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The century that has passed since three Portuguese children reported seeing the Virgin Mary in Fatima has not diminished the urgency of the apparition's message, the Roman Catholic Church says.
If anything, says the Vatican's Fatima expert, that event's call for renewed faith, conversions, peace and hope is needed more 100 years later in a suffering, desperate world.
"The apparitions of Fatima are a historical event with an extraordinary significance, and they have a meaning that's not only religious, but also sociopolitical," Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins told the Catholic News Agency.
Martins, himself Portuguese, has written extensively on the Fatima apparitions that reportedly began May 13, 1917, when the children Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta saw the first of the Mary apparitions in a field while they kept watch on their sheep.
The Fatima messages came as much of the world around Portugal was embroiled in the horrors of World War I. The first appeal of the apparition was for renewed faith; that quality is more and more a rarity in the 21st century, the cardinal argues.
"We are walking toward a pagan world," he says. "Man today needs faith, to believe in something; to believe in God, who is our common father, to believe in our brothers, we are all children of the same father, we are all brothers."
Faith must be followed by "conversion" to not only "increasingly draw nearer to God [but also] to always draw nearer to our brothers and sisters."
The Fatima appearances also brought appeals for increased prayer and personal sacrifice in reparations for sins and on behalf of others.
Working and praying for peace worldwide were other directives from Fatima, and their urgency is undiminished.
"One of the most painful wounds today is this fighting one with the other; the lack of peace between Muslims and Christians, the inhabitants of this country and the inhabitants of that country, etc," the cardinal declared.
The fourth point of the Fatima messages? The need for hope.
"Man today doesn't have hope," Martins laments. "He lives a life without a future, without the hope of a future."
The cleric points to high suicide rates among teens as evidence of hopelessness, even among those just beginning life.
"They live a life that has no meaning for them. They lack hope, they lack a vision for the future," Martins says. "[Hope] is fundamental for man."
The answers were provided at Fatima, and they resound today.
Says Martins: "What God demands of men today [is] a deep faith, a hope, brotherhood among us which is greatly lacking so we will have peace, which we need to live a dignified life."