New Article (Posted December 1, 2016)
What Really Is At Stake?
The Letter of Four Cardinals to Pope Francis Concerning Amoris Laetitia
On November 14, 2016, four Cardinals (Walter Branmuller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffara, and Joachim Meisner) released a letter which they sent to Pope Francis on September 19, along with five “Dubia” (“doubts” or “questions”) in reference to the teaching of the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and requesting that these dubia be answered and clarified by the Pope himself.
The letter went unanswered, and thus these Cardinals decided to publish both the letter and Dubia, along with a Foreword, and also an Explanatory Note which further elaborated on the five dubia, to the general public. This composite of documents they titled Seeking Clarity. A Plea to Untie the Knots in “Amoris Laetitia”.
The four Cardinals introduce their analysis and explanation of the five dubia with the following words:
“Let’s get to what is concretely at stake”.
It is my contention that, while the dubia and the analysis presented by the four Cardinals are indeed perceptive and true as far as they go, they do not at all reach to the true depths of “what is concretely at stake”.
Let us first look at these five dubia:
The first dubium deals directly with the issue of those married persons who have obtained a civil divorce and are now living in sin with a second partner. It asks “whether, following the affirmations of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ (nn. 300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person ‘more uxorio’ (in a marital way) without fulfilling the condition provided for by ‘Familiaris Consortio’, n. 84 and subsequently reaffirmed by ‘Reconciliatio et Paenitentia’ n. 34 and ‘Sacramentum Caritatis’ n. 29. Can the expression ‘in certain cases’ found in note 351 (n. 305) of the exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live ‘more uxorio’?
Dubia two, three, four, and five, on the other hand “are about fundamental issues regarding the moral life”
The second asks whether, after the teaching of Amoris Laetitia, there are still “absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?”
The third asks whether, after Amoris Laetitia, it is still true “that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery, finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin?”
The fourth asks whether, after Amoris Laetitia, the Church still needs to regard as valid the teaching “according to which ‘circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?
And the fifth dubium asks whether, after Amoris Laetitia, the Church’s teaching still “excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?”
All of these questions are being asked, of course, simply because Amoris Laetitia does indeed appear to contradict the perennial teachings of the Church (and of Holy Scripture) in regard to these issues. As the Explanatory Note of the four Cardinals puts it (very mildly, I think), “the interpretation of the document also implies different, contrasting approaches to the Christian way of life”.
But it is much more than a “way of life” that is at stake here. It is, rather, the entire structure of our understanding of Christian Revelation – of Who God is, and of who man is – which is being denied by Amoris Laetitia. And if this be true, then the entire brunt of the Cardinals’ letter to the Pope, which consists of requests for clarification in regard to these dubia, noble and courageous as it certainly is, is an exercise in futility. The fact is that, in the minds and hearts of such men as Jorge Bergoglio and Joseph Ratzinger, the entire philosophical and theological structure of the faith has necessarily undergone a radical alteration which necessitates this contrasting approach to the Christian way of life. In other words, there can be no clarification because Pope Francis fully believes he must do what he is doing. From his perspective, the dubia of these four Cardinals is equivalent to the death cries of theological dinosaurs destined for evolutionary extinction. They therefore must be ignored.
We are therefore inexorably led to the following conclusion. Unless this radically different philosophy and theology is publicly confronted and combated at its source, and unless Pope Francis, Benedict XVI and other members of the hierarchy are spiritually and intellectually liberated from its stranglehold, any attempt to uphold traditional moral values is tied to a posture or agenda which will necessarily face failure.
I have written many detailed and documented articles concerning the philosophical-theological agenda which is at the source of this present crisis. Immediately below, I offer a simpler approach, which will hopefully provide easier access to the concepts involved.
God created man in His own image with a very specific substantial nature. The form, or essence, of this nature is the human soul. From the beginning, God added to this human nature the supernatural gift of Charity (Sanctifying Grace), which is very simply defined by Holy Scripture and the Church as the supernatural grace of Friendship with God.
When man sinned against God, and violated this Friendship with God in the depth of his being, he lost the supernatural gift of Charity. Although he also certainly lost the preternatural gifts (such as the gift of immortality and the absence of concupiscence) which had accompanied Charity, he did not lose his basic human nature, or the form of his individual being – which is a particular soul created in the image of God. Man, therefore, still retained that same substantial nature to which supernatural Charity could once again be super-added (the term used by St. Thomas). The life, death, and resurrection of Our Lord merited for all men the possible restoration of Charity to their souls. This restoration is made a reality through baptism, and may again be restored (if lost by subsequent sin) through the confession of sins.
For all of the above to be perceived as being true, it is absolutely necessary that one philosophical truth be indeed accepted by the human heart and mind: there must be such a thing as a substantive human nature, common to all men of all times, and for which all men since the beginning of time are responsible before God. In other words, human nature has not substantially changed at all. Adam possessed the same human nature as does the child conceived in his mother’s womb at this very moment. Cultures – and all sorts of other things in man’s environment which accidentally affect his emotional, intellectual, and spiritual makeup – have changed, but human nature and its obligations before God has not changed.
