Possible… or Not?

APTOPIX VATICAN PALM SUNDAYPhoto courtesy The Globe and Mail
 
 

IN light of recent historic events in the papacy, and this, the last working day of Benedict XVI, two current prophecies in particular are gaining traction among believers regarding the next pope. I am asked about them constantly in person as well as by email. So, I am compelled to finally give a timely response.

The problem is that the following prophecies are diametrically opposed to one another. One or both of them, therefore, cannot be true….

 

DISCERNMENT

First of all, the question of authenticity of a seer ultimately belongs to the competent authority in the particular diocese in which the alleged seer belongs. That is not my place. However, believers can and should discern the orthodoxy of certain private revelations that come to them:

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil. (1 Thess 5:19-22)

But as Catholics, the testing of prophecy is never an isolated subjective exercise, but is done with and through the Magisterium—the teachings of the Church—because they contain the definitive Revelation we call the “deposit of faith.” Jesus said,

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

We know His voice, not only interiorly through a devoted prayer life, but also through the ones He said would be His voice: the twelve Apostles and their successors who are charged with passing along Sacred Tradition. To them He said:

Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. (Luke 10:16)

With that in mind, let’s examine the following prophecies…

In every age the Church has received the charism of prophecy, which must be scrutinized but not scorned. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Message of Fatima, Theological Commentary, www.vatican.va

 

AN EVIL POPE, OR A GOOD POPE?

The following message, allegedly from Jesus, pertains to the coming successor of Pope Benedict XVI. Christ is claimed to say:

My beloved Pope Benedict XVI is the last true Pope on this earth.

Peter the Roman, is My Peter, the original apostle who will rule My Church from the Heavens under the command of My Eternal Father. Then, when I come to reign, at the Second Coming, he will rule over all of God’s children when all religions will become one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I only speak the truth My daughter. I must warn you that many new self-proclaimed prophets will now emerge, who will contradict My Holy Word given to you, the end time true prophet. First they will convince believers that their words come from Me… They, My daughter, are being sent to prepare God’s children to accept the next Pope, who comes after My beloved Vicar Pope Benedict. This Pope may be elected by members within the Catholic Church but he will be the False Prophet [cf. Rev 13].

His electors are wolves in sheep’s clothing and are members of the secret Masonic and evil group led by Satan. This is how Satan will try to destroy My Church. Sadly, he will, this False Prophet, attract a large following. Those who oppose him will be persecuted. Run children, while you can. Denounce the lies which will be presented by those who attempt to convince you of the authenticity of the False Prophetwww.thewarningsecondcoming.com, April 12th, 2012

Related to this prophecy, the website also claims that Jesus said:

…The Teachings of the Catholic Church, based on its formation by My Apostle Peter, remain infallible. Now this will change once the foundation is rocked by the changes to come.  —Feb. 17th, 2013

The most basic question we must ask when discerning prophecy—before we ask our feelings—is: does this prophecy add to, subtract, or alter the Sacred Tradition of our Catholic Faith?

Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”.Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 67

In this regard, the above “prophecy” clearly contains heresy in the following sentence:

This Pope may be elected by members within the Catholic Church but he will be the False Prophet.

I have already explained in detail in A Black Pope? why this assertion contradicts Scripture and the constant teachings of the Catholic Faith. I also brought this prophecy to a theologian well-respected at the Vatican and an expert in private revelation, who confirmed the above error. [1]Since writing this, another theologian has stepped forward with a proper analysis of the messages of “Maria of Divine Mercy”; see: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/ Now, had the sentence read an “illegitimately elected” pope, that would be a different story.

The Church has experienced several invalid papal elections, including the 14th century schism in which the two Popes Gregory XI and Clement VII claimed the throne simultaneously. Needless to say, there can be only one validly-elected reigning pontiff, not two. So one pope was an imposter vested with false authority by a few nationalist cardinals who held an invalid conclave, namely Clement VII. What made this conclave invalid was the absence of the full body of cardinals and subsequently the required 2/3’s majority vote.” —Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, Newsletter, Jan-Jun 2013, Missionaries of the Holy

The prophecy above mirrors the error of “anti-papalism” that has appeared before when a popular alleged seer in New York claimed that the next pope after John Paul II would be false:

The second error [in this seer’s writings] is ‘anti-papalism’… [these] locutions select Pope John Paul II to be obeyed but his successor to be ignored as an ‘imposter pope.’ —Bishop Matthew H. Clark, Catholic Courier, July 15th, 1999, Rochestery, NY

In the prophecy in question, it not only indicates that after Benedict XVI there will be a false pope elected by members of the Church, but that Benedict XVI is in fact the last true pope “on the earth” as of February 28th, 2013. The visible temporal office of Peter will be forever gone.

