Of course, he’s against it… isn’t he?
Bergoglio and the Pro$perity Gospel:
Rich man, poor man — Self-proclaimed billionaire televangelist Kenneth Copeland leads “Pope” Francis the Humble in prayer at the Vatican on June 24, 2014. The ecumenical encounter took place during a three-hour meeting with a delegation of Protestants, including a luncheon at Santa Marta Inn. (image: kcm.org/fair use)
by Francis Del Sarto
Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health-and-wealth gospel, the gospel of success, or seed faith) is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.
(Wikipedia, s.v. “Prosperity theology”; bold print given.)
“It’s quite strange. After the post-Communion prayer which should mark the end of the Liturgy of the Eucharist – and evidently the end of the whole Mass, save the closing rites – another liturgy starts, sometimes even longer than the Liturgy of the Eucharist: the liturgy of money.” Such is the description of a curious occurrence at an African “Mass” as described by “Fr.” Donald Zagoré of the Society for African Missions.
That’s taken from the lead paragraph of “How Catholics are falling for the Prosperity Gospel” by Kate Kingsbury and Andrew Chesnut in the U.K.’s Catholic Herald from November 29, a report that delves into the growing number of members of the Novus Ordo Sect who have become attracted to the so-called Prosperity Gospel (“PG” henceforth), a belief that “sickness and scarcity can be overcome if one is willing to tithe generously and faithfully attend services where, through the person of the priest, the Holy Spirit manifests itself, offering miracles ranging from healing to abundant wealth.”
According to Zagoré, “during the ‘liturgy of money’ lay people urge the congregation to make donations. The greater the gift, they say, the greater will be the divine reward.” The allure of the PG is easy to understand in Africa, where poverty and disease are rampant in many areas, and many underprivileged people are exploited. According to the article, at a “theological Congress” that took place in September,
Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo, president of the Ivory Coast bishops’ conference, urged Catholic leaders to confront the “heresies” promoted by “communities which mushroom everywhere by roadsides claiming to be Christian, but which deny the centrality of the Cross, and preach that prosperity could come like a magic wand”.
Regrettably, the prosperity manifested in such an arrangement all flows upwards. Take, for example, Nigerian pastor Chris Oyakhilome, whose influence extends outside of Africa with millions of followers on Facebook. Forbes magazine estimated the net worth of “Pastor Chris”, as he likes to be called, at between $30-50 million. A counterpart in Brazil, “Bishop” Edir Macedo of Brazil’s controversial Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, trumps that considerably, as he’s a billionaire.
Besides the health-and-wealth gospel, this heresy has also been referred to informally as “name it, claim it”, because of the core tenet that not only will those who believe in Christ and are baptized be saved (see Mark 16:16), but if they believe hard enough, and with enough determination, they will be rich and free from illness. Its proponents contend that if Christians will, when praying for something, believe in their heart that they will receive it, and will confess the same with their mouth, God will give it to them: hence, as one anonymous PG preacher not so subtly put it: “Name it and claim it. Just confess it and you’ll possess it. Blab it and grab it!”
Other nations with variations of PG include Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, India, South Korea, and even Communist China, but its strongest presence continues to be felt in its birthplace, the United States of America.
In the United States, it turns out that although most people professing to be Christians are not directly affiliated with the movement, a surprisingly high number of them appear to agree with a few of its basic tenets. The Vox news site carried “The prosperity gospel, explained: Why Joel Osteen believes that prayer can make you rich”, a 2017 article that reported:
A 2006 Times [sic – should be Time] poll found that 17 percent of American Christians identify explicitly with the movement, while 31 percent espouse the idea that “if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.” A full 61 percent agree with the more general idea that “God wants people to be prosperous.”
Such a mentality can be exemplified by an “Offering Prayer” found on the website of the 9000-member Bethel Church in Redding, CA, in which members of the congregation implore God to pay them back for their tithes and offerings (the latter in this context defined as anything over and above the 10% of one’s income given through tithing). While Catholic Herald in its article about PG theology in the Novus Ordo doesn’t provide any text for the “liturgy of money”, it well may sound something like Bethel’s “Offering Reading #1”, which reads like a veritable litany of money:
As we receive today’s offering,
We are believing the Lord for:
Jobs and better jobs
Raises and bonuses
Sales and commissions
Estates and inheritances
Interests and income
Rebates and returns
Checks in the mail
Gifts and surprises
Debts paid off
Blessing and increase
Thank You, Lord,
for meeting all of my financial needs
that I may have more than enough
to give into the Kingdom of God
and promote the Gospel of
One big question when it comes to those sitting in the megachurch pews is how much of their money is really “going to God”, and how much is going to further enhance the already lavish lifestyles of their greed-driven pastors, many of whom have incomes rivaling the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies?
Another question, of particular interest to Novus Ordo Watch readers, would be: How is it that “humble” Francis, who has largely established his “pontificate” upon the chimerical Modernist notion of a “poor Church for the poor”, has no qualms about receiving the “blessings” of such men, even exchanging high-fives with them, whose goals are supposedly so inimical to his own?
Playing Megachurch Powerball!
Caught off guard, Ken Copeland shows his prayerful gaze to a reporter challenging him on his life of luxury (see full interview here).
KENNETH COPELAND ON MONEY — “The Bible leaves no question about it. God’s people are supposed to be rich. Not just rich in spirit. Not just rich in righteousness, love, joy, peace and the fellowship of God. Not even only rich in relationships and spiritual rewards. God’s people are to be rich — financially wealthy and prosperous in every possible way with plenty of money” (Kenneth Copeland, “The Blessing Maketh Rich”, Believer’s Voice of Victory [Nov. 2008], p. 4.)
The July 18, 2018 issue of the Novus Ordo version of La Civiltà Cattolica (the Jesuit newspaper started life in 1850 as a staunch defender of the Papacy and all things Catholic) carried “The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different”, an article by its editor-in-chief and one of “Pope” Francis’s chief water bearers, fellow Jesuit “Fr.” Antonio Spadaro.
Theologically and ideologically, Spadaro, 54, is a younger Italian clone of Bergoglio, every bit the hard-left Modernist as his pseudo-pontiff. Like Francis, he promotes such causes as that “woke”, triggered “How dare you!” brand of pseudo-scientific environmental posturing that is joined at the hip with that of Greta Thunberg, the social gospel (read: hardline socialism), and free passage over national borders for illegal aliens, as though trespassing were their birthright — all the while mocking those “obsessed” with grave moral issues such as pro-life and pro-family activists. While he’s accused Catholic, Novus Ordo, and Protestant conservatives in America as being equivalent to the terrorist group ISIS, he’s directed his choicest invective at those he labels “Catholic Integralists” (by which he means real Catholics and those trying to be).
As a brief aside, let it be known to “Fr.” Spadaro, that far from regarding the term Integralists as a negative, we note that its first use was in the 19th century, first describing those who upheld the teachings of Pope Pius IX (especially the Syllabus of Errors), then in a more pronounced and specific manner to denote those championing the anti-Modernist program of Pope St. Pius X:
Pope Pius IX condemned a list of liberal and Enlightenment ideas in his Syllabus of Errors. The term integralism was applied to a Spanish political party founded about 1890, which based its programme on the “Syllabus”. Catholic integralism reached its “classical” form in the reaction against modernism. The term did not, however, become popular till the time of Pope [Saint] Pius X, whose papacy lasted from 1903 to 1914. After the papal condemnation of modernism in 1907, those most active in promoting the papal teachings were sometimes referred to as “integral Catholics” French: Catholiques intégraux, from which the words intégrisme (integrism) and intégralisme (integralism) were derived. Encouraged by Pope Pius X, they sought out and exposed any co-religionist whom they suspected of modernism or liberalism. An important integralist organization was the Sodalitium Pianum, known in France as La Sapinière, which was founded in 1909 by Umberto Benigni.