It is all this that is denied in the philosophy and theology of such men as Jorge Bergoglio and Joseph Ratzinger. Having succumbed to reductive atomic and quantum science, the concept of substantial being (in the words of Joseph Ratzinger) “has become inaccessible to modern man”. According to this new, “scientific” philosophy, the nature of man can only be seen in term of evolving relationships. In the recurring phrase of Pope Francis,”time is greater than space” – in other words, man’s becoming is greater than his being. It is only logical, therefore, that spiritual evolution trumps fixed dogma and doctrine, and that everything must be subjected to a false mercy simply because there is no way to judge a human nature which is defined solely in terms of an evolutionary progression towards some future omega point.
All of this takes us back to the Catholic concept of Charity. In traditional catholic theology, the possession of Charity (Sanctifying Grace) defines a state of the human soul which is necessary in order for a person to be in friendship with God. If the human soul is now to be defined solely in terms of evolving relationships, there can be no such state. There can be no such thing as a fixed human nature created in a state of original justice. There can be no Fall from such a nature, and consequently there can be no restoration to such a state of Charity and Friendship with God. Salvation can only be viewed as an evolutionary progression towards fulfillment in some future Omega Point. The Catholic concepts of Charity and Sanctifying Grace, in other words, are destroyed.
What has been missed in almost all of the critiques of Amoris Laetitia is that it is indeed constituted as a direct attack on the concept of Charity and Sanctifying Grace. I have explored this in my four-part series on Amoris Laetitia, but it is necessary to repeat it here.
The relevant passage is found in paragraph 296:
“The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart… For true charity is always un-merited, unconditional and gratuitous.”
From the context of Amoris Laetitia, it is clear that Pope Francis is here speaking of the state of a person’s soul which qualifies him or her to receive Holy Communion. As I pointed out in my articles, the supernatural gift of Charity is indeed a totally gratuitous gift of God, as is the gift by which a soul can merit such a gift. But it remains, as being absolutely central to the Catholic doctrine of Justification, that such a person must indeed freely merit this gift of charity through both faith and works. The Council of Trent defines the act of Justification in the following words:
“For, although no one can be just but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those that are justified and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in Whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity.”
Charity, as applied to the human soul, is in other words a state of being in which the soul is restored to friendship with God, and it is this state which is absolutely necessary for the reception of Holy Communion.
Further, the Council of Trent, in the following two passages, defines what is necessary for a person to both possess and retain this gift of Charity:
“But no one, how much soever justified ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments, no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema, that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou art able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able; whose commandments are not heavy, whose yoke is sweet, and whose burden light. For whoso are the sons of God love Christ; but they who love Him keep His commandments, as Himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do.” (Chapter XI)
“In opposition also to the subtle wits of certain men who, by pleasing speeches and good works, seduce the hearts of the innocent, it is to be maintained that the received grace of justification is lost not only by infidelity [loss of faith], whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever, though faith be not lost; thus defending the doctrine of the divine law, which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelieving, but the faithful also (who are) fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liars with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins; from which, with the help of divine grace, they can refrain, and on account of which they are separated from the grace of Christ.” (Chapter XV).
The possession of Charity, while being a totally gratuitous gift of God, is therefore also the most freely merited thing in a person’s life. This, of course, is why St. Paul writes:
“Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord….But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
In other words, Pope Francis statement that "true charity is always unmerited, unconditional…" is a heresy which falsifies not only the entire Catholic understanding of Justification, but all the doctrines (as enumerated above) which are integral to this central dogma of our faith. It simply destroys the entirety of Catholic Faith.
This grievous heresy, as I have said, is rooted in a denial –thought to be made necessary by the findings of modern reductive science – of the substantial nature of the human soul. As Joseph Ratzinger wrote in his book, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life:
“The challenge to traditional theology today lies in the negation of an autonomous, ‘substantial’ soul with a built-in immortality in favor of that positive view which regards God’s decision and activity as the real foundation of a continuing human existence.” (p.150).
What this entails is that the soul, instead of being defined in terms of substantiality, is now to be defined entirely in terms of ongoing, evolutionary relationship:
"'The soul’ is our term for that in us which offers a foothold for this relation [with the eternal]. Soul is nothing other than man’s capacity for relatedness with truth, with love eternal." (p.259).
This statement – that “Soul is nothing other than man’s capacity for relatedness with truth, with etermal love” – can be seen as the definitive statement of that new theology (and anthropology) which is destroying the Church. It redefines man and his soul entirely in terms of evolutionary becoming. And, of course, Pope Francis’ recurring statement that “time is greater than space” is simply another way of expressing this very same heresy.
The irony, of course, is that in negating the substantial nature of the soul, and redefining it in terms of evolutionary relationship, both Benedict and Francis have entirely falsified man’s relationship to God. Such is the subtlety of satanically inspired philosophy and theology.
There can therefore be no “clarification” of the errors of Amoris Laetitia,and no true defense of marriage, of the Holy Eucharist, or of the entire Catholic Faith, unless open warfare be now declared against reductive modern science and its profoundly destructive effect upon human thought and belief in regard to every area of man’s existence. Only thus can human souls be freed once again to believe rightly in God. The souls of Benedict and Francis depend just as much upon this liberating war as does the soul of a young person first encountering evolutionary theory or the eviscerating effect of atomic reductionism.
As a primer for engaging in this war, I recommend my article Science: Original and Final Sin, to be found here:
Victory over reductive science can only be achieved through a complete return to Thomistic Theology and Metaphysics. In pursuit of this goal, I offer the following article: The Restoration of the Supernatural, In Accord With the Teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is found here:
Note (Nov 6, 2016): The following is a very temporary post. I do not believe that focusing on politics offers any solution to our present crisis.
