A question about Fatima and Hell

A question about Fatima and Hell October 11, 2013

over at the Register.

Most people seem to get my point, but there are always a few people who show up and insist that Fatima has to added to the deposit of faith as though it were a fifth gospel. These are the people who don’t see Mary as another God, but as another Pope.

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  • -Lord, when will that happen?…
    -That day and hour no one knows…
    -How many will be saved?…
    -You enter the narrow gate…
    -Will you now restore the kingdom?…
    -It is not for you to know the times or moments…

    We are so curious, so anxious to get information, (classified data), and Jesus gives us so little of that…
    We expect God to tell us “things are so and so” (theoretical knowledge). He instead tell us “you act so and so” (existential truth).

    And still we are not satisfied with this, we resent that Jesus (and the revelation) has given us so little matter-of-fact information, we are still hungry and we buy apparitions that might let us peek behind the curtains.

    And we even delude ourselves into assuming that our gluttony has some religious virtue.

    Curiosity kills conversion.

    • Rebecca Duncan

      Yeah I ‘buy’ Fatima. The Church has approved it as worthy of belief so it isn’t for you to call others on believing in it. If you’re speaking of unapproved apparitions, that’s fine, but saying this about Fatima is curious to say the least.

      • HornOrSilk

        We can believe or not believe. People should not call others on not believing in apparition or locution. That isn’t needed to be a Catholic. But what I think is the issue is not the belief, but how one interprets it. Interpretations of locutions easily go astray by believers, ignoring the point:grace, as StJohn of the Cross points out.

        • Rebecca Duncan

          Yes, I’m aware that we can believe or not believe in the message of Fatima. But he’s saying that because someone does believe in an apparition it is gluttony and curiosity that kills conversion. I feel that is out of line. If he’s speaking of chasing after many apparitions that are not approved, then I can agree with him. But, simply believing in the message of Fatima is not bad in the way he described it.

          • HornOrSilk

            “Believing in the message of Fatima” is often not so simple. Many confuse the INTERPRETATION with the message. They are not one and the same. And with Fatima, you have many conspiracy theories about the “real messages” which have been “hidden.” You know, it’s not so simple.

      • You can “buy” apparitions in the same sense you can buy biblical passages. I has nothing to do wit “believe” in them. I personally believe in Fatima. I (from Argentina) have travelled to Europe especially to visit Fatima and Lourdes.

        But to believe in an apparitions is quite different than hunger for them, as oracles that gives us secret data. That -together with the claim that is a “Church approved” thing- would amount to turn it into a revelation that magically (and aside small “transmision errors”) informs us from first hand about “objetive divine things”. The Church has never read apparitions in that way -you can check this- she has always stressed that its truth is purely (not merely) existential, directed towards our conversion, never to our objective information, never to our curiosity.

        If you want objetive data, you can measure the correlation that exists between this hunger for “informative apparitions” and catholic tribal nuttiness (of a particular kind).Ask yourself if these people (a nice example is those who argue that the “true” 3rd secret of Fatima is still hidden in the Vatican -oh, the tons of “informative speculation” that that secret had caused in these circles!, I had bought some of that, let me tell you) if these people are’nt precisely the least docile to accept God’s will, as we can (and must) read in the world history.

  • jackryan

    you can’t take the protestant out of Mark. sigh.

    • chezami

      I believe all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims is revealed by God. And I think that an awful lot of conservative Catholics like you are rapidly becoming the Older Brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. You smug pride is repellent. Bye!

    • HornOrSilk

      If one doesn’t accept Fatima, it doesn’t make them Protestant. It’s not necessary for a Catholic. And even then the interpretation of visions of hell are NOT easy. They don’t represent authoritative statements about who are damned, the Church has always said that.

  • Alma Peregrina

    Not one of your best articles, Mark. Of course you are right in pointing out that Fatima is not part of the obligatory deposit of faith… but that is irrelevant to the argument. In fact, dumbing down Fatima can be counterproductive.

    I, for once, can’t see what’s your reader’s problem with Fatima’s message. Is it really so far fetched to acknowledge that lots of souls go to hell for our inaction? I’m not really focusing on prayer… I’m talking about evangelizing, I’m talking about showing love and compassion to our lost brothers, I’m talking about letting our Christianity shine in the world.

    Yes, lots of souls go to hell thanks to christian’s inactions. You don’t need Fatima to tell you that.

    • HornOrSilk

      Yes, it is far fetched. You know, if they don’t have a proper witness to the Gospel and a proper means to understand it, they are under invincible ignorance. They are not damned for lack of knowledge. This idea that they are goes against Catholic theology. Those who promote this overwhelming majority of people in hell, and use apparitions to prove it, ignore what apparitions are about: warning. Think Jonah.