Another component of the anti-modernist programme of Pius X was its insistence on the importance of St Thomas Aquinas, both in theology and philosophy. In his decree Postquam Sanctissimus of 1914, the pope published a list of 24 philosophical theses to summarise ‘the principles and more important thoughts’ of St Thomas. Thus integralism is also understood to include a commitment to the teachings of the Angelic Doctor, understood especially as a bulwark against the subjectivist and sceptical philosophies emanating from Descartes and his successors.
(Source: Wikipedia, s.v. “Integralism”; links removed.)
Therefore, if Spadaro wishes to label us as “Catholic Integralists”, we happily plead “guilty as charged”, as we gladly wear what he uses as a progressivist pejorative against us, as a badge of honor, for the raison d’être of the website is to root out and expose the 21st-century descendants of the Modernist apostates (looking straight at you, Tony!) by being completely loyal to the true papal magisterium. Our only objection to being labeled “Catholic Integralists” would be that of Pope Benedict XV, Pius X’s immediate successor:
It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as “profane novelties of words,” out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: “This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved” (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim “Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,” only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.
(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 24)
In other words: We are simply Catholics, Mr. Spadaro, and you are not.
Apologies for the digression, but Conciliarists espousing the in-your-face frontal attacks on Catholicism favored by “Pope” Francis particularly raise our hackles. Returning to “Fr.” Spadaro’s article, and here focusing on its title, we must ask: What is there about the PG being “different” that makes it so dangerous for these Modernists? After all, Modernism is all about different. And going along with that, is Francis’s teaching that “the Spirit always surprises us”. Who knows, based on that logic, maybe the Spirit’s surprise for our day is that filthy rich heretical preachers are entitled to their fortunes despite callously deceiving their followers into the belief that if they give their money to the “ministry” instead of using it to play the latest Powerball lottery game, they can still hit the jackpot? And isn’t callously deceiving followers okay, since doing so is very much part of Francis’ daily routine (albeit in his own inimitable style)? He’s just a different sort of con man.
Again, who are Modernists to sit in judgment of anyone’s “faith experience”, given that all religions are supposed to be true in their own way, or at least have some of the truth? It really isn’t terribly “ecumenical” to be dissing PG Bible thumpers. But as we well know, taking just about any comment by Bergoglio at face value can itself be quite dangerous and different; even when he seems to thunder imprecations against something, he often has a way of later reversing himself to confound expectations, sometimes in spectacular fashion.
Spadaro does provide some valid points about the PG, so a bit from his article will be used here concerning its background, but his version will be challenged when necessary. He begins by stating that the PG “puts humans and their well-being at the center, … transforms God into a power at our service, the Church into a supermarket of faith, and religion into a utilitarian phenomenon that is eminently sensationalist and pragmatic”.
The PG is identified as a “theological current emerging from the neo-Pentecostal evangelical movements”, and that’s certainly a correct assessment. In reviewing its history, Spadaro notes the influence of Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003) on the movement. Hagin states “that to translate miraculous faith into works it must be without uncertainties, especially concerning the impossible things: you have to declare specifically the miracle and believe that you will get it in the way imagined.”
This is the magical thinking construct that is at very the root of the “name it, claim it” mentality, which is a distortion of the message Our Lord left us in the Sermon on the Mount: “Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Mt 7:7; Lk 11:9). It is a distortion because God does not, in fact, always give us what we ask, no matter how attentive, devout, and persistent we may be in our petitions. Fr. Cornelius à Lapide, revered exegete, fellow-Jesuit and co-worker of St. Robert Bellarmine, in his Great Commentary on the Scriptures, provides the proper Catholic understanding of the verse in question:
…S. Augustine (lib. Sentent. apud Prosperum sent. 87), says ,“Does not the physician know best what is good for the sick man? Therefore, God sometimes mercifully does not hear.” Again he says (ad Paulinum, epist. 43), “The Lord often denies what we wish for, that He may give us what we would prefer.”
(The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide: The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew, vol. I, trans. by Thomas W. Mossman, rev. and compl. by Michael J. Miller [Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, 2008], p. 355. Alternate edition available here.)
The heresy of the PG interpretation thus reveals itself to be mere wishful thinking, no more tangible than a dream that dissolves upon awakening. The unfortunate people deceived by this error need to ponder the truth of an adage in Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ that reads: “For man proposeth, but God disposeth; and the way of a man is not in himself” (Book I, Ch. 19, par. 2; cf. Prov 16:9).
What may come as a surprise to some readers is something that was passed over without comment from “Fr.” Spadaro, and that is the revelation that the “Catholic” Charismatic Movement springs precisely from the same source as the PG. Along these lines, let’s also keep in mind going forward what was reported in the opening paragraph of the present article: Despite its origin as a uniquely Protestant movement, the spirit of the PG has even been observed at a celebration of the “New Mass” in the form of yet another novelty of that un-Catholic rite, the liturgy of money!
“Catholic” Social Doctrine According to Comrade Francis
Clearly, a liturgy of money is a serious aberration that cannot be squared with the Church’s Magisterium, from which it is far removed; opposing the errors of the PG, when encountered, is obligatory for all Catholics. According to Spadaro, Bergoglio does just that. He cites several examples, but we well content ourselves with one paragraph that is quite representative of the course of his thinking:
Since the beginning of his pontificate Francis has been aware of the “different gospel” of prosperity theology and, criticizing it, has applied the classical social doctrine of the Church. He has often spoken about it to warn about its dangers. The first time was in Brazil, July 28, 2013. Speaking to the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean he singled out ecclesial functionalism that “applies a sort of prosperity gospel to the organization of pastoral work.” This ends up being concerned with efficacy, success, quantifiable results and good statistics. The Church ends up being run like a business in a misleading way that keeps people away from the mystery of faith.
(Antonio Spadaro, S.J., “The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different”, La Civiltà Cattolica, July 18, 2018)
The instance Spadaro provided is more so what Bergoglio calls “a sort of prosperity gospel” than the real thing, and the cases given elsewhere in the article are equally vague. The first thing to notice here is how Spadaro says Francis uses “the classical social doctrine of the Church” in his critique of the PG, when, in reality, he does no such thing.
One of the many deviations from sound Catholic teaching as a result of the Vatican II revolution has been a distortion of the social doctrine found in the Church’s magisterium. This has been a consistent trait of the anti-popes, who have occasionally misused encyclicals related to economic systems, particularly those of Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI. But Bergoglio, as always, is far more blatant, far more outrageous than any of his Vatican II predecessors in his departure from sound teaching. Spadaro must have chuckled as he typed those words, perhaps even amazed that any of his readers could be so credulous as to believe such obvious nonsense.
Let’s consider for a moment several of the many “proofs” informed by Francis’s actions that Spadaro wants us to view as consonant with “the classical social doctrine of the Church”:
- In June 2015 the BBC Magazine published an article with what for some would be a startling title: “Is the Pope a Communist?” Whether he’s what used to be referred to as “a card-carrying member of the Communist Party”, or just a sympathizer whose thinking is closely in line with the hard left (he’s candidly admitted to have had major influences in that direction during his formative years, including reading a Marxist magazine as a teen and praising a Communist activist for whom he worked), and there is no question that his political views are at least deep pink.
