Cardinal Rejects Idea of Fatima as Interreligious Center

Continued Rumors Prompt Statement by Vatican Official

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal José Saraiva Martins expressed publicly his opposition to any talk about turning the Shrine of Fatima into a center of interreligious dialogue with Muslims.



The statements by the cardinal prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Sainthood Causes were in reaction to the announcement by some groups and Web pages of the construction of an "ecumenical church" in the shrine.

Last June 29, in fact, the rector of the Fatima shrine, Father Luciano Guerra, issued a statement saying that the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, under construction, would not be an "ecumenical church."

Given the continued rumors about the center, Cardinal Saraiva Martins said, in statements in the latest issue of Il Consulente RE magazine, that he is "totally opposed to transforming the Shrine of Fatima into a center of interreligious dialogue with Muslims."

"Fatima has been and always will be a Catholic Marian shrine," insisted the Portuguese cardinal. "Naturally, this does not exclude, indeed it includes, the continuation of dialogue with all religions, including Muslims.

"However, I confirm, I am opposed to all the different types of confusion that it might create: Fatima will always be the Catholic shrine that began with the wonderful mystery transmitted by the Virgin to the three little shepherds, beginning on May 13, 1917."

The cardinal observed that the Blessed Virgin Mary chose for her apparitions the only place in Europe named after Mohammed's favorite daughter.

"We are used to frequently calling 'coincidence' what is, on the contrary, an express divine plan," Cardinal Saraiva Martins said. "We don't know what the coincidence means in the case of Fatima. I, however, prefer to think that we must take advantage of this coincidence to develop the dialogue with our Muslim brothers.

"Of course, the Virgin came to Fatima to remind us of the Gospel, which is for all Christians, but also for all men."