ON VATICAN FUNKINESS
WHAT happens as one gets nearer to the eye of a hurricane? The winds get exponentially faster, flying dust and debris multiply, and dangers quickly escalate. So it is in this present Storm as the Church and the world near the Eye of this Spiritual Hurricane.
This past week, tumultuous events are unfolding all over the world. The kindling of war has been lit in the Middle East by the withdrawal of American troops. Back in the U.S., the President is increasingly facing the prospect of impeachment as social upheaval foments. Radical left-wing leader, Justin Trudeau, was re-elected in Canada spelling an uncertain future for freedom of speech and religion, already well under attack there. In the Far East, tensions between China and Hong Kong continue to mount as trade talks between the Asian nation and America wobble. Kim Yong Un, signaling perhaps a major military event, just rode through the “sacred mountains” on a white horse like a rider of the apocalypse. Northern Ireland legalized abortion and same-sex marriage today. And unrest and protests in several nations around the globe, aimed mostly at rising costs and increasing taxes, broke out simultaneously:
As 2019 enters its final quarter, there have been large and often violent demonstrations in Lebanon, Chile, Spain, Haiti, Iraq, Sudan, Russia, Egypt, Uganda, Indonesia, Ukraine, Peru, Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Colombia, France, Turkey, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, Brazil, Malawi, Algeria and Ecuador, among other places. —Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg Opinion; October 21st, 2019; finance.yahoo.com
Most notably, however, is the bizarre synod taking place in Rome where issues, which perhaps should be handled internally (as they are in other countries where there are priest shortages), have been brought to the highest level with implications for the universal Church. From a heterodox working document to seemingly pagan rituals, to the casting of so-called “idols” into the Tiber… it all sounds like apostasy coming to a head. And this amid more allegations of financial corruption in Vatican City.
In other words, everything is unfolding as expected. The popes and Our Lady (and of course Scripture) have been saying for well over a century that these things were coming. For the past 15 years, I have been writing about a coming Storm and Global Revolution, a Spiritual Tsunami that would sweep through the world. Here we are. But as I stressed at the conference in California this past weekend, this is not the end of the world, but the hard labor pains that we are beginning to pass through. And then will come the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of a Mary, an “era of peace” in which the entire People of God will be born through the laboring of both this “woman clothed with the sun” and the Church.
Yes, a miracle was promised at Fatima, the greatest miracle in the history of the world, second only to the Resurrection. And that miracle will be an era of peace which has never really been granted before to the world. —Mario Luigi Cardinal Ciappi, papal theologian for Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, October 9th, 1994, The Apostolate’s Family Catechism, p. 35
Then, say the early Church Fathers, the labors of the Church will cease and a time of peace, justice, and rest will be given.
…there should follow on the completion of six thousand years [which, according to the Church Fathers, is the year 2000 A.D.] , as of six days, a kind of seventh-day Sabbath in the succeeding thousand years… And this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints, in that Sabbath, shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God… —St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.; Church Doctor), De Civitate Dei, Bk. XX, Ch. 7, Catholic University of America Press
Fr. Charles Arminjon (1824-1885) summarized the Church Fathers in this way:
The most authoritative view, and the one that appears to be most in harmony with Holy Scripture, is that, after the fall of the Antichrist, the Catholic Church will once again enter upon a period of prosperity and triumph. —The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, p. 56-57; Sophia Institute Press
This “restoration of all things in Christ,” as Pope Pius X called it, is also echoed in many approved apparitions around the world, including Our Lady of Good Success:
In order to free men from the bondage to these heresies, those whom the merciful love of my most Holy Son has designated to effect the restoration, will need great strength of will, constancy, valor and confidence of the just. There will be occasions when all will seem lost and paralyzed. This then will be the happy beginning of the complete restoration. —January 16th, 1611; miraclehunter.com
I say all this to give you authentic hope. Because, at present, it is hard not to be consumed by the labor pains rather than the coming birth.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. (John 16:21)
WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
Still, several readers are asking me to comment on the current synod and the direction the Pope is taking the Church. “What are we to do? How are we to respond?”
The reason I haven’t said much to date about the present synod is because, well, we’ve been through this before. If you’ll recall, when the Extraordinary Synod on the Family took place in 2014, there was a “working document” then that also stirred controversy with unorthodox propositions. The outcry in the Catholic media was no different: “The Pope is misleading the Church”, “the Synod will destroy the entire moral order”, and so forth. However, the Pope was clear about how he wanted the process to unfold: everything was to be on the table including, for better or worse, heterodox proposals.
