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The Sad Case of the Fatima Priest


What is wrong with Fr. Nicholas Gruner and The Fatima Crusader magazine?  He seems to be very holy, intelligent, and sincere–not anything like the “nut” people make him out to be. His main message seems to be that the consecration of Russia requested at Fatima was never performed properly and that humanity could be headed for a chastisement.


Compliance with a request to consecrate Russia and/or the world remains with the judgment of the Holy See. Such has been done and it can be repeated. However, it does not rest with Fr. Gruner or with you and me. We can certainly dedicate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but such also demands fidelity in our state of life, as well as respect to the Church and the Pope. Fr. Gruner proposes to direct what is best for the world and the Church while he cannot even get his own house in order. The Soviet Union fell and many nations knew freedom. But faith is not magic. Sin still exists in Russia (just ask the Ukraine), around the world and here in the U.S. where our religious liberty is threatened by the current administration and a culture of death. Any utopian view or interpretation of Fatima and its fruits are arguably not in sync with Catholic or Christian eschatology.

Fr. Gruner has not had proper priestly faculties for much of his priesthood. He argues that we must prove otherwise but that is not how the process works. He must present signed faculties from his bishop to the diocesan officials of any local church he visits. He cannot do this because he is not in good standing. Thus, he is not welcome by true Catholic authorities anywhere in the United States. His censure was reaffirmed by the Congregation for the Clergy. Priests are not the same as the laity. We are not our own men. We belong to the Church and our bishops. The problem with the priest is simply this… he disobeyed and continues to disobey his legitimate bishop. He says “public” Mass even though he is forbidden to do so. He cannot even “lawfully” hear Confessions. He is closer today to the schismatic SSPX than the Roman Catholic Church.

[No other bishop can extend him faculties or give him permission to minister while he is suspended. No other bishop could even adopt him unless he were formally released by his home bishop. He has never been released.]

I am told that when the late Sr. Lucia took issue with him, he accused her of lying. Similarly he has directly attacked the popes and questioned the honesty of the Vatican. How is any of this meritorious? Sorry, I can well appreciate that his manner is very disarming. While critics accuse him of being a self-serving scam artist, he seems quite pious and sincere. But it remains true that he brings in plenty of money from donations and has no one, not even a Catholic bishop, to oversee him.

As a diocesan priest, he can only function as an extension of his bishop. But what happens when a priest will allow no one to tell him what to do? Disobedient priests are by definition, bad priests. This is a rule that I take seriously to protect my own priesthood. Many of the renegade clergy know the code-words to get people on their side. Particularly troubling is that to justify himself and his standing, Fr. Gruner wrote a book that distorts the truth of his situation and conflicts with Catholic ecclesiology. I would simply ask him, who and where is your bishop? Have you obeyed him? His defense fails before it begins. Catholicism is a mediated religion. We do not follow God directly but through his appointed authority. He cannot claim fidelity to Jesus and Mary while ignoring the summons of his bishop or by defaming the Holy See as deceptive or satanic.

Fr. Gruner’s claims not only lack substantiation; nothing that he has done can be justified. It is said that he has become increasingly traditional (at least externally) because, as has been observed, he seeks kindred bedfellows and follows the money trail. And yet, certain traditionalists mock him as a false priest because he was ordained within the reformed ordination ritual after Vatican II, which they reject.

Does he have any legitimate convictions? Might he be more delusional than fraudulent? I cannot say. But he should not be supported. Catholics should urge him to be humble and to submit as a priest to the lawful authority to which HE PROMISED OBEDIENCE. A priest that breaks his promise of obedience to his bishop is as bad as a priest who breeches celibacy. Again, do not be fooled. His name and organization does not appear in the official directory of institutions and clergy in the U.S or Canada.  He does not work for the Catholic Church in any capacity whatsoever. He is independent. In that sense, he has fabricated his own church.

The appeal letters that he sends out include the signatures of other renegade clergy. I was surprised some years ago to discover that the names included that of an old retired priest who purportedly went senile and another priest who was long dead. I have not checked the current names. Again, he wants to give himself a false credibility.

While I would urge against material support, I would recommend that everyone should pray for Father Gruner and that he will know repentance and humbly accept the guidance of his bishop under holy obedience. I suspect that this is what would most please our Lord and the Blessed Mother. Let us never forget that the devil likes to fool us, making the darkness look like light. Pray for him and all priests.

  • 1976 – Bishop Pasquale Venezia ordained Fr. Gruner. He refused to serve the diocese of Avellino and left for Canada without permission.
  • 1978 – Bishop Venezia sent Gruner a letter saying that he could remain in Canada if a local bishop incardinated him. None did and no applications were made.
  • Bishop Gerardo Pierro ordered him to return to his diocese. Fr. Gruner did not answer his letter.
  • Cardinal Innocenti, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, wrote to him and ordered him to return to Italy and his bishop. Fr. Gruner refused.
  • 1989 – Bishop Gerardo Pierro again sent Gruner a letter ordering him to return or find another bishop in 30 days.
  • 1990 – Fr. Gruner went to Avellino and met with Bishop Pierro to give him time to seek incardination. This was granted but two years later he still had not started the process or found a receptive bishop.
  • 1992 – Cardinal Sanchez and Archbishop Sepe stated in L’Osservatore Romano that Fr. Gruner and his Apostolate had not been approved by the competent ecclesiastical authorities (October 14, 1992).
  • 1994 – The new bishop of Avellino issued a decree declaring Fr. Gruner a vagus priest. Such priests have no faculties and cannot publicly offer the sacraments.







3 Responses

  1. The poor man is dead let him rest in peace and the SSPX are not schismatic.

    FATHER JOE: The SSPX status has edged closer to recognition since 2014 but they still do not have full juridical standing. The priest has since died, but unfortunately the breech he started continues even if mostly led by laymen.

  2. Fr. Nicholas Gruner passed away last week obvious i believe he was a good and faithful servant to the church.

    FATHER JOE: The external affectations of sanctity and the real thing are quite different. The fact remains that the poor man was a priest in bad standing. He was suspended by lawful authority for refusing to return to his home diocese and for disobedience to both his lawful bishop and the local ordinary. In other words, he violated his promise of obedience. Priests are not laymen and are judged on how they keep their vows or promises. But we should not speak ill of the dead. We must pray that he repented before death and commend him to the mercy of Jesus.

  3. I routinely discard the mail solicitations I get from Fr. Gruner. I scan the Fatima Crusader pamphlet enclosed, and it always has a very long and turgid analysis of messianistic hidden meanings, personnel changes at the Vatican, this or that about Cardinal Bertone, etc. The prophecies of Fatima came true, ranging from “the war will end soon,” to the deaths of the children, in what sequence, and that Jacinta will die alone, etc., to the collapse of Russia and its newfound communism (“…but in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph…. the pope will have much to suffer…”) Those later events would not have transpired if the 6 months of (scheduled) apparitions at Fatima – and the Angel of Portugal’s 3 appearances prior to that — had been scanted or given a lukewarm reception by the Church in the following years. Father Gruner has been tilting at windmills and clutching at slender reeds for far too long now.

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