I was disappointed, when listening to a recent podcast by Scott Hahn, to hear him say that “Pope Francis practically embodies the new evangelisation”, adding: “I call him ‘the new evangelisation in high definition’” (this was all meant to be praise, in case you’re wondering.)  Come on, Dr Hahn, you can do better than this.  Tell the truth and shame the devil.

Update: In fairness, I should add, now that I have listened to more of the talk, that it was given at the end of 2015 or the start of 2016.

The sun, in Holy Scripture, is sometimes a symbol for our Lord Jesus Christ, most famously in psalm 18, where its circuit round the earth is a figure of the incarnation, passion, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension.

Fittingly, therefore, can the sun also be a symbol for the vicar of Christ, the pope of Rome. Commenting on the verses in psalm 136 which state that God gave the sun power over the day and the moon and stars power over the night, St Francis de Sales says that the moon, here, is a figure of the old high priest, who ruled the people during the night of the old Testament, and that the sun is a figure of the pope, who governs us during the day-time of God’s grace.

With this in mind, it is interesting to reflect on the miracle of Fatima in October 1917. When Lucia suddenly called out, “Look at the sun!”, the people saw it lose its lustre, take on colours not its own, begin to spin on its axis, zig-zag through the sky, and suddenly, to general terror, plunge toward the earth, apparently to bring the world immediately to an end. Then, all at once it was back in its proper place, serenely continuing its journey through the heavens.

It may be that God was telling us in this way of what was to befall the papacy, an institution intimately bound up with the whole message of Fatima. Having been for so many years something which the faithful could rely on in their daily lives, and take for granted, as men take for granted the passage of the sun in the sky, it would become an object of wonder and alarm. It would seem to lose its proper light, and take on hues not its own, humanist, modernist, Lutheran, pantheist. Its teachings would become erratic and alarming. It would, perhaps, appear to become entirely unmoored from the place assigned it by its Creator, even threaten by its massive weight now uncontrolled to blot out in some final crisis all supernatural life on earth…

Then, in a moment, by the sole power of God incarnate, will come salvation. We shall look up, and the pope will be in his proper place once more, as the sun, like a faithful steward, dispenses warmth and light to all who dwell upon the earth.

The beast who rises up from the land, in chapter 13 of the Apocalypse, is not an image which has entered popular awareness as much as the first beast, from the sea, with its famous mark and number.  Yet they are clearly images which reciprocally explain each other.

The sea and the land, in the Scripture, often stand respectively for the world and the Church.  St Augustine constantly interprets the terms thus in his commentaries on the psalms.  In other contexts, they can signify time and eternity.  The first beast, with its seven heads, is generally taken by commentators to be antichrist, or the city of this world, or antichrist as heading the city of this world.  It signifies temporal power as turned away from God and therefore persecuting the saints, arising out of the anti-Christian world and making no pretence of Christian piety; particularly is it this temporal power as wielded by the man of sin foretold by 2 Thessalonians and 1 John.

The other beast arises from the land.  It pertains, that is, to the Church.  It represents the spiritual power, that which was instituted by Christ to lead men to eternity, but the spiritual power as turned away from God.  Since antichrist is a single man, presumably this beast represents especially the spiritual power as abused also by some one man.  This fits with what is said later in the Apocalypse, where St John appears to refer to this second beast simply as ‘the false prophet’. 

St John tells us about the appearance and the actions of the second beast:

(i) it has two horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon;

(ii) it exercises all the power of the first beast on behalf of the first beast;

(iii) it makes the inhabitants of the earth adore or bow down before the first beast;

(iv) it performs great wonders, even making fire descend from heaven;

(v) it tells the inhabitants of the earth to make an image of the first beast;

(vi) it gives life to this image, which speaks;

(vii) it (or possibly the image itself) has all those who do not worship the image put to death;

(viii) it (or possibly the image itself) makes everyone have the mark or number or name of the first beast placed on their forehead or right hand, if they want to buy or sell.

