In our first essay we discussed some of the horrors of the three pornocracies of the Church, and suggested the term “Third Pornocracy” to be an accurate historical description of our own epoch. It is helpful, I believe, because the term truly describes the reality of how bad the corruption is, but it also reminds us that the Church has been through two other times of at least similar corruption and ultimately prevailed.
Further, each of these two pornocracies in the past were unprecedented at the time and worse than the last. So we should not be surprised that the Church crisis is now unprecedented in certain ways but also the worst that it’s ever been. Practically every Church crisis in history is the worst crisis it’s ever been up to that point. That is why our fathers wondered during these crises if the end of the world was upon them, and maybe it truly was – if not for the saints.
It is also a dogma of the faith that there will be one final crisis – the reign of Antichrist himself (CCC, 675) and this will definitely be the worst crisis up to that point.
So if your faith is failing now, what will you do when Antichrist comes?
But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth? (Lk. xviii. 8). But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved (Mt. xxiv. 13).
How can we persevere?
Our Lord consoles us about the end times: when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand (Lk. xxi. 28). Thus even under the reign of Antichrist, we will rejoice. Why? That wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth (II Thess. ii. 8). The reign of Antichrist is a sign of the coming triumph of the Lord who will destroy Antichrist.
This is the reality of every Church crisis, every pornocracy – it is a sign of a coming triumph of Christ. We will discuss this in further detail in our next installment. But here we can consider how this is shown gloriously in the prophecy of the Apocalypse.
The Church understands the book of the Apocalypse as having a threefold depth: 1.) it was written to the early Church to encourage our fathers against “666” (the gematria of “Caesar Nero” in two languages); 2.) a prophecy about the whole history of the Church and 3.) a prophecy about the end of time. (Only the infallible Holy Scriptures can say three things at once – being present, as it were, in three different times in the chronology of history!)
The Apocalypse helps us consider the relationship between these three time periods in the history of the Church. Reading it in Advent – and especially during our time, the Third Pornocracy – helps us remember the end of time and strengthens our faith and hope in Christ against the greatest evil. If we don’t have faith now, we will fail in our faith at the time of Antichrist, should we be chosen to live during that horror. This is why Our Lord says In your patience you shall possess your souls (Lk. xxi. 19). The virtue of patience means to suffer evils well (II-II q136). The saints of the Apocalypse – and of all time – suffer the evils of their days with great patience, in union with the Passion of Jesus Christ and His triumph against His enemies.
Pornocracies Include Doctrinal Corruption
Now we further suggested that all pornocracies include a corruption of doctrine and scandal to the faith coming from the papacy itself. It is historically absurd to suggest that the first two pornocracies were orthodox in their teaching, since the most common Magisterial teaching act of a pope – throughout history – is to give sermons and addresses orally. The vast majority of these are not written down – especially if a pope is hated for his wickedness!
It is foolish to assume that every other part of a given pope’s life was wicked (like John XII) but when he happened to publicly address the faithful somehow he could speak – like Balaam’s ass – the words of doctrinal orthodoxy.
Outside of miraculous talking donkies and the Church’s own infallibility, God does not prevent error, ambiguity and scandal to the faith coming from the words and deeds of men.
Nevertheless our own Third Pornocracy does present a particularly unprecedented problem (again, as we might expect) due to the false spirit of Vatican One, where the papal office has become a universal teaching office that Catholics focus on daily. It de facto replaces the Scripture, Tradition, and the Catechisms for the faithful. But we also should not underestimate the influence of technology – from newspapers in the 19th century to the Twitter feed and airplane-shoot-from-the-hip speculative theology in the 21st century. Ultimately, the practice of the papacy as a universal teaching office is an innovation of the 19th century with both good and bad effects on the Church.
But we will treat all this in greater detail in its proper place.
The Sacramental Spotlessness
Here we need to emphasize the critical theological truth which we began to unpack in our last essay: Christ loves His Church and makes her pure, no matter what.