      • Alma Peregrina

        HornOrSilk: Never have I said that “overwhelming majority of people” go to hell. I said that “lots of people” go to hell. Imagine, even if only 1% of our current population goes to hell… it’s still lots.

        And your comment about invincible ignorance does have some value, but I’ve known “lots” of people leaving the Church and entering into sinful lives because they didn’t see Christ in the Church. Do you know what a sinful life is? It’s HELL! The absence of God, the void, the suffering… not as a punishment, but as a consequence!

        I’m not a grumpy ol’ traditionalist bent on condemning everyone… but it is not far fetched to think of a situation where someone went to hell, but would never be condemned if he/she met a real christian at some point of his/her life, before his/her soul was so hardened it never again accepted God, not even on Judgment Day.

        I really love Mark, I really do, and read him with respect. But, I’m sorry… if the Mother of God appears on Earth and “WARNS” (as you said) that lots of people go to hell because we do not pray for them, I’m taking her word for it instead of Mark’s. Nothing personal… it’s just some kind of Paschal wager, nothing to lose by praying.

        • HornOrSilk

          Quite a few will say, “the majority do,” and use authors like Augustine to do so. And yet this idea that “lots” will is not necessary, either. We do not know! The Church does not know! We CAN hope for the salvation of all (which is not the same as saying it will happen). Nonetheless, to make any determination, to say we know “many” will, is false. The Church doesn’t know this.

          Invincible ignorance can also happen with people who enter the Church. It’s far more complicated than people realize. It’s not the simple, “You were told.” Comprehension is necessary.

          Things are not “stretched” at all, except for those who think they know about things they do not know. We do not know. That is the state of things. We do not know. We know of warnings, but Jesus said he would give the sign of Jonah. Guess what that sign included? Warning of total destruction which led to everyone being saved! Did you catch that in the Jonah story? After Jonah’s descent into hades (the whale), he came out, followed God’s mission, and saved those he warned! Imagine that.

          This is why a warning is not the same thing as a determination. And even if you totally accept it is the Theotokos, it does NOT mean your interpretation of her warning is what she meant. As is clear from all the great mystics, locutions are not so readily interpreted. The main mission of all such activity is grace. And thus, while there is a warning, warning is not actuality. We don’t know the actuality until the eschaton. Don’t be like a Protestant with, “if the Bible says X… it’s clearly X” and do it with locutions which are FAR less clear than the Bible, which itself needs all kinds of interpretative schemes!

          • Alma Peregrina

            OK, you’re right that I don’t know if “lots” of people go to hell.

            So let me avoid sidesteping the question and focus on the essencial (the reader’s question that motivated this post).

            You said that the Fatima revelations can be construed as a “warning” and that said warning (per Jonah) may result in everyone being saved.

            A little optimistic in my opinion, but legitimate.

            But, then, what you are saying is this:
            If we don’t heed Fatima’s “warning”, then lots of people will go to hell. Like, if Nineveh didn’t heed Jonah’s warning, they would be destroyed, right?

            So, if we don’t heed Fatima’s warning and don’t pray for the sinner’s souls, they will go to hell.

            Ergo, lots of souls will be condemned IF christians do not act in accordance to what Our Lady said.

            So, even your “interpretation” doesn’t avoid the terrible conclusion: lots of people may be condemned by christian’s inactions…

            … which is what this post is all about! The reader doesn’t accept that people may go to hell because we failed to act!
            I, sincerely, can’t see what is the problem here. I do see a problem in saying: “Oh, it is not necessary for christians to do anything, sinners have invincible ignorance to save them”. Well, you don’t know. You don’t know if “lots” of sinners are saved because of invincible ignorance. So, let us listen to the WARNINGS and pray for the sinners, lest someone goes to hell because of our inaction.

            • HornOrSilk

              We don’t know what is going to happen. We just know it is a warning, that people might go to hell. We don’t know if they will, or if something else will intervene. We can’t know.

              • Alma Peregrina

                “We don’t know if they will, or if something else will intervene.”

                So what is the purpose of the warning? Why would the Mother of God appear on Earth to issue such a warning and why would God confirm such warning with a miracle? Why must christians live a crucified life, always toiling with prayer and evangelization?

                • HornOrSilk

                  The purpose of all warnings is to help US in OUR spiritual lives for OUR personal conversion. And also, the purpose of ALL locutions (as per John of the Cross) is GRACE.

                  • Alma Peregrina

                    OK, then God or Our Lady are lying. She could simply appear and say “Pray for your spiritual lives, for your personal conversion”, but she instead creates a false warning about other people’s salvations, that were never at stake in the first place.

