Church Crisis: Educating The Masses…

alberteinsteineducation-quote

We often receive emails asking questions about the state of the Church and how to deal with it. I’m afraid that I sometimes feel impatience with certain enquirers, especially if they are members of the older generation, when we were all taught very clearly that our Catholic Faith could never contradict Reason. Therefore, it seems to me, any (older) person of average intelligence should know, through their Catholic sense, that everything, from the introduction of a new Mass right up to and including Amoris Laetita, cannot be from God.  In any event, I replied to the most recent enquirer  – who is a younger Catholic, really seeking answers to questions others have asked – by sending some suggested reading. I think, however, that these latest questions might spark some very knowledgeable and interesting responses from our bloggers, so I recommended that our enquirer wait while greater minds than mine go to work…

Catholic Truth Question Time

(1)   Were there things in the Church that were needing ‘fixed’ at the time the Second Vatican Council was called?

(2)   Was the Mass in Latin alienating to people and preventing them from becoming close to Our Lord? Note:  I would like to know where to find evidence to back up my opinion that this was not the case – apart from statistics which show that the Church was thriving in the 1960s

(3)   Where did the initiative to change the Mass come from….did the faithful want it? And if it did come from an infiltration of  Freemasons in the Church how can we prove this e.g. I have heard that Bugnini was a Freemason but where is the evidence?

Well, folks?  To work!  

Fatima Prophesy, Bows & Arrows…

Extract from the published part of the Third Secret of Fatima taken from Vatican website…

OurLadyofFatimaAnd we saw … a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him  Source (Emphasis added)       

Now read the following extract from An excerpt of a speech given by Christopher Ferrara at the Fatima Center Only the Pope Can Save Washington Conference, September 22 – 24, 2015 published in the Fatima Crusader (Winter 2015)

Unparalleled Church Crisis

Certainly that element of the Secret that predicts an unparalleled crisis in the Church – I mean the text the Vatican has withheld, wherein the Blessed Virgin explains the meaning of the obscure vision published in 2000 – would have been clearer in 1960. In that year revolution was beginning in both the Church, with the calling of the Second Vatican Council, and the world at large, which underwent an accelerated descent into total depravity. (Anyone who is old enough to remember those days will recall that the Sixties were a time in which it seemed that both the Church and society had crossed over a threshold into a state of affairs the once Christian West had never seen before.)

Today, so many large pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place that even the smallest pieces are now readily fitted into the picture. For example, the Synod on the Family, where we see precisely that “the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from enemies outside, but arises from sin in the Church.” …

And yet, one small but seemingly important piece of the puzzle has always seemed odd and completely out of place to me. It is Sister Lucia’s revelation that in the vision of the “Bishop dressed in White” the future Pope’s executioners “fired bullets and arrows at him.” Arrows? What is the meaning of this reference to such primitive weaponry? One might be tempted to think that surely Lucia must have stumbled here, that Our Lady could not possibly mean literally that a future Pope would be hunted down and killed by men wielding bows and arrows.

Here too, however, developments over the passage of time seem to have allowed us to fit even this odd little piece into the bigger picture – with a resounding and quite chilling confirmation of what is actually the great significance of a seemingly incongruous detail. “We Will Conquer Your Rome, Break Your Crosses, Enslave Your Women” … ISIS

Consider first a recent article in the ISIS magazine Dabiq, quoting a fanatical Imam who “prophesies” as follows: “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted.”

Next consider a recent article in the Italian daily Il Giornale, which may well provide one of those precise historical clues that clarify a prophecy as its fulfilment nears (like the ripening fig tree that heralds the coming of Spring, to use Our Lord’s parable of the advent of the Last Days).

The article reports on an “e-book” being distributed to Muslim militants that provides instructions to prepare for the conquest of Rome by learning to use various weapons, including “home-made bows and arrows.” The idea is to stockpile weapons whose possession is not currently illegal so that they can be employed in urban guerrilla warfare. As the instruction manual states: “The advent of the war for the conquest of Rome will consist primarily of the urban guerilla in the cities and streets of Europe.”