Pornocracy is a historical term which merely describes the state of corruption in the hierarchy at a given time. It is in the realm of history that the Holy Spirit calls Israel “adulterous.” It is a historical term derived from individual sinners within the Church.
But on a deeper, spiritual and theological level, the Church as such is always the pure and spotless Bride of Christ. This is the “deep mystery” which is mystically shown in Matrimony, according to St. Paul. The Church exists truly as the Bride and Jesus Christ is the Groom. I will espouse thee to me forever (Os. ii. 19).
Forever. No matter what.
This is the reality that we must put our faith and hope in, for this is what animated our fathers to fight for the Church even in the darkest times. It is the love of Christ which vindicates His Bride at the end of time against Antichrist. Yet this love of Christ begins with every soul.
Each one of us must accept this love of Christ which is most perfectly expressed in the Blessed Sacrament of His Sacred Heart. Or again in the Sacrament of Penance, in which we are cleansed from our sins.
Our Lord “forgets,” as it were, all the pornocracy in your soul.
Because He loves you. As He loves the Church, His Bride.
In an instant the evil is swallowed and disappears in the Precious Blood of Jesus, and the soul returns to the beauty and purity of the state of grace. It is impossible to overestimate the glory and the spotless character of sanctifying grace. Thus does the prophet express the mystery: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow (Ps. l. 9).
Every soul which is joined to the Church by the Sacraments of initiation is whiter than snow at least in potency. Christ has loved every member of the Church, no matter how evil one may be, and has held out to them His own Precious Blood to wash them immediately upon true repentance (which itself is a work of His grace).
This washing of the eternal punishment then gives every soul the divine help to take on the temporal punishment – that healing and transforming life of penance – which binds up the wounds of sin which still remain, so that grace can make a saint out of a sinner.
This possibility is literally present in every member of the Church by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation. This is present in the Church no matter how evil the tares are that the devil has planted among the wheat.
Thus from the first reason we discussed last week, we see a spiritual reality in the Sacraments that makes the Church totally spotless at least in potency for every member, and for an unknown number of souls, a reality. Therefore the love of Christ for His Church causes Him to cleanse her and ultimately defend His bride at the end of time.
The Pornocracy, then, is a historical reality which can be present in any soul, or widespread in the Church at a given time. But this can never efface or destroy the mystical reality of the Spotless Church by baptism and, further in the world to come, glory.
The reality of the purity of the Church is mystical, Sacramental and eternal. The historical reality of a Pornocracy – whether in mortal sin or the reign of Antichrist – is passing and ephemeral in the eyes of God.
Let us not lose hope if we have the misfortune to fall into mortal sin, but run to confession. Let us not lose hope if the Pornocracy is widespread in the Church, but return in faith and hope to the mystical reality in the Scriptures. Let us love the Church as Christ does, even while we hate the sin which has corrupted some of her members.
Indeed once again when we read the Apocalypse, the saints and angels show us this mystical reality of Christ’s love for His Church, fighting and triumphing over Antichrist.
The Accuser Will Be Cast Out
For the pornocracy and the reign of Antichrist are ultimately an accusation against every soul and against the Church herself. The concrete reality of evil individuals in the Church hierarchy becomes an accusation against the Church as a mystical, spotless reality.
It is a confusion about the fact that something can be true in a historical, shallow sense yet false in a spiritual, deeper sense.
It is a reaction to actual evil but is motivated by a loss of faith. It is an effort to cover over your wounds by taking refuge in irrational heresies and fantasies which lead to hell.
The Protestants dared to attack the mercy of Christ in the Sacraments. They dared to attack the honor due to Our Lady, and the honor due to the Bride of Christ. They failed to see how Christ could make a spotless Bride out of adulterous Israel. They lost faith in the Church and thus accused her and her purity.
This accusation by the Protestants against the purity of the Church was no doubt a result of wounds endured by spiritually abusive fathers, especially the papacy, which was occupied by the Second Pornocracy at that time. It was so bad that they called the pope himself the Antichrist.