The official teaching of the Church is that the office of Peter will not collapse into apostasy, but by Christ’s command— “Peter, you are rock”— and the power of the Holy Spirit, it will remain a lasting and visible sign of unity. That is why it is not necessary, either, for Peter to reign from Heaven since the office is governed by the Spirit, and is part of the temporal order.

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

The office is “perpetual”, until the end of time, and is intrinsically connected to the bishops and Holy Orders as the foundation of their unity.

Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry… “The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.”Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1536

Thus, the entire “order of truth” would collapse should the “rock” become sand, as this prophecy alleges, through a legitimately elected pope. But Jesus Himself said,

…the gates of hell shall not prevail against [the Church]. (Matt 16:18)

The prophecy that, “The Teachings of the Catholic Church, based on its formation by My Apostle Peter, remain infallible. Now this will change…” also presents a problem. That the Magisterium will lose her infallibility once “the changes come” is a contradiction within itself. Infallibility, by definition in this context, means being incapable of error in matters of faith and morals. Something cannot be infallible today, and not tomorrow, otherwise it never was infallible to begin with. Again, this passage of the alleged message appears to contradict the promise of Christ regarding the infallibility of the Church:

In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a “supernatural sense of faith” the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, “unfailingly adheres to this faith”… The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed… The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 889, 891, 2035

Peter… I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.. (Matt 10:18-19)

Yes, an invalidly elected pope could conceivably attempt to lead many astray because, among other things, he does not hold the Keys of the Kingdom, and therefore the charism of infallibility. We have had anti-popes before. But never in the history of the Church has an anti-pope ever been validly elected by two thirds of the Conclave.

On a sidenote, any private revelation that claims to be the sole truth, and takes away your freedom to critique or discern it or other prophetic utterances, should raise serious flags. St. Paul writes, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,[2]2 Cor 3:17 and again, “Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything.[3]1 Thess 5:20-21 The Lord speaks in a myriad of ways through a myriad of vessels, in much the same way that a prism breaks light into a multitude of colors. The Light of the world has passed through the Church and broken into a rainbow of many voices. Anyone claiming that you must only see blue, should, raise a red flag.

 

ANOTHER MESSAGE

In the following prophecy, the alleged seer speaks not of an anti-pope coming, but a Marian pope, hand-picked by Our Lady and groomed for this hour:

JESUS: I will raise up a pope who owes everything to [Mary], including his rise to the papacy. He will not hold back. He will not limit her. When he is the pope, her mantle will fully unfold and her protection will be offered to all who seek it…

MARY: Who is this person whom I have chosen and whom I have so carefully prepared? Why have I kept him in the shadows, unwilling to expose him to the light? He has been mine from the very beginning, always the chosen one, always the one who resided in the very center of my heart. He knows who he is. He knows that he has been chosen. He knows that I have prepared him…Would I allow the great work of consecrating Russia to chance? Would I just pick someone at the last minute, who is not sure of the correct steps and who might be reluctant to go ahead when all the opposition mounts? Not at all. He has been mine from the beginning and a moment will come when I will give him to the Church. I have chosen this son from among many. He is the child of my choice and I have guided him since childhood… I began this rescue long ago. It takes decades and even centuries to bring about those people who will be my instruments. There are many others whom I will use but they do not yet know that they are chosen. When my chosen one, my pope, comes into the light, millions of good people will see the personal light that already lies within them. They will understand their call and suddenly I will have an army. You, O reader, will be one of those whom I will call but you, also, must prepare by a life devoted to me. Locutions.org, “Mary and her Pope”

JESUS: Now, I must bring another pope to the Chair of Peter. He will have a different goal, one that Benedict truly shares and deeply believes in. As I placed a great light of learning in Benedict, so I have placed the great light of my mother in the new pope. His heart is filled with Mary. He lives in her and, literally, breathes in her. Her name is always on his lips. She is the one who has prepared and chosen him from the beginning. Like Benedict, he will bring to the Chair of Peter exactly what I have placed in his heart. He will not see himself bringing his own talents. He knows they are too little. He carries Fatima in his heart. That will be his first gift. He also carries Jerusalem in his heart. That is his second gift. When he has given those two gifts to the Church, his papacy will be completed, just as Benedict’s is now complete.Locutions.org, “The Gift of Two Popes”

There is more to this prophecy, but for the sake of brevity I have copied the central themes. Though there is nothing here that contradicts Catholic doctrine, that does not necessarily guarantee that it is genuinely prophetic.