- A month later while visiting Bolivia, Francis happily received a Communist hammer-and-sickle fashioned as a Crucifix. Adding insult to injury, he then took a medal he had received depicting this same Commie “Crucifix”, to a shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, where he placed it on the altar. (One wonders if the old blasphemer sought to give her a new title, such as “Our Lady of the Revolution”)
- In the February 2017 carnival parade in Viagreggio, Italy, a float with a huge “Che GuePapa” figure got lots of attention. It depicted Francis wearing a cap associated with Fidel Castro’s murderous associate, Che Guevara, holding a false shepherd’s staff in his right hand with a hammer & sickle replacing the cross, while his left hand was raised in a clenched fist, the international salute of Communists. The is no evidence that the Vatican leveled any objection to such mockery that would rightly outrage any genuine successor to St. Peter. Of course, that’s par for the course in Modernist Rome.
- Liberation theology is the unholy attempt to wed Marxism with Catholicism, and over the years a few Vatican II “popes” have from time to time made tepid condemnations of it, accompanied with slaps on the wrist for its proponents. Not Bergoglio! All one needs to know about him in this regard is found in the 2017 article from the leftist Institute for Religion & Democracy entitled “13 Times Pope Francis Promoted Liberation Theology”.
- “Che GuePapa” 2.0 — Francis “offers Mass” at Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, under the watchful eye of Che Guevara, in the form of a two-story portrait. (In doing so, Bergoglio continues a dubious “tradition” started by John Paul II in 1998 and followed by Benedict XVI in 2012.)
- Thanks to capitulation by Francis, the regime in Red China is given control of underground Novus Ordo bishops, allowing it to be even more oppressive against religion. And, then, just a couple of weeks after the accord was finalized, the Communist government demolished two Marian shrines, proving that there’s no wreckovation like Chaos Frank-inspired wreckovation! And now that the initial two-year term of the agreement is about to expire, the Vatican appears eager to renew it.
- On July 3, 2020, Bergoglio named the Bolivian Julio César Caballero, former ambassador to the Vatican for Marxist President Evo Morales, to head the Latin American Pontifical Commission. Tradition in Action summed up the modus operandi of the Bergoglian “pontificate” rather well: “We see that Pope Francis never fails to support Communism. In this regard he has been infallible…”
So, much for the fiction generated by Spadaro that Francis is motivated in the least by “the classical social doctrine of the Church”. While the PG is certainly refuted by the teachings of the Church — not just in the magisterium of the 19th and 20th centuries, but in fact all the way back to the first Pentecost –, the philo-Marxist critiques of Francis and his cronies should be dismissed as readily as we would reject those delivered by Chinese President Xi Jinping or one of the spokesmen for his Communist regime, as the similarities far outweigh the differences.
Returning to Spadaro’s text, we notice he injects more of the collectivism so dear to Bergoglio:
The aim of our reflection is to illustrate and evaluate the phenomenon, which is used as a theological justification for economic neo-liberalism. In conclusion, we will see how Pope Francis has often warned against the perils of this theology that can “overshadow the Gospel of Christ.”
(Spadaro, “The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different”)
What is the “economic neo-liberalism” that Spadaro seeks to yoke with this pernicious heresy? It is a modern restatement of the 19th-century school of thought that promoted a free market, private property, and the rights of the individual. Despite some unique features, it shares with classic economic liberalism key components, such as opposition to the state coercion favored in socialist societies. Contrary to what Spadaro suggests, there is no inherent connection between the PG and neo-liberalism, and his real aim seems to be to discredit the latter through a form of guilt by association. (The fiction that the Catholic Church supports the leftist economics of a Bergoglio or Spadaro — a position that has gained considerable momentum since Vatican II — is further refuted here. While the true teachings of legitimate popes have not shied away from criticism of free market abuses when warranted, the overwhelming thrust of their encyclicals has always favored the rights of the individual over the various forms of collectivism.)
Regarding this anti-individualism hostility, Bergoglio has exhibited it quite openly on more than one occasion, and in more than one context. One headline from 2019 reads: “When it comes to prayer, there is no room for individualism, pope says”, and the article opens with the Argentinian apostate in a preachy mood:
Prayer is not just a private and intimate dialogue between a person and God, but rather an opportunity for Christians to bring the needs of others before the Lord, Pope Francis said.
“There is no room for individualism in the dialogue with God,” the pope said Feb. 13 during his weekly general audience. “There is no display of one’s own problems as if we were the only ones in the world who suffer. There is no prayer raised to God that is not the prayer of a community of brothers and sisters.”
(Junno Arocho Esteves, “When it comes to prayer, there is no room for individualism, pope says”, Catholic News Service, Feb. 13, 2019)
While prayer obviously can and does extend to the needs of other people, to suggest that praying for one’s own needs is somehow out of bounds, that there is “no room” for it “…in the dialogue with God” just isn’t Catholic. His collectivist mindset is so locked into anything suggesting individual human beings, that he also related in his talk how a chaplain once corrected him for using “you” and “I”, saying they need to be replaced by “us”, because the former pronouns, by denoting individuals, led to wars and other conflicts. Bergoglio concluded by saying that it was “a good teaching that I received from that priest.” (Rather than that “good” teaching, he really needs to acquaint, or reacquaint, himself with and contemplate upon the stark reality that at death he must face Christ the King all by himself as an individual, without the collective support of his Modernist cronies.)
In a speech at Abu Dhabi that simultaneously pointed back to the Masonic French Revolution and ahead to the foundation of a one-world religion, he attacked individualism in the context of merging religions. In “Pope Francis to world’s religious leaders: We build the future together or there will be no future” from the February 4, 2019 issue of the Jesuit publication America, Gerard O’Connell reports how “Pope Francis told the other religious leaders that ‘the enemy of fraternity is an individualism which translates into the desire to affirm oneself and one’s own group above others.'” This would seem to be a not-too-veiled Modernist denial that the Catholic Church is the one true faith required for salvation, while elevating false religions to the same level.
Even on the very rare occasion when Francis seemingly takes a token jab at collectivism, it behooves us to note it comes with an accompanying swing at individualism and one can read between the lines for a concealed endorsement of some form of communalism. One example of this came just a month after the audience just mentioned. A report from Vatican News on his meeting with 7000 members of the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives noted:
The Pope told the Confederation in the Paul VI Hall on Saturday that its cooperative model, corrects certain tendencies associated with collectivism and statism, which at times are lethal to private initiative; and at the same time, it curbs the temptations of individualism and selfishness associated with liberalism. The reason for this, the Pope pointed out, is because it’s a model “inspired by the social doctrine of the Church”.
(“Pope: ‘Miracle’ of cooperation based on relationships not profit”, Vatican News, Mar. 16, 2019)
So, here he applauds the group for correcting (i.e., fine-tuning) “certain tendencies” (neutral term) of collectivism and statism (notice, not all aspects of them, only specific ones), while curbing (i.e., restraining) “temptations” (negative term) of individualism and selfishness (another charged term). It is noted that the collectivist tendencies are “at times lethal to private initiative”; but again, keep in mind, these are correctable, while individualistic tendencies simply must be curbed. It’s noteworthy that there was a hard left-wing origin to the Confederation, and, as Wikipedia notes, in 1893 it “included Catholic groups in solidarity with secular/socialist groups. In 1919, the Catholic cooperatives split and formed the Confederazione delle Cooperative Italiane.”