If we are right to suppose that this second beast refers to the abuse of the spiritual power, we may conclude that some bishop is signified by it.  That was Cornelius à Lapide’s view: “It seems,” he says, “that this false prophet is some apostate bishop who feigns to be religious”.  He quotes an earlier author, Joseph Acosta, who was of the same opinion, and who took the two horns to symbolise the two horns of a bishop’s mitre.  That seems, however, a little bathetic, if taken as the principal meaning of this image, especially as the two horns are like those of a lamb, an image which is surely meant to suggest Christ, who did not wear a mitre.  A ‘horn’, in Scripture, is often a symbol of power.  We may therefore take the two horns to mean the two powers that are possessed by bishops, in the image of Jesus Christ, High Priest and King, namely, the powers of orders and governance.  Yet since a lamb’s horns are of equal length, and Christ Himself is fully Priest and fully King, this may indicate that the apostate bishop in question enjoys not only, like all bishops, the fullness of orders, but also the fullness of jurisdiction, something which is true only of the bishop of Rome.

This may seem rather shocking, though less so today than in the past.  However, if the beast does refer to some individual, apostate bishop, it is hard to see how he could enjoy the universal power attributed to him by St John if he did not have, qua bishop, a universal sway.  At the end of the Old Covenant, it was the high-priest, the vicar of God on earth, who had the Lord put to death.  The Church, says St Thomas, must imitate the life of Christ: “The true body of Christ, and the things that are done in it, are figures of the mystical body of Christ, and of those things what are done in this” (Quodlibetal questions VII.6.2 ad 5).  So for this reason too, it would seem, as it were, fitting as well as appalling if it were a pope who unleashes the final persecution upon the mystical body.

I do not say that Pope Francis is certainly the bishop foreseen by the beloved apostle.  However, it is fair to say that no other man in history has arisen within the Church who would better fulfil the prophetic image (even abstracting from the fact that events themselves have apparently shown that no one else has been the false prophet).  What is it but the voice of the dragon, when he attributes sin to our Lord, teaches that Luther was correct about justification, says that the State must be secular, and tries to make the faithful believe that God wills us sometimes to break His commandments and then to receive Holy Communion, that he himself can change the moral teaching of the Church, that all religions are willed by God, and that there is no eternal hell? 

What of the other things attributed to the beast from the land?  Given that the beasts themselves are symbols, and not literal quadrupeds that we can expect to see stomping about the world, we should probably interpret these actions symbolically too.  “Bringing down fire from heaven” could refer to use of the spiritual power, which is in itself something heavenly, for destruction: for example, issuing documents for the universal Church, or making appointments, in order to destroy the faith.  Likewise, I do not expect that a stone statue is going to be erected somewhere which all the billions of people on earth will be invited to take turns to adore.  The image (eikona) of the first beast could thus simply be something which visibly represents the shadowy political and financial powers that govern mankind, before they have coalesced into a single head.  It could be a committee of some kind, which comes into being and finds its voice by the pope’s encouragement: a committee of the United Nations, or of the oligarchs, or a committee of human fraternity.  We will be told to do it obeisance (proskunosin), that is, to accept its authority over religious and civic matters.

I do not know what is meant by (vii) and (viii), but if there is any truth in all this then time will tell.  It is often a feature of prophecy that it is designed to be understood when it comes to pass, and not before. 

The application of the prophecy of Apocalypse 13 to Pope Francis may seem a step too far; yet, as we have seen, even independently of this pontificate, it seems plausible to interpret the beast as an apostate pope.  And how could any other pope do it better?  A pope who publicly and explicitly threw off the Christian name would no longer be able to influence the faithful.  I must admit that I initially thought that the false prophet would have to be someone altogether more impressive than Jorge Bergoglio; some brilliant speaker and humanly attractive.  Yet perhaps this too is an artifice of the enemy; precisely because one expects such a thing, one is more apt to overlook the true and more dismal realisation of the inspired words.  Perhaps we can say the same about the abomination of desolation.  Who would have thought it would be a piddling little statue like that ceremonially carried into St Peter’s on the shoulders of bishops last year?  Perhaps it was not; yet our Lord says, judge not by appearances, but judge just judgement.  By the will of the pope, an idol was placed in the most famous church in Rome, and of the world.


