The Pope will be Victim, Not Persecutor…
The Persecution and ‘Death’ of the Church:
The Testimony of Scripture and Tradition
Researched and Explained by
Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892)
This is a slightly revised version of an article posted on this web site in 2015.
As we all suffer through these most distressing times in which confusion and chaos reign among all who seek to be genuine Catholics, members of the only true religion established by God, it is helpful and important to reflect on the fact that the situation we find ourselves in today — no (known) valid Pope since 1958, and no apparent Catholic bishop left with ordinary jurisdiction, while a counterfeit institution masquerades as the Catholic Church, spreading heresy, immorality, and impiety — was foretold in Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
Just as our Blessed Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection took (almost) everyone by complete surprise, as though these had not been prophesied beforehand, so it seems that the Church’s own mystical Passion and seeming death have taken everyone by surprise, even though Holy Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the Church Fathers, and sundry theologians bear witness that the Mystical Body of Christ will have to undergo its own greatest trials before the end of the world.
We have, in prior posts and articles, already referenced a few such expositions of the Scriptures in which an apostasy from the Faith is foretold, and more specifically, in which it is prophesied that the Papacy would be attacked and persecuted in the most frightful fashion. For a quick review of these important (and now extremely meaningful) prophecies, here are the links:
- St. Augustine of Hippo (5th century): ‘The Church Will Not Appear’ during Great Tribulation before Christ’s Return
- Fr. Edmund O’Reilly (1882): The Church may be without a Pope for a Long Time
- Fr. Sylvester Berry (1921): Satan will persecute the Papacy
- Fr. Sylvester Berry (1927): Satan will set up a False Church
- Mgr. Fulton Sheen (1948): Satan will set up a Counterchurch
- Fr. Timothy Zapelena (1955): Catholicity of Church ‘Very Restricted’ during Great Apostasy
- Fr. Herman Kramer (1956): Satan may seek to prevent a valid Papal Election
While it is clear that throughout Church history, the Pope has always been a target of the Church’s enemies, inasmuch as he is the true Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth and the visible head of the Church, it is not surprising that in the last days the devil would galvanize all his forces to make one final, exceedingly powerful attempt to conquer the Pope and the Church. Such an ultimate Satanic battle against the God’s Kingdom on earth would be virtually unprecedented in terms of its nature, its extent, its fury, its power, its horror, and its cleverness.
We Were Warned: A Great Deception to Destroy the Church
In the decades preceding the creation of the Modernist Vatican II Sect, the Popes warned urgently and forcefully against the plots being devised by the secret societies, which had as their stated goal the infiltration and ultimate destruction of the Catholic Church and Catholic doctrine. The following linked blog post gives sundry excerpts from pre-Vatican II papal documents that draw attention to the persecution being plotted and carried out against the Church by her most pernicious enemies:
Some unwise people seek to dismiss such evidence by means of the quick and self-serving retort that “The Church cannot be destroyed and the gates of hell cannot prevail”, which, true though as it is, misapprehends the reality of the situation: The Popes themselves, obviously, also knew that the Catholic Church cannot be destroyed, being the work of God and having Christ’s promise that she will endure until the end of time without any substantial alteration. Why, then, the repeated papal warnings? Why their sense of urgency and alarm with regard to what the Church’s enemies were attempting to do?
The answer is simple: Even though the Church will never fail but endure until the end of time, nevertheless, persecution by her enemies causes immense harm to souls, and souls really do go to hell if they fall victim to it, even though the Church perdures. When the Faith is under attack, when souls are put in danger of hellfire, when heresy threatens to suffocate the innocent and pure Faith of her children, it will not do to simply point out that the Church cannot fail. She cannot fail, indeed, but the number of her members can shrink, that is, her children can fall away, abandon the Faith, become apathetic, sin mortally, starve spiritually from confusion and a lack of knowledge, and go to hell for all eternity.
For the Kingdom of God on earth to lose members and have them transferred back to the kingdom of the devil, in bulk even, this is great cause for concern and anxiety; this is the very opposite of what the Church was commissioned to accomplish! The Church was founded to lead souls to heaven, not to see them condemned to hell. It is for this reason that a snarky retort of “But the gates of hell won’t prevail” in the face of the persecution of the Church is completely misguided.
Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of our souls (cf. John 10:14; 1 Pet 2:25), warned us that before His glorious Second Coming, there would be a falling away from the Faith enabled by a great deception, a deception so convincing that even the elect themselves would fall for it if they were not specially prevented by God:
And when he was sitting on mount Olivet, the disciples came to him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the consummation of the world? And Jesus answering, said to them: Take heed that no man seduce you: for many will come in my name saying, I am Christ: and they will seduce many. And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that ye be not troubled. For these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places: Now all these are the beginnings of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall put you to death: and you shall be hated by all nations for my name’ s sake. And then shall many be scandalized: and shall betray one another: and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many. And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold. But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom, shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the consummation come. When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand. Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains: and he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take any thing out of his house: and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the sabbath. For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand.
