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Paper or plastic for those dire predictions?


Courage is something journalists are asked to display on behalf of their readers. In that tradition, I report back from the front lines -- of the supermarket checkout counter. I still tremble.

There, with a bravado based on a life of quiet piety, I publicly placed on the conveyor belt a copy of the tabloid newspaper, Sun, for April 10, 2001.

(It was between the bottle of merlot and the can of salted cashews. Yes, I know it was Lent, but we were playing bridge that night for the first time in two years, and I needed all the help I could get).

The Sun, oh I know a lot of you saw it.

But I was the one who dared. On your behalf, and mine, for $1.69 (it’s on the expense account). We needed details of “NEW FÁTIMA WARNINGS.”

Relax. It’s a hoax, and I’ve deciphered why.

Reading between the lines and examining the subtext shows us what’s going on here. It is the diabolical work of a British Protestant financial writer, a freelancer who once worked on a business publication that comes out seven days a week.

This journalist, backed by English capitalists, is using Fátima to unnerve Americans. British investors want to drive down U.S. stocks (it’s working already) so the English can buy control over America, having failed (twice, no less) to hang on to it by force.

We know this not because “Judgement Day is just weeks away” (you can tell that headline was written by a Brit, there’s an e in judgment), but because:

A. “Antichrist is in Washington” (which we knew, but did they name him?).

B. because everything was provided by “a high-ranking member of the Roman curia who spoke exclusively to the Sun on condition of anonymity.” (This is the famed Deep Purple source. [John Allen, over to you in Rome on the identity. There are clues in the copy.] British secular newspapers have always had on their payroll “a high-ranking member of the Roman curia who speaks only on condition of anonymity.”)

C. because there were SEVEN, repeat SEVEN, predictions. And the number is a key because there are seven days in the week (there’s always a crazy logic to these things).

D. because the Virgin, depicted on the cover from a nice Italianate rendering, has usurped Alan Greenspan on the economic front with: “Great Depression of 2001 devastates U.S.”

E. because the “Virgin’s Prayer to protect you and your loved ones” was written -- wait for this -- by a Protestant. No Catholic, not even the Blessed Mother, would write a 23-word prayer that contained “strayed from” AND “darkness” AND “avenging” AND “righteous.” Never “righteous.”

The fourth child of Fátima, Annunción Velasquez, is given as the repository and communicator of the dire predictions.

And this little girl is said to have jotted down the Virgin’s warnings “in a small scribbler.” In America, a scribbler is one who scribbles; in Britain, it’s a small notebook for jottings. (You see, don’t you.)

Lately retrieved after having “vanished into the bowels of the [Vatican] archives” these “deepest, and, some have said, darkest secrets of the Roman Catholic church” are that:

1. The Tribulation of the Last Days begins “in the autumn” (not fall, you’ll notice, autumn).

2. (This one has the required ring of authenticity, to lend credence to the rest): “the Antichrist … is even now working diligently behind the scenes in Washington, D.C., to do his evil master’s bidding.” (Enough said.)

3. A false prophet from the Midwest -- have to be careful on this one -- will entrap “seven prominent religious leaders” (there’s that number again).

4. Global warming. Lower Manhattan is depicted floating out to sea (on what could be an ocean of blue sewage, actually). This prediction is a bid to woo American “greens” over to the side of the Euro-vegan-eco-tree-huggers responsible for foot-and-mouth disease.

5. Heaven and Hell are real. (Well, he’s already mentioned New York and Washington.)

6. A Second Great Depression. (That’s Californians on Prozac because of their projected air conditioning bills this summer.)

7. China, Russia and India will mount a nuclear attack on major U.S. cities. (That’s OK. They’ll miss all but one. All their missiles are locked onto lower Manhattan, which by that time will have floated to offshore Hainan.)

Annunción was told to tell Americans to lay in stores of food, stay away from large cities and “be on constant guard against confusion and doubt.”

That’s so the British can watch the run-up in their U.S. grocery stocks and buy metropolitan real estates at panic prices. (“Against confusion and doubt” probably means don’t buy television or Internet stocks.)

We know R.H. Delderfield wrote “God is an Englishman.” All that’s left to discover is whether the Antichrist in Washington says “banana” or “banarna.”

Arthur Jones is NCR’s limey editor-at-large. And he left Washington last September. His e-mail address is ajones96@aol.com

National Catholic Reporter, April 20, 2001