Returning to the La Civilta Cattolica article, it’s illustrative that “Fr.” Spadaro singles out Donald Trump and his support of “the American Dream” as demonstrating how the President’s neo-liberalism makes him a PG poster boy of sorts. In a footnote, he speaks of how multi-millionaire Paula White, one of the most successful of all female PG preachers, was “one of [Trump’s] spiritual advisors”, and close enough to him to have provided prayers for his inauguration ceremony. (In 2019, Trump appointed her to serve as Special Advisor to the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives).
However, if by raising this point, Spadaro sought to firmly link the PG with American political conservatism, what he left out of his article is quite glaring. There is no mention of Barack Obama’s involvement with PG preachers, such as the 2010 White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, where two of the attendees were pastors of megachurches: Bill Hybels (personal net worth: $45 million), disgraced and forced to resign over sexual misconduct allegations in 2018, and current PG superstar Joel Osteen (personal net worth: $24 million).
Another heavy hitter from the PG ranks who formed a mutual admiration society with Obama was “Bishop” T. D. Jakes, founder of The Potter’s House in Dallas. A 2015 article describes Obama as a “huge supporter”, and in return Jakes — one of the richest of the super-rich preachers (coming in at an estimated $147 million) — went to bat for the former president to counter the claim that he wasn’t Christian. For that matter, Bill Clinton’s “spiritual advisor” during his two terms was another multi-millionaire preacher, Baptist Tony Campolo.
But perhaps the biggest clincher of all in refuting Spadaro’s contention was another Baptist, Billy Graham (estimated net worth: $25 million), who was the unofficial minister for every United States President, regardless of political party, from Harry Truman to Obama. Graham, it will be remembered, was also a friend of John Paul II, who in 1978, while still “Cardinal-Archbishop” Karol Wojtyła of Krakow, invited the preacher to give a sermon at the city’s Wawel Cathedral, while instructing churches to announce the event and encourage their congregations to attend.
Had Spadaro not been so eager to score points against the hated Trump presidency, and had he had a little more knowledge of life in the United States, he would have mentioned why televangelists had been growing fabulously wealthy decades ago, regardless of the economic policies of whomever is sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. The simple answer is that said preachers are taking advantage of the Federal Tax Code, as well as state and local agencies, which exempt religious organizations from paying taxes.
When the official federal exemption came into being in 1894, few could have imagined the lengths to which it would be abused. For purposes of U.S. tax law, churches are considered to be public charities, also known as Section 501(c)(3) organizations. As such, they are generally exempt from paying federal, state, and local income and property taxes. In fact, during an NPR feature entitled “Onscreen But Out Of Sight, TV Preachers Avoid Tax Scrutiny”, Marcus Owens, an attorney who formerly headed the Exempt Organizations section of the IRS, stated that “since 2009, the IRS has not, to the best of my knowledge, and, in fact, I don’t believe can[,] conduct an audit of a church.”
So while “Fr.” Spadaro mentions Francis’ warning against the PG, that pronouncement needs to be viewed with the same level of skepticism that goes with any statement made by the Argentinian Master of Doublespeak, since he is known to diametrically contradict himself as expedient, flip-flopping as the situation presents itself. Examples abound, but to cite a few significant ones, he’s discouraged harsh language from clergy, but has been a chief offender as he’s ridiculed others with public insults such as “neo-Pelagians”, “Pharisees”, “real downers”, etc.; preached love and tolerance, but has ruled with such an iron fist that it led to a book entitled The Dictator Pope being written about him.
In the article “Pope Francis’s Calculated Contradictions” it is maintained that he can send completely mixed signals even in the very same comments to the point that “we understand why certain news agencies ran headlines about this press conference saying, ‘Pope Says Celibacy Cannot Be Changed’ while others said ‘Pope Says He Is Open To Married Priests.’” So, however consistent Spadaro might be in his opposition to the PG, as we shall see, the same is scarcely the case with Bergoglio; it simply isn’t how he plays the game. It never has been, and probably never will be.
Thus it is in the present context. If in one moment Francis can seem to condemn the PG, in the next, he can have a video message sent to a huge convention of its leaders, then invite some of them to the Vatican for a friendly, relaxed luncheon/photo op (clearly, he wanted to be seen in their company). It’s the well-known phenomenon of Francis being Francis.
Charismaticism: Theological Linkage of the Vatican II Religion and the Prosperity Gospel
There can be no doubt, Charismatic Heresy corrupted and fragmented Protestant churches even further. But what it did to Mother Church is a different story. St. Thomas defined heresy as ‘a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas’. [from the “Charismatic Heresy Defined” page of the Charismatic Heresy blog, an excellent source of information on the topic, although, alas, Novus Ordo] (image: shutterstock.com/paid)
As noted earlier by Spadaro, the PG emerged “from the neo-Pentecostal evangelical movements”. The Wikipedia article on the subject linked at the start of the present article provides a thumbnail background:
The prosperity teaching later figured prominently in the Word of Faith movement and 1980s televangelism. In the 1990s and 2000s, it was adopted by influential leaders in the Pentecostal movement and charismatic movement in the United States and has spread throughout the world. Prominent leaders in the development of prosperity theology include E. W. Kenyon, Oral Roberts, A. A. Allen, Robert Tilton, T. L. Osborn, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Reverend Ike, and Kenneth Hagin.
(Wikipedia, s.v. “Prosperity theology”)
Now, a couple of those mentioned here should be considered further, as they were two of the most influential mentors to Bergoglio’s friend Kenneth Copeland: Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin. Roberts (1918-2009) is credited for being a precursor of the PG, as well as television’s first “televangelist”, appearing on the small screen in the 1950’s. His ministry/business was valued at $120 million (his personal net worth when he died in 2009 has been estimated as between $1 million and $5 million in today’s money — granted, that amounts to pocket change for the .01% of the 1%ers like Copeland [worth approximately $760 million], but still a tidy sum for a “man of the cloth”).
Roberts was also one of the most controversial and flamboyant PG ministers of all time. In addition to naming a university after himself in Tulsa, he claimed he had had divine visions (including one in which encountered a 900-feet-high Jesus) and had raised a child from the dead. Most notoriously, during a 1987 fundraising drive, he announced to his television audience that unless he raised $8 million, God would “call him home”, an act some critics likened to spiritual extortion. Copeland attended Oral Roberts University in the mid-196o’s, but clearly more important than what he was learning in the classroom, were the PG lessons he received directly from Roberts while serving as his pilot and chauffeur.
However, a far greater influence than even Roberts was Hagin for Copeland. While at ORU, Copeland attended Hagin’s seminars and listened to his tapes, and even today he acknowledges Hagin as his mentor and spiritual father. Like Roberts, with whom he was known to collaborate at times, Hagin’s flim-flam brought him fortune in the neighborhood of $1 million to $5 million. Hagin specialized in corn pone theatricality, a sort of performance art in which his religious services could quickly devolve into something more akin to the bedlam of a madhouse than the solemnity of a gathering organized to worship the Almighty.
In the video embedded below, in which Copeland is also seen, Hagin works up his congregation into absurd “drunk in the Spirit” antics revolving around an (unintentional?) mockery of the first Pentecost.