Let no one say: ‘I cannot say this, they will think this or this of me…’. It is necessary to say with parrhesia all that one feels… it is necessary to say all that, in the Lord, one feels the need to say: without polite deference, without hesitation.—POPE FRANCIS, Greeting to the Synod Fathers during the First General Congregation of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 6, 2014
So, given that there were some liberal prelates there, it was disappointing but not surprising to hear heretical concepts being proposed. The Pope, as promised, did not speak until the end of the synod, and when he did, it was powerful. I’ll never forget it because, as the synod was unfolding, I kept hearing in my heart that we are living the letters to the churches in Revelation. When Pope Francis finally spoke at the end of the gathering, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing: just as Jesus chastised five of the seven churches in Revelation, so too, Pope Francis made five rebukes to the universal Church. These included a rebuke to those who “in the name of a deceptive mercy [bind] the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that [treat] the symptoms and not the causes and the roots…the so-called “progressives and liberals.” Those, he said, who want to “come down off the Cross, to please the people… to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it…”; those who “neglect the “depositum fidei” not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it].” His rebuke also swung to the other side of the spectrum, to those with a “hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word… within the law… it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals”; those who “transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick.” In other words, those who are judgmental and condemnatory rather than imitators of Christ’s mercy.
Then, he made a closing remark that garnered a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. At this point, I no longer heard the pope; within my soul, I could hear Jesus speaking. It was like thunder:
The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church”. —POPE FRANCIS, closing remarks on the Synod; Catholic News Agency, October 18th, 2014 (my emphasis)
In other words, brothers and sisters, I am waiting to see what unfolds from this latest synod before passing judgment. All the play-by-play panic I read in Catholic conservative media does little more, from my perspective, than actually create more confusion and rash judgment (if these synods took place 200 years ago, the faithful wouldn’t know a thing until months later). It’s all creating a kind of mob mentality where, unless one vigourously condemns, bashes the pope, tears his robes and throws statues in the Tiber, one is somehow less than Catholic. It’s vanity rather than the childlike faith necessary to enter the Kingdom. I repeat again the wise words of St. Catherine of Siena:
Even if the Pope were Satan incarnate, we ought not to raise up our heads against him… I know very well that many defend themselves by boasting: “They are so corrupt, and work all manner of evil!” But God has commanded that, even if the priests, the pastors, and Christ-on-earth were incarnate devils, we be obedient and subject to them, not for their sakes, but for the sake of God, and out of obedience to Him. —St. Catherine of Siena, SCS, p. 201-202, p. 222, (quoted in Apostolic Digest, by Michael Malone, Book 5: “The Book of Obedience”, Chapter 1: “There is No Salvation Without Personal Submission to the Pope”)
By this, she means continued obedience to the faith—not obedience to non-magisterial statements, much less the imitation of sinful or cowardly behavior of our shepherds. Case in point: I strongly disagree with the Pope on his non-magisterial embrace of a certain group of scientists who promote man-made “global warming” (see Climate Confusion). That “science,” promoted by the United Nations, has been fraught with fraud, riddled with socialist ideology, and at its core, is anti-human. I simply disagree with the Pope and pray that he will see the dangers of Communism lurking behind the entire Climate Change movement.
But this respectful disagreement does not mean I think the Pope is a “demon” or “perfectly possessed,” as one man who runs a “traditionalist” website said to me. Nor does it mean, by warning my readers to stay on the Barque of Peter and to remain on “the rock,” that I am “blindly leading readers into a deception,” as another reader charged. No, quite the opposite. Remaining in communion with Peter does not mean communing with his weakness and faults but bearing them through our prayers, love, and if necessary, filial correction (cf. Gal 6:2). To reject the rock is to abandon the “ark” and refuge for all the faithful, which the Church is.
The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 845
It is on [Peter] that He builds the Church, and to him that He entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns power to all the Apostles, yet he founded a single chair, thus establishing by His own authority the source and hallmark of the churches’ oneness… a primacy is given to Peter and it is thus made clear that there is but one Church and one chair… If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the church? —”On the Unity of the Catholic Church”, n. 4; The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1, pp. 220-221
REMAINING ON THE ROCK, NOT THE STUMBLING STONE
Let me give you the simplest example possible of how to navigate all the funkiness going on at the Vatican.
