ROME — “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be over marriage and the family,” Sr. Lucia dos Santos, one of the three Fatima visionaries, confided to Cardinal Carlo Carrara several years ago, as he was working to found the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome.
On February 16, 2008, Cardinal Caffarra, then Archbishop of Bologna, travelled to San Giovanni Rotondo to celebrate Holy Mass at the tomb of St. Padre Pio. After the Mass, the cardinal granted an interview to the Italian outlet, Tele Radio Padre Pio, which first appeared in the March 2008 edition of the magazine, “Voice of Padre Pio.”
In the interview, Cardinal Caffarra also speaks about his devotion to Padre Pio, and the deep significance he and other mystics have for the world today.
Cardinal Caffarra is the founding president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. He has also served as a Member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Member of the Presidential Committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
He was created a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in March 2006. Cardinal Caffarra was one of Pope Francis’ 45 handpicked delegates chosen to attend the Ordinary Synod on the Family in 2015.
Here we print an English translation of the original interview with Cardinal Caffarra.
I have had a great devotion to him since the beginning of my priesthood, because I had a rather unique experience. I had been a priest for some months and a brother-priest came to see me. He was much older, and was going through a serious crisis of faith. It is difficult to describe what a crisis of faith is like for a priest: a terrible thing! I told him: “Brother, I am too little; I don’t feel that I can carry such a burden. Go to Padre Pio.” He went, and while he was talking to Padre Pio he had a great mystical experience, in which he experienced, very strongly, the mercy of God. Now he is one of the best priests I know. There you have it. It all began like that.
Q. Did you ever meet Padre Pio personally?
No, because I never had the courage to go to him, thinking that I would be wasting his time! […] I believe that Padre Pio belongs to the series of great mystics who have this characteristic: the most profound participation in the Cross of Christ, as they bear upon themselves the great tragedy of mankind today – atheism. Padre Pio, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Mother Theresa, the Curé d’Ars all had the profound experience of sitting at the table with sinners, of living their experiences, of carrying, in different ways, the weight of the Agony in Gethsemane, testifying to the love of Christ who takes upon himself the suffering of the man who has left his Father’s house and doesn’t want to go back, even if he knows in his heart that he is better off in his Father’s house rather than tending pigs… Man today continues to imagine that he can live as if God did not exist; and we see the devastation this has caused.
Q. There is a prophecy by Sister Lucia dos Santos, the Fatima visionary whose process of beatification began last February 13 , which concerns “the final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan.” And the battlefield is the family. Life and the family. Not everyone knows that you were given the charge by John Paul II to plan and establish the Pontifical Institute for the Studies on Marriage and the Family.
Yes. At the start of this work entrusted to me by the Servant of God [now Saint] John Paul II, I wrote to Sister Lucia of Fatima through her bishop as one couldn’t do so directly. Unexplainably however, as I wasn’t expecting a reply, seeing that I was only asking for prayers, within a few days I received a very long letter with her signature – now in the Institute’s archives. In it we find written: the final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Do not be afraid, she added, because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. And then she concluded: however, Our Lady has already crushed his head.
In speaking to John Paul II, you felt too that this was the crux, as it touches the very pillar of creation, the truth of the relationship between man and woman, and among generations. If you touch founding pillar the entire building collapses, and we see this now, because we have arrived at this point, and we know it. And I’m moved when I read the best biographies of Padre Pio, on how this man was so attentive to the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of the spouses, even with justifiable rigor on occasion.