When I called Dr. Ingo Dollinger on Pentecost Sunday of 2016 to confirm reports I had heard about his knowledge concerning the missing part of the Third Secret of Fatima, I had no idea what would follow. After my report on his answer, and the very surprising strong denial from the Vatican Press Office in this matter, the name of this wonderful priest began to be mentioned everywhere. My account of our conversation was translated into many languages, demonstrating that Dr. Dollinger’s witness was well received by many Catholics in the world.
After that initial contact, however, I also came to learn much more about him and the extraordinary blessings God has bestowed upon him during his whole life. This prompted me to begin undertaking the writing of a more detailed report about Dr. Dollinger himself, whom I discovered has lived a life both fascinating and inspiring to the Catholic heart. During the month of June, I was blessed to work with with Dr. Dollinger’s personal secretary – over the phone and via e-mail – in order to assemble more information about his life and work.
Originally, we intended to collaborate to write a little more about the questions regarding Fatima left unanswered following the response attributed to Pope Benedict. After the Vatican’s forceful denial of his story, however, Dr. Dollinger said the following, passed on to me in an e-mail from his secretary: “If Rome has denied it, then we have to be silent and not to defend ourselves.” As his secretary comments: “This is the typical and logical reaction of a faithful Son of the Church.”
Therefore, in the following recounting of Dr. Dollinger’s life, we will only lightly touch upon the matter of Fatima, quoting another source who has known Dr. Dollinger very well for many years and who remembers well how, in June of 2000, Dr. Dollinger came back from Rome and spoke about his conversation with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger about Fatima.
The following report is not meant to be an historically well-researched and exact document. The circumstances have disallowed such an endeavor – due to Dr. Dollinger’s own failing health, as well as due to the current health problems of his secretary – and due to the geographic distance between him and the writer of this document. One might, rather, present this document as an oral history. The information for this life report comes from personal conversations with Dr. Dollinger; from a private publication about him that was published in 2011; from the memories of Dr. Dollinger’s personal secretary who has known him since 1970 and who has worked for him closely since the end of the 1970s; from some of the faithful who have known him for years; as well as from other external, public sources. Later, historical researchers will hopefully be able to write down Dr. Ingo Dollinger’s life in greater detail and with completeness. However, since Dr. Dollinger’s personal life is such an inspiration of grace, faith, wonder and beauty, we have considered it worthwhile to present it now to the public at this stage. In the following, some highlights of his life, Catholic witness, and work will be presented. We hope that it will give the readers as much joy and gratitude and love of God as it has already given us. Dr. Dollinger’s life, work, and experience is a wonderful example of God’s love for man, for His direct intervention into our lives and His Guidance and Challenge throughout our mortal life on earth.
Therese of Konnersreuth and the History of Dollinger’s Priestly Vocation
Dr. Dollinger owes his own priesthood also to the timely and decisive influence of “Resl” – Therese Neumann of Konnersreuth, the German stigmatist who died on 18 September 1962. One day, Dr. Dollinger went to her – it was on a Friday during one of her Passion sufferings – in order to ask her to ask Our Lord whether he should become a priest. She told him to come back the next day so that she could first ask Our Lord Himself on the next day – and after having received Holy Communion – concerning this matter. The next day, she plainly said to Dr. Dollinger: “You shall become a priest.” Dr. Dollinger says that, without this direct confirmation, he would not have ever become a priest, because he would not have dared to take this awesome step.
Concerning the pre-history of his priestly vocation: Not long after the end of World War II, Dr. Dollinger (who was then in his late teens) was – together with five other young Catholic men – arrested by the U.S. American occupation forces because the young Germans were suspected to be fighting against the occupational forces as partisans (so-called Werwölfe) – which was not true. Three of the young men were shot immediately, at the very spot where they had been arrested. Dr. Dollinger was able to save his own life by dropping quickly to the ground, something he had deftly learned how to do as a youthful artillery assistant (Flakhelfer) during the war. The Americans then told those men who had survived that they would also be shot that same evening. This promise, or threat, was repeated often. They were not summoned to a court where they could have defended themselves, but they were still kept incarcerated for a long time. Finally, Dr. Dollinger’s mother traveled to General Lucius Clay in order to request a just trial. General Clay did not believe her story but promised her son a trial. When then, finally, the judge also heard the case, he said that he would not have believed that the Americans were capable of so cruelly doing something like this, had he not heard it with his own ears and seen it with his own eyes. He freed the young men.
