Arrogant men throughout history have claimed that they can establish peace on earth. Modern examples abound. The United Nations Charter talks of faith, but not of God. At their “summit meetings” world leaders constantly talk about peace yet it evades them. All too often lofty aspirations vanish as words are forgotten.
November 11, 2018, will be the centennial of the Armistice that ended World War I. Since this anniversary comes so quickly after the centenary of Our Lady’s appearances at Fatima in 1917, it is fitting to compare two sets of predictions about peace made in that year.
The year 1917 was disastrous. World War I raged throughout Europe carrying the twin horrors of trenches on land and submarines roaming the oceans. Millions of young men suffered through wretched lives and sudden deaths. In its third year, the war expanded as the United States decided to enter the conflagration. War-related unrest in Russia would cause two political upheavals that ultimately brought Lenin and his Communists to power.
Searching for Peace
Some leaders were searching for an end to the bloodshed. Pope Benedict XV offered to mediate a peace agreement, but only Emperor (now Blessed) Karl I of Austria-Hungary was ready to take the Holy Father’s offer. German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg negotiated with Russia’s “provisional government” but that went nowhere.
At this time, two dramatically different world figures appeared. Each made predictions about the future of the world. The first one believed that men guided by reason, progress and good intentions could chart a course toward peace. The other, possessed of supernatural knowledge and status, saw the folly of human means and warned the world of greater disasters to come.
Woodrow Wilson was entering his second term as the President of the United States. A man of massive arrogance, he had total faith in his own wisdom and the “enlightened” ideas behind it. He had plans for a new world order that would reflect modern outlook. He had eked out a slim majority in the Election of 1916 under the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” The first three months of 1917 were showing him that to be a promise that he could not keep.
German Actions Force the U.S. to Declare War
The turn of events on the front would facilitate American entry into the fray. German generals planned a spring offensive, hoping to end a two-year stalemate. Part of that plan was expanding submarine warfare. Every ship traveling between the U.S. and Great Britain carried ammunition and supplies to Germany’s enemies. American guns, grain, and all manner of other products flowed to the Allies. Meanwhile, Germany grew ever nearer to bankruptcy and starvation.
Purely military considerations would have Germany use their submarines – the best in the world – to sink these ships. They sank those flying the British flag, but not those carrying U.S. colors. Germany did not want to provoke the U.S. into the war.
Germany’s leaders were reconsidering. One supreme military effort might win the war. The U.S. military was tiny. Americans had always resisted the notion of large standing armies as a threat to democracy and a waste of money. The Germans reasoned that it would take at least six months for the U.S. to recruit, train, and send an army to Europe. If Germany could win the war during those six months, it would all be over before the Americans got there. They decided to sink American ships.
This compromised President Wilson’s position. Since the war began, he had urged neutrality in “fact as well as in name.” The most popular song in America was “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier.” Now, the Germans were rapidly taking the decision out of his hands.
President Wilson’s Peace Plan
Woodrow Wilson was not a man to give up on the dream of a man-made and utopic peace easily. Upon entering the war, he addressed the U.S. Congress in a speech that contained a memorable phrase, “The world must be made safe for democracy.” To him as well, another shorter phrase was attributed, “The war to end war.”
Of course, Germany did not win the war in 1917. The U.S. troops helped shift the balance in favor of the Allies. On November 11, 1918, the shooting stopped. President Wilson, promising a just peace for all time, went to France to create the League of Nations. Little did he know that the end of this war to end all wars would prepare the ground for an even greater and more destructive series of wars twenty years later.
Woodrow Wilson also did not know that another figure, infinitely more powerful than he, had spoken words that showed his man-made peace to be mere wishful thinking.
The date was July 13, 1917. The place was Fatima, a village in Portugal. The messengers were three shepherd children. The august figure was Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen of Heaven.
Our Lady had appeared to these children twice before, on the thirteenth days of both May and June. Her July message was terrible. She showed the children all of the horrors of Hell. They saw the indescribable torture of the souls whose rejection of God had consigned them eternally to the fire.
“You have seen Hell,” Our Lady explained, “where the souls of poor sinners go; in order to save them, God wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world.” She continued:
If they do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war will come to an end. But if they do not stop offending God, in the reign of Pius XI a worse war will begin. … To prevent if I will come to ask the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the first Saturdays. If my requests are fulfilled, Russia will convert, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and many nations will be annihilated. Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. …”
Our Lady would appear to the children three more times, culminating in the Miracle of the Sun on October 13, 1917.
Who Was Right?
Two visions of peace, one real and true, the other foolishly optimistic and human, were offered to the world in 1917.
The world would follow Woodrow Wilson’s dream, albeit in an adulterated form. His “wisdom” came to naught. His vision of a League of Nations would barely see the light of day. One result of his promised path to peace would end with Adolf Hitler and World War II. Additionally, the “peacemakers” of Wolrd War I made decisions that would help revive Islam, a problem that continues to this day.
Our Lady’s predictions proved to be by far the more accurate. Fatima scholar Luiz Sérgio Solimeo’s book, Fatima: A Message More Urgent than Ever spells out how that Our Lady’s message was proven by events. Here a short synopsis will be given:
- The war will come to an end. World War I ended on November 11, 1918.1
- But if they do not stop offending God, in the reign of Pius XI a worse war will begin. World War II began with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on September 18, 1931.
- If my requests are fulfilled, Russia will convert, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church. Communists took over Russia on October 25, 1917. The errors of the Russian Communists continue to inspire Marxists all over the world.
- The good will be martyred. More Christians were martyred or killed in the twentieth century than in all previous centuries, perhaps all previous centuries combined.
- The Holy Father will have much to suffer. The sufferings of the Popes since 1917 have been legion.
- Many nations will be annihilated. Looking at a map of the world in 1917 will reveal many nations that no longer exist. Additionally, the Soviet Union took over many nations that still existed formally but actually were puppets of the Soviets.
Faithful Catholics await the triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, placing their full trust in the promises of the Queen of Heaven.
However, the world honors Wilson’s vision and ignores Our Lady. It is not surprising that humanity never seems to learn. When “wise men” separate themselves from the source of all Truth, they render themselves incapable of understanding it.
1. The peace treaty known as the Versailles Treaty was not signed until June 28, 1919. Here the date of the Armistice, which stopped the shooting is used.