Above: Benedict XVI’s personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein kisses the former pope’s closed coffin during a private ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica on Jan. 4, 2023. Vatican Media.
Last week a number of interesting commentaries appeared from unexpected quarters. Two in particular noted the speed with which His Holiness seems to be practically skipping down the merry ole #SchismaticWay with the most recent appointments, especially Tucho “Heal me with your Mouth” Fernández and Slim Jim “Bridge to Hell” Martin.
These two commentaries both made mention of the infamous Greek term katechon, referring to II Thessonians in which the Blessed Apostle speaks of the coming reign of Antichrist and the katechon, the “restrainer” who holds him back.
The first to use the term was Sandro Magister in his analysis:
The death of his predecessor Benedict XVI, at the end of 2022, was for Pope Francis like the passing of the “katéchon,” of the restraint that held him back from fully revealing himself.
“Revealed himself” is another reference to II Thessalonians where the katechon is restraining the revealing of the Antichrist.
The consistory appointments Magister says, are consistent with the bent of His Holiness on promoting his progressive agenda, and snubbing all his enemies.
But the most striking appointment is not that of the Argentine Victor Manuel Fernández (in the photo) as cardinal, seen as a matter of course, but the previous assignment to him of the post of prefect of the dicastery for the doctrine of the faith.
Here in fact Francis has done what he would never have dared to do while Joseph Ratzinger was alive. That is, the appointment in the key role that belonged to the great German theologian and later pope of a figure who is his complete opposite.
Meanwhile Peter Seewald, biographer of Pope Benedict had this to say to kath.net as posted on Rorate:
Seewald: [T]he latest developments point to a real breach of the dam. And in view of the dramatic decline of Christianity in Europe, this could turn into a flood that destroys what has still held out.
kath.net: A strong word.
Seewald: The latest news from the Vatican reminded me of an essay by Georgio Agamben that has become famous. In his text on the “Mystery of Evil,” the most discussed philosopher of our time brings Benedict XVI into play. As a young theologian, Ratzinger once distinguished between a church of the wicked and a church of the righteous in an interpretation of Augustine. From the beginning, he said, the Church has been inextricably mixed. It is both the Church of Christ and the Church of the Antichrist. However, according to Agamben, there is also the idea of the katechon…
kath.net: I beg your pardon?
Seewald: With regard to the 2nd letter of the apostle Paul to the Thessalonians, this means the principle of stopping. A term that is also interpreted as “hindrance”, for something or for someone who stops the end of time. Benedict XVI had been something of a “restrainer,” Agamben said. Against this background, his demission inevitably evoked a separation of the “beautiful” from the “black” Church, that span in which the wheat is separated from the chaff. A steep thesis. But the pope emeritus apparently saw it similarly. He had to stay on, he answered my question as to why he could not die. As a memorial to the authentic message of Jesus, as a light on the mountain. “In the end, Christ will be victorious,” he added [emphasis added].
So according to Seewald, Pope Benedict as Emeritus saw himself as some sort of katechon holding some flood of evil back, which is implying the Antichrist by the very use of the term.
What does all this mean? Fear not, brethren. Let’s not forget how the story ends: the katechon is removed, paving the way for the Antichrist. But this wicked one is he whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming (II Thess. ii. 8). Satan’s reign is revealed in the Antichrist in order that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity (v. 11). Yet the Lord Jesus Himself comes in the end to destroy Him.
This is the glorious story of the End Times, which God has only revealed to us in order to give us hope in times like ours.
The Consolation of the Scriptures
Before any of our critics accuse us of being crazy, let;s just quote the 675th paragraph of the New Catechism:
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers … in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth … a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
We can see this type of thing is already happening in spades under Francis. Is this the end times? Read on.
First, I want to underscore the importance of this dogma for Catholics of all times. Most importantly, God has revealed some of the mysterium iniquitatis Himself in the New Testament, particularly in the book of the Apocalypse. The exegetical tradition of the Church sees this book as a threefold prophecy: it prophesies to the early Church about what they were going through at that time (the famous “Number of the Beast” for example, is a code for Caesar Nero), but it also prophesies the whole history of the Church (the destruction of Babylon can represent every unfaithful city punished by God after apostasy) and finally also, the end times.
Thus I encourage all readers in our time to meditate upon this woefully neglected book of prophecy, for the Holy Spirit has breathed His words into it for our own benefit, that we may have the consolation of the Scriptures (Rom. xv. 4) in our times. Use some good Catholic commentary (like Taylor Marshall or the Ignatius Hahn/Mitch Study Bible) and dive in.
The Test of Our Faith
The second aspect of the importance of this dogma comes from the words of Our Lord: when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith upon the earth? (Lk. xviii. 8). As the New Catechism states above, the time of the Antichrist “will shake the faith of many believers.” So if we are not currently in the end times here, it is certain that it will get worse. If your faith is struggling now, what will do you in the time of the Antichrist? Or if our time truly is the beginning of the end, what will you do when the Son of Man comes and you have lost your faith?
If the Roman dogmas of the Papacy are true, then undoubtedly the Antichrst will target the Papacy somehow, and it will be in a way to shake the faith of believers. So if we are fortified in the Scriptures, none of us should be surprised if Benedict truly is the katechon which was restraining the Antichrist.
However, this is not certain. It is difficult to determine if we are facing the beginning of the end, but we know that at many times in history the Saints have believed such things to be happening in their times. During the horror of the first two pornocracies of the Papacy, or during other times of “papal craziness” (like the Great Western Schism), it certainly appeared as if the Antichrist had taken over the Vatican.
And what did the Saints do? They fought for the Faith and died handing it down to us.
What is certain, however, is that the time of the Antichrist will be the worst crisis of faith yet – the final crisis – and everyone’s faith will be shaken.
Fear not, brethren, but fight the good fight of faith (I Tim. vi. 12).
If your faith is wavering, get off the internet and pray. Read the Scripture as I said. Join our fasting sodality (there’s a fast coming up for the Assumption!).
If your faith is strong, go on the internet and complain on Twitter.
Wait, actually don’t do that.
Go on the internet and perform the spiritual works of mercy: encourage the doubtful, instruct the ignorant.
But before you spend any time on the internet, form a chapter of our lay sodality at your parish to offer reparation to Our Eucharistic Lord. Get involved in your local parish.
And for the sake of the Sacred Heart, enthrone His Majesty in your domestic church right away.
Give thanks to God that He has counted you worthy to live in such a time as this, a glorious time to be a Catholic! Our great grand children will ask about this time, and what we did during this crisis. Let us set an example to future generations now.
T. S. Flanders
Vigil of Santiago
Timothy Flanders is the editor-in-chief of OnePeterFive. He is the author of City of God versus City of Man: The Battles of the Church from Antiquity to the Present and Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics. His writings have appeared at OnePeterFive and Crisis, as well as in Catholic Family News. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate dedicated to uniting Catholics against the enemies of Holy Church. He holds a degree in classical languages from Grand Valley State University and has done graduate work with the Catholic University of Ukraine. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.