Suddenly the reference to a Pope of the future being slain by bullets and arrows falls into place in the grand puzzle that is being completed before our eyes. Can we be certain this is so? Without the Virgin’s own explanation of the vision – for which the Vatican has substituted the ludicrous “interpretation” of the Vatican Secretary of State – we obviously cannot be. Then again, it is always prudent to examine the signs of the times when Heaven itself has given us a warning of impending disaster – a disaster to which nearly the entire hierarchy remains oblivious as they persevere in the ruinous course of the past fifty years of drift and decay in the Church and widening apostasy in the worldSource

bow-and-arrow

Comment:

It is true that we really only begin to make sense of prophecies as they unfold; hence, when news came that Pope Benedict, on abdication, intended to retain the papal dress, those familiar with the Fatima prophecies immediately recalled that part of the prophecy where the children saw “a bishop dressed in white” and their “impression that it was the Holy Father” – quite different from their other clear references to the Pope.  

Christopher Ferrara, rather surprisingly in my view, appears to assume that this “Bishop dressed in white” who is to be killed IS the reigning Pope, but with two “Bishops dressed in white” currently in Rome, surely a doubt arises as to the identity of the Bishop of the vision – certainly, if this event is to occur during the lifetimes of Pope Francis and the abdicated Pope Benedict. 

However,  the fact that Muslim militants are being exhorted to learn to use and to stockpile bows and arrows, enables us –  in the current frenzy of Islamist attacks in Europe – to make sense of the reference to “arrows” in the Fatima prophecy which has long puzzled us all.  And to consider the rather obvious question: Is the Islamists’ ambition to conquer Rome not far off?

Is there, in fact, a connection between (a) the increasing numbers of ISIS terrorist attacks in Europe (b) the Fatima warning about the death of the “Bishop dressed in white” (c) the exhortation to Muslim militants to learn to use and to stockpile “arrows” and (d) the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the Fatima prophecies in 2017?  I can’t help thinking the answer is obviously “yes” – but what do you think? 

Benedict on “Providential” Pope Francis

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict have expressed appreciation for the friendship that has grown between them on the occasion of the publication of Elio Guerriero’s biography of Pope Benedict XVI. Both popes clearly value their friendship for the support and encouragement that it brings to them both.  

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, right, hugs Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica during the ceremony marking the start of the Holy Year, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. Pope Francis pushed open the great bronze doors of St. Peter's Basilica on Tuesday to launch his Holy Year of Mercy, declaring that mercy trumps moralizing in his Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Benedict XVI, right, hugs Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica during the ceremony marking the start of the Holy Year, 2015.  (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

 

Pope Benedict XVI on Pope Francis

Pope Benedict XVI spoke about his friendship with Pope Francis in a rare interview with  his biographer Elio Guerriero, published in La Reppublica (paraphrased by CNA):

“Speaking about Pope Francis, Benedict said that obedience to his successor “was never in discussion,” but that since Francis’ election, a feeling of “deep communion and friendship” has arisen between the two.

“At the moment of his election I experienced, as many, a spontaneous feeling of gratitude toward Providence,” he said, explaining that after having two Pope’s from Central Europe, “the Lord was turning, so to speak, his gaze to the Universal Church and invited us to a more extensive communion, more Catholic.”  [emphasis added by Editor CT]

Benedict said he was deeply moved by Pope Francis’ “extraordinary human availability to me” from the beginning. He noted how immediately after Francis was elected, the new Pope attempted to call him at his residence in the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae monastery. Having failed to reach him, Francis called again right after greeting faithful from the balcony of St. Peter’s, this time succeeding. Pope Francis “spoke to me with great  warmth,” Benedict recalled, noting that since that day “he has given me the gift of a wonderfully paternal-fraternal relationship.”

Not only does Francis frequently send “little gifts” and personal letters to Benedict, but he also makes sure to visit his predecessor before embarking on every major trip he takes:

“The human benevolence with which he treats me, is for me a special grace of this last phase of my life for which I can only be grateful. What he says about availability to other men, are not only words. He puts it into practice with me. May the Lord in turn make him feel his benevolence every day. This I ask the Lord for him.”

Pope Francis on Pope Benedict XVI

John L. Allen has provided excerpts from Pope Francis’s preface to Elio Guerriero’s biography of Pope Benedict XVI:

“His discrete presence and his prayer for the Church are a continual support and comfort for my service. Who better than him can understand the joys, and also the difficulties, of service to the universal Church and the world of today, and be spiritually close to the one called by the Lord to carry that weight? For that reason, his prayer is especially precious, and his friendship especially appreciated.”

