The latest papal video is out. Hot on the heels of last month’s paean to religious indifferentism, we get another blast of immanentism from the Vatican, which has apparently rebranded itself as a non-denominational ecology and social-justice driven NGO.
Yes. The Church teaches stewardship of creation. You’ll get no dispute from me. But it also teaches that the things of this world are passing, and that our eyes should be on heaven. I’d like to know when we’re going to get a papal video about how to accomplish that.
In a sermon given last year at the first Mass of a newly-ordained priest, Bishop Athanasius Schneider preached about the meaning of the priesthood – what it is, and what it isn’t:
The priesthood is concerned not with temporal things, but with eternal things. It is the same with the Church. The Church is not concerned with climate change, or ecology. That is the job of the government! The Church is concerned with eternal things!
And yet, here we are. We have a pope who takes great pains to avoid ever speaking about eternal things, but constantly beats the drum about what is temporal and transient.
What should we make of this?
Cardinal Biffi famously preached a Lenten retreat at the request of Pope Benedict XVI in 2004. His commentary caused quite a stir:
Cardinal Biffi, while he is known for orthodox faith and frank words, is most well known, at least in the secular media, for his preaching on the Antichrist. In fact, the Times of London reported in 2004 that the Cardinal described the Antichrist as “walking among us”.
The Lenten retreat did not disappoint. Cardinal Biffi picked up on his oft repeated theme of the Antichrist, basing his remarks on the works of Vladimir Soloviev, a Russian religious philosopher who has received praise from Pope Benedict prior to his elevation to the pontificate.
Quoting Soloviev, the Cardinal said “the Antichrist presents himself as pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist.”
“He will convoke an ecumenical council and will seek the consensus of all the Christian confessions, granting something to each one. The masses will follow him, with the exception of small groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants,” he said according to a Zenit translation of a Vatican Radio summary…
…In his “Tale of the Antichrist” Solovyov foresees that a small group of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants will resist and will say to the Antichrist: “You give us everything, except what interests us, Jesus Christ”. For Cardinal Biffi, this narrative is a warning: “Today, in fact, we run the risk of having a Christianity which puts aside Jesus with his cross and resurrection.”
The 78-year-old cardinal added that if Christians “limited themselves to speaking of shared values they would be more accepted on television programs and in social groups. But in this way, they will have renounced Jesus, the overwhelming reality of the resurrection.”
The cardinal said he believes that this is “the danger that Christians face in our days … the Son of God cannot be reduced to a series of good projects sanctioned by the prevailing worldly mentality.“
There are also two relevant statements from Archbishop Fulton Sheen that have been widely quoted. The first, which is all over the Internet (but is difficult to source; it is most often attributed to a citation in the book The Thunder of Justice, by Ted and Maureen Flynn):
“The False Prophet will have a religion without a cross. A religion without a world to come. A religion to destroy religions. There will be a counterfeit church. Christ’s Church [the Catholic Church] will be one. And the False Prophet will create the other. The false church will be worldly ecumenical, and global. It will be a loose federation of churches. And religions forming some type of global association. A world parliament of churches. It will be emptied of all divine content and will be the mystical body of the Antichrist. The mystical body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot and he will be the false prophet. Satan will recruit him from among our bishops.”
The second pertains to the Antichrist himself. This, taken from Communism and the Conscience of the West:
The Antichrist will not be so called; otherwise he would have no followers…he will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves…He will tempt Christian(s) with the same three temptations with which he tempted Christ… He will have one great secret which he will tell to no one: he will not believe in God. Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counterchurch … It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ.
Am I saying that Pope Francis is the False Prophet, or worse, the Antichrist?
No. I am not.
What I am saying is that he shares some noteworthy characteristics and ideological predilections that have long been foretold to be a feature of these apocalyptic figures. The obsession with the environment. The excessive concern for the distribution of material resources. The condemnation of all war, even just war. The joint worship with Lutherans. The admonition that members of other faiths should not convert to Catholicism. The constant tinkering with sacred teaching and tradition. The scrupulous avoidance of the mention of what we must do to get to heaven. The scrupulous omission of the mention of God in his addresses on world affairs.
If Francis’ role is not that of the Biblical False Prophet, his actions and statements are paving the way for the acceptance of this terrifying creature.
Let that sink in.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.