If I voted for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, I would emerge from the polling booth feeling violated and corrupted in the deepest recesses of my Catholic being.
Democracy has come home to roost. I remember reading about two fundamental principles or methodologies of “illuminized” Freemasonry integral to its ultimate goal, which is the total destruction of the Catholic Church and Christian civilization. The first principle consists of unceasing efforts towards complete corruption of the moral sense of the populace. The second: the promotion of the universal right and obligation to vote. In this election, the marriage of these two principles is consummated. I believe that the collective act of voting for either of these two major candidates might constitute the single most spiritually corrupting event in the history of this nation.
Note (Nov 3, 2016):
Lund: Truth Exiled
There is no need to conjecture as to the primary goal of Pope Francis’ recent ecumenical visit to Lund, Sweden. It is explicitly stated in the Joint Statement on the Occasion of the Joint Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation to be found on the Vatican website. It reads:
“Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table, as the concrete expression of full unity. We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God’s redeeming presence at the Eucharistic table. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ. We long for this wound in the Body to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavours, which we wish to advance, also by renewing our commitment to theological dialogue.”
Nor are we left without a very specific agenda as to how this is to be accomplished – with the aid of compliant, heterodox theologians, and especially I think, with the compliance of the radically restructured Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. This methodology is very succinctly stated in the Common Ecumenical Prayer at the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund, which is also found on the Vatican website. It reads:
“Certainly, there was a sincere will on the part of both sides to profess and uphold the faith, but at the same time we realize that we closed in on ourselves out of fear or bias with regard to the faith which others profess with a different accent and language…With this new look at the past, we do not claim to realize an impracticable correction of what took place, but “to tell that history differently”.
The document From Conflict to Communion, upon which the entire Lund ecumenical event was based, has largely accomplished the “telling of history differently” through employing liberal theologians to simply lie about both Catholic and Lutheran doctrine, and by confining the condemnations of the Council of Trent to the dustbins - thus reducing any former conflicts to “different accent and language”. For a comprehensive understanding of these lies, I highly recommend a careful reading of my two articles linked below.
There is an additional, very important, methodology which is being used to complement this perversion of history and doctrine. It is succinctly stated in an interview conducted by Ulf Jonsson, S.J. (editor of the Swedish journal Signum) with Pope Francis just one week prior to the latter’s journey to Sweden, and published in La Civilita Catholic just three days before the Pope's journey. This very disturbing passage reads:
“I have asked Patriarch Bartholomew if what was told about Patriarch Athenagoras was true, what he said to Paul VI: 'Let the two of us go ahead and we will put the theologians on an island to discuss among themselves'. He told me that it was a true remark. But, yes, theological dialogue must continue, even if it will not be easy. Personally, I believe that enthusiasm must shift towards common prayer and the works of mercy….There is a policy we should have clear in every case: to proselytize in the ecclesial field is a sin. Benedict XVI told us that the Church does not grow by proselytism, but by attraction. Proselytism is a sinful attitude.”
In other words, it is not theologians across-the-board who are to be exiled to an island, but rather the primacy of Truth itself that is to be exiled, and of course the theologians who hold to such a primacy. It is quite clear from what has been said above, and especially clear from the tissue of lies which constitute the long document From Conflict to Communion, that heterodox theologians will not at all be exiled, but will have a pre-eminent place at the Pope’s table.It is in the light of this agenda that we may view the unprecedented total recasting of the membership of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
What all of this entails, as very clearly stated and examined in my articles, is the militant promotion of silence in regard to doctrinal differences, and instead, simply moving forward with the pastoral implementation of this agenda - just as the Pope earlier had instructed the Lutheran lady (who asked about the possibility of receiving Holy Communion with her Catholic husband) at an ecumenical service in Rome’s Evangelical Lutheran Church,: “One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord, and then go forward”.
What is demanded of us therefore is that we do everything possible to escape the island prepared for us, and clearly speak the Word:
“But men that speak truth shall be found with her [Wisdom], and shall advance, even till they come to the sight of God. Praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner. For wisdom came forth from God: for praise shall be with the wisdom of God, and shall abound in a faithful mouth….(Ecclesiasticus 15:19-20)
And leave the rest to God, with peace and joy in our hearts, rooted in the certain knowledge that He shall triumph.
No event in the history of the Papacy and the Church ever constituted the depth of prostitution of the Church to the spirit and forces of Antichrist as does Pope Francis’ journey to Lund Sweden on October 31 in order to inaugurate the year-long commemoration of Martin Luther’s revolt. The two articles linked below provide an analysis of this abomination and the document From Conflict to Communion which constitute the nuptial bed for this adulterous affair.
The Dream of Nabuchodonosor:
Slouching Towards Lund To Be Conceived:
The article immediately below, The Antichrist and The Papacy of Pope Francis, was written in order to place these events in perspective. We are suffering nothing that is not enclosed within the providential love and embrace of God.
And the Papacy of Pope Francis
“But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21: 28)
The above-quoted words of Our Lord were spoken after He had enumerated many of the evils that can befall his faithful followers – both at the end of time, and all those situations and foreshadowings which will prefigure the final confrontation between Christ and Antichrist, and between the City of God and the City of this world.
