Chin Up, People, Chin Up

An anonymous individual has started a blog, 'The Biblical False Prophet Has Arrived', in honour of Pope Francis

It's important to keep a robust sense of humour at these times. I and most Catholics I know would say it is far too early to go saying anything too rash or imprudent about the pontificate of Pope Francis, but not everybody, obviously, shares this view. In equal measure, concern and a sense of joyful anticipation are growing among Catholics as the different 'branches' of the Church watch with fevered interest the decisions of Pope Francis. The Pope has said various things on various issues which have many Catholics scrambling for their Catechisms, while others who haven't read a Catechism for years, have been emboldened in their own beliefs.

A box of frogs
Mad as a box of frogs

Take, for example, the anonymous author of the blog entitled, 'The Biblical False Prophet Has Arrived - Cardinal Bergoglio - Pope Francis'. By all accounts, on first sight, this blog is mad as a box of frogs. From the looks of things, this individual started this blog almost as soon as the Pope from the 'end of the world' ascended to the Throne of St Peter.

Ironically, the blog seems to be informed by the prophecies of someone who has already been criticised by the Church's hierarchy as a 'false prophet' herself. She might think, 'Well they would say that, wouldn't they?' but ultimately we do believe in the teaching authority of the Successors of the Apostles. If her messages are anything to go by, the Antichrist is just around the corner and the 'abomination of desolation' (that's empty tabernacles, apparently, folks) will be a feature of the Church thanks to a 'newly revised liturgy' in the not too distant future. That said, with Archbishop Marini, 'all things are possible'.

As Catholics we are used to people outside the visible Bride of Christ, such as evangelical Protestants or sede-vacantists describing each and every Pope as a 'false prophet'. It becomes tiresome and comfortingly irritating. We're at our happiest when the Pope is hated for resisting the vanities of the age and schismatic sects, but what do we do when a Pope is loved and applauded by apostates, heretics and atheists?

What is unusual about these times is the dis-ease with which the words and actions of the Successor of St Peter are being greeted by faithful Catholics who adhere to the Church's Magisterium - by those who give theological assent to the Church's teachings. Under Benedict XVI these Catholics felt safe. Under Francis, it would appear they do not. For example, the idea that a Pope could convene a Synod on the family would be uncontroversial a year ago. After all, the family is in crisis. Suddenly, Pope Francis wants to convene one and Catholics are worried the Church is about to enter into a cosmic black hole to emerge without Her doctrine which will have disappeared into an eerie void. Why? Just because words and phrases leap out of his mouth like frogs, does not mean the new Pope is a 'false prophet', or 'the false prophet' of the Book of the Apocalypse and it is surely seriously sinful to make such an allegation against a Successor of St Peter.

That even the thought should creep into the minds of Catholics, of course, has less to do with prophecy than it does with the 'new tone' set by the papacy of Francis - a tone that has surprised just about everyone, with a variety of responses from different Catholics, as well as an element of 'leaping' outside the Church. Catholics cannot really be blamed for worrying that the Church is looking for a decent excuse or at least a decent opportunity to 'get with the programme' of the modern world by jettisoning unpopular and difficult teachings on such matters as divorce and remarriage - even those which are documented in the Gospels as coming from the mouth of Our Lord Himself, or other 'thorny matters' as artificial contraception, or homosexuality. Then there exists the ever-elusive ecumenical dream of Christian unity and harmony with other religions. Francis's charisma could do wonders for these projects, but at what cost?

What did Our Lord say about 'false prophets'? 

'For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.'  
I'm sure it is unhealthy, but I have been ruminating on such words recently, particularly with regard to why it is that Our Lord promised not only that He would be with His Church until the close of the ages, but also that the power of Antichrists and false prophets would be so strong as to deceive, 'if possible' even 'the elect' of God.