An unholy spirit: Ken Hagin leads his congregation in “holy laughter”
A former Pentecostal named David Cloud, who was an eyewitness at one of Hagin’s “revivals”, summing up such blasphemous nonsense, colorfully recalls the insanity, including Copeland’s participation:
This phenomenon was frequently manifested in Kenneth Hagin’s meetings, especially in the 1990s. At a conference in Chesterfield, Missouri, in October 1997, Hagin staggered around like a drunk, sticking his tongue out and wiggling it like a serpent. He hissed and panted, blowing on people, waving his arms at them, striking them on the head, while entire rows of people fell down or slid out of their seats in a drunken stupor as he lurched by. Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin, Jr. also got “drunk” and rolled around on the floor, making strange noises and laughing hysterically for no apparent reason. I personally witnessed Hagin get “drunk in the spirit” at the New Life Victory Center in Huntington, West Virginia, on September 17, 1998. After he had preached for about ten minutes, Hagin began to argue that one of the demonstrations of the Spirit is drunkenness. At that point he stopped preaching and for about 25 minutes he staggered about, laughing, blowing on people, waving his arms, and otherwise acting drunk. He repeatedly tried to speak but was unable to do so. Large numbers of people in the crowd also began to laugh loudly and some fell to the floor or staggered about and acted foolishly like drunks. Kenneth Hagin, Jr., attempted to read from his father’s sermon notes, but he could not form the words and instead staggered all the way across the front of the church.
(David Cloud, “Beware of Spiritual Drunkenness”, Way of Life Literature, Sep. 25, 2006)
After viewing the proceedings and reading about them, it is totally understandable that some observers have expressed wonder as to whether a form of demonic obsession was actually what was at work in Hagin and the crowd. Certainly, the behavior far more resembled drunkenness in a diabolical spirit, than in the Holy Ghost. The level of susceptibility to suggestion that was manifested indicates a group delusion referred to as folie à plusieurs (“madness of several”), though some sprinkled through the congregation (audience?) were likely Hagin’s confederates, planted there to get the ball rolling.
Returning to the “Catholic” connection with Pentecostalism, the so-called “Catholic Charismatic Renewal” (CCR) was an ill-begotten offspring of Vatican II. An article by Fr. Scott Gardner (he is an SSPX priest, so while we recommend his fine study, we must do so with the usual caveat) in the March 1998 issue of The Angelus describes its origin:
In 1967, during the early post-Vatican II turmoil of ecumenical frenzy and widespread apostasy, students at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University began exposing themselves to Pentecostal influences because of spiritual aridity; they were envious of the “changed lives” among many Protestant friends and decided to pray for similar “graces.” A weekend “retreat” — of sorts — proved to be the key to their answer. Various people approached various Protestant ministers, laity, and prayer groups; all received “Baptism in the Spirit” after having heretical hands laid on them in prayer.
The importance of this action cannot be overestimated. These Catholics submitted themselves to a non-Catholic quasi-sacramental rite — obviously a mockery of the sacrament of Confirmation — and the emotional thrill brought about by this sin (objectively speaking, of course) convinced them of the holiness of the entire experience. They came away as “Catholic” Charismatics, and their influence spread like wildfire all over the country — first on college campuses and then to the world at large.
If ever there were an argument for listening to the Church, this is it. The Church has warned her children to stay away from heretical “worship” for almost 2000 years because she knows what the consequences will be, both for the individuals involved and for the Mystical Body at large. Yet the CCR unabashedly admits — even praises — its ecumenical, PROTESTANT roots!
(Rev. Scott Gardner, SSPX, “The Catholic Charismatic Renewal: Fruit of the Second Vatican Council, Seed of Destruction”, The Angelus, Mar. 1998)
The CCR entry on Wikipedia goes into a little more detail:
In search of a spiritual experience, the graduate student Ralph Kiefer and history professor William Storey, both of the Catholic Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, attended a meeting of the Cursillo movement in August 1966. They were introduced to two books, The Cross and the Switchblade and They Speak with Other Tongues, which emphasized the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s charisms.
In February 1967, Storey and Kiefer attended an episcopalian prayer meeting and were baptized in the Holy Spirit. The following week, Keifer laid hands on other Duquesne professors, and they also had an experience with the Spirit. Then, in February, during a gathering of Duquesne University students at The Ark and The Dove Retreat Center north of Pittsburgh, more people asked Keifer to pray over them. This led to the event at the chapel where they too received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, as well as many other students who were present in the chapel. Keifer sent the news of this event to the University of Notre Dame, where a similar event later occurred, and the Renewal began to spread.
While the Catholic hierarchy was initially reticent about these developments, Pope Paul VI officially welcomed Catholic charismatics in 1975.
(Wikipedia, s.v. “Catholic Charismatic Renewal”; italics given.)
In 1969, the so-called National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a report that, while noting “abuses”, gave CCR its seal of approval, stating that it had “legitimate reasons for existence”, and “a strong biblical basis” (George Martin, An Introduction to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal [Servant Books, 1975], p. 8.; quoted in Gardner).
From Montini to Bergoglio, this nest of heresies has enjoyed encouragement from all the Novus Ordo anti-popes (the possible exception being John Paul I, but that may simply be due to circumstances, as his very short unlawful reign only lasted 33 days).
One of the most forceful acclamations came from John Paul II, who in 1987 linked it closely to the “Spirit of Vatican II”, declaring:
The vigor and fruits of the Renewal certainly testify to the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church during these years following the Second Vatican Council. Thanks to the Spirit, the Church constantly keeps her youth and vitality. And the Charismatic Renewal is an eloquent manifestation of this vitality today, a vigorous affirmation of what “the Spirit is saying to the Churches” (Apoc. 2:7), as we draw near to the end of the second millennium.
(John Paul II, quoted in Charles Whitehead, Catholic Charismatic Renewal — At the Heart of the Church? Part III ; quoted in Gardner.)
Late in 2018 a new manifestation of the CCR’s “vigorous affirmation” of the Conciliar Church emerged in the form of CHARIS, which, according to Vatican News, “was commissioned by Pope Francis”. It became active on the Feast of Pentecost the following year. In an interview with the news service, the group’s first moderator, “Fr.” Jean-Luc Moens, explained that CHARIS is built upon “three dimensions: the spread of Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the unity of Christians and service to the poor”. The first two are particularly crucial in understanding what Bergoglio is envisioning for the future of the Novus Ordo religion. Moens continued:
The spread of baptism in the Spirit may not seem new. This is what the Charismatic Renewal has been doing since its birth. But what is new, really new? It is that today the Pope himself asks that baptism in the Holy Spirit be known throughout the Church. He did so on several occasions in a very clear way. This is a new step for the Charismatic Renewal, a challenge that must be carried out in the service of the universal Church.
Pope Francis also calls for the Charismatic Renewal to return to its ecumenical roots, that is, to work proactively towards Christian unity. This is something that was very much present at the birth of the Charismatic Renewal and which, in many places, was gradually set aside. The Pope asks us to put it back in the forefront.
(“CHARIS: a new service for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal”, Vatican News, June 6, 2019)
The great importance of these two dimensions to Francis’ agenda will be readily seen in the concluding sections.
Francis the Pentecostal, Francis the Charismatic
The “blessing” of heretics: In 2006 at an Argentinian “Catholic”-Protestant gathering, then-“Cardinal-Archbishop” Jorge Bergoglio knelt (!) in subjugation as 20 Evangelical and Pentecostal preachers bestowed their “Benediction” upon him. Over 700o attended the event, an initiative of the “Catholic” Charismatic Renewal. VIDEO AVAILABLE HERE (image: traditioninaction.org/fair use)
While his predecessors may have given lively support to the “Catholic” Charismatic Renewal, none of them approached the fervor of Francis, who can be said to have fully immersed himself in it, even before his regrettable first appearance on the balcony of St. Peter’s on Mar. 13, 2013. The photo above shows him at a gathering to which he would attend for seven straight years, beginning in 2006. Whatever occurred to him at that first conference proved to have a profound effect upon him.
