Posted on 12 January 2023.

By Len Port

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVl has been buried. Pope Francis has mobility impairment. The Catholic faith is in decline. Nonetheless, the Sanctuary of Fátima in Portugal is surging forward and this can once more welcome tens of millions of pilgrims and vacationers.

Benedict, the primary pontiff to resign in six centuries, did so in February 2013; ostensibly due to unwell well being, whereas being criticised for inadequate motion towards baby sexual abusers inside the Church, significantly when he was nonetheless the Archbishop of Munich. A one-page account of Benedict’s in any other case much-praised papacy was put in a metallic cylinder and positioned in his coffin.

The liberal Pope Francis spoke very extremely of his conservative predecessor throughout final Thursday’s funeral, regardless that they differed on sure elements of their management. One factor they did share was concern about Catholicism’s steep decline throughout each their papacies.

Revelations about baby sexual abuse by an incredible many clergymen over a few years has been one of many fundamental causes for the decline. The a whole bunch of hundreds of victims of typically repeated abuse have been primarily boys, but additionally ladies, largely younger youngsters, however some aged six or much less. The felony abuse went on and on throughout Europe, together with Portugal, North and South America, Australia and elsewhere. The Church typically confirmed merciless indifference in direction of victims’ complaints. Regrets and apologies have been expressed, however few of the culprits have been prosecuted and few of the victims have been compensated.

Different non-religious networks have been simply as responsible and a few are undoubtedly nonetheless getting away with it, however the paedophilia inside the Catholic Church has acquired most media protection. Disgust and lack of belief within the Catholic hierarchy have precipitated many members of the laity to go away the Church altogether. There have been many different causes for the walkout.

Portugal is a predominantly Catholic nation. It at all times has been since Roman instances. It’s famend as one of the vital religious in Europe. An estimated 84% of the inhabitants have been baptised and are no less than nominally Catholic, however solely 18% – and maybe much less – are thought to often attend Mass.

As in different international locations, aged traditionalists have rejected the modernisation caused by the Second Vatican Council. The younger are tired of the dogma, priestly vanity and hypocrisy. They’re uninterested in the controversy over such points as contraception, abortion and the notion that homosexual togetherness is a sin. Divorced or civilly remarried {couples} have been made to really feel unwelcome. Throughout the Catholic world pews are emptying, chapel doorways are closing.

Pope Francis has tried to reverse the pattern, however bishops are divided and so are the laity in regards to the knowledge of his efforts. A summit assembly on these points is to be held within the Holy See this October.

Except for the challenges going through him, Francis wrote his personal resignation letter properly prematurely in case ill-health ought to impair him from persevering with in workplace. He did so in 2013, properly earlier than he needed to have bowel surgical procedure. Now aged 86, Francis has a knee drawback that forces him to make use of a wheelchair. He quips, nevertheless, that he relies upon way more on his mind than his knee.

Francis stays remarkably lively. On the finish of this month he shall be travelling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan for an ecumenical peace pilgrimage. He’s scheduled to be in Portugal from 1st to sixth August for World Youth Day in Lisbon. Little doubt he can even go to Portugal’s most holy web site, the Sanctuary of Fatima. He final visited Fatima in 2017 for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions reported by three shepherd youngsters.

Three different popes have visited Fátima: Paul Vl (1967), John Paul ll (1982,1992 and 2000), Benedict XVl  (2010). One other go to by Francis will most actually add enthusiasm to the big variety of pilgrims and vacationers from all over the world planning to go to the shrine this yr. 

April 13, the anniversary of the primary Marian apparition, and October 13, the anniversary of the so-called Miracle of the Solar, are the preferred visiting dates. Many pilgrims stroll lengthy distances to get there. By automobile, Lisbon is about 1 hr 20 min (128 km through the A1) from Fátima.  Faro is about 3 hr 10 min away (363 km through the A2).

LPLen Port is a journalist and creator. Born in Eire, his first written items have been revealed whereas he was working within the Pure Historical past Museum, London. Since then he has labored as a information reporter, primarily in Hong Kong, Northern Eire, South Africa and Portugal.

Along with reporting onerous information for among the world’s main information organizations, he has produced numerous function articles on all kinds of topics for a spread of publications. Now dwelling in southern Portugal, his books embrace journey guides and kids’s tales. His ebooks – Individuals in a Place Aside and The Fátima Phenomenon – Divine Grace, Delusion or Pious Fraud? can be found from and His weblog posts will be seen at

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