Jesus begins, appropriately, with a warning against following any of the many false messiahs who will precede His Second Coming: “Take heed you be not seduced; for many will come in my name, saying, I am he; and the time is at hand: go ye not therefore after them.” He then proceeds to enumerate a host of other evils which might indeed, on the natural level, force us to cast our heads downwards in despair and loss of faith: wars between nations and kingdoms; earthquakes, famines, and pestilences; terrors from heaven and other great signs; persecutions; delivering up “to the synagogues and into the prisons”, “dragging before kings and governors”; betrayal by parents, brethren, kinsmen, and friends; being put to death; being hated by all men for His name’s sake. A similar list is offered in Matthew 24.
It matters little whether we choose to apply Our Lord’s words to the Apostles themselves, to the times of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., or to the time immediately preceding the Final Judgment. Each of these applications is legitimate because the essential truths enumerated herein apply to all generations of Christians: the world necessarily hates Christ and His followers, and will wage unceasing and accelerating war against them until the final confrontation between the Antichrist and Christ.
But it is not necessarily this list of evils, to which the Christian life is subject, which is difficult for us to accept. If we have any knowledge of the Gospel, we must know these things to be inevitable. Rather, it is the “lifting up of our heads” while we are suffering such trials that provides the greatest challenge. Every manifestation of the spirit of Antichrist performs its unique seduction upon the faithful of that particular period in human history. It can be easy for us now to place things in perspective that occurred in the past – “How could Judas have been so blind?” – but it can be nigh unto impossible to possess such perspective when a new form of the outpouring of evil is upon us. It can overwhelm us with the sense that what we are now seeing is something entirely new which presents an unsolvable dilemma, that our faith is a chimera, that the Church has failed, and that Christ’s promises have failed Such is the real work of the spirit of Antichrist down through history, and thus the enormous importance of Our Lord’s words of warning and preparation.
The seduction of this spirit of Antichrist which we now face would seem the most poisonous and insidious in all of Christian history, and therefore presents an enormous temptation not only to despair, but to profound bitterness, loss of charity, schism, and sedevacantism. The following is written, hopefully, as a contribution to strengthening our faith, that we might lift our heads in the midst of the present crisis and rejoice in the promises of Christ and Our Lady.
In my article The War Against the Soul, which was written towards the beginning of the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, I wrote the following (I have made slight changes):
< Possibly the most mysterious passage of the New Testament is to be found in St. Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, in which he discusses the coming of the Antichrist. It reads as follows:
“And now you know what withholdeth [the coming of the Antichrist], that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way”(2 Thess 2:6-7).
Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian, Hippolytus, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. John of Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Augustine of Hippo all agreed in seeing “he who now holdeth” to be the Roman Empire and the Caesars who ruled this empire. The Roman Empire represented the force of law (despite all its tyrannies, injustices, and immoralities) which prevented the “man of lawlessness” from ascending to power.
The pagan Roman Empire fell in 476 AD. However, the restraining force of the Roman Empire against “the man of lawlessness” did not cease. This principle of continuity in the history of the Roman Empire was delineated with perspicuity by Pope Pius IX in his encyclical Cum Catholica Ecclesia:
“It is therefore, by a particular decree of Divine Providence that, at the fall of the Roman Empire and its partition into separate kingdoms, the Roman Pontiff, whom Christ made the head and center of his entire Church, acquired civil power. Certainly, it was by a most wise design of God Himself that in the midst of so great a multitude and variety of temporal princes, the Sovereign Pontiff enjoyed political liberty, which is so necessary for him to exercise his spiritual power, his authority, and his jurisdiction over the whole world.”
In other words, the “bottom line” behind the rule of law and social order now passed from the realm of physical force into the spiritual realm – the rule of Christian Truth and Charity. This is what built Christian Civilization. And since all of this is a gift of God through His Church, which is built upon the rock of the Papacy, it is the Roman Pontiff who must be seen as the one who “witholdeth” the rise of the Antichrist.
We might be tempted to conclude that such a “taking out of the way” of the Pope should be interpreted physically, but I believe this to be an inadequate explanation. Quite a number of Popes have been taken away from Rome and/or held prisoner by precursors of the Antichrist, and yet the moral force necessary to restrain the ascension of Antichrist remained intact.
Nor can this “taking away” be meant to signify that for a period of time the Chair of Peter is unoccupied. The world has already experienced extended Papal interregnums, and these have not provided the conditions necessary for the ascension of Antichrist.
All of this should tell us that what we are dealing with here is the possibility of the interior intellectual and moral force of the Papacy being eliminated or diminished in such a way as to create a sufficiently pervasive spiritual vacuum into which the Antichrist will be able to gain entrance and ascend to power. It is this spiritual vacuum which I have detailed in all my articles concerning the philosophy and theology of Joseph Ratzinger. I do not intend to rehash all that here. But there is one quote from Joseph Ratzinger early writings which I believe epitomizes the extent to which the once absolutely certain intellectual and moral force of the Church and the Papacy has been reduced to a small, timid, and virtually inconsequential voice:
“To say this is to imply that faith must clearly adjust itself to an intellectual pluralism that cannot ever be reversed, and within this intellectual climate must present itself as a comprehensible offer of meaning, even if it can find no prolegomena in a commonly accepted philosophical system. That means, in the end, that the meaning which man needs becomes accessible in any case only through a decision for a meaningful structure. It may not be proved, but can be seen as meaningful." (Faith and the Future, p. 74-75)”
Can we even begin to imagine any Pope from the time of Peter up until Vatican Council II conceivably making a statement which so reeked of spiritual castration? If this was still the position of Pope Benedict XVI, then it gives ample testimony to a Papacy that was very close to being in that position of philosophical, theological, and moral bankruptcy as to constitute its having been “taken out of the way”. >
This bankruptcy has been dramatically accentuated during the Papacy of Francis, not because his philosophical and theological orientation and ideas are much more radical than that of Benedict, but because Francis, unlike Benedict, is a troubadour loudly and crudely acting out these heresies and demonic errors upon the world’s stage. And, contrary to the fantasies of many Traditionalists, it is clear that Benedict approves. At the recent ceremony (June 28, 2016) featuring Pope Francis honoring Benedict on the 65th anniversary of his priesthood, Benedict stated, “Thank you, Holy Father, for your goodness, which from the first moment of your election has struck me every day of my life. We hope that you can go forward with all of us on this path of divine mercy, showing us the path of Jesus, toward Jesus, toward God.” As I have clearly delineated in other articles, Pope Francis’ “path of mercy” is constituted by a silence towards Christ’s Truth, which facilitates an inclusiveness towards evil. Pope Benedict’s fulsome embrace of this agenda is proof-positive that his “hermeneutics of continuity” ultimately devolves into a simple prostitution to the evils of this world.
