintained the separation of Church and State; cf. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 2, p. 244, 264 sq. Nevertheless, for forty years, thanks to President Salazar and his friend, Cardinal Cerejeira, the Portuguese Church and State were “in happy concert”, to use Saint Pius X’s beautiful expression in his Letter on the Sillon.
6. “L’Église face aux dictatures”, CRC no 105, May 1976, p. 14.
7. “Salazar e Nossa Senhora”, Mensagem de Fatima, July-August 1971, p. 4.
8. Letter quoted, with no indication of its addressee, by A. M. Martins, Fatima, caminho da paz, Braga, 1983, p. 77.
9. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 2, p. 271 sq.
10. Quoted by Jacques Ploncard d’Assac, Salazar, Dominique Martin Morin publications, 1983, p. 211.
11. According to the constitution of 1933, the National Assembly was a legislative chamber made up of a relatively small number of deputies: ninety. Every bill, before it could be submitted to a vote of the National Assembly, had to be studied and approved by the Corporate Chamber. The government was not accountable to the National Assembly, it depended exclusively on the trust of the President of the Republic. In short, the new state, established by General Carmona and Salazar, was not a parliamentary regime.
12. Franco Nogueira, Salazar, vol. 5, Civilizaçao, 2000, p.18.
13. Ibid., vol. 4, p. 30.
14. These consist of a photocopy of the first page of Sister Lucy’s letter (Archives of the Sanctuary, AE D: 3278) and a copy of this letter written by Mgr da Silva (ibid).
15. The copy of the letter finishes here. It is probable that Sister Lucy next asked the bishop for his blessing.
16. Obras pastorais, vol. 3, p. 85 sq.
17. Photograph of the manuscript in the Expresso of 20 May 2000, p. 38.
18. Jean-François Labourdette, Histoire du Portugal, Fayard, 2000, p. 592.
20. Ibid., p. 567, 588.
21. Ibid., p. 594.
22. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 2, p. 264.
23. Letter written by Lucy on 23 February 1949. A. M. Martins, op. cit., p. 93.
24. One may read the text of the consecration in Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 3, p. 359 sq.
25. Quoted in Monumento nacional a Cristo Rei, Memoria historica, 1936-1959, published by the National Secretariat for the Monument, Lisbon, 1965, p. 203.
26. Father Agostinho Veloso (1894-1970) had particularly distinguished himself by his combats for the defence of dogma. He attacked, for instance, the theories of Father Teilhard de Chardin, and, in connection with Fatima, he proved the falsity of Father Dhanis’ thesis; cf. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 1, p. 12.
27. José Geraldes Freire, Resistencia catolica ao Salazarismo-Marcelismo, Telos, Porto, 1976, p. 57.
28. Salazar had the wisdom to reject any compromise: Mgr Gomes remained in exile for ten years. He was only able to return to Portugal under the government of his successor, President Marcello Caetano.
29. This declaration was reproduced in the Portuguese press on 2 March 1960.
30. Speech of 29 November 1958, Obras pastorais, vol. 5, p. 314.
31. Obras pastorais, vol. 5, p. 196-201, extracts.
32. Pastoral letter of the Portuguese episcopate, Easter 1938. Obras pastorais, vol. 2, p. 145.
33. Quoted in “Salazar”, L’Ordre français, September-October 1970, p. 65.
34. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 3, p. 298.
35. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 2, p. 266.
36. D. C., 1961, col. 251-252.
37. Paul Sérant, Salazar et son temps, Les sept couleurs, 1961, p. 117.
38. Robert Pesquet, Les derniers Blancs d’Afrique, published by the author, September 1961, p. 44.
39. Ploncard d’Assac, op. cit., p. 311.
40. Labourdette, op. cit., p. 603.
41. A Voz, 18 April 1961. Quoted in the Informations catholiques internationales of 15 June 1971.
42. Let us point out that in Portugal, in keeping with the articles of the concordat of 7 May 1940, and up until their modification on 15 February 1975, divorce was only authorised for spouses who had not made a Catholic marriage; cf. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 2, p. 266 sq.
43. Quoted by A. M. Martins, op. cit., p. 89.
44. Ibid., p. 87.
45. Ibid., p. 78-79.
48. During the ceremony of 17 May 1959, there took place the miracle of the doves and of the extraordinary solar phenomena; cf. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 3, p. 355-356; 363-366.
49. The bishops were perhaps alluding to the question, debated two years earlier, of introducing God’s name into the 1933 Constitution. For, on 7 July 1959, following the advice of President Salazar, the majority of the deputies of the National Assembly rejected the bill to introduce God’s name in a preface to the Constitution. Was Salazar’s opposition to this bill justified, or was it, on the contrary, a mistake on his part? We do not pretend to settle this question within the context of this study. Salazar operated a policy that was very favourable to the Church, but it was not directly inspired by a strong counter-revolutionary doctrine like that which the Abbé de Nantes set forth in the 150 Points of our Phalangist Communion.
50. Lumen, 1961, p. 277-281.
51. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 3, p. 224, 271 sq.
52. O pensamento de Salazar: Portugal, Goa e a Uniao Indiana, Secretariado nacional da informaçao, 1956, p. 7-8.
53. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 3, p. 283.