(Matthew 24:3-25; underlining added.)
A deception that is so great as to — almost — deceive even the elect, will have to be clever indeed. For sure, it will have to deceive the Catholic masses; it would have to be a deception that has the power to take that large number of Catholic faithful and make them faithless. What better way to do this than by setting up a false church in place of the Catholic Church, from within her, a sect that retains the outward appearance of the Catholic Church while changing the doctrines of the Faith, the sacraments, and Catholic piety? If there is one person on earth whom Catholics follow, it is the Pope; hence, the apostasy will have to be imposed from the top. The target, therefore, will be the Pope — the papacy must be usurped, in some way or another, for the enemies of the Church to be able to realize their wicked dream of perverting the Catholic Faith of millions with the ultimate desired end of establishing the reign of man in place of the reign of Christ.
In the 19th century, the plan of the Masonic Alta Vendita lodge was laid out in its secret “Permanent Instruction”, a document which, by the providence of Almighty God, was uncovered during the reign of Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) and ordered published by Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII:
We do not mean to win the Popes to our cause, to make them neophytes of our principles, and propagators of our ideas. That would be a ridiculous dream, no matter in what manner events may turn. Should cardinals or prelates, for example, enter, willingly or by surprise, in some manner, into a part of our secrets, it would be by no means a motive to desire their elevation to the See of Peter. That elevation would destroy us. Ambition alone would bring them to apostasy from us. The needs of power would force them to immolate us. That which we ought to demand, that which we should seek and expect, as the Jews expected the Messiah, is a Pope according to our wants….
Now then, in order to secure to us a Pope in the manner required, it is necessary to fashion for that Pope a generation worthy of the reign of which we dream….
…Seek out the Pope of whom we give the portrait. You wish to establish the reign of the elect upon the throne of the prostitute of Babylon? Let the clergy march under your banner in the belief always that they march under the banner of the Apostolic Keys. You wish to cause the last vestige of tyranny and of oppression to disappear? Lay your nets like Simon Barjona. Lay them in the depths of sacristies, seminaries, and convents, rather than in the depths of the sea, and if you will precipitate nothing you will give yourself a draught of fishes more miraculous than his. The fisher of fishes will become a fisher of men. You will bring yourselves as friends around the Apostolic Chair. You will have fished up a Revolution in Tiara and Cope, marching with Cross and banner – a Revolution which needs only to be spurred on a little to put the four quarters of the world on fire.
While it seems that the actual events turned out somewhat different than planned in this document — there is evidence that Angelo Roncalli, who became the first Antipope of the false Vatican II Church in 1958, was actually a Rosicrucian Freemason — the key element of a “Catholic-on-the-outside-but-heretical-on-the-inside” deception is the same: “Let the clergy march under your banner in the belief always that they march under the banner of the Apostolic Keys… You will bring yourselves as friends around the Apostolic Chair. You will have fished up a Revolution in Tiara and Cope, marching with Cross and banner….”
Certainly, all of the false “Popes” since 1958 have preached Modernist-Masonic doctrine, which was first officially laid down in John XXIII’s 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris and at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65): The Masonic ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity became the Vatican II doctrines of religious freedom, collegiality, and ecumenism, which form the bedrock of the Novus Ordo religion. Nonetheless, out of the six papal impostors so far, the one who is most openly professing and teaching the Masonic heresies is the current one, Jorge Bergoglio, better known as “Pope Francis”, as has been amply documented here.
What makes the terrible persecution of the Church by the Masonic infiltrators and their spiritual offspring even more powerful and also quite tragic is that oftentimes the people who are ensnared by these false teachings and promote them are nevertheless of good will, pious, and sincerely seek to serve God — in other words, a great many of those who propel the apostasy forward are not deliberate deceivers but rather themselves victims of the deception. In a sermon given on Pentecost Sunday of 1861, the famous Fr. Frederick Faber warned that this was precisely what would make so many people fall for the deception:
We must beware then of dangers from within. We must be upon our guard even against catholic books, periodicals, journals, and pamphlets, however specious they may be. Our Blessed Redeemer said of the false prophets of the last days (St. Matt. xxiv. 24.) that they should “deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Now we must remember, that if all the manifestly good men were on one side, and all the manifestly bad men on the other, there would be no danger of any one, least of all, the elect, being deceived by lying wonders. It is the good men, good once, we must hope good still, who are to do the work of Antichrist, and so sadly to crucify afresh the Lord whom they do more than profess to love. Bear in mind this feature of the last days, that their deceitfulness arises from good men being on the wrong side.