Concerning the “leaven” of the Pharisees, Our Lord said, “For whatsoever things you have spoken in darkness, shall be published in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in the chambers, shall be preached on the housetops.” The consequences of what was spoken in the darkness of Joseph Ratzinger’s philosophy and theology are now being shouted, through the words and actions of Pope Francis, from every headline, and carried on every wave of the media. It is a spiritual miasma which penetrates everywhere, and receives from a jubilant world the exclamation, “He is one of us!” - “He has been taken away!”
It is important to admit to ourselves that our present situation is without precedent in the history of the Papacy. The Church has certainly had Popes who were profoundly immoral. It has had Popes who have been wrong in their personal views in regard to some point of doctrine, or who made horrendously bad juridical decisions. But never has it had a Pope who believed that Divine Revelation was itself an evolutionary phenomenon (as does Benedict and, apparently, Francis), and who believes that a bogus mercy trumps Catholic doctrine (as Francis has explicitly expressed), and who loudly and triumphantly proclaims this to be so. We are therefore faced with a situation, which seems to have never been anticipated in all of the sermons and writings of the early Church Fathers (and others down through history) concerning the subject of the Antichrist and his rise to power – that a Pope himself could become so interiorly corrupted, philosophically and theologically, as to become the cause of his own being “taken away” as the effective intellectual and moral force which prevents the rise of Antichrist.
I wish to be quite clear in stating here that none of this means that I am predicting the immediate rise of the Antichrist. It has always been acceptable in Christian tradition to view the Second Coming of Christ as immanent, but has always been folly to claim its immediacy. Our Lady of Fatima prophesied the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart would come first. But it is also true that St. John spoke of “many antichrists” preceding the final “man of lawlessness”, that the spirit of Antichrist has increasingly poisoned and contaminated what might loosely be called the collective and historical consciousness of humanity over the centuries, and that this present infection amounts to a huge step “forward” towards this eventual unfolding of apocalyptic prophesy.
Recently, I read Cardinal Henry Edward Manning’s series of four lectures titled The Present Crisis of the Holy See: A Warning About Antichrist. While Cardinal Manning did not at to all seem to anticipate the present interior crisis of the Papacy (or that such a crisis was possible), he did indeed understand that the “one who holdeth” was the Pope:
“We have now come nearly to a solution of that which I stated in the beginning, namely, how it is that the power which hinders the revelation of the lawless one is not only a person but a system, and not only a system but a person. In one word, it is Christendom and its head; and therefore, in the person of the Vicar of Christ, and in that twofold authority with which, by Divine Providence he has been invested, we see the direct antagonist to the principle of disorder. The lawless one, who knows no law, human or divine, nor obeys any but his own will, has no antagonist on earth more direct that the Vicar of Jesus Christ….”
Cardinal Manning also offers the following remarkable analysis and metaphor for this process of the historical unfolding of the spirit of Antichrist:
“I shall hope to show hereafter that the antagonism between two persons [between Antichrist and Christ, with the Pope as the latter’s Vicar] is an antagonism also between two societies, and that as our Divine Lord is the Head and Representative of all the truth and justice of the world from the beginning, so Antichrist, be he who or what he may, will be the head and representative of all the falsehood and wrong, which has been accumulating for these 1800 years, in the heresies, schisms, spiritual seditions, intellectual infidelities, social disorders and political revolutions of the anti-Catholic movement of the world".
“Such is the great deep upon which the Christian society of the world is resting. From time to time it has lifted itself up with preternatural power, and has made the Christian order of Europe vibrate and reel. Then again it has seemed to subside into a calm. But no one with any discernment can fail to see that it is deeper, mightier, and more widely spread now [Manning writes this in the year 1861) than ever. That this antichristian power will one day find its head, and for a time prevail in this world, is certain from prophecy. But this cannot be until ‘he who holdeth [the Pope] shall be taken out of the way….”