The prophecy mentions Jerusalem, and in other passages, speaks of this pope offering the supreme sacrifice of his life in the Holy City. Though not directly related, this “word” is a reminder of the Early Church Father’s prophecies that spoke about jerusalemJerusalem becoming the center of the Church some day:

I and every other orthodox Christian feel certain that there will be a resurrection of the flesh followed by a thousand years in a rebuilt, embellished, and enlarged city of Jerusalem, as was announced by the Prophets Ezekiel, Isaias and others… A man among us named John, one of Christ’s Apostles, received and foretold that the followers of Christ would dwell in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and that afterwards the universal and, in short, everlasting resurrection and judgment would take place. —St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Ch. 81, The Fathers of the Church, Christian Heritage

…we understand that a period of one thousand years is indicated in symbolic language… A man among us named John, one of Christ’s Apostles, received and foretold that the followers of Christ would dwell in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and that afterwards the universal and, in short, everlasting resurrection and judgment would take place. —St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, The Fathers of the Church, Christian Heritage

...the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Tertullian, Apologeticus, Chapter 50

The proverbial “can of worms” in this message is that the prophecy speaks of the consecration of Russia, as requested at Fatima, as something that has yet to happen. There are two camps on this. The official line from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is that the consecration requested by Our Lady was completed when John Paul II, with the college of bishops, consecrated the world to Mary.  From the Vatican’s website:

Sister Lucia personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Our Lady wished (“Sim, està feita, tal como Nossa Senhora a pediu, desde o dia 25 de Março de 1984”: “Yes it has been done just as Our Lady asked, on 25 March 1984”: Letter of 8 November 1989). Hence any further discussion or request is without basis. —The Message of Fatima, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, www.vatican.va

Sr. Lucia reiterated this again in an interview that was both audio and video taped with his Eminence, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal in 1993. [4]The Congregation, while saying that any further discussion of this subject is without basis, has not said that there can be no more debate. Rather, that it is simply without basis. But some argue that the consecration is not valid because Pope John Paul II never explicitly said “Russia” in 1984. However, the late John M. Haffert points out that all the bishops of the world had been sent, prior, the entire document of the consecration of Russia made by Pius XII in 1952, which John Paul II was now renewing with all of the bishops. [5]cf. God’s Final Effort, Haffert, footnote pg. 21 To be certain, something profound happened after the global consecration. Within months, changes in Russia began, and in six years time, the Soviet Union collapsed and the stranglehold of Communism that squelched freedom of religion was loosened. The conversion of Russia seemed to have begun.

However, the other camp, often supported by credible voices including high ranking clergy, argue that the consecration has not yet been fulfilled since it was not done according to the formula Our Lady requested. One website cites that Pope Benedict XVI, while still a Cardinal, gave a lecture in 1988 after which he responded to a comment on the consecration:

“I know it has to be done!” —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, January 27th, 1988, St. Peter’s Church, New York, NY; http://www.worldenslavementorpeace.com/

During his papacy, Benedict XVI also said “we would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete,” [6]cf. Homily at Fatima Shrine, Catholic News Agency, May 13th, 2010 which some thought was a hint that the consecration is yet to be done properly. In an interview with Peter Seewald regarding Fatima, the Pope also said, “Even now, then, there is need for the answer about which the Mother of God spoke to the children [the seers of the Fatima apparition].” [7]cf. Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, P. 166 Again, some may believe this is a cryptic message regarding the consecration “answer” to the current tribulation the world is entering. But then, whey wouldn’t he, as Pope, have done the consecration? The answer may be more complex than most people would believe… and not for this space.

We can’t forget, of course, there were two stipulations regarding the conversion of Russia that would help to bring about an “era of peace”:

I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. —Our Lady of Fatima to the children, www.vatican.va

Yes, the entire point of Fatima was a call to the world to repent and make reparation for sins. Who can say that the second half of this “formula” has been sufficiently fulfilled? Is this why Russia has not fully converted, and in fact, seems to be becoming more aggressive? Most Catholics haven’t a clue what “Communion of reparation” even means…

All this said, this is still an issue involving private revelation and not Sacred Tradition. The question will likely not go away, and the above message certainly adds fuel to the debate. But that does not disqualify it as a possible genuine prophecy. The next pope may very well specifically consecrate Russia, which record shows, was not done by name.

From a pastoral perspective, the message calls the reader, not to a devotion to this private revelation to the exclusion of others, but to a devotion to God through Mary.