In the June 17, 2019 online version of the Jesuit magazine America, there appeared an article by Bergoglio biographer Austin Ivereigh, provocatively titled, “Is Francis our first charismatic pope?”. Not surprisingly, the author’s verdict is a resounding “yes”:
Francis may not pray in tongues, but no pope has ever identified as closely with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, nor been so keen to move it to front and center in the church. The relationship was born in his early years as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio realized the movement was not a “samba school,” as he had disparagingly referred to it in his early Jesuit days, but rather, as he called it in his eve-of-Pentecost address, “a current of the grace of the Holy Spirit” being poured out for the renewal of the church in our time.
(Austen Ivereigh, “Is Francis our first charismatic pope?”, America, June 14, 2019)
Ivereigh reveals a bit more vital backstory about the action in the photo leading off this section. It turns out that it’s not a “blessing” Francis was receiving, but actually something far worse:
The link with the Charismatic Renewal grew stronger especially between 2006 and 2012, when Cardinal Bergoglio attended yearly gatherings of around 7,000 Catholics and evangelicals in Luna Park stadium in Buenos Aires, among the biggest such ecumenical praise meetings at that time anywhere. Hesitant at first, the cardinal came up to be prayed over by the church’s leading charismatic preacher, the Capuchin friar and preacher to the papal household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, together with a handful of pentecostal pastors. He was said to have received a “baptism in the Spirit,” an experience of the pneumatic power mentioned often in the New Testament [sic].
(Ivereigh, “Is Francis our first charismatic pope?”, America; italics added.)
So “baptism in the Spirit” is biblical — really?! How is it, then, that the Church didn’t find this out until after the Second Vatican Council, after the Protestant wannabes of the “Catholic” Charismatic Renewal uncovered this hidden knowledge? Is this an add-on to, or improvement on, the Sacrament of Baptism? Incredibly, those promoting this sacrilegious nonsense answer in the affirmative. On the “Pseudo-Sacrament” page at the Charismatic Heresy blog, the heretical roots of this teaching are revealed:
“Baptism in the Spirit” is an unbiblical and theologically clumsy term; portentous of an additional Sacrament. The Methodist John Fletcher called it the Second Blessing, but it was his colleague John Wesley who developed the theology for it. You see… it’s not Catholic at all!
Baptism of the Spirit brings a multitude of spiritual and psychological risks as it generates a certain vulnerability to both internal and external suggestions. With judgment impaired, the individual is no longer able to distinguish between the authentic and the counterfeit.
(“Pseudo Sacrament”, Charismatic Heresy, Nov. 19, 2006)
The Wikipedia article on the CCR cites some “Catholic” defenders of the novelty:
A central concept in Charismatic Renewal is the experience of the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” (or “Baptism with/of the Holy Spirit” or the “Infilling of the Holy Spirit.” This refers to an individual receiving a personal experience of the power of God, as the Apostles did at Pentecost; and as believers did in the early Church when they were baptised and received prayer with laying on of hands, or simply hearing the good news of salvation. Catholic theologians McDonell and Montague conclude, from their study of the Bible and ancient Christian authors, that “the baptism in the Spirit is integral to Christian initiation.” They go on to say that “baptism in the Spirit is not special grace for some but common grace for all.”
The expression often causes confusion to traditional Catholics, who consider that the Sacrament of Baptism is sufficient in itself. However, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Papal household, explains that “Catholic theology recognizes the concept of a valid but tied sacrament. A sacrament is called tied if the fruit that should accompany it remains bound because of certain blocks that prevent its effectiveness.” He goes on to say that sacraments are not magical rituals that act mechanically, without the person’s knowledge or response. The individual’s personal response and faith is needed in order for the grace and power of the sacraments to flow into their life.
(Wikipedia, s.v. “Catholic Charismatic Renewal”)
Without going into great detail, suffice it to say that this is just a theological mess. As mentioned above, there is no scriptural basis for the contention that this “para-sacrament” was present in the early Church. Were that so, how did it vanish for nearly two millennia, and why did no one issue a “missing sacrament bulletin” and launch a search party in response to its disappearance? How is it that it’s also missing from all magisterial documents, and from all the Doctors of the Church and other eminent theologians? How is it that only after the Modernist takeover at Vatican II it was suddenly (and conveniently) “rediscovered”? All of this stinks to high heaven.
With regard to Fr. Cantalamessa’s thesis, it is true that the Sacrament of Baptism can be administered validly and yet remain fruitless. Such is the case for someone who, although receiving the sacrament of his own volition as an adult, nevertheless has no Faith or is not sufficiently repentant; that is, if he merely pretends to believe or is not supernaturally contrite. Such a Baptism would be sacrilegious but valid — that is, it would imprint the indelible character on the soul –; at the same time, it would remain without fruit, that is, neither original sin nor any personal sins would be forgiven through this unworthy reception of Baptism. When such a man finally does repent, original sin will be forgiven with his first valid absolution in confession or his first act of perfect contrition. This is part of Catholic sacramental theology (see Rev. Clarence McAuliffe, S.J., Sacramental Theology: A Textbook for Advanced Students [St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1958], pp. 24-25; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, q. 69, aa. 9-10). However, none of this has anything to do with “Baptism in the Spirit.” Cantalamessa’s attempt to tie this to the “Charismatic Renewal” is entirely gratuitous. We are talking about the Sacrament of Baptism becoming fruitful when someone removes the obstacle that had rendered it fruitless. Such a one isn’t then receiving some “Baptism in the Spirit” but simply the fruit of Baptism as it was supposed to have been received when the sacrament was administered.
We highly recommend Fr. Scott Gardner’s Angelus article, already mentioned, for an excellent in-depth examination of the falsity of “baptism of the Spirit”, and the dangerous mentality that accompanies it: One “charismatic” woman is quoted as saying, “I’m not saying that other Catholics don’t believe, but when you’re renewed by baptism in the Holy Spirit, your faith comes alive” (if all those pre-Vatican II saints had only known what they were missing!). He also covers heretics excommunicated for similar teachings in the Middle Ages, glossolalia or “speaking in tongues”, and other false manifestations misattributed to the Holy Ghost, as well as Gnostic tendencies in the “charismatic” movement.
The Frank & Kenny Show: Oddest of Ecumenical Odd Couples
The Day the Charismatic Circus Came to Town: Francis (sans red clown nose) poses with Protestant guests whose visit to the Vatican he had coordinated with his good friend “Bishop” Tony Palmer (on the far right). But how did he come to rub elbows with Kenneth Copeland, a man who should in theory be his sworn enemy? Chalk it up to what Palmer called “unity for mission”, which postulates that since the Lutheran-“Catholic” agreement on justification (1999), the Reformation has unofficially ended and further doctrinal differences should be put aside. (image: walthope.wordpress.com / fair use)
On January 21, 2014, Anglican-Pentecostal “Bishop” Tony Palmer stood at the podium before a large audience of Evangelical/ Pentecostal ministers who were attending a Kenneth Copeland Leadership Conference in Fort Worth, TX. They heard him urge them for eight minutes or so to stop being Protestants, because since 1999, when leaders of the Novus Ordo Sect and the Lutheran World Federation signed their heretical Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, the main doctrinal disagreement had (at least in his mind) been resolved, and hence there was nothing left to protest. On the contrary, they should all be seeking unity in diversity now.
