Lecture on April 3, 1970 (*)
Something that history records and which the theology of history indicates as certain, is that the great disasters that fall upon peoples are punishments. This is a certain principle of the theology of history. When a nation suffers a major catastrophe, it is a punishment. This does not apply to men or to particular individuals but for nations, social groups etc.
Now then, history tells us that major catastrophes take a long time hanging upon those punished. That is the general rule of major disasters. Cataclysms, all the way from the Flood through the fall of Jerusalem, those of the Western and Eastern Empires, Protestantism, the French Revolution, the Russian Communist Revolution etc. always are long suspended over a people without anyone understanding why they do not just break out, but they finally do.
There is more. In general, the longer the suspense lasts, the more terrifying the punishment is. So from this delay it does not follow that it will not come, but the opposite: that it will be terrible when it does. This is the general rule of history: simple and easy to understand.
I confess that I am certain the punishment announced by Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 will come. But this certainly comes more from the theology of history and from the general laws of history than from the Message of Fatima itself. Although I firmly adhere to this message, my certainty about that which Our Lady showed the three children is smaller (certainties have degrees) than this one derived from the laws of the theology of history.
(*) Excerpts from a lecture given by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira on April 3, 1970, published without revision by the author.