During his prison time, Dr. Dollinger’s mother, as well as his pious aunt, had given him many prayer leaflets and books, one of them being a book about the Curé of Ars. Dr. Dollinger then started to pray much and to learn more about the Faith. During one of his prayers, he heard a voice saying: “You shall become My priest.” Dollinger, who never thought about becoming a priest (he rather wanted to become a pilot or a diplomat), asked God to give him two proofs that this voice was true: i.e., the conversion of his best friend; and the conversion of a relative who had left the Faith and who was also very cruel to his own wife. Both people converted within months – the close friend even became a Franciscan four months later; and the cruel relative repented and repaired his conduct; and then went to confession and returned to the Faith after Dollinger had himself visited him and had spoken with him for several hours. However, Dollinger still had some doubts about his own priestly vocation which he would finally come to remove, but only with the indispensable help of “Resl” of Konnersreuth.
The aunt of Dr. Dollinger was very pious – just as his own mother was. When his parents went out at night, his aunt had often watched him as a child. She taught him to say a little prayer before going to bed: “Dear Savior, I love you!” He still gives that little prayer as penance for penitents in Holy Confession. He also regarded it as an essential element of his priestly life to spend five hours daily in contemplation and devotional prayer. He usually got up at 2 am, in order to pray for four hours before Mass at 6 am, only in order then to pray more and to meditate another hour or so after Mass. Dr. Dollinger has a very deep and intimate love to God and has touched many of the faithful with his homilies, since whenever he speaks of the greatness and beauty of God, he is palpably moved to tears. He is still a much-cherished and an always-available confessor, even in his weak state of health now.
One day in the late 1950s, Dr. Dollinger accompanied his aunt into a store. At the cash register lay a book about Padre Pio (d. 1968), and it was a book that belonged to the female cashier herself. He asked her whether he may look at it. Which he then proceeded to do. Having arrived back home, he then called up to San Giovanni Rotondo and asked whether Padre Pio himself was still alive. After receiving the encouraging answer, he very soon went with the train in order to visit him.
Over the subsequent years, Dr. Dollinger became very close with Padre Pio, who soon even gave him unrestricted access to the gallery where he himself used to pray. Dr. Dollinger spoke with Padre Pio hundreds of times and often assisted at his Holy Masses. He often also went to Confession with him, and Padre Pio assisted at Dr. Dollinger’s own Holy Masses. One time, in the 1960s, Padre Pio told him that the enemies of Catholicism already had very much power at high places within the Church.
When Dr. Dollinger visited Padre Pio the first time and presented himself as Don Ingo (he was then already a priest), Padre Pio already knew what his original middle name was, and without first having been told: “Joachim.” The special resonance of this fact is that Padre Pio firmly insisted that Joachim was Don Ingo’s real name. When Dr. Dollinger was later back at home, he asked his mother about this matter and learned that, indeed, the priest who baptized him, for some reason, did not actually give him in baptism the name “Ingo,” but, rather, “Joachim”!
Padre Pio was very shaken when the Franciscans introduced many lax new rules after the Second Vatican Council. He then once said: “If Saint Francis should return to the earth, will he find one single Franciscan left?”
Padre Pio one day also told Dr. Dollinger that Dr. Dollinger will have much to suffer when he comes to be in his high age. That is indeed what has happened.
When he was with Padre Pio, many people approached Dr. Dollinger in order to ask him to ask Padre Pio a specific question or so. One day, in the 1950s, for example, there came up to Dr. Dollinger a young 24-year-old woman who asked him to tell Padre Pio that she would like to found an order and that she would like to ask Padre Pio seven questions. Dr. Dollinger then went to Padre Pio and thought to himself that this young woman might well be a little bit “crazy” (“gspinnst”) and he openly told Padre Pio what he thought of this matter and apologized for bothering him with such a request. But, Padre Pio answered: “Don’t say that. This woman will one day found a very great order!” He then proceeded to give specific answers to all of her seven questions. This woman was called later Mother Maria Pia Miari. She founded the female branch of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI), the Poor Clares of the Immaculate. Maria Pia Miari herself became the spiritual daughter of Padre Pio. She is now already deceased (d. 2011), having herself lived for forty-three years after the death of Padre Pio in 1968.