The significance of this point cannot be emphasized enough, because a lot of people are swayed by external appearance and others’ (real or apparent) sincerity. What Fr. Faber here teaches us is that even those who are good and sincere may still, unwittingly, do the work of Antichrist — their sincerity does not mean that they are not de factoagents of the devil; their good will does not prevent them from being used as tools to accomplish the work of Satan. Let this sink in for a minute!
Cardinal Manning Sees It Coming
During Easter of 1861, the celebrated convert from Anglicanism Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808-92) published a booklet containing four lectures explicating the events preceding and surrounding the advent of the Antichrist, centering on the words of St. Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-11, which also warns of that great deception but also of a revolt, a “man of sin”, and a force that temporarily restrains him:
Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.
(2 Thessalonians 2:3-11)
Cardinal Manning’s booklet was entitled The Present Crisis of the Holy See Tested by Prophecy but has since been reprinted under the more arresting title The Pope & the Antichrist (Tradibooks, 2007). Most of the content of this monograph was included in a later, more substantial work entitled The Temporal Power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
While one must always caution against an excessive focus on things pertaining to the “end times”, as unfortunately many are wont to do, by the same token it is unwise to simply disregard all revelation regarding these matters, since obviously Almighty God did not reveal truths to us so that we would ignore them.
In The Pope & the Antichrist (=The Present Crisis of the Holy See Tested by Prophecy), Cardinal Manning outlines and explains in detail the four central points mentioned by St. Paul in the pericope quoted. They are:
- A “Revolt” against the True Church
- The Manifestation of “the Wicked One” — the Antichrist
- A Restraining Force that “withholdeth” for a while
- The Period of Power during which the Antichrist persecutes the Faithful
The cardinal is quick to point out that the elucidations he provides are not the product of his own conjectures, but instead are based on approved Catholic theological authorities: “In treating of this subject, I shall not venture upon any conjectures of my own, but shall deliver simply what I find either in the Fathers of the Church, or in such theologians as the Church has recognised, namely, [St. Robert] Bellarmine, Lessius, Malvenda, Viegas, Suarez, Ribera, and others” (p. 9; bold print added).
The following paragraphs consist of various highlights from Cardinal Manning’s most excellent and instructive monograph. For those who may be interested in obtaining a copy of it, whether in print or electronically, it is currently available in the following editions and formats (purchases made through Amazon links benefit Novus Ordo Watch):
- The Pope and the Antichrist (Paperback / Tradibooks)
- The Present Crisis of the Holy See Tested by Prophecy (Kindle / Paperback)
- The Present Crisis of the Holy See Tested by Prophecy (PDF / Free Download)
- The Temporal Power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ (Kindle / Paperback)
- The Temporal Power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ (Kindle / Paperback)
- The Temporal Power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ (PDF / Free Download)
The following excerpts from The Pope & the Antichrist (colored in blue) are divided into sections to correspond with Cardinal Manning’s four separate lectures which make up the content of the book. As you read these passages, keep in mind that the cardinal was writing in 1861, over 150 years before our time, before the two terrible world wars, before the creation of the state of Israel, and shortly after the kingdom of Italy forcibly annexed most of the Papal States, of which the Pope was the temporal ruler.
Lecture I: The Great Apostasy
We have here a prophecy of four great facts: first, of a revolt, which shall precede the second coming of our Lord; secondly, of the manifestation of one who is called “the wicked one;” thirdly, of a hindrance which restrains his manifestation; and lastly, of the period of power and persecution, of which he will be the author….
First, then, what is the revolt? In the original it is called an apostasy; and in the Vulgate, discessio, or a departure. Now a revolt implies a seditious separation from some authority, and a consequent opposition to it…. Now there are in the world but two ultimate authorities, the civil and the spiritual, and this revolt must be either a sedition or schism…. It seems to need little proof that this revolt or apostasy is a separation, not from the civil, but from the spiritual order and authority; for the sacred writers, again and again, speak of such a spiritual separation; and in one place St. Paul seems expressly to declare the meaning of this word. He forewarns St. Timothy that in the later days, “some shall depart or apostatize from the faith;” and it seems evident that the same spiritual falling away is intended by the apostasy [referred to] in this place.