Then he showed them a video message he had taken on his iPhone when in Rome from his dear friend, “Pope” Francis (it turns out that Palmer had first met him in Buenos Aires at the 2006 Pentecostal conference where Bergoglio was “baptized in the Spirit”). Francis’ message consisted of his typical blather: He tells them how sad he is about the historical “misunderstandings” that separate the denominations, how he yearns for unity, and how he wants to give them a “spiritual hug”. He also said something that sounds like Palmer could have coached him on, given that those watching would include the money-obsessed Copeland: “We have [a] lot of cultural riches and religious riches.” After the Francis video, Copeland mounted the stage to second the plea for unity, then led a gibberish-filled (“speaking in tongues”) gobbledygook passing unconvincingly as “prayer”. Finally Palmer urged him to go to the Vatican, and he accepted.
The sorry spectacle can be viewed here:
The improbable, high-fiving lunch took place that summer, and the ever-insightful and amusing blog Call Me Jorge… opines in its post “Francis & the Evangelicals prepare for a one world religion” on just how ludicrous the proceedings were (it sounds like all they needed to round things out was a snake-handling Pentecostal preacher from Appalachia):
Almost as important to Francis as his ‘elder brothers’ are his ‘brothers’. On 23 June 2014, Francis had a group of evangelicals over to the Vatican as his guests. After touring St. Peter’s Basilica the group lunched with Francis for over two hours. The Catholic media in general has been silent on this matter as has the Vatican. Isn’t it interesting that like the times the rabbis have been to the Vatican we get no official word on what was discussed, only in the media controlled by the visiting groups do we read of it. No word yet, if Francis and the evangelicals reveled each other with blasphemous jokes. It wouldn’t surprise us if they did. Maybe they all rolled around together on the floor and spoke in tongues? This visit came shortly after Joel Osteen, a group of religious Mormons, and evangelicals came to visit Francis on 4 June 2014. One has to love the irony of the situation, Francis who rants on and on about rich priests, how the church must be poor, and how one needs to live a simple lifestyle had as guests some of the wealthiest evangelicals who preach the prosperity gospel. This simply means they believe in getting rich and money is an outward sign of how much God loves them. Is Francis a hypocrite or what?
(“Francis & the Evangelicals prepare for a one world religion”, Call Me Jorge…, July 11, 2014; italics given.)
Note that just weeks prior to Bergoglio’s hosting the Copeland entourage, another super-rich PG preacher (and Obama pal), Joel Osteen, flew in from the States. More than one investigator of Osteen has found in parts of his Word of Faith message what seems to parallel the teachings of Madame Blavatsky and Annie Besant, early leaders of the occult Theosophical Society. One video that cites directly from Osteen and the Theosophists is “The Luciferian Gospel of Joel Osteen”, which features Iranian-born Baptist pastor Afshin Yaghtin (aside from his Protestantism, he’s solid on natural law issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and drag queen library hours including one that saw him protest and get arrested, as well as opposition to the Noahide Laws). To hear his comments directly addressing the occult-Osteen connection, go to the 7:47 timestamp on the video here.
To return to Francis and Kenneth Copeland’s strange interactions, on the surface it seems as though they’re polar opposites with nothing whatsoever in common:
- Bergoglio deliberately wears scuffed shoes needing a polish to conform to the humble image he wants to cultivate, while Copeland boasts about his expensive suits, reminding his congregation that they paid for them
- Bergoglio resides in a relatively modest suite at the Vatican hotel, while Copeland enjoys life in a $6 million mansion
- When he’s not riding the bus for a photo-op, Bergoglio is chauffeured in a fuel-efficient “Popemobile”, whereas Copeland can practically choose a different luxury car for every day of the week
- Bergoglio loves to fly commercial, where a fawning press corps awaits to serve him softball questions, while Copeland flies aboard private jets, because he says airliners are “a long tube with a bunch of demons”
- Both are materialists, but while Bergoglio’s is a materialistic collectivism, Copelands is a materialistic individualism
So, with all that separates them, what unites them? Well, from the looks of it, they’re both voracious eaters. More to the subject, they both are vile heretics, but vile heretics who seem to take particular pleasure in spinning heresies of the most outrageous proportions, the sort of heresies that will generate a jaw-dropping “He didn’t really say that, did he?” reaction. Most of our readers will be able to practically recite Francis’ outrages in their sleep, but for those new to Bergoglio’s indiscretions, you may indulge your curiosity by clicking here — just don’t say you weren’t warned in advance.
Like Francis, Copeland’s heresies can be shocking, blasphemous, and sometimes even steeped in non-Christian religions or occult concepts. Aside from the overarching heretical PG theology, here are a few other, frightful examples. Echoing the serpent’s lie in the Garden of Eden is the occult “little gods” teaching, which he shares with PG teachers in general. “You don’t have a god in you,” states Copeland, “you are one” (The Force of Love [Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1987], audiotape #02-0028, side 1). Furthermore, Copeland teaches, as do some Gnostics, Kabbalists, and New Agers, that God is androgynous: “Adam was made in the image of God. He was as much female as he was male. He was exactly like God. Then God separated him and removed the female part…” (Sensitivity of Heart [KCP Publications, 1984], p. 23). And he blasphemously maintains that “Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross” (Holy Bible: Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition [Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1991], p. 129; italics given).
All of these samples of Copeland’s blasphemous heresies are quoted in Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity In Crisis: The 21st Century (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), a Protestant work. They are just a few of many such abominable errors, which go along with his empty antics on television, such as pretending to heal viewers or “commanding” hurricanes, or more recently, COVID-19 to cease (but at the same time ordering his viewers, many of whom had lost their jobs, not to stop tithing — which is quite easy for a self-styled billionaire to say).
The third point of similarity between Ken Copeland and Francis has been their pledge for unity in diversity. For the PG preacher it may have been a passing fancy derived from his relationship with Tony Palmer, and to an extent, Bergoglio. On the other hand, when it comes to the Terror from Buenos Aires, we are talking about a 24/7 obsession to fashion a syncretistic one-world religion as part of the New World Order.
Concluding Comments: Francis the Shamanistic Globalist Chameleon
Another “Baptism in the Spirit”? Francis met with a group representing indigenous peoples on February 15, 2017 at the Vatican, speaking to them about the need to “reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories”. The representatives were participating in the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum hosted in Rome by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The biennial meeting aims to promote greater economic empowerment of indigenous peoples. (image: Sipa USA via AP Images / rights-managed)
If you have $5000, the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) would like to invite you to learn how to be a “prophet”, a “healer”, or a practitioner of some other “supernatural” service, such as opening mystical portals. Critics of the school, and they are many, have nicknamed it Hogwarts School of Supernatural Ministry, a play on the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the demonic Harry Potter series.
Is that a fair moniker? You be the judge. Hogwarts, er, Bethel has been the locus of such activities as Destiny Card readings (if that sounds quite a bit like Tarot divination to you, you made the right call), fire tunnels, grave-soaking (laying across a grave to absorb the positive energy or “anointing” of a “holy” person buried there), risk taking, a minister preaching we’re all “little gods”, another saying that the Holy Ghost “is like the blue genie in Aladdin”, witches strolling around the campus, hundreds dancing and chanting to raise the dead — quite literally (“Come alive/ Come alive/ Come alive, dry bones/ Awake, arise/ Inhale the light”)!
