"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 9 February 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Something About Mary

A Special Media Moment

Who wouldn't raise an eyebrow over an organization featuring victim newsgroups like alt.food.waffle-house, and whose members' home pages feature passages such as "We see the bride-to-be tonight wearing a wide-brim sombrero and sunglasses, a shredded shirt with the words on it WHO FARTED?, and a pair of Dingo cowboy boots."
Five years ago today in Suck.

To understand the miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, and how it affects you and your family, you must first consider one central fact of 20th Century history: Over the course of several months in 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three children in a Portuguese pasture, steeled them in the principles of anti-communism, and revealed three prophecies that would prove crucial in bringing down the (then-unbuilt) Iron Curtain. After showing her young acolytes a vision of hell and suggesting how they — and we — might help defeat the Communist International, the Blessed Mother fulfilled a promise to provide objective proof of her existence by forcing the sun (in contravention of some well-established principles of cosmology), to fall from its place in the sky; as a result, tens of thousands of the faithful narrowly escaped incineration. The basic story of these events was widely disseminated throughout the twentieth century, but for our protection, the last secret of Our Lady's message had to be withheld until the "Jubilee Year" of 2000.

We know this is factual history because it has been judged meritorious by the Roman Catholic Church, the world's largest organized religious sect, arguably the world's largest religion, the faith of more than a billion people, of 10 mayors of New York City and one President of the United States. As Catholic traditions go, the Fatima story may not be as compelling as the tale of how St. Lucy grew a second set of eyes, or the conviction that all the Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Hindus and Falun Gongers are going to hell. But it's one of the few that has received the stamp of approval not only of Rome but of Hollywood, the US House of Representatives and at least one court of law. Before anybody had heard of Our Lady of Bayside, Our Lady of Perth Amboy, or Our Lady of Rochester, Our Lady of Fatima had real foreign policy clout.

Her personal clout is beyond the sublunary census technologies we use to measure that Bill Clinton is a beloved figure from American history or that "titanic" is the most widely known word on the planet. But to give just one mundane example, The Sun, America's Best Loved Weekly, this week devoted its cover to a story on the "Fatima Coverup." With testimony from one "Dr. Anthony Walls" (described by the weekly as a Washington, D.C.-based "author of seven textbook works used by theological colleges and seminaries around the world"), the article contends that last year's Third Secret revelation is a dangerous fraud perpetrated by John Cardinal Ratzinger. Suck was unable to locate any such Dr. "Walls" in the D.C. area; but as we shall demonstrate shortly, Fatimans of all stripes — orthodox, schismatic and other — can offer compelling opinions on the theory he espouses.

That these opinions are generally greeted with silence may be a testament to the snobbery that Mary devotees must endure from both church and state. While the secular world refuses to acknowledge Mariology as a legitimate counterculture, the official Catholic Church, in documents ranging from the Apostles' Creed to a notorious Mary statement made in 1974 by Pope Paul VI (or a papal impersonator), goes to almost comical lengths to deny Mary her parental rights. "Devotion to the Blessed Mother had really become almost idolatrous," prior to the liberalizing Vatican II Council of the 1960s, says the pastor of a San Francisco church. Approved Catholic studies like Anthony J. Tambasco's What Are They Saying About Mary state that Marian experiences have been "rightly reduced ... to a minor role" in religious practice. In a chapter on Mariology in his recent Papal Sin, Catholic blowhard Garry Wills laments the "popularity" of the Mary cult (this cult's history of undermining the authority of Wills-approved wise men no doubt fueling the prolific author's disdain).

This official (and little-remarked) distaste for Mary's devotees may stem from queasiness at being reminded of Catholicism's polytheistic, idol-worshipping undercurrents. More likely it's just snootiness. Mary worship is largely the province of poor people — non-English speakers, the people who put up plaster lawn shrines in the wilds of Long Island, send their granddaughters to "May Queen," processions, pray the rosary in dimly lit apartments in Union City, N.J., bring Mariachi bands into the house of God( 1.36 MB), for Christ's sake.

Mock on, mock on. We've examined the evidence, and we know that if it hadn't been for Mary's tireless shuttle diplomacy throughout the twentieth century, you'd be speaking Russian right now. We've got interviews, we've got documents and we've got footage that will prove Mary deserves a place in the pantheon of Cold War winners, alongside Sakharov, Solzhenitzin and Calley. Forget the forgiving and maternal disposition. When the chips were down, when the resolve of the free world was put to its most bitter test, the Virgin Mary proved as steadfast a Cold Warrior as John Foster Dulles. It's about time she got the recognition she deserves.

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Next: From the Queen of Heaven to the Queen of Queens - the strange and still unfinished history of Mary's Cold War

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Thanks to Pyramind for assistance with video clips