The authority, then, from which the revolt is to take place is that of the kingdom of God on earth…, in other words, the one and universal Church, founded by our Divine Lord, and spread by His Apostles throughout the world. In this one only supernatural kingdom was deposited the true and pure theism, or knowledge of God, and the true and only faith of God incarnate, with the doctrines and laws of grace. This, then, is the authority from which the revolt is to be made, be that revolt what it may.
Such being the authority against which the revolt is made, it cannot be difficult to ascertain its character. The inspired writers expressly describe its notes. The first is, schism, as given by St John: “It is the last hour: and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh: even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us; but they were not of us for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us.” [1 Jn 2:18-19] The second note is, the rejection of the office and presence of the Holy Ghost. St. Jude says “These are they, who separate themselves, sensual men” (animal or merely rational and natural men) “having not the spirit:” [Jude 19] This necessarily involves the heretical principle of human opinion as opposed to Divine faith; of the private spirit as opposed to the infallible voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Church of God. The third note is the denial of the Incarnation. St John writes, “Every spirit, which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that dissolveth Jesus” (that is, by denying the mystery of the Incarnation, either the true Godhead, or the true manhood, or the unity or divinity of the person of the Incarnate Son) “is not of God, and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.” [1 Jn 4:2-3] Again he says, “Many seducers are gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: this is a seducer and an Antichrist.” [2 Jn 7] These, then, are the marks by which, as the Church is to be known by her notes, the antichristian revolt, or apostasy, may be distinguished.
…[A]ll the heresies from the beginning are no more than the continuous development and expansion of “the mystery of iniquity,” which was already at work….
It is evident that this movement [of apostasy] has accumulated its results from age to age, and that at this time it is more mature and has a loftier stature and a greater power and a more formal antagonism to the Church and the faith than ever before….
It seems inevitable that the enmity of all nations which are separated from the Catholic unity … should be concentrated upon the person who is the Vicar and Representative of Jesus, and upon the Body which witnesses alone for the Incarnation, and for all its mysteries of truth and grace. Such is the one Holy Catholic and Roman Church, and such is the Supreme Pontiff, its Visible Head. Such, in the words of Holy Scripture, are the two mysteries of godliness and of iniquity. All things are throwing out into light and prominence the two ultimate powers, which divide the destinies of men. The conflict is a simple antagonism of Christ and Antichrist; and the two arrays are marshalling in order, and men are choosing their principles; or events are choosing for them; and they are drifting unconsciously into currents of which they are not aware….
Lecture II: The Antichrist
It is true, indeed, that the Antichrist has had, and may still have, many forerunners, as had also Christ Himself: as Isaac, Moses, Josue, David, Jeremias, were types of the one, so Antiochus, Julian, Arius, Mahomet, and many more, are the types of the other; for persons typify persons. So, again, as Christ is the Head and Representative in which the whole mystery of godliness has been summed up and recapitulated, so also the whole mystery of impiety will find its expression and its head in the person of Antichrist. He may indeed embody a spirit and represent a system, but is not less, therefore, a person….
Next, the [Church] Fathers believed that Antichrist will be of the Jewish race…. And this will appear probable, if we consider that the Antichrist will come to deceive the Jews, accenting to the prophecy of our Lord “I am come in My Father’s name, and you receive Me not: another will come in his own name, him you will receive”… The probability of this also will appear, if we consider, further, that a false Christ would fail of the first condition of success if he were not of the house of David; that the Jews are still looking out for his coming; that they have prepared themselves for delusion by crucifying the true Messias; and therefore it is that the Fathers interpret of the true Messias and the false the words of St Paul to the Thessalonians: “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; therefore God shall send them the operation of error to believe lying” [2 Thess 2:10-11]….
From this we perceive a third character of Antichrist, namely, that he will not be simply the antagonist, but the substitute or supplanter of the true Messias: And this is rendered still more probable by the fact, that the Messias looked for by the Jews has always been a temporal deliverer, the restorer of their temporal order; or, in other words, a political and military prince. It is obvious also, that whosoever may hereafter deceive them in the pretended character of their Messias, must thereby deny the Incarnation, whatsoever claim to a supernatural character he may put forward for himself. In his own person he will be a complete denial of the whole Christian faith and Church; for if he be the true Messias, the Christ of the Christians must be false….
But the prophecies assign to the person of Antichrist a more preternatural character. He is described as a worker of false miracles. His coming is said to be “according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders and all seduction of iniquity to them that perish” [2 Thess 2:9-10]…. The age is ripe for a delusion. It will not believe the miracles of the saints, but it will copiously drink down the phenomena of spiritualism….
