This is a continuation of the article, Internationally Renowned Priest Theologian Confirms Negative Assessment of Fr. Rodrigue. - Assistant Editor
Point 4 – Assertion that “Anti-Christ is in the hierarchy of the Church right now”
Loreto Pres.: Fr. Joseph, can you address Dr. Miravalle’s response to the teaching of Fr. Rodrigue who proposes that the “Anti-christ is in the hierarchy of the Church right now, and he has always wanted to be in the Chair of St. Peter”?
Father: Theologically there is nothing in the Catholic Church’s patristic or hagiographical tradition that identifies the Antichrist with a pope or antipope. Dr. Miravalle does well to highlight this truth. Rather, the Catholic Church teaches that Antichrist may be understood as a supreme religious deception by which man glorifies himself in place of God (CCC, 675) or as several Anti-Christian individuals (2 Jn. 7) that may include an evil male individual such as the biblical “false prophet” (St. Irenaeus).
Those who are not conversant in prophetic`and dogmatic theology are apt to ignore the distinction between:
a) a male individual Antichrist figure who may seek to suppress and replace the exercise of all Petrine legitimate power – though, by virtue of the inerrant words of Christ and his Church (Mt. 16:17-18; CCC 895), he cannot actually replace the Vicar of Christ’s supreme, full and immediate authority over the Church;
b) an antipope (the Church has witnessed approx. 40 antipopes) who is invalidly elected and, in not seeking to ‘suppress and replace’ the Petrine power, seeks to illegitimately exercise it.
Since not one of the antipopes possessed any of the legitimate Petrine power that Christ confers only upon a legitimately elected Roman Pontiff, they could not seize, suppress or replace it, nor could they lead the Church in any legitimate capacity. Nowhere in the Church’s patristic and hagiographical tradition is there mention of an “Antichrist” individual who assumes or is elevated to power through an invalid papal election – an antipope – and illegitimately exercises Petrine power. Rather, in biblical, patristic and prophetic literature one discovers mention of an atheistic male tyrant whose fame is founded on deception and the usurpation of power, who despises God’s Church, who enjoys excessive material wealth, and who seeks to suppress and replace Petrine power. I elaborate on these traits in the publication, Antichrist and the End Times (https://www.amazon.com/Antichrist-End-Times-Joseph-Iannuzzi/dp/1891903349).
Loreto Pres.: Dr. Miravalle cites the Catholic Encyclopedia on Antichrist which states that Antichrist is not associated with the Papacy. The encyclopedia also cites St. Bernard to support this teaching. Can you expound on this?
Father: Although I have not met nor spoken with Dr. Miravalle, I have read this passage from the Catholic Encyclopedia that addresses Ss. Pope Gregory, Bernard and others who are falsely labeled as having identified Antichrist with the Papacy. During St. Bernard’s lifetime he experienced the schism caused by Peter Leonis that gave rise to Anacletus – one of approximately 40 antipopes. Also St. Bernard expressed in his letter to Bishop Geoffrey that he did not believe that Antichrist would be a reality in his lifetime. St. Bernard alluded to Anacletus and those who oppose the true Pope Innocence metaphorically as being either of Antichrist or Antichrist himself. However, it was not until 20 years after Bernard’s death that the excommunicated Waldensians and other sectarian groups identified the Pope with the Antichrist literally, and not metaphorically. It is in this context that the Catholic Encyclopedia exposes the false connection between the Antichrist and the Papacy.
Point 5 – Predictions Incompatible with the Church Teaching
Loreto Pres.: May I ask your thoughts on the alleged prediction of Fr. Rodrigue that Dr. Miravalle finds unusual? In addition to identifying the Antichrist with an anti-Pope, Fr. Michel asserts that “Pope Francis will be martyred, and that Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus, ‘who still wears the papal ring’ will subsequently convene a new council.”
Father.: The Vatican’s 1978 document on alleged apparitions and revelations indicates that one of the signs of deception is unfulfilled prophecies. Recently the Vatican issued a statement that the pious but frail 93-year old Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is quite ill. By all practical standards, he is and will not be in any condition to convene any council, nor can he do so legitimately as a Pope Emeritus.
Loreto Pres.: Can you elaborate on Dr. Miravalle’s response when he states, “Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus is no longer pope and has absolutely no canonical or juridical power to convene a council”?
Father: The Vatican II Council and the Catholic Catechism teach that "there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor" (CCC, 884; Lumen Gentium, 22). The expression, “Peter’s successor” does not include a Pope Emeritus who is no longer the Roman Pontiff, but is restricted only to a validly elected and reigning Roman Pontiff. The idea of a Pope emeritus convening a council by virtue of donning a papal ring is canonically amiss, as it displaces legitimate with illegitimate power in the convocation of a council.
