Are the indices of the imminence of the end given in scripture actually supposed to be of use to us? They seem to have saved the lives of the Christians of Jerusalem prior to the destruction of that City in A.D. 70. The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima can hardly have been a minor event. As a theophany it seems to be nudging the parting of the Red Sea. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that God intends us to take these signs seriously.

The last successor states to the Roman Empire fell just under a century ago, the Gospel has been preached to all nations, the Jews have reconquered Jerusalem, we are in the midst of a vast apostasy of the nations from Christ and his Church and the British and French legislatures are engaged in a Gadareene race to put the abomination of desolation in the holy place.

Sr Lucia said the Third Secret of Fatima could not be revealed until 1960 “because it will be clearer then”. On 25th January 1959 John XXIII announced his intention to summon an Ecumenical Council. The following year he opened the Third Secret and put it away again without revealing its nature. He is supposed to have said “This prophecy does not relate to my time.” Sr Lucia prefaced the Third Secret with the words “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved”. Catholic practice in Portugal is 19% so clearly this promise does not refer to the civic or social life of the entire people. The implications of that are quite disturbing. It is worth considering that these words may mean that unusually in Portugal there will always actually be some people who hold the faith. “But yet the Son of man, when he comes, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?”

In 1931 Our Lord appeared to Sr Lucia and, in reference to the fact that Russia had not been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart, said “Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary.” Later He said “They did not wish to heed My request! … Like the King of France they will repent of it, and they will do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread its errors in the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer.” There is no reason to suppose the sufferings of the Holy Father and the persecutions and wars relate to Marxism-Leninism only that they would not have occurred if the hierarchy had obtained from Our Lady that the USSR fall decades earlier. Newman in his treatise on the Antichrist says that the destruction of Rome precedent to the end has not yet occurred but will take place in a single day.

It may be farther observed that holy men in the early Church certainly thought that the barbarian invasions were not all that Rome was to receive in the way of vengeance, but that God would one day destroy it by the fury of the elements. “Rome,” says Pope Gregory, at a time when a barbarian conqueror had possession of the city, and all things seemed to threaten its destruction, “Rome shall not be destroyed by the nations, but shall consume away internally, worn out by storms of lightning, whirlwinds, and earthquakes.” In accordance with this is the prophecy ascribed to St. Malachi of Armagh, a mediæval Archbishop (A.D. 1130), which declares, “In the last persecution of the Holy Church, Peter of Rome shall be on the throne, who shall feed his flock in many tribulations. When these are past, the city upon seven hills shall be destroyed, and the awful Judge shall judge the people.”

St Thomas in his commentary on 2 Thessalonians say that the removal of the restraint on the Antichrist will be a great revolt against the “Catholic Faith of the Roman Church”. The actual text of the Third Secret describes the destruction of a great city and the murder of the Pope and a great number of the faithful. It seems therefore to refer both to the total loss of the dogmas of the faith over most of the world and to the physical destruction of the seat of the Supreme Pontiffs.

Cardinal Dolan said last year that Catholics have “gotten gun-shy . . . [in] the mid- and late ’60s, when the whole world seemed to be caving in, and where Catholics in general got the impression that what the Second Vatican Council taught, first and foremost, is that we should be chums with the world, and that the best thing the church can do is become more and more like everybody else.” Peter the Roman had better not be gun-shy.