The last characteristic of which I will speak is more difficult, perhaps, to conceive. St. Paul says of “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God” [2 Thess 2:4]. These words are interpreted by the Fathers to mean that he will claim divine honors, and that in the Temple of Jerusalem…. [Yet:] As Christ at His coming was believed to be the carpenter, so Antichrist may be visibly no more than a successful adventurer. Even his preternatural character, true or false, may pass either as scintillations of insanity, or as the absurdities of his partisans, or the delusions of his flatterers. So the world blinds its own eyes by the fumes of its own intellectual pride.
Lecture III: Who or What Restrains the Manifestation of the Antichrist?
As there is perpetual working of this mystery of iniquity, so there is a perpetual hindrance or barrier to its full manifestation, which will continue until it be removed; and there a fixed time when it shall be taken out of the way…. Now, inasmuch as this wicked one shall be a lawless person, who shall introduce disorder, sedition, tumult, and revolution, both in the temporal and spiritual order of the world, so that which shall hinder his development, and shall be his direct antagonist after his manifestation, must necessarily be the principle of order, the law of submission, the authority of truth and of right….
We have now come nearly to a solution of that which I stated in the beginning, namely, how it is that the power which hinders the revelation of the lawless one is not only a person but a system, and not only a system but a person. In one word, it is Christendom and its head; and, therefore, in the person of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, and in that twofold authority with which, by Divine Providence he has been invested, we see the direct antagonist to the principle of disorder….
Ever since the foundation of Christian Europe, the political order of the world has rested upon the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ; for which reason all the public acts of authority, and even the calendar by which we date our days is calculated from the year of salvation, or from “the year of our Lord”…. [I]n the day in which you admit those who deny the Incarnation to an equality of privileges, you remove the social life and order in which you live from the Incarnation to the basis of mere nature: and this is precisely what was foretold of the antichristian period….
If the barrier which has hindered the development of the principle of antichristian disorder has been the Divine power of Jesus Christ our Lord, incorporated in the Church and guided by his Vicar, then no hand is mighty enough, and no will is sovereign enough to take it out of the way, but only the hand and the will of the incarnate Son of God himself….
The history of the Church, and the history of our Lord on earth, run as it were in parallel. For three-and-thirty years the Son of God incarnate was in the world, and no man could lay hand upon Him. No man could take Him, because His “hour was not yet come.” There was an hour foreordained when the Son of God would be delivered into the hand of sinners. He foreknew it; He foretold it. He held it in his own hand, for He surrounded His person with a circle of His own Divine power. No man could break through that circle of omnipotence until the hour came, when by His own will He opened the way for the powers of evil….
In like manner with His Church. Until the hour is come when the barrier shall, by the Divine will, be taken out of the way, no one has power to lay a hand upon it. The gates of hell may war against it; they may strive and wrestle, as they struggle now with the Vicar of our Lord; but no one has the power to move Him one step, until the hour shall come when the Son of God shall permit, for a time, the powers of evil to prevail. That He will permit it for a time stands in the book of prophecy….
We have need, then, to be upon our guard. It shall happen once more with some, as it did when the Son of God was in His Passion — they saw Him betrayed, bound, carried away, buffeted, blindfolded, and scourged; they saw Him carrying His Cross to Calvary, then nailed upon it, and lifted up to the scorn of the world; and they said, “If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” [Mt 27:42]. So in like manner they say now, “See this Catholic Church, this Church of God, feeble and weak, rejected even by the very nations called Catholic. There is Catholic France, and Catholic Germany, and Catholic Sicily, and Catholic Italy, giving up this exploded figment of the temporal power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ.” And so, because the Church seems weak, and the Vicar of the Son of God is renewing the Passion of his Master upon earth, therefore we are scandalised, therefore we turn our faces from him. When then, is our faith? But the Son of God foretold these things when He said, “And now I have told you before it come to pass; that when it shall come to pass, you may believe” [Jn 14:29].
Pope Pius XII on his deathbed (October 9, 1958)
(image: Keystone Pictures USA / Alamy Stock Photo)
Lecture IV: Passion and “Death” of the Church
Now, it is against that person [the Pope] eminently and emphatically, as said before, that the spirit of evil and of falsehood direct its assault; for if the head of the body be smitten, the body itself must die. “Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered,” was the old guile of the evil one, who smote the Son of God that he might scatter the flock. But that craft has been once tried, and foiled for ever; for in the death which smote the Shepherd, the flock was redeemed: and though the shepherd who is constituted in the place of the Son be smitten, the flock can be scattered no more. Three hundred years the world strove to cut off the line of the Sovereign Pontiffs; but the flock was never scattered: and so it shall be to the end. It is, nevertheless, against the Church of God, and above all against its Head, that all the spirits of evil in all ages, and, above all, in the present, direct the shafts of their enmity….
