Teaching about Fatima in Catholic schools. Oh my.
I came across a blog post by a Catholic dad questioning a worksheet his eldest child brought home from school asking what our Lady of Fatima had revealed to the seers during the apparitions in 1917. The subject matter struck the dad as "quite odd". The fact that he found it quite odd strikes me as quite odd. After all, Fatima is an approved apparition, with a great deal of official Church support, frequently visited and referenced, even promoted by popes, and lest one forget, the message of Our Lady at Fatima was explained and well documented by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In addition, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima is fixed in the Roman Calendar, albeit observed as an optional memorial outside of Portugal and titular parishes. (Optional memorial doesn't imply optional belief. When an apparition is approved - the Church is declaring it is worthy of belief; when it is assigned a liturgical feast, I'd say it can not be so easily dismissed as optional to accept.) Therefore, why wouldn't a Catholic student learn about such things in a Roman Catholic school? If I were a parent, I'd be concerned about a great deal more that can find its way into the curriculum of our Catholic schools.
That said, while it is true private revelations are not part of the deposit of faith, and Catholics are not obligated to follow them, Catholic piety and devotion as well as the liturgy, recognizes, includes, accepts and encourages the faithful in such practices. It should be remembered that the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes has been extended to the Universal Church, the shrine itself an international destination for pilgrims. Likewise, the feasts and devotions of the Brown Scapular and Miraculous Medal - both sacramentals originating from apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have been established throughout the Universal Church; there is a feast of OL of the Miraculous Medal, and a feast of OL of Mt. Carmel. Of course, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a solemnity in many places in the Western Hemisphere, and commemorated by Spanish speaking countries everywhere, yet she is the patron of the Americas. All three of these devotions originated with apparitions, that is, private revelations.
As the Catechism explains: "Throughout the ages, there have been so-called private revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church." - CCC 67
"Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries." - CCC 66
The Blessed Virgin introduced nothing new at Fatima, she simply reiterated authentic Catholic teaching: As one famous priest stated, "Our Lady came to Fatima as Mother and Catechist."
"Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children." - Matt. 11:25