We too, who suffer under the Third Pornocracy may be tempted to make an accusation against the purity of the Roman Church, the Spotless Bride, the Mystical Body of Christ. We may be tempted to lose our Catholic faith in the face of the mystery of iniquity (II Thess. ii. 7).
And we also know that the reign of Antichrist is coming at some time. In that day, no doubt, many will accuse the purity of the Church, for the power of Antichrist will create the most convincing proof that the Church has fallen and her mystical purity has finally been lost. How many schisms and heresies will tempt the faithful at that time?
Spiritually abusive fathers make an accusation against fatherhood itself. They tempt us to believe that we should do without fatherhood at all – whether that means invent a new mode of family without fatherhood, or a new Church without the papacy. We are tempted to take refuge from an abusive father in a fantasy Church which is headless. Sedevacantism and the Greek schisms both offer us a headless Body in response to the Third Pornocracy.
But this is ultimately the work of the Devil, for it is an accusation against the love of Christ Himself for His Bride. It is an act of distrust in His promises. The Devil wants to use bad fathers to cut deep wounds in your heart, then use those wounds to accuse fatherhood itself and ultimately destroy it, because he knows that when it is good, it leads to God – for God is our Father.
Therefore the Holy Ghost says that when a woman clothed with the sun (Apoc. xii. 1) appears:
That great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night (Apoc. xii. 9-10).
Just as the Angel armies (Lk. ii. 13) announce the birth of Christ the King at Christmas, so too the armies of heaven announce His triumph against Antichrist at the end of time. The reign of Antichrist makes it look like all is lost. Many lose faith and hope and fall away from the Church. Yet when there is the greatest darkness, then there is a vision of Our Lady, clothed with the sun, which also typifies the Church in all her purity, dispelling all the darkness.
Just as at Christmas it was the height of the Roman Empire’s power, all seemed lost and there was no hope; but then Our Lady appeared who gave birth to the newborn King. So too at the reign of Antichrist, all will seem lost and the purity of the Church compromised. But then there will be a vision of Our Lady (and the Church), before the Second Advent and the triumph of Christ. This vision may only be in the hearts of the saints at that time who have persevered in faith and hope. But it is this vision of Our Lady and the Church, with the spotless purity of mystical virginity, that Our Lord sees when He sees the Church. For this vision is the effect of His love. Not just “covering over our sin” as the Protestant heresies said, but transforming our sin into holiness.
Only Christ can love His adulterous Israel enough to transform her into a spotless virgin and a mystical bride.
In this infinite love of Christ – beyond all human understanding – we find the answer that our wounded hearts need. Here in His love, we find the purity of the Church; we find the strength of fatherhood; we find the Sacraments to cleanse our souls.
Let us beseech Our Lady to obtain the grace of an increased faith and hope in the face of the Third Pornocracy and the coming reign of Antichrist at the end of time. As His Excellency Bishop Schneider says in his prayer for the Crusade of Eucharistic reparation:
The more violently the gates of hell storm against your Church and the rock of Peter in Rome, the more we believe in the indestructibility of your Church, O Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, who do not abandon your church and the rock of Peter even in the heaviest storms!
In our next installment we will review in greater detail the power of God to bring good out of evil, even in the darkness of pornocracy. We will discuss in history how God did bring good out of the evil in the First and Second Pornocracies, then contemplate what might be coming for the Third.
For now, let us finish the journey to the newborn King, worship Him, and remember that in the greatest darkness, there will surely come the light of Christ, for He has promised it.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
 For an introduction to the Catholic understanding of the Book of the Apocalypse, see Antonio Fuentes, A Guide to the Bible (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1999), 235ff; Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, eds. The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament (Ignatius: 2010), 489-492; Taylor R. Marshall, The Eternal City: Rome & the Origins of Catholic Christianity (St. John Press, 2012), 151-167; see also Dr. Marshall’s audio series.
 Lk. ii. 13: πλῆθος στρατιᾶς οὐρανίου.
Timothy Flanders is the editor 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 the Midwest with his wife and four children.