Now, if Bethel sounds like a name encountered earlier in the article it should, it should. Recall that PG Offering Prayer with elements such as “Checks in the mail…Gifts and surprises…Finding money…Debts paid off…”? Yeah, that one. Well, it’s from Bethel Church, a proponent of the PG with all the worst occultic and New Age features that are merely hinted at in other PG churches — only with Bethel they’re out in the open and on steroids. It’s in line with the other megachurches and their preachers, and some of the strange “charismatic” activities are similar to what was related about Hagin’s shows:
Bethel Church is a juggernaut of a megachurch located in Redding, California, known for its catchy chart-topping worship songs (such as “Reckless Love” and “Raise a Hallelujah”) that are played in many churches and on many Christian radio stations worldwide. Bethel, led by its charismatic, fifth-generation pastor, Bill Johnson, is also known for its wildly unorthodox behaviors and practices, such as emphasizing “power encounters” (prophecies, healings, and ‘feeling God’s presence’), appearances of “glory clouds” (supposed angel feathers or gold dust floating in the air from the air ducts), practicing “laughing in the spirit” (drunken like laughter attributed to the Holy Spirit), and being “moved by the spirit,” (erratic motions, jumping around in circles and falling to the ground) a display that resembles a scene out of a horror film.
(Samuel Farag, “Bethel’s False Gospel”, Crit-Large, July 27, 2019; italics given.)
Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, started in 1996, is one of Bethel’s “ministries”; it is unaccredited and doesn’t offer degrees or credits, but certificates are available. Based on its heretical doctrines and occult overtones, in the nickname “Christian Hogwarts”, it is the Hogwarts part that should be emphasized. Obviously, there is nothing Christian about it. Consider this headline: “Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church Tells Witch that She’s ‘On the Right Path’ and ‘God is So Proud of Her!’”. Perhaps this was one of the incidents that led one wag to ask: Bethel or Beth-Hell?
Francis himself knows a thing or two about witchcraft. Who can forget his 2018 flight to Chile when, asked where he gets all his energy, he blurted out, “I don’t go to the Doctor, I go to the Witch!”? Was her perhaps referring to Liu Ming, a Taoist monk he frequented for various physical ailments, at least when he was in Argentina?
It all goes neatly together: The PG, charismaticism, occultism, ecumenism — and Chaos Frank as the “humble” unifier-in-chief. How does he navigate so smoothly through all the confusion and contradictions to his own “poor church” theology? It would seem to be incredibly difficult at first sight.
At second sight, however, it really isn’t. He can easily mingle with religious con artists because he is one himself. He’s a sly fox guarding the hen house, and he’d be the first to tell you: “If we speak explicitly …, we don’t know what a mess will result. So let’s not [speak] directly.” As an editorial in Christian Order marveled: “Francis Is So Bad, He’s Good”. In fact, he’s way ahead of the charismatic “speaking in tongues” game, because unlike Kenneth Copeland and the other PG spiritual shysters, who just speak nonsensical words, Bergoglio can say things people actually think they understand, and still end up utterly befuddling them. (And that’s not even taking into account his unique serpentine skill: speaking in forked tongues — something similar to, but also quite distinct, from the basic talent.)
Ultimately, all of Francis’ shenanigans are driven by, and subservient to, his Modernist dream of a one-world, one-size-fits-all religion based on “human fraternity”. For the Novus Ordo Sect, Catholicism needed to be replaced because it was intolerant, seeking an exclusive status as the only true religion, rather than being content to be one religion among many — all valid and true in their own way — in the Freemasonic rainbow of “faiths”.
So, the idea is to bring all religions together under the unity in diversity banner. You don’t convert Protestants, PG believers, witches, etc., you bring them into the big tent just the way they are, with their respective “faith traditions.” Consequently, it should not be surprising that three of the evangelicals Francis met with in June of 2014 (see photo under the “The Frank & Kenny Show: Oddest of Ecumenical Odd Couples” section) — Brian Stiller and John and Carol Arnott — later reported that the “Pope” had explicitly told them he was not interested in their conversion to Catholicism:
- Francis: “Not Interested in Converting Evangelicals to Catholicism”
- Two More Protestants Confirm: Francis told them “Not Interested” in Converting Them
In Francis’ dream, a melting pot of religions must blend together until essential differences become merely accidental ones, and then the unity eventually subsumes the diversity. Only at that point can the new global religion begin to rise. To that end the CHARIS initiative is significant, as were the face encounters with Kenneth Copeland, Tony Palmer, and all the rest. As “Bishop” Palmer noted, once a basic common unity of belief is achieved, then individual doctrines — which are declared to serve no purpose in the end but to divide — may be set aside for the greater good.
In conclusion, we’d like to return to Fr. Gardner’s article on the “Catholic Charismatic Renewal” for an important historical precedent that renders Francis’ dream a prime example of history that should never be repeated. He begins by discussing Joachim of Fiore (c. 1132-1202), a Cistercian whose writing on what he posited were the three ages of the Church in some ways anticipated later errors of the Charismatics and their standard bearer, Francis:
Joachim held the history of the world to be divided into three distinct phases, each corresponding to a Person of the Blessed Trinity. Thus, the first age of the world was marked by God the Father’s majestic rule, the second (our age) by the Wisdom of the Son and his Church, and the third (still to come) by the Holy Ghost in an outpouring of universal love and the waning of all formal religion in favor of a world ruled by the spirit of the Gospel. This teaching was condemned by Pope Alexander IV after Joachim’s death, in the 13th century.
The similarity between this rather odd teaching and the constant Charismatic chatter about a “new age of the Spirit” hardly needs comment. Rather more worrisome is the the Holy Father’s [sic] fascination with the New Millennium. Speaking of the preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul designates 1998 as the “Year of the Spirit”:
The Church cannot prepare for the new millennium in any other way than in the Holy Spirit. What was accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit “in the fullness of time” can only through the Spirit’s power now emerge from the memory of the Church.
The Holy Father goes on:
The primary task of the preparation for the Jubilee will thus include a renewed appreciation of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit….[Signs that this is happening include]… greater attention to the voice of the Spirit through the acceptance of charisms and the promotion of the laity, a deeper commitment to the cause of Christian unity, and the increased interest in dialogue with other religions and with contemporary culture.
These startling quotations reveal the Pope’s clear association of ecumenism, secularization, and laicization with the New Millennium and the work of the Holy Ghost. The similarity between this type of thinking and Joachim’s (that the “rule of the Spirit through universal love” will bring about the waning of formal religion under the spirit of the Gospel) is quite alarming to say the least.
Joachim’s chief disciples were a group of “spiritualist” Franciscans. The direct philosophical descendants of this group became, within a century of Joachim’s death, the Fraticelli, and their personal interpretation of the Gospel got them into major trouble with their order and with the pope. They ended by saying that the Church was corrupt and carnal, in contrast to their own “spirituality,” and that they were the only true followers of the Gospel. They were excommunicated by Pope John XXII in 1318.
(Gardner, “The Catholic Charismatic Renewal”; italics given; underlining added.)
The teaching of “the waning of all formal religion in favor of a world ruled by the spirit of the Gospel” is eerily similar to what has been promoted by Bergoglio and Palmer.
Thus, just as Pope Alexander IV condemned the heresy then, so must Catholic Integralists — that is, all true Catholics — stand in firm opposition to it as it now appears in its 21st-century garb.
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