About there being two popes in the Church

“Since they love each other, it’s a beautiful novelty. In a certain sense it expresses in a particularly clear way the continuity of the Petrine ministry, without interruption, like links in a single chain forged by love. The holy people of God, on the path, have understood this very well. Every time the emeritus pope has appeared in public, at my invitation, and I was able to embrace him in front of everyone, the joy and the applause of those present has been sincere and intense.”

On the continuity between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI

“Everyone in the Church has a great debt of gratitude towards Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI for the depth and balance of his theological thought, always in the service of the Church, up to the highest responsibility; the contribution of his faith and culture to a magisterium capable of meeting the expectations of our time was fundamental. The courage and determination with which he faced difficult situations have shown the way to react with humility and truth, in the spirit of renewal and purification.”

The loving mercy of God is “the most urgent message of a Church reaching out, even to the peripheries, of a world marked by conflicts, injustices and disrespect for the human person. The entire life of thought and works of Joseph Ratzinger has aimed at that end, and in the same direction, with the help of God, I’ll try to continue.”

Comment [EWTN]

The role of the successor of St Peter has been described as one of the loneliest jobs in the world. The pope alone bears ultimate responsibility before God for the universal Church:

“The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power.” (Lumen Gentium, 22).

For any man occupying the throne of St Peter this realisation must at times be a great burden. It is good that Pope Francis has Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI close at hand supporting him in prayer and friendship.  Source

Comment

Clearly, those who claim that Pope Benedict must be concerned about the statements and actions of Pope Francis are plain wrong.  He actually sees the Francis pontificate as “providential”, apparently in the sense that this is a good pontificate.   At Catholic Truth, we were never under any illusions about Pope Benedict.  We spoke out to highlight his errors, just as we comment on the many errors of Pope Francis. But where do the reports of Pope Benedict’s ongoing  support for and pledge of unconditional obedience to Pope Francis leave those who consider Benedict to have been a faithful pontiff who must be suffering through the Francis pontificate? 

Of Mice & Men: Cardinal Sarah & Co.

Cardinal Robert SarahTUESDAY, JULY 05, 2016

Cardinal Sarah’s Inaugural Address at Sacra Liturgia UK

Extract…

Continued study and criticism of the reformed rites is necessary: to what extent do the post-conciliar liturgical reforms reflect the zeitgeist of the 1960s and 1970s, rather than continuity with the tradition of the Church (contra SC 23)? With regard to this particular question, Cardinal Sarah said that:

We cannot dismiss the possibility of an official reform of the liturgical reform.

[Cardinal Sarah] then gave some (unexpected) news that Pope Francis had asked him to study the question of the reform of the reform and the mutual enrichment of the OF and EF that Pope Benedict XVI spoke of in the letter that accompanied Summorum Pontificum (see also Universae Ecclesiae 25):

When I was received in audience by the Holy Father last April, Pope Francis asked me to study the question of a reform of a reform and of how to enrich the two forms of the Roman rite. This will be a delicate work and I ask for your patience and prayers. But if we are to implement Sacrosanctum Concilium more faithfully, if we are to achieve what the Council desired, this is a serious question which must be carefully studied and acted on with the necessary clarity and prudence…

Cardinal Sarah ended with an appeal to all priests, which will be familiar to those who have read his recent articles and interviews in L’Osservatore Romano and Famille Chrétienne: it is very important that as soon as possible we return to a common orientation of priest and people eastwards in those parts of the liturgy where we are addressing God. This is a very important step to ensure that, in our celebration of the sacred liturgy, God rather than man is at the centre of it. The Cardinal implored all priests to implement this with suitable catechesis, and confidence. He suggested that the 1st Sunday of Advent this year would be a good time to start!  Read entire report here

Comment: 

Cardinal Sarah suggested that the 1st Sunday in Advent would be a good time for priests to start to (or more accurately, return to) offering the [new] Mass facing east…

Well, to be honest, to those of us who have long since outed ourselves as having no intention of ever attending a novus ordo Mass again, family occasions possibly being necessary exceptions for some of us,  it is neither here nor there if priests the world over choose to accept or ignore the Cardinal’s suggestion.  Already, Cardinal Nichols has urged his priests to ignore it

Clearly, Cardinal Sarah is unlikely to enforce his suggestion. That might lead to “disunity” and, of course, we can’t have that… We must have the appearance of unity, at all costs. 