Now the Church has had to undergo already two persecutions, one from the hand of the Jews and one also from the hand of the pagans; so the writers of the early ages, the Fathers both of the East and of the West, foretold that, in the last age of the world, the Church will have to undergo a third persecution, more bitter, more bloody, more searching, and more fiery than any it has undergone as yet, and that from the hands of an infidel world revolted from the Incarnate Word….
As the wicked did not prevail against Him [our Lord Jesus Christ] even when they bound Him with cords, dragged Him to the judgment, blindfolded His eyes, mocked Him as a false King, smote Him on the head as a false Prophet, led Him away, crucified Him, and in the mastery of their power seemed to have absolute dominion over Him, so that He lay ground down and almost annihilated under their feet; and as, at that very time when He was dead and buried out of their sight, He was conqueror over all, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, and was crowned, glorified, and invested with His royalty, and reigns supreme, King of kings and Lord of lords,— even so shall it be with His Church: though for a time persecuted, and, to the eyes of man, overthrown and trampled on, dethroned, despoiled, mocked, and crushed, yet in that high time of triumph the gates of hell shall not prevail. There is in store for the Church of God a resurrection and an ascension, a royalty and a dominion, a recompense of glory for all it has endured. Like Jesus, it needs must suffer on the way to its crown; yet crowned it shall be with Him eternally. Let no one, then, be scandalised if the prophecy speak of sufferings to come. We are fond of imagining triumphs and glories for the Church on earth,— that the Gospel is to be preached to all nations, and the world to be converted, and all enemies subdued, and I know not what,— until some ears are impatient of hearing that there is in store for the Church a time of terrible trial: and so we do as the Jews of old, who looked for a conqueror, a king, and for prosperity; and when their Messias came in humility and in passion, they did not know Him. So, I am afraid, many among us intoxicate their minds with the visions of success and victory, and cannot endure the thought that there is a time of persecution yet to come for the Church of God….
The first sign or mark of this coming persecution is an indifference to truth. Just as there is dead calm before a whirlwind, and as the waters over a great fall run like glass, so before an outbreak there is a time of tranquillity. The first sign is indifference. The sign that portends more surely than any other the outbreak of a future persecution is a sort of scornful indifference to truth or falsehood. Ancient Rome in its might and power adopted every false religion from all its conquered nations, and gave to each of them a temple within its walls. It was sovereignly and contemptuously indifferent to all the superstitions of the earth. It encouraged them; for each nation had its own proper superstition, and that proper superstition was a mode of tranquillising, of governing, and of maintaining in subjection, the people who were indulged by building a temple within its gates. In like manner we see the nations of the Christian world at this moment gradually adopting every form of religious contradiction— that is, giving it full scope, and, as it is called, perfect toleration; not recognising any distinctions of truth or falsehood between one religion or another, but leaving all forms of religion to work their own way….
[T]here grows up an intense hatred of what is called dogmatism, that is, of any positive truth, anything definite, anything final, anything which has precise limits, any form of belief which is expressed in particular definitions— all this is utterly distasteful to men who on principle encourage all forms of religious opinion….
The next step is, then, the persecution of the truth…. [In ancient Rome] there were all manner of sacred confraternities, and orders, and societies, and I know not what; but there was one society which was not permitted to exist, and that was the Church of the living God. In the midst of this universal toleration, there was one exception made with the most peremptory exactness, to exclude the truth and the Church of God from the world. Now this is what must again inevitably come to pass, because the Church of God is inflexible in the mission committed to it. The Catholic Church will never compromise a doctrine; it will never allow two doctrines to be taught within its pale; it will never obey the civil governor pronouncing judgment in matters that are spiritual. The Catholic Church is bound by the Divine law to suffer martyrdom rather than compromise a doctrine, or obey the law of the civil governor which violates the conscience; and more than this, it is not only bound to offer a passive disobedience, which may be done in a corner, and therefore not detected, and because not detected not punished; but the Catholic Church cannot be silent; it cannot hold its peace; it cannot cease to preach the doctrines of Revelation, not only of the Trinity and of the Incarnation, but likewise of the Seven Sacraments, and of the infallibility of the Church of God, and of the necessity of unity, and of the sovereignty, both spiritual and temporal, of the Holy See; and because it will not be silent, and cannot compromise, and will not obey in matters that are of its own Divine prerogative, therefore it stands alone in the world; for there is not another Church so called, nor any community professing to be a Church, which does not submit, or obey, or hold its peace, when the civil governors of the world command….