Under Benedict XVI, Catholics faithful to the Magisterium had little difficulty in citing the relevant authority (the Supreme Pontiff) in rejecting dissent by recognising it 'for what it is' and not mistaking it 'for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate'. The perception among those who see the Church's teachings as an impediment to a free-flowing conscience, rather than a source of nourishment for a sacred conscience interested in following Divine precepts, is that under Francis 'springtime' is here and heresies, instead of being rooted up and burned are flourishing in the 'field hospital' of Francis. I don't know about you, but I have the feeling that Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's idea of following conscience as a Christian might have been slightly different to that of prelates of the modern day Church - perhaps even the Pope himself.

Time to Get Real? There Exists a Worst Case Scenario

"It'll all be okay...It'll all be okay..." Okay, but what if it wasn't all okay? We know it will all be okay 'in the end', but...

Pope St Gregory I the Great
Pope St Gregory I the Great prophesied that on the appearance of the Antichrist, 'not just hoards of laity but a veritable army of Bishops and Priests will go over to him'. Naturally, if ever a Pope were to be in a fruitful dialogue in some way with the forces of evil then that situation would indeed present Catholics with some serious complications of what to believe and what not to believe.

IF an apostasy were ever to begin at the summit of the Church then just in sheer terms of loyalty to Christ and His Church, the Catholic would be placed into something of a moral and spiritual quagmire, since we have been promised that communion with Peter is a, if not the, defining characteristic of a 'loyal son of the Church'. That such loyalty would be put to the ultimate test would be a scandal so great as to break the faith of many of God's children.

Under Francis, there are a considerable number of Catholic priests, laity and some Bishops who are feeling distinctly uneasy. Where is the Rock Peter is called to be? It is the sense of not knowing what is coming next that is unsettling faithful Catholics. There exists a palpable sense that we are entering into uncharted waters - a new era, under a new kind of Pope, modelling a new kind of papacy, the visible head of what many have worked towards building - a new kind of Church, divorced from Her tradition, at ease with the world and odds with Her Lord and Master. It remains too early to tell what is afoot, but why are faithful Catholics waking up at night following a Pope Francis inspired bad dream?

Pope Emeritus Benedict: "Don't tell me...it's a box of frogs, isn't it?"
The Mystery of the Two Popes

We have two Popes for the price of one - one reigning, one not. We've got used to it now, but it is still a bizarre situation. Before Pope Benedict XVI resigned to become Pope Emeritus Benedict, he intimated that in entrusting the Church to Jesus Christ he was not abandoning the Faithful. On speaking of the Transfiguration, Benedict XVI said...

'The Lord is calling me to "climb the mountain", to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength.'

Though Benedict XVI resigned the papacy, it is clear that Pope Emeritus Benedict is from time to time sending out signals that tell the Church, 'I am still around.' While Catholics unhappy with the signals and direction of Pope Francis are unable to pledge loyalty to Francis's predecessor, if the Church begins to shed doctrine and the Sacraments came under grave threat, then Pope Emeritus Benedict would become a focal point of those loyal to Jesus Christ and His Teachings. God's laws do not change. The Church cannot tell a truth today that would make the truth yesterday a falsehood.

If the Church were to declare a given truth taught down the ages to be a lie, then while Benedict would not be the Pope, then Pope Emeritus would become symbolic of a remnant Church that refused to abandon the Lord while all other forsake Him for the idols of the age. Benedict would remain a trustworthy shepherd, if no longer the Chief Shepherd, while the wolves (who he publicly asked God's strength not to flee from) devour the lambs in a new Church divorced from Her tradition and even perhaps for a time from Her Lord. Amidst the turmoil of an unholy revolution in the Church, Pope Emeritus Benedict would be not the true Pope, but the 'other Pope', the one who remains true and truly loyal to Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Speculation: Is it Divisive?