54. A. M. Martins, op. cit., p. 94.
55. L’Homme nouveau of 7 January 1962.
56. Quoted by Nogueira, vol. 5, op. cit., p. 365.
57. Ibid., p. 380.
58. Pastoral note of 20 January 1962.
59. Poem by Camoens which tells of the voyage of Vasco da Gama and is a sort of national epic to the glory of Portugal.
60. Letter of December 1961. A. M. Martins, op. cit., p. 79.
61. Letter of December 1961, ibid., p. 90.
62. Pastoral note of 20 January 1962. D. C., 1962, p. 314.
63. Ploncard d’Assac, op. cit., p. 317-318.
64. Lettre à mes amis no 100, extracts.
65. As witnessed in his speech of 30 November 1967, addressed to the representatives of the Portuguese municipalities of Mozambique; cf. CRC no 4, January 1968, p. 12.
66. Nogueira, op. cit., vol. 4, p. 431.
67. Constança Cunha e Sa e Paulo Portas, “O encontro entre vossa santidade e vossa eternidade”, in O independente of 3 May 1991.
69. Letter of 18 October 1964. Nogueira, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 595.
70. Informations catholiques internationales, 1 November 1964.
71. Constança Cunha, O independente, 3 May 1991.
73. Nogueira, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 598.
74. “Rencontre avec Salazar”, Jours de France of 7 August 1965, p. 35.
75. Nogueira, op. cit., vol. 6, p. 83.
76. One must read the magisterial analysis and critique of the encyclical, published by the Abbé de Nantes, in his Letter to my friends no 245, dated April 1967. Let us retain one of his conclusions: “Paul VI’s vision is fanning the flames of that fire which is consuming our planet. It is Lamennais the visionary on the throne of Saint Peter.”
77. Nogueira, op. cit., vol. 6, p. 271-272, extracts.
78. Constança Cunha, op. cit.
79. Lumen, July 1962, p. 651.
80. Pastoral letter of the Portuguese episcopate, dated 29 June 1966, for the jubilee of the apparitions.
81. Azam-Lafont, La liberté religieuse au Portugal, a law doctorate thesis, 1976, University of Toulouse, p. 207.
82. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 2, p. 237.
83. “Salazar e Nossa Senhora”, Mensagem de Fatima, July-August 1971, p. 4.
84. Salazar would emerge from his coma and slowly recover. He would die in the peace of God on 27 July 1970; cf. the appendix to this chapter.
85. Cf. Manuel Murias, “Le Marcellisme”, L’Ordre français no 187, January 1975, p. 32-33.
86. Quoted by the Informations catholiques internationales, no 341-342, August 1969, p. 15.
87. Ibid., no 373, 1 December 1970, p. 18.
88. Freire, op. cit., p. 144.
89. Marie sous le symbole du Coeur, Téqui, 1973, p. 142.
90. Azam-Lafont, op. cit., p. 249.
91. Quoted in the journal Découvertes, no 73-74, June-July 1970, p. 28-29.
92. Liber accusationis in Paulum sextum, CRC, 1973, p. 81.
93. Quoted in L’Ordre français no 190, April 1975, p. 58.
94. Découvertes, no 103, May-June 1973, p. 22.
95. Let us quote a very telling declaration from the Lodge of France, dated May 1974: “Our order, which was severely repressed during the dictatorship and reduced to clandestinity, can at last thrive and flourish anew in Portugal which can thus resume its place in the universal masonic harmony.” (L’Ordre français, no 189, March 1975, p. 36.
96. The accuracy of our Father’s remarks is confirmed by articles on Portugal by General Janssens and Bernard Tilly, published in 1974 and 1975 in the monthly journal L’Ordre français.
97. “Ô Portugal!” CRC no 80, May 1974, p. 1-2, extracts.
98. Private correspondence, quoted in the CRC no 81, June 1974, p. 15.
99. Les voyants de Fatima, 1974, no 3, p. 3.
100. L’Ordre français no 195, November 1975, p. 27.
101. “Un message de Notre-Dame pour le chanoine Formigao”, Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 2, p. 107-109.
102. Quoted in Les voyants de Fatima, 1975, no 3.
103. B. Tilly, “Le coup de Prague avorté”, L’Ordre français no 195, November 1975, p. 34.
104. L’Homme nouveau of 2 November 1975, p. 6.
105. We recall that the Communist peril had been averted in a quite unexpected manner in 1936, after the solemn vow pronounced by the bishops at Fatima, on 13 May of that year; cf. Toute la vérité sur Fatima, vol. 2, p. 267.
106. A. M. Martins, Ephemerides mariologicae, 1986, p. 347. CRC no 222, May 1986, p. 14.
107. L’Ordre français no 195, November 1975, p. 36.
108. Jean-Marc Dufour, “Ce que fut l’été portugais”, Itinéraires no 197, November 1975, p. 32.
109. La revue universelle des faits et des idées, no 34, July-August 1977, p. 51-52, extracts.
110. L’Ordre français no 188, February 1975, p. 40.
111. Allocution of 18 September 1977. Les voyants de Fatima, 1978, nos 1-2, p. 3.
112. “Catholicisme contre communisme”, CRC no 97, October 1975, p. 1.
113. No 82, July-August 1971, p. 4.
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