Unfortunately, I don’t see how anyone who is aware of the facts can deny that Pope Francis is pertinacious in rejecting various doctrines that are proposed by the Church as truths of divine faith. Despite being urged by many people to do so, he refuses to express his adhesion to the Church’s teaching on matters of general and special morality, and on justification. He continues to promote the errors contrary to these teachings, by word and by deed.

How do we respond to a pope pertinacious in heresy? Unlike the sedevacantists, I don’t believe that the individual Catholic has the right to declare that a pope, or bishop, has lost his office for heresy, and that a new pope needs to be appointed. To have legal force, such a declaration has to come from a body with sufficient legal standing within the Church: the college of bishops or the sanior pars thereof, or the college of cardinals, or perhaps the other patriarchs.

Before such a declaration occurs, does a heretical pope have the right to act as pope? Hardly: a heretic does not have the right to be head of the Catholic Church. In this sense we might perhaps say that such a pope has lost his office ‘before God’, though not yet ‘before the Church’; but I am not sure what authority for such a phrase exists.

Does that mean we have the right to disobey his laws and precepts? No, not as such. Until a proper legal declaration of a pope’s loss of office has been made, the public life of the Church, which is a society governed by law, must surely proceed on the basis that he still holds his office. It may be that if some future pope or council condemns Pope Francis for heresy, that pope or council may also declare that he lost his office from the moment that he began to manifest pertinacity, i.e. from the moment that he began to assert things which he knew to be contrary to what the Church teaches as revealed (and let us remember that he has promoted Holy Communion for the invalidly married from his first Angelus address.)

In that case, the future pope or council would have to decide which of Pope Francis’s actions had been legally valid. I suppose that they would say that jurisdiction had been supplied to him by Christ, Supreme Head of the Church, whenever he had posited an act which pertained directly to the salvation of souls. For example, his episcopal appointments would be judged valid, for if the diocesan bishops were not duly in possession of their sees, they could not give faculties to priests, and so penitents would not have been validly absolved. On the other hand, they could judge that the acts of Pope Francis which did not pertain directly to the salvation of souls had been invalid or at least doubtful: for example, canonisations.

The public life of the Church, then, must be based on that which legally obtains. The private life of Catholics seems like a different matter. If a person is convinced that Pope Francis is pertinacious, and therefore does not have the right to act as head of the Church, I am not sure that he need give any kind of assent to his teachings (I mean, even those teachings which are not open to some other obvious objection.)

Aelianus remarked to me the other day that Pope Francis is not just extraordinarily bad in comparison to other popes, but extraordinarily bad in comparison to other erring popes.  The ohters had some famous error which they favoured under pressure (Liberius, Honorius I), or from an affectation of scholarship (John XXII), or bamboozled by some great name.

With Francis it is different.  Everything is thrown into the Bergoglian liquidizer and comes out unrecognizable: Christology, Mariology, the theology of grace, the ten commandments, marriage, the nature of faith, the nature of tradition.  He seems, we might say, to have no supernatural protection at all.  Is this a sign that his election was invalid?

I don’t think we need conclude this.  It is simply that he is not attempting to use his magisterium.  He is not trying, that is, to declare the truth that has been delivered to the saints once for all from the time of the apostles.  But the power to do this is what the magisterium is.

He does not believe that there is such an unchanging revealed truth, and therefore naturally he does not seek to declare it.  And since the divine protection is given to a pope in the exercise of his magisterium, he does not receive it.

If I had been very publicly and explicitly accused of pertinaciously adhering to seven heresies by a large group of fellow Catholics, including clergy and academics, then I should be keen to explain either that the propositions in question were not heretical or else that I did not hold them.  I should imagine that this would be the reaction of anyone who possessed the Catholic faith.