The holy Fathers who have written upon the subject of Antichrist, and of [the] prophecies of Daniel, without a single exception, as far as I know, and they are the Fathers both of the East and of the West, the Greek and the Latin Church— all of them unanimously,— say that in the latter end of the world, during the reign of Antichrist, the holy sacrifice of the altar will cease. In the work on the end of the world, ascribed to St. Hippolytus, after a long description of the afflictions of the last days, we read as follows: “The Churches shall lament with a great lamentation, for there shall be offered no more oblation, nor incense, nor worship acceptable to God. The sacred buildings of the churches shall be as hovels; and the precious body and blood of Christ shall not be manifest in those days; the Liturgy shall be extinct; the chanting of psalms shall cease; the reading of Holy Scripture shall be heard no more. But there shall be upon men darkness, and mourning upon mourning, and woe upon woe.” Then, the Church shall be scattered, driven into the wilderness, and shall be for a time, as it was in the beginning, invisible, hidden in catacombs, in dens, in mountains, in lurking-places; for a time it shall be swept, as it were, from the face of the earth. Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers of the early centuries….
The secret societies have long ago undermined and honeycombed the Christian society of Europe, and are at this moment struggling onward toward, Rome, the centre of all Christian order in the world. The fulfilment of the prophecy is yet to come; and that which we have seen in the two wings, we shall see also in the centre; and that great army of the Church of God will, for a time, be scattered. It will seem, for a while, to be defeated, and the power of the enemies of the faith for a time to prevail. The continual sacrifice will be taken away, and the sanctuary will be cast down…. If you would understand this prophecy of desolation, enter into a church: which was once Catholic, where now is no sign of life; it stands empty, untenanted, without altar, without tabernacle, without the presence of Jesus….
And thus we come to the third mark, the casting down of “the Prince of Strength;” that is, the Divine authority of the Church, and especially of him in whose person it is embodied, the Vicar of Jesus Christ…. The dethronement of the Vicar of Christ is the dethronement of the hierarchy of the universal Church, and the public rejection of the Presence and Reign of Jesus….
The direct tendency of all the events we see at this moment is clearly this, to overthrow Catholic worship throughout the world. Already we see that every Government in Europe is excluding religion from its public acts. The civil powers are desecrating themselves: government is without religion; and if government be without religion, education must be without religion. We see it already in Germany and in France. It has been again and again attempted in England. The result of this can be nothing but the re-establishment of mere natural society; that is to say, the governments and the powers of the world, which for a time were subdued by the Church of God to a belief in Christianity, to obedience to the laws of God, and to the unity of the Church, having revolted from it and desecrated themselves, have relapsed into their natural state….
[Many] shall fall from their fidelity to God. And how shall this come to pass? Firstly by fear, partly by deception, partly by cowardice, partly because they cannot stand for unpopular truth in the face of popular falsehood; partly because the overruling contemptuous public opinion, as in such a country as this, and in France, so subdues and frightens Catholics, that they dare not avow their principles, and, at last, dare not hold them….
The Word of God tells us that towards the end of time the power of this world will became so irresistible and so triumphant that the Church of God will sink underneath its hand — that the Church of God will receive no more help from emperors, or kings, or princes, or legislatures, or nations, or peoples, to make resistance against the power and the might of its antagonist. It will be deprived of protection. It will be weakened, baffled, and prostrate, and will lie bleeding at the feet of the powers of this world. Does this seem incredible? What, then, do we see at this moment? Look at the Catholic and Roman Church throughout the world. When was it ever more like its Divine Head in the hour when He was bound hand and foot by those who betrayed Him? Look at the Catholic Church, still independent, faithful to its Divine trust, and yet cast off by the nations of the world; at the Holy Father, the Vicar of our Divine Lord, at this moment mocked, scorned, despised, betrayed, abandoned, robbed of his own, and even those that would defend him murdered. When, I ask, was the Church of God ever in a weaker condition, in a feebler state in the eyes of men, and in this natural order, than it is now? And from whence, I ask, is deliverance to come? Is there on earth any power to intervene? Is there any king, prince, or potentate, that has the power to interpose either his will or his sword for the protection of the Church? Not one; and it is foretold it should be so. Neither need we desire it, for the will of God seems to be otherwise.
But there is One Power which will destroy all antagonists; there is One Person who will break down and smite small as the dust of the summer threshing-floor all the enemies of the Church, for it is He who will consume His enemies “with the Spirit of His mouth,” and destroy them “with the brightness of His coming.” It seems as if the Son of God were jealous lest any one should vindicate His authority. He has claimed the battle to Himself; He has taken up the gage which has been cast down against Him; and prophecy is plain and explicit that the last overthrow of evil will be His; that it will be wrought by no man, but by the Son of God; that all the nations of the world may know that He, and He alone, is King, and that He, and He alone, is God….