There will be some reading this thinking, 'Such idle speculation is divisive!' Quite possibly it is, but I say these things not to be controversial or to be divisive, but as a contribution to what continues to be a frenetic time in the life and history of the Catholic Church. We must, of course, be loyal to His Holiness Pope Francis. We must, of course, not try to preempt either his moves or decisions or the direction into which he wishes to steer the Church. However, Our Lord and His Saints warned us that in the last days a seriously large deception would take place which would, if possible, deceive even the elect of God. We should be suspect of prophesy and private revelation, trusting always in the great mercy of Christ who loves, guards and protects His Church until the End of Time. Yet, the same Lord who is present in every Tabernacle in the World also told His faithful ones to be 'wise as serpents and innocent as doves'. Already, 'little ones' (which need not mean literal children) have been scandalised by some of the things that Pope Francis has said and done.

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman
Perhaps such idle speculation is divisive. Perhaps. Pope Francis has told us not to gossip and such speculation comes a little close. Yet, few can deny the uneasiness and discomfort many are feeling with the Church about the new style of papacy which we see in Francis. There is no help in denying this sorrow that many are experiencing. Being honest about how one feels about the turbulence in the Church might be divisive, but it isn't as divisive as a Pope who has the 'humility and ambition' to make changes that could indeed divide the Holy Church of God.

If - IF - events in the coming weeks, months and years call upon Catholics to place their loyalty to the Pope over and above their loyalty to Jesus Christ and His Holy Teachings, we would all have a huge problem on our hands. Would we place our trust in someone who could call error and falsehood truth and replace God's laws with man's laws? Or would we place all our trust in Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life? Today we commemorate someone who tried to directly take on such grave and important issues of faith and conscience, one Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.

'We can now appreciate Newman's toast first to conscience and then to the Pope. The Pope cannot impose commandments on faithful Catholics because he wants to or finds it expedient. Such a modern, voluntaristic concept of authority can only distort the true theological meaning of the papacy. ' 


And I and many more, in the worst case scenario, will drink to that.

Comments

I think that too many Catholics are getting used to the thought that it is up to a pope in which directions he wants to steer the Mystical Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. It is not.
What the Church is and should be according to the will of God is all defined in the several Dogmas on the Church and their explanations.
According to Ludwig Ott there is no such thing as a “poor Church for the poor”.
One of the dogmas is: “Christ founded the Catholic Church in order to continue His work of redemption for all time.”


BTW, my family of three converts thinks that such "idle speculations" are a sign of mental health precisely in times as these.
Barbara said…
You have written well, Mr. Bones. Many of your thoughts reflect my own.

I have some Catholic friends who are seriously flirting with sedevacantism since Pope Francis' election and it is very difficult to convey to them that this is a very dangerous place to go, as I tend to agree with many of their reasons and concern.

I did some research and discovered that sedevacantism (dark devilish thing that it is) is a dead end and at the same time there is no end to it as each group of sedevacantists sets up its own magisterium. What a nightmare! Not to be touched with a ten-foot pole!

No, for the time being, true Catholics must be loyal to Peter, under this strange man, otherwise we would be undermining Our Blessed Lord's words. Until something happens that we are shown otherwise. And then it would be the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church to tell us. (A Bishop, a Cardinal?)

Whether I like the Pope or not is of no consequence but certainly it is harder to defend the faith with a Pope who dilutes Catholic Doctine to the extent that Pope Francis has in only 6 months.

What next? I'm hoping and praying (I'm not kidding) that Our Lord or Our Lady or an Angel from God will appear to him and straighten him out!

Prayers for the Pope and once again thank you for an excellent article, Mr. Bones! Keep those post coming!

Barbara
Pelerin said…
There are some interesting comments on Fr Z's blog on this subject. One of them links to an article on 'The Catholic World Report' entitled 'The Good the Baffling and the Unclear.'

One piece of information which caught my eye was the following:

'The Pope's interview with the 89 year old journalist was apparently carried out without a recording or even hand written notes.'

I have done short interviews over the years for a couple of magazines and whether it was face to face or by telephone I always took down notes which I could later refer to when writing up the article concerned. If my notes got temporarily lost then panic reigned until they were discovered!

What I find extraordinary is this discovery that the journalist did not make notes during what he must have realised would be a very important interview of world wide interest. Also why did Pope Francis choose a) an atheist and b) someone of 89 years old?

