During his time as secretary, he met her three times: Apr. 27, 2000, Nov. 17, 2001 and Dec. 9, 2003.
Cardinal Bertone shared with CNA that Sr. Lucia was "a bright, very nice, serene, peaceful and calm person. She was a confident person who had to keep a great secret and was called to communicate important messages to humanity."
The cardinal also shared details about his last meeting with Sr. Lucia. He said that one of the main topics of their last conversation was about the meeting Sr. Lucia had on July 11, 1977 with Cardinal Albino Luciani, then-Patriarch of Venice.
Cardinal Luciani would be elected Pope John Paul I on Aug. 26, 1978, and his papacy would last only 33 days. Many reports said that Cardinal Luciani was shocked by the meeting he had with Sr. Lucia, since she would allegedly predict both his election as a pontiff and his very short pontificate.
In fact, Cardinal Luciani had drafted a report of his meeting, and Cardinal Bertone had brought this report with him, in a translation in Portuguese that Sr. Lucia had requested.
Cardinal Bertone recounted: "She carefully read the report, and then confirmed every word and signed it at the very end. I then asked a precise question: 'Did you predict Cardinal Luciani's election as Pope?' She answered, with these very words: 'I do not remember if I told him he was going to be elected Pope. I told my religious community that I had met a good cardinal, a holy cardinal, and that if he was elected Pope, he was going to be a good Pope'."
Cardinal Bertone added that the discussion between Cardinal Luciani and Sr. Lucia dealt with the decline of faith in the Church and other general problems of the Church.
The cardinal also recalled that Sr. Lucia said the Virgin was satisfied by the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
During the apparitions, Our Lady of Fatima asked that the Pope consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with a special mention of Russia, in union with the bishops of the whole world.
Both Pius XII and St. John Paul II consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, although there was not an explicit mention to Russia itself – a detail that brought many to suggest that in fact the consecration had not fulfilled Our Lady's request.
Cardinal Bertone underscored that the choice not to mention Russia directly was made "for ecumenical reasons" and out of "respect for the Russian Orthodox Church," but he also stressed that the references to it are very clear. In particular, he recalled Pope Pius XII's 1952 Apostolic Letter Sacro Vergente Anno, which clearly speaks about the "consecration of the people of Russia."
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This article was originally published on CNA May 12, 2017.
Andrea Gagliarducci is an Italian journalist for Catholic News Agency and Vatican analyst for ACI Stampa. He is a contributor to the National Catholic Register.