The writers of the Church tell us that in the latter days the city of Rome will probably become apostate from the Church and Vicar of Jesus Christ; and that Rome will again be punished, for he will depart from it; and the judgment of God will fall on the place from which he once reigned over the nations of the world…. Rome shall apostatise from the faith and drive away the Vicar of Christ, and return to its ancient paganism….
[Summing up,] the Antichrist, and the antichristian movement, has these marks: first, schism from the Church of God; secondly, denial of its Divine and infallible voice; and thirdly, denial of the Incarnation. It is, therefore, the direct and mortal enemy of the One Holy Catholic and Roman Church— the unity from which all schism is made; the sole organ of the Divine voice of the Spirit of God; the shrine and sanctuary of the Incarnation and of the continual sacrifice….
No doubt, you will agree that Cardinal Manning’s explications about the Scriptural prophecies that were then unfolding and have since unfolded, are breathtaking and fascinating, especially because we can recognize in them so much that has been happening in recent times, and is indeed happening today. What we are witnessing is a more and more proximate preparation for the advent of the Antichrist.
Notice how at all times, Cardinal Manning speaks of the Pope, being the Vicar of Christ and visible head of the Church, as the direct earthly antagonist of the Antichrist — never does His Eminence even hint at the preposterous idea, held by most who call themselves “Catholic traditionalists” today, that the Pope himself would be part of the problem, a sort of “sidekick” to the Antichrist, as Francis clearly is. We see, then, once again, that the popular but thoroughly flawed “recognize-and-resist” position, which recognizes Francis as the true Pope but then refuses him submission and rejects his teachings and laws, is entirely foreign to Catholic thinking, to Catholic doctrine, and to Catholic prophecy. This is yet another piece of evidence that the Vatican II “Popes” are charlatans, not genuine Vicars of Christ at all but rather Satan’s very tools to dethrone the true Vicar of Christ and prevent or obstruct his rule.
When Cardinal Manning wrote his monograph in 1861, the movement of apostasy was still in its early stages, relatively speaking. Since then, the Great Apostasy has had no greater force propelling it onward than the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Nothing has spread Naturalism, the heresy at the core of all Masonic doctrine, more quickly or more effectively than the council’s demand for religious liberty, which put an end to Catholic nations (such as Spain and Colombia) and effectively required the separation of Church and state and the trashing of these countries’ Catholic constitutions, something Antipope Paul VI was only too happy to enforce. Christ the King, rightful Ruler of individuals, societies, and nations, was dethroned by Vatican II — an act which proves that Paul VI was not Peter but Judas, and the church he headed was not the Catholic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ but, as it were, the Synagogue of Annas and Caiphas.
The persecution of the true Faith and the true Church by the Vatican II Modernists has been extremely successful, as it has been accelerated not only by malicious deceivers but also by many good-willed people within its ranks who are themselves victims of the deception. As we said at the outset, however, quoting Fr. Faber, this only adds greater tragedy and does not change the nature or lessen the seriousness of the problem.
In his introduction to The Pope & the Antichrist, which consists of a letter he wrote Fr. John Henry Newman, Cardinal Manning pleaded: “May God keep us from sharing even by silence in the persecution of His Church!” (p. 6). Alas, whether they mean well or not, all those who acknowledge the Novus Ordo Sect as the Catholic Church and its false clergy as legitimate Catholic authorities, and those who know the truth but keep silent about it, share in the persecution of the true Church! May you, dear reader, not be one of them.
We will close this lengthy post on a positive note.
What we have read, even though it is very terrible indeed, nevertheless should give us great comfort and hope, and strengthen our Faith. Cardinal Manning’s explanations about the Great Apostasy, the persecution, the Passion and apparent “Death” of the Church — all these things confirm what we are witnessing today. What this means is that what has happened since the death of Pope Pius XII, and what we are undergoing now, is not a contradiction of the divine plan, any more than the Crucifixion of our Lord was a defeat of His divine mission. To the contrary: It is all a part of the Divine Will, a necessary prelude to its final and complete fulfillment. What we are suffering now in this unprecedented time of ecclesiastical upheaval and confusion is not a sign that God’s promises have failed, but rather that God’s promises are being carried out. Divine prophecy is being fulfilled at this very moment.
So, take heart: Everything is, so to speak, going according to plan — but that plan is the Way of the Cross, as it was for our Lord literally, so now for His Church mystically. It is not beautiful to behold, and it is filled with great sorrow and humiliation, but it is the path — the only path — that will lead to eternal glory.
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