FATIMA, PORTUGAL, June 15, 2004: HPI received a couple of reports regarding the visit of a group of Hindus from Lisbon to the famed Catholic shrine to Mother Mary at Fatima. The first, dated May 22, reads in part: "Last October The Portugal News reported on the Interfaith Congress held at Fatima, one of Catholicism's most sacred sites, where representatives of the world's leading religions allegedly explored the possibility of opening the shrine to a whole variety of faiths. While the newspaper received many letters and emails congratulating it for reporting on the congress, it was also criticized by some groups who claimed that Fatima would remain exclusively Catholic. Now, however, we can report that the first steps in developing Fatima as a multi-faith centre could have been taken. On May 5th, SIC and SIC Noticias carried a report on a Hindu religious service held in the Chapel of the Apparitions at the shrine. SIC's broadcast appears, to some extent, vindicate The Portugal News' October report. Sixty Hindus led by a high priest had travelled from Lisbon to pay homage to the Goddess Devi, the divinity of nature. SIC's reporter described how before leaving Lisbon the Hindus had gathered at their temple in the city to pray to and worship various statues of Hindu gods. Arriving in Fatima the pilgrims made their way to the Chapel of the Apparitions, where from the altar a Hindu priest led prayer sessions. A commentary on the service was given by the TV reporter who explained: 'This is an unprecedented unique moment in the history of the shrine. The Hindu priest, or Sha Tri [probably Shastri], prays on the altar the Shaniti Pa [probably Shanti mantra--sahanavavatu...] , the prayer for peace.' The Hindus can be seen removing their shoes before approaching the altar rail of the chapel as the priest chants prayers from the altar's sanctuary."
A report at fatima.org is subtitled, "Another interfaith outrage blessed by shrine rector." It is very strongly opposed to the Hindu visit and reads, in part, "Saint Francis Xavier said, 'All the invocations of the pagans are hateful to God because all their gods are devils.' Saint Francis Xavier wrote these words to Saint Ignatius about the pagan religion of Hinduism. Francis Xavier, writing from India at the time, merely restates the truth from the infallible Sacred Scriptures: 'The gods of the gentiles are devils.' (Psalm 95:5) Yet on May 5, 2004 -- the Feast of Pope Saint Pius V -- the Little Chapel of the Apparitions at Fatima was allowed to be used for a pagan Hindu ceremony. This Little Chapel (also called the Capelinha) is built on the site where Our Blessed Mother appeared to the 3 children of Fatima in 1917. According to the broadcast, a busload of Hindus were allowed to commandeer the sanctuary inside the Fatima Capelinha and to use the Catholic altar for their rituals. The SIC newscaster said, 'This is an unprecedented unique moment in the history of the shrine. The Hindu priest, or Sha Tri, prays on the altar the Shaniti Pa, the prayer for peace.' The outrage occurred with the blessing of Shrine Rector Msgr. Guerra. No one may use the Capelinha without Rector Guerra's permission. The Hindus wore traditional garb, a Hindu 'priest' in traditional Hindu vestments led the ceremony that consisted in the offering of flowers and food. This would seem to indicate that the Hindus performed their pagan puja, a ritual in which the offering of flowers and food is central. After the Hindu worship service at the Catholic altar, the Hindus were escorted by Fatima authorities to see a model of the huge, round-shaped modernistic shrine at Fatima now under construction, a fifty million dollar eyesore that will blot the landscape of Our Lady's apparitions. One of the Hindus is reported to have said that they go to Fatima because there are many gods, and the gods have wives and companions who will bring good luck. This is a blasphemy against the Queen of Heaven as it places Our Blessed Mother on the same level as some sort of 'wife' of a false god. Thus, the Hindus did not even come to Fatima to learn of, or take part in, Catholic prayer. Rather, they folded the holy event of Fatima into their own superstitions and pagan myths. It is reported that pilgrims who witnessed the event at Fatima were scandalized, but Shrine Rector Guerra defended the use of the Marian Shrine for pagan worship."