On this day, in 2013, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Church and the World by resigning the active ministry of the Petrine Office, while remaining "in the service of prayer, so to speak, in the enclosure of St Peter".
years later, it has become abundantly clear that the man who assumed
the vacant Chair left by Benedict XVI was and remains, an unswerving ideological opponent of the Pope Emeritus.
those who think that such a description of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio -
who became who we now know as Pope Francis - to be unfair or unjust, or
misleading, a relatively brief assessment of these three years which
have quickly passed may be helpful.
says of the still controversial resignation of Pope Benedict XVI,
history itself is not the ultimate judge of a man. The judge of every
man is Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whose Vicar on Earth, Benedict XVI was. I
say 'was' because, like the vast majority of Catholics, I assume that this title now belongs to his Successor, Pope Francis.
On a macro-scale,
the Catholic Church has been thrown into a crisis of perhaps hitherto
unprecedented proportions. So much has changed, most notably, in the public image of
the Pope and the Church. The man who Austen Ivereigh dubs, 'The Great
Reformer', Pope Francis, has expended huge amounts of energy in
cultivating an image of the Catholic Church which is astonishingly
human, so human that it is not an exaggeration to argue that we could be
forgiven for thinking that under the reforming Pope of our current
times, the Catholic Church is experiencing, on a general scale, a
cultural revolution of secularisation effected through an engineered collapse of the
Church's fundamental tenets of belief. Quite simply, Pope Francis is, in terms of the message going out to the city and the world, for the Catholic Church, our 9/11. Whatever is knocked down can, however, be rebuilt.
And while it
cannot be exaggerated just how very damaging this cultural revolution -
effected from above, mostly, though not totally, through public
relations - is, precisely because it comes from the summit of the
Church, what Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Cardinal Raymond Burke have
called a 'crisis' is, in my opinion, like Lent and Passiontide, only a
prelude to, a preparation for, the birth-pangs of, something else
entirely. For what we look forward to in Lent is not simply an
ecclesiastical event but the Resurrection of Christ our Lord and
ultimately, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Resurrection of the Church, the Bride of Christ.
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Catechism of the Catholic Church (675)
'Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.' ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church (675)