So far, the “conservative” Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider  have failed to stand the test of what little time has passed since they spoke out to defend Catholic marriage during the notorious Synod of the Family in Rome. They have effectively taken a vow of silence; and now Cardinal Sarah, widely hailed as the latest “traditional leaning” member of the hierarchy, is proving to be monumental disappointment, seeking a “reform of the reform” by suggestion with no sign of measures to end the imposition of the new Mass and restore the Church’s ancient Liturgy. He’s a nice cardinal, undoubtedly well meaning, but nothing more, as far as we can see at the present time. Ditto the other “conservatives” and ditto the alleged “traditionalists” who seem determined to wait until there’s no crisis any more before getting down to the serious work of restoring the Faith in the wider Church.

For some reason, the title of John Steinbeck’s famous novel keeps popping into my head: Of Mice And Men.  And so, I make no apology for wondering if there are any real men left in the hierarchy, that is, men with some of the best of the masculine virtues in their soul, let alone men who have a grasp of what it means to be a Confirmed Catholic Soldier of Christ.

All clergy and hierarchy living through this unprecedented crisis, would do well to ponder the words with which Archbishop Lefebvre concludes his Open Letter to Concerned CatholicsIf you wish to know the real reason for my persistence, it is this: At the hour of my death, when Our Lord asks me: “What have you done with your episcopate, what have you done with your episcopal and priestly grace?” I do not want to hear from His lips the terrible words “You have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them.”

Comments invited… 

Theological Terrorism: Hierarchy Turning Christ’s Church Upside Down

From now on, says [Cardinal] Schönborn, all the previous magisterial texts concerning marriage and the family “have to be read in the light of Amoris Laetitia. [AL]” Read more here

But, hang on… The Church has always tested the authenticity, the veracity of teachings by examining them in the light of Catholic Tradition: that which has been believed always, everywhere, by all.  (Commonitory ch. II, §6; NPNF Series II Vol. XI p. 132)(ch. 2)   The author of the Commonitory used the pseudonym “Peregrinus” – he was later identified as St Vincent of Lérins. 

Nothing can be binding doctrine that does not pass that key test. If it’s new, if it has not been part of Christian belief from the beginning, then it cannot, by definition, be binding. Any elementary theology student of Christianity ought to be able to explain that, never mind a Cardinal or ten of the Catholic Church.

St Vincent of Lérins: We know true teachings because they have been believed everywhere, always, by all.

St Vincent of Lérins: We know true teachings because they have been believed everywhere, always, by all.

We speak often enough about the diabolical disorientation – the turning away from the right path – predicted by Our Lady at Fatima, but it is now crystal clear that the enemies within the Church are determined to literally turn the Church and Christ’s teaching upside down.  No longer do we apply the litmus test of judging beliefs against what has always been believed in the Church, always, everywhere and by all, but we must put those traditional teachings under scrutiny to see if they comply with the New Morality.

For how long will the few faithful priests and teachers who are still among us,  be able to go along with this new religion? It’s especially difficult for lay teachers with responsibility to pay the mortgage and feed their families. They’re in a minority within the Catholic teaching profession: the apostasy is widespread now, and I hear stories regularly of scandalous goings-on in Catholic schools, with the extra-curricular behaviour of Catholic teachers being no better (and often worse) than their secular colleagues. So there’s no use suggesting that they band together to form some kind of organisation. We’ve been there, done that, and found so few available candidates that we decided not to waste money printing the T shirts. And the traditional leaning clergy, generally speaking, seem to be doing their best in the circumstances in which they are living and working, but are, naturally enough,  not very keen to raise their heads too far above the parapet.  Misbehaving clergy are not considered a problem; they’re often found giving talks to the Glasgow Glitterati, and invariably enjoy promotions, but a priest who is suspected of being a tad too traditional-leaning is looking at early retirement (best scenario) or possibly even a new career.

While the Archbishop of Glasgow is busily preparing courses for his priests and teachers to learn how best to spread the immoral teachings found in AL, it might be worth reflecting on the fact that while there’s plenty of talk in the blogosphere about whether or not it is possible to depose a pope (notably Pope Francis) nobody seems to have considered the possibility of removing a bishop. There is a process, but, of course, it’s unlikely to happen these days. Still, making the necessary noises might be useful. Is there any point in pursuing this possibility – or is there really nothing  we can do for the foreseeable future to end the theological terrorism of a particular bishop? 

