In 1984 Cardinal Carlo Caffara, who was appointed by St. John Paul II to head the Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, wrote a letter to the Fatima visionary Sr. Lucia to ask for her prayers for the success of this new project because it was dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. He was not expecting a reply, but she returned a long hand written letter with a final admonition, “Father, a time will come when the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family. And those who will work for the good of the family will experience persecution and tribulation. But do not be afraid, because Our Lady has already crushed his head.” Cardinal Caffara said that this message always remained engraved on his heart and it granted him great comfort and strength to fight for and defend the family until his death on September 6, 2017.
A few weeks ago at Providence College, a young man by the name of Michael Smalanskas who works as a Resident Advisor in his dorm, posted on his bulletin board a collage of quotes and pictures defending the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, as a response to a seeing a bulletin board with a pro-lesbian marriage message up in another dorm. As a result of his posting, Michael received harassing text messages, had people congregate outside his room and bulletin board, had his board vandalized and he had to be moved to a different location by campus security for his own safety.
There was no immediate response to defend this young man, except from a well-balanced letter written by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin who praised the young man’s courage and faithfulness while at the same reminding him that the truth is always to be taught with charity. The college’s response to Michael’s situation begs the question whether or not the truth matters much when Catholic colleges are not always intentional in their responsibility to defend the faith. It seems that Sister Lucia’s prophesy continues to be played out both inside and outside the Church.