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Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Winds of Change in the Catholic Church, Part II


Source: Michel Cool, Francis: A New World Pope, translated by Regan Kramer, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013.

I just finished a short book about the history and philosophy of Pope Francis, and it doesn’t seem so far that he is the dreaded Petrus Romanus predicted by Horn and Putnam (mentioned in previous posts). A new world pope is not quite the same as a New World Order pope. Horn and Putnam have amply demonstrated that there are various groups of transnational elites that would love to see a New World Order be established in which all nations surrender their national sovereignty and submit to the laws and regulations of a master, global government. These cabals have included some celebrated Americans, including both Presidents Bush.

The book by Cool doesn’t sugar coat the challenges and scandals of the previous three decades. They are all mentioned: the pedophilia, the Vatican bank scandal; liberation theology; the mutiny of the bishops; corruption and moral laxity; and the call for a new view of the papacy in which the pope is not a central, all-powerful monarch. Pope Francis is aware of these issues and knows that he has a nest of problems to resolve.

Cool’s book is divided into discreet parts. One simply tells the history of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He was born in 1936, so he is about 77 now. That doesn’t give him a lot of years to make his mark on the church. He may be the first pope to shun the luxuries that come with climbing the ladder of hierarchy. He rode the subway to work in Argentina when he could have had a limousine. He lived in a simple apartment. He did his own cooking. He genuinely cared about the poor of his flock and about the priests who cared for them. Even today he lives in a small apartment in the Vatican rather than the royal quarters of all other popes.

In another section of the book, various prelates describe their impressions of him and delineate their hopes for the future. One noted that in his introductory speech on the balcony, he did not apply the word ‘pope’ or ‘pontiff’ to himself. He called himself the Bishop of Rome. This is actually huge, a sea change for the church. Upon the slippery slope of the previous decades, the notion arose that the pope is not necessarily the Vicar of Christ, the Representative of Christ on earth, revered as virtually infallible, ultra-anointed, and super holy. In spite of Christ’s admonition against calling any man ‘good’ or ‘father,’ the pope has been called Holy Father by all, and he wears special regalia to remind everyone of his exalted status. Pope Francis has so far shunned such ostentation.

It would seem that somewhere, somehow, in the decades since Pius XII, the prelates and bishops felt so constrained and frustrated by the rigidity of the medieval traditions that they could barely contain their ire. Francis seems to recognize that and is willing to proceed with a new collegiality with the bishops and the curia of the church.

In the classic church of the past, children born to single mothers could not be baptized because they were born out of wedlock. Cardinal Bergoglio was incensed at the practice and demanded that those babies be baptized. Another thorny issue not mentioned by Malachi Martin is what to do with divorcees who remarry or mothers who marry divorcees. A Catholic who marries a divorced person may not take Communion. This issue has yet to be resolved, and many priests at various levels hope that the old rules will change.

That issue certainly impacted my family. My father was killed in a plane crash in 1951 when I was six. My mother dated extensively in the years following, looking for a man to match that first love. She dated a wonderful UAL pilot named Vern and later a cool Air Force pilot named Ed. Both were divorced. Just about the time mom was going to cave in and marry Ed in spite of the church, he was sent on a mission and disappeared. Mom never remarried.

And that is not the end of the story because my alcoholic brother could have used the guidance of a great step-father. A step-dad could have advised me in my early dating years. I had no idea what made men tick when I was a young adult. My mother’s retired years were shredded by a horrible co-dependent relationship with my brother who clung to her like a parasite because his body and mind were slowly breaking down due to alcoholism. She had no defense against him. As for me, I entered my adult life with a cloud of doom over my head. I was sure that we were all losers and that nothing good was destined for us. I felt I had no future, and if one presented itself, it would just be ripped away. That sounds like a pity party, but it impacted important decisions that I made and opportunities that I passed over.

My aunt got to age 30 and decided that she wanted kids, so in spite of her deep Catholic devotion, she married a divorced man. She got her three great kids, but suffered the torment of no Communion. No priest in America would marry her, so if I recall correctly, they went to Mexico to be married by a priest. It didn’t crush her faith, but it could have.

The author of two books about the Marian apparitions in Medjugorje was a professing Christian who converted to Catholicism. The issue of the primacy of the Catholic Church was so strong that when the bureaucracy long delayed his request for admittance, he was told he could not sleep with his wife until he was baptized a Catholic and married by a Catholic priest. I wonder how Pope Francis will deal with issues like that. Church officials meant well with Wayne Weibel, but such elitist reckoning is arrogant, misguided nonsense. It gives religion in general a bad name. Will Francis ring in a new era of ecumenicism and acknowledge that there are other genuine Christians in the world?