After Peter was declared the rock on which Christ would build the Church, Peter not only fought against the idea of Jesus being crucified but ended up denying the Lord altogether. Three times. But neither of these things diminished the authority of Peter’s office nor the power of the Keys of the Kingdom. They did, however, diminish the witness and credibility of the man himself. And yet… none of the Apostles rejected Peter. They still gathered together with him in the Upper Room to wait for the Holy Spirit. That is a powerful teaching. Even if a pope were to deny Jesus Christ, we ought to hold fast to Sacred Tradition and remain faithful to Jesus unto death. Indeed, St. John did not “blindly follow” the first pope into his denial but turned in the opposite direction, walked to Golgotha, and remained steadfast beneath the Cross at the risk of His life.
This is what I intend to do, by God’s grace, even should a pope deny Christ himself. My faith is not in Peter, but Jesus. I follow Christ, not a man. But since Jesus has bestowed His authority upon the Twelve and their successors, I know that to break communion with them, but especially Peter, would be to break with Christ who is ONE in His mystical Body, the Church.
The truth is that the Church is represented on earth by the Vicar of Christ, that is by the pope. And whoever is against the pope is, ipso facto, outside the Church. —Cardinal Robert Sarah, Corriere della Sera, October 7th, 2019; americamagazine.org
They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. —POPE PIUS XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (On the Mystical Body of Christ), June 29, 1943; n. 41; vatican.va
If a pope is confusing or your bishop is silent, you and I can still shout the Gospel from the rooftops. Undoubtedly, their silence and even personal unfaithfulness constitute a trial, even a grave trial for us. If that is the case, then it’s because Jesus wants to be glorified more through the laity at this hour than the clergy. But we will never glorify Jesus if we ourselves become a source of disunity. We will never glorify Christ if we act like those disciples of old who panicked and flailed in the midst of a storm that threatened to sink them.
Christians should bear in mind that it is Christ who guides the history of the Church. Therefore, it is not the Pope’s approach that destroys the Church. This is not possible: Christ does not allow the Church to be destroyed, not even by a Pope. If Christ guides the Church, the Pope of our day will take the necessary steps to move forward. If we are Christians, we should reason like this… Yes, I think this is the main cause, not being rooted in faith, not being sure that God sent Christ to found the Church and that he will fulfil his plan through history through people who make themselves available to him. This is the faith we must have in order to be able to judge anyone and anything that happens, not only the Pope. —Maria Voce, President of Focolare, Vatican Insider, Dec. 23rd, 2017
If Francis is confusing, find a statement of his that is not (such as here). If you can’t, then find a statement by another pope, in a magisterial document or the Catechism. People say to me all the time, “There is such confusion!” and I respond, “But I am not confused. The teachings of the Church are not hidden in a vault. I own a Catechism. The Papacy is not one pope, much less the expression of his own personal whims and thoughts; he is simply the guarantor of obedience to the Faith through all the centuries until the end of time.”
The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 882
Popes have made and make mistakes and this is no surprise. Infallibility is reserved ex cathedra [“from the seat” of Peter, that is, proclamations of dogma based on Sacred Tradition]. No popes in the history of the Church have ever made ex cathedra errors.—Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, Theologian, in a personal letter to me
In fact, I’m going to be blunt. Some of you are angry because you want the pope to fix the world. You are angry because you want the pope to take up your arms and do your work to evangelize, exhort, and transform the culture. Maybe I’m just cynical, but in my thirty years of work in evangelization, I have never looked much to the hierarchy to get behind my ministry. Liberalism, modernism, fear, cowardice, political correctness, clericalism… I’ve experienced all of it, and through it, have learned that it doesn’t matter when it comes to my own calling. Jesus will not judge me on what my shepherds have done, but whether I was faithful with the talent he gave me—or if I buried it in the ground. The saints and martyrs did not wait to hear whether the pope was faithful or not in his daily work. They got on with their own calling, and in the process, many did more to change the world than any pope ever has or probably ever will.
At the beginning of this recent synod, there was a service in the Vatican Garden. The pope looked somberly on as rather strange rituals unfolded. And then it came time for Francis to speak. Instead, perhaps, of lending any credibility to what just took place, he set his remarks aside. Then he turned the entire gathering toward the most preeminent prayer in the Church, the Our Father. And that prayer ended the odd gathering with the words, “deliver us from evil.”
Yes Lord, deliver us from evil. But grant me the grace to be the Good that I was born to be, at this time, this hour—and the strength to persevere to the end.
The Now Word is a full-time ministry that
continues by your support.
Bless you, and thank you.
To journey with Mark in The Now Word,
click on the banner below to subscribe.
Your email will not be shared with anyone.