To assert that God can ignore Church law and bring about a council anyway he wants in these end times or without the recognition of the reigning Pontiff, is to excuse oneself of lawful obedience to ecclesiastical authorities upon whom God has bestowed the authority to establish a body of laws to regulate its organization and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the supernatural end and mission of the Church. The Church’s canon law includes divine law and human law in conformity with divine law. For this reason the Church’s canon law is sometimes referred to as pontifical law (jus pontificium) or sacred law (jus sacrum) or even divine law (jus divinum).
Loreto President: One of the more alarming predictions of Fr. Michel is his assertion that Pope Francis will realize his errors. Fr. Rodrigue makes the following statement, “Pope Francis… will realize his errors and try to gather the Church back under the authority of Christ, but he will not be able to do so.”
Father: This statement is not to be given any credence, as it suggests that Pope Francis has either taught or is teaching doctrinal errors – a dangerous and potentially schismatic assertion and precedent that contradicts the position of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, and the great majority of Catholic bishops and theologians who concur that Pope Francis has not taught or preached anything contrary to the Catholic faith. For the Church teaches that “schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (CCC, 2089; cf. CIC, can. 751), and “the religious assent of the will and intellect is to be given in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Pontiff even when he is not speaking ex cathedra” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 25).
The CDF Instruction Donum Veritatis 23 emphasizes the “religious assent of the will and intellect” that all must render to the Pope even when he is not speaking ex cathedra is not simply external, but it is also internal:
“When the Magisterium, not intending to act ‘definitively’, teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of Revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect. This kind of response cannot be simply exterior or disciplinary but must be understood within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith.”
Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and in a particular way, to the Roman Pontiff as Pastor of the whole Church, when exercising their ordinary Magisterium, even should this not issue in an infallible definition or in a ‘definitive’ pronouncement but in the proposal of some teaching which leads to a better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals and to moral directives derived from such teaching.
One must therefore take into account the proper character of every exercise of the Magisterium, considering the extent to which its authority is engaged. It is also to be borne in mind that all acts of the Magisterium derive from the same source, that is, from Christ who desires that His People walk in the entire truth.
For this same reason, magisterial decisions in matters of discipline, even if they are not guaranteed by the charism of infallibility, are not without divine assistance and call for the adherence of the faithful” (Donum Veritatis, 17).
“To him (the Roman Pontiff), in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our Lord Jesus Christ to tend, to rule and govern the universal Church... Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collective, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world... he is the supreme judge of the faithful...” (Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, 3).
The theologian Francisco de Suarez (1548-1617), a contemporary of R. Bellarmine, was sure that God’s “sweet providence” would not allow the Pope to fall into teaching error, and that this was guaranteed by the promise, “I have prayed for you (Simon) that your faith may not fail...” (Luke 22: 32). Much like Bellarmine and Suarez, Saint Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) did not believe that God would ever permit a Roman Pontiff to become a heretic, not even as a private person. He affirms:
“We ought rightly to presume as Cardinal Bellarmine declares, that God will never let it happen that a Roman Pontiff, even as a private person, becomes a public heretic or an occult heretic” (Dogmatic Works of St. Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, Turin, 1848, vol. VIII, p. 720).
To those who argue that there were past heretical popes, I prepared a theological response entitled, “Can a Pope Become a Heretic,” which is available gratis on the website, LTDW.org.
Loreto Pres.: Fr. Joseph, may I ask you to comment on the following prediction of Fr. Rodrigue who asserts, “A document by Pope Francis, Magnum Principium… which gave authority to national bishops’ conferences… If the pope doesn’t sign their proposals, which means rejecting what he has already given them the power to do, what will happen?... Rome will just sign the paper because they will feel that all the authority has been given to the bishops to make those changes in their own country. This doesn’t mean it will be the pope who accepts the document… The Church is now entering into the tomb.”
Father: The above statement of “the Pope rejecting what he has given them (the Catholic bishops) the power to do” is incompatible with the Church’s Code of Canon Law, as it suggests either a) that the Pope made an error in conferring upon the bishops the power with which canon law vests the Pope and, through him, the bishops (CIC, 447-459; CCC, 375, 886; LG 27), or b) that the Pope has regretted upholding the biblically inspired (Ex. 18:14-26) and canonically legitimate action of the conferral of said power.
It is odd that no mention is made of the teaching found in the same Apostolic Exhortation Magnum Principium that Pope Francis is doing nothing other than, “more clearly reaffirming” and “putting into practice” the “principles handed on since the time of the Council,” and “to define better the roles of the Apostolic See and the Conferences of Bishops in respect to their proper competencies which are different yet remain complementary. They are called to work in a spirit of dialogue regarding the translation of the typical Latin books as well as for any eventual adaptations that could touch on rites and texts.”
As for the second part of the above alleged prediction, namely, that “Rome will just sign the paper because they (sic) will feel that all authority has been given to the bishops”, this is flawed. For it suggests that Rome (the Vatican) has somehow acknowledged that the Catholic bishops have been illicitly given “all the authority,” which includes papal authority. Jesus Christ (Mt. 16.17-18) and the Magisterium teach that no matter what any one individual or group may do to try and seize papal power, they will fail. The Catholic Catechism, 895 states,
“Their authority (that of the bishops) must be exercised in communion with the whole Church under the guidance of the Pope”; Lumen Gentium, 22: ‘The college of bishops has... no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff... Together with their head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him, they have supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff’.”