The trick about change is to know when to stop. Pope Francis has acknowledged the danger of losing faith and definition to where the church becomes an NGO. It’s the fear of the slippery slope. At the bottom is the bland, all-encompassing, everything goes, we’re all OK, there is no evil, no devil, no hell to pay, all religions lead to God, etc. The church could modernize itself out of existence. The ground has already shaken under issues like the Tridentine Latin Mass versus the Mass in English, guitars versus organs. Oh my, Bayside Mary thought that guitars were an instrument of the devil himself. The core of the Mass is the doctrine of Transubstantiation, the Real Presence of Christ in the host initiated by the blessing of a priest. Yet today, the tabernacle is often in another room and the altar is often just a table. Is the magic gone from the sacred rite?

The answer to that question is that we bring the ‘magic’ with us. It’s not in a rite or ritual or dogmatic proclamation, no matter how old or how often repeated. As long as devout Catholics come to their services with believing hearts, devotion, love for their Lord, and godly lives, the magic will always be there. Jesus only asked us to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He asked us to care for each other as we would care for ourselves and to acknowledge Him and our heavenly Father before men. And that is what unites us all as Christian brethren.

In spite of the ancient prophecy of St. Malachy which places Pope Francis as the last pope (discussed in a recent post), he may not be the last pope at all. He may be the first pope of a new era…not a New World Order, God forbid, but a new understanding and doctrinal orientation for a billion Catholics around the world. As for the prophecy that the city of seven hills will be destroyed, St. Francis saw the church in ruins centuries ago. It’s the devil who loves to terrify us with apocalyptic expectations. A balance of Scripture, love, and understanding will not ruin Rome, but will rebuild the ancient ruins.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Windswept House: The Winds of Change in the Catholic Church


Sources: Chuck Nowlen, “The Devil and Father Kunz: An Easter Tale about Murder, the Catholic Church and the Strange paths of Good and Evil,” Las Vegas Weekly, April 12, 2001, viewable at http://www.chucknowlen.com/kunz.htm.
Thomas Horn, Zenith 2016, Crane, Missouri: Defender, 2013.
Malachi Martin, Windswept House: A Vatican Novel, New York: Doubleday, 1996.
Malachi Martin, The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Pius XII -- 1939-1958
John XXIII -- 1958-1963
Paul VI -- 1963 --1978
John Paul I -- 1978
John Paul II -- 1978-2005
Benedict XVI -- 2005-(2012) 2013

It was the team of Horn and Putnam (more about them in past and future posts) that introduced me to Malachi Martin. He was a conservative Jesuit who, with the pope’s permission, left his order to write about Catholic topics. If you check the index on my blog, you’ll see that I have written about him in earlier posts (e.g., July 5, 2013). His book The Jesuits was enlightening for me. Because I left the Catholic when I went to college in 1963, I had only a glimmer of the changes brought to the church by Vatican II (1963-1965). The Jesuits made it clear that V-II threw the Church into turmoil, pitting eager progressives against a solid block of orthodox conservatives who loved the way things were in 1950.

The warm and fuzzy images of black and white TV movies in the 50’s are very appealing, even if they’re not how things really were. The comfortable Catholic culture that I grew up in kept me out of trouble through puberty and young adulthood, but they never taught us to pray and we never owned a Bible. We left our religion at the church steps on Sunday. It didn’t follow us home or to school. We didn’t know that such a thing as an adult Bible study existed.

When I became a Protestant Pentecostal in 1965, I learned the theology of how, century by century, the Catholic Church drifted away from biblical concepts. Traditions and proclamations took the place of Scripture: infant baptism, the central authority of a monarchial pope wearing kingly garments and being called Holy Father; the celibate priesthood; the Assumption of Mary; the elitist primacy of the CC as the only means to salvation, the rise of Mary’s power as a mediator of salvation; the Latin Mass…I could go on. Nevertheless, in the shadow places of my mind there was the image of the godly priest dressed in black, dedicated to guiding the congregation, compassionate, faithful to his vows, able to touch the Almighty, and knowledgeable in the matters of eternity.

Same for most nuns. Of course, some had issues, but most were portrayed as cool people who obeyed bureaucratic and religious restraints until the good business of the Kingdom began to bog down in it, and then they could rise to the rescue in creative ways.

However, when I shared my testimony with priests in the 70’s, I found that many were in the throes of a crisis of faith. They appreciated my story and they loved the book I gave them, The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. But I still had no clue as to the crisis that was building in the Church and the trauma tearing at the heart of the conservative Catholic. I was much more aware of the Catholic Charismatic renewal. I thought it would renew the whole Church and challenge it to study the Bible and walk in a deeper grace.

Vatican insider Martin changed all that for me with The Jesuits. When the Protestants of the 1500’s and later broke from the Church, it was because they gained access to and understanding of the Bible. Chaos ensued as various groups tried to find their way back to the New Testament Church and the teachings of Paul and Jesus. My personal opinion is that when V-II radically challenged so many cherished Catholic beliefs, the door opened to a mass mutiny against Catholicism as it was in 1950 without substituting a solid biblical basis for continuing on. The way my two aunts put it, “We still consider ourselves to be Catholics, but we don’t attend church anymore. We didn’t leave the church, the church left us.”