This is rather obvious.  It is disappointing, then, to see that the mainstream Catholic media have been unwilling to comment on the fact that Pope Francis, more than 8 months after the Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, has refused either to disavow the heresies there ascribed to him, or to explain why they are not heretical, even though he has shown that he is quite aware of the letter in question.  His response, rather has been to say this:

Q. On being a heretic, how do you take that?

A. With a sense of humour, my daughter.

Q. You don’t give it much weight…

A. No, no. Besides I pray for them because they are wrong and, poor people, some of them are manipulated. And who are those who signed? No, really, a sense of humour and I would say tenderness, paternal tenderness. That is, it doesn’t hurt me at all. Hypocrisy and lies hurt me, these, yes, they hurt me. But a mistake like that, where there are even people who have filled their heads with – no, please, you have to take care of them too (from an interview with Valentina Alazraki).

Not exactly a ringing profession of faith.

It is disappointing, as I say, that media such as EWTN, the Catholic Herald or the National Catholic Register, are refusing to pursue this question.  Is this not the kind of thing that Catholic reporters should be doing?

The ‘Higher Committee of Human Fraternity’ sounds like something that Robert Hugh Benson might have made up, but apparently it is real.  They have commissioned an ‘Abrahamic Family House’ in Abu Dhabi, to consist of a mosque, a church and a synagogue. It is inspired by the recent Abu Dhabi declaration signed by Pope Bergoglio and the Imam, and it aims to evoke “the values shared between Judaism, Christianity and Islam“.

As well as the mosque, church and synagogue, there will also be “a fourth space, not affiliated with any specific religion”, which will serve for the worship of the antichrist, be an educational centre where all people can come together as a single community devoted to mutual understanding and peace.

when ‘No idols worshipped at St Peter’s at Sunday Mass’ is a good-news story.  #Underwhelmed

Pope Leo the Great said in a famous sermon preached one Christmas morning:  Agnosce, o Christiane, dignitatem tuam –  O Christian, remember thy dignity!  I should like to say to the bishops of the Church,  Agnosce, o episcope, dignitatem tuam.  How did it come to this, that a manifest enemy of the Church can occupy the throne of Peter and the bishops of the whole world look the other way?  I am not speaking of those who gladly collaborate with the destruction, such as most of those chosen to act out the present pantomime in the eternal City.  I am thinking of those who have the faith, who recite the Creed and mean it, who say their prayers and desire others to enter the Church.  Either they know the truth about what is happening and are afraid to tell it, or they are afraid to know it and so deceive themselves.

Probably the deepest root is the abandonment of the Roman Mass.  Once a bishop has accepted to cut that link with his predecessors, he is no longer as convinced as he needs to be of the truth of what they taught, nor has he a sufficient horror of its negation.  This phenomenon may be explicable in merely natural terms; but I incline to think that it is principally supernatural, and that God in His justice withholds graces for shepherding the flock from those who do not rightly honour the eternal Shepherd.

It is not very likely that any bishop will read these words.  But if any should see them, I say to him this: “Agnosce, o episcope, dignitatem tuam.  O bishop, remember thy dignity.  You are not a delegate of the pope, even if he were an orthodox believer.  You are vicar of Christ in your diocese.  You will not be able, on the day of Judgement, to throw on to another the responsibility for having remained silent while an enemy of Christ did what he could to destroy the faith and the Church.  Lay the axe to the root.  Begin to say or sing every day the true Roman Mass hated by the modernists, in your cathedral or in every parish church which you inspect.  Require every cleric and official under your authority to swear the anti-modernist oath, and dismiss any who refuses, even if it means leaving the churches without pastors: better for the faithful to receive no sacraments than to receive them from the hands of a heretic.  Warn your flock in public that Pope Bergoglio refuses to deny the heresies of which so many people have accused him.  Refuse to concelebrate Mass with him until he does so.  If you are dismissed for your fidelity, refuse at least to yield your cathedral to a heretic, for it is God’s house and not the pope’s.  Order your priests to carry out a public exorcism of the Vatican.  Tell your people to fast and pray until God’s anger – yes, His anger – be assuaged and He send us the holy pope according to His own heart.”

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