|Left, Pope Benedict (Emeritus) and Right, Pope Francis (Current)|
On February 11, 2013, it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning his position as Pope. No pope had resigned in 600 years and only 5 of the 266 popes, including Benedict, have ever resigned. I wrote about it here, quoting a news article:
Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world and left the Catholic church reeling when he said on Monday that he would resign – the first pope to do so since the middle ages. The move, announced without warning, will take place on 28 February and leave the papacy vacant until a successor is chosen
That successor is Pope Francis. He ascended the papal monarchy on March 13, 2013.
Since then, Francis has garnered worldwide praise for his personal touch, his winning smile, his emphasis on the poor, and … his liberal views.
The Vatican & Cardinals are less impressed. The Daily Beast published an interesting article today. It’s titled,
Almost from the beginning, there have been rumblings of discontent about Pope Francis. While the world’s media fell in love with him, there were more conservative bishops who felt that Francis’s popular appeal came at the expense of carefully worked-out Church rituals and teachings. They saw Francis as chipping away at established Church teachings on sexuality, kowtowing to the liberal media, and acting aggressively towards conservative church leaders. Criticism of Francis has come to a head with the publication of the final report of the Synod on the Family. Despite changing absolutely nothing doctrinally, the Synod’s recommendations for a more understanding attitude to those in unconventional family arrangements have ignited a firestorm of controversy among conservative commentators. The possibility that Catholics who had divorced and remarried without receiving an annulment might be readmitted into full communion with the Church has made many apoplectic.
In his short 18-month tenure, Pope Francis has seemed to have softened the traditional Catholic stance on homosexuals, has signaled a review of the traditional Catholic stance on female clerics and priests, noted that the traditional position of celibacy of priests can change, shifted a long-held stance on evolution and Big Bang, and now this week’s seeming change of stance on divorce. The Cardinals have had enough, and looking around, they notice that there’s another pope in town. One who was very conservative and is looking pretty good to them right now.
Pope Emeritus Benedict.
But there’s a reason to pay attention to this particular breed of shrill complaint: there’s more than one Pope in town. Much like an ex-partner you keep running into in the street, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s continued presence in the church serves as a constant reminder of the way things used to be.
Benedict is hanging back for now, but there’s no doubt that he could easily become a figurehead for traditionalists harkening back to the good old days. In some ways, he already has. In somewhat ominous tones that have rightly been called threatening, Douthat exclaims to his “true Catholic” audience, “Remember there is another pope still living!” Having warned that Pope Francis and the Synod are leading us towards schism, does Douthat mean to imply that “true Catholics” will or should stage a coup?
The longest continuous monarchy in the world is generally accepted to be Japan’s, founded around 600BC. The Vatican records the first pope as Apostle Peter (which we know is false) but their chronological list of popes extends from Peter’s time to now with Francis, 266 in all. By that standard they are considered the second oldest monarchy in the world, and Denmark is third, founded in 935 AD.
A schism in the Vatican between liberal Francis and conservative emeritus Benedict could be very interesting. To fracture the long held power and remove the stranglehold the Vatican has on billions of false Christians known as Catholics would indeed be earth-shattering.
One does not know what the Lord is doing or will do, apart from what is recorded in the bible, but the mind reels with possibilities of how the final one-world religion predicted in Revelation 12-13 could come about.
I am reminded of a prophecy made in Hosea 5:12. The LORD promised this:
But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah.
Pulpit Commentary explains, “The meaning of the prophet is by no means obscure, and that is, that the Lord would by a slow corrosion consume both the people; and that, though he would not by one onset destroy them, yet they would pine away until they became wholly rotten.” The two agents of destruction here named – the moth which eats away clothes, and the woodworm which gnaws away wood – figuratively represent slow but sure destruction.”
Moths work secretly, unknowingly to the clothes owner. All one knows is that when the garment is needed, it will be full of holes and unwearable. The woodworm has been secretly gnawing out the wood and suddenly one day the ship sinks, or the building topples.
Has the Lord been working as a moth, secretly eating away at the foundations of this false religion?
We do know for sure that one day the evil false religion of harlot Babylon will fall! (Revelation 17) During the Tribulation, all peoples will worship the Beast (Rev 13:15-16) except for Christians, who will be killed for refusing.
These are exciting times to be living in, and we are grateful to the Lord for placing us here, now, to observe His mighty works and the end of all things. I believe the end is at hand, for many reasons, but one major indicator in my opinion is the collapse of Cultural Christianity and the wide apostasy infecting the church.
We watch in awe of the Lord at work in these tumultuous times. As Timothy Larsen said in his excellent essay Cheerful Confidence after Christendom,
THANK GOD FOR GRANTING US NOW
God has granted me the privilege to live now—in my own times. To wish otherwise is not only pointless, it is ungrateful. It is also self-defeating. Every season of life has its own joys. Foolishness is to want to have the joys of adulthood when still a teenager or the joys of adolescence when middle aged and so on. Likewise, there are unique joys, privileges, and opportunities for serving God in each generation. We are called not to hanker after a different age, but rather to jump in with relish to following Christ at this moment.
And if the Lord sees fit to hugely shake Catholics to their core by creating a schism, perhaps making room in unconverted hearts for true Christianity to enter, is that not cause for celebration? Oh, to see hearts aligned with an antichrist in the form of a pope, minds blinded to the simplicity and beauty of the Gospel, tongues praying to Mary, spirits convulsed with doubt as their seeming foundation is revealed moth-eaten and worm-gobbled, converted to Jesus. A cause for celebration indeed. Peter is not the rock upon which the faith is built. The Rock is Jesus.
No matter what, the Lord is mighty, and He is always at work. Praise Him for His perfection in all He does.
This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—