Comments invited… 

Francis: Anti-Christ? Only God knows…

Steve Skojec, at the blog One Peter Five (IP5) writes:  

Over the weekend, noteworthy Catholic blogger Ann Barnhardt published an essay in which she states that she believes “Jorge Bergoglio, ‘Francis’ to be an Antipope, never having been canonically elected, and that Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI is still the Roman Pontiff.” She goes further, asserting that

The sheer quantity of evidence, and the diversity of the confluent evidence sets, is now so utterly overwhelming that I believe that a person, fully informed of the dataset, would have to engage in the willful suspension of disbelief to continue to acknowledge Bergoglio as Roman Pontiff.

The same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication, lightning struck the Vatican twice.

The same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication, lightning struck the Vatican twice.

I am friendly with Ann. We’ve done a couple of podcasts together, and we correspond occasionally. When she’s right, she’s a rhetorical weapon of mass destruction, and one that can be a wonder to behold. That said, I don’t always agree that she’s completely dialed in (or needs to go to 11). And in this case, to be honest, I find her argument significantly less persuasive than she does. Nevertheless, I’m beginning to see it referenced in our comment box, as well as in other places online. This makes it difficult to ignore – in particular since opinions along this spectrum have, in the wake of one papal scandal after another, been showing up with increasing frequency in online Catholic discourse.

I’m not going to devote the time and research necessary to write a deeply substantive critique of Ann’s theory. Briefly, though, I do want to address some issues I have with her argument.

To begin with, three of the five prophecies she cites are of questionable provenance. The St. Francis of Assisi prophecy is the most significant of these, since to read it one feels as though it is meant for our present time. Nonetheless, it is considered apocryphal by scholars of Catholic prophecy like Desmond Birch and Emmett O’Reagan (among others). No one has traced this prophecy back to St. Francis himself — it does not appear in his existing works. The prophecy as Ann cites it comes from the 1882 book, Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis Of Assisi, by R. Washbourne. The introduction to this book itself states that it is a translation “made from the edition of the ‘Works of St. Francis’ published at Cologne in the year 1848. As the work is intended to be a practical and devotional one, no critical notes have been introduced, nor references to the authors from whom Wadding made his collection.” The Wadding in question was the 17th century Franciscan Friar Luke Wadding, whose own work is considered by some scholars to include spurious texts. In the editor’s introduction to a 1906 edition of Wadding’s text, now available online, we read that

Wadding’s edition of the Opuscula differs mainly from all preceding collections in this, that whereas the latter contained only those pieces which as regards both matter and form were the handiwork of St. Francis, Wadding felt justified in including among St. Francis’ writings many dicta of the Saint found in the early Legends.  […]

Thus it comes to pass that in Wadding’s edition, side by side with the undisputed writings of St. Francis, we find doubtful, even spurious, extracts from different sources attributed to the Seraphic Father. It must ever remain a matter of regret that Wadding, instead of following the oldest MSS. that he had at hand, was content to transcribe the incomplete and often interpolated parts of them he found in second-hand compilations, like that of Mark of Lisbon. His work from our standpoint is vitiated by imperfect research and unreliable criticism.

This 1906 edition, in fact, had many of these questionable writings removed by the Friars Minor of Quaracchi, including “all the colloquies, prophecies, parables, etc…”

The message of La Salette concerning Rome becoming “the seat of the Antichrist” bears some merit according to the Church’s prophetic understanding of that figure, but this section of the otherwise-approved La Salette apparitions has been in dispute for some time as a possible later invention of the seer Mélanie Mathieu, who was struggling with cloistered life at the time. Many scholars do not therefore consider this portion of the messages authentic. In any case Francis is most certainly not the Antichrist, though one could argue that he is a type thereof.

Finally, the Fatima message Ann cites is part of a rumored text, not part of any of the officially released secrets of Fatima. Fr. Paul Kramer — himself also of the same opinion as Ann about Benedict being the true pope — attributed this quote to a paraphrase of Cardinal Oattaviani concerning an unrevealed Fatima secret in May of this year. With no official documentation of this language, it serves as a point of interest, but cannot be relied upon for accuracy until the full texts of those messages is finally published.

