"Sister Lucia's experience is one of continuity and she was faithful. I think what the future holds in store is an even more profound development," Father Jacinto Farias, president of the Scientific Commission of the Fatima Congress, told the Portuguese news agency Ecclesia.
"We should not find any novelties," he added. The "richness of the Fatima message is its extreme simplicity and, at the same time, great fruits at the pastoral and theological level."
Father Farias made his statements about the last witness of the Fatima apparitions shortly after her death Feb. 13. He said Sister Lucia's texts constitute a fundamental testimony for the Church.
Her writings are categorized as "Fatima 1" and "Fatima 2," and reflect her testimony written at different stages in her life.
Father Farias explained that the writings show an "internalization of the events."
"A 10-year-old girl and a woman of 40 have a different perception of things," he noted. But he added that the writings show continuity "in an interior rereading."
The evolution does not depend on the political, national or international events of the moment, as has been proposed, the priest said.
This, in fact, would imply "extreme intellectual preparation on the part of Sister Lucia to be able to follow these events and make a critical reading of them -- something which does not seem likely to me," he continued.
"On the specific question of the Fatima message and Marxism's militant atheism and dialectical materialism, there are documents which state that Sister Lucia thought that Russia was a woman or a person who was being asked to convert. It was a message that was beyond the awareness of the visionary herself," Father Farias explained.
The fact that the message has now been interpreted and translated by the Church into a pastoral strategy is "perfectly legitimate," said Father Farias.
"Cardinal Gonçalves Cerejeira himself said that it was not the Church that imposed Fatima, but Fatima that imposed itself on the Church," the priest added. Cardinal Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira, the former patriarch of Lisbon, died in 1977.
Moreover, it was only at the beginning of the 1930s that the Church recognized the Fatima miracle "in virtue of the massive popular adherence not only in Portugal, but worldwide," he said. Analysis of the Fatima message "is now in the hermeneutic plane," as the "historical analysis is closed."
"It is necessary to make a theological analysis, to take advantage of the potential latent in the content of the secret," he continued.
"In the beginning, Francisco did not hear or see; Jacinta saw and heard, but did not speak. Lucia was the voice, the leader, so her spirituality will always be the core of these experiences," said Father Farias, referring to the other two little shepherds present during the Virgin's apparitions.
There will be no "great novelties" from the theological point of view now that the last witness has died, he said, but Fatima will probably have a greater development "in terms of its spiritual and pastoral irradiation."