“But such is the state of the world, and to this end we are rapidly advancing. We are told that Etna has one hundred and sixty craters, besides the two vast mouths which, joined together, form the immense crater commonly so called; on all its sides it is perforated and honeycombed by channels and by mouths, from which in centuries past the lava has, from time to time burst forth. I can find no better illustration of the state of Christendom at this moment. The Church of God rests upon the basis of natural society, on the foundations of the old Roman Empire, on the civilization of the heathen nations of the world, which for a time has be consecrated, consolidated, preserved, raised, sanctified; but beneath the Church is working continually the mystery of iniquity which already wrought in the Apostles’ time, and is culminating at this moment to its strength, and gaining the ascendency. What, I ask, was the French revolution of 1789, with all its bloodshed, blasphemy, impiety, and cruelty, in all its masquerade of horror and of mockery – what was it but an outbreak of the anti-christian spirit – the lava font beneath the mountain? And what was the outbreak in 1830 and 1848 but precisely the same principle of Antichrist working beneath Christian society, forcing its way upward? In the year 1848 it opened simultaneously [in Revolutions} its many mouths in Berlin, in Vienna, in Turin, in Florence, in Naples, and in Rome itself. In London it heaved and struggled, but its time was not yet. What is all this but the spirit of lawlessness lifting itself against God and man, - the principle of schism, heresy, and infidelity running fused into one mass, and pouring itself forth wherever it can force its way, making craters for its stream wherever the Christian society becomes weak? And this, as it has gone on for centuries, so it will go on until the time shall come when ‘that which holds’ shall be taken out of the way’.”
Cardinal Manning was convinced in 1861 (155 years ago) that Christian Society, the Church, and the Papacy were experiencing attacks by the forces of Antichrist greater than ever before. In the above quote he attributes the intensity of this attack to the Church’s weakness, a weakness which he sees as mainly deriving from depriving the Pope of his temporal sovereignty, and therefore correlating to attacks from without. Cardinal Manning did not seem to anticipate the extraordinary degree to which the Church interiorly would, in the future, be found lying down in spiritual fornication with its enemies, and thus be the source of its own weakness. We need only compare the Papacy of Pius IX to that of Francis in order to understand the difference. But I think we might also conclude that, had he been living in our own time, he would have very likely perceived the providential meaning of what is now occurring with the Papacy of Pope Francis. The “lava” of Antichrist has increased geometrically precisely because the spirit of Antichrist has invaded the thinking and actions of the Pope himself. The same may of course be said of a great many others – clergy, religious, and laity – within the Church. However, there is no greater chastisement which could befall the Church than for God to allow a man to be Pope who, while prevented by God from compromising the indelible Marks of the Church, is yet primarily a natural man – seeped in philosophical and theological error, redolent with the hubris of his own agenda, rejoicing in “making a mess”, contemptuous of those who hold firmly to absolute truth and defined dogma, enamored of a false mercy, oblivious to the primacy of the concept of God’s Rule, masquerading a false humility, and rejoicing in his own role as a game-changer.
“Truth Shall Be Cast Down on the Ground”
It is clearly taught in Holy Scriptures and confirmed by the unanimous teaching of the early Church Fathers that the Antichrist at the apex of his power will prevail over, and crush (Daniel 7:25), the Church, even to the point of the total suppression of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In Daniel 8: 12, we read:
“And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice, because of sins: and truth shall be cast down on the ground….”
Cardinal Manning, commenting on the prophecies of Daniel, concludes:
“The holy Fathers who have written upon the subject of Antichrist, and of these prophecies of Daniel, without a single exception, as far as I know, and they are Fathers both of the East and of the West, the Greek and the Latin Church – all of them unanimously – say that in the latter end of the world, during the reign of Antichrist, the holy sacrifice of the altar will cease.”
We may certainly therefore conclude that at this point the Pope is “taken away” even in the physical sense. But it is equally clear from the words of St. Paul in 2 Thess 2:3-11 that there is a uniquely different sort of “taking away” of the Pope, which precedes the final triumph of the Antichrist over the Church, and enables his rise to power;
“And we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him: that you be not easily moved from your sense, nor be terrified, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle, as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.”
I have purposely rendered the words “And then” in bold in the above passage. There is a sequence of events depicted here in which we must clearly perceive that there is a taking away of “he who now holdeth” preceding the Antichrist’s actual ascent to worldwide dominion. And, especially relevant to our present subject, there is a specific delineation of what constitutes the working of the “mystery of iniquity” that leads to this “weakening” and betrayal of the power of the Papacy which heretofore had prevented the rise to power of Antichrist:
“And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.”
It is “love of truth” which is here clearly proposed as the fundamental passion of the human soul which restrains the Antichrist. Jesus Christ is the Word of Truth Who is generated eternally from the Father, and therefore it only makes perfect sense that the path to Anti-Christ should be paved with betrayal of, or silence in regard to, Truth. It is this silence of Pope Francis– this interior “casting down of truth” in the name of a false mercy and inclusiveness – which now facilitates the rise of the man of lawlessness.
This does not mean that the papacy of Francis will lead directly into the reign of Antichrist. Our Lady has promised that her triumph will precede this final chastisement. But it is also true that there is a kind of collective consciousness involved in human history – especially entrenched in the memory and accumulated knowledge of humanity – which has been most profoundly poisoned over the centuries by the hubris of reductive scientific thinking, avarice, and technological progress, and which has grown like a massive cancer within the human heart, choking off any real possibility of returning to the full Truth of Christ and the integral living of the Beatitudes. This “lava” of iniquity will rise again to the surface shortly after Our Lady’s Triumph, and constitute the final blasphemy and betrayal of the greatest gift of God since Our Lord’s Incarnation – the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
There will then be no recourse left except the direct intervention and victory of Christ. In regard to the present oppression and weakness of the Church, Cardinal Manning writes the following:
“There is in store for the Church of God a resurrection and an ascension, a royalty and dominion, a recompense of glory for all it has endured. Like Jesus, it needs must suffer on the way to its crown; yet crowned it shall be with Him eternally. Let no one, then, be scandalized if the prophecy speak of sufferings to come. We are fond of imagining triumphs and glories for the Church on earth – that the Gospel is to be preached to all nations, and the world to be converted, and all enemies subdued, and I know not what, - until some ears are impatient of hearing that there is in store for the Church a time of terrible trial: and so we do as the Jews of old, who looked for a conqueror, a king, and for prosperity; and when their Messiah came in humility and in passion, they did not know Him.”