Moving on to the question of Pope Benedict’s resignation, Archbishop Gänswein’s statements about an expanded papal ministry, though newsworthy because of his closeness to both popes, are still technically nothing but his own theorizing. Similarly, the idea that Pope Benedict’s abdication falls under the canonical invalidity of “substantial error” is, as far as any outside observer is concerned, tenuous at best. We don’t know that he actually believed that he could expand the Petrine Ministry into a diarchy (and in fact he has flatly denied the theories that there was some defect in his resignation) regardless of what Gänswein theorizes. Recall the letter that the Pope Emeritus sent to Andrea Tornielli in 2014:

“There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry” and the “speculations” surrounding it are “simply absurd”.

Joseph Ratzinger was not forced to resign, he was not pressured into it and he did not fall victim to a conspiracy: his resignation was genuine and valid and there is no “diarchy” (dual government) in the Church today. There is a reigning Pope, Francis, who leads the Catholic Church and an Emeritus Pope whose “only purpose” is to pray for his successor.

I understand why people question this, but barring something concrete from Benedict himself, it remains within the realm of conjecture, not certitude, to assert that his abdication took place under different circumstances than he himself has admitted.

The questions surrounding the election of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio are, I think, somewhat more meritorious, inasmuch as we have the admission of the members of the so-called “St. Gallen Mafia” of a conspiracy to put Bergoglio on the Petrine throne. That said, we do not know that Bergoglio himself colluded with them, and if he did not, even their offenses would not invalidate his election (though they should, if Universi Dominici Gregis is to be believed, result in the automatic excommunication of those involved.)

Ann goes on to list “Bergoglio’s Litany of Heresies,” and she’ll get no argument from me that these are all deeply troubling. Are they all manifestly heretical, though? Are they obdurately and formally so? Again, this is where certitude fails. And if they did amount to material heresy, theologians remain uncertain about whether the Bellarmine/Suarez hypothesis really plays out as hypothesized.

The rest of Ann’s nearly 5,000 word essay deals mostly with her own competence to make such claims, and rebuttals to anticipated responses. Her argument, such as it is, is expended in the first half of her piece. In fact, if one removes her introductory statement and the sections on prophecy, Bergoglian heresies, her authority to make such statements, and anticipated objections/rebuttals, one is left with less than a thousand words of actual argumentation about the improper resignation of Benedict and the invalid election of Francis.

And I find neither section persuasive, for the reasons I’ve already stated.

Is it possible that Ann is correct? Yes, it is, but we can’t know it with certainty until the Church makes a declaration as such. Is it possible that she’s wrong? Yes, and I find this to be more likely. Not that it improves things — it’s a much harder situation to deal with if Francis is a validly elected pope than if he isn’t; in the latter case, he can simply be dismissed, and his works undone. In the former case, we have to contend with the reality of the most theologically destructive pope in Church history, and the fallout of that is most likely going to take generations to set right.

But again: I think arguments like these waste valuable time. Someone wrote to me a few weeks ago to get my opinion on another article along the lines of Ann’s essay. My response was as follows:

Frankly, I tend to stay away from these kinds of arguments. They can be interesting, but they can also tempt us to try to ascertain with some degree of certitude what can only be known by an authoritative judgment from the Church.

Is it possible that Francis was invalidly elected or that Benedict invalidly resigned? Yes. It’s possible. Will attempting to reach these conclusions on our own give us any peace of mind, or even a form of actionable certainty? Nope.

For my part, I trust that while Christ may be asleep in the boat as the storm worsens, He can quiet the waves with a word. He is asking us to simply be faithful enough to trust that He will do so when the time comes.

Eventually, this will all get sorted out. Whether Francis is an antipope or a valid pope, his papacy will undoubtedly be condemned by future generations. The charisms of indefectibility and infallibility still apply, and Francis will not be able to unmake them. Instead, he’s forced to go around them. And that means being sneaky and underhanded, which is what we’re all picking up on. He will lead many souls astray, but  Our Lord predicted that there would be such false teachers and prophets, and St. Paul said (Acts 20, IIRC) that there would be wolves who would enter in amongst the shepherds.

We’ll get through it. The way I see it, we all have enough headaches without trying to sort out a juridical mess that might just require divine guidance. And nobody wants to be a sedevacantist. They’re about as much fun as lemonjuice at a papercut party.

Ann is NOT a sedevacantist, as she makes clear. She just thinks we still have the same pope we had in February, 2013. Is she right? Not my call. Does it matter? On an objective level, of course it does. To know the true pope from the false one is better than not to know it. But we can’t know that with the certitude of an ecclesiastical judgment. Not yet.