As indicated earlier (in Point 4), by virtue of the words of Christ and his Church, no one will be able to seize, suppress or replace the Vicar of Christ’s legitimately exercised supreme, full and immediate authority, and no one can be given this authority other than a validly elected and reigning Roman Pontiff.
Lastly, the assertion, “The Church is now entering into the tomb” is in need of clarification. This cannot signify that all the members of the Church are now about to die or enter the tomb. Sacred Scripture, the Catechism and the Church’s prophetic literature reveal that the Church will undergo a great trial before it experiences a figurative “final Passover” (CCC 677) at the end of time. This “final Passover of the Church” (CCC 1340), which was preceded by the “Jewish Passover” and by Jesus’ “new Passover” that gave definitive meaning to the Jewish Passover, follows the typology of both.
Inasmuch as the Jewish Passover led the Old Testament ecclesia from slavery to freedom, and Jesus’ new Passover perfected it with his death and Resurrection, the final Passover of the Church will experience, in and through its members, a final defection of the faith and the Particular Judgment of its remaining members (that occurs at the moment of the death), a resurrection (of all the dead) and a General Judgment (that occurs at the end of time and with the final coming of Christ). Only after these realities have transpired shall the Church, in all of its members, “enter the glory of the kingdom” (CCC, 677). It is in this context that one appreciates the affirmation, “The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection” (CCC 677).
Also insofar as the above expression, ‘the Church is now entering into the tomb’ appears related and subsequent to an imminent persecution of believers, and not immediately related or subsequent to the Church’s final Passover at the end of time, it appears misplaced. The place of the Church in times of persecution is biblically portrayed as the “desert” (Rev.12:6; 11:2) according to the typology of Exodus and Elijah. If approved prophetic Christian literature reveals that the Church will undergo an intensified period of persecution and the elements a fiery purification, these are ordered toward its renewal and sanctification under the impulse of the Holy Spirit in order that Christ “might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). Although the Church is still under attack by evil powers, Christ has definitively defeated them (CCC 671, 1 Pt. 3:18-20; Col. 2:15) and guaranteed the Church’s victory over them (Mt. 16:18).
Loreto Pres.: Many people have reported that Fr. Michel tells them that by 2021 the entire world will be in turmoil, so according to his prophesy, they are left on their own to determine his credibility because they say the Vatican takes years to investigate these things. Also, people are posting over a dozen claims that Fr. Michel has made, but without any evidence that these things actually happened: https://www.catholicbridge.com/catholic/fr-michel-rodrigue.php.
Father: This assertion that God has chosen to reveal himself at a time when it is too late for the Church to investigate or review such revelations, or, at the very least, for the local ordinary to express his approval or disapproval is erroneous. The history of Christian prophecy reveals that whenever God reveals himself with a message for the Church, he always does so after having conceived in his mind and preordained from eternity all times and seasons; he has preordained the persons, the places and the timing of his self-revelation in such a way that the people of God and the church may have the opportunity to welcome or reject his appeal.
Ordinarily the decision of the local Bishop is final on the authenticity of a revelation. If the bishop gives a negative judgment, such as not to go to the place of an alleged revelation or believe in the messages of the so-called seer, in obeying, we do not lose any graces. Christ saved the world by obedience (Rom. 5:19). Jesus revealed as much to Ss. Margaret Mary and Faustina. Again, if one wishes to contest the bishop’s position, I already mentioned the Church’s teaching on how to go about it (see point 3). If the bishop is in favor of the alleged revelation, he may offer an "approved for faith expression;” if the local bishop is against of it, he may then express his negative decision in writing, as it may have an ill effect on the faith and morals of the faithful, even without and/or before a formal judgment is rendered through a formal commission (see point 1).
One must always adhere to the Church’s “criteria” for determining the authenticity of an alleged revelation. I articulate these criteria in the article entitled, “Alleged Revelations,” which is available gratis on the website LTDW.org.
Point 6 - False Theological Assertion of Souls Beaten by Demons in Purgatory
Loreto Pres.: Can you elaborate on Dr. Miravalle’ critique of Fr. Michel Rodrigue’s claim on the souls in the lowest stage of purgatory? Fr. Michel states that these souls in purgatory are “beaten by the devil as their purification.”
Father: In his Summa Theologica St. Thomas Aquinas is confronted with the following erroneous objection, “It would seem that the souls in Purgatory are punished by the demons...” To this Aquinas replies, “even so now the elect (in purgatory) are cleansed after this life by the Divine justice alone, and neither by the ministry of the demons whom they have vanquished, nor by the ministry of the angels who would not inflict such tortures on their fellow-citizens.”