We must understand, however, that the treachery of the Jews – which it is now our unfortunate role to imitate – was something much more than merely looking for a triumphant and worldly God and kingdom. More deeply, it was rooted in an hypocrisy and betrayal by which God and His Gifts (including Faith itself) were seen as “monuments” to be possessed, rather than passionately and militantly believed and lived. Much of our modern “triumphalism” and Pharisaism, especially in the centuries preceding Vatican II, has been nourished by a mushrooming infidelity to the teachings of Christ (especially the Beatitudes), including the teachings of the great Popes whose absence we now lament. God gave us these men (these gifts), we largely “consumed them and their teachings in our concupiscences”, and continued to prostitute ourselves ever more deeply to the world. And God has largely now taken the moral force of the Papacy away in chastisement of our infidelities and prostitutions. At a certain point, this will devolve upon a situation in which the Church is apparently totally crushed and defeated, and then the victory will be seen as Christ’s alone. Again, in the words of Cardinal Manning:
“And from whence, I ask, is deliverance to come? Is there on earth any power to intervene? Is there any king, prince, or potentate, that has the power to interpose either his will or his sword for the protection of the Church? Not one; and it is foretold it should be so. Neither need we desire it, for the will of God seems to be otherwise. But there is One Power which will destroy all antagonists; there is One Person who will break down and smite small as the dust of the summer threshing-floor all the enemies of the Church, for it is He who will consume His enemies ‘with the Spirit of His mouth’, and destroy them ‘with the brightness of His coming’. It seems as if the Son of God were jealous lest any one should vindicate His authority. He has claimed the battle to Himself; He has taken up the gage which has been cast down against Him; and prophecy is plain and explicit that the last overthrow of evil will be His; that it will be wrought by no man, but by the Son of God; that all the nations of the world may know that He, and He alone, is King, and that He, and He alone, is God.”
It would seem necessary to add that the “jealousy” of God is not the same as our jealousy and that, had His Bride been faithful, there would have been no such jealousy or necessary chastisement, but rather blessing and triumph. It would also therefore seem appropriate to say (as theologically incorrect as it may first appear) that God will have no other choice. In the final day, the world, having consumed even the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in its concupiscences and double-mindedness, the victory will belong entirely to Jesus Christ, and to those who, having been stripped of all else, possess the Word alone.
Lift Up Your Heads
We therefore lower our heads in despair and fear only to the extent that we place our hopes in the gifts of Christ rather than in Christ Himself. Christ’s victory is certain, and all that we experience now is only testimony to its immanence. It matters little whether or not this immanence is accomplished during our own lives, just as it was of little consequence to St. Peter or Paul. In all things we need to lift our hearts and minds in rejoicing that God is All in All, and will achieve the final total victory. This, after all, is the bottom line of the “nakedness” of the Christian life, a nakedness which, as we have seen, can reach even to the cessation of the Holy Sacrifice of the altar. We rejoice in the coming victory of Our Lord, and it is this joy which is the final testimony of our faith, and to the life of charity which is its supernatural expression. This is the ultimate test as to whether we possess the Heart of Jesus – as to whether we lift up our heads, or cover them and seek refuge in the caves of self-despair and loss of faith. It is this test which Judas failed, and which hopefully we shall not.
War Against the Papacy
Now in print, and available from Cruachan Hill Press
This book contains additional material to the work on my website bearing the same title. Following is an excerpt from the new Preface:
There is no more justification for the SSPX position during the pontificate of Pope Francis than there was during the reign of any previous Pope. Unquestionably, however, many who are “bent” towards an SSPX mentality, or even towards sedevacantism, find more excuses under the pontificate of Francis for such a move than under that of John Paul II.
I think it profitable, therefore, to speculate as to what would be the position of Archbishop Lefebvre himself towards such a pontificate as that of Francis. In an address to seminarians in 1986, Archbishop Lefebvre offered the following
“Now I don't know if the time has come to say that the Pope is a heretic; I don't know if it is the time to say that. You know, for some time many people, the sedevacantists, have been saying "there is no more Pope," but I think that for me it was not yet the time to say that, because it was not sure, it was not evident, it was very difficult to say that the Pope is a heretic, the Pope is apostate. But I recognize that slowly, very slowly, by the deeds and acts of the Pope himself we begin to be very anxious…. What conclusion must we draw in a few months if we are confronted by these repeated acts of partaking in false worship? I don't know. I wonder. But I think the Pope can do nothing worse than call together a meeting of all religions, when we know there is only one true religion and all other religions belong to the devil. So perhaps after this famous meeting of Assisi, perhaps we must say that the Pope is a heretic, is apostate. Now I don't wish yet to say it formally and solemnly, but it seems at first sight that it is impossible for a Pope to be publicly and formally heretical. Our Lord has promised to be with him, to keep his faith, to keep him in the Faith - how can he at the same time be a public heretic and virtually apostatize? So it is possible we may be obliged to believe this pope is not pope.”