Trying to figure out whether a man who claims to be pope is or is not the pope by reading things on the Internet and drawing conclusions from them is like trying to diagnose your own ailment by Googling your symptoms: the odds are you’re going to convince yourself you have some rare or incurable condition instead of whatever ordinary malady you’re actually suffering from; but even if you get it right and it’s something just awful, what are you going to do about it? You still have to go to the doctor to get it taken care of. You can’t just treat yourself.

Ann herself admits, practically speaking, that her conclusion really changes nothing for the average Catholic in the pews:

First and foremost: Masses in which an antipope is commemorated in the Canon by the priest offering the Holy Sacrifice IS A VALID MASS.  The Eucharist is confected, the Holy Sacrifice is offered.   

Further, I have been assured in the strongest possible terms that for me to receive Holy Communion in a Mass in which I know that Bergoglio has been commemorated as Pope is NOT an act of hypocrisy on my part. I know that the Mass is valid.  I know that the Eucharist was confected. I know that Our Lord is desirous to come to me and I to Him in the Sacrament of the Altar, provided I am in a state of grace.

If my position on Bergoglio is correct, which I obviously believe that it is, what this means is that the commemoration of him as Pope in the Canon is either ILLICIT, or MISTAKEN.  We have a clear historical precedent for this.  During the Great Western Schism, due purely to political intrigue and NOT any questions of heresy, there were three men simultaneously claiming to be pope.  One of these men was the True Pope, and the other two were antipopes.  These antipopes were not blaspheming heretics like Bergoglio.  Again, the entire situation was due purely to POLITICAL INTRIGUE.  And so, two giants of the Church – both saints and one a Doctor of the Church, backed different “popes”.  What this means is that one of these saints was wrong, and one was right.  Who was the saint that backed the True Pope?  It was St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, and laywoman. Did you know that St. Catherine was NOT a professed nun?  She was a Dominican tertiary (third order) who was given permission to wear the Dominican habit.  She was a laywoman.

And who was the saint, one of the true intellectual giants of the Church, who was wrong and backed an antipope?  It was St. Vincent Ferrer, who was a priest, and thus offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass many, many times having commemorated an antipope in the Canon.

Here is an interesting precision: St. Vincent Ferrer’s commemoration of an antipope is not even called “illicit” – it is called “mistaken”.

My suggestion is this: rather than worry about which one of the two popes in Rome is the real one — something the Church will resolve in time, without our help — I believe we should focus our efforts on combating the errors that Francis is promoting and Benedict is doing nothing to stop. And we should do so by promoting authentic Catholic teaching as an antidote. Coming to a better understanding of that teaching, and finding new and effective ways to disseminate it, is far more efficacious than idle speculation over something we can’t determine definitively and will never have the power to remedy.

Comment: 

The position taken by the author of the above article at One Peter Five is exactly that of Catholic Truth, as regular readers and bloggers here will know.  Steve’s excellent research work, especially with regard to the quotes offered to substantiate the theory that Pope Francis is the “anti-Christ”  (notably the quote popularly attributed to St Francis) makes the above article a singularly important contribution to the debate about this pontificate;  comments are invited which will, I’m sure, largely merely endorse the thrust of Steve’s argument that it is really pointless to speculate on the status of Pope Francis’ pontificate, because only God knows the answer to the “anti-Christ” question.  We have no authority or power to pronounce on this.  If necessary, the Church will do so in due course.  Our task is simple: we recognise Francis as Pope but resist his errors – as we resisted the errors of his modernist predecessors elected since the Second Vatican Council.  

SSPX: Bishop Fellay Interview…

Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior General of the SSPX, told the Register May 13 that he is “persuaded, at least in part, by a different approach,” in which, he believes, Pope Francis is placing less weight on the Council and more emphasis on “saving souls and finding a way to do it.”

According to Bishop Fellay, the Vatican is telling the Society, through nuanced words, that it is now possible to question the Council’s teachings on religious liberty, ecumenism, and liturgical reform “and remain Catholic”.

In a three-part video interview, Bishop Fellay gives a rundown of the reconciliation process with Rome, discusses the Society’s motivations and whether the SSPX will continue to be critical of aspects of the post-conciliar Church after reconciliation.  Source

Part 1/3

Part 2/3

Part 3/3

Comments invited…