Barbara is right in saying that 'we must remain loyal to Peter...until something happens that we are shown otherwise.' And as you say Laurence 'Chin up!'
Regarding your worst case scenario: One could wonder if the “new genre of papal speech” which according to Father Lombardi is "deliberately informal and not concerned with precision" falls under St. Paul´s category of a new gospel.
http://www.harvestingthefruit.com/a-new-genre-of-papal-speech/

Gal. 1: [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. [9] As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.

More about this “new genre”:
(…) Perhaps the most insightful take on all this came from Lombardi himself, who said we’re seeing the emergence of a whole new genre of papal speech — informal, spontaneous and sometimes entrusted to others in terms of its final articulation. A new genre, Lombardi suggested, needs a “new hermeneutic,” one in which we don’t attach value so much to individual words as to the overall sense.
“This isn’t Denzinger,” he said, referring to the famous German collection of official church teaching, “and it’s not canon law.”
“What the pope is doing is giving pastoral reflections that haven’t been reviewed beforehand word-for-word by 20 theologians in order to be precise about everything,” Lombardi said. “It has to be distinguished from an encyclical, for instance, or a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, which are magisterial documents.”
Implicit in that reaction is that the pope is probably going to continue to shoot from the hip, and sometimes he’ll allow voices outside the narrow circle of authorized spokespersons to tell the world what he said, trusting them to get the gist of it and perhaps not sweating the details. Trying to put every line or every anecdote under a microscope in those circumstances may be a waste of time.
If the pope wants to express himself formally and with precision, Lombardi implied, he has other ways of doing it.(…)”
http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/dolan-confirms-error-scalfari-interview#.Uk_ewgLQVsM.facebook
Hermit Crab said…
Great stuff. Gossiping is forbidden in North Korea, because tyrants are always liars, and they hate the Truth.
Andrew said…
We must remember, as Pope Benedict was so keen to emphasize, that prophecy is not prediction.

Guessing the outcome of history is a game best left to necromancers.
Jacobi said…
At a time of great uncertainty it is not wrong to anticipate possible problems, even the worst of problems. Indeed, for those so inclined and of the right ability, not to carry out this exercise would be wrong.

It is essential to go back to basic facts. The Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ existing for the salvation of mankind as long as mankind lasts. It is Scripture, Revelation, Tradition and the infallible teaching of the Magisterium of the Church.

Now this must be believed by Catholics according to their abilities. It can be studied and understood more deeply. It cannot be changed or reversed – not by anyone, regardless of position.

The Pope knows this and in spite of his use of “tone” from time to time, will not, and cannot, change facts. For instance, a person who has chosen a lifestyle of mortal sin cannot be permitted to receive Holy Communion – end of story.

That there is even allusion to such grave matters as these is but a reflection of the disastrous mess, the confusion, the shambles, the Church has been allowed to get into since the unfortunate, unnecessary, mistimed, mishandled, misinterpreted, Second Vatican Council.

And we must also start by realising the underlying reason for this. It is the Modernist heresy which St Pius X warned us about.
Anonymous said…
When a 'pope' preaches heresy--and Francis is dangerously close--he loses his authority. The APPROVED apparitions of Mary have prophecies that the antiChrist would sit on the throne of Peter (Our Lady of LaSalette), that the Church would have a time without a prelate (read Pope)(Our Lady of Good Success), and that there would be only three popes after Pope John XX111.(Our Lady of Garabandal--not yet approved by the Church but believed by Padre Pio --who is now a saint and who certainly had genuine discernment about such things.) Get your head out of the sand. Your 'caution' smells outloud.
Lynda said…
The "overall sense" is bad, very bad.
Lynda said…
I thought it was the "False Prophet" that was to be Pope?
Physiocrat said…
Just a question - have the Metropolitans of Antioch, Constantinople and Moscow been unfaithful to the Magesterium of the church? But what of jurisdiction?

Looking enviously eastwards...
Anonymous said…
Just how mad is a box of frogs? And why?