If Archbishop Lefebvre could propose such a thing during the pontificate of John Paul II (and even before Assisi), then it would not seem unreasonable to speculate that the pontificate of Pope Francis might very well have carried him over into sedevacantism. No one, of course, can be sure as to what his course of action might have been. But the interesting point for consideration is that each person who is an adherent of the SSPX’s position is now not only in the position of subjectively judging the Papacy (through defying Papal jurisdiction), but also finds himself necessarily forced into subjectivity in regard to what would be the position of the one man since the Council whom they most seek to emulate and follow – a subjectivity which has enormous consequences in terms of their own personal faith and their belief in regard to wherein the Catholic Church itself subsists.
Available from Cruachan Hill Press
”He who eats the Pope dies”
– German proverb
“A Voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great
mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would
not be comforted, because they are not.”
All of the following is written in a spirit of charity. It is also written in a spirit of deep caution, and even trepidation. I sent many of my writings to Pope Benedict XVI ( in September, 2007), along with a personal letter. In the spirit of obedience, I publicly state that at his simple request, or that of his successor Pope Francis, I would cease writing and prevent the further spread of my writings as much as morally possible.
I believe that the Papacy is wounded and suffering and that this suffering has profoundly affected the philosophical-theological orientation of recent Popes. While leaving intact the prerogatives established by Christ for all times upon Peter and his successors, this philosophical and theological disorientation has affected virtually everything else, to the detriment of the Church and the salvation of souls
The reader will note that a number of my articles are deeply critical of the writings and statements of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. I wish to state that I can make no final or absolute judgment about the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI. However,a fair number of my articles critical of his statements and writings were written after his ascension to the Papacy. They give evidence as to the continuity of his present thought with that of his past writings, but pretend to make no absolute judgment. I must add that I have seen no evidence on the part of Joseph Ratzinger of any renunciation of his previous thought and that, on the contrary, he has asserted the essential continuity of his thought up to, and even after, his elevation. As with any author, he would fall under the strong moral imperative to correct any serious errors in his past writings of which he became conscious. I am aware of no efforts on his part to do so.
I must also now add that in April of 2005, two weeks before the election of Benedict XVI, I sent my manuscript of The War Against Being and The Return to God" to then Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, along with a letter stating that I believed he might be elected Pope. I received no reply. There are now two articles (Part I, Articles 24, 26) which contain analysis of Pope Francis' thinking and actions.
I call the reader’s attention to the two quotes which I have placed at the beginning of this short introduction. The first encapsulates in a startling manner the sense of caution, and even fear, which any person in the Church should feel in undertaking criticism of a person who has become Pope. The presence of this fear is always necessary in order to generate and maintain that charity towards the Holy Father which is always integral to the Catholic Spirit, no matter what personal faults the personality and thought of a particular occupant of the Chair of Peter might present as an impediment to the natural expression of this charity.
The second quote simply represents the reality which is the present moment in the life of the Church. We are faced with a holocaust of the spiritual life and well-being of children which is directly attributable to the chaos in religious instruction, sacramental life, and morality which has been the inheritance of post-Vatican II life in the Church. And this chaos in all things Catholic is directly attributable to the philosophical-theological orientation of members of the Catholic hierarchy, especially to the Popes who have reigned during and since the Council.
In this situation the tension between one’s natural Catholic love and respect for the Pope and the knowledge of what recent Popes have perpetrated, or allowed to be perpetrated, upon innocent children becomes almost unbearable. Ultimately the question as to whether to criticize or not comes down to the question of being a man. In the Old Testament the Lord says that “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” he shall send Elias the prophet to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema.” (Malachias 4: 6). Surely, if we are men, and are to retain our manhood, then our hearts must turn to the defense of our children.
I think it is only at this point – once our hearts have truly turned to militancy in defense of our children – that our eyes become opened to perceive the extent to which the Papacy itself is really suffering, that this suffering must be a visitation upon us by God in chastisement for our sins and infidelities, and that charity for all – for Christ, for the Pope, for our children and our own souls – demands the full revelation of certain truths which are, indeed, very painful for us to face. If we remain silent the darkness can only deepen, and our cowardice and emasculation only become more pronounced.
Finally, I wish to state that I do not support in any way either the sedevacantist position, or that of the SSPX or any individual or group that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church. I have written a small book on this subject which is now available as Part X on this website. I wish also to state that many of my articles have appeared in Christian Order Magazine, the website of which is www.christianorder.com.
On the Use or Publication of these Articles:
I desire the widest possible dissemination of the articles on this website, but wish it to be done with integrity, and in accord with the following stipulations.
First, I emphatically state that I accept both Benedict XVI and his successor Francis I as legitimate Popes, and that I am not a sedevacantist and also do not support any group, especially the SSPX, that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church.
Second, I do not permit any critical analysis of any article using a technique to insert comments within the body of the article itself. I believe that any well-written article is a whole greater than the sum of its individual parts, that continuity in reading it is necessary in order to be able to understand the whole force of the argument or position, and that therefore such a technique does unjust violence to the integrity of the work. An honest critical analysis therefore demands a separate article or treatment. This, of course, does not preclude the use of individual quotations, as long as they are taken in context.
I also wish to recommend that Article 1 of Part 1 be read first, as it contains an analysis of philosophical and theological principles necessary for the understanding of the rest.
Authored by: James Larson
Continue to Article 1