Dr. Dollinger himself later supported the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. He helped them to come to Anápolis (Brazil) and to establish a monastery there – not far away from the University of the Holy Cross, which he himself had founded. Bishop Manuel Pestana of Anápolis himself was very supportive of this foundation, being himself a holy man. Although Bishop Pestana is already deceased, the FFI are still present and well established in Anápolis.
As their designated representative, Dr. Dollinger participated for the German Bishops’ Conference in the official discussions about Freemasonry conducted with the United Grand Lodges of Germany, which discussions themselves took place from 1974 to 1980. Bishop Josef Stimpfle of Augsburg was the president of this discussion group, and Dr. Dollinger was a diocesan priest in the same Diocese of Augsburg and thus a subordinate to Bishop Stimpfle. He also was Stimpfle’s secretary.
Dollinger worked for Bishop Stimpfle himself until 1980 in the Commission of the German Bishops’ Conference concerning the disturbing question of Freemasonry which then in February of 1980 concluded that membership in the Catholic Church is utterly incompatible with any level of membership in Freemasonry. Dr. Dollinger, a little later, took his own initiative to go to Rome in order to save what could still be saved there, inasmuch as the New Code of Canon Law – which had been promulgated under Pope John Paul II earlier in 1983 – had not even mentioned Freemasonry explicitly at all, nor did it condemn Freemasonry anymore as a heresy, much less threaten any one anymore with the censure of excommunication if one were to be or later become a member of Freemasonry.
In support of Father Dollinger’s initiative, Bishop Stimpfle had given him permission to go to Rome and to remain there, as necessary. Dr. Dollinger stayed approximately a half a year in Rome. He approached the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger – who was also concerned about the situation with Freemasonry – and they together thus set up a commission concerning the topic. This work led to the November 1983 decree Declaratio de associationibus massonicis, which was officially published and promulgated on 26. November 1983 and which says that Freemasonry and the Catholic Church are incompatible. Pope John Paul II gave the permission for this decree. It is thanks to Dr. Dollinger that this official text had come into being. He spoke individually with each member of the Ratzinger commission in order to convince them all, with the help of his expertise, that Freemasonry is indeed incompatible with the Catholic Faith. The last member of the commission who was still somewhat unsure was finally won over by Dr. Dollinger during the recess being held just before the final vote.
Concerning the fuller question of Freemasonry: Dr. Dollinger can also give witness to the fact that most members of the Rotary Club are also Freemasons, just as it is the case with the Lions Club. There was a cardinal who was a member of the Rotary Club and did not believe Dr. Dollinger’s critical and gravely admonitory warnings. Only when one evening at a dinner with members of the Rotary Club, nearly all of these members present openly admitted to their being at the same time Freemasons, did he understand and thus fittingly then left the Rotary Club.
While Dr. Dollinger worked in the German commission concerning the question of Freemasonry, he was to witness how most of those Masons who had participated in those discussions somehow became very sick, or even died. He suspects that, since they were not successful in serving the evil one and “converting” the Catholics, they were to be punished by the evil one. (Perhaps, in their ongoing dialogue, some of them had also revealed too many of their Masonic secrets and were thus punished.) For example, Ludwig-Peter Freiherr von Pölnitz of the town Aschbach, Master of the Freemasonic Lodge Quatuor Coronati (The Four Crowned Ones) of Bayreuth – and himself one of the participants at the discussions – later called Dr. Dollinger, asking him to come for a visit since he then somehow knew that he was to die in four weeks. Exactly four weeks later, he did die.
Over time, this kind of work became dangerous for Dr. Dollinger, and, most probably, that is why he was then sent to Brazil in order to get a little distance from the immediate risk.