Lastly, there is a strong Marian character to this above message, that Mary is deeply involved in the formation of the next pope. This is consonant with what John Paul II said as well, that Mary is deeply involved in the future of the Church in these times:

On this universal level, if victory comes it will be brought by Mary. Christ will conquer through her because He wants the Church’s victories now and in the future to be linked to her… —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 221

Indeed, both Scripture and the Magisterium have affirmed that the “final confrontation” to come is between the Woman Clothed in the Sun and the Dragon, her offspring versus his. [8]cf. Gen 3:15 But this Woman is both Mary and the Church. That is, the Church will be triumphant with Mary; Mary’s triumph is the Church’s.

 

MARY, THE CHURCH, AND THE TRIUMPH

But there is no triumph if Christ’s promise to protect the Church has failed; if Peter in fact is not rock as He said; if the infallibility of the Church is lost. Then, truly, the Father of Lies has won because the rock of safety, the refuge of truth, can no longer be found. If Mary is a mirror of the Church, and she was preserved from apostasy, so too, the Church will be preserved in a remnant. But how can the remnant be preserved storm-with-lighthouse-gods-arms.jpgfrom apostasy if there is no banner of truth to guide them, no infallible light in the darkness? [9]Here, I am not speaking per se of a visible presence of the Holy Father since, during the period of electing a new pontiff, the Seat of Peter can sometimes be vacant for a very long time. However, the office of the Pope remains in all its force. However, if the office is subject to a legitimately elected apostate pope who leads the Church into error in matters of faith and morals, then the “visible sign and guarantee of truth” has vanished, and Christ Himself has deceived the Church. How can they discern a true Lighthouse from the false light if they cannot rely on Christ’s promise regarding the “rock” and Church He is building to “lead them to all truth?” [10]cf. John 16:13

It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 890

There is the possibility that we may someday see an illegitimately elected pope, an impostor. And it is certain that we will see an apostasy among many of the faithful, as St. Paul warns. [11]cf. 2 Thess 2:3 But it is also a certainty that a legitimate successor of Peter will not lead the faithful astray in matters of faith and morals. It is Christ’s guarantee, one that has stood the test of time through often rocky waters, over 2000 years.

Where Peter is, there the Church is. —Ambrose of Milan, A.D. 389

Dear friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, last audience, February 27th, 2013; www.whispersintheloggia.blogspot.ca

 

A CONFIRMATION?

While writing this meditation, I felt an urgency to call a dear priest I have mentioned here before, [12]cf. Revolution! just to say hello. He is a quiet, humble, devout man who prays around the clock. The souls of purgatory visit him every night to ask for prayers in his dreams. St. Thérèse de Liseux also came to him, once audibly during the day, and warned that, what happened in her country—the French Revolution—will soon happen in America, and it is time to prepare. [13]cf. Revolution! Finally, a few days before Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope, this priest said something astonishing: “The next pope will be named Benedict XVI.”  That information could only have come from Heaven, it would seem.

When I talked with him on the phone, he suddenly began to speak from deep within the heart: “The next pope is chosen by Mary, hidden beneath her mantle. He has been prepared by her since his childhood to be the one who will bring to fulfillment the message of Fatima and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. He will then give the sacrifice of his life. I don’t know why I’m saying this, I just know it in my heart….” I stopped him and asked if he was familiar at all with the above prophecy, since it is a mirror-image of what he said. He had never heard of it.

So, we shall see. That’s when you know a prophetic word is truly a prophecy: when it has been fulfilled. But the word you can count on now as being absolutely true and infallible is the promise of Christ:

Peter, you are rock… the gates of hell shall not prevail against [the Church]. (Matt 16:18)

Private revelation is a help to this faith, and shows its credibility precisely by leading me back to the definitive public Revelation. —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Theological Commentary on the Message of Fatima

 

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1. Since writing this, another theologian has stepped forward with a proper analysis of the messages of “Maria of Divine Mercy”; see: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/
2. 2 Cor 3:17
3. 1 Thess 5:20-21
4. The Congregation, while saying that any further discussion of this subject is without basis, has not said that there can be no more debate. Rather, that it is simply without basis.
5. cf. God’s Final Effort, Haffert, footnote pg. 21
6. cf. Homily at Fatima Shrine, Catholic News Agency, May 13th, 2010
7. cf. Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, P. 166
8. cf. Gen 3:15
9. Here, I am not speaking per se of a visible presence of the Holy Father since, during the period of electing a new pontiff, the Seat of Peter can sometimes be vacant for a very long time. However, the office of the Pope remains in all its force. However, if the office is subject to a legitimately elected apostate pope who leads the Church into error in matters of faith and morals, then the “visible sign and guarantee of truth” has vanished, and Christ Himself has deceived the Church.
10. cf. John 16:13
11. cf. 2 Thess 2:3
12, 13. cf. Revolution!
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