The New York Times Headline on May 14 1981, the day after the assassination attempt on Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Remembering you on this day, the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima, especially on this day after the 30th year anniversary of the event that almost changed the world, thank you for being a great Pope!
30th anniversary of assassination attempt on Blessed Pope John Paul II
Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima
The third secret, a vision of the death of the Pope and other religious figures, was transcribed by the Bishop of Leiria and reads:
"After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!' And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, Religious men and women going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, Religious men and women, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God."
Controversy around the Third Secret
The Vatican withheld the Third Secret until 26 June 2000, despite Lúcia's declaration that it could be released to the public after 1960. Some sources, including Canon Barthas and Cardinal Ottaviani, said that Lúcia insisted to them it must be released by 1960, saying that, "by that time, it will be more clearly understood", and, "because the Blessed Virgin wishes it so." When 1960 arrived, rather than releasing the Third Secret, the Vatican published an official press release stating that it was "most probable the Secret would remain, forever, under absolute seal." After this announcement, immense speculation over the content of the secret materialized. According to the New York Times, speculation over the content of the secret ranged from "worldwide nuclear annihilation to deep rifts in the Roman Catholic Church that lead to rival papacies."
Some sources claim that the four-page, handwritten text of the Third Secret released by the Vatican in the year 2000 is not the real secret, or at least not the full secret. In particular, it is alleged that Cardinals Bertone, Ratzinger and Sodano engaged in a systematic deception to cover-up the existence of a one-page document containing the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which some believe contains information about the Apocalypse and a great apostasy. These sources contend that the Third Secret actually comprises two texts, where one of these texts is the published four-page vision, and the other is a single-page letter allegedly containing the words of the Virgin Mary which has been concealed. The content of two of these books, The Devil's Final Battle by Father Paul Kramer, and The Secret Still Hidden by Christopher Ferrara, are available online.
The Vatican has maintained its position that the full text of the Third Secret was published in June 2000. According to a December 2001 Vatican press release (subsequently published in L'Osservatore Romano), Lucia told then Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone in an interview that the secret had been completely revealed and published - that no secrets remained. Bertone, along with Cardinal Ratzinger, co-authored The Message of Fatima, the document published in June 2000 by the Vatican that allegedly contains a scanned copy of the original text of the Third Secret.
During his apostolic visit to Portugal between 11 and 14 May 2010 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, Pope Benedict XVI explained in a rare conversation with reporters that the interpretation of the third secret did not stop with the interpretation of a prediction of the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter's Square in 1981.
Thirty years after the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul, “the time has come to attempt an historical assessment” of the event, according L’Osservatore Romano--“not only for its significance in the history of the 20th century, but especially its significance in the history of the Church and more generally in salvation history.”
“The unresolved mystery of who ordered the assassination attempt--the solution to which, as [Blessed John Paul] wrote in his testament, was before everyone’s eyes--and the evident intervention of a miraculous nature which caused the deflection of the shots fired by a very skilled killer just steps away from his target, and the subsequent saving of the Pope, have given this event a strong spiritual significance,” writes Lucetta Scaraffia. “A significance confirmed also by the coincidence of the date with the first apparition of the Virgin of Fatima, in 1917, whose message was dedicated to the 20th century and in particular to the rise of Communism.”
The Marian intervention could not but confirm a certainty for Christians: even if the forces of evil are powerful and dangerous, they will not prevail. This interpretation on the one hand attributed the negative forces in play to more than just a specific group and on the other hand, opened hearts to hope by lifting the assassination attempt from an apparent historical contingency and placing it in the history of salvation. In this way, the battle that the Pope was combating could become even more the battle of all Christians. And the call which he repeated more than once to be not afraid and to open the doors wide to Christ, thanks to his example, became something that all could follow, not just the most conscientious and courageous elite.
Pope John Paul II assassination attempt
The first attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II took place on Wednesday, May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City. The Pope was shot and critically wounded by Mehmet Ali Ağca, a trained sniper from Turkey, while he was entering the square. The Pope was struck 4 times, and suffered severe blood loss. Ağca was apprehended immediately, and later sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court. The Pope later forgave Ağca for the assassination attempt.
Attempted assassination of the Pope
The site of the shooting is marked by a small marble tablet bearing John Paul's papal coat of arms and the date in Roman numerals.
Beginning in August 1980 Ağca, under the alias of Vilperi, began criss-crossing the Mediterranean region, changing passports and identities, perhaps to hide his point of origin in Sofia, Bulgaria. He entered Rome on May 10, 1981, coming by train from Milan.
According to Ağca's later testimony, he met with three accomplices in Rome, one a fellow Turk and two Bulgarians, with operation being commanded by Zilo Vassilev, the Bulgarian military attaché in Italy. He said that he was assigned this mission by Turkish mafioso Bekir Çelenk in Bulgaria.
According to Ağca, the plan was for him and the back-up gunman Oral Çelik to open fire on the pope in St. Peter's Square and escape to the Bulgarian embassy under the cover of the panic generated by a small explosion. On May 13 they sat in the square, writing postcards waiting for the Pope to arrive. When the Pope passed, Ağca fired several shots with a Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol, and critically wounded him, but was grabbed by Vatican security chief Camillo Cibin, a nun, and several spectators who prevented him from either firing more shots or escaping. Four bullets hit John Paul II, two of them lodging in his lower intestine, the others hitting his left hand and right arm. Two bystanders were also hit by stray assassin's bullets; Ann Odre, of Buffalo, New York, was struck in the chest while Rose Hill, of Jamaica, was slightly wounded in the arm. Çelik panicked and fled without setting off his bomb or opening fire.
The Pope, who lost nearly three-quarters of his blood and thus suffered shock from near-exsanguination, underwent five hours of emergency intestinal surgery—which required transfusions and a temporary colostomy—at the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic. Upon encountering the Pope in Rome's Rebibbia Prison for the first time following the attempt, Ağca asked him how he had survived.