Outside Fatima, Portugal, back in 1917, three young shepherds aged 7, 9, and 10 claimed the Virgin Mary appeared to them and whispered three secrets in their ear.
First, she told them, Hell is an actual place not a theological abstract. Next she said, World War I would end, but there would be another war soon after if Russia did not consecrate itself to the Immaculate Heart. The third secret was kept under wraps by the Vatican and not revealed until June 26, 2000.
It wasn't for lack of proper inquiry. For instance, in May of 1981, Laurence Downey, a former Trappist monk, on a Boeing 737 flight from Dublin to London slipped into the plane's lavatory, doused himself in gasoline and ran into the cockpit with a cigarette lighter in hand, explaining he would blow up the plane unless Pope John Paul II went public with the third Fatima secret. Downey was apprehended without incident after a 10-hour tarmac standoff, but still Rome stood its ground and kept its secret. Catholics around the world were convinced the message revealed the date of the apocalypse.
But it didn't. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the current retiring Pope Benedict XVI, said then that the faithful would probably be disappointed reading the text, no great mystery is revealed; nor is the future unveiled. If this was the best that the Virgin Mary could do to express herself, a grammar lesson would be a divine gift because even the most tortured reading doesn't make a lot of sense. See what you think, it's easily found on Google.
A lot of folks seem to be worried about having two living popes. News Flash! There have always been several popes rattling around the world at the same time. There's some you probably don't even know about.
In March 1968, the Virgin Mary appeared to four Spanish schoolgirls about 300 miles southeast of Fatima and just a bit north of Madrid. Amidst numerous apparitions and miracles, one man's hallucinations stood out. A Seville insurance broker named Clemente Dominguez y Gomez claimed the Virgin Mary had ordered him to rid the Catholic Church of heresy and Communism and start a new church, the "Carmelites of the Holy Face."
In 1976, Dominguez persuaded a doddering 80-year-old Vietnamese Archbishop to consecrate himself and four others to the rank of bishop. The promotions were not sanctioned by Rome and Pope Paul VI excommunicated everyone involved. When Paul VI died in 1978, Jesus Christ came to Dominguez in a vision, set a crown upon his head and together they decided Dominguez should become Pope Gregory XVII. After his self-coronation, Greg 17 denounced the papacy in Rome, claiming that evil bishops had kept Pope Paul VI prisoner while torturing him into submission to their will. Greg didn't claim to be the leader of the Roman Catholics; he just claimed that Jesus had given him dominium over them after stripping the authority from Rome.
Greg 17 excommunicated the Roman Pope, John Paul II, and conferred sainthood upon Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Spain's despotic leader for 40 years and a condemned human rights violator. He also canonized Christopher Columbus almost as an afterthought.
Within days now the conclave of bishops will convene to elect a new pope. There's a good likelihood it will be a cleric from South America or Africa as the Vatican tries to distance itself from the pederast priest scandals. Even though it is said there are no politics involved, thousands of secret documents recently leaked by the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, tell a shocking tale of corruption, bribery, power struggles, money laundering, sexual intrigues, jealousies and factional infighting. After he's elected (nope, no chance of a woman) somebody gets to stand up and shout, "Habemus Papam!" We have a pope!
What a way to make a living!