                    Sorry, but your interpretation is a bit far fetched and has lots of loop holes. And, in fact, I don’t see the point in it. All of this just to deny that our inactions have consequences in other people’s lives?

                    • chezami

                      She also commands us to pray “lead *all* souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy”. God does not command us to pray for the impossible. Catholic teaching on hell always exists between these two polarities and you can’t privilege one over the other.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      “Catholic teaching on hell always exists between these two polarities and you can’t privilege one over the other.”

                      Agreed. But I’m not privileging one polarity over the other. HornOrSilk, on the other hand, seems to privilege the polarity that says that God will always have a safety net to save everyone, no matter what… so every action that we take to “lead souls to heaven” is, at the end of the day, meaningless.

                      I don’t know if everyone is saved or not, if they are many or few… What I’m saying is that people “may” be condemned if we fail to act. That’s all that I’m saying here.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      I am saying we don’t know if anyone is in hell, or will be damned. We don’t. To say we know someone is to say that the polarities have collapsed, and praying for the salvation of all, as per the Marian prayer, is deception (as per your discussion of lies). You are the one who is going far-fetched, failing to understand rhetorical methods and ways warnings are given. “You have duped me, Lord” – do you know who said that, btw? It’s because we let ourselves be duped by falsely interpreting God, trying to put him into a corner, like those who DEMAND some HAVE to be damned.

                      1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost: ‘Lord, let me never be parted from you.’ If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God ‘desires all men to be saved’ (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him ‘all things are possible’ (Mt 19:26).

                      1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere ‘to the end’ and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for ‘all men to be saved.’

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      This is getting really tiring, HornOrSilk.

                      Let me sumarize this for you, because you simply can’t grasp my position:

                      1- I don’t know how many are damned, IF ANY.

                      2 – I do hope that everyone will be saved.

                      3 – I do pray that everyone will be saved.

                      4 – I don’t want anyone to be in hell

                      My point of contention is this, and only this:

                      THESIS: I think it is possible that souls MAY go to hell because of christians inactions.


                      Your Catechism quotes don’t address this, so I can’t see what’s your point, besides trying to put me (ONCE AGAIN) in the same bag as those hell-obsessed traditionalists.

                      So, the next time you bring up a strawman to respond me, I will disregard your comment and end this conversation.

                      Thank you.

                      PS: Oh, and praying for all souls to go to heaven (per the Marian prayer) is deception? How? A warning may be false, but a request isn’t! Your response “per my discussion of lies” simply demonstrates that you haven’t understood anything I said.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Right. That prayer itself says a lot, especially “those most in need of thy mercy.” That would be those most likely to perish in hell. We pray for them. We don’t exclude anyone. There is hope. And the Church warns us of hell, but does not say who, if anyone, will be judged and damned because the only judge there is Christ. So many forget this!

                    • HornOrSilk

                      You confuse your interpretation of them with what they are meaning. How, moreover, is a warning false? You really should read John of the Cross on locutions. It might help you.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      “You confuse your interpretation of them with what they are meaning.”


                      I’m saying that my interpretation is more plausible than your interpretation.

                      You failed to give me a satisfactory justification as to why your interpretation is true.
                      “How, moreover, is a warning false?”

                      Of course a warning can be false.

                      If you warn me and say: “If you enter that house, a killer will be there and will kill you”…
                      … and then I enter that house and nothing happens…
                      … then the warning was false.


  • Mark R

    One of the hundreds of differences between the Western and the Eastern Churches is the approach to visions. There is a much larger defense against visions in the East to avoid spiritual delusion…They are not totally unknown…if God wants to get to you, He will! Whereas in the West, it seems as though we are primed by our heritage for visions and apparitions.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    Yikes. In those comments, it’s really scary to see how many people don’t know what the difference between public and private revelation is. Apparently, this is an area for greater error than I knew. It’s hard to believe that people think that Fatima counts as public revelation.

    • HornOrSilk

      Just look at how some think it is heresy to say we don’t know if anyone is in hell, despite that being the official teaching of the Church. Have they read Pope John Paul II or Benedict on Judas? Both made it clear, they don’t know his fate (and the Church makes it very clear, it doesn’t know who is in hell, if anyone). And yes, it is not a heresy to hope all might be saved as long as that hope is not universalism which sees it necessary.

    • chezami

      Clearly you are a half-breed Protestant convert who doesn’t understand the sensus fidelium. You need somebody to stoop down from their lofty position as a cradle Catholic and set you straight.

      • Ooh, yeah, I read that comment. I guess I’m a bad cradle Catholic, since I spend very little time thinking about Fatima.