WHEN I changed the format of my writings last week, there was no intention on my part to cease commenting on the Mass readings. In fact, as I told subscribers to the Now Word, I believe the Lord asked me to begin writing meditations on the Mass readings precisely because He is speaking to us through them, as prophecy now seems to be unfolding in real time. During the week of the Synod, it was incredible to read how, at the very same time that some Cardinals were proposing heresies as pastoral initiatives, St. Paul was affirming his absolute commitment to the Revelation of Christ in Tradition.
There are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! (Gal 1:7-8)
And what an uproar the Synod’s draft report caused, rightly so. But I must say, that something occurred this week that has left several of us who have been called to “watch and pray” stunned, even shaken: we are watching as otherwise faithful Catholics turn with vitriol against the Pope betraying a real lack of faith in Christ. And yet, even though Francis has said things “off the cuff” that have required clarification, there is nothing he has said that is heresy (unless you are naive enough to believe the secular media), and plenty that has not only defended Sacred Tradition, but warned progressive bishops not to tinker with the “deposit of faith.”
Still… still… something is happening, and it is terrifying in some ways: those who, in the name of fighting against a “false church”, are now separating themselves, at least informally at this point, from the Vicar of Christ.
The Gospel today could very well be a trumpet blasting from every mountaintop:
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father… (Luke 12:51-53)
Never have I said the Pope is above criticism. Never I have written that he cannot make mistakes, even grave mistakes in his governance of the Church. Many people have stated both publicly and privately that they are uneasy about the Pope; that something has not quite sat right about him. They are troubled by the confusion he is causing, by unqualified statements, and by permitting and even promoting progressive bishops and cardinals to occupy places of authority. They are troubled that Cardinal Kasper was given a strong role in the Synod while Cardinal Burke was demoted in the Curia, and so forth. I understand why people are confused.
But I am deeply troubled why some fellow Catholics do not understand family decorum; why they think that suddenly it’s open season to judge, condemn, and become themselves a “little pope”. Even David refused to attack Saul when he had the chance, only cutting the edge of his hem, and then castigating his men whenever they were disrespectful to even Saul’s sons. That, and I am troubled as to why many cannot understand the simple teachings of Christ. And it is so simple! Jesus said very plainly, without parable, without nuance: The gates of hell will not prevail against My Church. Therefore, the safest place to be in the present and coming Storm is in the house built on rock. And the rock, we are told by Jesus, is “Peter.” I am stunned at the lack of faith in not a few Catholics in these words of Christ. And I hear again—as do other Catholic watchmen:
When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
Faith in His promises? Faith in His Word? Faith in the Holy Spirit whom He promised would guide us into all truth, and has done just that after 2000 years? I am starting to see these words of Christ beginning to unfold in a most surprising way. It is those who purport to be the most orthodox who are beginning to turn against their brethren.
We may see that attacks against the Pope and the Church do not only come from outside; rather, the sufferings of the Church come from inside the Church, from the sin that exists in the Church. This was always common knowledge, but today we see it in truly terrifying form: the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from external enemies, but is born of sin within the Church. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, interview on flight to Lisbon, Portugal; LifeSiteNews, May 12th, 2010
WARNING OF A SCHISM
Several years ago, I began reading the writings of several sedevacanists: those who believe the “seat” of Peter is “vacant”, contending that any Pope who has embraced Vatican II (and thus modernism) is, therefore, a heretic and not a valid pontiff. The arguments were so nuanced, so twisted and subtle (much like the Jehovah Witnesses), that I saw how easily one could fall into this trap of thinking. Indeed, forum comments revealed several souls who were thanking the writers with words like, “I am so glad I finally know the truth. I haven’t gone to those false Masses now for two months. I hope to find a Tridentine Rite soon…”
But more than that… I felt a spirit of deception behind it that was incredibly powerful. I cried out to the Lord, begging Him to never allow this schismatic group to gain ground because it would decimate many, many souls. But now, as the seeds of incredible doubt and confusion are being sown from the top down, I see that perhaps more than ever, this heresy may be ripe. My God, I pray I am wrong.
As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed! (Gal 1:9)
That Gospel, brothers and sisters—in its fullness—is preserved in the Catholic Church. It was there before Pope Francis and it will be there long after him.
And so let me repeat again, personally, Paul’s words: even if I or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! I defend those who were upset by the Synod’s draft report. But I also defend the Pope, whose closing remarks put any notion of changing Sacred Tradition, on his part, to rest.
My spiritual director has told me over and over again: “Stick to the Catechism, the Church Fathers and Scripture, and you can’t go wrong.”
I pass his wisdom on to you this day. And Benedict XVI’s…
For with the same realism with which we declare today the sins of the popes and their disproportion to the magnitude of their commission, we must also acknowledge that Peter has repeatedly stood as the rock against ideologies, against the dissolution of the word into the plausibilities of a given time, against subjection to the powers of this world. When we see this in the facts of history, we are not celebrating men but praising the Lord, who does not abandon the Church and who desired to manifest that he is the rock through Peter, the little stumbling stone: “flesh and blood” do not save, but the Lord saves through those who are flesh and blood. To deny this truth is not a plus of faith, not a plus of humility, but is to shrink from the humility that recognizes God as he is. Therefore the Petrine promise and its historical embodiment in Rome remain at the deepest level an ever-renewed motive for joy; the powers of hell will not prevail against it… —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI),Called to Communion, Understanding the Church Today, Ignatius Press, p. 73-74
Coming in the days ahead, a writing on the thin line between mercy and heresy. Also, a summary of my entire writings to give you the “the big picture”, especially for new subscribers.
- Can a Pope be a Heretic? An examination of so-called “heretical” popes, by theologian Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi
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