The way Martin, a staunch traditionalist, expressed it, corruption began to flood into the church for two reasons. One is that neither Pope Paul VI nor John Paul II corrected rising abuses such as theologians in the seminaries who challenged Catholic dogma and traditions. They chided but did not correct the rise of homosexuality in the seminaries and priesthood; the protection of pedophilic priests; the challenge against transubstantiation, the virgin birth of Jesus, and the divinity of Jesus; the Latin American Jesuits and Maryknolls turning Marxist in Latin America; the insults and disrespect flung at the pope and the papacy itself; rumors of wiccan practices in the convents; the increase of Freemasonry in the Vatican, etc.

In The Jesuits, Martin blames the Jesuits for betraying their original purpose and for fostering mutiny against the authority of the papacy. In his historical fiction book Windswept House, he turns that around and blames John Paul II (“the Slavic pope”) for betraying the Catholic Church by not correcting what he saw as abuses and travesties.

As I said in my July 5th post, we Protestants can support some of the call for modernization and shifting of dogma. Martin’s point, however, goes far beyond some modernizations. His second allegation as to how the Church became corrupted is that a cabal of Freemason Satanists found their way into the hierarchy. This group deliberately tried to subvert and bankrupt the real church. Their ultimate goal was to turn the throne of Peter over to their Prince (a demon possessed Antichrist) who would rule over the New World Order and a new all-encompassing religion.

Martin contends that Pope John Paul I was murdered by a member of the Vatican court. He also claims that in 1963 the cabal (also called the Superforce) performed a blasphemous ritual in the Vatican, along with a parallel ritual in South Carolina, with the intent of calling up Lucifer to possess the next pope.

Although Martin’s book is fiction, Horn and Putnam reveal that in an interview with John McManus, Martin averred that the ritual was real and that the process was described to him by the woman who was violated in it as a child (Zenith 2016, 395, taken from The New American, June 9, 1997).

Recall, too, that this is the era when an alleged apparition of the Blessed Virgin was declaring that the real Pope Paul VI was locked away in the Vatican as a prisoner; the pope people saw in public was an actor who had been surgically transformed to take his place. Even though I believe that the Bayside, NY apparition is a manifestation of Lucifer himself, imagine the trauma to the Paul VI and John Paul II, both of whom cherished the Blessed Mother and revered her appearance at Fatima. No matter how you look at it, things were in a state of disarray in the upper levels of the Church during that era (see my posts on the rise of Mary).

One of the villains in Windswept House is the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Maestroianni (in real life Cardinal Agostino Casaroli). In the book, Maestroianni was the unequivocal leader of the cabal that murdered PPI. He plots throughout the book to get John Paul II to resign, and if not, to die of not-so-natural causes. It sounds ridiculous. Yet, in 1981 John Paul was shot two or three times by an assassin named Mehmet Ali Agca. This Turk, who was ultimately pardoned at the request of the pope, claimed that it was Casaroli who put him up to the assassination. (However, in 2013, he claimed that it was the Ayatollah Khomeini. Read more about Agca here.)

To bolster claims of conspiracies and murders in the hierarchy, Martin (Zenith 2016, p. 397) points to the murder of Fr. Alfred Kunz, another journalist priest who claimed to be on the verge of revelations pertaining to homosexual pedophilia in the Diocese of Springfield, IL. Fr. Kunz’s throat was cut by multiple stabs in St. Michael’s church in Dane, Wisconsin in 1998. Read more here. On the Coast to Coast radio program Martin alleged that he had inside information that the crime was committed by Luciferians. The FBI and local police found no firm connection to any group or motive.

From what I have read so far, it would be a stretch to connect Kunz’s murder to Satanists associated with the Catholic Church. The producer of his radio show, however, does hint in Nowlen’s article that yes, eyerolls aside, there is a “nexis” of truth to the claim that there are Satanists entrenched throughout the Church.

In Windswept House, Martin’s protagonist, Fr. Daniel, actually wonders if John Paul II only pretended to be a traditionalist. Perhaps he was part of the conspiracy to prepare the church to help launch the New World Order. He was at the Council, he helped write some of the most damaging articles which opened the doors to the licentiousness free-for-all that led to so many priests who weren’t even Catholics anymore (p. 447). In constant defense of John Paul is his priestly mentor Fr. Damien. The role of John Paul in the future of the Church is left hanging at the end of the book. His Holiness had been shown a report clarifying the corruption, Satanism, pedophilia, and laxity among the priests, bishops, and cardinals. What would the Holy Father do about it? And would he survive the conspiracies against his person?

We know the end of the story. John Paul II was raised to sainthood, along with Paul VI. John Paul had his own vision of the Virgin Mary in 1981 in which she designated him as “the last Catholic pope of our times” (453, 479, 639; Keys of this Blood, 627, 629). He was one of the popes who officially declared Mary to be the Mediatrix of All Graces. He banned Satanism, homosexuality, and contraception (573), but his letters and words did not sway a goodly portion of the bishops of the Church. They were openly demanding that the power of the church be shared with them and that the infallible, monarchial papacy come to an end. And so it may. Pope Francis seems to agree.