It was in 1983 that Dr. Dollinger first founded the University Institutum Sapientiae in Anápolis. At the same time, however, he remained Parochial Vicar of the parish of Alsmoos-Petersdorf in the Diocese of Augsburg, Germany. He flew several times a year over to Brazil and back. He himself raised 19 million of Deutschmark donations in order to establish the university. He always says that this was due to St. Joseph. Unfortunately, he contracted a protracted illness during his time in Brazil, so in the year 2004, he returned full-time to Germany.
When, on 26 June 2000, Dr. Dollinger read and heard what the Vatican had finally published as the remaining Third Secret of Fatima, he was upset and deeply shaken because of the incompleteness of the message [which he realized due to his earlier conversation with Cardinal Ratzinger about the content of the Third Secret, M.H.]. He had explicitly come from Germany to Rome to be present for the public release of the Secret. But upon hearing the text as revealed, he went at once – with his well-known spontaneity – to St. Peter’s Basilica in order to speak in person with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger about the just released words of the Message. He had also said an extra prayer that he would meet and speak with Cardinal Ratzinger there in the sacristy alone.
After the Mass at St. Peter’s, he therefore went into the sacristy reserved for the cardinals and met Cardinal Ratzinger – who was alone and in the process of re-dressing himself – and right away he started talking with him about the just-revealed Third Secret. Dr. Dollinger greeted Cardinal Ratzinger – to whom he always had access – and said to him that what had just been published that day could not be everything. He knew that Cardinal Ratzinger would not lie since he was so pure. Finally, Cardinal Ratzinger admitted: “Yes, there is still something more” and then he left the sacristy very quickly – most quickly – even as if he had realized that he had already said too much. As soon as Dr. Dollinger returned to Germany, he immediately related everything that happened to his secretary who remembers very well, and in detail, the whole story.
Dr. Dollinger nonetheless honors Pope Benedict very much. He says that he was and still is a man of the Church. He did what he could to implement what could be feasibly implemented. It seems to Dr. Dollinger that Benedict finally failed due to the intrigues and due to the lack of character of many high-ranking Princes of the Church, and thus he finally abdicated. Dr. Dollinger sees him also as a man of obedience. It is for all these reasons that, when I first called Dr. Dollinger on Pentecost Sunday of 2016, he raised with me the question as to whether it might be better to leave out from my report the very name of Cardinal Ratzinger. (Ultimately, he decided to include it.)
Dollinger as a Priest
As a pastor in Alsmoos-Petersdorf, Dr. Dollinger had much success in working with the young. He invited the Catholic Scouts of Europe (Katholische Pfadfinder Europas KPE) of Father Andreas Hoenisch to come into his parish, and he also thereby promoted several priestly and religious vocations. The parish had not had any priestly vocations for 150 years. He was such a good confessor to the young that they loved to come to him for sacramental confession. Dollinger re-introduced the communion rail to his church and, publicly, he always celebrated Mass at the high altar, and according to the Roman Canon of the Novus Ordo. But, privately, he always celebrated Mass according to the Traditional Gregorian Rite of the 1954 Missale Romanum.
23.1.1929 – Born in Schwäbisch-Gmünd
1948 – Entered the seminary of the Diocese of Rottenburg
3.4.1954 – Ordination as a Deacon
25.7.1954 – Ordination as a Priest in Zwiefalten by Bischop Carl Josef Leiprecht
1948-1953 – Studied theology and philosophy at the Eberhard Karls-University in Tübingen
1974 – Reception of his Doctorate in Moral Theology
1982-1995 – Parochial Vicar in the parish of Alsmoos-Peterdorf; during which time were to come seven priestly and religious vocations. Once again, the previous priestly vocation in this parish had been 150 years ago.
1983-1999 – Magnus Cancellarius of the “Institutum Sapientiae” in Anápolis/ Brazil
1983-2004 – Professor of Moral Theology at this Pontifical University (i.e., of “Papal Right”)
1983-2004 – Rector of the episcopal priestly seminary in Anápolis, while being at the same time episcopal vicar for the priests and religious in Anápolis
Editor’s note: this article was updated with additional photographs in November, 2016.